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4 Viking Sun (Retired) Cruise Reviews

We just returned from a week cruise on the Rhine on the Viking Sun. This was a fabulous trip! The ship was well maintained, our room was very comfortable, the staff were all friendly and helpful. The day excursions were very good ... Read More
We just returned from a week cruise on the Rhine on the Viking Sun. This was a fabulous trip! The ship was well maintained, our room was very comfortable, the staff were all friendly and helpful. The day excursions were very good and led by friendly, well informed guides. The food on board was excellent and well presented. Each night there was different entertainment in the lounge. We had a french singer, glass blower, classical music, etc. I left my carry on bag on the ship when we disembarked and Katya, the hotel manager, was wonderful in helping to get it returned to me. The ship was very comfortable, my only complaint is that we wanted to do it all, and we were extremely tired at the end of our cruise, but we had an extension in Switzerland afterwards where we continued to do it all! Being seniors, we wanted to see everything, but it sure wore us out! I would highly recommend this cruise and we hope to take another. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
In Nov 2011 we booked a river cruise through Viking for a 15 day cruise sailing the River Rhine from Antwerp to Basel, Switzerland. Food was average, crew was great, room great, and ports of call guided tours were perfect. The problem ... Read More
In Nov 2011 we booked a river cruise through Viking for a 15 day cruise sailing the River Rhine from Antwerp to Basel, Switzerland. Food was average, crew was great, room great, and ports of call guided tours were perfect. The problem came half way through the cruise and we were off loaded onto buses to finish our 'cruise' staying in hotels, on and off buses, and dealing with packing and unpacking. These are the reasons we booked the river cruise was to not have to live in hotels and buses....we've already done that several times and now we are ready for the lazy days of a river cruise. Water levels being low was the reason given which is true, the problem was Viking knew this well in advance, knew the cruise couldn't be completed without the bus tour and never once offered us the opportunity to postpone our trip for a later date or make any other arrangements. They didn't say anything until the night before we were put on buses. Other reviews indicate at least in the past 12 months, this has been how they operate and is no way to get repeat business. For our 'trouble' they offered a 30% off what we paid for this trip to be used as a credit for another cruise within 12 months. That doesn't come close to being the right thing for them to do under the circumstances. A partial refund for this part of the trip is the right thing to do. Do your homework before booking a cruise with Viking as you can't count on them being honest with you about your trip. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
We went on the Rhine Getaway from Amsterdam to Lucerne, with a 2-day post trip extension in Switzerland in May 2011. The vacation was booked as a birthday trip (I turned 40) and as a once-in-a-lifetime getaway since we hadn't done a ... Read More
We went on the Rhine Getaway from Amsterdam to Lucerne, with a 2-day post trip extension in Switzerland in May 2011. The vacation was booked as a birthday trip (I turned 40) and as a once-in-a-lifetime getaway since we hadn't done a lot of traveling over the past few years and we missed it. We've traveled in Europe and South America, but this was our first river cruise. Viking also arranged our air travel and transfers. With the cruise, air travel and 2-day extension, we dropped about 10k on this trip. To start, we received a lot of information before the cruise, with a cruise packet coming about 2 weeks prior containing our travel documents, itinerary and other general information. Our flight to Amsterdam was fine; however, upon leaving the plane we had to wait about 10 minutes for our bags, as they went to the wrong baggage claim. We then went to the first of two meeting points in the airport for our included transfer to the boat. No one from Viking was there. We decided to go to the second meeting point mentioned in our literature and again, no one from Viking was there. We waited for about 20 minutes and then my husband went back to the first spot while I stayed at the second. Still...no one. We waited another 20 minutes and then dug into our literature to find the "emergency" phone numbers. Well - the first number listed as an emergency contact was a disconnected number. Great! The second number was to Viking and we got a pre-recorded message that we should call back during Viking business hours. After spending another 20 minutes or so going from spot one to spot two and talking to everyone, a driver overheard us and said the Viking representative had been then earlier but was gone. He had a number and called, they dispatched a car for us personally. I was not impressed - they left us because we were 10 minutes late? We got to the boat (morning) and it was quite busy with activity, as the passengers from the last trip were still disembarking and getting rides to other destinations. We knew ahead of time that check-in wasn't until later in the day, so we dropped our bags off and went to explore Amsterdam. It did strike me that there is no security to get on and off the boat. I was a little concerned about leaving our bags there (even with luggage tags). Check-in was fine and we were provided with cookies, coffee and tea while waiting. Our cabin, on the lower deck, was small, but very clean and nicely laid out. Bed was pretty uncomfortable, but we weren't expecting much. We had a small porthole window, which was fine, as we knew we wouldn't spend much time in our room. Decor was fine, and I was provided with extra pillows and extra clothing hangers upon request. More specifics about different aspects of the cruise are listed below. THE SHIP The ship itself was nice, but nothing that screamed "luxury" to either of us, as the trip is marketed as a "luxury cruise" experience. All areas of the ship were clean and neat, and quite efficient in design since it is smaller than an ocean liner. The lobby area, before going out on daily excursions, was much too small to hold everyone just standing around waiting to leave, but otherwise it was not a big deal. There is a beverage station open 24 hours per day, where you can get coffee, tea or water. There are cookies set out after lunch. The dining areas were fine, and had open seating, which was a nice way to meet other cruisers. The beds are pretty uncomfortable and the air in our cabin was extremely dry. I thought I was coming down with a cold by day 3 as I woke up with a really sore throat and was very stuffed up. This lingered the rest of the trip until we got to Lucerne and off the boat, so I never really felt great. We would leave the ship for the day and I'd start feeling better, but as soon as I got to the cabin I would start feeling poorly again. THE EXCURSIONS We had quite a few excursions, and we also signed up for almost all the optional excursions. We were, overall, disappointed in these activities. They are great about keeping on schedule, and we were broken into multiple groups for the actual tours; but I wish they'd had a group for more active people. We knew we'd be the youngest on-board (40 and 36), but there were plenty of others on-board who were active and fit enough to handle faster-paced tours. They had one tour that was for slower folks, it would've been nice to've had one for faster people, too. The majority of the excursion destinations were disappointing. Every place we went, with only a few exceptions, was so packed with other tourists that we could barely get around and see anything. The Viking marketing materials explained things in such a way that we thought we'd have "back stage passes," if you will, to these beautiful castles and churches. That was not the case. The trip to Heidelburg Castle was exceptionally disappointing, as we walked through the grounds, waited in line to get in and saw one big area inside; only to get herded back to our bus and leave. It was an absolute zoo and the castle itself was not worth the trip there. Going to Rudesheim was a complete waste of time. It was a giant tourist trap, obviously built for and around tourists. The walk into town was about a mile from the boat and there was nothing worth seeing. We did take an optional excursion into town that evening for dinner and it was fun, but we had to pay extra, of course. The trip through the Black Forest was likely the worst part of the trip, as we took a long bus ride through the forest (without any stops along the way to enjoy the view) only to arrive at a tiny outpost that was, again, a giant tourist trap (it was a giant shopping village where you could buy cuckoo clocks, blown glass, etc., and that was it). My husband was looking forward to the black forest cake, as we were promised; however, it was not included and came from a cafeteria-type eatery under the shops. He got a piece, it was okay. We wanted to see something authentic, not something thrown together for tourists. We did enjoy some of the excursions; Marksburg Castle was amazing, Strasbourg & Colmar were wonderful and Cologne was interesting. There was a lot of freetime where we could wander around the towns and shop, eat, explore...and we did! But in the end, the excursions, the parts that we were MOST looking forward to, were just so-so. THE FOOD The food on the boat, in our opinion, was just okay. There were normally three options to choose from: a beef/pork option, a fish option and a vegetarian option. The fish dishes were pretty bland and I stopped eating them completely after having one dish where the tiny bones were not properly removed and I got one stuck in my throat. Yep, a fish bone got stuck in my throat. If you don't like any of the proteins offered, you can always get a chicken dish, which I ended up getting one night and it was pretty good. There were lots of fried foods and everything was made with heavy cream sauces. Desserts were okay, but nothing exceptional. My husband normally got a different option than me, and he thought the food was pretty bland, too. Perhaps that's because the cruise itself is skewed to a much older audience? Nothing was outright bad, but most things were pretty mediocre. Lunches and breakfasts were good, normally consisting of a buffet with some good options. Meals were always on time and the dining areas were always clean and efficient. THE STAFF It was pretty hit or miss with the staff; no one was outright rude or uncooperative, but some were definitely better than others. We were constantly asking for water, coffee and wine refills during meals, which was annoying. Our program directors were friendly, helpful and personable and we enjoyed our local tour guides, as well (though we heard varying stories amongst the other groups). Our room was cleaned twice per day and kept in great shape. Reception desk staff was also helpful and nice. OVERALL There were absolutely some positives about this trip; but for the amount of money we paid, we were not "WOWed" by the overall experience and I just can't recommend Viking to others. we're not overly picky people and we have traveled quite a bit -- but we expected a lot more for the money. What could make it better? More options for dinner, including more regional dishes and less bland food. Smaller excursion groups, more geared towards activity level. Less tourist-based excursion destinations. I know that can be tough in such a place, but some of the choices were outright wastes of time. Convert the totally unused "library" on the boat into a fitness room. Make your staff completely wow the customers (oh, and give them a salary rather than depending on travelers to pay them by tipping, isn't $10k enough to pay?). I didn't want to get waited on hand & foot, nor did we make many special requests, but we only felt that a couple of people went out of their way to make sure we had the trip of a lifetime. More on-board activities such as the German street-food lunch and the flammkuchen demonstration. The lectures were interesting, but the interactive activities were really fun and with so much regional flair, it would've been nice to see/do more with that while we were cruising. So that's what it boils down to for us -- we paid a ton of money and didn't feel we got a ton of a trip! Had I spent half of what I paid, I might not be so hard on Viking, but this wasn't chump-change for us. We enjoyed the time we spent together, and we enjoyed seeing a part of the world we hadn't seen before and we made some great friends on-board; but I wouldn't cruise with them again unless they drastically dropped their prices. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
We returned yesterday from our first river cruise after many ocean voyages. We have enjoyed cruising as a main form of travel and felt that river cruising would give us an opportunity to see the interiors of European Countries where you ... Read More
We returned yesterday from our first river cruise after many ocean voyages. We have enjoyed cruising as a main form of travel and felt that river cruising would give us an opportunity to see the interiors of European Countries where you cannot cruise.We flew economy on Swiss Air and paid for a deviation so we could avoid Luftansa and the Frankfort airport. We were able to fly non stop from home and were routed back to Zurich on Swiss to fly home from Zurich directly. We stayed two nights prior to our Rhine Getaway at the Radisson Blue in Lucerne. We liked the hotel (we paid for an upgrade to the standard provided room). We were met at the Zurich Airport by a car service who took us not only to our hotel but familiarized us with the area slightly before dropping us off. The first day we had a two hour walking tour of Lake Lucerne and then the next day we also took a tour offered to Mt. Pilaetus. We loved the couple days in Switzerland and hope to return. We were bussed with twenty others who took the post cruise package to the ship, Viking Helvetia in Basel. We were pleased with the cabin and amenities and found the ship and service very good.Food was hit or miss on the ship - some nights were excellent and other nights were not our preference. We found a lot of pork and beef and some lunches only pork available via sausages as is the custom in Germany. Food was always plentiful and only two options - one fish and one meat most nights with a vegetarian option. There were two dessert options nightly. Tables were for 6 8 or 10 and was multiple courses with a choice of appetizers, a soup and entree. We were not hungry but much of the food was oversalty. Breakfasts were generous choices of anything you could think of from eggs, to smoked salmon, to pastries, rolls, pancakes, cereals and yogurts. Lunch was a choice of hot entrees, soups, sandwiches and were acceptable choices. One day in Cologne we ate off ship in the department store on the shopping street and it was magnificent. It was a cafeteria style but the food was fresh and very tasty. White Asparagus was in season and it was available in many preparations there.Most days were structured with a morning tour and an optional afternoon tour or free time. We were bussed in many ports to the tour. Tours were ranked as those needing a more leisurely pace or ranked a three where you might need to walk extensively on cobblestones.Daily there was a port talk and plan outlined so we knew what to expect. Dinner was served right after the nightly talk and so that caused most people to go to dinner right away so the entire ship ate at once.Most of the passengers had some travel and cruise experience and many were an older demographic. Many were limited in mobility. About 20% of the ship was passengers from Great Britain, Canada and Australia. Most passengers I spoke with were experimenting with a river itinerary.One day were were told about the low river and that we would be transferred to the Viking Sun who was sailing from North to South.We heard before we left that the water level was low on the Rhine and a few days into the cruise we were told that Viking had a plan to re-direct us to the Viking Sun from the Viking Helvetia. The ship was older and needing some refurbishing but we were bussed into Heidelberg, toured the castle and had the worst meal I have ever experienced. We were not given any choice but one entree: Frozen Vegetables, A mystery piece of rolled dried stuffed beef that was inedible and Mashed Potatoes made from boxed potato flakes. Salad was only lettuce and dessert ice cream. We left before finishing our meal for a walk in the shopping area. The ship, the Sun was identical in layout and were resettled in no time. We came home to a letter of apology from Viking and that it was done for our safety. The way the plan came off to us, was that it was known at boarding time and we did feel that they were less than truthful about it. To move 180 people including reserving two restaurants for meals was no easy task. We did not bargain for three hours on a bus and a small ship was charted for us to cruise the Rhine and see the missed portion of the river where water was low. We were not happy at all with a tour to the Black Forrest. What it really was was a hijacking to a coo-coo clock store in the Black Forest. We were dropped off for an hour to shop and held captive. Not acceptable to us. We did not see the Black Forrest. We rode 90 minutes to a store to shop for tourist junk.Some of the tour guides were licensed and sounded like tired broken records and others were exceptional. The whisper headsets were well maintained and great.Our tour of the Windmills at Kinderdijk was spectacular but rushed. There was just too much bus time on the trip for us. We expected that we'd be able to walk more right from the ship to see Germany. Not so. Some distances to see things we just beyond a casual walk and there were no real choices for tours. Just one a day. There was an optional afternoon tour but the only one we booked in Rudesheim was canceled because we were moved. Nightly entertainment was very weak. On the Helvetia, no one went to the lounge for after dinner drinks or music. One night a German Band purporting to play New Orleans style Jazz came onboard and they were so bad we skipped our after dinner drink to avoid hearing them. On the Sun there was a three piece group - two violins and a piano who did what was billed as a classical concert but it was really a mix of music and was entertaining. Not great but enjoyable.Post cruise we stayed at the Radisson Blu in Amsterdam. We loved the hotel, ate most of our meals in their dining room because the food was excellent and service superior. Many of the travel companions who did the post cruise did the same. We again upgraded our room to the newly renovated rooms. We would definitely opt to stay there again. They had a box of breakfast for us because we had to leave the hotel for our flight at 6am. The front desk staff made us coffee and even called the airport to see if the flight was on time, then gave us a map of the terminals so we would know. We were whisked by a car service quickly and timely to the airport arriving early for our flight.In summary, we'd only do another river cruise if we were going to sail with friends. We aren't sure it would be Viking. We were led to believe by the CEO that we'd met a few years ago that it was on the level of a luxury cruise, like Regent, Seabourn or Oceania - but - it's not. It was an acceptable way to see the world but not really something we'd seek. We like more choice in the tours. We think we will take land tours when we want to see more of the world than we can see by cruising on a small ocean ship. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
Viking Sun (Retired) Ratings
Category Editor Member
Rates 3.0 3.9

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