We started our tour in the Berlin Hilton. Unlike Uniworld that offers airport to hotel transfers free whether or not we fly w/ them. Coming from Uniworld cruise on the Rhine we flew to Berlin and joined Viking. Taxi from Tegal airport to Berlin Hilton $15. Vikings sells transfers and we had to buy both transfers in Berlin and Prague for $120. Taxi to Prague airport cost $50.
Starting at the Berlin Hilton and ending at the Prague Hilton were the best parts of our trip. We booked our own pre and post hotel extensions for less than Viking was charging. When i do that w/ uniworld we're allowed the use of their staff. Viking staff refused to speak w/ us because we hadn't booked their extensions.
Before we joined the ship we toured Potsdam. A 3 hour tour that was dragged out for 6 hours. A woman on out bus who spoke German told us the guide said to the bus driver "what are we going to dow/ them all day". We were exhausted and bored when we finally joined the ship. From the beginning i regretted choosing Viking -- we received lousy service BEFORE we boarded the ship.
The cabin was large, but there was no shower door. The shower was only a drain in the corner of the room, therefore it flooded the entire bathroom and drained onto the rug. After every shower the cabin smelled like sewage, Thankfully, the L'Occtaine Verbana bath products masked the odour. Complaining to the hotel manager didn't change anything. We were told to shower less and believe me we did. The smell was horrific. L'Occtaine is great, but ....
The ship was filthy. There were cobwebs in our cabin window. When we disembarked there were still the same cobwebs in the window. Martin,the tour manager was rude and did not know the guides. There was a red card for bad and green card for good guide system, but we were stuck w/ some incompetent guides. Thakfully we LUCKED OUT in Wittenburg (the reason we took this tour) our guide was working on a Phd in History. Very knowledgeable. I couldn't help but compare Martin to the Uniword tour manager who knew heer guides and directed us to those who focused on history. When i asked Martin a question because we had chosen to skip the tour to the porcelin factory in Miessen and walk into town on our own, he shrugged and snapped, "i don't know".
The lectures provided, one by Marin that focused on cars and one by a guide brought on board who lectured on Luther. I have Masters in theology and a BA in Religious Studies and one in art history so I din't expect i'd learn much, but i was appalled when the lecture on Luther focussed on modern Northern Germas buying socks as Christening gifts and a table on how much beer countries in the EU drank. Apparently the Czecs drink the most beer and the Germans come in 5th in the world. What happened to Luther?
The tours were well organized, but only Dresden and Wittenburg were worth visiting. WE visited Saxon, Switerland but my daughter and i figured it interest woulden't us because it was an oudoor tour and we thought it would be like Vancouver. Upon the other passengers return we learned that everyone we spoke to was bored -- another hour long excursion dragged out for 3 hours. They were taken to a canyon, took pictures and then sat on rocks for hours.
Unfortunately, our choice was bored on the ship or bored on the excursion. Our cabin was too ugly even to sit and read. How long can a person sit in the lounge? Afternoon tea on Uniworld is sustantial sandwiches and sweets served on elegant china. On viking it's instant coffee and stale cookies.
The meals were tolerable, but advertised Russian Borsht turned out to be greasy German Borsht; Coconut Thai soup turned out to be chicken noodle sans coconut. The only decent mean was breakfast. They had great porridge. The luncheon salad bar was sparse and inedible followed by odd offerings on the menu. We'd actually have skipped supper, but i'm diabetic and must eat. Service was ho hum except for one waiter and i tipped him seperately. It is e first time on any cruise i chose not to tip one the whole. The service sucked. Reception staff never looked up when i came near and never smiled.
Shopping: Uniworld had daily specials in the boutique or on a table at rece sales. Viking has no shop and didn't offer specials on the meager items they carried. I bought a uniworld sweat shirt one day when it got cold for $15. Viking sweat shirts were $40 every day.
We were bussed to the Prague Hilton and then toured the city. The guide reccommended a lovely little hotel w/ a restaurant that overlooked the rennaissance clock in the town square. Good food and a great view. The Hilton's we stayed in before and after were the best part of our Viking experience. Berlin and Prague were well worth visiting; i'd skip the river cruise by Viking in the middle.