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76 Viking Sun (Retired) Cruise Reviews

Well our trip has turned out to be a disaster. We had a great time in Amsterdam, after that it went south. High water on the Rhine has prevented us from going any further south than Cologne. We have been here for two days. After a tour of ... Read More
Well our trip has turned out to be a disaster. We had a great time in Amsterdam, after that it went south. High water on the Rhine has prevented us from going any further south than Cologne. We have been here for two days. After a tour of a cathedral in the city which was great and a made up tour of a castle we sit in a basin off of the Rhine River looking at oil tanks and rusted railroad cars. Cologne was bombed out during World War II so I don't consider it anything special. All new buildings built after 1945. Tonight Viking has informed us that we will go down the river a few more miles then we will be transferred to another ship which cannot proceed any further north. Oh boy, just what I wanted, a bus ride along a highway in Germany. We saw a castle today. Two hours to it and one hour and forty five minutes of pure hell for me on the return trip. Could you please turn down the air, Lisa my wife called out to the driver, my husband is sweating, some relief, not much though. Sitting there and now starting to fume over not having any control over my comfort I finally lit a match to my slow burning fuse. Another person spoke out......could you please turn down the air. I'm thinking, as I mop my head, maybe he just doesn't understand English. I remember the tour guide, a young Mexican fellow who spoke English, appeared to understand me when I approached him before we got on the bus for the return trip. I think this was clear. Tell the driver to turn down the AC. We arrive at the parking lot in front of our ship and surrounded by a waste land of oil tanks. It reminds me of the Houston, TX ship channel. We disembark from the bus and I proceeded to the tour guide. Who had no idea that my fuse had finally hit its end and I unloaded on him. I was tired of not being informed of what was going on nor would I sit on a bus tomorrow, estimated time of four hours, and sweat. I huffed off as my dear Lisa was there to hand out band aids to the guide who had just had his butt chewed. Off to the gang way to be greeted by the Captain who was there with a smile, as I walked past him looking for my next victim. With the hotel manager in my sights, she is the one who reads the prepared statements from Viking corporate head quarters every night, with a smile on her face, explaining that this flood is a 500 year event. Europe has better weather forecasters than we do. We can even predict the rise and fall of the Mississippi River above New Orleans. So I don't buy it when she tells me Viking didn't know this would happen. In my opinion Viking knew there would be a problem before we left Amsterdam. I told the hotel manager what I expected to hear in the nightly briefings. I left heading down the hall to our room. Lisa lingered and probably repaired the damage. The food has been good, but not great. The red wine, house wine from Austria, is about a 3 on a scale of 10. None of us want to drink it and it is free. I'll keep you informed. Stranded Stuck on the Rhine Part II June 8, 2013 Well, we did make it a little further south on the River Rhine to a city that has a large statue of William the First. We will leave the Viking Sun and travel via bus to Heidelberg and then on to our new ship, the Viking Helvetia II on the Rhine River at Kehl. We will be able to get back on schedule and have a tour and time for ourselves in Strasbourg, France so far my favorite city. Our nightly briefing is still the same just enough info to keep you in the dark. We leave here tonight and will dock at Breisach, Germany which is a scheduled stop. We elected not to go see the Black Forest. Lisa and I were not interested in another bus ride. When we arrived at our new ship after a long bus ride and sight-seeing in Heidelberg. We were greeted by the new crew holding up a sign which read WELCOME BOARDA. It was corrected as we walked up the gang plank. I noticed that it felt like we had entered the botanical garden in Denver. You could cut the heat and humidity with a knife. I thought it is hot because they have had the door open in order to greet their paying customers. I was wrong. This ship is the sister of the last ship so our cabin is the same. As I walk down the hall toward our cabin the temperature increased every step of the way. I turn right into our cabin number 216. I feel myself looking for a match in my shorts pocket, in case I have to light my fuse again. IT'S HOT! Houston hot as in August and that is why we live in Colorado. I turn toward the AC control box to check to see if it is working. Guess what? It is on and you guessed it, only hot air is coming out. As most of you are aware I don't sleep well at night anyway so this going to be unbearable. I strike the match which was hiding in my pocket. I take a deep breath and put the match to my slow burning fuse. I'm off to the front desk only to he joined by a number of other guest standing around and individually asking about the AC. The reply was pleasant and in a soft voice by the young woman behind the counter, but the answer was puzzling. Because the "ship hasn't moved for the last three days that is why the AC isn't working". I think back to the days when I worked in HVAC (heating ventilation air conditioning) business. If you need to circulate more water through the condenser Viking should have rented a pump. So the system works fine in the lounge, where they could harvest more of our money. Who would stay in a hot room? At this point I don't put anything past Viking. I snuff out the fuse and head back to the room hoping it is cooler, it's not. We are off to dinner. I know we will have a cooler room when we return. Dinner is the same, beautiful presentation, but nothing to write home about. Lisa and I are pretty good cooks and are disappointed. At these prices we thought we would be wowed. We return to a hot room, too tired to do anything about it. I open the window, it is cooler outside and decide to leave it open. I'm losing track of my days. Our dinner last night, the second night on this Ship was another experience. It took an hour for the entree to show up after the salad. I guess you could call this poor service. While waiting, the table next to us was having the same problem. I walked over and announced that I was going to KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) and got three orders. If we were out for dinner we would have simply gotten up and left. Lisa ordered French onion soup. She was disappointed that there wasn't any onion or cheese in it. When the wait staff asked if she enjoyed her soup she said she didn't. "There wasn't any onion or cheese in the soup". She was informed she should have ordered it that way. OK, maybe it is how things are over here. Let me see if I understand. You order French onion soup and you must request onion and cheese. Before the dinner we had another briefing. This ship would not go any further south on the Rhine River. We would be bused to Basel, Switzerland in order to make our train connection. That is par for the course. The program director asked that like everyone fill out a survey; I almost laughed. I overheard a crew member telling a fellow passenger that they would have another group arrive the day that we leave. This confirmed my belief that Viking knew we wouldn't go far down the Rhine nor would the new group sail up the Rhine. Once on, Viking has you. If given the option I would have taken the full credit in cash. Stranded Stuck on the Rhine Part III June 9, 2013 Our last night on the Rhine, relief is in sight. It's a big night, The Captains Dinner. We have brought a set of clothes that are dressy casual. We decide to skip the briefing and Captains toast. We opened a bottle of Alsace white wine and a bottle of Pinot Noir in our room and enjoy a glass or two with our dear friends before heading to the dining room. We notice it is getting a little warmer in our room. Nothing unusual, but I hope it is only because I'm wearing a silk shirt. We head off and are surprised to see a number of other passengers who had the same idea and skipped the toast. We sit at a 6 top table and are served promptly. We still think the wine will be better tonight. Wrong, it was the same red which we don't like. Another couple joined us. They are really fun. They complain about the wine to the Maitre d' and we are upgraded to another bottle, a California red (Hacienda. I really can't understand the wince selection. We are traveling through the best wine region in the world and Viking serves below average wine. The meal is good and the conversation great. I ask, is anyone getting hot? Dave thinks it is warm. Connie, the hotel manager, introduces the entire staff. I feel sorry for a few who will not receive the tips they normally get. No one is in a generous mood. The suggested tip is 12 Euros per person per day. I ask again, is it getting hot in here? I get more nods at the table. I'm now using my cloth napkin to mop my bald head. Something my mother would disapprove of. I'm ready for this to end. We go to the room. The luggage has to be in the hall before 6:30 AM. We have a 7:30 AM bus ride, about 45 minutes to the train station in Basel, Switzerland. I open the door and feel the warm air. We quickly take our clothes off. Dave, our friend, calls and wants to know if we would like to have a beer at the beer garden. It is next to where we are tied up. We enjoy a beer and are ready to get in bed. It will be a short night. I open the door and feel the warm air. It's cool outside so I open the window and get on top of the covers. Right down from our room are vents and a loud noise. It is some kind of engine or generator running, about the same noise level of a 4 cycle grass mower. I'm tired and fall to sleep. Stranded   Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
After over 20 plus cruises on ships with 350 to 4,800 passengers, we thought we would try river cruising. Some concerns were the size of the ship and the fewer number of passengers. Could we find places on the ship to relax without a ... Read More
After over 20 plus cruises on ships with 350 to 4,800 passengers, we thought we would try river cruising. Some concerns were the size of the ship and the fewer number of passengers. Could we find places on the ship to relax without a crowd? Would only one meal time be ok? Would our cabin be big enough? Would we fit in with our fellow passengers? Is a small crew going to be ok or will service suffer? When our credentials arrived, we should have known what our trip would be like. There were simple to read and easy to carry documents, outlining every moment of our trip and FAQ's that were very helpful. Even the case the documents arrived in could be used for the cruise. We arrived in Amsterdam for a two night stay and were met by Viking Representatives who put us in a cab and we went straight to our hotel. We met our next Viking Rep in the hotel and were given information about the hotel, dining, our Amsterdam Tour and suggestions for what we might do on our own. There was always someone available to answer any questions. We were told we would be taken to the Viking Sun by bus around 3 on Sunday. We used the morning to see more of Amsterdam and got back to the hotel around noon, thinking we would have to wait in the lobby for our ride. Our Viking Rep asked if we wanted to leave early and the next thing we knew we were on the Viking Sun having lunch and enjoying meeting the crew. We were given our room keys at 3:00 and found a very comfortable,well appointed spotless room. Not huge, not small, just right. I won't go into each port we went to, only to say they were wonderful. The tours were great, on time, great guides, comfortable coaches and enough free time to enjoy each on our own. As to finding spaces for alone time on the ship, not a problem. Plenty of places to quietly relax and enjoy a cup of coffee or a class of wine. We never felt crowded. We always dine early or use flexible dining when we cruise. We wondered how everyone dining at once would be. It was great, tours came back in time to relax a little, have a cocktail and enjoy the Cruise Director's talk about what to expect the next day. Everyone walked to the dining room and sat down. We tried to meet new people every night and it worked out very well. The service and food were excellent. Don't expect to get stuffed, but do expect to enjoy quality, well prepared, well presented meals. Yes, most passengers were our age, 50-80. Most were well traveled and fun to talk with and share stories with. The night life on the ship involves an after dinner drink, listening to the piano and then off to bed to get some sleep for the next day. You need it! I have worked in the service industry my whole career and one of the things I have always felt is that co-workers who care about each other, care about the customer. The crew on the Viking Sun were wonderful. Attentive, fun, caring and professional, from the Captain on down, we enjoyed each of them. They knew how to be available and yet also knew how to give you your space. They were wonderful people. I really am writing this for those who are ocean cruisers who are considering a river cruise. If you go on a cruise ship to party like rock stars, shop in the boutiques, play in the casino and enjoy the nightly shows and nightclubs, keep on enjoying those cruises. But, if you want to see what it's like to have an adventure and learn things you never knew, get on the river. Two other points, we were encouraged to buy local wines, cheeses, etc. and bring them back on board to enjoy. No corkage fees, no holding it until you get back home. This added to the experience as we shared these local treasures with each other and new friends. Second point. Your fee will be higher than on a cruise ship. But, you will never get nickeled and dimed after you pay. Your fee includes your room, board, tours, wine and beer and meals and great hospitality. There are optional tours which we did make use of, but it was great not to have some big bill waiting for us at the end of the trip. Yes, there is one thing that needs to be fixed, but I believe it will only be fixed with a technological breakthrough. Internet on ships stinks, no matter what ship you are on. Ours was free and spotty. When we were in port, it was fine. Thinking of a river cruise? Do it! We will again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
After flying for 12+ hours, we were greeted at the airport in Basel, Switzerland by Viking employees who informed us that the river was too high in Basel and we couldn't board the ship there. We were going to be taken to the ship ... Read More
After flying for 12+ hours, we were greeted at the airport in Basel, Switzerland by Viking employees who informed us that the river was too high in Basel and we couldn't board the ship there. We were going to be taken to the ship which was docked in Breisach, Germany by bus. We waited 2 hours in the airport for the bus and then had another 1 hour ride. If Viking knew of this problem, why wasn't the transportation already waiting for us at the airport???? We arrived at the ship and took our luggage to cabin. We then proceeded to the lounge to try to get some lunch. When we arrived, they were clearing all of the food. They said that lunch was over. I said what do you mean? We haven't had anything to eat. Basically, I was told "too bad." We tried to find a restaurant open in Breisach within walking distance but could not. We waited until dinner. The food was HORRIBLE! The second night on the ship, we crashed into an embankment. We were told not to speak to the press who were waiting when we were escorted on to another ship to take us to a bus to drive us to Strousburg, France. This trip became more of a motor coach tour than anything. There is no entertainment whatsever on the ship. You are forced to talk to people you don't want to talk to. The service was horrible. The ship was in a very run down condition -- very old and dated. You expect opulence on a ship. You expect wonderful food. You expect to be pampered. This was absolutely not the case with Viking. Food portions were extremely small. Potato soup was red with hot dogs cut up. The chefs stood around drinking beer in the lounge during lunch time. When you save your money for a trip like this and you have nothing but aggravation and disappointment, it is a shame. Viking didn't care at all. Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
Our letter to Viking following the cruise was 2 full pages and was practically ignored. They offered us $500 each credit on a future cruise with them (which will never happen). I will reduce it here for you. My wife has been in the travel ... Read More
Our letter to Viking following the cruise was 2 full pages and was practically ignored. They offered us $500 each credit on a future cruise with them (which will never happen). I will reduce it here for you. My wife has been in the travel business for 30 years and this is the first negative review we have EVER written. Some problems were minor but altogether, this was just bad. By the way, the cruise started in Antwerp and ended in Basel - a nice itinerary. They sent us information prior to the cruise for the wrong cruise. Rather than courier the correct info, they mailed it and we were already on our way to catch the cruise. The food was of the lowest quality, not cooked well and there was little choice. Dining room service was fine as long as you didn't require anything extra or different, such as a second glass of water. The boat was understaffed to the point that staff would not meet your eyes fearing you might ask for something. There was no maitre d', leaving guests to line up prior to dining room opening and rushing for a choice table - like high school. Not once in 14 days were we called by name and this ship had only 200 guests. They skipped one stop on the itinerary because another Viking ship had the dock that day and they would not pay for a second spot. We had a 2nd Viking ship docked alongside us on 4 days, which meant that we could not open our blinds of our rooms or lose all privacy from the room literally 3 feet away on the other ship. Also, that side of the dining room was dark on those days as that ship blocked all light. There was no security to get onto the ship (there was a warning to Americans in Europe the day before we set sail). Almost all excursions were to "the old town" and to "the cathedral". Very little diversity. Tour guides were anywhere from 2 out of 10 to 10 out of 10. The main lounge was too small for everyone to fit in and the design was not condusive for ease of listening to lectures. The staterooms were small but fine. Nothing special but not a problem. There was the occasional smell of fuel at night while the ship travelled. For others, it was every night and their bed was like a massage bed when the engines started up. They advertised that the fares were 2 for 1, which was a total lie. If so, this would have been a $700 per day per person cruise, more than what you can pay on a 6 star cruise today. It seems like Viking is in trouble and cut corners where possible, lower quality food, less staff, cheap tours (places with no entrance fees). Do yourself a favour and book another river cruise line. I'd be concerned with losing your deposit. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
I have traveled on over 60 cruises and this was the worst one I have ever been on. Our stateroom was incredibly noisy, so I didn't get any sleep all week. Every time anyone on the ship flushed their toilet, we heard is as loud as ... Read More
I have traveled on over 60 cruises and this was the worst one I have ever been on. Our stateroom was incredibly noisy, so I didn't get any sleep all week. Every time anyone on the ship flushed their toilet, we heard is as loud as someone in the room blowing their nose... gross. The heater (which was needed in the cold ship) made popping noises, so we couldn't use it at night. When we complained about the noise to the front desk, their ignored our urgent request fro a solution. The ventilation system was very bad, since we smelled all sorts of smells wafting into the intake, including diesel exhaust, smoke, and even lighter fluid for a BBQ. When the front desk didn't do anything about the lighter fluid smell, a whole bunch of us had to storm the desk to get attention... I never heard of something so dangerous. Their sound system in the lounge also did not work for half of the cruise, but at least that didn't deprive us of sleep! The ship docked a mile away from where they told us it would be in Amsterdam, forcing my 82 year old parents to walk that far with all their luggage. I highly recommend avoiding the Helvetia and its sister ship Sun until Viking fixes these mechanical problems. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
Always fancied a Rhine Cruise but were put off by the price but eventually decided to give it a go. Sadly we were very disappointed. The places we visited were lovely but not Viking. Arrived Amsterdam airport found the rep , it was 1hour ... Read More
Always fancied a Rhine Cruise but were put off by the price but eventually decided to give it a go. Sadly we were very disappointed. The places we visited were lovely but not Viking. Arrived Amsterdam airport found the rep , it was 1hour 10mins before we left the airport for the ship, unacceptable. As a consequence we missed the buffet lunch and walking tour. Not a good start. Our cabin 121 was on lower ,Main, deck. On retiring that evening we were greeted by awful noise in our cabin. This was constant and loud from the engine and passing river traffic, the Rhine is a very busy river. We had a sleepless night. We knew ship was full but reported noise and requested ear plugs, these had no effect. So we had to endure this constant noise every night of our cruise. Some other guests also agreed cabins were noisy. Glad we didn't pay the extra £1700 it would have cost to have a cabin on top deck, £1700 for a cabin exactly same as ours but with full length windows, a lot to pay for a bigger window! Dining : Breakfast good, lunch ok, dinner poor. Very small portions, I have a small appetite but several times I left the table still hungry. The hardworking staff were rushed off their feet so a long wait between courses and drinks difficult to get replenished. The food sounded good on paper but very disappointing when it arrived ( they seem to be very fond of mashed potato!) When I booked was asked if we were celebrating anything so mentioned it was husband's birthday. The sales person said she would arrange a treat. Lovely gesture I thought. However... on birthday returned to cabin after dinner to find a towel rolled up to resemble a cake, husband and I were not impressed. River Rhine area of Germany is very beautiful but not on Viking Sun.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
It seems ridiculous to gripe about a Holiday Cruise up the Rhine River from Basel, Switzerland to Amsterdam, but when researching cruises, I appreciate details which tend to make a real difference, but are rarely reported. Here are the ... Read More
It seems ridiculous to gripe about a Holiday Cruise up the Rhine River from Basel, Switzerland to Amsterdam, but when researching cruises, I appreciate details which tend to make a real difference, but are rarely reported. Here are the things I feel added up to a completely unsatisfactory vacation. You cannot eat dinner alone. There are only tables for six, eight, ten. It rapidly becomes tedious asking people about their lives and then acting as though you are instant friends and interested. One man's son was incarnated and his daughters didn't want him at their home for Christmas so he was cruising unhappily; another woman's husband had committed suicide. Lots of older people who wanted to talk. I didn't want to go on vacation with them, but did. No Room Service and you can't take a plate to the bar. The food was not good. Breakfast was adequate (a buffet) and lunch was the high point, especially the salads, but dinner was simply bad. A $7.95 All You Can Eat Buffet in Vegas would have been an improvement. I like to sleep with my partner. Pushing twins together works if you really make them into a queen bed and not leave a big open line down the middle. Even the sheets were twin and the blankets (while lovely European cotton) were two twin sized blankets. They were very understaffed. I don't know if this was due to the holidays but, while we had the liquor package (150 Euros more per person) you couldn't get a drink easily because the bar tenders were always off doing something else. People were lined up all the time. The staff didn't look you in the eye because they feared you might ask them for something. They ran out of everything--wine, nuts, juice. The Cruise Director stayed on the intercom incessantly repeating things until you couldn't remember what you were supposed to do. Morning, noon and night--didn't matter what you might be doing in the privacy of your suite, she was talking to you with no way to silence her. It continued in person until you wanted to smack her. The itinerary was not good. Part of it was due to the fact the Rhine was high and we missed some ports, but mainly because the timing was poor. Two hours in Heidelberg, but four in Kinderdijk? Kinderdijk has a few windmills (fabulous) which take maybe 30 minutes at best. We ran through Heidelberg, pretty much seeing nothing. Amsterdam was waiting but we stayed docked for hours in Kinderdijk and didn't get into Amsterdam until we were ready to go to the airport. The other stops were either an Old Town or a church. Everyone was kept in a big group--all 200 of us. So, four big buses would pull up and dump everyone at a small cuckoo clock shop or a glass blowing demonstration. Totally overwhelming so no one saw anything and everyone was unhappy. There is no elevator. It bothered some of the older passengers but we had no trouble going up and down. The problem came when the supplies were delivered or the staff needed to get food platters up to the lounge/bar. The staff formed a human chain to pass wine cases, toilet paper, fruits, fish and all other supplies up and down as needed. Passengers had to dodge the toss and it was embarrassing when you heard the grunts. Every lunch platter was carried up the one set of steps while you attempted to stay out of the way. The staff stays to their daily rituals regardless. Couldn't get off the ship because of high water? Too bad I need to vacuum the room, hallway, steps...now. Ten minutes late to the dining room? Order now, get on the schedule with the rest of the table. If you didn't want to play games with the Recreation Director, she pouted--"It would only take two minutes." They don't have a computer system for accounting. You are supposed to leave your credit card over the last night so "my colleague can do the processing". Every Diet Coke and Old Fashion required a paper written ticket unless you were on "a package". They owed us for a cab ride and couldn't just credit the bill, but rather had to pay out in Euros. You had to leave your room key so they could keep up with who was on or off the boat. Think lines. We were on the top deck but many of the guests on lower decks complained about the smell in their rooms and backed up toilets. That was just rumors for us, but folks were upset. Having Wifi was great. We cruise a lot. We are generally happy people, but the irritants simply added up until we couldn't wait to get off the boat. We take what we spend on vacations seriously and when we realized that we would rather have stayed at home, we knew it was time to report it for others considering Viking. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
I've waited a few months before writing this review to see if time would mellow my feelings about this cruise. If anything, they've intensified. We've cruised the Caribbean with Windstar, the Adriatic with CroisiEurope ... Read More
I've waited a few months before writing this review to see if time would mellow my feelings about this cruise. If anything, they've intensified. We've cruised the Caribbean with Windstar, the Adriatic with CroisiEurope and the Danube with Luftner. Based on the fabulous times we had on those cruises, we were really looking forward to our Christmas Markets cruise with top-rated Viking. Sadly, we were very disappointed. Although this was a Christmas Markets cruise (and other cruise lines along the river were decked out in their holiday finery), the Viking Sun's decorations weren't put out until the end of the cruise. What's appalling about this is that, despite the fact that many passengers complained to the staff about this, nothing was done. The food was (to quote another passenger) was "adequate banquet fare." Other than a few regional lunch buffets in the bar area, there was absolutely nothing special about the food. It wasn't bad but it certainly wasn't as memorable as it was on our other cruises. Our Program Director, Tom, seemed more interested in self-aggrandizement than in helping passengers (although, to be fair, some people did enjoy his sense of humor). The tours were good, but I'm sure the same could be said of the tours offered by any of the other cruise lines. Based on our experience, we'll never book with Viking again. Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
After traveling on three Viking River Cruises, my husband and I were excited to try the Belgium to Switzerland 12 night tour on the Viking Sun during the Christmas/New Years Holiday 2007. We booked our cruise/air package about 6 weeks ... Read More
After traveling on three Viking River Cruises, my husband and I were excited to try the Belgium to Switzerland 12 night tour on the Viking Sun during the Christmas/New Years Holiday 2007. We booked our cruise/air package about 6 weeks before departure. Having had bad experiences before with incorrect travel documents, I checked them closely and noticed the actual airline tickets (not e-tickets) had us going to Nurenberg instead of Brussels. After telling me it was not their responsibility to verify the accuracy of the tickets, Viking River sent me the correct airline tickets. Yeah! Potential disaster averted. Our airport to ship transfer was supposed to be provided by Viking River. When we arrived at the airport in Brussels, we waited about two hours for the Viking River transfer that was to be waiting for us. I finally decided to call the transfer company. Unfortunately, the transfer company phone number provided by Viking River cruises was to a transfer company in Amsterdam, not Brussels. So I then called the Viking Sun ship directly and was told the ship personnel had been given inaccurate information by Viking River. We then took a taxi to the ship, but lost the afternoon we had planned for sightseeing. The Viking Sun ship was very nice, as were the other Viking ships we have cruised before. The ship was very clean, modern and the reception was quite nice. Our cabin was immaculate. Because of their several hour snafu with the transfer, there was no time for us to go into the town. The food was beautifully prepared and presented throughout the entire cruise. Service was very attentive without being intrusive. Our cruise was the final one for the year, so the cruise personnel were very anxious to be going home. The dining staff was quite efficient at getting everyone served quickly. Brugge was a wonderful visit. Lots of walking and sightseeing, but not too much. Everyone seemed to enjoy it immensely. Our tour guide was articulate and kept us moving at a nice pace. The brochure said we would have time in Antwerp, but there wasn't time. Delft was also a walking tour and a factory tour. Most of the tours required guests to be in reasonably good physical condition. Unfortunately, some guests could not keep up the pace. Because of the holidays, most of the stops were pretty quiet with shops and pubs closed. Most of the Christmas Markets were also over for the year. There were a couple that were open, but the ship personnel said they would also be closed so most people did not even bother to walk into the towns. Most of the optional tours were not offered. They didn't even bother to have a sign up sheet for the Kroller-Muller Museum since they seldom had any interest in it. My option was to take a taxi. Cologne is a delightful stop with something for everyone. The ship provided tour was very informative. I would also recommend the Roman artifacts museum, as well as the Cathedral and Old city. Much of the city was destroyed, but the reconstruction is lovely. We ran out of time before we could see the National socialism documentation centre which was the headquarters of the Cologne gestapo. Cochem was a pleasant walking town, but most things were closed. Most everything was also closed in Koblenz. Marksburg castle was interesting and had great views. People who have trouble walking may find the steps slippery. Throughout the tour I helped several people who were having problems with the cobblestones and slick steps at most stops. While cruising the Rhine, our Cruise Manager seemed to be bored with the entire trip. Several people commented that it seemed so strange that someone who doesn't enjoy people was in that position. He was even asked a couple of times if something was wrong and to pretend he was having fun by smiling. We were thinking maybe he just wanted this final cruise to be over. Rudesheim looked like it would be an interesting place if things were open. Again, there was nothing to do but look in the shop windows after the museum tour. Several of us left the musical instrument tour early. Heidelberg required lots of walking and was a fascinating stop. The shops were closed, but the decorations were worth the walk down the main shopping area. Speyer was lively with ice skating, Old Gate and the Christmas Market. The church was amazing and had a lovely nativity. Our cruise director said everything would be closed and since it was about a 10 minute walk, many people did not walk into the center. We found it quite magical and filled with local families. When we got to Strasbourg, we were told the tour would be cut short to combine it with the Black Forest tour that same day. We skipped the Black Forest tour and enjoyed the entire day in Strasbourg. The markets were open, ice skating and places to enjoy food and drink. We found out later the locks were going to take the entire next day so they had to do the Black Forest tour in the afternoon. We heard from other cruisemates that the Black Forest tour was extremely boring and nothing was open. They all wished they stayed in Strasbourg. Our final day of cruising was spent going through several locks. The locks were on a reduced schedule so it took hours longer than normal. No activities were planned on the ship for that day either. When we got to Basel after dark, the ship's docking location was taken so they had to dock a long ways from the town. There was no way for anyone to do any sightseeing in Basel that late at night. The next morning we had to go out in the dark to identify our luggage and then walk up a steep, slippery bank, over the railroad tracks to the bus to the airport. We helped a few ladies that were afraid of falling since they could not see where they were walking. On a scale of 1-5 (highest), I would rate this Belgium to Switzerland Viking Sun cruise a 3, although the meals and service on ship were excellent. We were very disappointed with the normally excellent Viking River cruise experience. If you are considering this cruise, you may want to go at least a couple weeks before Christmas and verify what will be open. Read Less
Sail Date December 2007
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
Day 1 Basel: After an event filled week of everything Mercedes-Benz on a fantastic tour put together by the Mercedes-Benz Club of America and Daimler AG, it was time for the next leg of our adventure, a cruise down the Rhine River with ... Read More
Day 1 Basel: After an event filled week of everything Mercedes-Benz on a fantastic tour put together by the Mercedes-Benz Club of America and Daimler AG, it was time for the next leg of our adventure, a cruise down the Rhine River with Viking Cruise Lines. Fourteen members from our Mercedes tour group had booked the river cruise, so our tour organizer arranged for a van to drive us from Stuttgart, Germany to our first port in Basel, Switzerland. We left the hotel at 9:30 am and reached the Viking Sun about 1:00 pm, just in time to have a quick buffet lunch on board and then hop on the tour bus for a city tour of Basel with a local guide. The City Hall had just been restored and stood gleaming in the center of town. Since it was Sunday, the shops were closed and the city was very quiet. Our guide Kim was able to take her time to explain the history of the city and to point out quirky little facts regarding artwork along the way. My favorite was the story of the two sets of statutes in front of the cathedral representing good and evil. She said that you could tell the set that represented evil by looking for the snakes and toads running up the back of the cloak. Sure enough! A vendor was roasting chestnuts just outside of the cathedral; a sure sign that fall had arrived. There was a beautiful view of the river behind the cathedral and we could see the Rheinfahre, the ferry that takes people across the river attached to a cable from either side. Apparently it is another enjoyable way to spend an afternoon in Basel. We strolled back through town to the tour bus. Though the shops were closed, we were able to get a little taste of Switzerland when our guide offered us chocolate covered dates and Swiss chocolate bites. Delicious! We chilled for a bit when we got back on the boat then met in the lounge for a glass of wine and a review of the next day’s events before dinner. There were about 180 people on board the Viking Sun, just small enough so that meals could be served in one dining room at the same time. Several tables were large enough that we were able to enjoy dining with a group of our new Mercedes trip friends throughout the cruise. One of the differences we found with Viking Cruise Lines versus other cruise lines is that beer and wine were included with meals at no charge. They also have an option to purchase all on-board drinks, including specialty wines ordered with dinner and drinks ordered in the lounge before and after dinner, for $150 euros per person for the week. Not being heavy drinkers, we were happy with the cruise line’s selections of the various locally produced beers and wines. The German Rieslings were my favorite. And yes, you can have beer and wine with lunch! Just remember to bring your stretchy pants to wear home at the end of the trip. Speaking of attire, it was perfectly acceptable to wear your comfortable day time travel clothes in the dining room for breakfast and lunch. Most people chose to spruce up for dinner mainly because the service and the setting for dinner was like dining in a fine restaurant, but formal attire was definitely not necessary. There are menu’s prepared for each meal usually with a meat, a chicken or fish, and a vegetarian dish. Special requests are handled with grace and ease. A special thank you goes to the servers who artfully cut our friend’s meat for her after a slip and fall had put her arm in a temporary cast. For our Mercedes friends who are wondering, Leeanne had surgery when she returned to the states to remove a bone chip from her elbow and to reset her wrist and repair it with a plate and screws so that it would heal correctly. She will be in a cast for a while, but she is so glad that she was able to finish the trip! We took off from Basel during dinner and quickly found ourselves inside one of the sixteen locks that we would go through during the week. It was a bit unnerving to be staring at a blank concrete wall while the water level went down, but each transfer was handled quickly and smoothly. Day 2 Breisach: We arrived in the town of Breisach, Germany before dawn. Note: Do not be surprised to open up your curtains in the morning and find yourself looking directly at another Viking river boat. It happened twice on this cruise. It’s really not a big deal if you are aware that it can happen; it’s just that the first time was kind of a shock. The river boats tie up together for short periods, usually in passing from dock to dock going in different directions. There was one time that we actually walked through one boat to get on shore. Viking Cruise Lines includes a daily scenic tour at each, with the option of several other tours throughout the week. Today’s tour was to the Black Forest and we hopped on comfortable tour buses at 8:30 am. We drove on the back roads through several sleepy, small villages while our local guide provided a description of life and history in the area. We stopped on a high plateau overlooking the hills with St. Märgen church highlighted in the distance. Life was hard and isolated in many parts of the Black Forest. People learned to make cuckoo clocks during the long winters, and glass blowing was very popular at one time. In fact the original glass Christmas ornaments were first made in Germany. Our tour included a tourist stop at a shop that had an interesting cuckoo clock, a glass blowing, and the infamous Black Forest Cake making demonstration. We also sampled Kirsch, a dry, clear cherry brandy made in Germany and a required ingredient in the traditional Black Forest Cake. Yum. In case any of us planned to return to the area on our own, our tour guide provided a few tidbits of information. He said that the small villages can make an excellent and inexpensive home base for traveling. If you are looking for a home cooked meal made with local grown specialties, he said to look for the houses with brooms hanging out front, indicating that the home is open for dinner. The June asparagus harvest is especially celebrated. He also said to watch out for towns that have radar where speeding can mean a 50 euro ticket. Back to the ship in time for a quick lunch, we then chose to take their optional tour to the Alsatian town of Colmar, France. Just across the Rhine River from Breisach, Germany is Colmar, France! Apparently it is no longer necessary to check passports between countries that belong to the European Union and the bridge checkpoint place in Breisach is now a McDonald’s. Along the way we discovered a replica of the Statute of Liberty installed to honor Frederic Bartholdi, the creator of the Statue of Liberty who was born in Colmar. We discovered that 13th Century Colmar was relatively untouched by the war and the medieval section of the city was intact. There were great examples of the half-timber framed architecture favored by the Germans right alongside the sandstone block houses favored by the French. The town was full of small bakeries, chocolatiers, cookie shops, shops with dried fruit and everywhere the white stork. The stork is seen as a good luck symbol in Germany and they return to the same nest every year amid much fanfare. Many of the nests are set up with video cameras to keep an eye on the newborns. Others in our group chose to take the alternate tour to visit the World War II Colmar Pocket Memorial. They experienced an emotional tribute to Audie Murphy. He was one of the most decorated American combat soldiers of WW II and only 19 years old when he received the Medal of Honor after single-handedly holding off an entire company of German soldiers for an hour at the Colmar Pocket in January 1945, then leading a successful counterattack while wounded and out of ammunition. Both excursions gave our group a lot to talk about over dinner that night. Day 3 Strasbourg: We cruised through the night and arrived in the town of Kehl, Germany in the morning. We were on the bus by 8:30 am and crossed the bridge into France on our way to Strasbourg. Our guide, Veronique, was born and raised in Strasbourg and provided a personal recount of her family’s recollection of Stausbourg under Prussian, French, German, and then back to French rule. Our bus tour took us past the European Parliament of the European Union and past the University of Strasbourg currently the second largest university in France. The Port of Strasbourg is the second largest on the Rhine. Our bus driver dropped us off just outside of Strasbourg’s historic city center because motor vehicles are not allowed. Located on an island, the Grande Île, we walked across a bridge just outside of Tanner’s Road, also known as the Petite France district. Veronique provided an entertaining history of the infamous area known more for its seedier inhabitants as a result of the smell from the urine that the tanner’s used to cure the hides that they hung high in the building rafters to dry. We crossed another bridge and walked to the Strasbourg Notre-Dame Cathedral. The beautiful sandstone Gothic cathedral is famous for its enormous astronomical clock and incredibly tall spires reaching to the heavens. The stained glass windows were taken out prior to the German offensive, were hidden, protected, and then reinstalled after the war. Our guide recommended that we watch the movie Fury and Monument Men for further perspective of the period. We had some time on our own after the tour and set out to find a small café that we had read about on Cruise Critic prior to our trip. The Bistro du Chocolat is located just down the street to the right of the cathedral. We had the most delicious hot chocolate that I have ever tasted made with real bits of creamy white chocolate, hot milk and topped high with fresh whipped cream. Magnifique! Upon return to the boat we had lunch and decided not to take the optional wine tasting excursion. Instead we headed out to rent bikes in Kehl. Our ride took us on a path along the Rhine River. We then crossed the Rhine to the French side on a beautiful pedestrian bridge and back to Germany again where we spent time exploring the small, very bike friendly town of Kehl. We came across a German WW II Cemetery with thousands of markers with dates of death in 1945; nearly all were 18-30 year olds. Nearby we came across a small river with families feeding ducks, geese, and baby nutria. The stark contrast in a short, 70 year period is unimaginable. Again, our day provided interesting discussions over dinner that night. Day 4 Heidelberg & Rüdesheim: We woke up in the town of Worms, Germany where we boarded our buses for a tour to Heidelberg. Our guide, Gila, pointed out the well-known Heidelberg University as the bus climbed the narrow, twisting road up to Heidelberg Castle. Gila told the romantic story of Frederick V, a 16-year-old Duke who married the English King’s daughter Elizabeth Stuart. In addition to having a significant influence in the castle’s design, he commissioned the Elizabeth Gate and a full English garden that still stand today. The castle was destroyed and reconstructed many times in the nearly 800 years since it was first documented. Restorations and historical reconstructions have created a tourist destination with sweeping views of the village and the Neckar River with its arched stone bridges below. In addition, the courtyard is still used for public theatre performances, parts of the castle can be rented for events and we were able to view their enormous wine vat made from one hundred and thirty oak trees and guarded by the ghost of Perkeo, the King’s court jester who was charged to watch over the castle’s wine stock. A dance floor was built on top of this enormous wine barrel. We watched as an older couple from our ship carefully climbed the stairs to the dance floor and embraced as they reminisced that they had stood in that exact same place as young newlyweds more than 50 years earlier. Very sweet! We had some time after the castle tour to walk through the village below with an explanation of the effects of its seemingly endless historical conflicts along with a fire which devastated all but one building. The Old Town was completely rebuilt in the 18th century in the romantic baroque style. A Gothic church was built in the center of town which at one time served both the Protestants and the Catholics with a wall built to separate the two. The wall was removed when a Catholic church was constructed. The church’s courtyard still serves as a market place for the city. We hiked up the 208 steps of the stone spiral staircase to the top of the church spire and were treated to a beautiful view of the city and its overlooking castle. We crossed the Neckar River on the town’s arched stone bridge, and then it was time to head back to town to meet up with the tour bus. The boat had moved along the river while we were in Heidelberg and we met up with it again in Gernsheim. We sat on deck as we continued along the river to the town of Rüdesheim. The Viking Daily newsletter provided a nice list of the sights we were passing along the way. Large kilometer signs with tall painted number are easy to see along the river banks to cross-reference to the list. Several people from the ship went to the nearby Siegfried’s Mechanisches Musikkabinett, a 250 year old mechanical musical instrument museum that they said was really interesting and then took the optional excursion into Rüdesheim for dinner. Instead we attended a delightful cocktail party hosted by the tour company who arranged our Stuttgart travel, and we met fellow enthusiasts, John and Roger, who had taken the Mercedes-Benz tour in 2009 and were traveling with us on this cruise. They wished that they had taken the opportunity to go on the cruise after their 2009 MB adventure, but were happy to join us six years later. We heard that dinner in town was very fun, but dinner on the ship was as fantastic as always and we were glad to have had the opportunity to meet John and Roger. Day 5 Braubach & Koblenz: The next day was one of my favorites. We were able to sleep in a bit as we would be sailing most of the morning. We left Rüdesheim about 8:30 am and sailed along the most beautiful part of the Rhine River. There were century’s old hilltop castles around every bend, and our program director sat on deck with us and provided commentary about the history and current status of each one. Surprisingly, several of them have been repurposed into boutique hotels; an interesting option for future trips perhaps? The steep hills along the river banks were also filled with vineyards. The angles of the rows followed the lay of the land and made the hills look like they were covered in intricate patchwork quilts. We had lunch on the boat, docked in Koblenz about 1:30 pm, and then headed out by tour bus back to Marksburg Castle in the village of Braubach, one of the many castles we had seen on our morning sail. Marksburg Castle is the only hill castle on the Rhine that has never been destroyed and has been lived in for over 700 years. We were able to see vignettes of life in the Middle Ages. The castle entry was well fortified with its multiple archways, high stone walls and cannons pointing towards the river. We saw the huge kitchen hearth set up with antique cooking tools, a bedroom with a surprisingly short canopy bed (apparently it was considered unlucky to lie full length on your back in the Middle Ages and it was customary to sleep sitting up), the great room where meetings and feasts were held, the “throne” room, the armory with a great display of the changes in armor over time, a wine cellar, a blacksmith shop used to make all of the tools needed in the day, and, most unusual, a room filled with torture instruments. All of the rooms held actual articles and reproductions from the era, bringing history to life. A very cool exhibit! We returned to the ship which was docked at the Deutsches Eck, the convergence point of the Rhine and Moselle Rivers. We explored the park with its huge equestrian statute of Kaiser Wilhelm I. The original statute was built in 1897 to celebrate German unity with the translated inscription “Never will the Empire be destroyed, so long as you are united and loyal”. Badly damaged in WW II in 1945, it was taken down. In 1949, Germany was divided by the Berlin Wall into capitalist west and communist east. In order to express the deep wish for a united Germany, the statute and its inscription were replaced and Deutsches Eck became a monument to German unity once again. When the Berlin Wall came down in November 1989, three concrete parts were installed next to the monument in tribute to a unified Germany. The ship didn’t leave Koblenz until 4:00 am so there was plenty of time in Koblenz to shop, explore the museums, take the cable car over the river, have dinner in town or join stay on board to enjoy the ship’s special German Buffet and local entertainment. Our traveling companions from Seattle had a friend who lived in Koblenz and we met them for dinner at a nearby local restaurant, the Deutscher Kaiser at Kastorstrasse 3. While the company, the dinner and the wine were excellent, the pumpkin seed ice cream really made an impression! Yum! Did I mention the stretchy pants? Day 6 Cologne: We reached Cologne just after breakfast the next morning and hopped on the bus to the Old Town for a guided walking tour and a visit to the Cologne Cathedral with its stunning Gothic architecture and exquisite stained glass windows. We then had some free time to explore the city. I will admit to spying a Starbucks coffee shop and staring wistfully into the window. Next thing I knew, I had lost Ian and he turned up a few minutes later with a Café Mocha in his hands. We then picked up some warm pretzels from a nearby shop for a wonderful early afternoon snack. Just off the church square were blocks and blocks of international shops. We are not big shoppers and since we had Rick Steve’s Germany book with us, we decided to follow his Cologne walking tour, parts of which were included in the ship’s tour earlier than morning. It took us away from the shopping mall into the more genuine and historical parts of town. My favorite part of the tour happened in front of City Hall where there were several entire wedding parties waiting their turn so that the bride & groom could get their public license prior to heading to their private ceremonies. Apparently the public license ceremony is a requirement. It was a very festive and fun atmosphere with brides in their wedding gowns, guests carrying beautifully wrapped gifts, champagne toasts, confetti, and even a groom performing a traditional ceremony by carrying his bride through a heart cut into a large bed sheet. Behind the City Hall was a large square with several outdoor cafés and shops. We stopped in Schroeder’s Chocolatier where we sampled and bought souvenirs including some chocolate liqueur, most of which made in back home. Rick’s tour then took us down to the riverside and we headed back to the boat along a beautiful path along the Rhine, about a 2 mile walk. It felt good to be out for a walk in the sunshine. Day 7 Kinderdijk: We had left Cologne at 1:00am and woke up to a morning of sailing. At some point we had left the Rhine and were traveling along a canal towards Amsterdam. We arrived in Kinderdijk, Netherlands sometime after lunch and docked right next to a series of 19 windmills built in 1740. Ian and I hopped off the boat right as we docked and found a nearby shop that rented bicycles. We spent an hour and a half riding the flat dikes along the canals and stopped several times to take photos and talk to the locals. We got back just in time to catch the tour off of the boat and were able to hear the history and workings of the windmills. I had always thought that the mills were used for grinding grains, but these mills were specifically developed to move water out of flooded areas to maintain farm and home sites located on land that is below sea level. This is done electronically today with massive turbines, though the windmills came in use not that long ago when a huge storm knocked out electricity to the area for days. Some of the windmills are still inhabited and one was set up for touring. We saw the working mechanisms and the living arrangements inside the windmill. It was very cramped inside and the living quarters were on several levels; obviously not an easy life to live in the mill. We regretfully boarded the ship knowing that this was the last tour of our adventure. The chef prepared a special menu for our Farewell Dinner that was absolutely delicious (as were all the meals!). We said our goodbyes to our newfound friends because we would be leaving the ship at 8:00 am in order to catch an early flight. Svetlana, our wonderful concierge on board had arranged a taxi van to the airport and we arrived in plenty of time to check in. Unfortunately, an unusually thick fog had rolled in over Amsterdam and all morning flights were cancelled. This being the first time that we had been negatively affected by weather on our entire two week adventure, we could not complain. We managed to catch a flight that landed just one hour before our flight from London was scheduled to leave! We arrived home safe and sound, several pounds heavier, and with wonderful memories and photos to share with old and new friends and family. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
We travelled May 3/2015 from Amsterdam to Basel. We have travelled the large cruise lines in past,but wanted to experience what a River Cruise would be like. Because we were traveling from Canada we decided to land in Amsterdam on the ... Read More
We travelled May 3/2015 from Amsterdam to Basel. We have travelled the large cruise lines in past,but wanted to experience what a River Cruise would be like. Because we were traveling from Canada we decided to land in Amsterdam on the Friday before we would set sail Sunday. This was good decision to help with jet lag & also to get a good taste of Amsterdam. When we arrived at the airport Viking reps met us & we said that we weren't sailing for a few days but they helped guide us to the train & were more than helpful. Our hotel Movenpick seemed to be a hub for Viking for many different ships & we were able to get information as our embarking port had changed (everyone so helpful). When we arrived on board we were greeted by many Viking Crew members, one who walked us to our rooms ( Demeter also our favourite bartender)& our luggage followed in minutes. Our room was on the first floor (125)and it was very compact. We spent very little time there. Meals were good and our excursions were interesting. We purchased extra excursions which we felt were good value. The water levels were high as there was rain in Switzerland for over a week. This caused some disruption but for us, it was all part of the adventure. We were bussed to our excursions & once ate in Strasbourg instead of going back to the ship because of timelines. Viking took care of all of this. All hands on deck when we came back on board, stewards, hotel manager, & even the captain greeted us. They were appreciative of our understanding as itinerary changed, and we could feel it. It was a wonderful journey. Boyon was our cruise director & he was AMAZING. He & the hotel manager kept us up to date on any changes.Our consierge was also very helpful.I would highly recommend Viking & would travel again. Three couples travelled together & had a great adventure. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
The urber large cruise ships have never appealed to us and have avoided joining friends on trips. We thought a europe river curise would be the best way to tour and get a taste of cruising. Booked a 8 day Rhein river curise on the Viking ... Read More
The urber large cruise ships have never appealed to us and have avoided joining friends on trips. We thought a europe river curise would be the best way to tour and get a taste of cruising. Booked a 8 day Rhein river curise on the Viking Sun. For the most part the trip was very good experience. The ship was clean and well kept. The service was very good. The excursions were good and well excuted. The activity directors were very good. Particulary Damionano and Arturo, both represented Viking very well.The food, was just okay. Choices were limited and although the food quality was good it didnt meet our expectations for fine dining on a cruise ship. The major diapointment however was about 20% of our trip was cut short because of hi water levels on the Rhein. Major flooding on all the europiean rivers. Our big cruse vacation of a life time turned into a bus tour. Obvisouly river conditions are not Vikings fault however, this was no suprise to Viking. Now that we know about "Cruse Critic" we see similar reviews from over a year ago. Water levels will affect your curise!! We feel Viking in good faith should have communicated this condition to us and given us the option to reschedule or cancel. We felt bad for the people coming aboard for the next cruse, as the flooding was getting worse. Viking did however gives us a 50% discount on another curise and did comp drinks and other services. Not sure we would book with Viking again. Advice from a first time cruiser: Buyers beware! It's up to you to check river conditions. Don't expect Viking to inform you of conditions and be sure to check cancelation policy before you book your trip. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
I have been on many cruises, but never a river cruise. When I saw an add for Viking's 2-for-1 special I knew it was a perfect opportunity. As far value for the money goes, this cruise couldn't be beat. We saw Switzerland, ... Read More
I have been on many cruises, but never a river cruise. When I saw an add for Viking's 2-for-1 special I knew it was a perfect opportunity. As far value for the money goes, this cruise couldn't be beat. We saw Switzerland, Germany, and France for a fraction of the cost. Every morning we woke up in a new port and got ready for an 8 am tour. While most people like to sleep in on vacation, it was definitely worth getting up. The tours were led by local guides and they were wonderful. They all spoke English very well and provided us with all sorts of detailed information about every town and village we happened to be in. The tours were a huge part of why this cruise was so wonderful. As far as the ship goes it was very nice. The cabins were larger than those on the ocean ships, and very comfortable. Breakfast was always buffet style in the dining room, but they also had a small menu that you could order waffles or omelets from. For lunch we were provided with 2 options, a buffet in the lounge, or table service in the dining room. Dinner was served everyday at 7 in the dining room and the menu always had a local dish so we could try foods from the region we visited during the day. The only bad thing I can say about this trip is that there was some sort of virus traveling around the ship and the staff neglected to tell us. We had 8 people in our group and 5 of us came down with this norwalk-like virus. I became so ill that I was unable to get ashore in Cologne, which should have been the best Christmas Markets on our trip. I also overheard other passengers commenting on being in local emergency rooms because they had become ill. It would have been nice for someone on the ship to mention that something was going around so we could take extra precautions, or for the staff to have been out disinfecting every surface like they do when viruses are detected on the larger cruise ships. If not for this illness this cruise would have been a 10 out of 10, but despite this setback I would still recommend Viking because of the great value. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
We chose a river cruise because we have been on at least 20 ocean cruises and we wanted something different. For the most part we really had a nice time, notice I am not saying "GREAT" time. The ship was beautiful, our cabin ... Read More
We chose a river cruise because we have been on at least 20 ocean cruises and we wanted something different. For the most part we really had a nice time, notice I am not saying "GREAT" time. The ship was beautiful, our cabin was clean and comfortable and the crew was wonderful. We enjoyed the smaller passenger count, we had 181 and only having two decks to really have to navigate was quite nice. On the flip side....we were the youngest passengers by 15-20 years and many of these people are quite slow. We had many walking tours, even though we were divided up in 4 groups, many of the "older" passengers could not keep up, hence it slowed the rest of us down. I really think they need to put the passengers in groups by giving them a walking test of some sort. The average age is 70-80, yes they are all well traveled people BUT they are in denial of their limitations. I wish Viking would market to younger people that are more active. We could have used some bikes on the boat to just take out at our leisure, as I know other river cruise lines do this. We missed not having a fitness center even though we walked everyday. Everyday was so structured, you get up, eat breakfast, go to the buses, do the tour, come back and eat lunch and the afternoon may or may not be at your leisure. The best day was when we were actually cruising during the day to see the castles along the Rhine, it was so much more leisurely and we didn't feel rushed in the morning. The headset idea for hearing the guide is wonderful (if they work). That way if you lagged behind to take pictures, you could still hear what they were saying. We had a wonderful cruise director, Tom, he kept us in stitches and was very organized. We had an excellent cabin steward, she kept our room spotless and with plenty of clean towels. The food on the cruise got better with each day, not sure why they did it that way but the dining room was understaffed. Many nights our ordered was taken by the maitre d, one night we didn't even get our meal until 9:00 and we entered the dining room at 7:00. A little short staffed in the dining room. No assigned tables so everyone herds into the dining room at the appointed time. The one nice thing is the portion sizes are quite a bit smaller than a normal cruise ship, the wine was free flowing but god forbid you want a beer at dinnertime...good luck. The buffet lunch upstairs is very nice but sitting at tiny tables with 4 people got to be just impossible. We would go on another, but not for another 20 years or so. Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
We are both retired and decided to try a first time river cruise. We booked a Rhine River Cruise, Amsterdam to Basel, with Viking River Cruises, first week in June 2012 aboard the ship Viking Sun. We did our home work before we booked ... Read More
We are both retired and decided to try a first time river cruise. We booked a Rhine River Cruise, Amsterdam to Basel, with Viking River Cruises, first week in June 2012 aboard the ship Viking Sun. We did our home work before we booked and selected Viking River Cruises based on the advertised quality of the holiday package we could expect. The total holiday cost was £4,500.00 for 1 weeks cruising. The ship, Viking Sun, offered a warm and welcoming atmosphere. We found all the staff to be polite, courteous and very friendly, nothing was too much trouble. The friendliness of the staff was a most welcoming feature. Our grade "A" stateroom was very clean and well presented, exactly as advertised. Our cabin was serviced very efficiently with a good level of attention being given to detail of presentation. The only negative comment justified is the restrict number of hangers in the wardrobe, only 4/5 each -- would have liked a couple more at least. The lounge and bar was well presented and comfortable with excellent friendly service from the bar staff. The lunch time and evening entertainment from the resident pianist created a relaxing atmosphere. The dining room is light and airy, and well staffed. Could not fault the buffet breakfast, ( 7-9am ) every conceivable breakfast item, hot or cold was available to meet any guests needs. Lunch ( 12-2pm ) could be taken in the dining room ( 3 course formal ) or the lounge where a buffet selection was available -- once again cannot fault the food selection available. The evening meal is at a fixed time, 7.0pm which consequently generates a "school meal" queuing approach followed by a mad dash for a table ( tables are not reserved ), once again the dining experience was enjoyable as was the complimentary wine. Our main gripe of the holiday centred around the dining room. We did not like the fixed time for dinner for the reasons mention above, 7.0 -- 7.30pm would have alleviated some of the uncomfortableness associated with mature adults queuing and vying for a place to eat. We also noted that though the dress code for dinner was "casual smart" we were somewhat surprised to find that some guest ( mature adults ) could not progress beyond jeans, tee shirt and trainers. The worst aspect of the dinning room experience was what appeared to be the determined need by the dining room staff to clear every glass, plate, dish the minute it was finished with, consequently plates were being cleared from a table while other table guest were still eating, - we found this unacceptable, and unprofessional. We thoroughly enjoyed our river cruise and would consider booking with Viking River Cruises again. We would rate the Ship, Accommodation and the Service as a "4 star" experience, but still consider that value for money the weeks cruise is over price. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
Rhine Discovery (Rhine Getaway), Basel to Amsterdam, October 2015 on the Viking Sun. Just returned from the holiday. Second tine with Viking but as this was a different class of ship at a different time of year I’m not going to ... Read More
Rhine Discovery (Rhine Getaway), Basel to Amsterdam, October 2015 on the Viking Sun. Just returned from the holiday. Second tine with Viking but as this was a different class of ship at a different time of year I’m not going to compare the two. In short, brilliant!! The Sun is an older ship but it was difficult to tell. Clean, light and comfortable with all public areas well appointed, 2 dining areas, the main restaurant for a served meal with an alternative lunch menu in the lounge. Stateroom - We had the basic room 170 sq ft with water level window. More than enough room, again very well appointed (no fridge unfortunately). Food - outstanding in every respect. Plenty of choice, beautifully prepared and presented. Chef Mario and his team have many other choices available (not necessarily on the menu) and also catered for those with allergies, etc. Complimentary wine - good quality and continually on offer during meal times. Staff - worked extremely hard to make sure we were well looked after. Our maid (Jenny) was excellent, visiting the stateroom several times every day ensuring the room was always tidy. Service staff likewise, waiters/waitresses attentive and always on hand as were the bar staff. Programme Director (Boyan) and Concierge (Andrea, I think, apologies if this is not spelt correctly) did not stop working to ensure the holiday was a complete success and nothing was too much trouble. Entertainment - Excellent pianist in the lounge. Eccentric to say the least. He was not just a classical pianist, this guy could play anything. We had Elton John (with the big glasses), Elvis (with the wig), Robbie Williams and a host of others. Final night party was particularly good. Other events and presentation were also very informative. Ports of call and tours - interesting places and the tours (by bus and on foot) were well organised and informative. Could have been a bit warmer but that’s what you risk if you book in October. The weather is probably the one thing Viking can’t do anything about. Value for money - what I paid for what I got was outstanding value. In summary - Considering the time of year (with the cooler weather) we had a great time, met some interesting people, saw some beautiful cities and eat some fantastic food. The Sun is leaving the Viking fleet at the end of 2015, but that is no refection of the state of the ship nor the service on board. Thanks (again) Viking, we’ll be back. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
Viking Sun (Retired) Ratings
Category Editor Member
Rates 3.0 3.9

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