We booked this river cruise after much deliberation. We had been on several cruises, larger ships, and had been to Europe on our own several times. It was hard to find reviews on this type of cruise, so that made the decision harder. We decided on Viking and the Romantic Danube cruise they offer because it fit with our time constraints. We used frequent flyer miles to fly into Cologne Germany then took Germanwings into Budapest.We could not get directly into Budapest with the miles we had. We had reserved a night at the Hilton and had made arrangements with their concierge to be picked up at the airport which went very smoothly. The hotel was lovely and right at the Fishermen's Bastion overlooking the Danube and in a terrific part of the city. After a nap to revive ourselves we walked around the area and had dinner at a sidewalk cafe across from the hotel.
Next morning we had breakfast at another sidewalk cafe and then off to board the Viking Europe. We took a cab and he dropped us off right in front of the ship. ( I had read to be sure your cab lets you off at the correct ship before they leave and indeed this was an issue for some passengers). Ship personnel were at the entrance to take care of the luggage and we signed in and then left to walk around the city as our rooms were not ready. We went to the Museum of Hungary and enjoyed it very much. Mid afternoon we returned to the ship and our room. The room was very sufficient, the bedding very comfortable (twins made up as one bed), good storage, a desk, large picture window that opened, small bathroom with shower. There was a safe, tv, telephone, and hairdryer. There were several outlets which we used with a convertor at times depending on the appliance. I had purchased several things(curling iron etc) that had the correct voltage. As far as I could tell all the rooms were the same, the lower floor's deck windows do not open but all the others were the same. We were pleased with the room 154 sq ft., not large but enough for the time spent in it.
The ship was very well kept, accommodating just 150 passengers. There is a observation room and bar that the daily briefing (for the next days activities) was held in. Also the buffet lunch is in this room and the nightly entertainment. There is a small library next to this room and the ship and main entrance where there is always coffee, tea, and ice water available. The restaurant is at the other end of the ship and is very open with windows all around and a buffet breakfast and lunch are set up here. Dinner is served, breakfast and lunch also can be ordered but we never did. The top of the ship is the sun deck with lounge chairs and tables with umbrellas. Very nice to watch the Danube banks as we floated along. Also the captain navigates the ship from this level, very interesting as you go through the locks at multiple places along the trip. The staff were very good, our room was always kept clean, the dining staff efficient, the activities person pleasant. The food was mediocre. There was usually a meat, fish and vegetarian dish offered each night. The first three nights the meat was veal, I do like veal but not every night. Of course to their credit there are alternate choices of steak, chicken and Caesar salad every night. Just an area for improvement.
The entertainment usually consisted of interaction with the guest although there was a glass blower and folk act a couple of the nights. There is also a piano player that was enjoyable but none of the big shows like a cruise ship. One of the pluses for this type of trip is that the excursions are included.
Our fist day in Budapest we had a tour of the city by bus. We did get off the bus a Hero's Square for pictures. Then that afternoon off for the river and beautiful scenery. The next day we were in Vienna with a bus tour, tour of Belvedere Palace and then the afternoon at leisure. The ship was docked aways from attractions so passengers took either a cab or the subway back to the downtown area or you had the option of staying from the tour. That evening we took the optional tour for a concert which we enjoyed very much.
The next day we were off to Melk and a tour of the Benedictine Abbey. Very beautiful , it made you want to spend more time here. That evening we were in Linz but unfortunately all the shops etc. were closed. We walked into town and were going to the casino but found our men had to wear a jacket which our group had not, so we kept our money.
Next day on to Passau, beautiful city just what you imagine. After a walking tour and organ concert at the cathedral we had lunch of sausages and beer with the owner yodeling for us. Then tome to explore on your own. Our next stop was Regensburg and a walking tour then time on your own. We ate lunch outside, riverside, of sausages and rolls, the only thing they serve, very delicious. The mustard was so good we found a place that sold this and brought some home.
The next day we were in Kelheim and took a ferry ride to the Weltenburg Abbey, again very beautiful scenery and also sampled their dark ale that they make there.
Our last stop was in Nurenburg and a bus tour that was very interesting and time for shopping. We were docked here overnight and there was a fair being held here that we visited and this was delightful. The ship is quite a ways from anything here so a cab would have had to be taken to go back into the city. Next day disembarkation was easy and off to the airport.
All in all the trip was very enjoyable and as I look back on it a good value for the money. This trip was in July but the weather varied from warm to cold(we needed jackets a times). Dress is pretty casual, slacks and shorts(we saw and wore shorts-I had read that this was a no no)at times in the day and nicer slacks or skirts or dresses for women and shirt and pants for men at night. No ties. We had done Europe on our own several times before so the time constraints were a little difficult for us but with a tour this has to be. It left us wanting more time at another time. Also I think for us the lack of a variety of activities while on board was difficult, but next time we would know what to expect. The scenery is beautiful but after awhile many of us just needed activities on board. The ages of the passengers were varied from 30's to 80's, we had no children on our trip and I can't imagine a young child enjoying this. The best thing was that everyone was so friendly and you met just about everyone. Meals were always shared with either you going up to a table and asking to join or people asking to join you. The question was always where are you from and have you ever been on one of these cruises before. Most people were new to this kind of trip but some had been river cruising many times. All in all a good trip and most likely we will do another one in the future and would consider Viking