After hitting two hurricanes and one large storm ocean cruising many years ago, I thought I'd never try again. Then Viking sent their brochures and we tried it last fall on the Danube Waltz from Budapest to Passau, Germany.
The sights of those beautiful and historic towns and cities were spectacular, yet what stands out in my memory is the superb service of the staff. Connie, the cruise director, was hard-working, cheerful and right on top of everything. Marcie oversaw all the activities and had to deal with last-minute arrangements for extra cars because many were confused or lazy about signing up for special transportation. She was overwhelmed with work yet did it with a smile that said it was all OK.
One night we ordered Amaretto at the bar and we were served a cheaper brand that we couldn't drink. The bartender didn't charge us and promised to have the real stuff the next night, which he did. I had challenged him to a taste test, which I took and passed--all in good humor.
Every single member of the staff was extremely helpful. The side trips were generally good, although I could have skipped the Roman horsemen. There were so many activities that we had no time for anything else--we gobbled up the sights.
Some exceptional ports, not on the master list herein, are worth noting. After Budapest we sailed to Bratislava which was once the capital of Hungary. The architecture is unique and beautiful. Durnstein was our favorite port. It's midieval buildings, cobblestones, and vineyards transported us into a Old World day tour we'd like to repeat. Vienna was the most beautiful city I've ever seen and the white horse daily practice session was kicks. Saltzburg was a great walking tour combining historic places with bustling markets. And our last stop, Passau, was small enough that we stopped for a German 'wurst' lunch, visited the glass museum and heard an outstanding organ concert in a church with more organ pipes than one can count.
I cannot imagine a cruise line that could provide greater planning, sights, service or exceptional food than Viking. So we have booked into the Rhine getaway for next September.