Cruise Ratings
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Sail Date: November 2014
We booked this as a surprise birthday present for my husband, who had no idea we were even going away... The whole trip was a wonderful, unforgettably happy experience. We can't speak too highly of the 'Rinda' and the whole ... Read More
We booked this as a surprise birthday present for my husband, who had no idea we were even going away... The whole trip was a wonderful, unforgettably happy experience. We can't speak too highly of the 'Rinda' and the whole crew: George perhaps has to be singled out for his unflappable ability to move 100+ people to coaches and alternative tours, without losing anyone, and without ever losing his cool, funny, good-natured skills...but our Chef was a marvel, too. The food was absolutely excellent - 5-star meals appeared from a tiny, and immaculate, kitchen [we were even given a tour of the cook's galley], the entertainments were great fun, with local music some nights, on board - and other nights, terrific trips to e.g. a beautiful concert in Vienna, where a 1730s Stradivarius was played, coupled with Ballet and Opera excerpts. The tours were very interesting, guides were well-informed, and we were given audio-guides which allowed us to hear the commentary wherever we were standing. We visited fortresses, superb churches, Abbeys and Market Squares; and then came Nuremberg with former Hitler Youth Parade Grounds, and the Nazi 'Document Centre' preserved for schoolchildren to visit and become aware of war. We had a chance to eat a slice of Sacher Torte in Vienna! local sausages in Regensberg! and shop for all kinds of Lebkuchen and Christmas treats. Would we go again? YOU BET!! it was so good, there was absolutely nothing we could have wished to change. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2014
My husband and I are seasoned travelers and have done several cruises, Carribbean, Yantze, Mediterranean ... And have come to love the smaller boats. Because of the truly pervasive advertising On TV, we thought we'd try a Viking ... Read More
My husband and I are seasoned travelers and have done several cruises, Carribbean, Yantze, Mediterranean ... And have come to love the smaller boats. Because of the truly pervasive advertising On TV, we thought we'd try a Viking River Cruise. Our possible dates were limited by our Schedule and our friend' schedules, all of us executives, so the only possible sailing was Nuremburg to Budapest in October. I have to write and tell you it was the finest vacation ever! Fantastic food, brand new River ship, fantastic staff (okay the room cleaner was a bit testy at times), great ports, lovely, lovely trip. Only complaint would be not enough time in each port, but that's the schedule! We couldn't get the Internet in our rooms, and it was dial up speed even on the public desktops, Would be nice if they said that up front, we would have brought CDs. The Program Host was a rock star, he was so great and so funny all the time and kept us up for everything even when the morning tours left early-early! Did I say the food was fantastic? Not mass market cruise fare, but personal chef type quality. Always available coffee, tea, cappuccino and hot chocolate, filtered water, both still and bubbly. Easy embarkation, room ready way before promised -- easy debarkation...and so sad to have it come to an end. My husband figured out the costs based on the room and level of service,and it turned out to be a good value, too. Note: best shopping in Budapest and Nuremberg -- take the Nuremberg extension for nuremburg or you'll only wave at the window of the trial courtroom, and miss the toy manufacturers' plants. Try to get to see the Passau motor works, and while there, GO to the restaurant high overlooking the river -- you can pass on the organ concert in Passau! Next year in France, I hope!! Viking River Cruises all the way! Thanks for a wonderful, wonderful trip!!! Read Less
Sail Date: October 2014
The crew on this ship were absolutely amazing. By the first morning, they were all calling us by name. They remembered what we liked from one day to the next, and by mid week we felt like we were at a giant family gathering. It is really ... Read More
The crew on this ship were absolutely amazing. By the first morning, they were all calling us by name. They remembered what we liked from one day to the next, and by mid week we felt like we were at a giant family gathering. It is really this very outstanding crew that made this trip special for us, more so than what we saw or did. They really are second to none. It already started as we got out of the taxi on embarkation day, when the Cruise director George called out "What took you so long, we have been anxiously awaiting you!" and came to introduce himself while he and the deck hands helped us with out luggage. Things only got better from there. You can tell that the crew enjoy their work, and interacting with the guests. We sailed from Budapest to Nürnberg. They had a new optional tour of the BWM plant in Regensburg. We were very impressed by this plant, and found that to be one of the best excursions. It was something different from churches, castles and fortresses. The classical concert in Vienna was also very good, but you should know that it is not obvious from the description that it is a private performance for Viking guests. The ship was very nice, however on the evenings when everyone was in the lounge, seating was a bit tight. I am sure that there were technically enough seats for everyone, but if you came too late, you could not sit as a group....so don't show up for things in the lounge at the last minute. The food was very good and generally had enough variety. Personally I would have like to see the availability of specialties to the local area the ship had visited that day on the menu each night. That being said, we did bump into people who thought that the food was too fancy, and even saw some of our travel buddies getting their fill at American fast food outlets along the way. They had an Austrian night one night, where they served the food buffet style throughout the public areas of the ship and had roaming music and a giant party atmosphere. There were tons of smiling faces that night. It was the most enjoyable meal of them all. Too bad the musicians were only there for an hour. It would have been nice if the had at least played the same kind of music over the sound system afterwards, instead of reverting back to the quiet backdrop of classics. It felt kind of like being told "the party is over....go home..." and everyone was just starting to laugh and have a good time. The one odd thing about these particular long ships, is that they have the most expensive rooms in the very back over top of the engine room, where it tends to be the noisiest area of the ship. Granted there were other staterooms on the level blow which would buffer the noise somewhat. A previous ship we sailed on had a library/coffee lunge in that area instead. I do see why they would put the rooms there. It is the only place on the ship where the occupants would have access to view both sides of the river while in their room, which certainly is a plus. On a river there is always something to see. I considered booking one of these rooms myself, but opted for the suite one step down, closer to mid ship in order to have a quieter room. That being said, when the ship moved fast, all the collapsible railings on the sundeck rattled, so there was constant noise anywhere on the top deck during the night. If that bothers you, bring ear plugs. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2014
Viking has it down to a science! The river cruise was superb in every way. The happy-hour used to review the next day's itinerary+timing = fabulous! The moving of groups off the ship was smooth and efficient. City maps available the ... Read More
Viking has it down to a science! The river cruise was superb in every way. The happy-hour used to review the next day's itinerary+timing = fabulous! The moving of groups off the ship was smooth and efficient. City maps available the night before at the front desk. The local guides were the BEST available: lively, intelligent and enthusiastic. The transmitters were easy to use and protected from any screaming. The destinations were superb (Budapest, Vienna, Melk, Passau, Regensburg, Nuremberg). Every spot had a LOT to see and experience. The cruise director (George) had a terrific personality: vivacious and indefatigable!! The onboard personnel were attentive and gracious. The food was plentiful and delicious. All around BEST cruise experience!!! Read Less
Sail Date: August 2014
Started this Danube cruise in Budapest which included a stay in the Marriot hotel is well located on the banks of the river with a great bar/restaurant for river gazing. Hotel was a comfortable 4 star styled establishment. The included ... Read More
Started this Danube cruise in Budapest which included a stay in the Marriot hotel is well located on the banks of the river with a great bar/restaurant for river gazing. Hotel was a comfortable 4 star styled establishment. The included tours were informative and well done. Boarding the boat was painless as our bags magically arrived in our staterooms while we were touring the city. We found the organisation by Viking when it comes to logistics, in general, excellent. Our cabin in brief was light, bright, very well designed and tastefully decorated in relaxing colours. Our stateroom also had an adequate balcony with a table & 2 chairs. We were saddened by the fact that other than 1 day (passed through locks) we sailed at night. Suitcases fit nicely under the bed so they are out of your way. The boat is well laid out, spacious, lovely and light with great viewing from all public areas. Never felt at all claustrophobic. The crew were excellent, attentive, fast and a whole lot of fun while being most accommodating. The food at all meals was excellent. The local wines served were superb! Our farewell meal would have stood proud in any high level establishment. My husband and I found most of the included tours to be of a good standard. There were opportunities to save many of the not-so-young from having to sit part of the walking segments out that were missed. I do feel Viking could do well from taking more cues from their clientele. Most who do this particular tour have already travelled somewhat and can tell when something is attempting to be made from nothing. The optional tour to Szentendre (Hungary) was in our opinion a waste of the day and dollars. It was just like every other town that survives solely on peddling unwanted goods to uninterested tourists. Have seen way too much of that. We did the extension option to Transylvania and stayed at the Radisson Blu Bucharest, another good quality 4 star hotel also very well located. The highlight of the cruise/tour was Transylvania, what an absolute delight the country side, architecture and attractions were! We stayed overnight in Brasov, visited Bran Castle (associated with Vlad the Impaler), Sinaia - a breathtakingly beautiful resort town and Peles Castle which was gobsmaking. Viking would do well to concentrate more in Transylvania rather than over done and overworn excursions/activites that are suited to either the very young or feeble minded, none of which were on board the vessel. The optional tour to Constanta was nothing short of an absolute rip off! We were all ready at 8am as requested but didn't leave till 9am. 20 of us were squeazed on to a small bus for an uncomfortable 3hr trip to see 1. A port (big deal. 2. A derelict building (Casino) 3. Archaeology Museum that after seeing the 1st floor we all too tired, cranky and hungry and at 1.30pm - needed lunch! We were then taken to a restaurant on an overcrowded beach for lunch. It took an hour to arrive and my chicken was raw. With only 1/2 hr remaining not enough time to reorder. We were told we could swim in the black sea - but there were no change rooms available. So for those who did it was a quick dip and hardly worth the 3hr ride there and 3 hours back for such a quick stop that included the first 3 "sights". My husband and I realised that this cruise would involve visiting ex socialist countries that have been war torn for long periods of time and would therefore not be as pretty as central Europe. Many on board expressed their disappointment at what they saw, I don't think they had realistic expectations of the countries visited. I think Viking's promotional material might be better served by preparing those who did not do their homework. Would avoid a heck of a lot of disappointment. All in all we enjoyed the boat greatly along with it's crew. Couldn't fault either. Would we do another Viking River Cruise? Yes, we loved the standards set and that you didn't have to dress up. We would however do more detailed research into optional tours to avoid disappointment. Given that we have travelled extensively they do not offer river cruises that appeal to us or go where we haven't been otherwise I'd be packing my bags rather than writing this.   Read Less
Sail Date: July 2014
This was our first river cruise. The river cruiser was excellant and the food was absolutlely fabulous. The cabin was clean and comfortable, and all the staff on board were friendly and helpful. The itinerary was good with excursions being ... Read More
This was our first river cruise. The river cruiser was excellant and the food was absolutlely fabulous. The cabin was clean and comfortable, and all the staff on board were friendly and helpful. The itinerary was good with excursions being in the morning and optional ones in the afternoon. However, some of the excursion destinations were particularly disappointing with very little to see or do. Other excursions needed more time for sightseeing rather than a tour around a particular building. Some of the local guides made it very clear that the Balkan war may be over but nothing was forgetten and definately not forgiven. We took the add-on 3 nights to Transylvania. Overall it was enjoyable, but there was little time to explore Brasos, which was our base. We also took an optional excursion to Constana on the Black Sea. This was a very poor tour. It took a long time to get there and was very boring. I would not recommend it. The experience overall was fantastic and we met many interesting people from all over the world. We have booked another cruise for next year!   Read Less
Sail Date: July 2014
We have been on several Viking cruises and have loved them all! This year we flew to Budapest and spent two nights in a lovely hotel with great views of the Danube. We boarded our ship and sailed along the Danube, visiting many towns along ... Read More
We have been on several Viking cruises and have loved them all! This year we flew to Budapest and spent two nights in a lovely hotel with great views of the Danube. We boarded our ship and sailed along the Danube, visiting many towns along the way. The tours were all included in the price and we found them all very interesting. The guides we had were excellent and gave us lots of information.Our cabin on board was roomy and comfortable and the meals were amazing! Viking had arranged local singers and dancers to come on board to entertain us which were most enjoyable and great fun. The cruise ended in Bucharest where we again stayed in a lovely hotel in the centre of the city. From there we were taken to the airport to fly back home. We certainly enjoyed our trip very much! I should like to say that last year on our Viking cruise we had some money stolen in a city and the Viking crew could not have been more helpful! Stephanie especially went out of her way to make things easier for us. We have told many of our friends about our great holidays on Viking and some of them have booked to travel in the future. We ourselves have already booked to go with Viking on the Douro river next year! Valerie and Middleton Bruce. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2014
Good Points for nice cabins, House Keeping, Reception Staff on Boat, Program Director. about Meals- Two Thumbs and ten toes down. 1. For vegetarians hardly one items in menu (some times none). Even Salad at dinner time has anchovies. 2. ... Read More
Good Points for nice cabins, House Keeping, Reception Staff on Boat, Program Director. about Meals- Two Thumbs and ten toes down. 1. For vegetarians hardly one items in menu (some times none). Even Salad at dinner time has anchovies. 2. Vegetarian meals if any, have no equity in nourishment or in Dollar value with multiple choices available to Non-vegs. 3. Reason given that Menu is decided in the Home Office, no room for flexibility! 4. Chefs can not even cook Vegetable lasagna ! 5. Even French fries were cold, soggy and tasteless. Excuse was that they use 'frozen French fries". So does McDonalds 6. At breakfast, except for fried eggs and omelette , everything was cold. No common sense to use steam bath or Sterno burners prior to serving breakfast. . Even 60 minutes after opening the breakfast, all items were cold. 7. Before embarkation, at least two full days in Budapest. Breakfast provided by the hotel but not a single lunch or dinner by Viking. Cheap, cheap. 8. During the city tour of Budapest, not even water bottle provide ! 9. Staff in the dining room very overbearing and condescending, perhaps fishing for tips. 10. my 4th ( ,may be last) cruise with viking, each one disappointing about their meals, despite promises of good and nourishing choices for vegetarians 11. Viking very good in marketing ( TV ads in USA, Europe, Asia and multiple glossy brochures by mails) that hooks the unwary. after all who is paying for this blitz of marketing?,. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2014
We took our first river cruise with Viking based, for the most part, on reviews and recommendations. This turned out to be an excellent decision. The ship was bright, light, spotless and comfortable. We were concerned about the stateroom ... Read More
We took our first river cruise with Viking based, for the most part, on reviews and recommendations. This turned out to be an excellent decision. The ship was bright, light, spotless and comfortable. We were concerned about the stateroom size, as it was quite a bit smaller than what we found on larger ships, but the thought that went into the design of each stateroom provided outstanding storage and the best use of space possible. Meals in the dining room were quite good with many choices of well prepared meals, all served by excellent servers who learned our likes after the first day and always had a large iced tea at our table. We found all the staff we met to be helpful, pleasant and willing to go out of their way to make our trip the best it could be. The land tours were led by knowledgeable and involved personnel. Although we sometimes felt too much time was spent on buses, the groups themselves were not overly large and this allowed for time to ask questions. We loved this trip down the Danube. Minor problem....the world's flattest and uncomfortable pillows. We believe Viking would best meet cruiser's need with a pillow choice that included higher, foam pillows. A larger problem was the fact that our veranda was covered by water the whole trip-thus it was unusable. Staff came daily to "mop up" the area, it the water kept returning. Even engineering could not repair the issue. The Hotel Manager, Oliver Ulz, kept trying to resolve the problem but when he could not, he emailed Viking Customer Relations to explain the problem and our wish for monetary reimbursement for the unusable veranda. When we returned home we contacted Customer Relations and explained the unfixed problem. We also asked to a reimbursement equal to the difference in cost between a Veranda Room and a room with a French Balcony (which, in fact, was all we had as the veranda was unusable). We were pleased and impressed with their quick agreement to refund to us the difference between the two kinds of rooms. This is class act in all ways and a company we are pleased to recommend.   Read Less
Sail Date: May 2014
Everything about this trip met or exceeded our expectations. The pre and post-cruise hotel accommodations were excellent. Our cabin, with exterior veranda provided exceptional views. Cabin was comfortable and was cleaned frequently. Food ... Read More
Everything about this trip met or exceeded our expectations. The pre and post-cruise hotel accommodations were excellent. Our cabin, with exterior veranda provided exceptional views. Cabin was comfortable and was cleaned frequently. Food exceeded our expectations and the availability of wine or wine with lunch and dinner was a perfect complement to the exceptional food choices. We chose to be seated with the same server for all meals as she remembered our choices and when asked, would make recommendations which were always on target. There were many choices for off-ship tours which one was free to take or not. Overall the experience was very very positive......and yes we are taking another Viking River Cruise in May '15. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2014
The Viking Rinda was a beautiful ship. We had sailed on Viking previously but not on their new longships. The new ships are truly much more luxurious. Really liked the top deck which permitted walking around the ship for exercise, a sun ... Read More
The Viking Rinda was a beautiful ship. We had sailed on Viking previously but not on their new longships. The new ships are truly much more luxurious. Really liked the top deck which permitted walking around the ship for exercise, a sun area and a covered area. It was also great for viewing as we went through the Iron Gate on the Danube and some locks. There was plenty of viewing room for all the passengers. The food was excellent and the alternate dining option for lunch and dinner was very nice. As we had good weather, we could sit out on deck and enjoy the lovely weather. The itinerary was excellent and the guides combined a lot of history with descriptions of the sites. They also had a lovely set of programs highlighting local music and dances. There was also a very informative lecture in Belgade on the area. Overall we were extremely pleased with the cruise and the staff who were attentive and gave us excellent ideas about things to do on our own time. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2014
Having only ocean cruises to compare to, I hope this review is helpful to those is our situation who had not ever been on a river cruise before. 1. Dining: Absolutely expect to spend 2 or more hours eating dinner every night in the single ... Read More
Having only ocean cruises to compare to, I hope this review is helpful to those is our situation who had not ever been on a river cruise before. 1. Dining: Absolutely expect to spend 2 or more hours eating dinner every night in the single main dining room as a social occasion and with different guests, repeating your occupation, cruise status etc over and over during breakfast and lunch as well. At first it was fun to meet others but quickly we wished we had more options for private dining or room service or a table for 2 or 4. Our saviours were our travel companions who are delightful and 2 occasions of eating at the alternate bar location. BREAKFAST: nightmare of lack of direction every morning. Finally focused on grabbing a yogurt and beelining to a table and ordering from the menu. One unfortunate dining night where you foraged for food - a MESS. I basically didn't eat as the food was scattered all over the ship and there was NO traffic plan or people movement. Not pleasant at all and I don't know what the point was supposed to be. 2. Age: We were young for this group of travelers. All the limited activities, TV shows, movies, music etc were geared to an over 70's crowd and NOT to our taste. (50's and early 60's) and we felt we didn't have anything to do while in our cabin in the evening. 3. Internet was slow, but it was better than none. (large ocean cruises generally have EXPENSIVE SLOW service) 4. Drinks with dinner (wine and beer) were very nice and complimentary. 5. Maitre D was absolutely fabulous and accommodating if you have any kind of food allergy or special diet. 6. Excursions were very very good with excellent culture and history immersion. 7. Evening activities: not to our taste with the exception for an occasional folk dance demo which tended to be too long for my taste. 8. Cruise destination: Budapest to Bucharest. I found the trip fascinating but the views along the way, although lovely rural views, were not the stunning views that we would have seen from Amsterdam down to Budapest. I would have preferred the upper Danube, if I chose again, although I don't expect to ever get my husband on another river cruise. 9. We felt viking employees were not overly helpful with the elderly, particularly disembarking on steep ramps and boarding the buses. Many times other unrelated travelers were assisting them while the employees were chatting. 10. Do I regret doing this trip? - In a way, yes at this time. the trip cost us $11,000.00 with a ridiculously long (30 travel hours) time to get home. I recommend getting an air package that allows you to have input in the travel arrangements. 11. Was it easy? VERY ridiculously and gloriously easy with Viking REALLY orchestrating every detail. Very impressive!!! 12. Hidden costs? none. Hotels selected by Viking were very very nice. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2014
Passage to Eastern Europe March 25 - April 8, 2014 "Ya Just Can't Keep a Good Man Down!" ***Greetings from Budapest, Hungary!*** That is correct! I am again on the travel road, on a Viking River Cruise, “Passage to ... Read More
Passage to Eastern Europe March 25 - April 8, 2014 "Ya Just Can't Keep a Good Man Down!" ***Greetings from Budapest, Hungary!*** That is correct! I am again on the travel road, on a Viking River Cruise, “Passage to Eastern Europe”, from Budapest, Hungary to Bucharest, Romania, with a side trip afterwards into Transylvania, Romania. We arrived yesterday evening about 5:30 PM by British Airways from London, having transferred there from another British Airways flight, non-stop from Los Angeles, a long flight! We departed LAX at 6 PM on Tuesday evening. The flights went well with a little turbulence only once or twice over Greenland and Iceland. The real challenge was changing planes – and terminals – at London’s Heathrow Airport; our LA flight arrived at Terminal 5 and our Budapest flight departed from Terminal 3 but what a hassle! A real nightmare, but we made it! On arrival we were met by Viking personnel who handled our transfer to the Budapest Marriott Hotel, a very nice and new hotel at which Viking houses their cruise guests; it is on the Danube River near the famous Chain Bridge, and the view from our room is fabulous! Across the River to Castle Hill with the old buildings lit brilliantly at night, along with the lights on the Chain Bridge and the many river boats cruising back and forth: breathtaking view! Needless to say, we were exhausted from the long flights and time changes; Budapest is 8 hours ahead of California time. After a short orientation talk we got our room keys and very shortly were luxuriating in our beautiful room, enjoying the lights outside our window before crashing into a well-awaited sleep. Of course, around 2 or 3 AM, I was wide-awake. We finally arose around 5 AM, showered and changed for our 6:30 AM breakfast buffet down in the lobby. What a breakfast buffet! I started with a custom omelet accompanied by sausages and bacon, juices and coffee. Plenty to eat for the day! Then came our Viking Tour of Budapest from 8:30 AM until 12:30 PM that covered both the “Pest” and “Buda” sides of the city, divided by the Danube River. Having been here before I remembered a lot but had forgotten how really splendid is the city of Budapest; it is truly an architectural treasure! Paris and Vienna can hardly compare. By the time of our return from this tour, I was again dragging from lack of sleep, so the afternoon was spent enjoying another long nap. Now I should be caught up, ready for tomorrow’s optional tour out to the Gödöllõ Royal Palace, and our transfer to the Viking riverboat, the Rinda where I look forward to our upgraded Veranda Suite. These two nights at this Marriott have been a real pleasure but it will be good to finally be aboard our river boat, one of Viking’s new “Longships”, for the next week, cruising DOWN the Danube toward Bucharest and the Black Sea. ***Arrivederci, Budapest!*** Yesterday after our sumptuous breakfast buffet at the Marriott Hotel – I again enjoyed a delicious custom-made omelet along with bacon, sausages and sautéed mushrooms, we were requested to have our luggage placed in the hallway by 8 AM in preparation for transfer to the nearby riverboat. We had chosen to take the optional tour out to visit the Gödöllõ Royal Palace from 10 AM until 1:30 PM, returning then directly to our riverboat for embarkation, and it turned out to be a very interesting trip. The weather could not have been more pleasant; still a little nippy in the early morning but brilliant sunshine during the day. The 45-minute bus ride out of central Budapest was along an impressive new motorway (freeway) into the countryside, just now showing the beginnings of spring with green just starting to show in the trees and some trees already resplendent in their blossoms. The Palace is very historic, dating back for centuries, and is now still undergoing restoration from it many years under Communism when it was used for Russian Army barracks. One could hardly believe it now with the shape it is in, or at least that portion of the 135-room mansion that has been restored. The 20 or so rooms which we were able to visit were absolutely stunning, decorated authentically with draperies and other period fixtures such as stoves, furniture and magnificent paintings. It was at one time the summer home of the Hapsburg family, the royalty of the time. Our arrival at the riverboat coincided with that of several other buses and our introduction to our cruising “home” for the next week was less than cordial. Lunch had been prepared in the dining room, or rather sandwiches, soups and salads, but the onslaught of up to 200 passengers was not handled well, I thought, and I was lucky to grab what little food I could. There was complimentary wine, however, which made up for some of the staff’s shortsightedness in coping with such a crowd of starving passengers. Afterwards we checked in at Reception and were given our room keys and shown to our staterooms. As previously mentioned, we had been upgraded from a Veranda Stateroom to one of the 7 Veranda Suites, and ours is the first on the third deck. Awaiting us was chilled champagne and glasses as well as a small floral arrangement on the coffee table in the living room, separate from the bedroom and large bathroom. Very luxurious! The Viking Rinda is one of the newer ships and shows many advanced features unusual for river boats, including sliding “pocket” doors, a spacious balcony with chairs and a table, TWO large screen TVs – one in the living room and one in the bedroom, exotic lighting, and a huge shower with upgraded hardware. I am quite impressed and may never want to go back to a standard stateroom! A safety drill was held at 5:15 PM and then at 6 was a welcome toast by the Captain and his staff in the Lounge – which is just down the way on Deck 3: free champagne! Then a lengthy discussion by the Cruise Manager of the next day’s activities. Finally dinner was served in the Dining Room, downstairs on Deck 2, at 7 PM. Unlike the earlier unpleasant lunch experience, dinner was well handled and I was most impressed with the style of service: menu selections, etc. It was most reminiscent of the dinner service one would expect on an ocean cruise ship. Of course, wine is now complimentary at lunch and dinner. Seating is open and there is only the one seating, so everyone finds their own seats at the tables for 6 or more. We were lucky to have met another couple on our City Tour of Budapest with whom we were seated at dinner. It was a most pleasant experience; my choice of grilled prawns was excellent. At 9 PM after dinner there was entertainment in the Lounge – a local Budapest group, but I chose to retreat to our Suite for an early-to-bed. Right now it is quite early – around 5; my sleep patterns are still not back to normal, so I just got up and decided to compose this email to you. This morning breakfast is at 7 AM in the dining room and our morning tour leaves at 8:30 AM. I will describe further this afternoon. ***Cruising Down the Danube*** Right now we just departed Vukovar, Croatia where we have been docked for the day, enjoying a full morning tour to Osijek. The weather has been beautiful! Clear skies with a slight chill in the air. Spring is just arriving here with most of the trees and bushes all budded-out. Yesterday we were docked at Kalocsa, Hungary and our morning tour included a city tour, stopping at an Archbishop’s Residence before proceeding out to a horse farm in the Puszta (plains) for a very entertaining horse show. Before in 2007 we had taken a tour out of Budapest to a similar – and far superior – horse show, and I had mistakenly assumed that this one would be the same; wrong! Interesting, never the less, with expert riding demonstrations and bull whips by the Hungarian cowboys, dressed in their traditional costume of flowing blue culottes. Today was our first visit in Croatia, still showing signs of the terrible “Homeland War” of the 90s when Serbia attacked and did considerable devastation to the country. Our first stop was at a home, made into a tourist attraction by its owner. Samples of homemade brandies were offered as well as white and red wines along with snacks. Many hand-made items were available for sale, along with the brandies. An interesting visit. Then it was a drive on into Osijek to the ancient fort there for a short walking tour, one stop being at a church; the cobble-stone streets added to the ancient style of the houses, schools and other church buildings. After our morning tours, it is back to the riverboat for lunch aboard, and then – usually – a lengthy afternoon nap. (My internal clock is still messed up!) Tomorrow we are in Belgrade, Serbia for the day, so our usual 8:30 AM until 12:30 PM city tour will be on schedule, back to the boat for lunch, and then optional independent touring back into the center of Belgrade. Time for bed. ***The Iron Gates of the Danube*** Today there were no ports of call for us; instead the entire day was devoted to cruising down the Danube, one area of interest being the region of the River referred to as the Iron Gates. This region is characterized by its very narrow gorge, faced on each bank with tall, sheer cliffs of rugged rock structures. On one particular cliff is sculpted the face of a man, of huge dimensions. We passed through this region this morning around 9 to 10 o'clock. Then came the gigantic “Iron Gate” locks (2) which lower vessels traveling down river by 17 and 16 meters, respectively, a joint project of the former Yugoslavia and Romania on the two banks of the Danube here. The lengthy process of passing through these two locks brought us past lunchtime, and so now – past lunch, the river is quite wide with fairly low hills on each bank. Yesterday in Belgrade, our morning city tour was extensive, traveling to both sides of the Danube in this large city of several million. Highlights of this tour was a visit to the gigantic church which sits atop the city; although appearing complete from the exterior, it is far from complete, its construction having been interrupted on many occasion by wars, so now the interior is still under construction which is predicted to be complete in the year 2020. During WWII the Germans used the structure as a garage, and during the communist era, very little was done on its construction. The second highlight of our tour was the ancient fort that sits high above the city and river, and has been the source of interest for hundreds of years under the various military regimes. Now it is a park popular by school children and tourists alike. Afterwards, we returned to our riverboat for lunch, but then free shuttle busses were available at various times during the afternoon to return to the City Center for further sightseeing. We took the 3:00 PM bus and I sat at a sidewalk café while Jim raced around to different historic points of interest for photographs. We returned to the ship on the last shuttle at 5:20 PM. Although there was a local Serbian musical group performing aboard our riverboat after dinner at 9 PM, I chose to skip it and get another early-to-bed; the lengthy walking tours of the day had taken their toll. We again lost another hour to a time-change last night, so it was a lazy morning for me. Right now we will be taking a tour of the wheelhouse aboard ship. ***Goodbye to the Danube*** This morning we are disembarking the Viking Rinda after 7 days of luxurious living and cruising down the Danube from Budapest; at 8:30 AM we will be bussed on into the Romanian city of Bucharest, a trip of an hour and a half. Our bags have to be placed in the hallway by 8 AM, so it was a late night last night, getting everything packed up again. Tonight we will be staying at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Bucharest, another 5 star hotel. Yesterday was our second day visiting Bulgaria, and it was a full day tour down to Veliko Tarnovo, once the ancient capital of Bulgaria; it was a hour and a half drive through rolling hills of farmland, lush with new growth of crops. The city is built on the top of a mountain – literally, and I was reminded of some of the homes in Laguna Beach, clinging to hillsides. We visited one area of choice homes that included an ancient church of low design and filled with exquisite murals. Our lunch was at a nearby restaurant and offered local Bulgarian dishes: a delicious salad of tomato, cucumber and peppers with a white cheese, a bowl of hot vegetable soup, and a chicken dish cooked in a crockery pot. All absolutely good. The day before we had also taken a drive from the port of Vidin down to another hilltop city of Belogradchik where is located a natural rock outcropping around which an ancient fort is constructed; reaching it was a real challenge to reach. Time to go so this report will be a bit short. ***Our First Day in Bucharest*** After departing the Viking Rinda in the port city of Giurgiu, Romania, just across the Danube River from Russe, Bulgaria, we were bussed into Bucharest during the morning. Our first stop was at a large park in which exact replicas of ancient houses of Romanian heritage are displayed. All very interesting but we were all ready for lunch! Lunch did follow shortly in a large restaurant where we were served delicious vegetable and beef soup along with a salad, followed by a chicken-cooked-in-a-pot dish with rice. Dessert of ice cream, in addition to complimentary wine of course, completed this enjoyable repast. Our second stop during an extensive city tour of this beautiful city of 3 million was at the gigantic Parliament Building, the second largest building in the world – bested only by the Pentagon Building in Washington, D.C. Entrance to this building is highly restricted, requiring passports and a security clearance – similar to that at airports. Built by CeauÈ™escu in the late 80s – as a monument to himself, the building was not yet finished before CeauÈ™escu’s death in 1989. Climbing the 300 marble steps was a real challenge for me but led to the many rooms we were permitted to visit. Every item used in the construction is native to Romania including the many tons of white marble and the magnificence of the over-sized, enormous rooms is awesome. Many very large chandeliers enhance the ornately adorned ceilings and the floors are all done in marble mosaic designs. An amazing structure to say the least! Needless to say, the return DOWN those 300 marble steps was even more of a challenge for me! Finally we were dropped at our hotel, the Radisson Blu, where we found our rooms to be just as splendid as those in the Budapest Marriott. Viking certainly does things in a 5-star manner! Dinner was on our own, and this would be the final evening for those returning home the next morning; for those 23 of us remaining for the 3-night Transylvania Extension, our transfer by bus to Brasov would follow the next morning. ***Back in Bucharest*** Late this afternoon we returned to Bucharest for two more nights before our return home on Tuesday morning, April 8th. Last evening we spent the night in the Transylvania city of Brasov, at the Ramada Hotel, having spent the morning driving the hour and a half distance from Bucharest; we stopped during midmorning at a giant new shopping center, CarreFour, for a toilet break. The center is similar to a large Costco shopping center and was very impressive in its offerings and substantial customer base. Then it was on to Peles Palace, one of the summer homes of Romanian royalty; ornate dims in meaning to the splendor of this place, loaded with tourists. The woodcarvings were most impressive. It was then to lunch at a nearby restaurant and then eventually to our hotel, after an extensive city tour. Dinner was at a local restaurant downtown, reached by a hotel shuttle bus, since the hotel’s location was not very convenient. Yesterday our main interest was in the small town of Bran and its famous “Dracula” Castle. The fame of this legend has transformed this sleepy little town into a major tourist attraction, and it was with hordes of other tourists with which we toured the many rooms. The weather had changed during our drive into the Transylvanian mountains and it was quite cold and wet. The long drive back to Bucharest gave opportunity for a nap, interrupted only by a repeat visit to the large CarreFour shopping center for a break. It was still nice to again be in our comfortable room here at the Radisson Blu Hotel. ***Today in Constansa*** At 5 PM we returned from our day tour to Constansa on the Black Sea. Since we were the only ones opting for this special tour, it was essentially a private tour for us, conducted by Adrian, a former cruise program manager, in his car, traveling the 150 miles along a high-speed toll road between Bucharest and Constansa. Despite the time involved – around 3 hours each way, it was a very interesting drive through absolutely flat farm land, crossing the Danube – and a tributary – twice in addition to the Danube Canal connecting the River directly to the Black Sea. Although rather run down from its former elegance as a Black Sea summer resort, Constansa reeks of history and is one of the oldest cities in Romania. Many ancient buildings are currently under renovation, so needed by so many others. Our first stop was at an old mosque whose interior displayed brilliant mosaics and religious icons. Then a short walk brought us to the old casino, rather run down and in need of restoration; outstanding architecture in any case. Then we took a short walk up one of the streets through the old part of the city to City Art Museum. A short drive took us to the Mamia district of the city that is lined with resort hotels facing the Black Sea, and walked out onto the wide sandy beach. I actually dipped my hand into the waters. Surprising to me was the considerable surf rolling in; not big enough for serious surfing but substantial never the less. We then stopped at a nice restaurant for a delicious lunch before saying goodbye to the Black Sea and the charming city of Constansa. Needless to say naps were in order during the long drive back to Bucharest. It was a fine day and this tour completes my cruising from the North Sea in Amsterdam to the Black Sea in Constansa. Tonight will be spent rearranging our luggage for its final transfer tomorrow morning: 6:15 AM for luggage with a 6:30 AM departure for the airport. Our British Airways flight to London departs at 8:50 AM. So this much-anticipated “Passage to Eastern Europe” cruise/tour has come to an end, a very satisfied and full filling experience. ***Home Again*** The long trip is over and went exactly as planned, with the exception of our arrival at LAX and the long, LONG walk from the remote landing area - via bus to the new Bradley Terminal – through the new section and finally to the immigration control, and THEN the long walk on to the baggage claim and THEN to customs control, and FINALLY to the exit and finding SuperShuttle for our ride home. NOT a very “welcome home!” We decided to stay at Jim’s Long Beach apartment overnight before returning me home the next day, Wednesday, where I have been trying to recuperate from the substantial jetlag: a 10-hour time change from Bucharest, Romania. Yesterday was the first day I have felt “normal.” So, I am now home, rested from jetlag, and still enthralled with the great experiences this “Passage to Eastern Europe” cruise/tour has provided. I am SO GLAD that I was recovered sufficiently to have proceeded with this trip, so long planned and anticipated. Ron   Read Less
Viking Rinda Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 0.0
Dining 4.0 0.0
Entertainment 3.0 0.0
Public Rooms 5.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 1.0 0.0
Family 1.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 0.0
Enrichment 4.0 0.0
Service 4.0 0.0
Value For Money 3.0 0.0
Rates 4.0 N/A

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