We booked this cruise along with 5 other couples. We arrived in Amsterdam 4 days early then went on the cruise. We felt totally taken care of the whole time. The food was great, something for everyone. The bar was good not too expensive, ... Read More
We booked this cruise along with 5 other couples. We arrived in Amsterdam 4 days early then went on the cruise. We felt totally taken care of the whole time. The food was great, something for everyone. The bar was good not too expensive, and the excursions (Included) were fantastic. We had great guides at each stop, if you wanted there were optional excursions to so you could go all day if you wanted. They also made groups for those that had mobility or stamina issues. they saw what we did, just didn't have to walk or climb as far.
The staff was awesome, what ever you needed they took care of it or found a way. There were folks that didn't book transportation through Viking but they assisted them with their transfers as well. This was a fantastic cruise! We highly recommend Viking. Read Less
This was our first cruise. I did not want to join one of the large ocean going cruise ships with hoards of travelers and this cruise was ideal for someone wanting a much smaller environment. From our original contact with Viking to our ... Read More
This was our first cruise. I did not want to join one of the large ocean going cruise ships with hoards of travelers and this cruise was ideal for someone wanting a much smaller environment. From our original contact with Viking to our final good-bye, the trip was all I could hope for and definitely more than I had imagined. The crew were amazing, the ship was great, the food was plentiful, always hot and provided lots of daily options, and the tours away from the ship (both offered through the package and optional ones) were terrific, as were the guides. We loved our cabin steward and all the towel animals that kept appearing on our bed. We met many nice travelers too. The tours were well planned and executed and gave us an excellent sense of the city or place we were visiting. The welcome back to the ship was always fun too! We did miss seeing a little of Basel because of lock issues but that change was handled very efficiently by VIking and we made up for it with more time in Breisach. We had chosen not to add on a pre-trip or post-trip excursion. Another time I would consider doing that and checking out the arrival or departure city a little more. We had Viking set up our airline flights as well and were very pleased with those. We have told our friends and acquaintances about the trip and encouraged them to check out Viking if they are looking for an amazing European river trip. We would highly recommend to anyone. Read Less
Just returned from a wonderful Rhine River trip on the Viking Helvetia. The food was terrific, and service was superb. Bottomless wine glasses at lunch and dinner were a treat and the "Silver Package" at the bar made imbibing in ... Read More
Just returned from a wonderful Rhine River trip on the Viking Helvetia. The food was terrific, and service was superb. Bottomless wine glasses at lunch and dinner were a treat and the "Silver Package" at the bar made imbibing in the evening guilt-free (and affordable). Some observations: Top deck rooms cost more because they are worth it! We had virtually no noise issues from engine noise, plumbing sounds, etc. Going down river might have made it more quiet than doing it the other direction.
The multi-national staff people are not merely courteous, they are downright friendly, interesting and funny. Admittedly, they are bucking for the blanket tip at the end of the week that is split among the crew, but they will divulge details of their own personal information when asked, and they remember individual customer preferences early on. The suggested tips seem pretty high initially, but when you realize that these people go many consecutive weeks (in some cases, months!) without seeing family, you appreciate the sacrifice they make. Rewarding them well for a job well done feels like the right thing to do.
And whoever arranged for perfect September weather deserves the biggest tip......! The included land tours were mostly very interesting, and the walking required was both welcome and necessary after the decadent life enjoyed on-board. All in all, this was a most pleasant experience. Read Less
Viking representatives met us at the airport and offered help with baggage, answering questions, and provided overall information. The Hotel Movenpick staff, for the most part were courteous. The receptionist at the desk when we arrived ... Read More
Viking representatives met us at the airport and offered help with baggage, answering questions, and provided overall information. The Hotel Movenpick staff, for the most part were courteous. The receptionist at the desk when we arrived spoke curtly and seemed to recite a "rule book." The Concierge, however answered questions, gave us needed information, and assisted us with storing our luggage. The Viking representative at the hotel was outstanding. We found the ship staff to be gracious, accommodating and attentive. The staff kept the ship clean and orderly; all maintained an air of professionalism, yet maintained a warm and friendly attitude. We thoroughly enjoyed the shore excursions and found that they offered an outstanding snapshot of the history and culture of the area. One of our favorite sites was the Music museum; the chocolate factory in Colon also is on the top of the list. Our guide in Colon was bright and entertaining. He proved to be hard act to follow as we continued on the tour. Disembarkation was smooth. We appreciated the assistance Viking provided at the airport in Switzerland.
I definitely recommend this company. We are planning to go on another Viking cruise in the near future. Read Less
I was very disappointed in the cruise. I had been looking forward to it based on reviews read but they did not tell the whole story it seems. The ship is old and does not always function properly. The air conditioning in our room (311) was ... Read More
I was very disappointed in the cruise. I had been looking forward to it based on reviews read but they did not tell the whole story it seems. The ship is old and does not always function properly. The air conditioning in our room (311) was non existent 90% of the time and when questioned, the staff admitted "well it does not work too good on that side of the ship." It seems to work in the public areas and one side but not the other side of the ship Unless of course they want you to vacate an area and then it seems they turn it off completely in that area. The last night of the cruise the dining room got so hot at the end of the meal that everyone was using the menu's to fan themselves so of course they got their wish and people got up and left instead of being able to relax and visit after eating. The same thing was done the morning of debarkation to the rooms so people would vacate the rooms for cleaning.
The food served was expertly cooked and tasted wonderful however the selection available was really limited and some very strange choices. We had one night where EVERYTHING was made with Mushrooms. Appetizers, Entrees, and even the desert ! They call it their theme night. From what I understand on the previous cruise the week earlier it was all Asparagus. The deserts were very limited selection and thank heavens they at least had vanilla ice cream available as an alternative if you asked.
We had one night we tried to go the library at the back of the boat to play some cards and it was impossible to even hear each other with all the noise and the shaking of the boat as it cruised. I cannot even imagine what the people in the rooms in the back of the boat had to put up with. We had to leave the room just to get rid of the headache caused.
The staff was Superior! They were very helpful and they arranged even our private transportation for debarkation. The staff in the dining room were very friendly and did the very best they could but unfortunately it appeared they did not have the staff necessary for the amount of tables. The first night was very good but after that you could not even get your water glass refilled let alone the wine that was supposed to be provided at the meals. Lunch was worse than dinner because they had some staff go to the lounge to assist with the buffet lunch served there. The lunch in the lounge varied day to day and there was no communication of what was being served. Most people missed the special 4th of July luncheon prepared with hamburgers, ribs, corn on the cob, apple pie and watermelon because there was absolutely no communication about it. Read Less
Warning! This is lengthy, but in-depth. My husband and I vacationed with another couple (all in our 50s). Our flight arrived in Basel, Switzerland after a very difficult day trying to coordinate flights on British Airways. Out original ... Read More
Warning! This is lengthy, but in-depth. My husband and I vacationed with another couple (all in our 50s). Our flight arrived in Basel, Switzerland after a very difficult day trying to coordinate flights on British Airways. Out original flight was supposed to take off in the morning but ended up leaving at 6:00 P.M. We travelled from the mid-atlantic region of the U.S. to Basel, by way of London. Lots of red tape and over six hours of waiting in London, but we made it!
After most of the guests had boarded the ship, our flight landed and we were shuttled out of the airport - whereabouts unknown. It was after we were settled on the motor coach that we found out the following: Due to much rain in previous days, our ship could not dock in Basel, so we took the bus to Breisach, Germany. Okay, Basel. It was nice seeing you for five minutes.
We arrived just in time for dinner. The friendly food crew takes your order using iPhones. The menu is heavy with meat dishes, so as a healthy eater I found it to be a bit of a challenge. However, the food I could eat was tasty and reflected the region. The others on board (who eat meat and poultry) enjoyed every bite. Food and drink is plentiful. Your wine glass was never empty!
We were exhausted, but after dinner listened to a brief welcome from crew. Afterwards, we went right to bed.
The cabin was more spacious than I expected. The comforters are interesting and different. There are two on each side of the king bed. The windows opened only a little from the side, rather than in the center, and were not floor to ceiling, but rather in the center of the wall. You had to move the chair and curtain away each time you opened the window. This wasn’t a problem, but was not what I expected. It wasn't a bad thing and we were used to it in no time. The bathroom was also roomier than I thought it would be, and had very nice amenities. The crew freshened up the room practically every time we left the cabin. Great service!
After a nice night in our comfy bed, we looked out the window to find lots of swans in the river. Very pretty. After a buffet breakfast, we left at precisely 8:30 for our first tour. Before every tour, on your way out, there is a basket filled with giant, sturdy red Viking umbrellas - enough for every passenger. This is a great idea! They also provided you with an individual bottle of water to take along. Each and every tour, lecture, meeting, and meal was exactly on time.
It was about an hour ride from Breisach to the base of the Black Forrest. We hiked up the forrest and had some views of a waterfall. It was raining, and the trail was a little slippery, but nice. The town was a little bit of a tourist trap with a few shops selling cuckoo clocks and local items. There was both a glass-blowing and Black Forest cake-making demonstration.
We went back to the Helvetia for a delicious lunch (which always featured a few light menu items as well as a salad-making buffet and nice cheese selection). Lunch and dinner always included a never-ending glass of wine or beer. Afterwards, we had a brief muster-station demonstration.
Then, we went on a 50-minute-long bus ride to Colmar in the Alsace Region. WOW!!! Think: The Brothers' Grimm meets Disney World. This is one of the most picturesque places I could've imagined. Every turn, down every cobblestone street, brought a unique and beautiful view. The homes and shops looked like they jumped right out of an ancient fairy tale. Words cannot describe the colors, textures, and variety of design in this architectural mecca. We drove through the village in a modern choo-choo train with a local guide. He explained the history of the city and pointed out various sections (such as Little Venice).
We then had an hour to walk around and explore the city on our own. After 30 minutes the sky opened up and we went to our meeting place, damp with rain. Then, it was back to the ship for dinner.
We set sail (for the first time) at 10:45 P.M. to our next destination. The send-off was noisy, and a lot of people woke up during the night when we passed through several locks.
I did not sleep at all. The noise of the ship was disturbing. I finally got out of bed at 4:30 A.M. and went to get some coffee in the lounge. We were already docked. The weather was chilly, and it was raining heavily. A lot of people were awake due to the noise and jet lag.
Our trip to Strousburg, France began early. We took a motor coach to the city center and drove for a while. We passed by many stork's nests, the Jewish section, and government buildings, churches, etc. We also toured Notre-Dame Cathedral. It had a fascinating astronomical clock inside.
Afterwards, we decided to walk around the city for a few hours while shopping, drinking wine, & eating an onion tart at one cafe - and ordering champagne and the most amazing cheese plate at another. The cheeses were displayed in a huge dome which was in the Guinness Book of World Records. What a remarkable city!
We returned to the ship and had dinner. Afterwards, we played a trivia game in the lounge It was fun! I sleep quite well that night!
We woke up refreshed & ready to take on Heidelberg! Early in the morning, we took a tour of the city's Louis XIV castle on the Nektar River, and were given a talk about Germany's education system, religions, and politics. Interesting, but just a short 45 minutes in town before our next cast-off to the town of Rudesheim.
We went up to the sun deck where it was cold and windy. There was a wheel room tour given by the captain, which was short. We emerged and the sky lit up with bright sunlight - and stopped being windy. Now we were fully relaxed. As the beauty of the cruise finally began, we went past several German cities situated on the Rhine featuring rolling vineyards, monasteries, mansions, and castles. Sooooo Spectacular! This was the Viking Cruise I saw in the ads.
We returned to the cabin for a quick nap and ate an early dinner. Then, we walked the "plank" to the small village of Rudesheim. Surprisingly, most of the shops were closed. With nothing else to do, we went to a Biergarten. It was a quaint, vine-covered, open-aired pub featuring a live German band. And, it was crowded. Another fun night!
The early part of the day was spent simply sailing along the middle Rhine at its most scenic. Along the way were sheep, cows, and horses grazing near the rivers's edge - some even wading in the water! Beautiful architecture could be seen for miles and miles. We saw high cliffs with spectacular castles jutting out next to fortresses built for nobility.
After a while, we docked near the William I memorial in Koblenz. Above the river was a funicular taking passengers to the town fortress by cable car. We watched the crew expertly tie up the ship and walked right off into the town.
The shore excursion took us to Marksburg, a 700-year-old fortress, which lies above a steep hill. It was supposed to be a strenuous walk to get there from the bus and even inside the castle, but was not that bad. You can do as much or as little as you'd like each day. A lot of people chose not to do this tour. The castle was a medieval example of life in the 14th century.
Dinner on the ship was a buffet selection of Germany’s finest cuisine. It was not the finest of food for a vegetarian like me, and featured no sit-down service.
We docked in the middle of town along a lovely area in Cologne. During the morning walking tour, we learned of all the destruction that took place during World War II. Not much is still standing. We walked past the ancient synagogue and into the town square. The town castle (The Dom) was beautiful. Afterwards, we walked around the city and ate lunch at a bustling outdoor cafe.
The Kolner Zoo was next! I heard that this zoo is wonderful (it was!) so off we went. A bumpy, hot choo-choo train ride took us to the Kolner Zoo, located next to the botanical gardens and aquarium. We only had about two hours, and went to see this remarkable zoo featuring an enormous and spectacular elephant park and hippo dome. Exhausted and hot, we got back on the train and were able to see the city in-depth. Modern by necessity, it is a pretty city.
Our last day on the cruise was spent in Kinderdjik, The Netherlands. At first, I wasn't sure I was even interested in getting off the ship for an afternoon tour, as there was literally nothing in this village but a bunch of windmills. I was quite wrong! Our guide led us over the canal to the below-sea-level area where the windmills were, lined up side-by-side. We were taught the inner workings and the daily lives of the "millers” as well as the water management system. We even had a chance to step in the (huge) wooden shoes on our way out of the village. Very, very informative. Not at all a tourist trap, as we first thought. Suddenly, it was late afternoon and time for our final dinner aboard the Viking.
We woke up in perfect, sunny Amsterdam. Our trip was extended by two days, as is an option. The hotel of choice (Movenpick) was too far from everything, but was otherwise a gorgeous property. We said our goodbyes, disembarked early, and were taken to our hotel. It was an easy process. After a few minutes spent checking in, our walking tour of the city began from the hotel lobby.
Unfortunately, our tour guide was not the most informative. She was the only Viking guide who disappointed us. We had no direction from her and the city is not easy to understand. We ended up leaving the tour early, as we had to make it to the Anne Frank House for a timed tour. It was an exceptional and unforgettable experience.
Afterwards, we strolled through Dam Square and the red light district, sampled liquors at Wynand Fockink, and stumbled over canal bridges while dodging bicycles, cars, and motorcycles at every turn. There is no one on their cell phone in Amsterdam. You cannot look down for even one instant for fear you will be killed! We ended up walking for about 12 straight hours while making our way back to our hotel and into a bed which wasn’t floating.
Our goal was to find transportation, and we found it at Centraal Station. After much confusion the day before, we finally figured out the tram system enough to get us to our destinations.
The morning was spent eating breakfast at Movenpick's elaborate buffet. What the hotel lacks in location it makes up for in breakfast! We then went on an hour-long canal ride. It was fun! Afterwards, we made our way to the museum area and finally got to the Rijksmuseum! It was thoroughly enjoyable.
Hungry after so much activity, we went to Sama Sebo for an authentic rijstafel (rice table) at an Indonesian restaurant. Yummy. With no grass growing under our feet, we headed for "the 9 streets” district for some shopping.
We went back to the hotel to recharge before dining at a trendy restaurant for our last dinner on vacation. It was a delicious meal Back into bed for our last night in Europe.
I wish it could’ve started all over again...
Wonderful cruise.. Everything was top notch. The tours were great with local guides who really knew the best information - and Viking knows how to get you to the spots you want to see ahead of the crowds. On board crew and staff were ... Read More
Wonderful cruise.. Everything was top notch. The tours were great with local guides who really knew the best information - and Viking knows how to get you to the spots you want to see ahead of the crowds. On board crew and staff were outstanding. We truly can't think of one bad thing to say and will definitely do Viking again.
One tip for Viking travelers, if you enjoy a cocktail or two: The package includes drinks - including wine & beer - with meals. If you want a cocktail while relaxing on deck in the afternoon or after dinner, invest in the Silver Spirits package. Reasonably priced and the staff will never let your glass be empty -- unless you cut them off. :) Read Less
I had heard people rave about how wonderful these river cruises were with Viking. Unfortunately, for the amount of money we paid, I was rather disappointed. I will start with the positive: The people who worked aboard the ship were ... Read More
I had heard people rave about how wonderful these river cruises were with Viking. Unfortunately, for the amount of money we paid, I was rather disappointed. I will start with the positive: The people who worked aboard the ship were terrific, the food was incredible, the excursions were extraordinary, and the scenery on the river was out of this world. My husband and I went during early June and the temperatures were anywhere from 75-80 F(perfect) so there is not reason why we were hot aboard the ship the majority of the time. I was uncomfortable at times during the night and during dinner. Secondly, the advertisement for Viking is that everything is inclusive. That's true if you are happy with one included excursion per day which was over by lunch time at 12:30. After lunch you could do one of 3 things: 1) Take a nap, 2) Get off the ship by yourself and explore but sometimes you were not near the city center, 3) Or PAY for another excursion which is what we did if we wanted something to do during the afternoon. I was also disappointed with the all inclusive beer and wine during lunch and dinner. The wine was terrible and cheap! They served cheap wine from Australia on a European river cruise. So my husband and I opted to buy an additional wine package for the two of us. Also, their is no evening entertainment that is good so basically you can hang out at the bar after dinner, go to your room at 8:30, or go for an evening stroll(and again you may not be at a city center). Our room was also a box. I have never stayed in such a small room on a ship before.
I'm not saying there weren't beautiful and exquisite parts to this river cruise but Viking should not advertise "all inclusive" when it really isn't up to superior standards for what you pay.
Along the Rhine River, there are so many castles at one point you can barely turn fast enough to capture them all; but you reflect on just what a gorgeous ride one is having with ALL the amenities those castles don't have.
The food ... Read More
Along the Rhine River, there are so many castles at one point you can barely turn fast enough to capture them all; but you reflect on just what a gorgeous ride one is having with ALL the amenities those castles don't have.
The food is Americanized for the taste buds of most on the cruise, yet added local additions make it interesting. All of it wonderful and well prepared.
Breakfast on board each day, an excursion, then lunch back at the ship, and options for the afternoon make it a perfect balance and then dinner and entertainment if you care to stay up late.
The size of the Viking cruise ships is perfect. Not overwhelming, and they are perfect at their services from the port and shore excursions and the state of art coach buses they use on those. Ear headsets that give crystal clear voice to those locals they have hired to give you the history or flare of the sites while on the excursions.
If I had endless money, I'd be on these nearly non-stop. What a gorgeous way to see the world. I booked my own cabin but traveling with a cousin and her husband in the room next door. It was wonderful to go to sleep looking out the patio type doors and watching the lights of the river go by. Read Less
We booked the cruise to coincide with our Golden Wedding Anniversary. Viking cruises are not cheap. This cruise on the Rhine worked out at over £500, per day, for the two of us. We expected, I think quite rightly, a degree of luxury for ... Read More
We booked the cruise to coincide with our Golden Wedding Anniversary. Viking cruises are not cheap. This cruise on the Rhine worked out at over £500, per day, for the two of us. We expected, I think quite rightly, a degree of luxury for this price. we did tell Viking it would be our Golden Wedding before we left. We got an email from their head office to congratulate us. However, this information was not passed on to the ship, and when my husband mentioned it at reception, they denied all knowledge of our anniversary.. We did eventually get a cheesecake and a bottle of Cava!.
We thought that the food was OK, but no better than that The wine with lunch and dinner was also OK. It won't win any awards though.! There was not any room service, nor any beverage facilities in the room. We had to forgo our usual early morning cup of tea. We could have got dressed and gone to make our own in the bar area, but that didn't seem worth it to us.
Also there is no lift. Most of the passengers were well over 60, and many found it very difficult to climb the stairs. There are three flights of stairs between the bottom deck and the sun deck.
The cabin was small, and we expected that, but there was no luxury about it at all. The shower room was utilitarian with an awful plastic shower curtain, that wrapped itself around me every day. Ugh.
The mainly Eastern European staff kept the cabin very clean though. Full marks for that.
There's little or no entertainment on board. There's a very good piano player, there were run of the mill quizzes on two evenings and also visiting duos on two evenings.
There was also a lecture on the European Union one night! This is an holiday for goodness sake! This talk, unsurprisingly, was very badly attended. There were no more than 20 people attending.
The tours were quite well organised and we really enjoyed Strasbourg. The excursions were, without doubt, the best bit of an otherwise lacklustre cruise.
We were upset at the very hard sell, George, the Cruise director, gave on the last night at the disembarkation meeting. He requested that we leave 168 euros for the general staff and 28 euros for him!
He made us feel like we'd be cheapskates if we didn't do this.
The way that this was said, left a very nasty taste in our mouths. We took this fact of a hard sell up twice, with Viking on our return, but they were not interested!
Overall, a disappointing cruise. We met many lovely people on the cruise. This went some way to make up for all of the shortcomings.
Would we cruise with Viking again?
NO! Read Less
My husband and I (early 50s) and two adult sons (early 20s) traveled in May on Viking's Helvetia from Basel to Amsterdam. It a second Viking cruise for my husband and I, a first for the kids.
We were in lower level cabins and were ... Read More
My husband and I (early 50s) and two adult sons (early 20s) traveled in May on Viking's Helvetia from Basel to Amsterdam. It a second Viking cruise for my husband and I, a first for the kids.
We were in lower level cabins and were quite suprised at how spacious the rooms, bathrooms and storage were. The ceilings were quite high, preventing the cabins from feeling cave-like. Our windows were large picture windows at water level. The rooms were very clean and were well cleaned and organized every day. Our room stewards were lovely young women who decorated with Happy Birthday signs and cute towel animals on my birthday. They were really happy when I thanked them for remembering my birthday.
Having travelled last winter on Magni on the Danube Waltz, we knew to expect early breakfasts and fairly tight schedules to off shore excursions. They kids were blown away by the expansive breakfast selections--the first morning they discovered how much they needed to pace themselves! I found fruit, yogurt and a little piece of bakery to be plenty and the guys were all over the cheese and meat boards and traditional breakfast offerings. We have Benz as our server during our trip (we found a table and stuck with it the entire trip) and he was very attentive and quick to know our names and preferences.
My birthday was on our travel-arrival day and my husband had sweetly planned ahead and ordered a birthday cake. The entire service crew came over to sing happy birthday and I got a lovely mango cheesecake, beautifully decorated and plenty to share with our table of 4 plus 2 new friends sitting with us. We observed several other celebrations during our week-long cruise. The staff approached me later in the evening as I went back to our cabin and was wished Happy Birthday. I love that attention to detail.
The excursions were fun and informative. My husband and I did the Alsace Wine Road tour and the kids went to Mercedes Benz. We all did Colmar, the Black Forest, Strassbourg, Heidelburg, the evening German Dinner in Rudesheim, Marksburg Castle, Cologne and Kinderdjik. You do have to get up and get moving--there's not a lot of relaxation opportunity on this trip. The one full cruising day was the passage on the middle Rhine as we coasted past castle after castle. We were blessed with gorgeous blue skies and high 70s that day and everyone was on the top take basking in the view. If I have a complaint (ok, it is a complaint) the potty stops are far and few between. I found myself on more than one occassion dodging off into alleys and random galleries looking for a WC while the tour continued on. After a breakfast of coffee and juice and a transport to a location and then another hour or so of walking, I know I wasn't the only one doing the "gotta go" dance. Once a WC was located, the tour guides lost the battle of keeping everyone in line. We did include this comment with suggestions to Viking in our survey they have you fill out at the end.
Our Cruise Director was George and he was really good. Being young, we didn't require a lot of assistance but we did observe him pushing guests in wheelchairs, helping elderly frail guests on and off the boat and bringing walkers to guests in the public areas. He is "on" duty 24 hours a day and even though he fell on the wet gangway and hurt his back and blew his knee out during our cruise, he managed to smile and keep on going. I have a lot of respect for people like George who know they will never be able to please everyone, listens to complainers and still manage to remain calm, gracious and in good humor. Well done George! At the German dinner he joined our table and sat for all of 6 minutes--he kept jumping up to assist, lead, direct and entertain.
We have a third Viking cruise booked for December. We loved the Christmas markets and plan to do the Heart of Germany cruise. We've recommended Viking to several friends (some who've already travelled and concurred that their high expectations were completely exceeded) and will continue to praise and recommend Viking.
My husband and I both work in the Health Care industry with long careers in service--in particular, I work in long term care. I appreciate the challenges of coordinating travel with elderly guests. Viking does, at this point, draw a fairly elder guest cohort--a quick observation of two cruises would say the average age is close to 70-75. Most of the guests are very sprightly and don't need assistance or attention other than just being treated like valued guests. But I thought they really did a great job of atending to the needs of those who needed assistance or a slower pace. (After reading some of the other recent reviews, I wanted to add that--I appreciate everyone has a difference lens through which they experience things, but as one who works in the "industry" I observed a lot of very caring and attentive behaviors on behalf of Viking's team.)
We wanted to take my elderly mother on a river cruise as this was something she really wanted to do, so we booked with Viking for a jaunt down the Rhine. At the time of booking we specifically requested assistance at airports and received ... Read More
We wanted to take my elderly mother on a river cruise as this was something she really wanted to do, so we booked with Viking for a jaunt down the Rhine. At the time of booking we specifically requested assistance at airports and received confirmation that we would have suitable help (my mother needs a wheelchair where is a lot of walking involved). It wasn’t until the very end of the booking process that we discovered there was no lift in the ship. Luckily, my mother is able to cope with walking short distances.
We were also very specific about my dietary requirements which are not hard to manage and require only a modicum of forethought to ensure my comfort and wellbeing.
On arriving at Heathrow, we received no assistance and had to make our own way through with the wheelchair and hand baggage as best we could, which was very frustrating and made the journey more challenging. The same happened when we reached Basel - no assistance at all. We had to make our way through the airport with all of our luggage and my mother in her wheelchair!
We were greeted with great enthusiasm by various Viking representatives, however it was only then that we were told we would have to be on a coach for another hour and a half as the water level was too high for the ship to actually reach Basel. They will have known this in advance and it would have been nice to have been told that there was a problem – email is quick and efficient and seems to work when they require payment!
The ship was clean and the greeting was efficient and friendly. We were shown our rooms and settled in. We booked cabins on the lower deck, not realising the issues that we would face. We had assumed (based on the blurb) that we wouldn’t be in the cabins much and so didn’t really need a large window or balcony – how wrong we were. The ship travels mainly at night, and the engine noise was deafening, meaning that on many of the nights we had very little sleep and what we did have was disturbed and uncomfortable. This really put a downer on the trip as we had to manage ourselves and ensure my mother was OK. She struggled with all the steps, but seemed fine with negotiating the ship itself. The majority of the staff were very helpful and took tremendously good care of my mother. Especially when she got lost!
Unfortunately, some of the plumbing was faulty and by the second day on board we had issues with the shower not draining and the bathroom floor being covered with water. The problem was “fixed”, but happened again the following day – this time there was so much water (some of it coming up from the drain) that it poured into the main room, soaking an area of carpet. Luckily for us there was a spare cabin across the corridor and we were able to move to a dry room. This matter was handled reasonably well, but was not very pleasant and gave cause for concern as we heard that other cabins had had similar problems, although not as severe as ours. In addition, after we moved to the other cabin, we found that our bed was not being made and the room wasn’t being cleaned. We raised this on several occasions over two-three days before the issue was properly dealt with.
The food was generally good, the service was reasonable and the chef was a delightful man who kept coming out with freshly prepared goodies for everyone to try. However, no account was taken of my specific food allergy, and I had to keep mentioning it and asking about the ingredients in each dish. Some evenings I had very few options indeed. While on board we met some lovely people, one of whom is vegetarian. She had even more problems than I, as the majority of the meals were meat based, so she had to eat either pasta or salad at most of the evening meals. For the price we paid, this is simply unacceptable, yet no matter what we said, nothing was done to address these issues. My allergies were generally accommodated by simply omitting elements of meals, but I did have to regularly send meals back to be changed, which was annoying and unnecessary.
Seating at all meals was haphazard as it was completely open, so sometimes we struggled to find three seats together, or even to be seated at the same table. Breakfast was very early and quite short. If the included excursion had an early departure (which many of them did) it was a bit of a bunfight to get to breakfast and get away in time. Again, the staff did their best to be helpful and friendly and they worked hard to get things done and keep people happy, so it was difficult to have to keep asking for things and not get them. One morning we asked for some tea, but it never arrived, and the staff all vanished into the mist. No idea what happened there.
When we had to stay on the ship, on the days the ship was moving and during the evenings, apart from eating there was very little to do. We do not drink and although there was a (very capable) pianist in the bar area, it rapidly became monotonous spending time gazing out of the window with no other activity available. On one evening there was a bizarre dance competition, but other than that, not much.
Most of the included excursions were quite short and involved a bit of a coach ride and it rapidly became clear that the included excursions were scheduled early to make room for the “optional” trips, which were clearly geared to getting more money out of the passengers.
Most excursions were well organised and efficient, but there was such a lot of sitting around on coaches – granted these were comfortable and air-conditioned - that we eventually felt we were on the wrong trip. Although most of these excursions involved some walking, once back on the ship, we often felt very confined.
We also had problems with my mother requiring a wheelchair. Unless my husband, who heroically pushed my mother around on every excursion, specifically asked for guidance (ie, “I can’t get the wheelchair up those steps, is there an alternative route?”) allowance was very seldom made for our specific issues.
Of particular note was the Strasbourg excursion, where we kept being left behind.
There was a photo opportunity which involved climbing up three flights of stairs, which of course we could not do. We found a wheelchair-friendly lift and managed to explain to the (very helpful) attendant (with the assistance of another passenger who spoke very good French) that we wanted to go up to see the view. No Viking personnel were on hand to assist us in any way. Another lady who walked with a stick was also having difficulty and she came with us in the lift. Once at the top, we stayed long enough to take some photos and gaze at the view, then came down again only to find that the party had moved on. At this point, my mother asked to use the nearby restroom, so we helped her into there and waited. The program director, whose prior demeanour had been rather jolly, came thundering in and told us with enormous impatience that we needed to keep up with the group.
On explaining that my mother needed the loo, he became even grumpier and told us we would have to rely on the radios (used by the guides for the ongoing commentary) to find where everybody was, My husband pointed out that the range of the radios was quite short, which nearly resulted in an argument about the quality of the radios, until my husband pointed out he could still see the guide crossing a bridge and the audio commentary was already breaking up quite badly. The program director showed a distinct lack of consideration and from that point on we were acutely aware that his air of jollity was entirely artificial. He did not help us at all. However, in spite of his churlish conduct, we managed to catch up with the group. The guide seemed blissfully unaware that we had been missing. What would have happened if we hadn’t been able to catch up, I wonder?
We paid for only one excursion and it was a nightmare. We were taken to the venue on a “choo-choo” train which was really a tractor. This was not pleasant over cobble stones!! The restaurant was noisy and although the promise was “a meal and a show”, it was clear that the show was just the resident band doing their thing. The meal was a fixed menu (not made clear before we signed up) and consisted mainly of things we could not or did not want to eat. The food was slopped down in front of us and when I pointed out I could not eat the food it was simply taken a way and an alternative provided. I was not asked what I wanted – none of us were. It was awful. The restaurant menu was available but not provided and it became clear later that we could have obtained a better meal from the same restaurant with a short walk into town – and for half the price! We felt utterly ripped off and misled and we were not alone. It was supposed to be a fun night out, but it was anything but fun! Ironically the following night’s meal was also a German food night, which was immeasurably better. If this had been the paid excursion, it would have been good value. Also, if we had known that the on-board German food night would be the following evening, we wouldn’t have wasted our money on the excursion.
The TV commercials that persuaded us to sign up, depict the ships sailing along during the day with glorious views, but we had only one day like that, the rest of the time we travelled either early or late in the day, or at night and were docked during the day, so (as mentioned) sleeping was a problem.
On departure, we again received no help at the airport at either end, although it was clear other (more mobile) passengers whom we had seen on the same ship, were being ferried from one area to another. Bearing in mind that the airport at Amsterdam is enormous, we walked for a long time with everything in tow and were tired and fed up by the time we reached the terminal. Not a great way to end a holiday.
Unfortunately, we had previously booked a Christmas trip with Viking for just my husband and me at the end of this year. However on the strength of our holiday experience, we have cancelled.
It will be of interest to others that Viking do not refund the deposit, even though we cancelled more than seven months out! Clearly they are only interested in making as much money as possible and are not interested in customer satisfaction.
We will never travel with Viking again and, should we book another river cruise (which at this juncture is unlikely) we will go out of our way to ensure we receive the level of service we believed we had paid for with this company. Overall it was a disappointing and frustrating experience.
We raised some of these issues when cancelling our Christmas trip, but Viking clearly do not care, so this review will be posted in as many places as possible as a warning to the unwary. If you have dietary issues, or need any help with your journey to or from the ship, do not travel with Viking as they will not keep their end of the bargain. Read Less
My husband and I were really looking forward to our first cruise with Viking--so much so that we were fearful that it wouldn't live up to our expectations. Well, believe it or not, it far exceeded them! They simply cannot do enough ... Read More
My husband and I were really looking forward to our first cruise with Viking--so much so that we were fearful that it wouldn't live up to our expectations. Well, believe it or not, it far exceeded them! They simply cannot do enough for you--and we highly recommend getting their Silver Spirits Package as it allows you to have a drink whenever you want one, and have the very best wine with every lunch and dinner (rather than the one the offer at the meals--which is also excellent wine as well). The food is absolutely first class with lots of variety at every meal. We had the lowest cost room on board (with not veranda), but it really didn't matter as you could always go to the lounge during the day as we were sailing--or go up top in nice weather (which it was!) to see the sites as you sail. The only negative comment we could give (and we shared our thoughts with Viking) is that there was no exercise facility on board the ship. Even though we walked everywhere we could, it just isn't the same as being able to exercise on board as well. However, we loved the experience so much we are taking the Viking River of Gold (Portugal and Spain) this summer with Viking. We guarantee you, you won't be disappointed with Viking! Read Less
We are experienced travelers. Who are not really keen about cruising. This trip from Basal to Amsterdam became one of the best experiences we've ever had.
While I've read horror stories (few and far between) they are ... Read More
We are experienced travelers. Who are not really keen about cruising. This trip from Basal to Amsterdam became one of the best experiences we've ever had.
While I've read horror stories (few and far between) they are exceptions.
We were picked up at the airport taken to the ship There was lunch waiting,room was ready and in general great first impression.
The room was on level 3 (great view) The bed was lofted so you could put your luggage under it.
The staff from the Program director down were just wonderful. I realize this is a business so I get somewhat skeptical of "nice" people.
However they were all sincere and blew me away.
The tours were great. The guides are all local and know their stuff when it comes to explaining what you are visiting.
There is enough "free time" to explore the towns or citiies you are visiting. If the ship is a little far from the town Viking makes sure there is a shuttle.
Before you embark on a tour, you are given a preview of what you will be seeing (conducted by visiting professors)
The food is wonderful. This is not typical "cruise ship food". For instance there was a lunch with just German food (when we entered Germany) just amazing (as well as wine/beer included during lunch and dinner)
One night I couldn't decide what I wanted for dinner. I asked for a steak. The steak was great,cooked perfect and huge.
In summation if you're looking for the "hairy chest" contest or midnight buffet. This is not for you.
If you are looking for a truly wonderful experience where everything you are told to expect comes to fruition
this is it.
I am one of the most skeptical people. Viking Cruises has created a convert
We boarded the Helvetia in Basel and were met at the airport by the Viking reps. You did not have to touch your bags as they took them from you and you next saw them at your door. Check in was a breeze. The ship was about 6 years old and ... Read More
We boarded the Helvetia in Basel and were met at the airport by the Viking reps. You did not have to touch your bags as they took them from you and you next saw them at your door. Check in was a breeze. The ship was about 6 years old and showed some age but was exceptionally clean and the crew was very upbeat. The food was good and the wine plentiful. If you are a wine snob you might not enjoy it but if you are like most it was very good. The weather was cold but it was November. The cruise director was a hoot and well versed in the area. The daily trips were informative and great fun. The wait staff knew your first name from the first day and they were very glad to see you at each meal. When you ended the tour they gave you information about tipping but did not push it. You were properly brought to the airport.
we had a French balcony and it was very clean and space was used wisely. It in fact was bigger than some cabins on ocean trip
Using Viking air is worth every penny and the flights are very direct. we have taken several ocean cruises and the smaller is better. you could not feel the boat even move. We have had good time and would do t again Read Less
The cruise was well planned and well executed with well appointed and impeccably clean cabins; or "staterooms" as they are termed. With a few notable exceptions, the staff were friendly and efficient although slightly overly ... Read More
The cruise was well planned and well executed with well appointed and impeccably clean cabins; or "staterooms" as they are termed. With a few notable exceptions, the staff were friendly and efficient although slightly overly familiar towards what are fare paying guests. However, although the executive chef was committed and capable within what we feel to be limitations imposed upon him by Viking, be they kitchen size, support chefs or ingredients, the result was no better than 'fair'. Certainly, the "Culinary Journey" comprising "multicourse dinners" etc, were simply not experienced and Viking excuse this on the basis that ones dining experience is "subjective". This neither explains dry, pre cooked and bony fish, gelatine based mouse etc. etc. nor the repeated insistence that food orders are taken (and often served) before one can enjoy brief convivial conversation and glass of wine with those with whom one is dining. One could be forgiven for concluding that the anticipation of the promised dining experience is overshadowed by the need to suit the limitations and convenience of Viking and their staff which is disappointing. Read Less
This was our first River Cruise having only previously undertaken Coastal Voyages in Norway. Ocean cruising with all the razzmataz does not appeal to us. We were not disappointed and everything exceeded our expectation. It was indeed ... Read More
This was our first River Cruise having only previously undertaken Coastal Voyages in Norway. Ocean cruising with all the razzmataz does not appeal to us. We were not disappointed and everything exceeded our expectation. It was indeed 'all inclusive' with amazing attention to detail. The only extras were drinks outside of mealtime, but during mealtime the supply of wine or beer was virtually unlimited. The cabins were spacious and well appointed with space under the bed for storing baggage. The 'optional' excursions were quite costly but the 'included' excursions were comprehensive. Individual headsets meant that you could hear the tour guide even if you were 100 yards away.
First impressions at embarkation were allitle off-putting as the high pitch happy welcome at the desk was akin to Hi-de-Hi holiday camp.
The only thing we felt uncomfortable with was the gratuities situation. We do not have a tipping culture. The publicity emphasizes that gratuities are optional but 48 hours before the end of the voyage announcements were being regularly made as to how gratuities could be paid. It was quite intimidating and could have added 10% to the cost of an already expensive holiday and we were made to feel quite guilty that we chose not to have the money debited to our on board account. Read Less
Let's start with the Good: Booking was easy. Went through Viking direct but even though we booked a year ahead there were only a few cabins left on deck three (top deck). Documentation arrived three weeks prior to departure and ... Read More
Let's start with the Good: Booking was easy. Went through Viking direct but even though we booked a year ahead there were only a few cabins left on deck three (top deck). Documentation arrived three weeks prior to departure and Viking did a great job providing a small booklet with just about everything you'd need to know about the cruise & shore excursions.
Ship looked good. Had new carpet and the cabin & common areas were in nice condition even though they could have spot cleaned the furniture a bit better. At 171 sq ft the cabin was just big enough with plenty of room under the bed to store all the bags and a nice floor to ceiling sliding glass door for viewing the river. One goofy thing was the drapes. They were not thick/blackout type so when the sun was up I was up. This also contributed to the A/C problem (see below). Cabin was attended to twice a day and the staff was very nice.
Food was good and on occasion very good. The free red wine with dinner was not to our liking but most of our friends thought the white was OK. Dinner is at a set time and as we were with a group of ten and always sat together there was never a problem being forced to decide where to sit each night. Note that we lucked out in that they had two tables for ten. I guess if you travel with more than ten you'd have to split up.
Shore excursions were Great! Viking did a wonderful job coordinating the bus & tour guide thing and it worked like a Swiss watch. The buses were new and first class and I cannot say enough good things about the tour guides. They were all simply fabulous!
Now for the Bad:
Viking has a problem with communication. Due to the flooding on the Rhine, we had to start our trip on the "Sun", sister ship to the Helvetia. Problem was we were never informed of this fact. If our friends hadn't been monitoring the web site we would not have known! We spoke with other couples that pulled up to the dock looking for the Helvetia!
To get back on schedule we had to change ships mid trip. Understandable but Viking held that info back until the day before the change. If we'd known up front then we wouldn't have unpacked everything! They did a good job with the change over and the crew on both ships worked extra hard that day.
Due to high water they couldn't take us all the way to Basel and had to bus the passengers to Switzerland on the last day. They gave you a choice of airport or train station and of course it was their schedule not yours. Again understandable and not their fault but it would have been nice to know more that a day in advance just in case you had arranged a car to meet you at the dock in Basel or something. We started thinking they were holding info back from the passengers until the last possible moment so they didn't have to deal with disgruntled folks.
Also note that the Rhine is, for the most part, an industrial/commercial water way. Only the middle part is nice & scenic. The rest is like the Houston ship channel!
The Really Ugly:
Our cabin had a strong exhaust fume smell on a number of occasions. One night I woke up coughing and we had to vacate the room for a few hours. We could smell fumes upon engine start-up and also when we slowed down to go through a lock. We could also smell cigarette smoke now & then. I decided there must be an air intake on the back deck that sucked in the fumes when the ship wasn't moving because there is a place for the crew to smoke back there and the engine exhaust vent is also near that area. Seeing us in the lounge with our pillows at 1:00 AM got some attention from the crew and they were shocked.......shocked that there was any problem. The third officer, second officer and then the captain came by to discuss our problem. This was a bit of a joke as the captain didn't speak english and didn't bring an interpreter. He just made some comment that it must be from a passing ship. It was not from a passing ship and he didn't seem interested in hearing about any problems on his ship. The ship was full so we couldn't be moved. A number of folks said they also smelled fumes at night but that it wasn't too bad and went away after an hour or so!
The A/C was either not working right or just not capable of cooling the ship in warm weather. Most of us on the third deck starboard side were hot for the two days it was in the high 80's. The see through curtains in the cabins didn't help the matter and so many folks were upset they flew in some "experts from Viking HQ to solve the problem. It was only solved when a cool front blew in. We couldn't even open our windows because of the rain that night so it was just miserable.
The engine vibration is bad and gets worse the further aft you are so don't get a cabin with a higher number than 325. Our room was bad but if you had the last cabin I imagine your water bottle would vibrate right off the table. I could not even sit in the library (located at the very back) when the ship was moving. Perhaps it is worse going up stream (as we were) but let me just say with everything going wrong we didn't get much rest on this trip. If we hadn't been traveling with friends my wife & I would have got off, rented a car and found a hotel. We seriously looked at doing just that and meeting back up with the ship later........it was that bad.
By the last night we were soooooo happy the ship couldn't make it to Basel because it meant the ship would stay put, the engines would be off and we could get a good nights sleep. Then another ship ties up alongside because no other dock was available. This ship is shorter than ours and their engine room is right outside our window so it sounds like a BIG truck engine is running in our cabin. We start thinking about finding a hotel in the little town the ship is in (Breisach) but first I go ask the concierge if our new neighbor is staying all night. She didn't know but to her credit ran over and asked them. Turns out they were leaving a 6:00PM so we were able to stay on board! Seems like it would have been a better plan to match up ships sterns and not bows. Just a thought Viking.
So..........never again. Viking did offer all passengers a discount on the their next cruise due to the "inconvenience" but for around a thousand a day I think next time I want to see Europe I'll rent a car and stay at the Four Seasons, it works out about the same money but it's ten times nicer. Read Less
For corroboration of this trip review, please refer to the 5/13 review by the person who referred to the Viking Tor. We arrived in Basel, Switzerland and were met by Viking staff who advised that we would need to board a bus to Germany ... Read More
For corroboration of this trip review, please refer to the 5/13 review by the person who referred to the Viking Tor. We arrived in Basel, Switzerland and were met by Viking staff who advised that we would need to board a bus to Germany because the Forseti could not make it to Basel. That was the beginning of what turned out to be a week's worth of stringing along the passengers by moving them through Germany on a bus; always underestimating the travel times. We never left a dock onto the river during the entire week. The review of the Viking Tor is related since at some point, we were moved to the Viking Tor as an interim stopping point. It was docked in a scary industrial port which the bus driver got lost trying to find.While our fellow passengers were very reasonable in understanding the serious nature of the European floods, all recognized that Viking did little to notify passengers of the risk. They have now offered 75% cruise cost vouchers for upcoming trips. Unfortunately, that amount does little to reimburse the overall expenses of a trip like this.Before investing in a trip like this, you must consider the risks. Read Less
We were on board the Tor sailing from Amsterdam to Budapest and then Prague on 26 May, 2013. Incredibly, the Viking Company sailed us right into the historic European flooding on the Rhine, Main, and Danube. As we left Amsterdam, it was ... Read More
We were on board the Tor sailing from Amsterdam to Budapest and then Prague on 26 May, 2013. Incredibly, the Viking Company sailed us right into the historic European flooding on the Rhine, Main, and Danube. As we left Amsterdam, it was already obvious to even casual observers that the Rhine was overflowing its banks and was at or nearing flood stage. By the 3rd day we were told we had to leave our ship because of high water for another ship, the Skadi. We were assured we would then continue our trip unimpeded. Instead we found the Skadi parked in an industrial canal in Bamberg and would never set sail again. We were bussed around and given walking tours in miserable cold rain, day after day. On another day we were informed to pack up again that we were leaving the Skadi for yet another ship in Passau and reassured once again that we would be able to resume our cruise on the Danube. That was changed hours later when someone learned that Passau was underwater. We were then told not to pack. Several hours later, we were told to pack up again and we would be moved to Munich via Regensburg.
When we arrived in Regensburg we discovered the city was under siege from the flooding Danube. On our walking tour, again in the driving rain, we actually watched city crews building sandbag walls and flood barriers along the river front.
It then became obvious that we would never be able to resume our cruise. All the area rivers were flooding. We read news accounts of emergency declarations, soldiers being mobilized, evacuations, highways and railroads shutting down, and people dying and missing. All along the Rhine, Main, and Danube cities were in full disaster preparedness. Even Prague was being hit hard. Sadly, the Viking Company never told us any of this and instead of keeping us informed and offering alternatives, they seemed intent on keeping silent and bussing us in and around the disaster. It is hard to imagine what the corporate strategy was.
When we arrived in Munich, I and my travel companions decided that Viking was not acting responsibly nor in the best interest of its passengers. They offered us no further information or alternatives, choosing instead to keep us in the dark and inform us of their plans sometimes with only hours of notice. Our only information was that they would put us in hotels and eventually bus us to our final destinations.
Our 15 day cruise of a lifetime ended in disaster after only 3 days. We are especially disappointed that Viking has been so insensitive to the circumstances, extremely poor with communications, and developing a rapid alternative for its guests.
In Munich, it became apparent the river cruise would never continue as planned and was in practice, if not fact, cancelled, although Viking refused to make that cancellation official. With Viking offering no information beyond 24 hours, we decided that the prudent and safe course would be to immediately leave the flooding and fly home from Munich.
11 days after the trip began, Viking still refuses to acknowledge the scope of the disaster and the horrible impact it had on its guests. Instead, we are being given standard corporate bureaucratic language and told to write them of our "concerns".
We are hopeful that the Viking Company will soon realize that they need to quickly communicate with us, help us with the cancellation, and offer us help with another cruise. Read Less
As you can see from my title, this was our first river cruise. We had tried 1 Caribbean cruise before and we weren't too crazy about our experience with that. We selected Viking because of the Rhine itinerary (been to some of the ... Read More
As you can see from my title, this was our first river cruise. We had tried 1 Caribbean cruise before and we weren't too crazy about our experience with that. We selected Viking because of the Rhine itinerary (been to some of the places before on a Globus tour) and wanted to spend more time in places like Cologne and Heidelberg. Also Viking had a price that was in our range.
Pre-trip. We are a couple in our 50's. We took our 24 yo daughter and 35 yo niece along. The Viking sales agent Alex was very helpful and made several great suggestions. We went with special Viking air and transfers and were extremely pleased with our flights. Viking even called 3 weeks before departure and asked if we had any questions. We elected to go with 2 standard rooms and a post-trip extension to Lucerne.
Arrival. Our plane landed early and we were taken to the Helvetia about 10am. We were greeted by the Cruise Director George who took us onboard. Although our rooms would have been ready by 11am, we elected to have a hot beverage and then head out and explore Amsterdam. Check in went smoothly when we returned at 5pm.
Ship. We liked our standard room. The size was perfect and the bed was very comfortable. We would probably stay on a higher deck next time. Being on the bottom deck, we could hear toilets flush throughout the ship. We could feel vibrations from time to time but really did not experience much loud noise. The layout of the ship was good. Most people would have very little walking to get from cabin to lounge or dining room. Even though it was only April, the river was starting to fill up with cruises. A Viking longship and 2 Avalon ships seemed to follow our every move on the Rhine. A few times we had to cross through another ship to get to shore.
Food. Food ranged from okay to excellent. I thought they did a good job with choices considering that they had 180 people to feed -- all ordering at once. They had a choice of meat, fish, or vegetarian for every meal. Sometimes it was chaotic with some tables seeming to get served faster than others. They had usually a local specialty at each port. The wine was good -- not much selection but it seemed to change each day. We consider ourselves wine snobs, it wasn't Bordeaux but it was still good. One evening, I asked the waiter why they hadn't poured a Riesling yet (we were in Germany after all). He said if I had purchased the extra spirits plan then I could have a bottle. I hadn't but he brought me a bottle anyway. The servers worked extremely hard (a bit understaffed) and tried to accommodate everyone's wishes. Breakfast and lunch were basically buffets, but they did have a few items that could be ordered from the menu. A hot beverage bar was always open, usually stocked with fresh cookies.
Excursions. The highlight of the trip. The Middle Rhine is absolutely gorgeous. Viking had 4 brand new buses that they had purchased to follow us the whole trip. They used them for transfers to and from the airport and the regular and optional excursions. The local guides I thought were all enthusiastic and knowledgeable. Viking left several hours of free time in each port for exploring on one's own. Maps were made available. The concierge on board the ship was always available to help you book things on the side.
Staff. The staff was fantastic. Everyone had to multitask and work long hours but they had a smile on their face the whole time. I think they could have used 5 more people for meals to ease the confusion. I'm sure they are trained to be polite but I swear they remembered our names instantly. The rooms were spotless. The Cruise Director George Nakos was fun and made friends with everyone. The Captain Florian Sulzer seemed to always be helping out with various tasks. I think Viking deserves an A Plus for the staff and crew.
Post Trip. The Rhine levels were too high for our last day so we had to be bused the last 20 miles to Basel or wherever everyone was scheduled to go. Viking even took care of the people who had not booked transfers with them. Viking representatives were everywhere -- at the post trip hotel and even the airport to make sure we got to our gate.
Pros. The Staff. The Itinerary. All the small details being taken care of. We will do a Viking Cruise again.
Cons. Can't really think of anything. Entertainment was average but honestly we went to bed by 10 every night. Read Less
Our flight arrived in Amsterdam about 7am so we got our luggage, got a cab and arrived at the dock around 7:30. It was hard to tell which was our ship because many ships were all lined up next to each other at the dock. He got out to ... Read More
Our flight arrived in Amsterdam about 7am so we got our luggage, got a cab and arrived at the dock around 7:30. It was hard to tell which was our ship because many ships were all lined up next to each other at the dock. He got out to look for Helvetia, and it was the very last one. When we got to the ship, we walked through another ship to get to ours. We planned to just drop off our luggage, but the front desk took our names, let us keep our luggage there and told us to go get a hot drink and offered us breakfast. It was raining hard so we sat in the comfortable lounge, had a hot drink and a snack and waited for the weather to clear. We had a chance to talk to others who had just finished the cruise and get their feedback -- everyone was happy.
Restaurants/shops that we tried to use credit card in Netherlands only took Mastercard. Several restaurants/shops in France/Germany would not take any credit card. Take plenty of cash with you -- we had to use ATMs to get more cash. Also keep 50 euro coin on hand for bathrooms -- some were free, some we had to pay for.
Cabin very small (smaller than we're used to on the cruise ships). I know I saw the picture when we booked it, but when you walk in, there is a single size couch and my friend and I looked at each other like "where do we sleep?" The room steward quickly popped the other bed out of the wall and made it up. The beds were very comfortable for us. Not much room in between to maneuver. Our suitcases would not fit under the bed (we really tried but they were both too tall). We stood them up behind the door (our friends in another cabin kept theirs in the shower!) We made it work -- after all, we didn't spend much room in the cabins. Bottled water was provided in the rooms.
There were several 220 outlets in the cabin, but only ONE 110, and that is the razor outlet in the bathroom at the very top of the ceiling. We were able to plug in our ipads to recharge, but if you plan to bring any type of heated curling iron, you will need to bring the converter & adapter. They had some adapters at the front desk, but you would need the converter & adapter for a curling iron. Hairdryers are provided.
Wine was provided at lunch & dinner. Soft drinks provided at meals, otherwise, there is a charge.
Only complaint was with the food. There was plenty of it, but compared to all the other cruise lines I have been on, the food options were lacking. Breakfast was great, buffet set up with fruit, steel cut oats, cereal, and you could order hot items off the menu, omelette, bacon, french toast, etc. You could eat lunch either in the dining room (order from menu) or upstairs in the lounge where there was a wonderful salad bar, along with soup and several hot items to choose from. Dinner was the most lacking for me, just not many choices of entree (you could always get salmon/steak and a couple of other entrees). For instance, one night was "surf and turf" which consisted of a sirloin steak and ONE large shrimp on top. We did have choice of filet mignon one night. We certainly didn't starve but just not up to par compared with other cruises (all 8 at our table were pretty well-traveled and all agreed on the food). The soups were very watery and a lot of the food was just tasteless. The 24-hour beverage station was handy to get tea, coffee, hot chocolate, water and cookies.
The most fun I had was our free time in the towns we stopped at, loved looking in the shops & stopping at the wonderful cafes/bakeries to taste some delicious pastry with coffee. Get in shape to walk -- we averaged walking about 5 miles a day!
Staff was just awesome, very friendly and eager to help. Cruise Director George Nakos was lots of fun, as was Bobby, the piano player. Viking arranged for 4 new Mercedes buses to follow the ship en route so when we went out for tours in the morning, the buses were there. Sometimes the ship sailed on down the river and the buses picked us up there, very well organized and coordinated. George went with us on tours, along with local tour guides. Only optional tour we took was the Colmar, France tour, which I highly recommend. We walked around the very cute town and of course had to stop & sample the pastries.
The Rhine was too high to sail into Basel on last day. Poor George was making lots of calls to get alternate transportation for all on board. We had arranged private driver to pick us up at Basel port, so George arranged for him to meet us at the Basel airport -- Viking bus took us to the airport.
On last day of the cruise, we received an email from United that our flight was canceled from Basel to Frankfurt (we did not book our flight through Viking). Didn't get an explanation why the flight was canceled, but when we got to Basel hotel, they told us that Lufthansa (United's partner) was on strike. So we got to the Basel airport the next morning at 6am, and they rerouted us -- by bus (lugging 2 pieces of luggage) to the train station, then train to Zurich airport (the train ride was nice). Long day home back to WV, but we made it (my checked bag didn't make it until the next day).
We all loved the river cruise and will probably do another. Read Less
The crew and the “ports” are great! First the crew…wonderful and attentive says it. On the Helvetia, we especially appreciated the attention and friendliness, and enjoyed Peter our maître de, Nathan server, ... Read More
The crew and the “ports” are great! First the crew…wonderful and attentive says it. On the Helvetia, we especially appreciated the attention and friendliness, and enjoyed Peter our maître de, Nathan server, Davorka server, Mae server, Martin server, Liza server, Tomas and Yana at the desk and concierge…they were extremely friendly and attentive. Mae, Liza, and Nathan in particular are always smiling and that greatly increases the positive experience with Viking. The service and help could not be better. George is a great activities director and takes great care and attention to ensure guests are happy with their Viking experience. Thank you to Yana and Tomas for working with the “First Officer” to get us a schedule of the lock crossings, especially considering that we were not able to cruise to Basel, when the locks would be viewable during the late afternoon and evening (viewing the crossings in the early morning before daylight was a highlight).
There is an issue that we think merits reporting to Viking for improvement.
The double and triple ship docking was not acceptable. We sleep with our windows and sliding doors open at night year round at home for necessary fresh air and the adjacent boat odors, close quarters with another ship, the security issues with other passengers coming through sliding doors, and the shear privacy issues make it very undesirable. We understand the number of docks are apparently limited and the expanded number of ships on the Rhine prevent single ship docking impractical, but the upgraded staterooms and their cost should mean the elimination of double and triple docking.
Thank you Viking River Cruises for a wonderful Rhine River cruise and for investigating our issues noted herein and responding to us. We have already booked again with you for another river cruise in 2014.
We sailed from Amsterdam at the end of March on the Helvetia - our first river cruise although we have been on various ocean cruises. Our cabin was very comfortable with a window just above the water level, which was fine for us. Our ... Read More
We sailed from Amsterdam at the end of March on the Helvetia - our first river cruise although we have been on various ocean cruises. Our cabin was very comfortable with a window just above the water level, which was fine for us. Our cabin was serviced twice daily by a lovely lady, Julia. On this particular ship there are some cabins with small French balconies, which are not big enough to sit on. Also, these more expensive cabins were the same size as ours - the only difference being that they were higher up on the ship - we were one floor down from the dining room and 2 floors down from the bar/lounge. We travelled in a party of 8, celebrating 2 ruby weddings.
One of our party was a vegetarian and she was not catered for sufficiently, in spite of notifying the Viking Office previously. Otherwise, the European meals were of mixed standard, some being better than others. If you were a meat eater there was plenty of choice, with salmon, chicken and sirloin steak always available as alternatives to the main menu. I am primarily a fish eater - one night I had Butterfish, which was my best meal of the week. This is only our view, I guess others will find the food O.K. I didn't have cooked breakfast, but others in our party said these breakfasts were virtually cold, so this needs to be redressed. Dining service was poor; some evenings we didn't get away from the dining room until well after 9pm, having sat down at 7pm or earlier. The dining staff worked very hard and were very pleasant but seemed to be stressed an understaffed; also the Maitre d seemed to be at odds with his staff - this was the first week of cruising for the Helvetia so we did try to make allowances for this, but again this needs to be redressed for future cruisers. We went on some of the organised trips included in the price; these were adequate. The evening entertainment was variable, including a glass blowing demonstration, a French lady singer, a classical music event (enjoyable for me but not to the taste to some of our party) and a resident pianist, the latter being quite quite good and my personal favourite.
To sum up, we thought this particular cruise wasn't very well managed, in particular the evening dining, vegetarian meal choices were poor and also we felt this river cruise was not as good value for money as our ocean cruises (P& O, Ocean Village and Cunard). Again, this is only our personal view. Read Less
An Unfortunate Journey
As a retired advertising executive from the creative side and an agency principal, I have long been impressed with Viking's marketing. The branding is clean and well-targeted.
In retirement, my wife and I have ... Read More
An Unfortunate Journey
As a retired advertising executive from the creative side and an agency principal, I have long been impressed with Viking's marketing. The branding is clean and well-targeted.
In retirement, my wife and I have done a lot of cruising --- fourteen trips so far and counting. Two of our favorite cruises have been with Viking. I'm sure that our Christmas Market journey down the Rhine on the Helvetia from Basel, Switzerland to Amsterdam this past December would have been equally enjoyable. There was snow, shopping, and hot mulled wine. What could be more festive than that?
Unfortunately, I developed food poisoning on the third day of the voyage. Ultimately, that situation developed into a much more serious condition requiring surgery and long-term hospitalization.
When people ask us about Viking, and they often do, we answer by saying that they have beautiful ships, visit fabulous ports and cities, offer excellent guided tours, provide outstanding cuisine, and are staffed with friendly, helpful crews.
But sadly, having to deal with Viking at the corporate level after our voyage has made my respect for this company diminish slightly. This is a shame, because both my wife and I have always looked forward to and enjoyed our Viking cruises.
We found that Viking's Customer Relations Department was not an advocate for us in dealing with their travel insurance provider Travel Guard. I was told by a Viking representative that the company could not and would not provide any assistance with our claim.
Travel Guard did finally pay us a small amount for "Trip Interruption Reimbursement." And just recently, we received payment for our out-of-pocket expenses at the emergency room in Cologne, Germany. But the whole process took over six months, numerous phone calls, and 80 pages of documents.
So what could we have done to make our insurance issues less of a hassle? Well, an individual at Travel Guard suggested that we should have contacted them from the ship, explain the circumstances, and let them provide a course of action. They would have made arrangements for getting me to a hospital, and for us to fly home if medically necessary. Apparently, this would have made claim settlement easier.
Our memories of The Rhine Getaway Cruise with Viking River Cruises will be of 30 days in the hospital, eight additional weeks on a wound vacuum, six months of struggling with Travel Guard over a pathetically small claim, and a lack of interest for customer concerns by Viking. Perhaps a phone call from the ship to our travel insurance provider would have left us with happier memories.
By the way, US Air was most helpful in assisting us on our trip home from Amsterdam to the USA. They went out of their way to make a very painful flight a little more comfortable. Thanks US Air!