My wife (and I was included!!) received this cruise as a retirement gift after serving her employer for 22 years. Neither of us had ever been to Europe, nor had we been on any cruise of any kind. The boss of her company personally ... Read More
My wife (and I was included!!) received this cruise as a retirement gift after serving her employer for 22 years. Neither of us had ever been to Europe, nor had we been on any cruise of any kind. The boss of her company personally selected this cruise, because he and his wife had a wonderful experience on a similar Viking European cruise. So, he selected the date, point of embarkation, the Grand European Tour, room 216, etc., and HE HIT THE BULL'S EYE!! The only thing we did was select the excursions and add two extra nights on to our Amsterdam conclusion.
The owner of my wife's business could not have known that Rob Wheatley would be Viking Baldur's program director for this specific cruise, but Rob turned out to be the icing on the cake. Actually, ALL 50 staff were perfect (knowledgeable, customer-service-first, tireless, striving for perfection, etc.). One example: The timing on the river is dynamic, so, in one instance, we docked at a town the crew had never experienced. Rob and staff made an adventure out of it, and pulled it off beautifully. They were experts at dealing with the unexpected (rain, water levels, timing on the river, making sure excursions worked in sync with the ship, etc.)
VERY IMPORTANT: Since we had not made our travel arrangements, we probed at least 100 of our fellow 150 passengers about their vast travel experiences around the world, including land trips, ocean cruises and riverboat cruises. We felt so blessed to talk to our nearly unanimous shipmates that this was their best experience ever! They were impressed all around, and many also strongly recommended adding a couple of days on to the start and finish of each cruise. We were glad we added two nights on to Amsterdam, so we had the time to take the pre-arranged Viking walking tour, and other Viking advisors available in our hotel. In hindsight, we should have also added a day or two on at the beginning (Budapest), in order to help us adjust to our jet lag at the start, so we could have fully enjoyed our first day.
Beyond raving about the cruise staff, our fellow travelers complimented the smooth and modern vessel, the endless food, the entertainment and educational programs (even about the operation of the ship and the river locks, how the galley handled the massive food preparations), and the extensive offerings on the culture and history of each region or town), the excursions and dozens of tour guides, and their constantly being impressed with the staff's constant grasp on every detail of the two-week adventure.
This was a life changing experience. Read Less