We went from Budapest to Amsterdam on the Viking MAGNI two years ago, and loved every bit of that trip, so we knew of Viking's attention to detail and commitment to excellence from firsthand experience. In 2018 we originally intended ... Read More
We went from Budapest to Amsterdam on the Viking MAGNI two years ago, and loved every bit of that trip, so we knew of Viking's attention to detail and commitment to excellence from firsthand experience. In 2018 we originally intended to take the St. Petersburg-to-Moscow river cruise, but found it was during the time of the World Cup. For that and a number of other reasons, we (three couples who travel together) elected to see what other cruises Viking could offer us, even though our plans were completely changed fairly close to the departure date.
Viking could not have been more helpful, and credited us with every penny we had already tendered them. We got three adjacent cabins with shared verandas on the maiden voyage of Viking ORION, with no penalties and, indeed, on most favorable terms.
Viking service deserves its legendary reputation: every detail is smoothly, cheerfully and professionally attended to, from airport transfers to boarding to cuisine, entertainment, physical facilities, educational programs, and on-shore tours. The ships (in our case, the longship MAGNI and the ocean cruiser ORION) are engineered and planned down to the tiniest detail - doors and drawers (and toilet lids!) that don't slam, but slide gently shut; warmed floors and mirrors in the bathroom; perfectly arrayed tables in the dining areas so that efficiency and aesthetics are both well-served; cuisine that is fresh, imaginative and related to local products and produce; real honest-to-goodness libraries sprinkled throughout the ship with worthwhile and educational volumes on every conceivable subject. But the most treasured part of the Viking experience, for me at least, was the basic company-wide policy regarding quality of life on board: no children under 18; no casinos; no art auctions or other en masse blandishments, and essentially no smoking (one tiny spot on a mid-ships open weather deck was set aside for those poor souls).
The heart of the Viking experience is really not even on board the ship; I think the company wants its passengers to travel primarily as a means to the end of learning more about the world and its fascinating places and people. Every stop on either the river or the ocean cruises will provide ample opportunities for a wide variety of tours and excursions, including some at no extra charge at every stop.
For example: Having been to Rome a number of times in the past, that day we elected instead to visit Tarquinia, the Etruscan necropolis and museum. The day was one of the most memorable in my life - and I've lived a long, long time. The tour guide gave a three-hour nonstop monologue that integrated geology and geography, military history, theology, architecture, graphic art, archeology and politics, and imparted to us a priceless understanding of Etruria and its people, their (literally) central role in Mediterranean history before the Roman Empire, and the uniquely peaceful amalgam of cultures that their open society encouraged and created.
Viking cruises are meant to be enjoyed by thoughtful adults who want to visit other lands and other peoples in order to learn about them. The comforts of their ships and the delights of the on-board experience are magnificent, but always in service to getting ashore and experiencing other lands. Read Less