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108 Budapest to Europe - River Cruise Reviews

I clocked at least 9-10 hours more on a bus than I should have been. Viking should have given us a chance to cancel and/or rebook, as they knew well in advance that there had been no rain and the Danube was too low to travel on. Original ... Read More
I clocked at least 9-10 hours more on a bus than I should have been. Viking should have given us a chance to cancel and/or rebook, as they knew well in advance that there had been no rain and the Danube was too low to travel on. Original ship replaced by the Freya, and we even had to repack and change ships back to the Njord. I realize weather is out of their control, but they had to know about it well in advance because all the locals said it was the lowest water level in 40-50 years. Service and meals on the ship were very nice, but there were five lunches off of the boat where there was absolutely no choice of food. City tours very rushed. Would not do this again..too risky and too much of an ordeal...certainly not relaxing in the least. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
Upon arrival in Budapest we were informed by the Viking pick up that we would have to be bused 1 1/2 hours to where the boat was docked because of the low river level. The boat was docked in an industrial looking site with a view of the ... Read More
Upon arrival in Budapest we were informed by the Viking pick up that we would have to be bused 1 1/2 hours to where the boat was docked because of the low river level. The boat was docked in an industrial looking site with a view of the dumpsters. We did not get to experience the lights of Budapest at night because there was absolutely zero cruising in Budapest. We were bused back to the city the next day for a short tour. The time spent on the bus greatly shortened our time to see the city. We were able to sail to the next 2 destinations. Upon returning to the ship in Passau, we were told the ship could not sail onto our other destinations.(Regensburg ,Kelheim, Main Danube Canal and Nuremberg) From this point on the trip turned into a bus tour not a river cruise. We spent many hours on a bus just to get to the places we came to visit. It was very disappointing and not relaxing because the time spent in each port from that point on was greatly reduced because of the bus ride to and from. In fact, we decided to not go to Nuremberg because we were gone for 12 hours the day before and would have had to be back on the bus at 8:30 am to go to Nuremberg. The bus back from Nuremberg wasn't scheduled to arrive back until evening. We rented a car and did our own thing that day versus spending 3 1/2 hours on the bus.The only concession that was offered for any of this was an open bar one evening. Perhaps the most frustrating thing of all was knowing that Viking was well aware of the low river level situation but at no point was forthcoming about it. The tour guides at each destination were very good. The ship itself was nice. We did have issue with the fact that we had the most expensive suite and it was located over the motor at the very end of the ship. Had we cruised as were supposed to have, the noise and vibration from the motor would have been a problem. The food was fine but only available as scheduled. Considering the considerable disruption to the itinerary it would have been nice to have a little flexibility on the availability of breakfast and dinner. The ship was very clean and the staff was nice. All in all it was a VERY EXPENSIVE BUS TOUR! We cruised 2 of the 8 days of the cruise. Our reimbursement for this was a $2500 credit to be used within a year for another Viking cruise. Customer service could have cared less that we did not get what we paid for. I was told that we received an e-mail to inform of possible problems with the river level. Problem was, we received the e-mail the day after our arrival on the ship! Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
Travel Dates: August 30, 2015 – September 6, 2015 Viking Boat: Jarl My husband and I, along with our friends (another couple) booked our Viking “Romantic Danube” cruise almost a year in advance. My husband lived in Germany ... Read More
Travel Dates: August 30, 2015 – September 6, 2015 Viking Boat: Jarl My husband and I, along with our friends (another couple) booked our Viking “Romantic Danube” cruise almost a year in advance. My husband lived in Germany for several years, and we have traveled a lot through the region, but had never cruised the Danube before. We wanted to see all of the beautiful towns along the way and to savor the relaxing feeling of cruising down the river while taking in all of the sights. This is what Viking advertises, and we believed them. We began the cruise on the Jarl in Budapest. A couple of days before the cruise our friends – but not us – received an email from Viking notifying them that the water levels were low and there may be a delay of the start of the cruise. They were directed to go to the Intercontinental Hotel in Budapest and await further instruction. Thankfully our friends received an email, otherwise we would not have known this crucial piece of information. We contacted the Viking representative at the Intercontinental Hotel and specifically asked her whether the boat would make it all the way to Nuremberg given the water levels. We specifically said we wanted to cruise- not be bussed from city to city. She assured us that the water levels were now fine and that the boat would leave on time – AND MAKE IT TO NUREMBERG. The boat did leave on time. And, for the first three days of the cruise it was lovely. The staff was amazing. They are professional, friendly, personable, and truly went out of their way to make the experience enjoyable. The tours of Budapest, Melk, Vienna and Passau were good. And then it all went downhill. On night four of the cruise the ship stopped for several hours for repairs. And, after Passau the ship stopped cruising for two days. Nights 5 and 6 were spent docked next to the road on the industrial side of Passau. Our balcony was level with the asphalt, looking at the gas station across the street. And we were the lucky ones. The people on the opposite side of the ship were looking into another Viking boat- they stack boats next to each other next to the shoreline so you are literally looking into another person’s cabin- for two days! The ship could not reach Regensburg on day 6 as scheduled. So, Viking bussed us 1.5 hours each way to the city. This is 3 hours taken out of our day, a day we were spending a lot of money in order to enjoy. On day 7, the day we were supposed to spend in Nuremberg, we were told that we would be bussed 3 hours each way in order to see the city, a total of 6 hours. Many people, including us, declined and stayed on the boat, parked next to the gas station in Passau, instead. The boat finally eked its way to Deggendorf on the last day of the cruise, and Regensburg by the final morning. This is still only a little more than half way of the distance we were supposed to cruise. We were not allowed to leave the boat during this period, except to go on the long bus rides to the next two cities, and in any event couldn’t have gone into the old city of Passau as it was across the river from us. The icing on the cake was the day of disembarkation. People, based on groups, were told to leave their luggage outside their rooms beginning at 3 a.m. The last group had to have their bags out by 5 a.m. We were put on buses at 8 a.m. and bussed for close to two hours to Nuremberg. Aside from the fact that the boat only cruised about half of the distance promised, there were other things which made us deeply regret having spent $7,000 on this cruise. For instance, despite the fact that we paid extra (several hundred dollars) for the upgraded liquor package, they ran out of ALL Cabernet Sauvignon by day 5, and all but the cheapest cognac by day 6. We could not understand why they couldn’t replenish their supplies when we were literally parked next to a city or why supplies couldn’t be taken from the other 5 or 6 Viking ships docked next to us! On day 5, when it had become clear that we were not going to travel any further up river – something we learned in private from the waiters and which was NEVER communicated by the ship administrators – we approached the program director and the hotel manager. We asked that we be permitted to disembark in Passau and that Viking refund the last two days of the cruise. He smirked condescendingly and told us that we were “free to do whatever we wanted,” but that the most they would do for us is help us find hotel reservations (at our own expense). We decided to stay on the ship to the bitter end. We had paid more than $1,000 a day and didn’t want to have to spend more money on accommodations and food for those last two days. The mood on the ship from day 5 onward was somber. Even the staff seemed down and it was reflected in the overall service they provided. In short, we are deeply disappointed in Viking. The cruise is nothing like we expected. Most of the cruising (what little of it there was) was done at night and there was literally only one day – going through the Wachau Valley – when we saw the beautiful sights advertised. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
This was our first Viking cruise, but NOT our first river cruise (we did Avalon on the Rhine in 2013). In my opinion, Viking compares very poorly to Avalon for a variety of reasons: the cabins on the Tor are smaller, the staff was far ... Read More
This was our first Viking cruise, but NOT our first river cruise (we did Avalon on the Rhine in 2013). In my opinion, Viking compares very poorly to Avalon for a variety of reasons: the cabins on the Tor are smaller, the staff was far less friendly (other than one waiter and Sorin the Program Director, he was funny!), the food was mediocre at best, very limited variety especially with lunch. Tours seemed disorganized. Information was lacking, especially with limited overhead announcements. The sundeck was closed down for a majority of the time. The same wines were offered every day, other than when they FINALLY gave us something different on the last day. We also were among those that had to be bussed to another port as the Tor could not sail through at Passau. So we were disappointed that we had to re-pack everything, bus to the next port, unpack again, etc. We didn't really lose any tour time, but the 2nd ship the Viking Var was FAR worse than the Tor. Staff on the Var were really not friendly at all. We were told there was Wifi access in every cabin, yet our cabin 212 had NO wifi on the Var, forcing me to have to go down to the lobby and use that, and that even was slow. The first night on the Var we were fed the very SAME meal we had the night before on the Tor. Our group of 4 couples were very disappointed with Viking. While I will "never say never", I have no desire to sail Viking ever again until less maybe if it was totally free (unlikely). Avalon is FAR better with food, staff, and organization! Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
Our cruise started out BAD because we were not informed that the 20th of August is a Hungarian National Holiday and that we would NOT be able to get a taxi to the ship from the train station. There was no information available at the ... Read More
Our cruise started out BAD because we were not informed that the 20th of August is a Hungarian National Holiday and that we would NOT be able to get a taxi to the ship from the train station. There was no information available at the train station to tell us where the ship was docked, etc. We finally found a taxi driver who would try to help us find our ship however, we ended up at the wrong end of the docking area. No one from the 3 Viking cruise ships docked there (we could not see the names) could tell us where our ship was other than "down that way". After schlepping our suitcases for about 2 km (street along the docks was closed due to upcoming fireworks), we found the dock where our ship was supposed to be but it had moved because of the fireworks scheduled that evening. No sign or any information - we finally found someone who cared and they told us that the ship had moved at 3pm (we couldn't get our staterooms until 3pm) and would return about 11pm (some 8 hours later). We walked another km and finally found the ship. Not happy campers when we got there. Did I say that it was really HOT? And then, we were invited to a Welcome to the Cruise drink in the Lounge. Some invitation when they ask you to pay for your own drink. Not an "invitation" I would accept again. Our "French balcony" was neither French nor a balcony. It was a sliding door that would open to look out and let in fresh air - however every time we were docked, we were sandwiched between two other ships and so our only view was of curtains on another ship. Couldn't open the door for safety reasons because of the very close (6-8 inches) proximity of the next ship. And we paid extra for this! (by the way, all the ads on TV show a chair in the room - our stateroom was not big enough for a chair and so there was no such thing as sitting and enjoying the view from our stateroom) Food was good for the most part and the staff was very accommodating. Unfortunately the gal in charge of tours, etc., forgot that there were people whom she should be telling information - she would tell one person or a small group and assume that the word would spread to all the rest. This did not happen and it resulted in a great deal of extra walking, etc. Not cool when you have older people who don't need the extra miles. Low water in the Danube was an issue. We were told by friends in Nurnberg that we would not be able to sail that far but that was denied by the crew - "Oh, they had some rain this past week and now it is ok" Not so much! A bit of honesty would have helped here. Local tours had to be rearranged resulting in some being cancelled. Not a happy situation. I realize that Viking is not responsible for the low water in the Danube, but a little honesty ahead of time would have been welcome. The good part - we met lovely people and really did enjoy ourselves outside of the problems. However, I would not recommend it to my friends because of the reasons stated. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
Forget about the marketing claims; this river cruise line cannot handle obstacles in an efficient manner. Had a very good pre-cruise to Prague & Bratislava but after getting on board, the Danube River water levels were low causing a ... Read More
Forget about the marketing claims; this river cruise line cannot handle obstacles in an efficient manner. Had a very good pre-cruise to Prague & Bratislava but after getting on board, the Danube River water levels were low causing a barge to run a ground. This event occurred on a Friday and from there things went downhill. For 5-days we were stuck in Passau Germany while the Vantage management decided what to do with us. On day 7 of our 14-day cruise, we were given a choice; fly home with a credit, or "continue with a re-arranged itinerary and stay in a 5 star hotel in Mainz Germany," according to the letter from Vantage management. The "re-arranged itinerary" was via daily bus rides to points of interest. The so called 5 star hotel was The Hilton in Mainz Germany; and unfortunately, Vantage never told us the hotel name until after we signed our intentions. The problem with Vantage is they mislead us as I cannot find a 5 star rating among many travel guidance sites. Our meals were all buffet style with a disappointing assortment. Additionally, the dinner meals on the ship included unlimited wine or beer at dinner, and the Hilton offering included one drink only. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
This being our 42st cruise and 5th riverboat voyage, we are very fortunate to have many experiences from with which to compare our latest cruise on Viking's Grand European Tour. On the very positive side, we met several wonder ... Read More
This being our 42st cruise and 5th riverboat voyage, we are very fortunate to have many experiences from with which to compare our latest cruise on Viking's Grand European Tour. On the very positive side, we met several wonder couples, enjoyed diverse ports, and were appreciative of the exceptional service and demeanor of the staff. However, there were many misrepresentations of what was advertised and what was actually delivered, particularly by what is touted to be an upscale line. Instead of arriving early in the morning at each destination, for half the trip, the ship did not dock until noon or later in the afternoon. Therefore, there was only time for the arranged ship tour and virtually no free time to explore on our own, as had been the normal procedure on past riverboat lines. Next, the top outside deck was closed for more than half the cruise, so there was no place to exercise or enjoy the outside; there was no option of an exercise room on the ship. No explanation was given for either situation mentioned. So, with basically nothing planned on board, we were literally held captive, with only a lounge available as a common area, as we awaited late arrival in the majority of the ports. With the Skadi being a new ship built in 2013, we expected our room to be small, yet comfortable, based on the 150 sq ft. designation given on the website. In actuality, we literally had a maximum o 18 inches to maneuver around the bed (about 50 sq. ft. of usable space) , and no chair or table. Therefore, we could not resort to use of our room during the endless ship time, since the only place to sit was actually on the bed in claustrophobic quarters. While the front desk responded quickly to our reports of mold smell in our room 122, no source was found, so we lived with that and a sewer smell the entire cruise. Having taken four other river cruises at a fraction of the cost of this voyage, all of which providing much better quality and experiences , I found the circumstances unforgivable. Hopefully this will prevent others from a costly mistake. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
We have been on 5 river cruises but this was the first one with Viking. The staff were fine! The ship - on which we paid extra to have a third floor suite - was parked next to another ship at least 5 times. What a disappointment to ... Read More
We have been on 5 river cruises but this was the first one with Viking. The staff were fine! The ship - on which we paid extra to have a third floor suite - was parked next to another ship at least 5 times. What a disappointment to wake up 3 days in a row only to see another person's room as our view. On previous AVALON cruise this never happened and noticed them in several ports this year - never beside another ship! The ship was not always docked at the port advertised - some times 20 - 30 minutes away - the buses would leave and then the ship would leave - once the ship was not even where the tour ended - 30 minutes away. This meant that after the tour they would give free time - 2 + hours at times - that is just too much time away from the ship for 75 - 87 year olds! Some people had packages from their travel agent that included all drinks (even premium ones) and tips. That meant that some signed for drinks and some did not. Not a good atmosphere in the lounge! We booked directly with VIKING and got none of that! The top deck was not open except once in the beginning and the last day - even when we were in port - they did not bother to put up the railings or seats! Meals were overcooked on 4 evenings - the chef was concerned but that did not help eating it! Many on the ship got 12-24 hour food poisoning - never been so sick! Not for us! Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
We have been on 5 river cruises (60+ ocean cruises) but this was the first one with Viking. The staff were fine! The ship - on which we paid extra to have a third floor suite - was parked next to another ship at least 5 times. What ... Read More
We have been on 5 river cruises (60+ ocean cruises) but this was the first one with Viking. The staff were fine! The ship - on which we paid extra to have a third floor suite - was parked next to another ship at least 5 times. What a disappointment to look out - only to see another person's room as our view. On previous AVALON cruise this never happened and noticed them in several ports this year - never beside another ship! The ship was not always docked at the port advertised - some times 20 - 30 minutes away - the buses would leave and then the ship would leave - one time the ship was not even where the tour ended - 30 minutes away. This meant that after the tour they would give free time - 2 + hours at times - that is just too much time away from the ship for 75 - 87 year olds! And then another ride to the ship. Some people had packages from their travel agent that included all drinks (even premium ones) and all tips. That meant that some signed for drinks and some did not. Not a good atmosphere in the lounge! We booked directly with VIKING and got none of that! Viking must pay travel agents something - why not give it to those who book directly? The top deck was not open except once in the beginning and the last day - even when we were in port on a sunny afternoon - they did not bother to put up the railings or seats! Meals were overcooked on several occasions - chef was concerned but that did not make eating them any easier. Many on the ship got 12-24 hour food poisoning - never been so sick! Not for us! Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
There were many bright spots in this cruise, but too many visits to too many old buildings, churches, etc. We were a group of seniors, some of whom had no trouble navigating the streets and pathways, but some of the routes were more ... Read More
There were many bright spots in this cruise, but too many visits to too many old buildings, churches, etc. We were a group of seniors, some of whom had no trouble navigating the streets and pathways, but some of the routes were more difficult for some. The rooms on the ship were quite good, but the food was not up to what I have learned to expect on cruise ships. The beverage service was slow and unpredictable. But, we were traveling with some people who did not understand that European cities are not like Houston, Texas, and when offered certain things to eat or drink, one should decline politely, not shout out loudly, "I don't drink beer" while at an abbey famous for its beer, "I don't like wine" when at a famous winery, or when served steak tartar as an appetizer before a departure meal, one should not try to cook the raw meat over a candle. But that was what happened on the last night in Amsterdam, so all I had to do was endure the ride to the airport and the return flight.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
Please, please, please think very hard before you spend your hard earned money cruising on Viking Freya. My wife and I unfortunately spent almost £7000.00 for a seven night river cruise on the Danube. To be fair our flights to and from ... Read More
Please, please, please think very hard before you spend your hard earned money cruising on Viking Freya. My wife and I unfortunately spent almost £7000.00 for a seven night river cruise on the Danube. To be fair our flights to and from Belfast via London to Budapest with a two night hotal stay b/b basis before our cruise were included. We paid a lot extra for a balcony, recommended by Viking for the ultimate holiday. What they didn't say was that at almost every port of call another Viking boat moored alongside us and guess what, the only views we experienced was another balcony within arms reach, I kid you not!! Most of our journeys were at night so all the beautiful so-called views were obscured by darkness. When we didn't have a boat alongside we would have required rubber boots as our and the next door staterooms balcony were flooded ( have photos to verify) with two inches (50mm) water, apparently from a leaking downpipe from above. Our stateroom attendant had to mop this virtually daily. The response from the reception staff was literally, " we are very sorry but it's out of their control", in other words, live with it!! The week prior to our journey must have been another disaster for the passengers as the Captain apparently forgot to lower the wheelhouse when passing below a low bridge, and "whoops " no wheelhouse!! WHAT A MESS The main reason for this trip was because my wife and I had just hit another big "O" and according to the Viking brochures this was going to be a trip of a lifetime, which we had saved very hard. To be fair we knew what we had to pay and were taken in with Vikings very expensive television adverts, I now know that I have paid for quite a few of them. Vienna was supposed to be the highlight of our cruise, again rather than an overnight stay we were rushed about and the only highlight was a beautiful concert, which after paying almost £7000.00 had to fork out an other hundred plus for the privilege. The amount of people that I have put off cruising with Viking runs into double figures and If you are thinking river cruising please shop around or do what we intend to do is visit Vienna and take a local river cruise up and down the river, you will save thousands. There was little or no entertainment on board, the food was ok but nothing special. Our last night onboard was taken up mainly with the entertainment officer asking us for tips/gratuities not only for her and the other visual staff but for the crew in general, somehow I think they must be well paid. I have checked prices for cruise ship prices and we can get 21nights cruise on the Azamar (5star) for the same money, fully inclusive. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!! PS. I got a beautiful letter from Viking stating, how sorry they were and please come again, NO WAY. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
This is the first time we ventured on a river cruise with a total of 18 friends in our group. Our group has travelled extensively both on land and ocean and live in 3 different continents: North America, Australia and Asia. The food ... Read More
This is the first time we ventured on a river cruise with a total of 18 friends in our group. Our group has travelled extensively both on land and ocean and live in 3 different continents: North America, Australia and Asia. The food quality was by far the biggest disappointment. There was very limited selection during breakfast and dinner. Breakfast options were the exact same 7 days straight. You could tell they recycled the leftover food from the morning and serve it at night. Also, they misrepresented the size of prawns and type of fish on their menu. The wine selection for the dining room was mediocre at best. At the bistro dinner, there was no wine pairing as was indicated and food portions were rather small and as a result we were still hungry afterwards. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
Travelers (3): Ages 84, 77, 51, well seasoned travelers, ocean cruises 23, river cruise 1 (this one). We had 2 lower level cabins (the ones with the windows instead of the balcony, difference in price was $5K. Accommodations: Very nice ... Read More
Travelers (3): Ages 84, 77, 51, well seasoned travelers, ocean cruises 23, river cruise 1 (this one). We had 2 lower level cabins (the ones with the windows instead of the balcony, difference in price was $5K. Accommodations: Very nice as far as room (for a boat) plenty of closet space, nice bathroom, shower, heating/air, 110v and 220v outlets available, built in USB ports (ipod music easily plays through room speakers). Sound: Terrible. If you've ever wondered what fish in a fish tank feels like or hears...get a lower cabin. Bloop bloop bloop...all night. On the last night, it sounded like they were power washing the sides. You go through SEVERAL locks each day. If you're in your cabin, all you see out the window is a brick wall. It makes you feel like you're locked in. For good. Food: Above average. Nice selection. The set up a buffet for breakfast and lunch which fills with passengers and the line is about 30 minutes. It took us 2 days to realize that if you just go to a table and sit, the wait staff will bring you whatever is on the buffet. Wait Staff & Housekeeping: Service in the dining room is GREAT. Very friendly and hardworking! Within 2 days, they pretty much know everyones name and are very very eager to please. Housekeeping, same as above. Cruise Director: Chantal, was very new at this position (3 mos.) but did a good job overall. She lost us completely on the last evening when she thoroughly explained the importance of the survey. She even told us how to easily mark the 4-6 page document easily with 100% satisfied. I found that offensive. Also, considering the amount of money this cruise costs, the last thing I'm going to do is homework. The survey is seriously about 45-60 min worth of work. No thanks. She also needs to hone her public speaking skills and stop reading everything. Nobody likes to be read to. If you're going to read it, just hand it to me and I'll do it. Ports: Great! Tour guides were hit and miss 50/50. The ship asks us to review each one so that they can either continue to book them or not. Problem is most of them will tell you that this is a temporary or part time position (only for the summer or only till I get a real job). Some were fantastic some were horrible. Ports were all excellent but more free time at each port would have been great. Passengers: Everyone is well over 60 on this ship. We were prepared for that. That wasn't a problem at all, but if you're not prepared...it could be shocking. It really is like a nursing home on the water. No offense, but totally true. Passengers were all very friendly and very nice. First Aid: We needed an ace bandage and had to rummage through a first aid kit that had not been re-stocked in quite a while. I'm also VERY SHOCKED to hear that Viking ships DO NOT carry defibrillators! Considering the average age of the passengers... I think it would be very helpful to have a least 1 crew member trained and ready to go with the paddles. Also, if you have trouble walking at more than a stroll, this cruise is not for you. They did have a group for the "slow walkers" which wasn't very slow at all. We did both. Our travel guide even left 3 passengers behind in Vienna. One of them walked with a walker. Night Life: None Lounging Life: Lots, bring books, ipads, cards, knitting or anything that can entertain you. You will find most passengers sleeping in the main lounging area all day long. Watching them sleep makes you sleepy. Entertainment: None to speak of. There were presentations on coffee and struddle making both by staff members. Actual musical entertainment (2 evenings) were boring. If you're going for the entertainment, don't. Finally when analyzing the river cruise vs. ocean cruising...the cost differential is not worth it. We do not plan on doing another river cruise again.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
My wife and I had planned this "trip of a lifetime" a year earlier. Our first river cruise but we had cruised Alaska, the Baltic Sea to St. Petersburg, Russia and a few others previously. We did not expect much in recreation, or ... Read More
My wife and I had planned this "trip of a lifetime" a year earlier. Our first river cruise but we had cruised Alaska, the Baltic Sea to St. Petersburg, Russia and a few others previously. We did not expect much in recreation, or public rooms given the size of the ship. The cabin was as expected and the cabin staff were first rate. The meals were average at best, breakfast and lunch were the same every day! wine selection poor and at times we felt we were bussed more than on the ship! We were told that a barge ran aground and so we had to use the busses, then the propeller broke, or so we were told. The best wine we had was the bottle we purchased locally in Melk. The "tours" were brief and time allotted at each town was curiously cut short almost every day. This is an overpriced cruise, avoid Viking at all costs - after all it is your money! Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
With all the hype of the Viking River Cruise line, I expected more from the cruise. While it was relaxing, and very scenic, there wasn’t much to do on board. No exercise room, just a small walking path on the upper deck and that was not ... Read More
With all the hype of the Viking River Cruise line, I expected more from the cruise. While it was relaxing, and very scenic, there wasn’t much to do on board. No exercise room, just a small walking path on the upper deck and that was not accessible for almost 3 days as it had to be closed to go under the bridges. Not to mention nowhere in their advertisement did they mentioned that we had to go through 24 lock and dams (really). The service was poor to say the least, one night it took us 2 hours to get out dinner, and while wine, beer and soda was complementary during meals, one had to ask for refills, they waiters spoke just enough English to serve you, but please do not ask them anything out of the ordinary as they just did not understand. The food overall was very disappointed as the first night I ordered the chicken, it was like rubber, could not cut it with my knife, breakfast the French toast and pancakes were premade, tasted like cardboard. The excursions were well planned, but would have liked more free time to explore on my own, felt very rushed and for the price of the cruise, I expected more. They should think about new ships they build in the future to include an exercise room, spa and better food.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
We had never cruised before- all we knew about a European river cruise is what we read on the Viking website and heard from the Viking rep. It sounded great- the perfect way to see Europe, sipping wine on a relaxing voyage down the most ... Read More
We had never cruised before- all we knew about a European river cruise is what we read on the Viking website and heard from the Viking rep. It sounded great- the perfect way to see Europe, sipping wine on a relaxing voyage down the most beautiful rivers in Europe. We were very excited about this trip, celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary. Things began to go wrong before we even left. Our scheduled boat, the Kvasir, was unable to meet us in Budapest due to high water levels. Instead we would sail aboard the Idi. Fair enough, both ships are brand new. We arrived in Budapest and boarded the Idi with no problems. Our briefing was held by a cruise director on her way out the door for a vacation. Our assigned cruise director was held up in Amsterdam and would join us later. No problem. We enjoyed our day in Budapest, a beautiful and historic city. And that was the last day anything went according to plan. We were informed that the first lock on the Danube, about 70km from Budapest, was broken and we would have to spend another day in Budapest. OK, Budapest is nice. The next day we were informed that the lock could be down for several days and we needed to leave. The plan? Sail up to a “town” near the broken lock and board buses for a 2-1/2 hour trip to Bratislava, Slovakia. Then a 2-1/2 hour bus ride back to the ship. We docked at an industrial port, old and rusted. Walking under decrepit winches and scaffolding, I was thinking a hard hat was probably appropriate. We were loaded into the buses. A word about buses in Europe- apparently it violates some law to have the air conditioning on when the bus is not moving. We learned this from our cruise director who yelled at my wife and made her cry. It was in the low 90's F and it was a sauna in the buses. This would be our cross to bear for the next week. We were whisked off towards Bratislava with a stop at a gas station for a restroom break. Portable toilets were lined up in the parking lot. They made American portable toilets seem positively fragrant. It could be worse though. One lady from our ship opted for the pay toilets in the gas station and had her passports and wallet ripped off. From what we read and were told, our days at port were to consist of a morning guided tour followed by a free afternoon or optional excursion. Scratch that. We got to Bratislava and did our tour followed by lunch for 180 people in a local restaurant. Bad wedding chicken and chicken bouillon soup all around. Want something else? Tough. After that yummy meal we had 45 minutes to explore before boarding the bus for the scenic cruise back to the boat. Another briefing that night and- oh no! The lock is still broken! But not to worry. Back on the buses for a leisurely trip to Vienna. Oh yes and pack up all your luggage because you'll be dragging that along. The good news...we were going to be staying at the Grand Hotel in Vienna! The bad news...the rooms were not that great and once again bad wedding food for all in the banquet hall. Can we see a menu? No, we cannot. But wait- we're all going to the symphony for free (it was an optional excursion originally). So back on the sweaty buses. The concert was good but everyone was exhausted by then and we just wanted to sleep. But we could spend the next day in Vienna! Uh-oh. It's Sunday. Everything is closed. We could have opted for more bus trips but we strolled around Vienna for the day, which was nice. Good news! The lock is fixed! The Idi is on its way to meet us. In Vienna? No! Further upriver. Back to the buses! We 're being bused to Passau, Gernany! An hour later we're in Passau and the driver is looking for the restaurant where we're scheduled to have lunch. Hmmm. Where could it be? There goes another of our buses on another street in the opposite direction with our program director giving perplexed looks out the window. We appear to be lost. We make a 3-point turn in a rotary, very cool. Then drive across a bridge over the river. Then drive back over the river the other way. What is the name of the restaurant? our bus driver and Viking cruise guide want to know. Fortunately, the passengers have their daily printed itineraries (which are usually obsolete by the time we wake up) and can supply the hapless bus driver with the name. Another half hour and we are there. An authentic German restaurant stuffed to the rafters with tourists from at least two stricken ships. The waiters are surly, they bark at us and sit us upstairs with passengers from another cruise ship. So what's on the menu? No menu for you! We have about 45 minutes free time before needing to board the buses again. This time to Regensburg to hopefully meet the Idi. Yes! We are reunited with the Idi! We love our wait staff and are glad to be with them again. We have a quick tour of the charming town of Regensburg then it's ta-ta Regensburg, we barely knew ye. We need to be back on the ship to leave at 1:00 pm because WE”RE BEHIND SCHEDULE!! But it turned out to be the best time we had on the whole trip as there was an open bar the whole night! We all drank to forget. It should be noted that all this time and actually until three days before the end of the cruise, the sundeck is off limits on the ship, so either look out the windows or jam into the bow. Did I mention we totally missed the beautiful Wachau Valley as we were on buses instead? We were told we needed to make up time so we could get to Koblenz for some sort of festival. We compressed our schedule yet again only to find out we weren't allowed to dock during the festival. Wait- what? Well don't worry says the cruise director, we'll watch the fireworks from the ship! We'll have a great view. Uh-oh it's getting pretty dark. Where's Koblenz? We climb to the newly opened sundeck and peer into the distance. Are those fireworks? They're pretty small- probably about 5-10 km away. Oh rats...we missed them. Well it was a good thought anyway. It appears we are finally back on schedule. We make it to Amsterdam with enough time to catch a 6:30 a.m. bus to the airport. It would have been nice to actually spend a day in Amsterdam but so it goes. Believe me, I could go on, but suffice to say our trip wasn't exactly what we were expecting. We were told by a Viking rep after we had returned home and complained that “cruising isn't for everyone”. It's hard to disagree if that's what passes for cruising. As it turned out we did get offered a voucher for 35% off our next Viking cruise. But once was enough, thanks anyway.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
We took the Grand European Tour with great expectations. We could not have been more disappointed. The quality of the service in the restaurant and cabin was not up to standard. The food was mediocre and it took them forever to get the ... Read More
We took the Grand European Tour with great expectations. We could not have been more disappointed. The quality of the service in the restaurant and cabin was not up to standard. The food was mediocre and it took them forever to get the main course to the table. But the worst was the way Viking handled a contingency due to low water level of the Danube. Decisions were not timely and we had to spend more than 14 hours, in 3 days, traveling by bus. There was absolutely no concern with the hardship produced on passengers, most of them old seniors. With better planning and a more timely decision making the time employed in traveling by bus could have been reduced by one half. Eventually, we were transferred to the Eistla, where the quality of food improved considerably but, when facing a problem, senior staff was always providing excuses and not expressing any concern with the way the issue at hand was affecting passengers. Absolutely not client oriented. Additionally, there were problems with several excursions. In one case, the bus picking us up came one hour late. In other, one guide was assigned for 60+ persons while visiting a medieval castle with small rooms and very narrow corridors. Bottom line. Not traveling with Viking again and not recommending it to friends and relatives. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
Good Points for nice cabins, House Keeping, Reception Staff on Boat, Program Director. about Meals- Two Thumbs and ten toes down. 1. For vegetarians hardly one items in menu (some times none). Even Salad at dinner time has anchovies. 2. ... Read More
Good Points for nice cabins, House Keeping, Reception Staff on Boat, Program Director. about Meals- Two Thumbs and ten toes down. 1. For vegetarians hardly one items in menu (some times none). Even Salad at dinner time has anchovies. 2. Vegetarian meals if any, have no equity in nourishment or in Dollar value with multiple choices available to Non-vegs. 3. Reason given that Menu is decided in the Home Office, no room for flexibility! 4. Chefs can not even cook Vegetable lasagna ! 5. Even French fries were cold, soggy and tasteless. Excuse was that they use 'frozen French fries". So does McDonalds 6. At breakfast, except for fried eggs and omelette , everything was cold. No common sense to use steam bath or Sterno burners prior to serving breakfast. . Even 60 minutes after opening the breakfast, all items were cold. 7. Before embarkation, at least two full days in Budapest. Breakfast provided by the hotel but not a single lunch or dinner by Viking. Cheap, cheap. 8. During the city tour of Budapest, not even water bottle provide ! 9. Staff in the dining room very overbearing and condescending, perhaps fishing for tips. 10. my 4th ( ,may be last) cruise with viking, each one disappointing about their meals, despite promises of good and nourishing choices for vegetarians 11. Viking very good in marketing ( TV ads in USA, Europe, Asia and multiple glossy brochures by mails) that hooks the unwary. after all who is paying for this blitz of marketing?,. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
Grand Circle has a lot of rapid repeated travelers, but I'm not going to be one of them. Their style just isn't for me. This all started with an email telling us the ship wasn't going to be in port and directing us to a ... Read More
Grand Circle has a lot of rapid repeated travelers, but I'm not going to be one of them. Their style just isn't for me. This all started with an email telling us the ship wasn't going to be in port and directing us to a hotel that had no idea what they were talking about. First up, lets talk about the ship. Its slightly smaller than the newest river ships at around 160 passengers and our cruise must have been packed to capacity. Its an older ship, I think they said the captain had been on this ship for 10 years, so that makes it older than that. Its is in good repair, but its just not a luxury ship. It feels like one of the really old $399 a week Carnival ships. There isn't much in the way of public areas The lounge- This is overcrowded to fairly comfortable individual movable chairs and tables nominally set up in groups of 4. In practice its a wall to wall sea of chairs with no room to walk between them. It made it really unpleasant to get seating in the lounge. You had to push chairs around and climb over people to get to seats. They really need to gut it and replace with a more space efficient bench/booth setup. Also during briefings when the whole ship is there its impossible to seat everyone. If you don't arrive early and fight for a seat you end up standing in the hall. They don't have a way to broadcast any of these briefings to the rooms BTW so you have to show up if you want the port info. The bar is also here. They have a small selection of beers, but I hope you like pilsners as there is almost zero variety in styles. There is also a free coffee machine and tea. Iced water is available in a pitcher, but the glasses provided are good for about a swallow before you have to refill. Don't plan on being able to fill up and going up on deck for awhile. They have beer, wine and soft drink packages available. At several points we saw the crew berate passengers. The Sun deck- The whole top of the ship has seating. There are a number of tables, a few shades and lots of reclining deck chairs up here. There is a bar, but it was never open during our entire cruise. Sure would have been nice to get able to get a drink up there, especially on our full day cruising. Space isn't really an issue here, but people will fight for the chairs up front going through locks, etc. If you want to smoke the only spot on the ship to do so is way in the back up here. The Dining room- The dining room doubles as the buffet. There are a variety of table sizes here. Seating is not reserved and dining times are not flexible. Every meal there is a huge cattle call and rush to grab the table you want. If you show up a few minutes late expect to dine at the worst table and have your party split up if you are more than 2 people. During the buffet they have salad (With no sneeze guard and people grabbing stuff with their hands) and those large cylindrical trays with the rotating tops for hot food. There is usually a cook doing something like pasta omlettes etc in the center. They rotate directions on what tables are served first for table service. Inside tables near the buffet to the back and the outside one night, opposite direction the next. Service is glacial. Expect 2hr meals. I also don't think there was many meals where someone at our table didn't have something forgotten. Drinks that never show up, skipped for a course, etc, etc. On an ocean cruise these people would have been sacked long ago. If I were treated this way at a restaurant at home there is a fair chance I would be walking out, or speaking with a manager. Food- Breakfast is acceptable. They have both hot and cold foods and you can eat on your own time as its a buffet and it is far less crowded. Nothing amazing, but nothing to screw up either. Lunch is half buffet, half table service. Nothing on the buffet ever interested me other than a salad. Most of the stuff you can pick up otherwise looks like the finger sandwiches you might get at a tea party. The table service stuff is a little heavy and there are only two choices a day. Lunch takes way too long in general. Dinner is a disaster. There have 3 choices of entree. Meat, fish, veggie. Its theoretically local, but its more like cruise ship unrecognizable dish to reuse as much leftovers as possible. No effort was made to call out local stuff or where it was from. Desert there are two choices. The rest you get what you get. I had all sorts of overcooked, uncooked and plain gross meals come out of their kitchen. Fairly often my wife ended up eating only the sides of her main dish and leaving kind of hungry. There are a few always available choices (hamburger, chicken breast, etc). There is no room service. There is no food available on ship outside of normal meal times. You get hungry? Tough. You didn't like dinner? Tough. Go to bed hungry. Wine, soft drink, or beer is included with dinner. You can also get iced tea. Tours- GCCL includes at lot of its tours. This is sort of a dual edged sword. On one hand its nice not to have to worry about booked stuff ahead of time or worry about getting ripped off by the cruise line tour rates. On the other hand its a cruise line tour. Most of the tours ended up with lot of 'drive by stuff in a bus' with little actual exploring of the places we were in. In the end I felt like we drove through most of the places we went rather than really visited. The big downside for me was the buses. Our ship was divided into 4 buses. You stick with the same bus and people stand outside early to fight for seats. One bus getting off at small attractions is a big enough problem. The issues is that all the buses were going to the same spots and they didn't space them so you missed the other buses. So you ended up having 100+ people show up at the same spot at once. A lot of the places we went to weren't very crowded.... until we showed up. It made getting people free pictures almost impossible and you always felt like you were fighting peak crowds where ever you went. The whole experience was kind of stressful. GCCL suggests you tip all the local guides and bus drivers as well. The one nice bit was the headsets they hand out for the trip so you can hear the guide without crowding around him. It allowed me to explore a little bit while the guide talked. All the ID cards and radios make you stick out like a sore thumb as a tourist while I like to try and blend in as much as I can. Rooms- The beds in the rooms fold out of the walls. This wasn't immediately obvious to me before I booked. That means you have to sleep apart from your spouse for the whole trip. The mattresses are the cheap thing spring variety you might find at a summer camp. Seriously think about upgrading to some latex foam ones GCCL. The storage is pretty nice except for the fact that you can't get to two drawers with the bed down. It makes dressing in the morning a challenge as they don't want you folding up the beds on your own. The bathroom is functional, nothing special. No mini fridge in the room, so forget about cool drinks in your room. I resorted to leaving bottles on top of the air conditioning vent to have semi-cool drinks. The small TV in the room does have a HDMI port in the back if you want to bring a bluray player, computer or similar. The CCTV system only shows the front ship cam, no view for the lounge for port talk info. Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
Having enjoyed our first Viking cruise, some 6 months earlier (on the River Elbe), we were looking forward to an exciting itinerary from Budapest to Passau. We arrived at the ship and were shown to our expensive cabin with a French ... Read More
Having enjoyed our first Viking cruise, some 6 months earlier (on the River Elbe), we were looking forward to an exciting itinerary from Budapest to Passau. We arrived at the ship and were shown to our expensive cabin with a French Balcony. We were surprised that the curtains were fully drawn (around noon on a sunny day) and immediately flung them open. To our surprise, the view that faced us was the balcony of another river boat (the Viking Freya) little more than 12 inches away! From then on, at every mooring, on every single day of the holiday, part or all of the time was spent with no view other than an adjoining boat. Apparently, this is the norm, with the various boats swapping places every 7 hours to make it 'fair' for all passengers. We would have called the policy, making it 'unfair' for all passengers at some point every day! Now, if you are someone who just uses a cabin for sleeping, then this is no real hardship (excuse the pun). However, we like to spend a fair amount of time in our cabin, (which is why we pay for an expensive one) and the situation made our cabin, completely unusable when adjacent to another cabin or the restaurant (on a couple of occasions) on another ship. Also on a couple of occasions, our boat was sandwiched between two other boats, so everyone suffered at the same time! If you are happy with all this then fine, but remember that the design of the cabins is such that the dressing table mirrors on each boat provide a perfect view from your cabin directly into the toilet of the adjoining ship's cabin AND vice-versa! Without going into too much detail, the sight of of a man on the toilet of his cabin on the adjoining boat made sure that we fully closed the toilet door on every occasion! However, we should not have to do this in our private cabin. This whole experience ruined the cruise for us, despite very much enjoying the excellent itinerary. It goes without saying that the problem never occurred on our earlier River Elbe cruise with the same company. Now on to other matters, where, again compared to our earlier cruise, the food was generally poor. Some chefs have empathy with cooking fish (our preferred choice), but not so on our cruise! We were rarely able to eat the main course and indeed on the main 5 course meal, my wife had a tiny smoked salmon starter and a tiny piece of cheese for the final course, with nothing in-between. However, I managed the soup as well, so had 3 of the 5 courses! Generally, the meat eaters fared better, though at lunch we once had goulash, which turned out to be tough, dry and tasteless (and uneaten!). Interestingly, neither the Maître d', nor any waiter every enquired if there was a problem! Incidentally at least two of the waiters were 'over friendly' trying to 'force' you to drink or eat more. On one occasion, spare desserts were actually served to us and cajoled to eat them despite repeatedly saying no (we just left the table to escape). On a minor point, the white wine was also never cold and changing the subject, the WiFi was never good (even moored in a city) and generally only just usable. You have been warned! P.S. Oh! And don’t get us started on the absolute chaos between disembarkation and boarding the flight home!   Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
I was dazzled mesmerized mislead by Viking Cruise lines elaborate advertising campaigns. I truly believed that I was going on a first class river cruise, but instead I felt as if I was on a subpar barge floating down the Danube river. The ... Read More
I was dazzled mesmerized mislead by Viking Cruise lines elaborate advertising campaigns. I truly believed that I was going on a first class river cruise, but instead I felt as if I was on a subpar barge floating down the Danube river. The staff was cold and unfriendly. The food was good, but not great. Breakfast and lunch were buffets, and dinner was very small portions and the bread basket was full of slices of bread the size of a quarter. I love dessert and I was so disappointed in every dessert that they offered. It reminded me of what you would get on a buffet, or in a cafeteria. Our bathroom had a dirty toilet from the previous guest, which was cleaned up immediately. But I think the worst part was the fact that my 75 year old father was forced to pay my room expenses before he and the rest of the bus passengers were allowed to exit there bus at the Munich airport. I was unclear on why they did not just charge my credit card that was on file. And now I have been spending the last month and a half trying to reverse the charges from my father and apply them to my credit card. So far I get the impression that Viking River cruise does not care about their customers once they get your money. Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
The comments below are from a letter sent to Viking following our July, 2013 cruise from Bucharest to Amsterdam. Overall the trip did not meet our expectations. We realize that some problems were caused by the rolling lock strike, but the ... Read More
The comments below are from a letter sent to Viking following our July, 2013 cruise from Bucharest to Amsterdam. Overall the trip did not meet our expectations. We realize that some problems were caused by the rolling lock strike, but the way that Viking handled that issue was disappointing. In addition, there were aspects of the trip independent of the strike that were disappointing. First, since the negotiations between the parties had been going on for months, Viking clearly knew that there was the possibility of a strike long before the cruise, although the actual dates of the strike were uncertain. Viking made the decision not to inform their clients of this possibility. Had we known about the possibility, we probably would have decided to take our chances, but we would have been aware of potential disruptions. This unwillingness to communicate was further manifested on the cruise itself. There was very little information provided except to assure us that everyone was working hard to make alternate arrangements. As time progressed and it became apparent that the cruise would have to be terminated, we were asking questions, and the staff seemed to be trying to assure us that we would still be able to continue. Frankly, the failure to communicate left us with the impression that Viking River Cruises was completely unprepared for the strike and that they were making arrangements on a day-to- day basis. As a consequence, at least one of the contracted bus companies (Wii) was completely incompetent, first getting lost in Heidelberg, taking an unnecessary and dangerous route to the castle and then trying to take us back to the ship in Nuremberg rather than going to Wurzberg where the ship was docked. Our belief is that Viking needed to have vetted companies in preparation for a strike in order to avoid these kinds of issues rather than appearing as if they were making all arrangements the day before. Basically, we felt that Viking was not open concerning various plans and options, and furthermore that we were being treated as children. Independent of the strike issues, however, there other issues that made the cruise less than optimal. Most importantly, we feel that Viking's decision to have two people (cruise director and concierge) responsible for 180+ people was wholly inappropriate, regardless of how competent those individuals may be. As teachers with over 70 years combined experience, we cannot image how difficult it would be to keep track of that may people on excursions. One place where this deficiency became apparent was on bus excursions. With only two Viking personnel and four or more buses, if there was a problem, there was no one from Viking there to address the issue. As a matter of policy, no bus should ever leave the ship without a Viking employee on board independent of any contracted tour guide. That employee (who could be from the wait or hotel staff) should be able to communicate with the cruise director, Viking, and the bus company. That employee should keep count of the people on that particular bus, allowing a departure when everyone assigned to that bus is on board. Doing so would avoid the usual lengthy wait as only two Viking people tried to get everyone on board various buses. In Bamberg the lengthy delay meant waiting in an extremely hot bus since the bus was not able to idle and turn on the air conditioning. It was extremely uncomfortable. Had we left our dog in a car in similar heat, we could have been prosecuted. On excursions, guides from different buses should vary the order of tours to avoid the inevitable congestion that occurs when 180+ people are following the same path. Moreover, when lunch is served on an excursion, more than one restaurant should be used when possible. The amount of time spent feeding 180+ people at once meant that time spent either in sightseeing or free time was significantly reduced. Later in the tour we simply skipped the offered lunch because of the crowds and noise. Furthermore, all optional excursions should be advertised well before the cruise. We learned about some optional excursions only on the ship. Finally, the comfort of passengers should be the top priority. On buses, toilets were frequently locked, and staff on long bus trips (more than 1 hr.) should never say that a rest stop will occur if there is an emergency. As a matter of policy, when travelling on a bus, passengers should be allowed a rest stop at least every 1.5 hours, and the time allowed for these stops should be realistic. (Stating that the stop will be 10 minutes when more than 180 people have to use the toilets is not realistic.) Finally, we would like to address what we feel is misleading advertising by Viking River Cruises. Ads show three or four people with a guide. The reality is up to 40 on a tour, which as former teachers we feel is too many for a single guide. Second, unlike the ads, it is only after one has paid for the cruise, that there is any information that ships may be rafted together, thus making use of a veranda impossible. We spent two days in Budapest rafted without use of the veranda. Surely, the ship could have turned around or switched with the other ship (both were Viking ships) to allow some use of the veranda. Third, the ads say that dinner is between 7 and 9, leaving the impression that one can go into the dining room and be served at any time during that period. The reality is that everyone is expected to begin dinner at 7 as each course was served to everyone at the same time. Given that the tables are for 6, 8, or 10 people, everyone waiting for the next course meant that the noise level in the dining room was so high that conversation was nearly impossible. As an alternative, consider tables no greater than 6 and encourage people to vary their dining time to make interaction easier. Fourth, in the ads people were dining on the Aquavit terrace. When one of us inquired about that possibility, the person at reception at that time argued that the terrace was open for lunch only. Only after one of us continued to insist and also showed her the information in the booklet in which the word evening appeared, did the receptionist check with someone and come back with the limited evening menu. Dinner on the terrace was wonderful until the word got out, and it became more popular. Initially, people were told that dinner could only be served in the enclosed portion of the terrace, but later the staff relented and allowed dining in the open area. The problem was that the number of people serving (2) was not increased as the area become used more, with the result that food was sometimes cold before it could be delivered. Finally, the ads imply that the cruise would be a voyage of cultural and intellectual discovery. However, the time taken to organize excursions, the time allowed for shopping, and the general ambiance encouraged aboard the ship seemed to us to be an attempt to create more of a party experience. In sum, although we found parts of the trip interesting and stimulating, our overall experience was a disappointment. Had we had a more accurate understanding of the reality of Viking River cruising, perhaps we would have been less disappointed. More importantly, our disappointment cannot be attributed wholly to the dislocations due to the strike, although that was an important component. One way to judge a tour company is how well they perform when things go wrong rather than when things go well. By that criterion, we believe that Viking has work to do. While we are not precluding a future river cruise, and even one on Viking, we have much lowered expectations based on our experience. Moreover, when asked if we would recommend Viking River Cruises, our recommendation must be, at best, qualified. As a consequence of this letter we received a $1000 voucher which we thought was a response to the letter and not linked to the promised 25% voucher. On Aug. 13 we received the 25% voucher and an hour and a half later received an email rescinding the $1000 voucher. Very childish and petty. We definitely would NOT recommend Viking to anyone. At this point we feel we have been had.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
As a preface, we are a couple of active, still working adults somewhat on the low end of the age range of typical river cruisers. I cancelled a back to back Celebrity cruise touring Iceland and the Baltic after reading about river ... Read More
As a preface, we are a couple of active, still working adults somewhat on the low end of the age range of typical river cruisers. I cancelled a back to back Celebrity cruise touring Iceland and the Baltic after reading about river cruising. Our experience has been mostly with the Royal Caribbean/Celebrity product. I considered Tauck, Uniworld and a few other lines when booking this trip last October. I chose Scenic based on the inclusions(tips, alcohol, all excursions, butler, internet), greater population of Australians, and appeared to have more "active" inclusions such as a gym and use of bicycles as well as "tailor made" self touring. As many of CC members, I researched and read reviews and had a good idea of what river cruising was about -- or so I thought. We booked the Jewel - the newest ship of the Scenic fleet-- based upon itinerary, and the fact that it included a gym (we love to eat). We arranged our own air/hotel stays which included 10 days in Europe prior to our July 1st Scenic cruise. Budapest is just as wonderful as all of the reviews. We stayed in a lovely B&B (Kapital Inn) for 3 nights. Our first disappointment came 2 days prior to the cruise in a forwarded email from our TA. We would not be cruising on the Jewel in Budapest, but instead would be on the Diamond for 3 nights, then we would be bussed to the Jewel which was upriver and unable to make it to Budapest due to a lock being closed up the Danube. We took a taxi to the Marriott to drop our luggage and take transportation to the ship. Quite a few people had not received word that we would not be on the Jewel. Most of us had been aware of the flooding, and although there was a little grumbling about not being told in advance, it wasn't a huge problem. Our cruise director Marin was the only staff that stayed with our group during our very challenging cruise. He did an amazing job considering the problems he faced. I'd like to mention the other ships we stayed on, as we found huge differences that impacted our trip. We ended up having to change ships again due to lock strikes in Germany after being docked in a commercial area in Bamburg for 3 nights and long bus trips for excursions. We started on the Diamond, moved to the Jewel and ended up on the Pearl. Our vision of unpacking once and enjoying the river from our balcony ended up being not so ideal. We spent much more time being on big bus tours than we thought. Did the interruptions impact our cruise enjoyment? Probably. We never did experience the "afternoons enjoying the villages on our own" The only village we stayed at required a 10 Euro one way taxi ride. I thought there would be smaller than the 40-50 groups were regularly on and the long bus rides to our destinations.Diamond: Some wear and tear obvious on the ship. It didn't matter to most of us, as we knew we would be meeting the Jewel in a few days. Some negative comments "we didn't get what we paid for", some people ended up in different cabins due to the ships not being identical. The staff however was lovely. We were greeted with cool towels, glass of champagne and a rose for the ladies. Passengers waited in the lounge. We were escorted to our standard balcony cabin after a very brief and orderly check in process. The room was explained by the very friendly stewardess. The balcony was a great feature, space for two chairs and a small table. It was somewhat annoying that the railing was just at eye level when sitting. The ability to move the window up and down was what i guess is Scenic's "signature" feature. To get the A/C to work, the sliding door to the balcony needed to be closed. Our butler "Zoltan" came to introduce himself. He was a favorite on the ship. Most wished we could take him with us. The bed was two two twins (full size twins) pushed together to make a king. L'Occitane bath products, and shower had a complicated spray system, gave it a somewhat higher end feeling. There was a "meet and greet" before dinner, where officers made some comments and the CD explained the river situation, assuring all that we wouldn't notice the ship change, that all would be seamless. Buffet first dinner, somewhat chaotic. The dining room was noisy, most were tables of 6 with a table for 2 right next to it. We found fun tablemates the first night and ate with them frequently during our trip. The wait staff was friendly and seemed very busy and hardworking. We were treated to a night sailing on the Danube to see the lights of BUdapest. We enjoyed the Diamond. DIdn't enjoy packing up three days into our trip. The plan was to take the scheduled tours with being bussed to the ship which was ahead of us. Jewel: We were to have a BBQ lunch on the top deck. Kinda sounds like fun, but it wasn't. The lines were long around the buffet, there weren't too many near tables. Drink service was odd, with waiters asking what we wanted, then never bringing it. No reception when entering the new ship. Not much in the way of greeting. Given our room keys. We find the new cabin to be much nicer -- a better use of space, no sliding door to the balcony, but a nifty folding door that we just left open. The bathroom had a huge shower!! no more complicated shower system. The public rooms were somewhat the same, it was just obvious that overall the physical layout of the Jewel was much better. You would think that this would make happy campers, right? Well, there was a HUGE difference in staff across the board on the Jewel. The ship captain was a substitute and the hotel director appeared to be on vacation. I wish this was an exaggeration. While we saw the hotel director working alongside his people, and checking on dining room status, the hotel director was never seen. People were scratching their heads, how can waiters and bar staff seem to look so "busy" all the time, but people couldn't get any service. Overall, it impacted our experience. We heard there were many verbal and written complaints. We didn't put ours in writing, because at the time I wasn't sure what was going on. THe wait staff didn't appear to be trained on how to do their job, so rather than say it was the problem with the staff, I place the blame on the uninterested hotel director. I did notice that we seemed to "warm" up the staff, mainly because I think we had a very tolerant, fun loving group of passengers. Pearl: like the DIamond, great, hardworking staff. It's hard to believe the difference. I had low expectations for food quality, and high expectations of service, but the reverse actually happened. For example, there were only two menus placed on each table of 6-8. Never did a waiter point out there were alternate selections each night. We were offered a "red" or "white" wine, and it took a few days to figure out they stock more than one choice. You had to be on guard as the waiters often would just pour what was in hand, not noticing you perhaps were drinking a Chianti that night. There was no coffee served dinner. Dining choices on the menu were limited, the food was well presented. I was pleased with my meals. Dining by buffet is difficult when all passengers eat at the same time. I never stayed in the long line for the carved meat or breakfast selections.Scenic promises much more than they are able to deliver. If you enjoy large organized bus tours, or walking tours where you are herded from one location to another Scenic can give you that experience. Our best days happened to be those which we decided to take a pass on the bus tour, and stayed on the boat while it was moving to the next port. The best experience was meeting new friends. Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
My wife and I made reservations for the Viking 2013 Passage to Eastern Europe (June 15 Budapest to Bucharest) cruise in August of 2012. Their brochure described a wonderful journey spending eight days cruising down the Danube and visiting ... Read More
My wife and I made reservations for the Viking 2013 Passage to Eastern Europe (June 15 Budapest to Bucharest) cruise in August of 2012. Their brochure described a wonderful journey spending eight days cruising down the Danube and visiting venues we had not seen before. They particularly highlighted the Iron Gate area. In addition to the monies paid to Viking we used many thousands of air miles for our flights. These miles could have been deposited back in our account had the trip been cancelled prior to leaving. Due to extreme flooding on the Danube I checked with Viking regularly during the seven days prior to the departure date from Budapest both by phone and their online site. They said we would be notified if the cruise were to be cancelled. I called Viking 24 hours prior to leaving San Francisco Airport and again was advised the trip was a go even though Viking had cancelled many trips due to rising waters on the Danube and elsewhere. Their online site still stated we would leave Budapest as scheduled. Whoever made the call to force the trip from Bucharest back to Budapest made a very unfortunate decision. With state of the art weather information, history of flooding, local river officials and continued cresting of the river it is unfathomable Viking would depart Bucharest only to be stuck between bridges in Novi Sad. It was not waiting one day for the river to subside but six days. In addition we paid extra for an outside balcony we could use sitting in chairs enjoying the described sights. Unfortunately we spent six days looking at another boat tethered one foot away. After cancelling so many trips I also wonder if the insurance company put pressure on Viking to make an attempt to depart. Had Viking cancelled this trip the insurance I paid for would have reimbursed me and I could have put my air miles back in my account for future use. In any case Viking with its resources knew the river was or would not be navigable and should not have left Bucharest. The decision to continue this cruise was a reckless decision and is the full responsibility of Viking Cruises. As stated in a petition signed by many we believe we were lied to by Viking as they knew full well a completion of the journey to our embarkation point of Budapest was not possible. Why Viking would risk it's reputation and the loyalty of passengers with such a feckless decision is beyond comprehension. We finally left after six days in Novi Sad to cruise 20 hours mostly in the dark to Calafat Romania. We went through the highly touted Iron Gate at night. We were then bussed six plus hours from Calafat to Bucharest enduring a flat tire on the bus along the way. We arrived in Bucharest around 4:30 pm, were hustled to a tourist trap restaurant for what should have been a 12pm lunch where we had exactly one hour to eat blah food and listen to loud music. Initially we were offered 50% off a future cruise and after the petition was presented were offered 100% back on this cruise excepting air costs and 50% of the value of this cruise towards another cruise we must book before June 2014. I am not sure why other posts indicated only a credit of 75% credit on different cruises. To those Viking sycophants' who defend Viking because of the weather I say yes you can't control the weather but you can make intelligent decisions with the information at hand and if you don't at least be honest to your customers. If some of the malcontents had not signed the petition I am sure the first 50% offer would have been the only one. I won't comment on noise, food or rambling bus trips as those have been already been addressed on other posts and I for the most part agree. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
Sailed on the "Enchanting Danube" from Budapest to Passau with the subsequent Prague Extension. Some thoughts: 1. Service aboard the ship is very attentive. I think this is somewhat the norm on the Euro river cruises and ... Read More
Sailed on the "Enchanting Danube" from Budapest to Passau with the subsequent Prague Extension. Some thoughts: 1. Service aboard the ship is very attentive. I think this is somewhat the norm on the Euro river cruises and aboard the River Beatrice was no exception. 2. The food is good and certainly acceptable but not outstanding or particularly memorable. 3. Both the standard and optional excursions are very much in need of improvement. Firstly, the groups are much too large with no sense of engaging in something unique or exclusive--much too typically touristy. Some of the guides are fine but many if not most are simply just functional and offer little in the way of good commentary or insight. I would recommend that paying extra to engage the service of a local guide on your own would be a better use of time, or just simply strike out on your own. 4. The Prague Extension was in large part a fiasco. The local Uniworld contact and guide was very much overwhelmed. The official tour included a ONE HOUR AND FORTY FIVE MINUTE BUS RIDE FROM THE HOTEL TO THE CASTLE (neither the guide nor the driver bothered to check that the route would be under heavy construction). The tour itself was like being a cow herded through chutes--an absolutely horrible experience. I would strongly suggest that those wishing to go to Prague do so on their own--it will be a much more rewarding experience. In short: Uniworld does an overall good job but not what you would expect for what is regarded as one of the more premium operators. Read Less
Sail Date October 2012

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