This was our first ever cruise of any type and, having always been independent travellers, we weren't sure it would suit us. However, from beginning to end we loved every minute. We started with 2 nights in Lisbon. We were picked up at the airport by a Viking rep and taken to the Tivoli Hotel. The hotel was fine. There was a bus tour of Lisbon in the morning which was good to get an overview of the city but, apart from that we were left to our own devices. We then headed towards Porto where the ship was docked. On the way we stopped off at Coimbra to visit the University and also to have lunch, during which we heard traditional fado singing.
Finally we reached Porto and the ship. Instantly we felt at home. The whole crew was there to greet us. The embarkation process was completed quickly and efficiently before being shown to our cabin. The cabins are fairly small but the space is well used so not at all claustrophobic.
The service onboard was outstanding. The crew were all pleasant and helpful. Officers were very visible and interacted with passengers. Meals were fantastic. We had two meals off the ship- dinner at a converted monastery and lunch at a winery- both of which were good. Entertainment onboard was limited but enjoyable. There was the opportunity to visit the galley and the bridge. I went to a Portuguese lesson , a cookery demonstration and a talk about cork (more interesting than it sounds!) My husband went to a talk on Portuguese history. On one evening a folk group entertained us. It was a hoot and greatly enhanced by the participation of the crew.
We went on all the included excursions. We enjoyed them all though the pace was a bit slow. However, the guides were all knowledgeable and spoke good English. It's difficult to identify a high spot from so many but probably the best excursion was a full day to Salamanca. When we returned there was a 'surprise' BBQ on the sun deck as the sun went down. Magic!
The passengers were a fairly even mix of British and American with a few Australian which worked well.
Disembarkation went smoothly with the buses shuttling passengers to the airport to catch a variety of flights.
I would just like to mention the standard of Viking organisation, which was outstanding from the day we booked out cruise until the day we returned home. I'm not sure if we'll do another river cruise but if we do it will certainly be with Viking.