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4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
The odd and personal stuff is at the end of my review, so if you want that jump to the bottom. First river cruise ever. I had been looking for river cruises for some time because I wanted a vacation that my husband and I could enjoy ... Read More
The odd and personal stuff is at the end of my review, so if you want that jump to the bottom. First river cruise ever. I had been looking for river cruises for some time because I wanted a vacation that my husband and I could enjoy with us having very different energy levels. River cruises fit that bill. Always someplace to walk, yet staying on board and reading and taking in the scenery works well too. Embarkation was at a nice Hotel in Brussels. We scheduled one pre-night at the hotel and the rate through Avalon was excellent. I noticed that pre-nights were no longer available as it got closer to to the date of the cruise. Hotel location was great - plenty of places to walk to and very centrally located. The actual embarkation process itself was slightly boring - waiting at a set time in a hotel conference room until everything was ready and then filing into motor coaches that would take is to the Impression. Luggage could be stored with Avalon at the hotel for hours prior to embarkation so those arriving without pre-nights could meet at the hotel, deposit their luggage, and then walk around for a few hours. It went smoothly. The ship, cabin, dining are just as described on the website. Everything is clean. Everyone is friendly and professional, yet informal and nice. It was worth it to compare cabin layouts between Avalon and competitors to see the arrangement of the beds. Beds facing the panorama window on the Impression were really nice and made the space feel very large. I also saw the cabins on the lower level that didn't have that type of layout, and they were fine also. I'll be going on another cruise later this year that is in a lower level cabin. The food is what you would expect - definitely good. Sort of like a Sunday Brunch at a nice hotel for Breakfast and Lunch, dinner is served to you by the staff. After dinner each evening the cruise director meets everyone in the lounge and talks about what is to come on the next day. The evenings sometimes usually had entertainment of some sort, usually a musician who played piano and a few other things, sometimes people danced. There was a shortage of male dance partners and a couple of the bartenders would occasionally fill it. A few evenings there is something else - one evening there were Dutch Cheese Hostesses who did an unusual dance and had a tasting of some strange liquor with cheeses. That was particularly odd but quite entertaining. Excursions - the ones I attended were great. Paced for any traveler, the passengers are broken up into one of (usually) three groups (passenger chooses which group) and went off with their guide. Guides are local to the area. Ports - all interesting. Be mindful that Brussels to Amsterdam is only two hours on an express train - useful information for planning your arrival and departure but also useful to realize that the cruise travels a short distance each night on an 8 day journey to someplace quite close. Now to get to the more personal impressions... What to expect in passengers: Ages 40 to 70, almost all couples, either husband and wife or two women traveling together, one younger woman traveling with an older friend. I don't think there were any people traveling alone. On this cruise all but one couple were white and English speaking. I found this alarming at first given that I come from Los Angeles. Being half of the only gay couple on board, I found the demographics to be out of the ordinary for me. I did grow a little tired of the "where is your wife" but no one got "strange" when I said that he's my husband and he's resting. Everyone was accepting and friendly. What to expect of the crew: the crew is made up of white professionals who are at least somewhat local to the area. Friendly and English-speaking. What to expect of the staff: The staff consisted of some of the most interesting people I have met, and they have very different lives from the passengers. Demographically, they are mostly in their 20s, maybe 30s, from countries that have fewer work opportunities. They will share about their lives if you ask and are genuinely interested, but there is a little hesitation. I was able to learn more on the last night of the cruise than on other nights, perhaps because I asked more questions, or perhaps because it was the last cruise of the season for most of these people and they were all about to head to their own homes, many of which were far away. I found the things I learned from and about the staff to be some of the most interesting things. From my limited exposure, I encountered people who are working the cruise as a means to earn money and then return for the winter to a home that they love where they have a live completely separate from their work lives. Some of them live beautifully simple and happy lives in their non-work world - lives that involve being on a farm and picking olives, seeing family, playing with their dog that they don't get to see while working. I was sufficiently happy with the staff, the Cruise in general, and how nicely things flowed that we'll be taking another cruise almost exactly one year later. Same ship and staff, different river and itinerary. There will also be a larger gay contingency (maybe 5 to 10 couples) on the upcoming trip, only because one of the gay travel agencies arranges for a group to be part of one specific cruise every other year and we thought it a great opportunity to improve on what was already a fantastic experience. Upcoming cruise is from Prague (or Nuremberg) to Budapest, September 2018. Don't know if I've missed anything, but if you have specific questions about my cruise experience perhaps there is a way for you to ask me. As for "value for money"... One factor in selecting this specific cruise is that it was a TravelZoo Special, and I did get a substantial discount. I am somewhat suffering "sticker shock" at my decision to pay for our upcoming cruise without the same substantial discount. But I guess I think it's worth it since I'm doing it again! Read Less
Sail Date: April 2017
My "bucket list" contained Tulips, and I satisfied it with this cruise! Keukenhof Gardens was simply an amazing place. Even in inclement weather the tulips just "sparkle". Upon inquiry, Cruise Director Rik set us up ... Read More
My "bucket list" contained Tulips, and I satisfied it with this cruise! Keukenhof Gardens was simply an amazing place. Even in inclement weather the tulips just "sparkle". Upon inquiry, Cruise Director Rik set us up with a wheelchair, for which there was no charge! Otherwise, as an elder, I could hardly have seen very much (my adult granddaughter pushed me around for spectacular views). Delta Works is also very interesting. There was an option to view a film on that accomplishment without having to make the long trek to the actual gates. I didn't get off the boat for other ports and activities, as I had already visited the several locations. There was a great deal of walking to be done as part of the port activities. The entertainment including folkloric was excellent, and the food and staff service were exceptional. Staff was very generous with cocktails, etc. Fitness Room was well-equipped. Great cruise! Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
We went to see the tulips, which our at their peak, but every other stop was an adventure. Loved the windmills and the Dike system to see up close. I would only use Uniworld for river cruising as they are the best in all that they do. ... Read More
We went to see the tulips, which our at their peak, but every other stop was an adventure. Loved the windmills and the Dike system to see up close. I would only use Uniworld for river cruising as they are the best in all that they do. They do go out of their way to make you happy. The extra entertainment at night on board was very good. The walking tours were never rushed and very informative. the guides were the best!! The food was the best and the head chef would go out of his way to make you something that you didn't see on the menu. He did make the best soups!! Everything from the embarkation to the disembarkation went as smoothly as always. The crew is soooo helpful with your bags. Room service was great, as the girls worked to make everything just perfect! I would go again on a Uniworld cruise, as this was our 5th. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2017
It was our first trip with Uniworld and we had the usual first trip concerns, but were blown away with the entire package, ship, crew, meals and side trips. It was first class all the way from the time we got off the airplane until we got ... Read More
It was our first trip with Uniworld and we had the usual first trip concerns, but were blown away with the entire package, ship, crew, meals and side trips. It was first class all the way from the time we got off the airplane until we got in the cab for a stay over in Amsterdam. Within one or two days all the crew that we saw on a daily basis knew our names and what was our favorite beverage. The room service was great. There was a good variety of food which was very tasty and well presented. When we first stepped on board the interior decor just jumped out at you. The daily newspaper was a big surprise and did a good job of hitting the news highlights. We would never hesitate to use Uniworld for another cruise and would recommend them to our friends. In all it was a great experience. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2017
This cruise was recommended by my travel agent and I can never thank her enough. The ship (River Ambassador) while not the newest in the Uniworld fleet was extremely comfortable, beautifully decorated and most importantly, the crew was ... Read More
This cruise was recommended by my travel agent and I can never thank her enough. The ship (River Ambassador) while not the newest in the Uniworld fleet was extremely comfortable, beautifully decorated and most importantly, the crew was solid gold studded with diamonds. I cannot praise adequately the over the top service accorded to not only myself but the rest of the passengers. My cabin although smallish was very comfortable, but what more did I need than a place to sleep and take a shower? Needless to say, the food served was top notch, and the little extras were greatly appreciated. Our principal food server was Julian, if this man could bottle his charm he would make a fortune. As for the excursions, they were outstanding, I learned a great deal about Belgium and The Netherlands from the local guides. Uniworld outdid itself securing the services of these friendly and knowledgeable folk. This was not my first river cruise. I have traveled with other companies, but Uniworld has won me over, I seriously doubt that I will ever use any other company. Bravo Uniworld! Read Less
Sail Date: September 2016
Chose this cruise for the itinerary, but it was the people who made it really special. Every single person on the crew, from the housekeeping staff to the sailors, wait staff to front desk people, not to mention the cruise director and ... Read More
Chose this cruise for the itinerary, but it was the people who made it really special. Every single person on the crew, from the housekeeping staff to the sailors, wait staff to front desk people, not to mention the cruise director and maître d'hôtel, were absolutely wonderful. We've never experienced such a friendly, accommodating, fun staff anywhere. Food was fantastic also - such a vast array of choices, beautifully presented, and all delicious. Ship was beautiful, very clean and modern. Relaxed, casual atmosphere in the dining room and lounge, perfect for getting to know many other passengers. Great to have the option of the "gentle walkers" groups for shore excursions, along with complimentary walking sticks, bottled water, and audio sets to hear the guides. Appreciated the nightly newsletter "appearing" in our cabin each evening when we returned from dinner, listing the activities and schedule for the next day, along with historical or other interesting information about our destination, maps, and the weather forecast so we knew how to dress. Avalon would definitely be our first choice again. Read Less
26 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
I want to start by saying that I take writing reviews seriously. As of this writing I have 18,895 Trip advisor readers that have read my reviews. This is my first review on Cruise critic.. We booked a trip on the Uniworld cruise ... Read More
I want to start by saying that I take writing reviews seriously. As of this writing I have 18,895 Trip advisor readers that have read my reviews. This is my first review on Cruise critic.. We booked a trip on the Uniworld cruise "Enchanting Danube" in September with two other couples. To say the trip was a disaster is an understatement...but more importantly Uniworld's management handling of the issues shows a total disregard for their passengers. I would NOT recommend using this company. The day we boarded the ship there was a known problem that prevented this ship from proceeding through the first bridge. Had we been informed that there was a possibility that this ship would never make the first scheduled stop or any stops for that matter, we could have made other arrangements and quite possibly cancel and reschedule our trip. The boat's management poorly communicated in the first few days and developed solutions that either required sitting on a bus tour for over two hours or sitting on the stationary boat. For those of you who are not familiar with a Uniworld cruise, there is nothing to do when sitting on the boat during the day. The boat management seemed clueless as to what to do. One day all passengers we ordered to stay on the boat. We were shocked that the management team did not try to offer something to entertain the passengers...wine tasting, bringing additional massage therapists as the one therapist was booked everyday, music on the deck, cooking class etc. After a few days, Uniworld realized that they could not proceed with the cruise. They called a meeting at 6PM and informed the passengers that they would have to disembark by 8:30 AM the following morning to begin a bus tour. Everyone had to pack that night and wake up early to leave the ship. A member of our party gets sick when traveling on a bus which is why we chose to do a river cruise in the first place. We could not agree to do the bus tour. We demanded that Uniworld find us a car service to take us to Prague, the last stop on our trip. They reluctantly agreed. We wanted to just go home. To make a long story short, Uniworld did not provide a rivercruise...they provided a bus tour. They knew of these issues when we boarded the boat and did not adequately communicate with the passengers. We never had a river cruise. Then when complaints arose, they sent a note stating."we have offered each guest a 50% per person refund of the cruise base fare (less all discounts), the category upgrade (if applicable), and port taxes, as well as a Future Cruise Credit of 50% off of the base cruise fare and category upgrade (subject to availability and excluding suites) in our 2016, 2017 or 2018 sailing seasons." On a $24K trip we received $7,200 for our troubles. Our travel agent and I reached out to the President of Uniworld with no adequate resolution. After 45 days of getting the run around I give up. I paid for a river cruse and was offered a bus tour that we could not do because a member of our party gets sick on buses. Some additional information, I would not recommend a Uniworld tour unless you are in your late 70's or early 80's. After dinner entertainment is like Bill Murray imitating a lounge singer on Saturday night live. Most people were sleeping by 9:30. I think this says it all. BEWARE!!!!! Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2016
My husband & I vacationed in Europe this past summer on a Viking River Cruise. It was a unique and wonderful experience. This may prompt some of you to look into taking your own Viking River Cruise. There are many river cruise ... Read More
My husband & I vacationed in Europe this past summer on a Viking River Cruise. It was a unique and wonderful experience. This may prompt some of you to look into taking your own Viking River Cruise. There are many river cruise destinations to choose from. We chose the Rhineland Discovery. A cruise totaling 15 days, 6 on land and 8 days on the ship cruising the Rhine river and docking in a new location everyday. The trip includes 5 countries, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, France and Switzerland. Included in your river cruise are 9 guided tours with additional tours available. Viking employs excellent area tour guides that are very knowledgeable about the tour they are taking you on. All the towns along the Rhine were very characteristic and charming and each had their particular beauty. Bruges, Belgium is a medieval town which still looks as it did in the middle ages as required by Belgium law. It's known as the Venice of the North. We took a scenic ride through the canals full of charm and so picturesque as you can see in the picture below. We visited the Marksburg Castle, the windmills in the Netherlands, the city of Amsterdam with it's Rijksmuseum which houses some of the greatest artists of all time like Rembrandt. I can't leave out Breisach, Germany home of the Black Forest. It was beautiful and not black!. We visited Heidelberg Castle, quaint Rudesheim and oh.... Lucerne, Switzerland!! The modern city connected to the old town via the Chapel Bridge flanked on either side by magnificent flowers! See for yourself below. I wanted to meet the person who's job it is to water all those flowers! A beautiful town on Lake Lucerne surrounded by the Alps. The Viking people have it down to a science. They are very professional and have thought about every little detail! It's an outstanding trip. You'll need a vacation when you get home..... Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
Our travel agent recommended it, as high quality and all-inclusive (e.g., no port fees, no tips). The crew, ship, amenities, tours (including choices), and food were outstanding. The crew could not do enough for us, and accommodated ... Read More
Our travel agent recommended it, as high quality and all-inclusive (e.g., no port fees, no tips). The crew, ship, amenities, tours (including choices), and food were outstanding. The crew could not do enough for us, and accommodated any special needs that we had. We liked that they gave the option of a "gentle" walking tour for those who needed to go more slowly and on even ground. They listened to our comments and left us special gifts in our rooms. We appreciated that they had hand cleanser machines when we entered the ship and the dining room. The third level of the ship was fine, and saves money over the fourth. Parts of the second level were noisy, we heard. The evening entertainment was varied, and the keyboarder in the lounge gave a perfect background. Those on the trip who had been on Viking and other cruises thought Uniworld was so much better. They liked the size of the ship (130 people capacity) and the tours offered. The Viking cruise people we met in towns were envious of us! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2013
Summary: If you want to take the Tulips and Windmills cruise to see the tulips (our trip started April 12, 2013 from Antwerp to Amsterdam), understand that you are guaranteed to see windmills but all bets are off regarding viewing fields ... Read More
Summary: If you want to take the Tulips and Windmills cruise to see the tulips (our trip started April 12, 2013 from Antwerp to Amsterdam), understand that you are guaranteed to see windmills but all bets are off regarding viewing fields of tulips. No one can control the weather which we learned changes daily and no one can control the tulip season which apparently varies year to year. This year we were too early. You are guaranteed to see them indoors at the Kuekenhof Gardens so do not let the weather give you pause. On all other counts the cruise was a delight. The port stops focused on walking through charming villages, viewing the unique architecture of the region, the continuing efforts to keep the water out, the famous Belgian and Dutch art, and of course the flowers. You also had ample time to sample the food favorites of each region - beer, chocolate, mussels, French fries, and waffles in Belgium and their counterparts in the Netherlands. This is peak time for river cruises in this area and there were always multiple river ships in each of the ports we visited. See below for more on ports. TIP: Don't miss the French Fries from Frituur Number 1 and chocolate from Chocolate Line in Antwerp. The French Fries with mayo were fabulous. Wasabi chocolate not bad either! Ship: The River Empress is a lovely ship commanded by its very able Captain Anton de Bot. The crew were wonderful and did everything possible to make our voyage memorable. They quickly remembered who you were and if you had any special needs or liked things a certain way. Amazing they could do this week after week. The public rooms were comfortable and roomy. The cabins were what you would expect on a river cruise, small but efficiently laid out. Plenty of nooks and crannies to stow stuff. There is space under the beds to store your luggage but if you have more than one suitcase you might have to use the closet. There was wifi in the public areas but it was pretty weak and very slow most of the time. Embarkation: There were about 21 of us who landed in Brussels in the early morning. We waited maybe 20 minutes for someone to show up from Uniworld. We were bussed to Antwerp and were able to get on the ship and offload our bags and have breakfast right away. We could not get into our cabins until 3 p.m. They gave us maps of Antwerp and many of use went off to see the town. There's lots to see in Anwterp. It's very walkable. Dining: The food was excellent and the staff easily accommodated all the various food allergies. And if you find something you especially like, they will bring it to you every meal if you want. Breakfast and lunch were served buffet style and included a wide variety of items for every appetite. Dinner was sit-down and included a starter, soup, entree, and dessert. There were usually 3 choices for each. Wine was included with dinners and the selections were perfect accompaniments to the menu. Portions were just right so it was easy to have all 4 courses. They often included something local to the area we were visiting. Other items: The gift shop was disappointing in that it did not stock anything from Belgium or the Netherlands. It may have been due to the other route this ship takes going from Amsterdam to Budapest. But a few local items would have been nice, in case you missed them in one of the towns. There was a fitness center with an elliptical, treadmill and other equipment on board. Massages were available and I heard they were wonderful. For those inclined there was daily exercise at 7:15 a.m. There is self-service laundry. In addition to the on-board piano player, there were special local groups to entertain us several times. They were ok. Most people disappeared to their cabins by about 9:30 p.m. The lecture one morning about Dutch art was excellent. Cruise extension in Amsterdam: The weather was not warm enough or the winds calm enough to sit up on the top deck. Again, that is just the timing of the cruise in April. We chose to start in Antwerp so we could spend more time in Amsterdam at the end. We booked our own hotel and did the city on our own. It is very easy to do. Everything is within walking distance. We allowed 3 days which was just fine and better than the Uniworld extension offering. The renovated Rijksmuseum is a must-see. There is a new Canal House Museum that is also worthwhile. Other ports: Not all of the ports we stopped at are listed by Cruise Critic so I will just write it here. There were included featured excursions, often walking tours of the town, in each port and sometimes there was even a choice. There were a few optional excursions - visit to Delft factory and the town, a bulb-growing farm, walking tour of Amsterdam. Each evening before dinner, the Cruise Manager told us about the next day's itinerary and deadlines for booking optional excursions. Having taken other cruises where the optionals were a must-do, these were less so. They were interesting but did not add appreciably to the experience. The walking tour to see the hidden gems in Amsterdam was a disappointment partly because it was a Saturday and because of the crowds, it was a great effort just to keep up with our guide. Delta Works near Veere was fascinating and Veere itself is a delightful town to walk/bike through. There is not much to see at the Delft factory and there are stores in other places where you can buy it. Skip the tour of Delft and just walk around on your own. Skip lunch as it takes up too much time and your time is limited. The Zuider Zee outdoor museum in Enkhuisen was very interesting. We went to Arnhem instead of Nijmegen because of the weather but Arnhem was fun to walk through. Hoorn was another lovely town. Actually all the towns are charming. The brick homes and the little streets go on and on. Nuenen, where Van Gogh lived for 2 years, was a lovely suburban village. It houses a museum which talks about the period when Van Gogh lived there. But the village looks nothing like the time when Van Gogh lived there. Use your imagination. It was a long bus ride. We had the choice of a full day at Keukenhof Gardens or half-day Kuekenhof and half-day Zaanse Schans. If the weather is sunny, do the full day at Kueknhof or half-day Keukenhof and relax on the ship in the afternoon. Zaanse Schans is very touristy. Every place you visit also sells souvenirs. Not worth the time. Tipping: Other cruise lines include tipping. Uniworld does not. I'm not sure what is the best method. I think I would prefer them to include gratuities and let us decide to give extra to those people who really made a difference in our trip. Also, having to have euro coins handy every day for the bus drivers and local guides was a nuisance. While they say that tipping is not required, you tend to feel obligated. Would be better if it were all inclusive. We plan to continue using Uniworld for our next river cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2012
We thoroughly enjoyed our European River Cruise. The service by all the cruise staff was exceptional The Cruise Director,Peter,was very professional. He was well organised, friendly, informative and approachable. He was only too willing ... Read More
We thoroughly enjoyed our European River Cruise. The service by all the cruise staff was exceptional The Cruise Director,Peter,was very professional. He was well organised, friendly, informative and approachable. He was only too willing to sort out any problems that we encountered.We had a port talk every night about what to expect the next day, and were always well informed about entertainment. This was varied and once again used local talent. The one problem he did not forsee was that the Australian passengers had all paid their tips in advance. The other passengers had not done this, and at the end of each excursion would be very visible tipping the tour guide and bus driver.This made the Australian visitors feel miserly and embarrassed and some started to give extra, to save face. The drivers and tour guides were always knowledgeable about the tours they were leading. The communications with listening devices were excellent. The European summer weather let us down, and many fellow passengers were also caught short by not bringing enough warm clothes as we were expecting warmer weather. However the warm welcome back to the boat after every excursion by the Hotel Manager and often also by the Captain(always with a warm or cold drink and moist towlette) made up for the wet cold conditions we often encountered. The food and wine were local,and typical of the area, usually having been purchased in local markets. My one disappointment was that in the Rhine region we didn't seem to get a local sweet white wine which I like to drink.At meal times we were only ever offered a dry white,red wine, local beer, and limited soft drink, as our free beverages.We were given champagne on the formal evenings. The only low calorie soft drink was Diet Coke. As I hate all of the preceding, I drank a lot of water for 14 days. The cabins were well appointed and very comfortable.The cosmetics were good by L'Occitane There was no self service laundry on this boat, & it was very hard to launder things in your room. There was little to no provision to hang wet clothes in the bathroom, so in the end we had to get our laundry done. This was quite expensive.We visited Brussels, Antwerp, Maastricht, Venlo, Cologne,Koigswinter, Koblenz, Aschaffenburg, Miltenberg, Wurzburg, Bamberg,and Nuremberg. All of the towns along the way showed some Roman influence. We usually had a coach tour to give an overall picture, followed by a walking tour, usually of the Old Town. We certainly experienced lots of locks, which may have lost their appeal to watch, after the first few. The highlight for me was the visual feast of vineyards and castles along the 64km Upper Middle Rhine Valley.The tours were graded and people with mobility problems were also catered for, but they probably missed out on things were steps were required.We saw a lot of churches, museums, castles, cathedrals.We toured boutique beer breweries and a Horticultural Expo. We also did an excellent post tour of Prague at the end of the River Cruise.This was also excellently organised. The hotel facilities at the Prague Imperial Art Deco Hotel, especially our room, made the ship look small. I'm glad we did it this way, as after this the cabin would have felt cramped. One problem I encoutered was that the windows on the boat are slightly tinted and any photos taken from the inside have all come out blue. Just something to be aware of. I didn't realise this until later. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2012
With an American 70-cabin river boat and 34 crewmen and program directors all with excellent conversational English, this was an excellent adult touring and discovery Rhine and Mosel rivers cruise - from Antwerp, Belgium, through the ... Read More
With an American 70-cabin river boat and 34 crewmen and program directors all with excellent conversational English, this was an excellent adult touring and discovery Rhine and Mosel rivers cruise - from Antwerp, Belgium, through the Netherlands and Germany, and touching France, to disembarkation in Basel, Switzerland. The boat was impeccably clean and inviting, serving full breakfasts and gourmet meals for lunch and dinner (including wine at dinner). The 132 passengers were grouped with three dedicated and local-knowledgeable program directors, so we got to know each other quite well, leaving contacts for further get-togethers. Guided port walking tours to ancient market squares, churches and half-timbered buildings in the close-by quaint Roman and Medieval-founded towns along the Rhine and Mosel rivers were almost everyday. Included bus tours were provided: to the every-10-year Floriade horticultural exposition in the Netherlands, to castles, to the WWII liberation museum and Remagen Bridge, and on the French Alsatian Wine Route; and a canal boat tour was made of Trier, the principal city of the Mosel valley. Only 4 optional extra cost tours were offered (Dutch Delta Works, Luxembourg, Marksburg Castle, and the Black Forest), all in parallel with other included town info tours. On-board activities included daily piano, vocal, magic, and gypsy entertainment, as well as kitchen and bridge tours, a Belgium chocolates discovery by treasure hunt and candy display and explanation, and a 'horse" race, all in the separate lounge - just plain fun. We were upgraded to a balcony stateroom - enough room for two chairs, but we were outdoors for beautiful weather throughout the trip (early July) except for two short rain episodes. Embarkation and disembarkation shuttles and assistance were well coordinated, as was the administration of the whole cruise. It was the cruise of a lifetime, and we'll probably do another soon. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
In Nov 2011 we booked a river cruise through Viking for a 15 day cruise sailing the River Rhine from Antwerp to Basel, Switzerland. Food was average, crew was great, room great, and ports of call guided tours were perfect. The problem ... Read More
In Nov 2011 we booked a river cruise through Viking for a 15 day cruise sailing the River Rhine from Antwerp to Basel, Switzerland. Food was average, crew was great, room great, and ports of call guided tours were perfect. The problem came half way through the cruise and we were off loaded onto buses to finish our 'cruise' staying in hotels, on and off buses, and dealing with packing and unpacking. These are the reasons we booked the river cruise was to not have to live in hotels and buses....we've already done that several times and now we are ready for the lazy days of a river cruise. Water levels being low was the reason given which is true, the problem was Viking knew this well in advance, knew the cruise couldn't be completed without the bus tour and never once offered us the opportunity to postpone our trip for a later date or make any other arrangements. They didn't say anything until the night before we were put on buses. Other reviews indicate at least in the past 12 months, this has been how they operate and is no way to get repeat business. For our 'trouble' they offered a 30% off what we paid for this trip to be used as a credit for another cruise within 12 months. That doesn't come close to being the right thing for them to do under the circumstances. A partial refund for this part of the trip is the right thing to do. Do your homework before booking a cruise with Viking as you can't count on them being honest with you about your trip. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2011
We chose this particular river cruise company because of the itinerary--it covered lots of countries on the Rhine, plus the city of Brugges, a must-see! We had sailed on a Danube cruise with Amawaterways a few years ago, an exceptional ... Read More
We chose this particular river cruise company because of the itinerary--it covered lots of countries on the Rhine, plus the city of Brugges, a must-see! We had sailed on a Danube cruise with Amawaterways a few years ago, an exceptional cruise, and figured that Viking wouldn't match up. How wrong we were! It was about the most perfect trip we have ever taken. Viking has their act together!!! After gaining 5+ pounds, I can say that we had 5 star gourmet food at every meal plus wonderful snacks. The servers were so professional and hard working, wanting to please the passengers. Andreas, the chef, was great--I loved his cooking demonstrations and his sense of humor. The rooms were kept spotless, free bottled water in the rooms every day, and lots of storage room for clothing. How nice to only unpack once for the whole trip! Our Program Director, Luk, gave informative talks about each port and optional excursions, and he had such a great sense of humor! I felt as though he was a friend by the time we left the ship. One of my favorite parts of the cruise were the guided tours by local guides--they spoke excellent English, answered all our questions, and were enthusiastic. We took the optional Colmar town excursion which was a quaint Alsace town--a must-see! We also went to the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam on our own, that we recommend seeing, even though we had to wait in a long line. Don't bother spending extra money to upgrade to a balcony cabin. The window in our D level room was large and let in plenty of light. We were able to see swans close up swimming by our window several times! You won't spend much time in your room because the lounge is beautiful with great picture windows, and we also spent a lot of time on the upper deck watching the castles go by! We went with 10 of our neighbors and 6 of them went on the optional tour to Lucerne--it was not the best experience because traffic was bad due to road construction and they only got to see Lucerne for an hour and 1/2 and had to rush around--their guide was a bit grumpy, too. My advice is to go on the Lucerne post-cruise extension, so that you can get a longer time in this beautiful city (we had visited Lucerne before). In Basel, we had the option of the regular city tour, or the "Close and Personal tour" (no extra charge)where you got to ride the streetcar and ferry in addition to a rigorous city tour. We loved this tour, because the guide told us tales about the city, and we got to see more places than the regular city tour. We only had a half hour on our own which was fine with me because we covered the city very well. We had listening devices provided for most of the tours which was wonderful. We could hear everything said. I was surprised at all the 80+ year-old people on this trip, though. At least the ship provided a leisurely guided tour at each port for them because walking on cobblestones, up and down hills and steps is a bit much for most people of that age and is very tiring for all ages. The ship provided entertainment every night, but don't expect it to be like the entertainment you get on a large cruise ship. I didn't care because usually after dinner was over at 9 or 9:30, I was tired and ready to turn in. The piano player was super, though, and very talented. No complaints on this trip--so much to see and we did it in high style! Thanks Viking Sun! Read Less

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