3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
Always wanted to see Portugal. We had been on a Rhine River cruise and were easy "converts" to river cruising. Having mentioned the Rhine, our only "criticism," if that's the right word, is that the scenery on the ... Read More
Always wanted to see Portugal. We had been on a Rhine River cruise and were easy "converts" to river cruising. Having mentioned the Rhine, our only "criticism," if that's the right word, is that the scenery on the Douro is quite monotonous, i.e., vineyards, olive trees, almond trees, vineyards, etc, etc. One sees little life on the Douro probably because this was Spring and not the fall harvest. This is not a criticism of Viking. They can't change that. But we did enjoy the boat and the many people we met on it ! Weather was absolutely glorious even in Santiago which was optional where I had been told by a friend "it always rains." It didn't. Service on the Osfrid was quite good. Staff in the dining room was exceptional especially our waiter Augustin and the Maitre' d Dragos. Entertainment was a little thin. "Flamenco Night" featured three female dancers to recorded music. They could have sprung for a guitarist if nothing else. It didn't matter. We were thoroughly tired after a long day Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
This was our 6th Viking cruise and certainly one of the best we had so far. We started in Lisbon which was ok as we been there before but when we embark the ship in Porto for the actual cruise the have been overwhelmed. The boat is ... Read More
This was our 6th Viking cruise and certainly one of the best we had so far. We started in Lisbon which was ok as we been there before but when we embark the ship in Porto for the actual cruise the have been overwhelmed. The boat is very small and intimate which we really enjoyed, the crew took good care of us and made this trip really special. What a small world it is within the Viking family as we had the same Hotel Manager as last year in Russia. Rebekka from Germany really made us feel like home. She managed the ship really well and you could see that she did this with passion. Food was great as always with Viking, could have been a bit more with local touches as always. Our Cabin was really specious with fantastic views every day. We book one of the Veranda suites this time. Our cabin girl was from Porto and gave us really good inside hints, we really enjoyed the mix of international crew with the local touch. Tours are fantastic but due to the longer bus rides sometimes we skipped some as the weather in Spain was already reaching the highs. Our only criticism of this trip was the entertainment as this was not as ever before on Viking, perhaps due to cruise director team who seemed not to be Viking and entertaining, also they are 3 and so far we always had 1 only. They always escorted the busses but would have been nice if they also comment on something at least. Well I guess Viking needs to improve this but the rest of the team was superb as always. We really enjoyed this cruise and booked another one and since this is our first online comment ever, thanks to Rebekka who ask us to do so, we would like to spread our positive experience herewith. March and Jean Read Less
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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2017
We so much enjoyed our previous Viking cruise, Amsterdam to Budapest, that we were eager to try a second Viking cruise. We had never been to Portugal, and we had heard others praise its beauty. Also, this was at the perfect time, because ... Read More
We so much enjoyed our previous Viking cruise, Amsterdam to Budapest, that we were eager to try a second Viking cruise. We had never been to Portugal, and we had heard others praise its beauty. Also, this was at the perfect time, because it started just after we finished a convention elsewhere in Europe. The Duoro river is beautiful. Because the ship is small, we got to know our tour guide well. The first day in Lisbon was a highlight. Another other major highlight was the very old library, where they let bats live behind the stacks because the bats eat moths that would eat the books! The ancient college in Salamanca was another highlight, with a very informative guide. The only weak spot was that because this was the first cruise of the year, the kitchen had a little trouble getting organized for dinner... sometimes ran out of a popular food, or had slower than expected service. But Viking did everything they could to remedy the problems, including hiring some extra staff after a day or two. We learned much about Portugal and its history and culture. We are big fans of Viking, and we have already signed up for another cruise next year. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2016
We had previously taken the Viking Bordeaux cruise in 2015, and shortly after getting home signed up for the November 2016 Rivers of Gold cruise on the Douro River. We thoroughly enjoyed the cruise and the land portions - we started with ... Read More
We had previously taken the Viking Bordeaux cruise in 2015, and shortly after getting home signed up for the November 2016 Rivers of Gold cruise on the Douro River. We thoroughly enjoyed the cruise and the land portions - we started with two nights in Lisbon with well planned and interesting tours of the city over the two days. Then a comfortable bus trip up the coast of Portugal to Porto, where we boarded our vessel in Vila Nova de Gaia, across the Douro from Porto. November is not shirtsleeve weather in Portugal, we had rain on the first day in Lisbon, but Lisbon takes on another sort of beauty in the rain and soft contrast of an overcast day. We arrived in Porto to sunshine and two beautiful days of incredible light and fascinating tours. Then the Viking Osfrid headed up the Douro, the weather turned more rainy and cold - but the river valley was so beautiful with the vineyards and mountains rising out of the mist. As we'd experienced in France in 2015, the Viking crew and staff were unfailingly helpful, cheerful and knowledgable. On this cruise, the guides were engaging and fun to spend time with, and the tours were excellent. This is another cruise, like the Bordeaux cruise, in which there are significant motor coach tours away from the ship, while some passengers didn't care for that, we recognized that it was the only way to get to the many fascinating places we visited, many of which were on the tops of the surrounding mountains. The food and wines were fabulous as usual, the staterooms were comfortable, the fellow passengers were interesting and diverse. We had a fabulous time. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2016
Wonderful destination with a beautiful country and very friendly people. The itinerary and Vikings staff and accommodations were beyond prior cruises. Great optional tours and sights. The opportunity to be entertained on the ship with ... Read More
Wonderful destination with a beautiful country and very friendly people. The itinerary and Vikings staff and accommodations were beyond prior cruises. Great optional tours and sights. The opportunity to be entertained on the ship with specialists that entertained and educated us was very important. The social director was professional and provided a knowledgeable support to help us understand the people,country and customs. the menu varieties offered territorial foods, grains, cheeses and beverages that allowed us to enjoy the flavors and tastes of origin creativity. The staff were meticulous in their attention to our requests and keeping our cabin, dining areas and common use areas of the lounge, decks and atrium both clean and fresh. The bar and lounge area offered a local and very good selection of beverages. Evenings were enjoyed with alternative entertainment with local performances both on the ship and off in the local venues. The evening serenades of the piano and songs provided a chance for karaoke and professional song performances. Overall, the Osfrid's cruise was a satisfying delightful adventure that fulfilled our cultural and relaxing goals in what we wished to achieve. Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
Expected to see much more, although the writing up of the cruise was quite accurate in the brochure. A lot of time is spent sitting on board a coach for up to two hours and the sights and excursions are all very, very samey. Food was only ... Read More
Expected to see much more, although the writing up of the cruise was quite accurate in the brochure. A lot of time is spent sitting on board a coach for up to two hours and the sights and excursions are all very, very samey. Food was only O K with some cold dishes being served at room temperature (e.g salad / a prawn starter) and the variety was quite limited, and fairly uninspirational. Portion sizes were, in general, quite small. No lunch buffet - the waiters were absolutely great but very, very overstretched. Meals were described by the Chef as "local" but we have seen the same meals on other Viking cruises. Evening entertainment was to 'care home' standard only. This is a cruise for those who don't mind being treated as children and seeing the 'same old, same old'...Company asks for suggestions but only take notice if money can be saved or if the suggestion meets with their initial approval. Great at saying "it will not work...". Have a suspicion that the Douro River cruise is run / directed by the local Portuguese authorities primarily to enhance the profitability of the local businesses and communities. Read Less
16 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
Our latest Viking Voyage (we go on our 6th trip with them this year) was absolutely wonderful. With a 2-day pre-extension in Lisbon (and a 2-day post on our own in Lisbon), we ended up spending 6 phenomenal days in one of my new favorite ... Read More
Our latest Viking Voyage (we go on our 6th trip with them this year) was absolutely wonderful. With a 2-day pre-extension in Lisbon (and a 2-day post on our own in Lisbon), we ended up spending 6 phenomenal days in one of my new favorite cities on the planet. Lisbon is gorgeous, very compact and highly accessible. Don't even think about going unless you book the Lisbon pre-extension. And whatever you do, don't miss the Taste of Lisbon optional excursion. The river part of our serene journey started on September 6, 2016 on the Viking (baby longship) Osfrid. While I will tell you many ways the whole trip could have been better still, my five star rating stands. Overall, we had an absolutely fantastic time. And, man oh man, did I get some great pictures. Portugal is one very picturesque country. (Photography and traveling are my hobbies. You can see my best pictures from our recent vacations here: www.RhodesVacations.com) LISBON PART OF TRIP From the time we got to the lovely Tivoli Hotel, we were already having a great time. The hotel has much to recommend it. When you go to breakfast (a large buffet in a beautiful room full of rich wood paneling and large picture windows), be sure and get a table that looks out onto the Avenida in front of the hotel. This is one of the most tranquil streets I've ever seen. With a very wide central pedestrian median that goes on for at least a mile, it is lined with huge trees hundreds of years old and has large walkways made of colorful stones set in mosaic patterns. I could spend days sitting on one of its park benches. So relaxing. But I digress. Back to the hotel. One final note, be sure and go up to the bar area on top of the hotel at night. It’s a hopping scene with great mood lighting and music. Half of the young adults in Lisbon seem to be there. But, most of all, it has great views of Lisbon's lights at night from the top. Be sure and take your camera when you go up to it. We had such a fabulous time in the endlessly charming Lisbon that it's hard to list everything we did, so I'll just stick to some of our favorites. We heard a lot of excellent fado music (something I didn't even think I would like), but none was better than the performance we got during the optional Taste of Lisbon excursion that we went on. But more than just the music and the dinner were the acting and dancing on the stage. It was a near perfect evening. My favorite was of one of the leading singers, who was so emotive in her acting and so compelling in her smiles that I couldn't stop trying to capture pictures of her. The best walking tour of trip was the one of the Bairro Alto in Lisbon, which is part of the pre-extension. In contrast, the tour of the Alfama District of Lisbon, which is part of the regular tour, was good but way too much of it was done on a bus. The Bairro Alto tour was all done on foot, so you really got to see the lovely tiled buildings with their intricate grill work, the enchantingly narrow and colorful streets and the overall charm of the byways of the city. Our Bairro Alto guide was terrific. She realized that the best guides aren't rapid-fire fact machines but entertainers who know how to weave humorous stories and make cute little remarks. Also, the Alfama tour spent time at the Maritime Museum. It's almost always a waste of time when a guided tour includes museum visits. You will have a fair amount of time on your own in Lisbon, and there is so much to do. Taking one of the fun old trams is a must but follow the Viking guides recommendation, as we did. Don't go on the public trams, which will have you waiting hours to get on and quite likely make you stand for its hour and a half trip. Instead go on one of the private trams, which look exactly the same. While they cost more, they will save you hours of wasted time standing and waiting for the public ones, and they will always have a seat for you once on board. Supposedly too, the public one is frequented by pickpockets. The tram whips around narrow streets and provides a constant steam of great visuals. Arguably the most stunning site in Lisbon is the Jeronimos Monastery, which should be on your must-see list. Also good is the castle, which, although in ruins, provides breath-taking views of the city since the castle is set high on the hill above the city. The way to get to the castle is with a taxi. Taxis in Lisbon are reasonably priced and easy to hail. The coach museum near the Jeronimos Monastery is well worth a visit. Filled with restored coaches, it really takes you back in time to when traveling was particularly elegant. One day we hired a private car and driver, which wasn't that expensive, and went to Sintra, most of all to see Pena Palace. A fantastical and ridiculously colorful place, it is a palace as Walt Disney might have imagined one. The town itself too was pretty. Later we went to the westernmost part of continental Europe, Cabo da Roca, and admired its jagged cliffs and crashing surf. An extraordinary day out. Finally, just walking around Lisbon's various squares and narrow streets provide endless delight. We ended up eating outside several time at LVSO Central Italian Restaurant in Rossio Square. The people watching there is great fun, and the waiters are real charmers and clowns. We always got one of the tables closest to the wide sidewalk. And, while we were in Lisbon during an unseasonable heat wave with temperatures in the upper 90s, the trees, the awnings and the good breezes made for very relaxing and quite comfortable outdoor dining nonetheless. SHIP PART OF THE TRIP Of the 13 days we spent in Portugal, 7 of them were on the ship, so let's talk about that part of our adventure. First and foremost, the staff and the people we met on the ship were extremely friendly. Our tour director Elia and our guide Iuri were uniformly terrific. My wife has mobility issues, and Iuri was constantly checking on her as we were walking to make absolutely sure she was always ok. The restaurant staff, which sometimes weren't quite as organized as they should have been, were extremely friendly and hard-working. On land and on the ship, everyone spoke very clear English, and they were able to easily understand a wide variety of accents easily, even my thick Texan. Quite a surprise was that, unlike all of the other Viking cruises we've been on, the captain was around a lot and liked to strike up conversations with the guests. His English too was perfect, and he proved to be a good story teller. The part of the ship we liked the least was the food, which was at best ok and was the worst of any Viking trip. Ironically, the best food, which was consistently fabulous, was on the Viking Truvor this summer in Russia. The chef on the Truvor is scheduled to move to one of Portugal ships next year. Almost made me wish we'd waited. But, to be honest, we didn't care much for the food off the boat either. The worst meal I got was some inedible cod for lunch in Lisbon. Being a baby longship, everything was shrunk, but it was a still a longship. On the regular size longships, there are many round tables for six at dinner, so meeting people is easy. The baby longship has many fewer such tables, and they are oblong rather than circular. The problem with an oblong table is that there are almost always 2-3 conversations going on simultaneously while, with round tables, it is usually just one. One conversation makes it a lot more fun and easier to hear people. But the ship did have a very large top deck, which proved to be a great place to gather while cruising and after dinner, when the lights on the hills were truly magical. And, speaking of magical moments, one of the best occurred the first evening on the ship when, just after dinner, the captain took us on a slow ride up and down Douro River to see the lights of Porto at night. All I can say is WOW! The Douro River provides endless scenic vistas while cruising. The high hills (or low mountains or whatever you call them) are full of vineyards, olive trees and almond trees. While you are there you live in a blue green world. Lush green hillsides are on your left and right while the rich blue of the sky and river are above and below you. Because of a broken lock on our trip, they had to re-sequence the days, which ended up giving us a full day cruising at the end. This proved to be a blessing, not a curse. Just about everyone spent the day on the top deck enjoying the great views and the lovely weather, which had cooled back into the normally seasonal 80s. We only had one early morning of rain the whole trip, and the rain was gone by the time we left the boat. Since I've been writing for a while now and still haven't mentioned any of the places we visited from the ship, you might wonder why. It's because this isn't a trip where you go to see a few big sites. It's more one of enjoying the smaller ones. But we did visit some pretty sites during the cruise. Castelo Rodrigo was fascinating and beautiful. A stunningly pretty little rocky and isolated town set high up on a small mountaintop, it was perhaps the best thing we saw while on the ship part of the trip. I am very glad that I chose the "strenuous" walking tour that day. Very mislabeled, it wasn't even up to a moderate level. Lamego was a peaceful little town to wander through, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Salamanca was quite pretty, but the included lunch there was almost inedible, and the flamenco dancing we were shown wasn't very good. My wife had suggested we skip the included lunch and flamenco performance and wander around Salamanca instead. Should have taken her advice. Others did this and had a much better time than we did. One night we had a dinner at old monastery. The setting was lovely and the fado singing was pretty good but not nearly as good as in Lisbon or Coimbra. Actually, the only part of the Coimbra visit I really enjoyed was the excellent fado performance after lunch there. DISAPPOINTMENTS Some of the places like the inside of the Mateus Palace, the library in Coimbra, the main church in Lamego didn't allow photography even without flash. This is just plain stupid in my opinion. I saw many people ignoring the rule and snapping pictures with their cameras and cell phones. The low point of the tour was Favaios, where we saw one of the world's smallest and most boring bakeries and visited a not very interesting small museum. On the optional tour to Guimaraes, the only good part was a brief walk through the streets of the town. There just wasn't much else there other than a very plain castle. Don't waste your money. Stay on the ship and enjoy the cruising instead. A couple of times after dinner, the crew led us all in a big conga line, which proved to be a whole of fun. What was very disappointing was that there were no team games as entertainment as there have been on every other Viking trip we've taken. For example, in Russia they had a game called Liar. Three members of the staff would give us the definitions and derivations of obscure English words, but only one of them was telling the truth. We divided into small teams to guess who was truthful each time. It was hilarious and marvelous fun. Internet, internet, internet! Viking, come on. In this day and age, there is no excuse for painfully slow speed internet. The days of dial-up class speeds are so last millennium. Airplanes and other cruise ships are adopting faster technologies and so should you. We ignored this failing by chewing up lots of cellular data at very pricy rates. OVERALL We had a terrific time that we will never forget. We are busy having fun now thinking about our 7th (and maybe 8th) Viking trip for 2017. So many places; so little time! FYI - The regular Veranda rooms on the baby longships that Viking uses in Portugal are much smaller than on the regular longships. While the bathroom is fine, there is no space on either side of the bed for a chair. Because of this, it makes good sense to go for the Veranda Suites, which have lots of room and are extremely well laid out. Couldn't have been more comfortable. LOVED our Veranda Suite! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2016
Have been on several river cruises in Europe and worldwide but had not done this one before. The Douro seemed a quiet,restful and unspoilt river. Preceded by 2 days in Lisbon. Enroute to Porto stopped off at beautiful old University ... Read More
Have been on several river cruises in Europe and worldwide but had not done this one before. The Douro seemed a quiet,restful and unspoilt river. Preceded by 2 days in Lisbon. Enroute to Porto stopped off at beautiful old University town-Cuimbra. Lovely ship and cabin with sitting room and balcony. Good public rooms and excellent dining. Friendly well informed crew. Always ready to help.Too many excursions and not enough time to enjoy sailing so skipped some excursions. Well informed local guides with good English and good audio arrangements. Comfortable coaches with good drivers.A good supply of water on coaches-it was very hot in Portugal with unusually high temp. Well arranged embarkation and disembarkation. Viking staff at Airports readily identifiable. Did not like Vikings suggested arrangement for tips, tho voluntary. Seemed excessive. Obviously their staff depend on tips to supplement their income but it should not fall on the shoulders of passengers. Viking prices are quite high but everyone seems to have had a discount! Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
As usual Viking River Cruise Line treated us like Royalty. Fabulous ship, Fabulous food, Fabulous staff, Fabulous Company. Loved Portugal- hope to return some day! People were so very friendly and welcoming i every Port.Tour guides were so ... Read More
As usual Viking River Cruise Line treated us like Royalty. Fabulous ship, Fabulous food, Fabulous staff, Fabulous Company. Loved Portugal- hope to return some day! People were so very friendly and welcoming i every Port.Tour guides were so knowledgeable and familiar with customs, people, education, and politics of Portugal and Spain. Cabin was spacious with a walk in closet. The Osfrid is a small intimate ship with staff willing to make you comfortable what ever your needs.Viking Company never left you wondering how the day will go giving updates as needed. Shore excursions were educational and well run. Always on time and exact in panning. The scenery along the Douro River was incredible. The ship sailed during the day allowing you to have the best views of the river and the countryside. The itinerary was set to give you free time in every port. River Cruises are a fabulous way to meet people from other countries and well as from the USA/ We will continue to travel with Viking. Read Less
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