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2,320 Budapest to Europe - River Cruise Reviews

From the time we arrived until our departure everything ran with military precision. Our bags were put on the bus at Budapest airport and the next time we saw them they were laid out on the bed in our cabin. The Scenic Opal was first ... Read More
From the time we arrived until our departure everything ran with military precision. Our bags were put on the bus at Budapest airport and the next time we saw them they were laid out on the bed in our cabin. The Scenic Opal was first class, with first class amenities. The staff were first class, nothing being to much trouble. Patric, our butler for the duration of the cruise couldn't have been more helpful. The entire staff deserve a pat on the back as does the cruise director who kept everyone informed on a daily basis as to upcoming events. The food was a standout, with fantastic dining, unbelievable. The choice of excursions covered many and varied aspects of European life and attractions. Disembarkation was smooth (although we did not want to leave,having been thoroughly spoilt ). Bags left at the cabin door turned up at Amsterdam airport, staff even directed us to the appropriate airline check in counter. All in all a great trip and at that time of year the trees were in their Autumn colors. Well done Scenic. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
A friend that is a travel agent alerted my husband and me to a deal. Boy are we glad we took it! This was our first time cruising and because of the ship size and helpful staff it was really easy to find everything and get questions ... Read More
A friend that is a travel agent alerted my husband and me to a deal. Boy are we glad we took it! This was our first time cruising and because of the ship size and helpful staff it was really easy to find everything and get questions answered. The food was mouth watering! There was always choice at every meal and quality ingredients were used. It enhanced the travel experience by incorporating the wine, beers, breads and other food items from the local places we were visiting. Your glass was never empty, as the servers were very attentive. The live entertainment that was brought on board was very good. However, I must say the DJ that was in the lounge during happy hour, did not play a variety of music and many songs were repeated night after night. The quality of his sound system was great though. The wine and beer tastings were educational and fun. A wine master did tastings and a wine pairing meal that was to die for. The beer brewers did a presentation in lederhosen! How fun was that! I cannot even put into words, the beauty of the cities/towns we visited. A Very romantic backdrop! The chosen stops gave us the flavor of the countries. We never felt rushed, just the perfect pace. The guides really gave us in depth information and land transport went smoothly. We definitely would cruise with Avalon again to another destination. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
This was the second cruise on this ship, The Prestige. I chose to do this one again to see things I missed on the first cruise and because the crew are the very Best in my opinion. The staff went above and beyond taking care of everyone ... Read More
This was the second cruise on this ship, The Prestige. I chose to do this one again to see things I missed on the first cruise and because the crew are the very Best in my opinion. The staff went above and beyond taking care of everyone on board. I had a Single Cabin which is Great. The cabin had a couch which was turned into a twin bed at night. It wasn't like being on a sofa bed. There were no bars in the back, etc., just a nice twin bed. This was nice because during the day you had a couch to sit on and it made the cabin appear larger. The entertainment was Fabulous.....the piano player always did an excellent job and he played a variety of music. I really can't speak highly enough about this crew!! I would highly recommend this trip to anyone looking to take a River Cruise and I believe no one can improve on the standards of a Viking River Cruise. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
The cruise was great, service was wonderful and so was the food. This was my second Viking cruise and the staff couldn't have been nicer and more helpful. Everything went smoothly from the time we were picked up from the airport ... Read More
The cruise was great, service was wonderful and so was the food. This was my second Viking cruise and the staff couldn't have been nicer and more helpful. Everything went smoothly from the time we were picked up from the airport until the day we left. There was an excellent choice of foods at all times and our waiter was great. I loved our daily excursions and that for some of them, they considered the people who couldn't walk as fast and put them in their own group. All of the guides were knowledgeable and personable. The only disappointment we felt was with the Salzburg excursion. It spoke of the Sound of Music but we never stopped to see the mountains, we drove past them so fast and ended up mainly in the shopping area. Other than that, all of the other excursions were great as well as the cruise. Hopefully we will be scheduling another one in the near future. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
Just got back from our 15-day Grand European cruise, and all I can say is WOW, WOW, WOW!!!!! Everything was top notch. We cruised on the newer long boat, Gefjon. The ship, crew, food, and excursions were excellent. I will give as much ... Read More
Just got back from our 15-day Grand European cruise, and all I can say is WOW, WOW, WOW!!!!! Everything was top notch. We cruised on the newer long boat, Gefjon. The ship, crew, food, and excursions were excellent. I will give as much detail as I can. We booked about 45 days in advance and let Viking make all of our travel arrangements since we got our airfare for free. Flights went smoothly, and when we arrived in Budapest, we were greeted by 2 lovely ladies from Viking. We were quickly escorted to our private van, which took us to our ship (about 20 minute ride). We were lucky enough to arrive at 10 a.m. to our ship, and we were quickly greeted by a few staff members and shown directly to our room. ROOM: We had the veranda suite (#315), which was on the 2nd level. The room was an average size for a ship with ample storage space for clothing, large area under bed to put suitcases, a little fridge, hair dryer, TV, safe, and a few 110 American outlets. The bathroom was small, but large enough to accommodate my 6'4", 280 lb husband. The bathroom was stocked with shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and make-up remover pads/Q-tips, and shower cap. Nice touch with heated floors! The veranda was small with 2 chairs and a table, but nice enough to sit out on the cool mornings with our cups of coffee watching the scenery. FOOD: Food was amazing, and of course ample! You could eat in the Aquavit Terrace for a light breakfast, lunch, or dinner - or you could eat in the main restaurant downstairs for a full course meal. We usually ate breakfast in the main restaurant, and had a choice of any breakfast dish you can imagine. If it was not out on the serving table, you could ask for it to be made for you. We rarely ate lunch on the ship, as we tried to eat on our own during our excursions to get a taste (and drink) of the local cuisine. Dinner consisted of an appetizer, main course, and dessert. There were plenty of options, and you could eat 2 main courses, 2 desserts, and 2 appetizers... or even more if you wanted. My husband is a big guy, and without even being asked, they always brought him double and asked if he would like to try something else. Beer and house wine (which changes depending on your location) is included with lunch and dinner. We did not purchase the Silver package, as we did not think it was worth it for us. You really have to drink a LOT or drink very expensive liquor/wine for it to be worth it. EXCURSIONS: We went on as many included excursions as we could, which were very informative and led by very knowledgeable guides. The extra excursions that we paid for were the Mozart concert, Salzburg, Rothenburg, the pub crawl in Cologne, and the cheese making tour. Salzburg was a bit expensive at 200 per person with a 2-hour bus ride, but as we are fans of Sound of Music, it was nice to see some of the areas where the film was made. We were a bit disappointed with Rothenburg, as we specifically went there for the Steiff teddy bears, but as it was Sunday, all the stores were closed! Had someone told us they would be closed, we would have saved our money and did the included excursion. The pub crawl was probably our favorite. We went to 4 different pubs and drank with the locals, which also included a very nice German dinner with pork, sauerkraut, potatoes, and a cheese/meat dish with dessert... and all the Kolsch beer you could drink. The cheese tour was also a bit expensive for what it was... considering you end up in the cheese store purchasing as much as you think you can buy without going over your luggage weight... and yes, the cheese was excellent! STAFF: I cannot say enough about the staff! Every one of them were amazing. By day 2, we were being called by our first names (still have no idea how they remember all the names), the wait staff knew what we liked to eat and drink... and how much. We all became friends for 15 days. I need to shout out to Meike, our cruise director, Eddie the concierge, and the bartenders and wait staff who treated us like kind and queen.. Stephan (waiter), Stephan (bartender), David, Marvin, Brando, and Lucia - you all rock! MISC: We had no problem with water levels. There were over 65 locks that we had to go through, which most of them are at night while sleeping. You never feel like you are moving like on an ocean cruise, so sea-sickness is not an issue. Entertainment is what you make of it. We had Tony the piano player (sorry for torturing you, Tony), who plays every night, and after a few drinks, we were all singing along the piano. Don't expect glitzy shows, as the ship is small and just cannot accommodate that kind of thing. There were a few nights when they had local dancers/singers come in, which was quite nice... but we usually sat in the Aquavit and played board games or just talked with our new forever friends. Honestly, you will be so tired from the day's activities, you will just want to relax by the time you are finished dinner. The average age of the passengers seemed to be 55+. Although we were one of the youngest couples, we certainly had to "keep up" with our fellow passengers who were very young at heart. This cruise is really not for the person who cannot walk or handle many cobblestone pathways, and even some climbing up steep hills (on some excursions) to castles and palaces. Again, you can make the trip your own. Many times we diverted from the included tours and went off on our own.. and if possible, we would take public transportation back to the ship or a taxi (the staff will give you excellent directions on returning). In summary, I can honestly say, this was the most memorable experience we have ever had. We made some life-long friends and are even talking about a reunion for another trip. I really do not have one bad thing to say. Can't wait for our next trip!! Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
Having cruised on the high seas 15 times, I finally convinced my sister to splurge on a Viking River Cruise. We selected a unique itinerary, Passage to Eastern Europe, figuring it highly unlikely that we visit many of these countries on ... Read More
Having cruised on the high seas 15 times, I finally convinced my sister to splurge on a Viking River Cruise. We selected a unique itinerary, Passage to Eastern Europe, figuring it highly unlikely that we visit many of these countries on our own. The itinerary did not disappoint. It was not a trip filled with breathtaking scenery (although there were beautiful stretches along the Danube, particularly on the day cruising the Iron Gate), magnificent castles or world-class museums, but it offered a glimpse at the lives of people who live in former Iron Curtain countries, now a full generation removed from the end of the Communist period. The shore excursions and cultural shows (mostly singing and dancing) on-board while in port were the highlights of the trip. The Viking staff have logistics down to a science, from the airport transfers and hotel staff, to the ship's program director. All of the excursions were well executed, on-time and had excellent local guides who spoke very good English. A visit with a local Croatian family was fascinating as we sat in her dining room and enjoyed homemade strudel, coffee, tea and home-made fruit brandy while asking about her life during the communist times, during the war with Serbia in the 1990's and in the more recent past. Another highlight was a discussion with 2 Bulgarian teenagers about life in their little-discussed country. This discussion and other interactions with the younger generation offered me some hope for the future success of the region. As to the onboard experience, I must admit that my sister and I were somewhat disappointed. Perhaps we had different expectations, but we thought Viking would offer a higher-end cruise than we experienced. Some specifics: -The balcony stateroom was smaller than we expected. While the shower was ample for a cruise ship, the rest of the room seemed cramped and the single bed was very narrow. Unfortunately, the weather was largely too cool to make much use of the verandah. -There were few public areas where one could go to have some peace & quiet, play cards or a board game or just read quietly, beyond the large lounge. This might have been better had the weather permitted more use of the Sun Deck. There is no gym and only a small walking track on the Sun Deck. I understand many prefer the intimate size of a Viking long ship, but I prefer a bit more varied and larger public spaces that a larger cruise ship offers. -The cuisine was disappointing overall and had a relative lack of variety and ethnic diversity. While generally tasty, this was not a gourmet experience in the least, and no better than what we have experienced on Princess and Holland America. The free wines included at lunch and dinner were fine, and we did enjoy the included soft drinks at meals and no limit to or corkage fee for wine brought onboard. Breakfast was essentially identical each day, including the exact same 3 flaky pastries offered (no danish, no nut roll, no pain au chocolat, etc), the same pork sausages and American "streaky" bacon, etc each day. Lunch was fine with a combination of a buffet with a pasta and salad bar (with excellent tomatoes and cucumbers-why can't we find tasty tomatoes in the US other than in summer?), along with a few items you could order off the menu. Dinner had 3 main course offerings that were relatively routine with some real hits and misses (stringy beef, fishy-tasting fish). On several occasions, the bread appeared to be leftover from previous meals (including cut up hamburger buns and rock-hard bagels). Maybe this was a function of this being the final cruise of the season, but I've never experienced this on another cruise. -Dining service was inconsistent, ranging from rather cool and aloof to wonderful. We did find an excellent waiter, Vladimir, and rushed each evening to sit at one of his many tables (no reservations are possible, as open seating is available at every meal). On the special Balkan Evening theme meal, the overall experience was marred by a chaotic and not very well explained combination of a buffet and tasting plates ordered from the waiter both offering the exact same items. We suggested to the maitre d' that they call groups of table to the small buffet line (like at a wedding) to bring more order to the otherwise delicious and interesting food that evening. -The bar staff twice did not know that they offered a champagne (Drappier) by the glass (as it was not listed on the printed bar menu, but I had seen the bottle being stocked the first day and had seen it on another Viking ship's wine list online prior to the cruise). You would think that by the final cruise they would have been aware of this offering and that it would have been on the printed menus. -We had hoped for more organized activities after dinner beyond dancing to the tunes of the ship's musician. There was only one fun musical trivia/dance event on one of the last days of the cruise. We did suggest to the program director that additional activities like this should be offered on other days. Perhaps the lack of a larger cruise staff precludes such things. But we truly missed something to do after dinner besides dancing or drinking in the lounge or retreating to our rooms to read or watch one of 6 available TV stations. Couldn't additional cultural enrichment activities be offered, a crew talent show (as I've heard other Viking ships do) be performed, a trivia quiz or two (perhaps related to the region we were sailing in) be held or even a decent movie be shown? I don't wish to give the impression that we did not enjoy the cruise-we did immensely, but we had hoped for a better overall onboard experience, especially for the amount of money spent (double what we would typically pay on a Princess cruise, for example). There seemed to be some disappointment from other passengers who have done previous Viking river cruises. Based on our experience, I'm not sure I would do another Viking river cruise, unless it was to another unique or hard to get to region, but I might try one of their new ocean-going ships, mainly for the shore excursion and cultural experience they offer. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
We had toured Canada and Alaska with Scenic previously and could not have been more pleased or impressed. We were met at the airport in Budapest and taken to the Marriott Hotel for our free night, from then on all went perfectly. Next ... Read More
We had toured Canada and Alaska with Scenic previously and could not have been more pleased or impressed. We were met at the airport in Budapest and taken to the Marriott Hotel for our free night, from then on all went perfectly. Next day we were bused to our ship, the Scenic Jade – wow. All the staff were lined up to greet us, we felt like royalty. Hot towels and cold champagne set the tone for the rest of the cruise. Our luggage was there waiting in our room which was spotlessly clean, with plenty of closet space and comfortable beds. Our butler was there to greet us and guide us through all the facilities. The electric balcony windows are perfect, keeps out the cold but not the view. Great place to sit and have a coffee and relax. The lounges were spacious, luxurious and comfortable. Bar staff were happy and friendly and nothing was too much trouble for them. If you wanted a special cocktail that was not on the bar list, didn't matter, they could make it for you. Unlimited highest quality wines and spirits. Also, unlike ocean cruising, there is no photographer chasing you to take your photo every five minutes. The food plentiful, varied and delicious. The waiters made sure your food arrived quickly and hot. The River cafe was perfect for light snacks and sweet treats. Coffee was to die for. The entertainment each night was a great way to finish off a wonderful day. Local and International entertainers kept us fascinated and mesmerised. Kurt, our entertainment director - if ever there was a person so well suited to his job it has to be Kurt, there is nothing he would not do to make your holiday perfect. He speaks about four languages and has great knowledge of all the ports. He even tried, unsuccessfully I might add to teach us how to speak German - hilarious. What an asset he is to Scenic. Shore trips were enjoyable in warm comfortable Scenic owned buses and English speaking guides all with expert knowledge of history and surrounds. Disembarking and embarking went very smoothly with your pass cards. I think the stand out for us was Salzburg. Heavy snow on the ground and when the sun came out it was like a fairy land. We felt like we had stepped into a storybook. For us who come from the tropics, it is something we will take with us forever. Never once did we feel unsafe or threatened. We had expected to be stopped at the Austrian/German border due to the refugee situation, but we just sailed on through. Where ever we went people were friendly and welcoming. It truly is all-inclusive, (including gratuities for crew, guides, drivers, entertainers). We feel it is excellent value for money, and would highly recommended Scenic. We have already booked our next Scenic cruise. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
We had a great deal with Scenic cruises including Business Class airfares - important for us when travelling to Europe. Overall standard was very good, but here's a few things they might look at 1 name tags of staff were tiny ... Read More
We had a great deal with Scenic cruises including Business Class airfares - important for us when travelling to Europe. Overall standard was very good, but here's a few things they might look at 1 name tags of staff were tiny and hard to read. Flag of home country would be good. Guest name tags were cheap and little plastic things. 2 Spaces between tables in the dining room were inadequate - difficult movement for both staff and guests 3 Service at meals was invariably rushed with one course following rapidly on the heels of another. To avoid this annoying situation we took to ordering courses one at a time. The exception to this was the Portobello restaurant where there was space and a greater sense of calm. The 'up-market" La Rive Restaurant was disappointing with just a curtain being pulled around a section of the main dining room. The (very good) host Robert had to squeeze around the table to serve guests. Why not swap La Rive with Portobello? 4 there is a sameness about several of the ' special' in- port events - held in large barn- like restaurants, castles or beer halls. 5 the chair in the cabin was hopeless - a tiny little thing that may have been OK for putting on make-up but useless for sitting to relax or read 6 even though we paid a premium for Diamond Deck, apart from the one visit to the La Rive Restaurant, we found it hard to find out what else came with the premium On the other hand we liked 1 the all-inclusive price with no feeling that more tipping was expected 2 the spacious balconies 3 the friendly staff, many from Eastern European countries 4 the excursion guides, mostly of high quality 5 the exclusive concert in Vienna We know Scenic is an Australian company, but the overload of Australians on this cruise was scary - especially a few of the bogans, such as woman who repeatedly wore her bath robe into lounges and her partner who seemed not to change out of his tracksuit. (That's something Scenic could control) Some of our other fellow Australian were noisy and to be avoided - even though they were having a good time. Now being marketed more widely in the US and elsewhere, hopefully the Scenic passenger mix will become more balanced. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
To see and experience Europe and it's people and culture. The cabin was very good. There was a total lack of fitness facilities. Service aboard ship was very good from the room steward who was excellent as were the dinning room ... Read More
To see and experience Europe and it's people and culture. The cabin was very good. There was a total lack of fitness facilities. Service aboard ship was very good from the room steward who was excellent as were the dinning room staff. The area that I was disappointed with was relating the to pre and post portion of the trip. We had extra days in Budapest and Amsterdam. The hotels and rooms were disappointing. A couple of the years ago, we took a Viking cruise in China. The rooms and the hotels selected by Viking were outstanding. The ports and shore excursions were mixed. Some were outstanding while others were disappointing. Several of the excursions seemed very similar to the others and did not provide any new experiences. I believe more diversity of the excursions should be considered. Evening entertainment was limited. The few presentations that were presented were excellent but most nights I found myself bored. Overall, I enjoyed the cruise but believe that Viking could easily improve the experience. Please upgrade the hotels and rooms utilized for the pre and post portion of the trip. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
Grade A service, Grade A logistics, Grade A tours, Grade A optional land excursions, Grade A food, and Grade A entertainment. The food was superb and for me being on a salt restricted diet, the maitre'd sought me out at breakfast ... Read More
Grade A service, Grade A logistics, Grade A tours, Grade A optional land excursions, Grade A food, and Grade A entertainment. The food was superb and for me being on a salt restricted diet, the maitre'd sought me out at breakfast and would give me the lunch menu and dinner menu for the day. On the left side are the daily selections and on the right there are the standbys available every night, e.g., steak, fish, chicken, pasta. I was able to pick my daily meals with no salt....especially made for me. There were others who were diabetic and those needing a gluten free meal. The land tours were great and divided into groups from easy walking to longer more intense walking trips. The guides were local to the town we were visiting and they spoke English very well. They definitely deserved the tips that were offered. I can't think of one thing that I would have changed. The service was impeccable. First night we had a tour of the river lights in Budapest. It was chilly when we went to the upper deck, but they were right there with blankets and a tray of apricot schnapps. Nice touch!! Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
Previous cruise was the Rhine. The Viking experience on that cruise led us to book the Danube. Once again, Viking provided exceptional food and cultural and historical perspectives and experiences. On board service was, as usual, ... Read More
Previous cruise was the Rhine. The Viking experience on that cruise led us to book the Danube. Once again, Viking provided exceptional food and cultural and historical perspectives and experiences. On board service was, as usual, without peer. A short time with Viking and the passengers and crew become a family. The shore guides were extremely knowledgeable and accomodating. Their walking lectures gave thorough insight into the unique people, their historical culture and the evolution to today's modern social and political environment. Additional tours were of high value. Onboard lectures were extremely interesting and enhanced one's knowledge of each area, its cultures, and its history. The late fall cruise provided moderate temperatures, only one morning of light rain, and spectacular foliage. Viking provided a good mix of escorted tour time, on shore leisure time, optional shore tours, coupled with daylight cruise times during the most interesting portions of the river. We will be on Viking again in November 2017. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
Just a little about myself and the group we travelled with: my husband and I are in our 50's and have been cruising with Disney and Royal Caribbean fairly regularly since 2003. We're Diamond level with RCCL. Our travelling ... Read More
Just a little about myself and the group we travelled with: my husband and I are in our 50's and have been cruising with Disney and Royal Caribbean fairly regularly since 2003. We're Diamond level with RCCL. Our travelling companions were my sister and her husband (in their 60's ) and their friends--a married couple in the 70's. We travelled from Toronto to Amsterdam to visit family for 4 days before the cruise. Flew into Budapest 1 day before the cruise. In Budapest we stayed at the BEAUTIFUL Prestige Hotel (approx. $290 CA for 1 night). Great central location, but about a 10-15 minute taxi ride to the port. Port is a loose term--it was basically in the middle of a construction site. Very strange! But it was fast. We were greeted by the cruise manager, Dragon, and walked straight on the boat. We had a light lunch in the lounge and waited to be escorted to our cabins. Check-in was speedy (literally under a minute) and we were off! When we booked, we were given cabin #227. We had been moved to the very end of the hall for some unknown reason: 233. We were next to a couple of crew cabins and a stairway that could be busy with crew at various times of the day. My travel companions were all upgraded though! they were given bigger rooms with an outdoor balcony as well as the indoor French balcony. This did not sit well with me at all---as we had all booked at the same time and paid the same price. There was a lot of misinformation given out. When escorted to our room we were told we would be invited to the chef's table at some point during the week--just watch for a card in the room. This never happened, so we never went! Apparently you have to make a reservation yourself. Bar service was erratic and pricing seemed to be a the whim of the server. When we questioned it and asked for a refund, the bartender said 'what can I do?'. The tours were wonderful though and we were exhausted at the end of the week. Busy , busy , busy! Be a good walker because even the slower paced tours involved a lot of walking. Night time entertainment was sparse and not the best. We walked out of one show. Our cruise was a wine themed one and unbeknownst to us, a large group pretty much monopolized it. Be sure to ask if this is the case on your cruise and plan accordingly. Dining room food was adequate. Service again was spotty and often times rude. Getting a glass of wine on a wine cruise shouldn't be a chore, but it was. I'm not sure if we'll river cruise again, if so, we'll do more research and definitely NOT go with AMAWaterways. Re the cabin: Our cabin was freezing! no amount of complaints or fiddling with the thermostat could remedy the fact. There seemed to be a constant draft coming from around the door. The room was TINY, but clean and well appointed. Nice to travel on a new ship! Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
what a good cruise company as everything was very well done . the ship was excellent and the staff were excellent especially rositsa, martina in the bar/lounge and milosh in the restaurant, well done. everything was good. lovely cabins and ... Read More
what a good cruise company as everything was very well done . the ship was excellent and the staff were excellent especially rositsa, martina in the bar/lounge and milosh in the restaurant, well done. everything was good. lovely cabins and the spotless ship. the captain was always around at events. the only thing is how they choose those for the captains table, a mystery to us!!! scenic is a good company and we would recommend then to all. well done scenic and a big thank you and especially to the mostly excellent staff who help make the trip xxx we had fabulous entertainment and a good pianist, we danced the evening away several times and thoroughly enjoyed it. the drinks were included and we had good wines and premium spirits. this should have been en emerald cruise but was on a scenic ship because of a ship out of commision Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
We did a 13 day cruise beginning in Budapest and ending in Prague Well worth the money for the extended days on each end. The Intercontinental Hotel was beautiful with a very friendly staff. We chose an optional tour called A Taste of ... Read More
We did a 13 day cruise beginning in Budapest and ending in Prague Well worth the money for the extended days on each end. The Intercontinental Hotel was beautiful with a very friendly staff. We chose an optional tour called A Taste of Hungary and it's a must. The ship and its staff were great and lots of fun. Food was very tasty with a nice variety. Each day there was an included city tour and then we were off to explore. Each tour guide spoke English and was very knowledgeable. Felt very safe every where we went. Each town had its own uniqueness and beauty. The many churches and castles are beyond words. Our cabin was very nice sized with a breathtaking view of the countryside or on of the many locks. We are already planning our next trip, this time on the Rhine and we will be on Avalon again!! Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
This would have been a five-star rating had we not had to switch ships. The possibility of such a switch needs to be brought to the forefront of discussions when booking with Viking. It appears to be quite common certain times of year, ... Read More
This would have been a five-star rating had we not had to switch ships. The possibility of such a switch needs to be brought to the forefront of discussions when booking with Viking. It appears to be quite common certain times of year, which should be cleary addressed. My wife has M.S. and this switch was difficult for hew, flying in the face of our choosing this mode of transportation (so we could unpack ONCE and have the conveniences and lack of hassle this offers). Especially for someone who is ill. Transparency is always the best policy. Too, we booked an offshore musical evening in Vienna for our 25th Anniversary that day. It was not what we expected. We thought we were to see an actual, local concert of some quality. Imagine, you're in Vienna! Instead, we were treated to a few singers on a small stage, more akin to Carnival Cruise Line production of off-season workers from your local theme park. Ouch! Really, otherwise, the trip was exceptional. But these issues really ave us considering whether we will travel on another. Being in communications, I know you want honest feedback to improve services. Sincerely, Keith Hoerner Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
The Blue Danube Discovery 13 Day Tour from Budapest to Prague October 22 – November 4, 2016 The Real World Review of An Actual River Cruise Our trip started with 3 days in Budapest at the InterContinental Hotel, then 7 days ... Read More
The Blue Danube Discovery 13 Day Tour from Budapest to Prague October 22 – November 4, 2016 The Real World Review of An Actual River Cruise Our trip started with 3 days in Budapest at the InterContinental Hotel, then 7 days on the Danube river cruise on the Avalon Expression and then 3 days in Prague at the InterContinental Hotel. During our river cruise we were able to travel from Budapest to Regenburg however due to low water level we had to stay docked in Regenburg for two days and visit the last stop, Nuremberg by bus. After our cruise we traveled 4 hours by bus to Prague for the last 3 days of our vacation. This was our first riverboat cruise but decided to try it since we got a great package for the air and cruise. Having sailed over 25 ocean cruises, we really did not what to really expect from a river boat cruise with only 152 guests and 46 crew – a lot smaller. River cruising gets you up much closer to things you normally cannot get to. The riverboats do get you where the large ships can’t so you get to see and do the things normally not able to. You can interact with the locals as you stroll through their streets and visit all their sites, restaurants and shops. Our room was very nice with a bit more storage space, ceramic tiles bathroom floor and large shower with real glass door and granite counter top. The bed orientated so when laying on the bed one could see the river and sights pass by. The river view wall is a all-glass window with 2 panels sliding open to give you an almost open-air experience. The only negative thing was the safety railing did obstruct the view somewhat and glass panels would have been better idea. All crew were very nice and tried to accommodate all our needs. It was hard to adjust to the small size of the ship and the limited or lack of amenities that we were always used to on the larger ships. There is really only one dining option/location and the breakfast buffet, lunch buffet and dinner a la cart (small portions and service is slow taking 2 hours or so for dinner) all served in the same one and only restaurant. The restaurant on deck one is small and heat/cooling system is not very good – (at most dinners it was too hot!). The selection of food options is very limited so little chance of gaining any weight on this type of cruise. There is no room service. And food outside the normal eating times is limited to none! So eat hearty at your meals! And maybe bring your own snacks for along the way. I asked for some ice for the room and I was told to get my own ice on either the 3rd or 1st floor ice machines. Really?! The included tours were okay and the optional tours were okay. I would recommend wherever possible to book your own tours that you select in advance to the trip so you get to see and do exactly what you what! However most ship’s docking locations don’t let you just walk off the ship and immediately put you in the center of town. Also I found it impossible to get any advanced detailed information on the tours e.g. length, time of day (morning or afternoon) and how the included tours interact time wise with the optional tours. On this trip if a couple booked all the optional tours that would cost about 1200 euros. When ships dock, they do so side by side not end to end. So to get off the ship you may need to go through other ship main floor or up and over the sky deck then down again – very difficult for anyone with walking issues. Also when docked side by side, the shipside’s touching blocked each other’s view and you have to keep your curtains closed so they don’t see you and you see them. On our trip, 4 of the 7 docked days we had a ship docked by our side and we lost our view not happy about that! So we had no land or river view at all on these days. The Internet on the ship is very good. There are no non-news channels on the TV. The movie selection is limited. Recommend as we did load up your computer with some movies and TV shows. There is very limited evening entertainment and the ship is quiet after 10pm. The second last night in Regenburg we had to stay over due to low water levels. The cabin got warm and it seemed that the air conditioning was not working so I called the front desk. They told me something about the electricity and there was nothing that they could do so we either had to live with it or open the cabin window. Well really! Also we have another ship docked aside us so do we want them to see us in bed? Anyways the problem was corrected by the time we went to bed at 11pm. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
This was our first cruise. My two sisters and I went on the Romantic Danube. We loved the boat, the service, the food, the tours, the structure... we loved the cruise! The only thing that was unfortunate was we had to switch ships due ... Read More
This was our first cruise. My two sisters and I went on the Romantic Danube. We loved the boat, the service, the food, the tours, the structure... we loved the cruise! The only thing that was unfortunate was we had to switch ships due to low water. We chose a cruise so we would not have to pack during our 8 days but alas............... we had to switch boats. We did spend more time on buses as a result going from one port to another but again this is minor in the big scheme of things. We have already booked another river cruise for 2017!.If you have any hesitation, put it aside. Viking makes it so easy from beginning to end. We bought the upgraded booze package and I am glad we did, was well worth the $$. Don't miss the Mozart private evening event if it offered! Weather was exactly as we expected for October. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
This was our first river cruise, and it was outstanding. Above all, everything was exceptionally well organized, we were mightily impressed. Our cabin was very comfortable and well appointed. The tours were all very good. With one ... Read More
This was our first river cruise, and it was outstanding. Above all, everything was exceptionally well organized, we were mightily impressed. Our cabin was very comfortable and well appointed. The tours were all very good. With one exception, the tour guides were excellent. We thought the amount of tour time vs. free time was very well balanced. The food on board the boat was excellent. Our tour included hotel stays at each end, and the hotels were very very good. Our only comment would be that it would great to have better wifi, but that is getting down to nitpicking. A walking tour was included in each city we visited and we found those very helpful. We did go on one additional cruise, to the medievil town of Cesky Kromluv and it was very worthwhile. Wines with dinner were included in our cruise price. There was also a Happy Hour with half price drinks, and that worked well for us as far as a cocktail before dinner. The coffee machine with lattes and other coffee drinks in the lounge at the back of the ship was a very nice amenity! Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
My trip on Avalon Vista was a dream come true. I have sailed on dozens of ocean cruises, but this was my first river cruise. I was amazed at how many things were complimentary. Free excursions in every port - with excellent guides and ... Read More
My trip on Avalon Vista was a dream come true. I have sailed on dozens of ocean cruises, but this was my first river cruise. I was amazed at how many things were complimentary. Free excursions in every port - with excellent guides and sights. Free soft drinks, beer, or wine with meals, free wi-fi, free wine tasting, free beer tasting. Complimentary coffee, tea, cappuccino, hot chocolate and cookies or pastries 24/7. I am lalso loved the size of the vessel (160 passengers). The food was excellent, with a focus on regional specialties. The crew were friendly and attentive. The Cruise Director was very well-organized. This cruise included hotel stays at beginning (2 nights in Budapest) and the end (3 nights in Prague). The transitions were handled very smoothly, and the Cruise Director remained with us throughout the 13 days. It was wonderful to have more time in these special cities. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
This was a very good value vacation with hotel nights in Budapest and Prague included , full breakfasts and tours in those cities. The ship was lovely as was our cabin. The meals were delicious and beautifully presented. The staff were ... Read More
This was a very good value vacation with hotel nights in Budapest and Prague included , full breakfasts and tours in those cities. The ship was lovely as was our cabin. The meals were delicious and beautifully presented. The staff were friendly and accommodating. The mood was relaxed and straightforward. Maps of each destination and daily agendas in each cabin along with a daily cruise talk from our cruise director enhanced our experience also. Every tour was well organized and on time without a hitch. Very professional, extremely memorable. Learning about Austrian wines and German beer and sausages was fun. The concert in Vienna was excellent,not to be missed. The Hungarian evening tour was fun as was the Czeck folklore dinner . On the last night the concert in Prague was also very enjoyable. There was lots of free time allotted if you chose to do your own thing in the stops along the way. Fall is a beautiful time along the Danube. The leaves were bright red yellow and orange which added exceptional beauty to the scenery. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
Because of the theme of war on the Danube and the calibre of the speakers - Martin Bell particularly, also Nick Thorpe and John Simpson. It was an excellent and fascinating tour from Budapest to Bucharest visiting Hungary, Croatia, ... Read More
Because of the theme of war on the Danube and the calibre of the speakers - Martin Bell particularly, also Nick Thorpe and John Simpson. It was an excellent and fascinating tour from Budapest to Bucharest visiting Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania. Fascinating talks from Martin Bell and the lectures both onboard and on our land excursions. Great group of fellow travellers, excellent food and we had a very good time. The crew onboard were superb - everything ran like clockwork and our tour manager Jana was excellent in organising all we needed to do and enjoy. We had not done a cruise like this before so did not know what to expect and I think it exceeded our expectations in being both enjoyable and informative. The food was excellent and the chef Andras and all the staff on board kept the boat clean and very comfortable. It was a very interesting and enjoyable experience. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
The Danube travelling towards the Black Sea included many countries we had not visited, but the real reason was the inclusion of war correspondents lecturing and so adding to the experience . Of the3, Martin Bell (who travelled with us) ... Read More
The Danube travelling towards the Black Sea included many countries we had not visited, but the real reason was the inclusion of war correspondents lecturing and so adding to the experience . Of the3, Martin Bell (who travelled with us) was superb: 4 lectures of appropriate length and content, delivered with video clips to make the whole thing 'come alive' as we travelled the troubled regions of the former Yugoslavia. His last talk was very light-hearted: Politics and Poetry. Sadly, the lectures from the other 2 reporters were not up to the same standard. The boat was new, so rooms seemed even smaller. Service was excellent, although the food was inconsistent and a little too novel cuisine at times. Tours were generally very good, although a great deal depended on which local guide you ended up with - standards of English and input both variable. More activities on board would have been welcomed during the sailing day. The disappointment was no time in Budapest, and the 2 days in Bucharest. After a well organised cruise, things just weren't of the same standard (although the hotel was fine) Visits and catering outside of the hotel both left much to be desired. The overall experience was very good - not least due to the cruise director, Jana. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
We chose this cruise because of the speakers - John Simpson, Martin Bell and Nick Thorpe. Most nights we were treated to informative and entertaining talks. The standard of accommodation was excellent. Dining could be described as 4 star - ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the speakers - John Simpson, Martin Bell and Nick Thorpe. Most nights we were treated to informative and entertaining talks. The standard of accommodation was excellent. Dining could be described as 4 star - consistently good and well balanced throughout the week. We were very impressed by the meticulous planning of the activities and prompt timekeeping. Regarding the local guides, they were all first rate, knowledgeable and approachable with a good command of English. Most of the on shore visits were of interest but some were weak. However, it must be difficult to find venues at the very end of the season. There was a small swimming pool with current to swim against and bicycles on board to use at each port. We would be happy to recommend Emerald to others and would also consider cruising with them again. We would probably choose a different stretch of river. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
As we had previously cruised north on the Danube from Novi Sad to Vienna we decided we would like to cruise south towards the Black Sea on another cruise. The cruise with the war correspondents clinched it. We loved the ship but found ... Read More
As we had previously cruised north on the Danube from Novi Sad to Vienna we decided we would like to cruise south towards the Black Sea on another cruise. The cruise with the war correspondents clinched it. We loved the ship but found the dining room very noisy, hard for me as I am hard of hearing. Some more soft furnishings and may be fewer passengers would have made it better.The food was interesting and excellent. I have a mushroom allergy and every day I received a personal menu in the cabin during the morning with dishes I couldn't eat highlighted. My husband and I both celebrated our birthdays and were treated to a cake and firework at dinner and special towel sculptures and a card in the cabin. The cabin was spacious and the drop-down window useful when taking photos but the weather was not good enough to take full advantage of that facility.As we arrived at the ship very late due to flight delays we missed the briefing and no one offered a "catchup" one so we had to find out a few things for ourselves. We did not find the tissues in the cabin until asking for some the second day and we were told they were in the cupboard in the bath room which was hidden behind the mirror- not at all obvious! We tended to go to bed later than most other guests and twice could not use the coffee machine in the lounge after 11pm as it was being cleaned but we could have waited 20 minutes if we had been desperate. The service was efficient and organisation by the cruise director excellent. The excursions were well organised with excellent guides with radio mikes speaking into our head sets which were provided in the cabin. If you like swimming you may be pleased there is a pool but put off by the size of it. I think Emerald do themselves a disservice by not stating anywhere that the pool has a powerful jet feature from one end that you can swim against. I am a good swimmer and could beat it doing front crawl but for back stroke it held me in the middle of the pool and I could keep going as long as I liked and was able to feel I had had a good swim. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
We chose this cruise because of the inclusion of talks by leading correspondents - Nick Thorpe, Martin Bell and John Simpson. The cruise itself was very good. A fine, new vessel with a committed, competent and friendly crew. ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the inclusion of talks by leading correspondents - Nick Thorpe, Martin Bell and John Simpson. The cruise itself was very good. A fine, new vessel with a committed, competent and friendly crew. Administration was efficient and our cruise director always kept us well briefed. The onshore activities at the various stops were all interesting, if not always riveting because of limited choice of things to do around eastern Danube ports. The buses used were all comfortable and the local guides were knowledgeable. The material provided by the correspondents added much context. The onboard entertainment was enjoyable and provided local colour. Our cabins were well appointed and comfortable and the food and wine were first rate. The hotels used in Budapest and Bucharest were adequate, rather than good but that didn't really detract from our enjoyment. This was our first river cruise; it won't be our last. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016

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