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287 Budapest to Europe - River Cruise Reviews

We joined the Crystal in Budapest for the first seven days of the cruise. The ship was excellent, the crew pleasant, and the captain appeared to run a tight but happy ship. Our cruise director Marin who was with us the whole journey on ... Read More
We joined the Crystal in Budapest for the first seven days of the cruise. The ship was excellent, the crew pleasant, and the captain appeared to run a tight but happy ship. Our cruise director Marin who was with us the whole journey on both ships was well informed, efficient, and dealt with everyone with courtesy and never lost his sense of humour. The transfer to the Jewel at Nuremburg was done well, they even arranged for rooms to be cleaned first for a couple of passengers who were ill. The side trips were well organised and there was plenty of choice. There was no need to spend anything once onboard unless you required laundry. We did not feel that the crew on the Jewel were as happy, the Captain did not appear very much at all and the Hotel Manager seemed to run the ship. Some of the Crew were very surly and did not engage with the passengers much. Our room was spacious and clean. The coffee/chocolate machine in the lounge was excellent. So far all good. However, and this was a big disappointment for us, the food! Too many buffet's with hot food being served on cold plates..even at breakfast, eggs and bacon on cold plates. Often the food in the evening was also served lukewarm. The menu was pretentious and you needed an interpreter. Many evenings we resorted to the everyday available chicken breast or steak, and we requested steamed vegetables as there was not much in the way of vegetables. We were even served tinned carrots and soup with globules of fat floating on top. Don't expect fine china either.....   Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
This will be a mixed review of our experience with Scenic Tours and the new Spaceship -Jewel, starting from when we first booked about 18 months ago. Booking: We chose Scenic Tours because we were told it was an Australian company and ... Read More
This will be a mixed review of our experience with Scenic Tours and the new Spaceship -Jewel, starting from when we first booked about 18 months ago. Booking: We chose Scenic Tours because we were told it was an Australian company and really didn’t look too closely into the alternatives. We chose the tour “Prague to Amsterdam”, which had a land-based component before boarding one of the new Scenic ships which was to be the Crystal or the newly launched Jewel. We took advantage of the early bird special of cheap airfares to Europe, but some months after booking Scenic canceled the land based, pre cruise part of the trip so we decided to do Prague on our own and meet the ship in Budapest. Then we are in formed by Scenic that because we still wanted to fly into Prague we now had to pay extra for our flights. We never understood there reasoning but we sucked it up and moved on. With our so call early bird special came a free stop over and we decided to have a night in Singapore on the way over. We were given a selection on 4 hotels to choose in order of preference, which we did after researching the locations of each. Two weeks before we leave we get our paperwork and listed for Singapore is a hotel we had never heard of and was very disappointing in every way, being very much a businessman’s hotel, far away for all Singapore attractions – a complete waist of time, in our opinion. Also we have no choice of airline and found that we had a luggage restriction of 20kg which proved a challenge seeing we would be away a month. The lesson we learned is not to be enticed by early bird specials – they are not all they make them out to be. Scenic Jewel: We did thoroughly enjoyed or self organized time in the in Prague, trained to Budapest and taxied to the Scenic Meeting point at the Marriot Hotel. Scenic had a lovely meeting area set up in the foyer from early morning with coffee, tea juices and biscuits, cakes and pastries which was fabulous as people were arriving at all different times had a great base to wait and meet fellow passengers. Embarkation was easy and efficient and our luggage was waiting for us in our cabins The jewel is a very comfortable vessel. It's decor, being unpretentious compared to others, it is modern, contemporary style which we found very pleasing and well suited to smart, casual lifestyle on board. Our PP cabin 318 was surprisingly very adequate. The all weather balcony was fantastic and we used it daily - mostly with the balcony up so we could enjoy the suns warmth and the view with out the chilly wind. The bathroom worked well and the shower was a lot bigger than expected. People on the lower deck did complain about the size of their showers and described them as being a lot smaller than ours so it does pay to do your research. We were please with the sound proofing of the ship. We never heard any noise from the sun deck above us or from adjacent rooms. There was not creaking or noises you might expect when under sail. Food: The main Dining room served "nice" food but I wouldn’t call it 5 star. Breakfast being a basic buffet of mostly the same variety each day. Lunch and dinner was varied daily with something to please every one but it always fell well short of the "Wow" factor. e.g..I loved the fillet steak, cooked to your choice of perfection - but was never offered any sauce you night expect in most restaurants. I was hoping for a béarnaise, mushroom of pepper sauce at best - even mustard and when asked they could only offer a rather flavorless brown sauce. We enjoyed the cafe for light meals and snacks and looked forward to their filled pretzels, which were delicious. We had one booking in Portobello's and that was lovely and met our expectations in every way. Entertainment: Martin - out entertainer was OK and suited the age group on board. The guest entertainers were very average if you like audience participation. Tours These were of a very high standard - in my opinion. We also used to carry our Scenic head sets which gave us an interesting commentary when ever we past a point of interest - be it land or water. With the weather and high water against us we found ourselves stuck in Bamberg 3 nights and had to bus long distances to meet our tour itinerary. Scenic did an amazing job in dealing with this dilemma but it was not the easy boat cruise we had hoped for and long bus tours were not what we were looking for when choosing a river cruise. But I again emphasize that Scenic made every effort and can not praise them enough for that. Staff: We found the most staff to be pleasant and accommodating. Our cruise director, Patrick and Hotel Manage, Egor, were lots of fun, informative and always helpful. The lounge area at peak times felt understaffed and it would take a long time to get our drink orders. We found out very quickly that approaching the bar was a no-no and even though there were barstools up against it we were always instructed to sit in the lounge area and wait for the stewardess – a little frustrating sometimes. I challenged myself to make a barman (we nicknamed smilie) smile by the end of the trip - but failed. Unfortunately, being stuck due to high water and eventually having to pack up and change ships to the Ruby further down stream does change the vibe on board. Some people where very upset and it was evident they had not done their research and were not aware that this can happen even though is clearly stated in the terms and conditions on cruise forums. Moving to the Ruby: First impressions were – it is almost the same as the Jewel because it had just been refurbished. We had the same cabin number but it was not the same and because we had the Jewel to compare with the little things became very annoying for the 3 days we were onboard – like the loud creaking in our cabin that forced us to wear ear plugs to sleep, - the slight smell of waste from time to time and the very much smaller shower that often flooded into the small bathroom area. We were unfortunate with the weather and the floods but we believe Scenic did all they could to keep our itinerary on track and they did a great job under the circumstances. In conclusion: I have to agree with another Scenic reviewer – in my experience this is not the 5 star product it proclaims itself to be. Scenic does a great job in looking after its passengers but it does fall short of the mark in most areas. This trip had highs and lows and we didn’t return home thinking, “Wow – we must do another river cruise”, but we haven’t completely ruled it out sometime in the distant future and if we do, we will be looking at all options.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
We enjoyed the cruise and enjoyed seeing several European cities for the first time. Viking did a fine job taking care of the things they were responsible for. We enjoyed all but one of the local guides and all of the on-ship guides. ... Read More
We enjoyed the cruise and enjoyed seeing several European cities for the first time. Viking did a fine job taking care of the things they were responsible for. We enjoyed all but one of the local guides and all of the on-ship guides. The food was excellent and so was the service in the dining room. This is our third Viking cruise. One, Windmills and Tulips, two, Vietnam and Cambodia, and this one. Of the three, we enjoyed the tour of Vietnam and Cambodia the most - smaller ship, more interesting/unique destination, although the food was not good as on the other two. Why do we rank the Grand European cruise last for overall enjoyment? The weather was not great, but what can one expect for this portion of Europe in Nov. And, the number of passengers. Obviously, nothing to compare with an open sea cruise, but just large enough to not get acquainted with everybody, but too small to not feel that we should. And, this cruise did not have as much variety as the one in Cambodia. After the first week or so, the churches started to run together in my mind. Overall, a well done cruise by Viking, but maybe not the best cruise or time for us. Pics - http://dbolt.smugmug.com/Travel/Grand-European-River-Cruise/ Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
We booked the 15 day Magnificent Europe itinerary from Budapest to Amsterdam and travelled the last week in October and the first week in November. Our pricing included flights from the UK, transfers, port charges, gratuities, all shore ... Read More
We booked the 15 day Magnificent Europe itinerary from Budapest to Amsterdam and travelled the last week in October and the first week in November. Our pricing included flights from the UK, transfers, port charges, gratuities, all shore excursions and drinks with both lunch and dinner. We booked as a special offer 3 months before our travel date through APT, an Australian company, so the vast majority of passengers were Australian with only a tiny number from other countries. Although we are veterans of ocean cruising, this was our first river cruise. The boat actually exceeded our expectations. Launched in 2011 everything still had a new appearance, all furnishings and equipment were of a high quality and the colour schemes carefully co-ordinated in soft, pleasing tones. It was immaculately clean in all areas that we saw. Our cabin was one of the standard ones on a lower deck with windows but no balcony. Beautifully fitted and furnished with a fridge, bathrobes and slippers, quality toiletries, and the entertainment system available through the monitor had a very good selection of tv channels, music channels, films and free internet access. There was also free WiFi onboard. Complimentary bottles of water in our cabin were replenished daily and we also appreciated the use of umbrellas which we used on several occasions! Shower was excellent and we had no problems with variable water temperatures which we have experienced on some ocean ships. We could also vary the temperature in the cabin to our own preference. Plenty hangers and storage, and we noticed that the safe and wardrobes interiors illuminated when opened in the evenings. There was a pillow menu, and a choice of sheets and duvet or sheets and blankets. Under one side of the bed there was an underbed storage drawer. Public spaces were adequate for the number of passengers and we had no difficulty finding seats in the lounge or in the restaurant at any time during the day or evening. In the main diningroom, through choice, we often had the same table and wait staff. This sailing however, was not full. Our understanding is that there were only 120 plus passengers and the boat can take 160 plus. What it would be like with a full sailing I cannot say. The sun deck was only occasionally used by small numbers of passengers due to the very variable weather we had, most passengers preferring to enjoy the scenery from the warmer lounge, because, at this time of year, even the dry, sunny days were quite cool especially when we were on the move. The main sun deck was closed for 4 days due to the number of low bridges we passed under. As we were docked most days anyway, this did not impact anyone to any great extent. One small area of the open upper deck remained open as it was located at the bow and at a slightly lower lever than the sun deck so it was still possible to go "up top" if you wanted. We thought the food and wines were amongst the best we have experienced with everything made from scratch by a team of 12 in the galley. Having seen a gradual lowering of food quality on ocean cruising ships in recent years, this was a pleasant surprise. Apart from the "always available" and the usual international menu, every day at both lunch and dinner there was an excellent choice of local regional dishes from the various countries we were cruising in, with local and/or regional wines to accompany the meals. Wines were carefully selected and of good quality. Most surprising for us were the Austrian reds. Lovely! It was a refreshing change to be able to try local specialities onboard on a daily basis should we want, as it is an experience we find lacking on most ocean cruises which only give the occasional opportunity to try the food of the countries we are sailing in. Once a week we could choose to experience the Chefs Table restaurant "Erlebnis" where we were greeted with a pre-dinner drink. The menu changes each week and there is no additional charge although you do need to reserve ahead of time. A complimentary range of teas, coffees and hot chocolate were available 24/7 from a machine. These included espresso, latte, cappuchino etc. Staff were excellent in all departments and we really could not fault them. Friendly and professional. Excursions were all included with a reasonable choice in most places. APT call this Freedom of Choice touring. In smaller places with less to offer, there was maybe only a walking tour although several tours included a sampling of local wines, beers, or, in Vienna, Sachertorte served with either coffee or hot chocolate with cream. If you wanted to do your own thing anywhere, you could leave a tour at any time or choose not to go on one at all. Some days there was the option of choosing a "regular" tour, a more "gentle" tour, or even a "late risers" tour. As ours was a Platinum cruise, we had an additional number of complimentary "Signature Experiences" along the way and personal highlights for us included a tour of the Hungarian State Opera House in Budapest and an evening concert in Vienna. At both, glasses of sparkling wine were served. There are also a number of complimentary bicycles and helmets available for anyone to borrow. Entertainment we thought was a bit hit or miss. We enjoyed some of it but not all of it. It is low key and mostly consists of either one, two or three entertainers who are mostly singers and/or musicians. Apart from those, one evening there was a glass blower, another evening we had a music quiz, another we enjoyed a 60's themed evening. Some evenings you could go ashore if we were sailing late. As we were usually docked in a very central location it was often easy to do this. APT actually impressed us a lot. There were many small details which we noticed and appreciated, we were extremely well looked after throughout, the little gifts we received both pre-cruise and in our cabin were also quality items and useful, and our overall impression was of a company which knows what it is doing and does it well. We would book with them again. As for the itinerary, it was a wonderful way to cruise the Rhine, Main and Danube. The fabulous larger cities were nicely balanced with medium and small sized towns, with many of the smaller ones having well preserved medieval centres, cobbles and half timbered or pastel painted buildings to great effect. The scenery in some sections was stunning, with vineyards, forests, castles and attractive small towns on both sides. Several of our stops were in places ideal for exploring at a leisurely pace. Local street maps and info were handed out at almost every port so that you were not restricted to the tours. As for timing, we would advise careful consideration. We had the advantage of the most stunning autumn colours more or less throughout this trip with the Wachau Valley being a particular highlight amongst many others. We had anticipated some colour, but not the dramatic sights we enjoyed. Another advantage was that traditional high season crowds had gone and everywhere was only either moderately busy or quiet. As for disadvantages, before we left, we knew that one downside would be dusk and darkness falling in the late afternoon and this impacted on some of our sightseeing. It was worsened by the clocks changing by an hour a few days after boarding. European weather is also notoriously unpredictable, and our dates this year brought us everything from bright, sunny but cool days, to more rainy and/or showery days than we wanted, and even sleety/snowy showers for one of our two days in Vienna. On the other hand, summers can be extremely hot in these areas, the majority of these towns and cities will be full of tourists, and the glorious autumn colours will be missing, only green everywhere. It is quite a difficult decision to make. Best advice is to pack for everything and anything in terms of weather. And be prepared for the locks. Over 60 on this itinerary. Choose your cabin carefully as weather could impact on potential use. And with close cruising, it is usually preferable to be out on deck or in the lounge where there are views of both sides. Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
This was our first European River Cruise. It was the Grand European Tour from Budapest to Amsterdam on the Viking Longship Njord. In our case, we had a very enoyable cruise. The crew was friendly and efficient, food was generally quite ... Read More
This was our first European River Cruise. It was the Grand European Tour from Budapest to Amsterdam on the Viking Longship Njord. In our case, we had a very enoyable cruise. The crew was friendly and efficient, food was generally quite good, and cabin cleanliness was exceptional. Our cruise cost a base of about $16,000, and we paid about $20,000 including airfare, shore tours, onboard spending, etc. For that money, you expect things to be close to perfect. In our case, not too far off. But, people on the identical ship Idun sailing from Amsterdam to Budapest were complaining a lot in the couple ports that we overlapped. So, we concluded that crew makes a BIG difference. Here are some quick comments: Good: Cabin cleanliness was the best we have ever seen. The waitress we used most of the time for meals (Lucia) was also exceptional. The crew kept everyone well informed on activities and issues in a daily briefing. Also, the airfare deals were super (we booked our own, however). Basically, $199 roundtrip from several Eastern airports, and $399 from elsewhere in the U.S. The general scenery and ports were fabulous -- many many UNESCO sites. Some of the theme lunches were great - especially the German one. Additional land tour to Rothenburg was great and well worth the money.Embarcation and disembarcation were both wuite easy and efficient.program director (Darinka) had boundless energy. Not so good: Food quality uneven at times; Captain's dinner a big disappointment; Crew members all spoke English, but were often hard to understand; land tours were mostly walking around, and often not going into key museums,etc. Add on tours were rather expensive, although some were worth the money (like Rothenburg and Mozart concert). Also, although airfare deals were good, pre and post cruise hotels had to be booked through Viking if you used their airfares, and the hotels were very expensive (lots of complaints from fellow passengers about this). Finally, recommended daily gratuity of 12 Euros per person was high (but, the crew probably depends on it, as we suspect their salaries are quite low). Bad: Avoid the drink package, which is way way overpriced. Think about how many drinks a day you would have to consume to get your money's worth !! And, beer and wine were free at lunch and dinner anyway. Also, what they don't tell you upfront is that either too high or too low water levels (on the Main and Danube rivers) can result in the cruise turning into a bus tour. We came close to that for a period of time, but it rained, and our ship was able to get through. In addition, the sundeck was closed for 5 days in a row due to low bridges -- again, not something they tell you upfront. A few other tips: Travelers checks were very hard to use (apparently due to instances of fraudulent ones -- even most banks would not exchange them). But, U.S. credit cards were generally accepted, although there were often minimum charge amounts. If you start in Budapest, and arrive a couple days early to see the city, the Sofitel Chain Bridge is a very good hotel, only 200 meters or so from the dock (and two blocks from the hop on, hop off bus starting point). The ship currency is Euros. when you pay your bill at the end, you can pay by credit card (or cash) in Euros or dollars. The ship charges 3% to convert Euros to dollars (and your bank may well have an additional charge). So, use a card like Capital one that charges no conversion fee. Finally, nearly all of the passengers are retirees,with average age in th 65n to 75 range. do Not book a cruise like this with children or especially, teenagers! Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
Viking Prestige - Budapest to Amsterdam August 26 - Room 127 This was our first experience with a river cruise. We are a couple in our early 60's. As such we were among the youngest cruisers on our trip. We were traveling with ... Read More
Viking Prestige - Budapest to Amsterdam August 26 - Room 127 This was our first experience with a river cruise. We are a couple in our early 60's. As such we were among the youngest cruisers on our trip. We were traveling with four other couples. Embarkation: Could not be easier. We rolled our luggage from to Sofitel Chain Bridge to the Viking Prestige. It was a 5 minute walk only because we had luggage to get over curbs. We dropped it off at the ship about 10:30AM and were given two cards with our room number. After pocketing the cards, we took off to explore Budapest on foot. We returned about 2:00PM and grabbed a light lunch of salad and prepared sandwiches. Shortly after we finished lunch we exchanged the cards for keys and were given access to our room. Stateroom: I found the cabins to be well thought out. They were a decent size for a river ship (we understand). It was about the size of an interior room on an ocean cruiser. Surprisingly, no one was able to tell us the exact size of our cabin. We were given estimates from 155 to 175 square feet. Although, we were in one of the "basement" rooms, it was identical in size and furnishings as the French balconies on the 2nd and 3rd deck. We chose the 1st deck cabin at a savings of approximately $1000. During our 14 days aboard, I only missed the larger window on rare occasions, definitely not $1000 worth. If I were to sail again I would probably book a 1st deck cabin again, however I would choose one closer to mid-ship for convenience. I will not again be startled by opening my drapes to find a group of ducks staring in at me. Our room was the last cabin aft, immediately before the staff area. We heard absolutely NO noises from the staff area or the hallways. There was intermittent noise from the vacuum plumbing system. On two different occasions for about 15-20 minutes we did notice sewage smells (both times while in port), but not enough to be bothersome. We could hear water lapping the side of the ship (and sometimes our window) and my spouse was sometimes awakened briefly by the engines and thrusters as we were entering or leaving locks. Although the bathroom was small, I thought it was very well designed. The quarter circle shaped shower occupied a good portion of the room, but the cleverly designed doors which could be swung into the shower area increased the floor space. The shower had good pressure and HOT water. The shower also had a retractable laundry line which we made use of almost daily. There is a mirrored storage cabinet with 3 shelves which easily held all our toiletries, meds, razors, etc. As others have commented, the location of the magnifying mirror is awkward in location and height...not in a good position for a 62 inch tall woman. On each side of the bed above the night stand, was an adjustable reading lamp and also an electrical outlet. I'm sure those were handy for those with CPAP machines...I just used mine to charge my tablet. There are two electrical outlets at the vanity -- one European and one 110v. We had a converter, so had more outlets than needs. The cabin had plenty of storage. The two closets originally provided 10 wooden hangers, but our request for 5 more was quickly answered. There were two hooks on the cabin door, two hooks on the bathroom door, and two hooks in the bathroom which were handy. The beds were comfortable, but seemed shorter than a standard queen sized bed. They are two 30 inch beds pushed together so there is a crack between the two which was not a problem for us. The room size could be a problem when two of us were trying to dress at the same time. My using the hair dryer blocked any access to the two chairs by the window. As a result, my spouse would have to roll across the bed to get to the chairs to put on his shoes and socks. Our room steward, Snezana, provided all the services we have come to expect from our room stewards. Ship Design & Decor: The ship is quite simple. Deck 2 center is the desk area, open stairwell, concierge, "gift shop", and primary entry to the ship. Deck 2 forward is the dining room. Deck 3 forward is the lounge, a small serving area for buffets, and a small open viewing area. Deck 3 aft is a small library. Deck 4, when available, is the sun deck, wheel house, and aft is the staff smoking area. There is no elevator, but each flight of stairs only has about 14 stairs. The lounge area serves as cocktail lounge, meeting area, entertainment area, and gathering area. It meets each of these needs just adequately. The furniture is a little heavy and bulky making it difficult to rearrange to meet each of these needs. Unlike ocean liners, the tables can also be moved. Our group liked to play cards and there wasn't a suitable area that we could use and not disturb other guests. The decor of the ship is what I would call Danish modern. The overall appearance is somewhat stark and plain compared to the newer Viking Ships we toured. We were happy with the decor, until we saw the others! We thought ours looked cheap by comparison. Dining & Food Service: Being part of a group of 10, we wanted to eat our meals together. Because there are just a few 10 top tables, this meant one member of our group had to go to the dining room early to stand in line to snatch our table. Not having assigned seating was one of the frustrations of our trip and we were not alone. There were several other large groups who also wanted to dine together and had to go through the same process. The staff recognizing a need for more large tables, at dinner would pull two tables together for a large group. Unfortunately, because so many formed these groups for meals, others traveling alone were placed in a position to have to go from table to table to beg to be allowed to eat with others. They told me they found this process to be uncomfortable. I recognize that Viking wants their guest to mingle and visit over meals, but on our cruise that just didn't happen at dinner. I believe they should consider assigning tables for dinner. Because we had the same table for all meals we also had the same server for all our meals, Damir. Damir was an excellent server. He had 10 years of experience on the large ocean liners and used that experience to help us adapt to the difference in service. Specifically, he gently directed our orders toward the specials for that meal, rather than ordering the "everyday" offering as that slowed down preparation and service. He also kindly prodded us to make our selections promptly. The first evening we might have felt rushed, but we quickly realized the reward was our table consistently received our courses ahead of some others. Damir and his co-server Svetlana never let our wine glasses get empty and anticipated orders of soft drinks and beer. When time allowed, Damir would visit with our table and share stories of Romania. Food portions at dinner were generally somewhat smaller than what we have experienced in the US. Initially, we were concerned with portion sizes, but we never wanted for more. Those with larger appetites adjusted by ordering two starters (soup & salad). At times the kitchen would have more portions of an item than was ordered and the maitre d' would offer additional servings. Dessert portions were also sometimes small, for instance a serving of apple cake about the size of a brownie. But again, most of us were not used to having dessert at every meal and found the portion size to be adequate. The ice cream portions were consistently generous -- several scoops with topping and whipped cream. Every evening we walked away from the table very full. Ports & Tours: This being a 14 day cruise makes it almost impossible to comments on each port individually. Overall we were extremely fortunate; the Danube River was at a level that allowed us to cruise the entire 14 days. The cruise immediately preceding ours was not as lucky. Viking provided tours at each port. Busses were used (based on my memory) in Budapest, Bratslava one way, Vienna to transport us to city center, Melk one way, Nuremberg, Bamberg to transport us to city center, Wurzburg to transport us to city center and on to our optional tour of Rothenburg, and to the Marksburg Castle and on to Koblenz. Outside of our optional tour to Rothenburg the bus trips were 15-20 minutes each way. Tour group sizes were 25-30 if walking, more if a bus tour. Group sizes were not an issue as much as the number of groups. Normally there were other several ships in town and the tours competed for sidewalk and viewing places. This also affected the operation of the transmitters and receivers used on the tours. We enjoyed some ports more than others, but mostly it's a matter of personal taste and the weather conditions. The only major disappointment was Nuremburg. There was a bike race and other activities in town, so it seemed like we only did a quick drive by of a couple of major sites, with a stop at a cemetery which was pretty but of limited significance and then back to the ship. There were several times we chose not to do the walking tours, but to set off on our own. We might not recognize the historical significance of what we saw, but we got to see some lovely sites. Some of our more enjoyable experiences were on our own. Debarkation: At 9:00AM we contacted the front desk to send someone for our luggage. We followed the porters, paid our outstanding bill at the front desk, turned in our keys, grabbed our bags and walked to the train station where we caught a tram to our lodging in Amsterdam. Overall Cruise Experience: Viking is not the "fun ship". Entertainment leans toward educational. Music is closer to classical than contemporary. I enjoy the symphony, but I also like rock and roll also. I thought Viking could do a better job with frivolous entertainment. The only mindless entertainment offered was guessing what item was hidden in each of 10 socks. What about a scavenger hunt? I would like to have had one night of music from the 60's on the sun deck. Although I'm not a karaoke fan, a group sing-a-long a couple of times for an hour would have been fun. The piano player, Christo, seemed to play the same songs every evening. The crew did put on two excellent luncheons on the sun deck -- a "Taste of Austria" and "Taste of Germany". Both were very well done, although the weather affected the Germany lunch. On small suggestion would be to have a longer loop of music played while cruising the Rhine. The staff was outstanding and worked constantly. A corny, but nice touch was the staff gathering before dinner to wish you well or gathering on the deck to welcome us as we returned from tours. Aggravations: This cruise crosses the continental divide of Europe. As a result there on more than 60 locks the ship goes through. The first few are interesting, but they do become tiring. Although we may have sensed the ship going through locks as we slept, they did not disturb our sleep. This cruise also goes beneath some very LOW bridges. As a result for 6 days the sun deck is closed. We were aware of this before we cruised, but were still disappointed. There were outdoor spots in various locations other than the sun deck that allowed about 50 people to sit outside. I normally found my desire to sit outside could be met. Conclusion: We had a great experience. We would recommend Viking and the Prestige to other cruiser. We plan to book future river cruises. Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
14 Day River Cruise: Hungary-Holland PREAMBLE: After many a sea cruise, we finally did our first major River Cruise. We are two very seasoned travelers, both work paid and "on our own dime". In our late mid 60's, we have ... Read More
14 Day River Cruise: Hungary-Holland PREAMBLE: After many a sea cruise, we finally did our first major River Cruise. We are two very seasoned travelers, both work paid and "on our own dime". In our late mid 60's, we have been retired for over a decade (on average). Leslie does the photo work and I do the write-ups. We try to provide great detail of our trips and lots of pictures of the places we go. You will not find many pictures of us in the lot. This write-up is meant to share with our friends and family, help others who may consider a similar trip, to "payback" in some way the help we get from Flyertalk members to plan our trips and in some lesser way to entertain and inform those that for any number of reasons will not take such a trip. We have changed our format at bit this Report. Rather than do the trip chronologically, sneaking in various details of sideline issues, this Trip Report is in 5 sections. The content and extent of the coverage will vary based on my notes, time and both my interest and my perceived interest of the various readers. The sections will be clearly marked, so feel free to skip those that might not interest you. The pictures can be found by the link at the end of Report. The pictures were taken from buses (seat, window, wires, wrong side, weather, and etc. being factors). Others were taken as we walked in groups on tour, or from the boat as we cruised down the 3 rivers and one canal. The Sections include: 1) Ground Transport; 2) Flights; 3) Avalon Panorama River Boat; 4) Our Trip, from boarding to disembarkation; and 5) Pictures. We have tried to minimize the overlap and repetition. A note to those afraid of sea cruises or the "water", the river cruise described had no waves, feeling of boat movement nor should anyone feel "sea" sick. Further, the depth of much of the river was such that you could stand on the top deck and have water no higher than your waist IF the boat sank!!! Great alternative to sea cruises for those with such problems. GROUND TRANSPORTATION: We live in Escondido and flew out of San Diego Airport (SAN). Our flight departure was scheduled just past 6AM, so we were concerned about taking a regular shuttle to SAN. For a bit more ($200 total, RT with tip) we took ExecuCar. This assured us of a non-stop drive to the airport in comfort, with perhaps an upgraded driver (it was!). The driver had our schedule, was on time and did not break the speed limit (much). He handled the luggage and offered us water. We were questioned as to our temperature comfort a couple times along the route. Our pickup on the return was a worry for us. We do not carry a cell phone, so we could only hope the driver made the adjustments for picking us up on July 4. Our plane out of Washington, DC was late about an hour. We should have been back before the fireworks started, but because San Diego had the 18 second embarrassment show, we arrived as people were leaving and traffic was a mess. We were grateful our driver was well versed in the street options and we did not have to make stops for other riders! We usually do not pay the extra for this service. FLIGHTS: We booked our cruise with air included. During the 9 months between booking and the actual flight, the airline group (DL) we were originally booked with and the final flights (UA/LH) were changed. The time also changed from a comfortable departure from SAN of almost 9AM to just after 6AM. Our seat assignments on UA, I had made online, had been changed. The three hour "rule" for arrival would put us there before the door to the AP would even open? Even 2 hours was well before the UA counter was open. A couple of days before the flight, UA sent us an e-mail inviting us to check-in on line. I tried this several times, but to no avail. The system said there was a problem. We called UA with that information. They assured us that there was no problem, but we would have to check in with an agent and show our passports. Upon arrival (3:45AM) at the airport we went to the roped line and became first in line. Others joined us for the wait, as employees arrived and went into the back room. There was a separate area labeled for those who were going to check-in on the machines. At 4:20AM, someone came out and told us that we should move to the other line if we wanted to check in by machine, that the agents would not be out for a while. We did not move, all the others in line did. The employee asked us why, and we told him our story. He told us that the agents would not be out in time for our flight, and therefore we should now move to the other line as guest number 80 or so!!! From first!!! We stayed. The people in the other line started to go to the machines to check in. There was a lady helping those people, so I talked to her. She took our paperwork and handled everything. One bag each was free, as this was part of an international flight. TSA went easy. Got machine scanned and never touched. Our first leg was to Chicago (ORD). We had modest advanced boarding with my UA Explorer Card. The flight was 100% full and therefore left a little late. Those in the boarding area with "BIG" carry-ons were offered free checking at the gate! (that saved a lot of people $50 per bag). Many standbys were denied boarding. There was no food serviced on this leg, except for what you wanted to pay for. We brought sweet rolls to eat and used our 1-k drink tickets (from the past) to have some wine. Our layover in ORD was long. We took the time to handle our eye drops (glaucoma), and I switched from my contacts to my glasses. We also took the time to have some lunch," just in case". Our next leg was from ORD to Frankford (FRA), Germany. We were in aisle 41 (no recline). The woman in row 40, with three kids managed to make our space even smaller by reclining all their seats. We had two aisle seats in the center section assigned for us by Lufthansa. The two girls between us were part of a larger group and were up and down like yoyos, but pleasant otherwise. Two babies in our area took turns screaming thru most of the 10 hour flight. It was a miserable 10+ hours (oh, for the days of first class and business class seats!). Our FF points have been whittled down and the Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
We had a wonderful time and a river cruise is an excellent way to see Hungary, Austria, Germany, etc. Not sure if it was because of the newness of the Njord (and some of the crew) but things were just off a bit. Communication being a ... Read More
We had a wonderful time and a river cruise is an excellent way to see Hungary, Austria, Germany, etc. Not sure if it was because of the newness of the Njord (and some of the crew) but things were just off a bit. Communication being a problem, we were left to wonder why our itinerary was different than our documents and what advertisements contain. Port drop off and pick-up sights were changed at the last minute and times in the ports were also changed at the last minute. This resulted in some unplanned bus rides and some very short times in cities. This was quite frustrating to us. Things just didn't run as smoothly as we were told it would with Viking. We were able to use the upper deck only half of the voyage...understandable now but a surprise to us due to no pre-warning from Viking. Yes, they state they MAY need to close it but never let us know this voyage VERY OFTEN has this issue. The interior of the ship was quite crowded most of the cruise due to the closure. The Lounge needs to accommodate more of the passengers...not enough seating. Loved our cabin at water level but we had horrible engine noise at night. The 135sq ft is tight but it worked ok. We don't need a balcony but room for a chair would have been a nice improvement. The shower was nice and large but hated the glass walls of the bathroom. The closet is a nice size but only a few hangers fit due to a bump out in 1/2 of it...crazy!! The TV is in the wall and we had neighbors that watched their's every waking minute at top volume. I asked the person at the desk if they could mention it to them and I was told it was my responsibility...they are not allowed. What?? Other than the TV issue...the crew were wonderful. Especially the dining staff. They all worked so hard to please and accommodate. The food was very good at breakfast & lunch...dinner was sporadic. We loved the size of the ship and very much like the small amount of passengers. The excursions were good and we had excellent guides (except just one). Just wish we had more time to explore on our own. The pace was just a bit slow for us. River cruising is an excellent choice for some. We think we'll wait a bit for our next one. And when we do decide to try again we will try a different line. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
My overall rating for Viking is a 95 out of 100 but with no other river cruise to compare it too. That being said we were fairly worried about the water levels on the Danube prior to out departure of this trip. We departed from Orlando ... Read More
My overall rating for Viking is a 95 out of 100 but with no other river cruise to compare it too. That being said we were fairly worried about the water levels on the Danube prior to out departure of this trip. We departed from Orlando on Dec 16Th with air booked through Viking Air. Although we took the scenic route from OIA to Detroit to Amsterdam to Budapest. All went well and all of our connections went as planed. We arrived in Budapest airport and were greeted by Viking Prestige staff after retrieving our luggage and were loaded on buses to the ship. We were greeted on the ship with an abbreviated buffet lunch and were allowed to our room (123) one hour prior then stated @ 2:00 PM. Our room was new and modern as compared with any ocean cruise that we had taken. We were on the bottom deck (the cheep seats) but the only difference was the size of the window compared with any other rooms with the exception of the suites. Food was generally very good with the exception of a couple of meals that we didn't prefer and we ordered the optional ( standard) steak which was a very good option. Salad dressings were watered down and could use improving but the baked goods and breads were very good. The crew was very good and service was for the most part exceptional. Our cabin steward was great and we did not have to ask for anything in the entire 11 days on the ship. The cruise director was fantastic and very entertaining. All cruise activities were well organized although limited as compared to ocean cruising. The tours that were included were very good and the tour guides that were used were very informative and professional. We had a couple of guides that I would say were exceptional. The one optional tour we took was the Mozart Strauss Concert and I did not think it was a good value for the money! We thought it was to take place at a "Theater" with real acoustics etc. but it was not. Others that I talked to were disappointed with this tour as well! The weather on the cruise was as expected during the winter months and the Christmas markets were very nice but we are not big shoppers. The food and wine at the markets were the highlight for me.Of course during Christmas day and eve, the markets and shops were either closed or closed early. We met many wonderful people on the ship and found this type of cruising very intimate and a great way to meet new friends. Water levels were very low prior to leaving on our trip and towards the end of our trip our ship was having difficulty getting under some bridges do to high water levels( go Figure)! Obviously water levels change very quickly on the Danube. We also went through many "Locks" which was very interesting and different! Our return trip home was from Nuremberg Germany to Paris to Atlanta to Orlando. Although very long we had no problems and all our connections went smoothly and with no loss of luggage. This was a very good trip and I would highly recommend river cruising and I would highly recommend Viking. Happy Sailing, Frank & Lynn Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
Hats off to Viking for once again providing a fabulous river cruise experience. Budapest was one of those destinations to which I probably would never have visited had it not been on the itinerary. I thoroughly enjoyed exploring the city ... Read More
Hats off to Viking for once again providing a fabulous river cruise experience. Budapest was one of those destinations to which I probably would never have visited had it not been on the itinerary. I thoroughly enjoyed exploring the city on my own as well as the shore excursion from Viking. As usual, the tour guides were quite knowlegable and interesting. The cabin was nice and roomy. I just wish the windows had been larger like those on the Sky. Our cabin steward was exceptional. The two most outstanding memories aboard the ship were listening to the talented pianist and being able to enjoy the wonderful dining experiences offered by the remarkable chef. Both of those men are treasures. This was the second time I had traveled to Vienna, and I was able to see it from an entirely different perspective being on a river cruise. My biggest regret is that I did not choose to attend the evening concert while in Vienna. Very few of us were left aboard the ship. My husband and I had thought about signing up for that excursion so many times, but in the end decided not to do so. When we heard such outstanding reviews from those who attended, we were very disappointed that we had not gone. Anyone who takes this cruise should definitely attend the concert in Vienna. This was only my second river cruise, and we have booked another one for later this year. I must say that I'm hooked! The atmosphere aboard the smaller river cruises is far superior to that of the huge ocean cruise ships. It's a delightful experience getting to know the staff, and Viking Cruises hires extremely professional and personable staff members. Here's hoping that I get to enjoy many more relaxing vacations with Viking. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
After exploring Vienna and Budapest on our own, we boarded the River Beatrice on Saturday, July 31st. We were warmly greeted by the assistant captain (he helped with our bags!) and the concierge, upon arrival. We picked this ship because ... Read More
After exploring Vienna and Budapest on our own, we boarded the River Beatrice on Saturday, July 31st. We were warmly greeted by the assistant captain (he helped with our bags!) and the concierge, upon arrival. We picked this ship because it was newer (2009) and we were quite happy with the result. What we liked about the ship: - Friendly staff. - Great Cruise Director, Gionji. - Great concierge, Tania. - Good food, especially breakfast & lunch. - Excellent guided tours. - Nice ports of call. What we found lacking: - No wine or beer for lunch. - Small portions for dinner. - No bottle water for guided tours. - No snacks (like nuts for evenings) other than cookies. - Number of and quality of bikes. Our impression of river-cruising in general: - Passengers not as old as we thought. - Interesting people - Great way to see Europe. - Need more things to do at night. - Longer stay at major ports like Vienna.Vienna was our favourite city, and we're glad that we spend an extra three days there. High lights were our trip to the wine district and the evning concert with Uniworld. Salzburg was also nice but very crowded. Great shopping. All in all, we enjoyed our stay at the River Beatrice and may return to river cruising if the itinerary is right. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
This was our first river cruise; we have completed 20 ocean cruises. The Amadagio is a fairly new river boat. It is well-maintained both inside and out. Embarkation/debarkation was a breeze with only 140 guests on-board. Cabins were ... Read More
This was our first river cruise; we have completed 20 ocean cruises. The Amadagio is a fairly new river boat. It is well-maintained both inside and out. Embarkation/debarkation was a breeze with only 140 guests on-board. Cabins were smaller than the smallest cabin we ever had on a ocean cruise ship. It was comfortable, especially the bed. Service was outstanding both in the cabin and dining room. Free internet was offered in each cabin...a nice feature. Additionally, the ship mailed postcards for guests free of charge. Entertainment was provided by local talent during port stops and was every bit as good as that offered by cruise ships. The food ranged from standard cruise fare to much below average. For example, a optional choice of a steak was tough and barely edible. Breakfast was much of the same thing for the seven days. Wine and beer were complimentary during the dinners but expensive if purchased on board. A large negative for us was that dinner was served between 6:30 and 7:00 every evening. This is much too late for us as it disturbs our sleep pattern if we go to bed on full stomachs. Port tours were excellent. Our program director was outstanding. One caution: we were assigned a cabin near the front of the boat. There was so much noise from the common areas that I was forced to wear ear plugs each night! Do not accept cabins near the common areas unless you don't care about the noise. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010

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