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25 Viking Europe Cruise Reviews

Our first trip to Europe & river cruise. We toured cities, two castles, three cathedrals, functioning windmills, saw the Black Forest & more. Fourth trip for the new Lofn longship. Smaller size meant we recognized staff & ... Read More
Our first trip to Europe & river cruise. We toured cities, two castles, three cathedrals, functioning windmills, saw the Black Forest & more. Fourth trip for the new Lofn longship. Smaller size meant we recognized staff & passengers. We made new friends to explore with. Perfect pace: meals, morning guided tours included, optional return to ship, afternoon optional paid guided tours or on-your-own in towns. Paid tours were FAR less expensive than ocean liners'. Excellent organization of departures on tours & disembarkation. EXCELLENT Staff provided itineraries, maps, advice, information, water and umbrellas. Sailed at night except for one- half day passing many castles & hillsides. Menus were very good; wine was average. The evening entertainment was music and a glass blower, not like ocean liners' productions. We would love to go again. Arrange your own stay on land! We paid too much for an additional two days in Amsterdam (hotel, two breakfasts, one guided walk & ride to the airport.) The Movenpick hotel was business-class, older, questionably clean in the shower & Silk Road restaurant. The food was average. Amsterdam is tourist friendly & easy to navagate. WATCH the bicycles, trains & cars! Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
If I could provide 0 stars I would, based on Viking’s lack of customer service alone. We were on the 15-Day Grand European Tour on Viking (Eisla ship) in March, 2015 from Budapest to Amsterdam. The staff in general was good, and the ... Read More
If I could provide 0 stars I would, based on Viking’s lack of customer service alone. We were on the 15-Day Grand European Tour on Viking (Eisla ship) in March, 2015 from Budapest to Amsterdam. The staff in general was good, and the tours and food were definitely above average. My extremely negative review centers around the consistent problems we had with our room, the double stacking of ships at docks (which left no view from our upgraded room and balcony), and the Hotel Manager’s personal problem. We booked this trip with my parents 14 months in advance (with the paid cancellation policy), as my husband is in the military and never knows what his upcoming schedule will be. This was a “bucket list” trip with my 75 year old parents. We paid a lot of money (nearly $20,000) for one of the suites with a nice balcony. Unfortunately our room either had no air or no heat, depending upon the weather. Maintenance came in at least four times to fix it and nothing was ever settled. Our TV was completely non-functional in the bedroom for most of the trip. Our power outlets in the bathroom were not consistent with the hairdryers provided by Viking or any adapters we purchased (based upon what Viking suggested), so we had to get ready in our living room. Our bathroom smelled like stale urine the entire trip, even after it was cleaned each day. For approximately 40% of our trip, we had no view from our suite or balcony since other Viking ships were double stacked against us. I want to mention that we were told by several Viking staff that Viking saves money by double stacking so that they do not have to pay for extra docks. Thus, if I wanted to enjoy our balcony or open our blinds, I was looking straight into someone else’s room. This completely ruined our trip to Budapest, Koblenz, Cologne, Bratislava, etc. In addition, the Hotel Manager, who one would normally complain to, was unapproachable the entire cruise. All of the staff were complaining about him. My husband contacted Viking about this and their “executive team” contacted him for further information. They appeared to take this very seriously… at the time…. Boy, were we wrong. So, when we returned home, they have finally offered a discount on future cruises, even though we specifically requested for cash because my husband cannot plan months or years ahead for another cruise. And, after the horrible experience we had, why would we want to do another cruise with them?? Again, my husband is in the military and can deploy or be transferred at any time. We were told Viking would not honor our request and indicated that military or not, we could easily book a future trip. It is very disturbing how uncaring they are about their military customers. This is totally unacceptable and just shows how little they value their customers, especially those who are in the military. Please, I urge everyone to not use Viking Cruises for the simple reasons that you will be overpaying for what you receive and that they have no customer service or concern for their customers. Please review them on BBB.org. They currently have an F from the Better Business Bureau due to their customer service. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
We have traveled extensively on ocean cruises. This was our second river cruise and we were very pleased with our experience. The embarkation process was quick and efficient and we were in our cabin within minutes of stepping aboard the ... Read More
We have traveled extensively on ocean cruises. This was our second river cruise and we were very pleased with our experience. The embarkation process was quick and efficient and we were in our cabin within minutes of stepping aboard the Viking Europe. The stateroom was clean comfortable and well organized for the storage of our belongings and luggage. The dining experience was wonderful and since this was a French river cruise, focused on French meals that were wonderful tasting adventures. The staff and service were outstanding. Friendly and helpful is how I would describe the crew of the Viking Europe. Even before we set foot on the Viking Europe, Telma, the concierge, helped to make our trip very special. The documents that Viking sent to us prior to leaving for our trip included an email address for the ship and since our air arrangements would get us to the ship in the late morning of our departure date, I made an inquiry as to the possibility of visiting Pont du Gard before the ship set sail. Telma took the time to contact me before our trip and arranged a customized visit that fit perfectly into our schedule. Viking staff even made sure that those unavoidable pitfalls of travel such as lost luggage did not spoil our trip. When my bag failed to arrive with me in Marseille, the Viking agent at the airport was quick to assist me in making arrangements to have the bag forwarded to the ship as soon as it arrived on a later flight so that I could still complete my tour of Pont du Gard without having to wait at the airport to claim my luggage. That willingness to go above and beyond to make our trip special was evidenced by everyone that we came into contact with on the ship from the Program Director Rudy, to our cabin attendant Ana. I wish I could remember all their names to mention here because all of the crew had a hand in making this trip a very special memory. Peter, the keyboard player on board, provided wonderful musical renditions for listening and dancing and a local group of singers came on board in Lyon to entertain us. The Shore excursions were conducted by wonderful local guides and our Guide Stephanie in the town of Vienne surprised us by singing a wonderful rendition of Ave Maria while we were touring in a church that will be a lasting memory of this trip. Disembarkation was as smooth and organized as the embarkation process. Our luggage was gathered at our door and placed next to our bus for our identification and loading on the bus for our travel to Paris for a post cruise stay. In summary, this was one of the most relaxing and enjoyable cruises that we have experienced and we can not wait to travel with Viking again.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
It probably compared equally to Seabourn for the quality of service and food (and we loved our Seabourn Croatia cruise). Everything was extremely well organized, air arrangements made by Viking were better priced than anything I could find ... Read More
It probably compared equally to Seabourn for the quality of service and food (and we loved our Seabourn Croatia cruise). Everything was extremely well organized, air arrangements made by Viking were better priced than anything I could find on my own. When we got to Marseille our luggage took a bit longer to come out so by the time we exited into the arrival hall there was no rep to be found. After about 25min she finally appeared and told us that the bus had left without us. Within minute she got us a taxi that drove the 2 of us to Avignon where the Viking staff paid the 196E charge for the ride. We received the most wonderfully warm welcome from everyone. Our cabin was smallish but surprisingly comfortable with tons of drawers and hanging space. The bathroom had a medicine cabinet which was so convenient as we usually have to balance multiple toiletries on the sink. L'Occitane toiletries are a nice touch. We thought chef Benjamin did a terrific job with his cooking. He had a couple of misses but many many hits. And they did change the wine for dinner for at least 4 or 5 evenings with some very good selections. We took all the tours -included and optional. They ranged from pretty good to great. The staff at the restaurant was just unbelievable, like the level you get in top NYC restaurants. The rooms were cleaned spotlessly. Met a bunch of lovely people who have done many of these cruises. My husband and I had actually paid for our next Viking cruise (to Bordeaux) before even going on this one. Now we can't wait till 2014 Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
Our Viking cruise was to have initiated in Basel, Switzerland Saturday June 1. We flew in early to be able to see Lucerne, Switzerland. The locals in Lucerne said the Rhine was higher than they had seen in twenty years and it was still ... Read More
Our Viking cruise was to have initiated in Basel, Switzerland Saturday June 1. We flew in early to be able to see Lucerne, Switzerland. The locals in Lucerne said the Rhine was higher than they had seen in twenty years and it was still raining. This probably should have been a tip off for us that maybe there was a problem. My view is Viking should have given us the choice of canceling the river cruise at this point. Yes it probably would have been a mess to arrange flights back home but we should have been given a choice. Instead we were bused to our ship on Saturday which was now docked in Briesach, Germany. The Rhine River was so flooded that the boat couldn't make it up the river to Basel. Apparently there was an issue of navigation safety due to river flooding and low bridge clearance. Briesach was to have been the first stop on the cruise. The ship remained docked there from Saturday(6/1) through Wednesday(6/5). Each night, the ship's officers indicated that we were not able to sail due to river conditions. During these four days we were bused to the various stops that were supposed to have happened had the boat sailed. One of the excursions was an extremely long and uncomfortable bus trip. I mean from Briesach to Heidelberg and then back to the boat was a long miserable day. During the four days we were in Briesach, the ship was parallel parked next to another ship so the view from our veranda (at additional cost) is into the stateroom of the adjacent ship. The ship was moved at the end and the view was actually quite nice in spite of the river being at flood stage. On Wednesday, we were bused to Cologne to another ship. This boat is docked in an heavily industrial area with a very steep rope lined gangplank. Difficult to maneuver for us old guys but no one fell in. The normal docking downtown was of course precluded by the flood stage of the river. Finally on Friday(6/7) we were bused to Amsterdam for an over night hotel stay and flights in the morning.. The whole trip consisted of an evacuation from one end to the other. It's not a river cruise when the boat never leaves the dock. The trip was totally disrupted by the flood conditions that precluded the ship from ever leaving port. We were basically evacuated from the beginning to the end. We felt that we didn't get anything resembling what we paid for. We requested a full refund for the cruise including airfare from Viking. We received a response from Viking acknowledging there were disruptions to the trip. However what they offered was 75% of the cruise cost applicable to a future Viking River Cruise. In my view, this is totally inadequate.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
We booked an 8 day cruise on Viking Europe (in late April 2013), departing from Paris overland to Dijon and thence to Chalon, where we boarded the ship. We were disappointed with our experience from the moment we boarded this ship. The ... Read More
We booked an 8 day cruise on Viking Europe (in late April 2013), departing from Paris overland to Dijon and thence to Chalon, where we boarded the ship. We were disappointed with our experience from the moment we boarded this ship. The vessel was poorly maintained -- dirty conditions, frayed carpets and general sloppiness everywhere. Viking Europe's crew and hotel staff (with a few notable exceptions at the steward/waiter level) were poorly motivated, rude, surly and uniformly unhelpful. I think the problem had more to do with attitude than competence, but either way the passengers were poorly treated. "Service with a snarl" is the phrase that comes to mind when I reflect upon our experience on Viking Europe. Very little attention seems to have been paid to important service concerns on board Viking Europe and fundamental issues relating to passenger comfort and convenience seem not to have been properly thought through. Tours and excursions were poorly organized and the staff seemed to suffer from a lack of focus. The cuisine was pedestrian at best and our dining experience was very disappointing in many respects: for example, the hot items on the breakfast buffet were always served cold and croissants and other pastries were almost always over baked. Although encompassed by my initial comment about the poor attitude of Viking Europe's crew and hotel staff generally, it bears special mention that service in the dining room was exceptionally awful. I should not have had to chase down a waiter in order to get a cup of coffee, as I had to do every morning at breakfast, for example. Our experience was even more disappointing because it followed a companion cruise on the River Seine aboard the Viking Spirit that was wonderful in all respects. It is apparent to me that Viking has significant management problems that are reflected in uneven standards of maintenance, service, organization, passenger satisfaction, etc. among its many ships. The lesson that I take away from this is that I will never travel aboard a Viking vessel again. If you are not convinced and are willing to take a chance on a Viking cruise, I strongly recommend that you very carefully research the vessel involved to be certain that it is not a poorly maintained and managed one like Viking Europe.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
Our cabin proved to be well-appointed and relatively spacious. As far as we could tell it was also spotlessly clean. Restaurant meals were delightful, well prepared and presented as well as filling even though the European portion sizes ... Read More
Our cabin proved to be well-appointed and relatively spacious. As far as we could tell it was also spotlessly clean. Restaurant meals were delightful, well prepared and presented as well as filling even though the European portion sizes appeared small at first until we discovered otherwise. Wait staff in the restaurant were unfailingly pleasant. The only thing that was a bit tedious was the fact that the same house wines were served each lunch and dinner and some variety would have been appreciated. The Viking Europe is beginning to show its age but the crew do a wonderful job of keeping it looking spic and span at all times. The only place we could suggest for improvement is the restaurant carpet close to the buffet area, where it is fairly grubby and some fairly major cleaning is in order. We were very pleased with the excursions both in terms of the places visited and Viking's choice of guides. Viking also arranged our air travel to and from the cruise and did not let us down. They booked us on the most direct flights possible and at reasonable times without unnecessary delays when connections were required. All in all, a great cruise. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
My youthful 95 year old mother & I were looking forward to Viking's 'Portraits of Southern France', our first river cruise in April, 2013. When we arrived in Lyon, we learned our ship, the Europe, had moved down river to ... Read More
My youthful 95 year old mother & I were looking forward to Viking's 'Portraits of Southern France', our first river cruise in April, 2013. When we arrived in Lyon, we learned our ship, the Europe, had moved down river to Macon, to avoid being trapped behind a low bridge in Chalon-sur-Soane. What a smart move (thank you) because as the river rose during the week, we also learned the flooding river was too high to allow travel. Being more centrally located on our northern portion of our trip meant that we didn't have as long travel time to see all the scheduled sights, or an overcrowded pier. As the week passed it became apparent our ship would not be moving from our berth. On Friday, we were bused to lovely accommodation in Avignon, and our now 'bus' tour resumed for the southern portion of our trip. Although it wasn't the trip we'd anticipated, my mother & I were treated so well by the staff, and we thoroughly enjoyed our 'altered' trip. The altered tours to Chateau Cormatin & Hameau DuBoef were especially interesting. My mother was already talking about another Viking cruise on the flight home! We're off on the 'Danube Waltz' next. I wonder, at 96, will my mother be the oldest traveller on Viking? Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
Onboard staff are brilliant but can only work with what they are given. Staff kept everything spotlessly clean. Vessel is ageing and it shows. Cabins (staterooms???) are tiny - bathrooms tinier still. A litany of small complaints ... Read More
Onboard staff are brilliant but can only work with what they are given. Staff kept everything spotlessly clean. Vessel is ageing and it shows. Cabins (staterooms???) are tiny - bathrooms tinier still. A litany of small complaints (problems?) leaves a bit of a sour taste -small things that build up to spoil what could have been perfect. Shower that did not drain properly - some days it flooded, some days it didn't. PLEEEEEEEZ get some new salt grinders in the restaurant!!!!! These are mostly well past their use by date and the grinding mechanism no longer works. Not enough information given to guests - we did not find out some things until day 5 Mattresses are generically terrible. A pillow menu would be good or at least some firmer pillows. a variety of wine at meals instead of the same cheap generic red or white - after 7 days they start to leave a sour taste. Raffle prizes of Viking merchandise looks cheap. Allowing obviously sick passengers onboard (to infect others) is extremely poor. Very poor value for optional tours - the best part of 100euro for a winetasting of 3 wines is extremely poor value when the rest of this optional tour consisted of a drive to and from the winery concerned. After this fiasco we refused to take any further optional tours and after speaking to others who did take them, we knew we had made the right choice. The meals were always excellent. The wait staff were excellent. The bar staff were better than excellent. Cruise director - very good. Cleaning was excellent. Tour guides were generally very good - some have better English than others. We are younger and more adventurous and independent travellers and will probably not river cruise again for around 15-20 years. For us, this was kind of like being on a bus and being herded around like sheep. It was an interesting experience but not one we wish to repeat as it is extremely limited in scope. Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
This was our first river cruise. We had been on 6 or 7 ocean cruises around the world (Australia, Black Sea, South America) and weren't sure what to expect. We were on the Frances' Finest cruise, which was actually two cruises ... Read More
This was our first river cruise. We had been on 6 or 7 ocean cruises around the world (Australia, Black Sea, South America) and weren't sure what to expect. We were on the Frances' Finest cruise, which was actually two cruises back to back. The first part went from Paris to Rouen and then returned to Paris. The second part was from Chalon-sur-Saone to Avignon.(We were taken by motor coach from Paris to Chalon-sur-Saone) We were met at the Paris airport by a Viking representative. I needed to pick up a few toiletries and she helped me find what I needed. We were bused to the ship (docked within sight of the Eiffel Tower and the Paris Statue of Liberty). The first ship, Viking Spirit, was well laid out and our cabin was very comfortable. We appreciated the open seating at dinners, and on the first evening, selected a table for six where we sat every evening. In that way we had the same waiter and he quickly learned what we were drinking (my glass of white wine and my wife's diet Coke.) We had different dinner partners each evening and met many fascinating people (the husband and wife doctor team being two of them). A buffet lunch was served every day in the lounge and we found it convenient to eat there instead of the dining room. The second ship (from Chalon-sur-Saone to Avignon) was the Viking Europe which is the sister ship to the Spirit. It is, therefore, laid out exactly the same and Viking even assigned us to the same cabin number on both ships. The ships docked near the center of each town and it was easy to simply walk into the town center if we decided not to go on the tour for that day. The tours were included with the cruise and were guided by a local who knew a great deal about the area. There were a couple of tours which were extra, but well worth the money (Versaille, for instance). With our Quietvox audio devices which we used on all the tours, it was easy to hear what the guide was saying, even if you wander away from the group to take pictures or whatever. The Viking staff on both ships was outstanding. They were very professional and at the same time very friendly. In fact, on one of the ships I was greeted by name every time I returned from tours to pick up my room key. We enjoyed this cruise so much that we have booked a Viking cruise in Germany for next year. We recommend Viking to any one who enjoys small ship cruising. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
My husband and I are avid cruisers. We were on the May 14 cruise of Viking in the Ukraine. We upgraded to a mid level room. That was the first thing ROOM: Viking does not tell you that there is no difference between the room ... Read More
My husband and I are avid cruisers. We were on the May 14 cruise of Viking in the Ukraine. We upgraded to a mid level room. That was the first thing ROOM: Viking does not tell you that there is no difference between the room categories unless you get a suite. The difference of the other rooms is their position on the boat. The cheapest is bottom level, small window, port side, next level is same room on river side, next category is one floor up, same room port side with a walking path in front of your room (floor three). The room is tiny, tiny, two small beds, cot size and a bathroom that is SSS, . poop, shower, shave with a curtain to separate the towels so they do not get wet. The shower is actually a hand held attached to the sink. The closet is an armoire with the bar running from front to back, which means you need to move everything to get anything. There is one small drawer. When you enter there is a mirror with a small shelf underneath. The room is the worse I have ever had even though it was not inexpensive $2,800 per person. If you want a normal cruise ship room you must get what they call a suite. FOOD: The breakfast and lunch were best. Dinner looked good but in most cases was tasteless. The standard wine was awful. One day they brought three bottles of the same wine to the table, each one was another color. TOURS: Were well done, not too much to see between Odessa and Kiev, lots of Lenin statues and gray towns. Odessa and Kiev were OK. SHIP: Has no place to sit or "lobby". By each staircase there is a couch which looks like it is 1940's. There is a bar, but you feel like you should buy a drink, The library requires no noise. Each room can seat 30 or so. There is a sun deck, but how about rain?STAFF: Tries to do their best but there is lots of down time with nothing to do. EMBARKATION: If you want to save money take a taxi. Their charges are outrageous. We had to do our own transportation, cost about $40 from Ukraine airport.....bad part, no sign and the ship was behind another we drove by 2 times finally saw some other people standing and we followed them. Awful embarkation. SUMMARY: There are 2,200 ships on the Danube in one day, there is one on the Denpier, and the Ukraine government requires Viking to rent it from them. If you don't have a compeling reason to take this cruise do another. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
This cruise was way beyond my expectations. Everything was done first class. From the accommodations to the excellent food to the interesting tours that were provided by the cruise line. I loved the small number of passengers. We had a ... Read More
This cruise was way beyond my expectations. Everything was done first class. From the accommodations to the excellent food to the interesting tours that were provided by the cruise line. I loved the small number of passengers. We had a 142 people on ours. This made everything more personal and no lines for anything. Easy access to just about anything you wanted to do. Including the dining room. The staff was excellent. Hard workers, great personalities and very accommodating to all on board. The ship might have been on the small size but it was always immaculate and our stateroom was always taken care of daily. I loved every aspect of my cruise. I highly recommend Viking Cruise Line. And NO, I'm not a relative of the owner, just a very satisfied customer. :-) Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
This was our third cruise with Viking, and once again they did well. For this cruise we used Viking air with transfers, and were not disappointed with the arrangements. We flew from the US to Brussels, then on to Marseilles. There were ... Read More
This was our third cruise with Viking, and once again they did well. For this cruise we used Viking air with transfers, and were not disappointed with the arrangements. We flew from the US to Brussels, then on to Marseilles. There were about 20 of us that were picked up at the airport, for our ride down to Avignon our starting point for the cruise. Arriving at the boat about 3:30pm, check-in was fast, and we went directly to our room. After unpacking, we both grabbed an hour or so catnap to make an attempt to keep going after a very long day. At dinner, it appeared that several people were late getting in as there were a lot of empty seats and the cruise had been sold out. If you have ridden the Viking Spirit, you have ridden the Europe. They are exactly the same even down to the (in our personal opinion only) hideous multicolored chandelier in the lobby area. This was the first cruise of the season for the boat, and they had several new crew on board. We were impressed overall with the enthusiasm of the crew, and while there were some very minor glitches along the way, they were quickly fixed. We must especially make note of our dinning room attendant Carmin, who provided excellent service throughout the cruise. We found out the last night that this was her first cruise ever, and you would never had known it. The walking tours provided were very good, and the local guides some of the best we have had. We only did one optional tour, and that was the tour to Chateauneuf-du-Pape which we completely enjoyed. The weather was absolutely delightful, with plenty of sun, temperatures in the high 60's, and the wine flowed freely for lunch and dinner. What more good you ask for? Highly recommend this cruise if you want to see the Southern part of France. To read about some of the ports, I did a daily blog while cruising, that can be found at http://vikingcruise3.blogspot.com/. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
Advertised as a Christmas holiday cruise with the opportunity for visiting Christmas markets in France and Germany along the Rhine. Weeks prior to the cruise the Rhine and Danube Rivers were experiencing low water levels. Our entire cruise ... Read More
Advertised as a Christmas holiday cruise with the opportunity for visiting Christmas markets in France and Germany along the Rhine. Weeks prior to the cruise the Rhine and Danube Rivers were experiencing low water levels. Our entire cruise was fine; no problems with the water levels. In fact, the weather throughout the cruise was excellent. All ports listed in the itinerary were visited. All the land tours were great. Each Christmas market seemed to be better than the previous. The long periods of daylight cruising were relaxing and full of sights along the river that were entertaining. Should have spent the extra days in Switzerland; that would have capped off the trip just great. As always, the Viking ship was excellent. Though we booked a Class B cabin, we were birthed in a Class A cabin. Not too much different. The crew and the service were exceptional and the Tour Director was a hoot! It had only been nine months since our first Viking cruise, so we knew what to expect and how things worked, so we were much more comfortable on this cruise. We're both waiting for another cruise, probably a Christmas one again. The decorations of the European cities really set the mood for the holidays; it really is the best time for a cruise. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
We began with a 3-day extension in Prague, one of our favorite cities, so we could show it off to friends who had never been there before. Once again, we were amazed to find incredible architectural venues we had not previously ... Read More
We began with a 3-day extension in Prague, one of our favorite cities, so we could show it off to friends who had never been there before. Once again, we were amazed to find incredible architectural venues we had not previously explored. Prague is bursting with 18th and 19th century architecture, beautifully preserved and restored. It is also a place to hear incredibly good classical music at very good prices. If you are a shopper, go for the rubies and Bohemian glass. Leaving Prague by bus, we journeyed to Budapest, about a 6-hour drive as I recall (it was a bit longer than expected). Wish we had had more time to see Budapest. The gorgeous Parliament building is closed on Mon., our only day there. We'll be going back to see more of Budapest in the future. I'm not going to detail all the highlights of the cruise, but I will simply say that there were many. Our guides were all extremely knowledgeable,and all spoke with very clear diction. The Viking guides use a system with an audio transmitter and headphones, so it is easy to hear and understand their presentations. I was ill and missed the excursion covering the Nazi war trials in Nuremberg (they actually visited the courtroom where the trials were held because we were there on a Mon. and the courts were not in session), but my wife and our 4 friends said it was very worthwhile for anyone interested in the history of WWII. Another very nice compliment to the Viking cruise experience is the fact that you are allowed to buy wines (or any other beverages)in the local ports and bring them onboard at no charge. This was a great and inexpensive way to enjoy the various German and Austrian wines with meals and I must say we were able to find much better wine than the wine served complimentary by Viking with the meals. I am not easily impressed with service, but Viking's was truly outstanding and I would recommend this cruise very strongly to anyone who enjoys traveling, exploring other cultures, and world history. I should probably mention, also, that we found our fellow cruisers to be a very amiable mix of Europeans, Canadians, Asians, South Americans, and fellow Americans. This afforded us another opportunity, which we very much appreciated, to learn about different cultures. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
We sailed on the Viking Danube; the positives: the crew and program director Michael are top notch; they made the trip so enjoyable; we were very impressed with them. Upon arrival at the ship (we came a day early, stayed in a hotel and ... Read More
We sailed on the Viking Danube; the positives: the crew and program director Michael are top notch; they made the trip so enjoyable; we were very impressed with them. Upon arrival at the ship (we came a day early, stayed in a hotel and arranged our own transfer to the ship) we were shown to the lounge where a light lunch was being served as well as drinks, wine and beer. Everyone was very welcoming; when our cabin was ready, they came to get us. The Viking Danube is being put out of service at the end of 2012; it is an old ship. The cabin configuration of space could be better and the mattress was not comfortable at all. We had more shelf space on a previous river cruise with a different company. The lounge area where all events were held was a tight fit for all the guests. The entertainment brought on the ship was fun and enlightening; we especially enjoyed the wooden shoe making demonstration, the dance group, the men's choir, Belgian waffle demonstration and the speaker on Belgium and the Netherlands. The speaker on the European Union was good but went on too long. Dining was excellent with a number of options; the wait staff made everyone feel very welcome and were very accommodating. It was a tight fit in the dining area. Among the stops we made our favorite was Bruges and the Keukenhoff gardens; we wished we had more time at each of those. The local guides were very informative and we appreciated the fact that they offered a slow walking group. We also enjoyed the excursion to the royal palace and to Delft. The trip to the windmills was interesting but the trip to the Delta Works was fascinating to see the engineering marvel they built. Middleburgh's trip, it was raining and cold, very early in the morning and nothing was open; it felt like a forced march. Michael's overviews of the next day's activities were concise, relaxed presentations; we always felt we knew exactly what was going on when and where. We did the extension to the Floriade; the Belmont Hotel in Maastricht was wonderful and the restaurant there, easily a 4 to 5 star as was the guide there. The only drawback was our free time there was on a Sunday, and nothing is open then. Everyone who did the extension had different flights to catch in Amsterdam to return hpme. We were the only ones with a 1 p.m. flight and Viking provided a driver and car to take us from Maastricht to Amsterdam; the service was top notch. We appreciate that they didn't lump us altogether to do just one or two airport runs. My only major complaint was the lack of functioning WIFI for a large portion of the cruise; the problem was the explanations they offered for the problem did not ring true; there were two retired computer system engineers aboard and I have significant experience with computers, servers, broadband etc.; we all decided that the problem was with their equipment which needed an upgrade; it could not support the number of accounts needed to service the passengers. Since a majority of us had told our families and/or businesses to use email to keep in contact; this was a real problem. Overall, the cruise was excellent and we will go on a Viking cruise again, on one of their new ships. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
We opted to have Viking River Cruise book everything for us on our Amsterdam to Basel trip, the ship accommodations and the air travel to Amsterdam. All we had to do is get to and from the Philadelphia airport on our way to and back from ... Read More
We opted to have Viking River Cruise book everything for us on our Amsterdam to Basel trip, the ship accommodations and the air travel to Amsterdam. All we had to do is get to and from the Philadelphia airport on our way to and back from the cruise. The accommodations on British Airways were great; and our cabin on the Helvetia ship was very comfortable and more than adequate for our needs. The food served on board the ship was superb, more than anyone needed to eat. The wait staff were friendly and always willing to accommodate any of our special requests. The chefs did a superb job in preparing foods native to the area we were traveling by. The other ship personnel were great from the captain on down to our room steward, very friendly and always willing to stop and talk and answer any questions we may have. The tour guides who met us in each city and/or bus tour spoke perfect English and gave us more information about the area than we could ever hope to remember. We met many friendly people on board the ship; and we especially liked the fact that the ship could only hold less than 100 people so it was not too crowded. Everything on board the ship was perfect and we had a wonderful time exploring some new areas of Europe. In fact, we enjoyed the trip so much that we have booked another Viking cruise for the spring of 2012 to celebrate a milestone in our marriage, 40 years. Cannot think of a better way to celebrate such an event. Will be sailing from Amsterdam to Budapest. Looking forward to seeing parts of Europe that we have not yet explored. It is hard to imagine a better way to see the world than with a Viking River Cruise. In summary, taking a Viking River Cruise will not be disappointing; and let them handle all of the arrangements for a worry-free travel experience. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
My wife and I booked our honeymoon on Viking Cruise lines in October, a nine day cruise down the Rhine River from Amsterdam to Basel with daily stops along the way. We had never tried river cruising before but had heard good things about ... Read More
My wife and I booked our honeymoon on Viking Cruise lines in October, a nine day cruise down the Rhine River from Amsterdam to Basel with daily stops along the way. We had never tried river cruising before but had heard good things about it and were anxiously looking forward to the trip. After much research we were down to choosing Viking River Cruises or Uniworld and in the end decided on Viking because their itinerary included the Black Forest which my wife had always wanted to visit and Heidelberg which I had always wanted to visit. Unfortunately the cruise did not turn out as we had expected; after leaving Amsterdam we cruised for just two days then stopped in Koblenz Germany and were informed that the water levels on the river were too low and we could go no further. Viking then did a one day cruise down the Mosul River to a beautiful little village, unfortunately we had roughly two and a half hours to explore before we had to rush back to the boat and return to Koblenz were we remained tied up for the remainder of the week while they bussed us to various locations were had been scheduled to visit. Because we spent hours on buses we only got to visit two of those locations, missing out on the remaining three. And even at the two we did visit; Heidelberg and Strasbourg, were very brief, we had just a few hours free time in Heidelberg and less than two hours in Strasbourg. We were then buses to our final destination; Basel, a day early and that was that. Needless to say, I realize that Viking River Cruises has no control over the level of the river and no reasonable person could blame them for that. I do however blame them for the way in which they handled the entire trip; The company later admitted that they knew before we ever left Amsterdam that we would almost certainly be unable to complete the cruise due to the low water levels, yet they still got us on the ship where they could control us and cruise for at least a day or two, thus being able to state that they had tried their best. And during the cruise itself they lied to us about this, claiming that they had thought the river levels would rise due to rain! It was only after we'd returned and I wrote to the company that they admitted the truth. They never gave us the option of deciding what we would like to do (they cancelled the cruise the following week and gave those passengers the choice of re-scheduling their trip or receiving a refund). I would have gladly taken even a partial refund and left the ship in Koblenz. We paid a handsome sum of money for an 8 day river cruise and instead received a three day cruise and a series of long bus trips and short visits to only a few of our scheduled stops. For this the company offered us 30% off another cruise but only if we took it within the next year. I might add that this was at a time when they were offering two for one deals and large discounts in airfare to anyone off the street! The crew paid no mind to what we, the paying passengers, wanted to do. During an on board meeting when they finally admitted that we could not continue on the river the majority of passengers expressed the desire to visit the Black Forest instead of Strasbourg, this was ignored by the crew because Strasbourg was more convenient for them to then bus us to Basel and be rid of us. So Strasbourg it was, for an hour or so anyway! The crews demeanor throughout the trip was abrupt to the point of being rude, this was so apparent that it became a running joke among the passengers, not a funny one either. Their attitude was; "this is what we are doing so be quiet and like it". And on a more general note; the food was just fair and the service at meal times left much to be desired, the wait staff was undermanned and did little more than put the food in front of you and run off. If you asked for anything extra you would have thought you had asked them to move the earth for you. The ship was obviously understaffed. Upon returning home I wrote a long, thoughtful letter to Viking expressing my displeasure and pointing out that basically, my wife and I had paid $9,000 for a short cruise and a series of very long bus trips. And that I did not think their offering 30% off another cruise IF taken within a year was sufficient compensation for that. Several months later I received a form letter explaining how the water levels on the Rhine work and basically saying that they were sorry but it is what it is, get over it and hey, we hope you sail with us again very soon! Viking sends out DVD's and brochures and letters from their chairman touting their high level of service and how much they care for their passengers. This was a far cry from the Viking that we experienced. I would urge all of you to take their claims of sterling service with a very large grain of salt and, if you should be planning a river cruise then seriously consider Uniworld or Globus and avoid Viking all together. Our experience may or may not have been the norm but, do you want to spend that kind of money to find out? Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
Our first river cruise.  We have made 9 ocean cruises with 4 different lines.  This was the BEST ever!  Very laid back and wonderful scenery.  The staff and crew were expecially nice and seemed to go out of their way to make you ... Read More
Our first river cruise.  We have made 9 ocean cruises with 4 different lines.  This was the BEST ever!  Very laid back and wonderful scenery.  The staff and crew were expecially nice and seemed to go out of their way to make you happy.We left Nuremburg on a Sunday and sailed the canal until we reached the Danube.  The locks were very exciting and so different than the Panama Canal.  Sailing day was especially nice, there was "fair" or German family gathering at our dock.  All kinds of water activities and food, beer and children's activites.  Nice to get some more of the local atmosphere.  We spent 3-days in the city before getting on the ship.  Nuremburg is a very friendly city and lots of great sausage and beer.  We highly recommend hotel LeMeridian.  In the center of all the sights.Sailing on the canal and river were wonderful!  All along the Danube there are walking and bike trails, landscaped and very beautiful. We ended in Budapest.Viking certainly has it "all-together" when it comes to the excursions.  Every one left on time and returned on time.  If anyone was left, they could get a taxi to the dock.  It was very nice not having to wait for those who don't care about being on time.  All the guides we had were excellent.  English was perfect and groups were small.  The headsets were great.Food was good.  Lots of choices, if you didn't like the daily menu, there was always something extra you could order.Main critism:  We paid $114.00 to see the Mozart, Strauss concert.  The music was wonderful.  I'm glad we had the opportunity in Vienna.  They put around 500 people (other cruise lines) in one very small room.  Chairs (small) very close together.  It was very hot and lots of mosquitoes.  We called it the "sweat & swat" event!!  They should have warned us to dress accordinly and bring repellent.Our stateroom was very nice, room for everything and closed was good.  Just like a large cruise ship.  Our cabin steward Rianna did a fabulous job.The bartenders could have been a lot friendlier.  Didn't seem to go out of their way to sell liquor.  Many of the fellow travelers said they enjoyed not being "hastled" by them.I would go with Viking again.  We really did enjoy he "small ship" atmosphere. Read Less
Sail Date July 2009
If our experience is typical, Viking is slipping in quality. We cruised the Rhine with them five years ago and were very impressed. This time we cruised the Danube, on a nearly identical ship, and were sorry to find that the experience was ... Read More
If our experience is typical, Viking is slipping in quality. We cruised the Rhine with them five years ago and were very impressed. This time we cruised the Danube, on a nearly identical ship, and were sorry to find that the experience was not as good. The plan looked good:  visit several interesting places along the legendary Danube. The lavishly illustrated brochure made it seem this trip would offer the same high level of service as before. The reality was somewhat less than we expected.  For example, the breakfast and lunch buffets were not as extensive as we recalled, and didn't have much variety from day to day. Breakfast included such mistakes as burnt pancakes, watery oatmeal and a flat, tasteless omelette. Lunch one day in the land of great sausages featured plain American hot dogs. While dinner held to the former high standards, the portion size had shrunk. Of course, inactive people on a cruise boat don't need to eat very much, but putting us all on a diet seemed less than generous.  The staff seemed less courteous than we recalled. More than once I was nearly run down in the buffet line by busy waiters hurrying past without waiting for diners to get out of their way. Table service was also rather brusque, we felt. Part of the problem was a language barrier. Most of the crew was from former Eastern Bloc countries such as Slovakia and Hungary, and their limited English made communications difficult. Even with all the goodwill in the world, it's hard to feel connected to someone when you can't speak to each other beyond the simplest of words.  We also experienced a problem with cabin service. Our cabin attendant was always working in our room just before we needed to leave for the day's excursion and wouldn't leave unless we insisted. She seemed to think we should stay away until she was finished. It was awkward, since we needed to get ready to go. I don't recall having any such problem last time. Why can't room cleaning wait until after the passengers have disembarked for the scheduled excursion? Perhaps the biggest problem we experienced was the loss of a promised night in Vienna the only night we would be there. We were told that the ship could not get through as scheduled due to bridge construction, and so it tied up at the tiny village of Krems, where there were no attractions of interest. I don't know why Viking couldn't work around the problem other ships that had been on the same schedule as ours in the days before were not tied up at Krems. But even assuming there was truly no way to get through, Viking didn't have enough concern for its customers to do the right thing. They had promised us a night in Vienna. They could and should have taken us there by bus if they couldn't do it on the ship. It wasn't that far, and wouldn't have been that expensive. Most of us would have been willing to pay a reasonable amount for the extra cost involved, but it wasn't offered. I think it was this incident that crystallized my feelings about the lack of good customer service on this cruise.  Anyone reading this review is probably aware that Viking has adopted 2-for-1 pricing for the 2009 season. We took advantage of that offer. You might say we shouldn't complain when we were getting such a good deal. But 2-for-1 is only a good deal if you get two of the original quality for the price of one, not when you get two of something less. We were disappointed. If Viking has decided to reposition itself at the low-price end of the cruise business, that's their decision, Perhaps we were just naive to think quality would hold up as prices fell, but if Viking wants to sail down to the lower end of the market, perhaps they could save significant money and also be more forthright with their customers by putting out a cheaper looking brochure.  Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
We chose a river cruise for the convenience, low stress, and all inclusiveness, as well as the locations visited in eastern europe. We are married in our early 30's without kids and were definitely not the normal river cruise couple. ... Read More
We chose a river cruise for the convenience, low stress, and all inclusiveness, as well as the locations visited in eastern europe. We are married in our early 30's without kids and were definitely not the normal river cruise couple.  The average age of the cruise is about 60-65 years of age, with a few in their 40's, 50's, and 80's- at least they looked that age.  Don't let the age deter you if you are young as most of the people were very nice and we made friends w/ multiple couples.  There were a few groups of single friends, mom and son, etc., but predominantly married couples.      Our room was the lowest class and was very small, but adequate, and certainly no smaller than an inside stateroom on a larger cruise line. Our beds were separate, but you can squeeze into a single together if you wish.  You will need an adapter for hair appliances, chargers, etc, but my wife was incorrect in thinking we needed a converter, as we didn't. There was a hair drier in the room and an iron could be obtained from the front desk.  Movies are shown on one channel in your room on a daily basis- the same movie all day long as far as I could tell.  If you read the information booklet in your room, which we didn't until the last day, you will find the list of movies for the week.  Only one other channel is in english- CNN World, which I now prefer to normal CNN.  The shower was good quality and never short of hot water.  We had a window that ran just above water level and had a fair view, but certainly nothing picturesque- and it didn't open as the information book states. We peeked into a larger room, one level up from ours- D level I think- and it was MUCH nicer.  However it was $500 more pp and I don't think it is worth the additional cost even now w/ all taken into consideration. Budapest- if you have the chance definitely extend your stay here. It was one of our favorite locations and we wished we had more time. Cafe Girbaud was recommended to us and would recommend it to others.  Wished we had visited a bath house and had more time for museums.   All of the other stops were wonderful and you will have free time to explore on your own at just about every one of them. We weren't sure how much time we would have, but it seemed adequate everywhere.  At least enough time to decide that we loved just about every stop on the cruise.  You do not have much time after the Melk abby, but as quaint as you might think the town is, Regensburg and Passau were much better.  The only stop I could do without is Linz- would rather have had more time in other cities.  A tour in each city is included and were well done.  You have a receiver and ear piece to hear the tour guides on all walking tours.  They worked well and were very helpful.  Some tours were part bus w/ stops and walking portions, while others were walking only.  The tours were not too fast, too slow or overly churchy.  I thought they were well done w/ some people complaining about a few guides-  everyone is split into 3 or 5 groups depending on the stop, and not everyone had the same guide.  You can ask questions and always go back to see things again.  Remember to take some forints, or euros to tip- we forgot a few times and had to scramble to come up w/ 1-2 euros to tip w/.  Excursions- we only did the Kelheim Weltenburg Abbey tour.  We heard from others that other excursions were nice, although there were problems w/ the Vienna Palace tour. We enjoyed the Kelheim tour, but- 25 minute bus ride, 1 hour scenic boat ride w/ a large crowd of tourists, a 5 minute walk to the abbey, 1 hour at the abbey and beer garden, 10 minute walk to another bus, then a few scenic stops back to the boat.  Other than the beer at the abbey being fantastic the trip was mainly forgettable- the rain didn't help either. The only other option is to stay on the Viking ship the whole time.  If you like beer you'll love this excursion.  If you don't like beer your should at least enjoy the scenery.  Food- the dinners were all excellent w/ a variety of tastes- I never knew I would like Borscht!  Lunches were always good w/ buffet and items to order.  Breakfast was fair- burned bacon every day!!  Omelets were subpar.   A few key points: -Do not purchase the Silver Spirits all inclusive beverage package!!  Glasses of wine and beer run about 4-5 euros- or more if you wish a bottle of wine.  Corkage fee for wine brought on board is 7 euro.  Mixed drinks are a bit more- 5-7 euro.  Juices are included w/ breakfast and tea/water/coffee are always available.  We purchased the package and I drank like a fish, but was nowhere close to the total cost of the package- oh, and the sparkling wine, postcards, and hat aren't enough of an incentive. -Always go to the daily briefing and check the front desk for sign-ups.  The daily briefing covers a lot of information pertininent to the next day including signing up for various excursions.  One person was late getting on the boat the first night missed signing up for an excursion and then didn't get to go.  You will not need to sign up for any excursions until you are on the boat, but you need to sign up early rather than wait to make sure you get to go.  -Try the sausage and kraut in Regensburg.  I am not a fan of sausage or sauerkraut, but this was like no sausage or kraut I have had before.  It is/was one of the best things I have ever eaten and I consider myself a foodie.  - Realize there are breakfast and lunch menus if you do not wish to have the buffet items.  - Do not expect there to be food 24/7.  Portions are European style- fairly small.  We heard a few people complain, but I thought the portions were adequate- appetizer, soup, entree, dessert - and you can ask for additional portions including a cheese plate.  - if you have a choice between Prague extension or Budapest, i would choose Budapest.  We did Prague on our own and found it to be overrun w/ tourists, souvenir shops every 3rd shop, but a beautiful city w/ a lot of history.  Budapest was also a beautiful city w/ a lot of history, but fewer crowds and seemed more authentic.  Best to see Budapest before it turns into Prague.  Oh and Prague's pilsen beers were nothing compared to the many German beers I had- just personal preference.  - do some research in each of the cities to determine what you want to see during free time- Oberhaus castle in Passau, "Sissy" museum and Kaiser apartments in Vienna, Landtman Cafe in Vienna, Gerbaud Cafe in Budapest, etc.  You receive some maps and info on each stop, but it helps to know a bit more to maximize your time. - If you have the money to spend it is very helpful to eat lunch off the boat to maximize time at some locations. Especially in Vienna and Nuremburg where your are some distance from the boat and in Regensburg- so you can taste the magnificent sausage!   Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
Day 1: Leave Denver on Lufthansa at 5:15 bound for Frankfurt. Two nice meals, drinks with the dinner (2 glasses good white wine), and arrive a bit early at 10:30, local time. Try to avoid the Frankfurt airport! - we landed out in the ... Read More
Day 1: Leave Denver on Lufthansa at 5:15 bound for Frankfurt. Two nice meals, drinks with the dinner (2 glasses good white wine), and arrive a bit early at 10:30, local time. Try to avoid the Frankfurt airport! - we landed out in the outskirts, climbed down the stairs, and boarded a bus for the terminal. Even though its a secure area, we passed through a passport check, a customs check, and another xray security line. About 50% of the passengers got pulled out for individual wanding. I'm 2 for 2 on the inspection, since my carryon has batteries, digital camera, binoculars, and various electronics - all nice suspicious stuff on the xray machine. Watch the signs carefully to find your connecting flight in the airport. Off to Vienna. Customs a breeze (nothing to declare line). Viking rep meets us just outside the customs room, follow the driver to a VW van with 6 other passengers for transfer to ship (20-30 minutes). Onboard (staff handles bags), turn in passport in the European fashion. Ship exchanges euros at same rate as the exchange in the Denver airport, minus the $5 fee. Same rate in Vienna exchanges - figure on a 5% screwing on the exchange. ATMs are always the best bet, but only do that the first time outside a bank that is open, just in case something messes up. If it does, go inside and they will assist you in getting your ATM card back. Next time, call your ATM provider before you leave for Europe, eh? Tea/pastries in ship every day around 4, always good. Light snacks for early arrivals around noon. Meeting 6:15 and every day thereafter on "your schedule tomorrow". This one sells the 3 sidetrips on the voyage, have to buy today for arranging the buses. Dinner excellent pork/fish, shrimp and celery root mousse (good, unusual), clear oxtail soup, pastries. Captain's reception at 9, captain buys a champagne toast. Good musical entertainment with Otto, who has a very good synthesizer and knows a lot of songs. Off to bed, jet lagged. The ship: Viking Europe was built in 2001, and shows a need for some rehab (stained carpets, mostly). The cabins are 150 square feet for the main decks, and 120 square feet for the lower deck. Ample storage space on the main deck, with the suitcases stowed below the beds. Usual small bathroom - just imagine taking your half bath in your house, having the door open outward, then fitting a shower into the leftover space. Lotion and shampoo provided, nice thick towels. "Snot in a bottle" provided, but if you're not into shower gel, bring some soap. Usual confusing shower controls, this one is pretty standard for cruise ships, with the left knob giving the amount of water and the right knob adjusting the mixing temperature. Shower drained somewhat slowly. Ship is VERY UNFRIENDLY for handicapped - you must negotiate stairs for any movement around the ship. Then again - all the cities you're going to visit are also difficult for someone not able to walk a quarter mile and climb a couple of flights. All the streets of Europe feature cobblestones, uneven and inclined and often slippery. Choice of cabins - the center cabins are often blocked by the dock that the ship is moored to, noisy. No clock in cabin, bring your own - the bus will leave on time if you're not there. There are announcements a half hour and 15 minutes prior to bus tours. 115/220 dual switchable outlets in cabin, it works because I charged my camera and IPOD successfully. Day 2: Vienna Breakfast 7-9, early starter at 6 (pastries, good). Coffee and tea available 24/7, fruit on the table usually. Tea is not too good, bring your own if you're picky. I don't do Lipton or hisbiscus... Breakfast is typical cold cuts, muesli, oatmeal, granola, scrambled eggs, smoked salmon and bacon always, some other meat and side. Excellent rolls, whole grain breads, orange juice, tomato juice, something called vitamin juice that tastes like V8 Fusion in the States, and champagne if you want to add a little to your juice. You can also order omelets to order, eggs, french toast. Bus leaves at 9 for city tour, ends at 10:15 at Stephan Platz in the center of Vienna for free time. Go down street for shopping at Billa, buy candy for kids and wine for cabin (bring a corkscrew in your checked luggage), then to Kleiml on Graben Strasse for gourmet candy. Bus arrives at 12, back to ship for lunch. Pumpkin soup(very good), salad bar (good), spaghetti or lamb roast, brownie with pistachio ice cream for dessert. Afternoon shuttle to Xmas market at Rathaus, spend 2 hours. Best drink is with schnapps for 2.50 euros for the cup, 3.50 euros for the drink. Nice cup, keep it for collection. Very good for pictures, see it in late afternoon for lights. Good selection, but didn't buy much. Lot of Lebkeuchen (gingerbread). Side note on shopping: I had hoped to buy some Swarovski binoculars here, but with the exchange rate, the 2% credit card fee, the 20% VAT refund - would save a grand total of $12 on a $1900 pair of binoculars! Not worth the trouble... If you spend more than $100 in a store, remember to show your passport and demand the freedom from the VAT - you have to ask for this! Back to ship for tea time, then the briefing, then dinner. Dinner is cream of herb soup, salad, wiener schnitzel or trout, apple pancake with ice cream. Waiters in Mozart wigs for atmosphere. My wife attended the Mozart concert ($55) and liked it, but hall was overheated. Some Goulash soup for a late night snack when the concert goers return. Ship leaves at 11. Day 3: Budapest Awake to cruising on the Danube. Breakfast features Nurnberger sausages today. I opt for the usual smoked salmon, muesli, and fruit. Wheelhouse tour at 9:30 - fun, and remember to ask about the wheelhouse collapsing to get under bridges in times of high water - that's interesting. Passing large cathedrals, and a ruined castle on the Danube, but I forgot the names. A guidebook on the sights would be handy, but I didn't buy one - I did get Baedecker guides to Austria and Budapest used on Amazon, and a pretty much worthless copy of Fodor's for Czech Republic and Slovakia. Use the Virtual Tourist website instead for city guides. Lunch has cream of vegetable soup, salad bar, Goulasch and spatzle, tiramisu for dessert. Arrive at 1:00, be on top deck portside for best views of Budapest. Usual city tour from 2-6. The Hero Monument is really good, read the history beforehand. 45 minutes of free time in the Christmas Market, not enough time - all handmade crafts, good prices. Budapest freely takes euros, US$ maybe - but the ATMs give forints only. Vendors I dealt with gave an honest exchange. Any forints left over can be given out as tips, or the coins make nice souvenirs for grandchildren. Hungary is switching to the euro on January 1, so this comment is soon outdated. St. Mathias cathedral is good, the view from the Fisherman Bastion is very good at night, but the spotlights are distracting and you really have to work to take a picture. Dinner is shrimp cocktail, celery soup with mussels and barley, turkey roll or butterfish, pumpkin cake or rum ice cream (Chef made some changes to celebrate American Thanksgiving) Developing an appreciation for Chef Ronny's work with soups and fish dishes, and the bread is nice and crunchy. Sailaway at 8:30, nice to watch with the city lit up. Day 4: Bratislava Up early to birdwatch from the lounge. Lock into the Danube Canal east of Bratislava. Breakfast of the usual, except the fruit today is mandarin oranges and the bonus meat is sausages. At 10:30, cold cuts and free wine spritzer (not that good) in the lounge. Lunch of cheese soup, pork roast or fried fish, good chocolate mousse. City tour 1:30 - 3. Free time - prices in Bratislava very good, selection of wood items and porcelains a specialty. A lot of grilled foods. Jewelry store near the inner market has impressive amber - necklaces with pieces the size of eggs, all kind of tacky looking costume jewelry type (I think they're fake ones). Warning: 15 steps up and 15 down getting through the customs house to the ship. Liquor store in the customs house, try the apricot brandy. Christmas mart is about a 1 km walk from the ship, and a map would be handy. Viking has city maps on the reception desk for all the cities, generally good. Dinner is artichoke soup or borscht, pike-perch or good beef, hummus or salad nicoise, mousse for dessert. At 9:00, talk on 2009 cruises, $1100/cabin savings with down payment now, date to be selected later. Free drink and egg roll as a reward for listening, but we don't bite on the deal. Day 5: Durnstein/Melk Breakfast today adds turkey sausage (weird tasting) and hash browns to the buffet, and pears to the fruit. Arrive Durnstein at 9:00, walking tour at 9:30. 1 Km walk, mild incline over cobblestones. Great overdecorated church, gilded like crazy. Nice town - half open in the off season. Lots of old walls, surrounded by vineyards. 2 hours total, with a 20 minute organ concert tossed in. Organist good, organ ordinary. Not quite enough time for serious shopper, but we buy some artisan chocolate and excellent Marille Apricot brandy. The one in the round squat clear bottle. Back on ship, leave at 11 for the cruise through the Wachau gorge. Narrative is good on the ship, but Baedecker has more details to follow along. Lunch of cream of broccoli soup, rice and pork, baked apple (very good, I had a religious experience and ordered a second). Arrived at Melk at 2:30, bus to abbey. Abbey tour - museum pretty ordinary, but the abbey is on my top church list, right up there with San Maria Maggiore in Rome and St Marks/St Lawrence in Venice. Choice is bus back or walk into town down hill and back to the ship (a bit less than 2 Km). Christmas market is small, nothing of great impact, run mostly by town non-profits (hospice, soccer, volleyball, etc). Most stores open, interesting and inviting. There's a good artist coop store with a woodcarver who is very good. Hungarian dinner of marinated veggies, cabbage soup, sauteed pike perch, some kind of crepe for dessert. Talk at 9 - questions to captain, hotel manager, chef, etc. Day 6: Linz/Salzburg Breakfast features McDonald style hash browns this morning. For me, it's day #5 of the smoked salmon. Chili sauce is good on the scrambled eggs, assertively hot, peaches for fruit today. Off to Salzburg - 1 ½ hours bus ride, one potty stop on the way near the MondSee for good views. The WCs are downstairs, exit through the giftshop with a long line. It's possible to squeeze thru the turnstile at the entrance backwards if you're skinny. Continue on the Salzburg, 1 ½ hour walking tour. Group 1 goes in back of the cathedral and see St Peter's cemetery, we get a guide that loves Mozart and shows us everyplace where Mozart had his diaper changed, etc. Go to the cemetery if you get a chance, it is really something. Lunch at St Peter's restaurant - oldest in town - near the cathedral. Warning: this takes over an hour! If you're a serious shopper, skip the dessert like we did or the entire thing and get some street wurst for a snack. Big Christmas mart around the cathedral, and others scattered around town to find on your own. Loden clothes in the mart, 20% less than the stores. Steiff animals in the mart also. Selection is really nice, prices decent. Hats, scarves, lot of candy/cookies, wooden ornaments, toys, nutcrackers and smokers. It's open on Sunday, because we were there on Sunday, but most stores in town are closed. Bought a bottle of apricot brandy in a violin shaped bottle. Remember the rule about "buy no wine in a bottle shaped like a fish"? Add the violin bottles to that rule. Town and tour very unfriendly to handicapped. ! ½ hour bus ride back to ship. If you opted out of the Salzburg tour, you got a walking tour of Linz during the morning and free time in the afternoon. You could with some research, take the train from Linz to Salzburg cheaper and faster if you're comfortable in Europe. If you took the side tour to Salzburg, you have no time to see Linz - the ship leaves a half hour after the buses return. Day 7: Cesky Krumlov Don't remember what the special breakfast addition was and didn't write it down. Smoked salmon, again and the mandarin oranges are back. Bus to Cesky Krumlov leaves at 9:30, 1 ½ hour trip on winding narrow two lane roads. Most beautiful town, with views down every alley. Avoid gypsy stores - easy to tell, ask your tour guide. Avoid exchange booths with the best prices, they cheat you too. Most of the amber in town is fake - if you want some, study up beforehand (helpful hint: look for bubbles). Just enjoy the plentiful sights, and skip most of the shopping. The toy stores in town were good. Lunch at Tornado restaurant beside the river - good, slow. No Christmas mart in town. The ATMs give korunas again. The castle tour only accepts korunas, so you're stuck. Another hour and a half to meet the ship in Passau. The Passau Christmas mart is ordinary and small, but has some different things to look over. Try the Apfeltrum (cider) with a shot of Calvados in it, I had two and was buzzed quite nicely. St Stephan's Dom was nice, excellent painted ceilings, molded/carved column tops. Photographing and filming is forbidden, I think, and I don't want to go into "How to cheat the system and still take pictures". Since it was sprinkling light rain, my wife stayed in the cabin and read. "Bavarian Entertainment" in the lounge at 9 - only poor thing on the trip, proves to be a bunch of young girls (12-16?) playing traditional tunes, mostly not that well. Day 8: Passau Early breakfast available at 3 AM in the lounge, since some passengers are getting transfers at that time. Breakfast is somewhat extended in the restaurant, since transfers are continuously leaving. This morning features weird tasting vienna sausages and that old American breakfast favorite, baked beans (in the English style, a lot of tomato sauce). My last day of smoked salmon, celebrate with a double helping. Leave the bags outside the door and go off to see the sights of Passau. Walk around, visit St Peters church (nice dark wood altars, carved), walk the river borders to see some birds (swans and gulls a feature), and go to the Christmas mart again. Buy nothing, but its the idea.... Back in the ship, settle up the bill in the usual fashion. Tips on Viking are split among the crew, which is nice for the dishwashers. We were introduced to the dishwashers during one of the dinners, which is a nice feature. All the crew pitches in for luggage transfer - I saw the head chef out there hustling luggage to the bus, the hotel manager, etc. Bus to Munich airport takes a couple of hours, we get checked through with a minimum of hassle, except for one thing! Once again, we pass through the regular security/xray, the passport check, then enter the airport. Suffering from the lack of some peasant food, we have some roasted wurst at AirBrau (very good). Passing the duty free shop, my wife pops in a buys a bottle of water for the plane. When we get to the overseas gates, there is another security line/xray, and that 1.20 euro bottle of water gets confiscated. She's still fuming over that - thankfully, I had passed up the purchase of a liter of Grand Marnier. Once again, down two flights of stairs to board a bus, then up a lengthy flight of stairs to board the plane - what are these airports like in the summer rush? Two meals on Lufthansa again, wine and beer to go with them, and the meals are wurst again - I sacrifice and eat it gratefully. I guess the bottom line for flying into Germany is to take Lufthansa and avoid the German airports. Good luck on that one. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
We cruised from Nurnberg to Budapest-8 days in September 2008- with 2 Aussie friends. The ship had 140 out of 150 and was 50+ age group, mainly Americans, some Canadians, Australians and others. Points- * cruise-the top deck is closed ... Read More
We cruised from Nurnberg to Budapest-8 days in September 2008- with 2 Aussie friends. The ship had 140 out of 150 and was 50+ age group, mainly Americans, some Canadians, Australians and others. Points- * cruise-the top deck is closed for the first 1.5 days due to bridge low clearances,most cruising of a night, only 2 afternoons cruising-limited scenery,very quiet. sum:fair * food was extensive, varied, reasonable portions, catered for preadvised special requirements,a variety of wine and price, no fixed seating so your choice.sum: 4 star * cabins-good size, quiet except for neighbor flushing, mirrors, sliding window, good storage space, well serviced.sum: very good * excursions- quite a few, local guides generally OK,preset bus allocation,too much emphasis on churches & the slowest moving person(did cater for special needs)and fixed in sites shown-needs 1 of 3 buses to do something different on shore, time allocated was fine.sum:OK but room for improvement * cruise staff-captain needs to at least speak 6 words in ENGLISH(advertised as english speaking tour), tour director focuses on favorite people,assistant director more people orientated, hospitality staff very good,some pressure for acceptable gratuity. sum: improvement necessary *overall-good value for money, basically OK but needing only some refinements to get a higher grading General:cruise is not a "rest" style, is OK if you like a sample sightseeing of main cities-Nurnberg, Vienna, Budapest,the scenery is nothing special(the Rhine is more interesting), the ship seemed above average of other lines. Read Less
Sail Date September 2008
We booked this river cruise after much deliberation. We had been on several cruises, larger ships, and had been to Europe on our own several times. It was hard to find reviews on this type of cruise, so that made the decision harder. We ... Read More
We booked this river cruise after much deliberation. We had been on several cruises, larger ships, and had been to Europe on our own several times. It was hard to find reviews on this type of cruise, so that made the decision harder. We decided on Viking and the Romantic Danube cruise they offer because it fit with our time constraints. We used frequent flyer miles to fly into Cologne Germany then took Germanwings into Budapest.We could not get directly into Budapest with the miles we had. We had reserved a night at the Hilton and had made arrangements with their concierge to be picked up at the airport which went very smoothly. The hotel was lovely and right at the Fishermen's Bastion overlooking the Danube and in a terrific part of the city. After a nap to revive ourselves we walked around the area and had dinner at a sidewalk cafe across from the hotel. Next morning we had breakfast at another sidewalk cafe and then off to board the Viking Europe. We took a cab and he dropped us off right in front of the ship. ( I had read to be sure your cab lets you off at the correct ship before they leave and indeed this was an issue for some passengers). Ship personnel were at the entrance to take care of the luggage and we signed in and then left to walk around the city as our rooms were not ready. We went to the Museum of Hungary and enjoyed it very much. Mid afternoon we returned to the ship and our room. The room was very sufficient, the bedding very comfortable (twins made up as one bed), good storage, a desk, large picture window that opened, small bathroom with shower. There was a safe, tv, telephone, and hairdryer. There were several outlets which we used with a convertor at times depending on the appliance. I had purchased several things(curling iron etc) that had the correct voltage. As far as I could tell all the rooms were the same, the lower floor's deck windows do not open but all the others were the same. We were pleased with the room 154 sq ft., not large but enough for the time spent in it. The ship was very well kept, accommodating just 150 passengers. There is a observation room and bar that the daily briefing (for the next days activities) was held in. Also the buffet lunch is in this room and the nightly entertainment. There is a small library next to this room and the ship and main entrance where there is always coffee, tea, and ice water available. The restaurant is at the other end of the ship and is very open with windows all around and a buffet breakfast and lunch are set up here. Dinner is served, breakfast and lunch also can be ordered but we never did. The top of the ship is the sun deck with lounge chairs and tables with umbrellas. Very nice to watch the Danube banks as we floated along. Also the captain navigates the ship from this level, very interesting as you go through the locks at multiple places along the trip. The staff were very good, our room was always kept clean, the dining staff efficient, the activities person pleasant. The food was mediocre. There was usually a meat, fish and vegetarian dish offered each night. The first three nights the meat was veal, I do like veal but not every night. Of course to their credit there are alternate choices of steak, chicken and Caesar salad every night. Just an area for improvement. The entertainment usually consisted of interaction with the guest although there was a glass blower and folk act a couple of the nights. There is also a piano player that was enjoyable but none of the big shows like a cruise ship. One of the pluses for this type of trip is that the excursions are included. Our fist day in Budapest we had a tour of the city by bus. We did get off the bus a Hero's Square for pictures. Then that afternoon off for the river and beautiful scenery. The next day we were in Vienna with a bus tour, tour of Belvedere Palace and then the afternoon at leisure. The ship was docked aways from attractions so passengers took either a cab or the subway back to the downtown area or you had the option of staying from the tour. That evening we took the optional tour for a concert which we enjoyed very much. The next day we were off to Melk and a tour of the Benedictine Abbey. Very beautiful , it made you want to spend more time here. That evening we were in Linz but unfortunately all the shops etc. were closed. We walked into town and were going to the casino but found our men had to wear a jacket which our group had not, so we kept our money. Next day on to Passau, beautiful city just what you imagine. After a walking tour and organ concert at the cathedral we had lunch of sausages and beer with the owner yodeling for us. Then tome to explore on your own. Our next stop was Regensburg and a walking tour then time on your own. We ate lunch outside, riverside, of sausages and rolls, the only thing they serve, very delicious. The mustard was so good we found a place that sold this and brought some home. The next day we were in Kelheim and took a ferry ride to the Weltenburg Abbey, again very beautiful scenery and also sampled their dark ale that they make there. Our last stop was in Nurenburg and a bus tour that was very interesting and time for shopping. We were docked here overnight and there was a fair being held here that we visited and this was delightful. The ship is quite a ways from anything here so a cab would have had to be taken to go back into the city. Next day disembarkation was easy and off to the airport. All in all the trip was very enjoyable and as I look back on it a good value for the money. This trip was in July but the weather varied from warm to cold(we needed jackets a times). Dress is pretty casual, slacks and shorts(we saw and wore shorts-I had read that this was a no no)at times in the day and nicer slacks or skirts or dresses for women and shirt and pants for men at night. No ties. We had done Europe on our own several times before so the time constraints were a little difficult for us but with a tour this has to be. It left us wanting more time at another time. Also I think for us the lack of a variety of activities while on board was difficult, but next time we would know what to expect. The scenery is beautiful but after awhile many of us just needed activities on board. The ages of the passengers were varied from 30's to 80's, we had no children on our trip and I can't imagine a young child enjoying this. The best thing was that everyone was so friendly and you met just about everyone. Meals were always shared with either you going up to a table and asking to join or people asking to join you. The question was always where are you from and have you ever been on one of these cruises before. Most people were new to this kind of trip but some had been river cruising many times. All in all a good trip and most likely we will do another one in the future and would consider Viking Read Less
Sail Date July 2007
Getting there and home - We flew from JFK to Nuremberg, connecting through Paris, just two weeks after the new ban on liquids and gels in carryon luggage. We were on a 747 (Air France)to Paris, then a 50 passenger jet to Nuremberg. The ... Read More
Getting there and home - We flew from JFK to Nuremberg, connecting through Paris, just two weeks after the new ban on liquids and gels in carryon luggage. We were on a 747 (Air France)to Paris, then a 50 passenger jet to Nuremberg. The flight on the 747 was very uncomfortable. There is a black box with electrical wires under every middle seat. My husband couldn't sleep, because he couldn't stretch his legs. We were pleasantly surprised that the Nuremberg airport had signs in both English and German. The security in the Budapest airport for the flight home was even stricter than JFK. All signs in that airport were in Hungarian, English, and German. The Budapest airport accepts not only Hungarian forints, but also euros and US dollars in their cafes and shops. Pickup and dropoff by Viking was very smooth on both ends. The Ship - The Viking Europe holds only 150 passengers, so is nothing like an ocean-going cruise ship, or even an American riverboat. There are the dining room, the main lounge, the sun deck, and a couple of very small nooks that serve as a "library" and "game room". The staterooms are very well designed. There is plenty of room for clothing, suitcases, etc. There were plenty of plugs, but they are european voltage - so you must bring a converter and an adaptor. They told us this ahead of time, so we were prepared. There is a blow-dryer in the room, so no need to bring one, but if you want to plug in your digital camera - bring those adaptors! Service - The stateroom steward was the best we've ever had in 12 cruises! The service in the dining room and lounge were good, too. Food - Good, but not great. I am not a fish or seafood eater, so that colors my opinion of the choices. You can always have a steak or chicken breast if you don't like either the nightly meat or fish option. So two nights out of the seven, I had chicken breast, and it was very good. I would have liked to see more local specialties. There was always a choice of water, iced tea, and hot coffee and tea available in the lounge, 24/7. Since the ship is so small, it's not a big deal to walk to the lounge. The breakfast and lunch buffets always had lots of food, but not too much variety. We never felt we had the time to order the cooked breakfast, but we never went away hungry! The breads and pastries were very good. One nice surprise - the pastries and desserts aren't nearly as sweet as in the US. This is nice because you can actually taste the flavor. I really loved the little multi-grain rolls with seeds on them that were on the breakfast buffet. Shore Excursions - Hmm. Uneven. We had a couple of guides who were very good, and a couple who very not good. Those who were not good talked so much about trivial things that we only had 20 minutes or less to enjoy the destination. For example, the guide at Melk Abbey left us 20 min. to see the Abbey church, go to the gift shop, use the rest room, and have a beer! (They have been brewing beer there since 1050, so tasting the beer was something we had been looking forward to.) The guide in Vienna, was not only long-winded, but disorganized, rude and insulting. By the end of the tour, I couldn't wait to be rid of her. Oh, besides the above she also seemed to be anti-semitic, based on some comments she made. There was at least one included shore excursion every day. We went on one optional excursion - to a concert in Vienna. It was better than we expected, and we thought we would like it. The first half was Mozart, and the second half was Strauss. There were 6 instrumentalists and 2 opera singers and 2 dancers. The concert was just the right length, and was delightful, even including some humor. We didn't go on either of the optional tours in Budapest, so can't comment on them. Entertainment - Uneven. Two were delightful, one OK, one dreadful. However, one doesn't go on a cruise like this for the entertainment. One goes for the destinations, and the cultural experience. The first two were delightful - Klaus the glassblower, and Hansi the musician. Klaus was interesting and funny, and Hansi was hysterical, besides being a very fine musician. The crew show was dreadful. But then, I don't like pantomime, unless it's being done by Red Skelton. The Hungarian folkloric show was OK. It would have been good if someone had introduced them, and told what instruments they were playing, and something about the pieces of music they were playing. They just came on, performed, and left. Destinations - We loved them all. Nuremberg had the best sausages we ever had. Regensberg, Nuremberg, and Passau were beautiful and historic. Passau was also were we went to a local restaurant for lunch, where the cook comes out and yodels for you. Weltenburg Abbey had a beautiful church and great beer. Melk was absolutely stunning, and we wished we had more free time to walk in the gardens and/or visit the little town! (We had to wait in the courtyard so long, no free time!) Vienna was amazing. We would need a week to see everything we wanted to see there. We skipped the optional tour of Schonbrunn Palace so that we could eat lunch in town, try Sacher Torte for dessert, and go to the Art History Museum. Budapest is also very nice, and someday we will go back and see some more of it. The shops in the Central Market close at 2 PM on Saturday, so we had a mad one hour shopping spree, and then spent the afternoon packing. (Our tour was in the morning, and ended at noon.) Two really good surprises - the ship docked right across the street from the Central Market, and all of the merchants spoke English! They take both forints and euros, so there was no need to buy forints. Summary - We loved the destinations, but were frustrated that we didn't have more free time in most of them. But then, as I reminded my husband, that is true on an ocean cruise also. It's a survey, so you can decide where you want to go back to. The problem is, we want to go back to all of them. Personally, I liked Germany a little better than Austria, and I liked Austria a little better than Hungary. But then, we were in only a few cities, so I'm not passing judgement on the whole countries. I'll just have to go back! Read Less
Sail Date August 2006
Viking Europe Ratings
Category Editor Member
Rates 3.0 3.8

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