Sail Date: April 2015
My wife and I started our Rhine River Cruise in Paris. A Viking representative was there to direct us to our bus. We had a visual journey to our hotel. The hotel was great as well as the staff. Again, a Viking representative was in the ... Read More
My wife and I started our Rhine River Cruise in Paris. A Viking representative was there to direct us to our bus. We had a visual journey to our hotel. The hotel was great as well as the staff. Again, a Viking representative was in the lobby to help with sightseeing or anything else. Really first class. We traveled by bus to Trier and the Viking Odin. A most beautiful sight. Sleek, Clean, moored to a small dock with the city of Trier behind it. I knew we had made the right travel decision. The cabins are clean and I mean clean. Every day when we left Lubka would be there already cleaning. She also made sure each room had a personal touch. Towels wrapped like dogs. Butterfly's. Amazing she found time to do that but that's the Viking way. I know that now. You become family. The food was excellent. I felt like I was on a Food Channel show. And the presentation was just as good. The Chef took great pride in his work and it showed. The nightly Pre-Excursion lectures were wonderful and set you up for a most memorable day. I can't say enough good things about every excursion we went on. Each guide was knowledgeable and courteous and made every day fun and informative. After a day of Castle Climbing it was always good to come back to the boat, clean up and have DaDa make me a drink at the bar. Dinner and then maybe a little music in the lounge. Then it was time to go to a clean shower in our clean cabin and fall asleep with dreams of what tomorrow would bring. Thanks to all the staff of The Viking Odin! And tell Lubka and DaDa hello. It's been a year or so and I still remember their names. But then again, that's Viking. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2015
This cruise was a gift to me from my husband, to revisit my roots. I was born in Basel, Switzerland and left from Le Harvre, France to immigrate to the United States of America as a child. My desire was to replicate the pictures I had from ... Read More
This cruise was a gift to me from my husband, to revisit my roots. I was born in Basel, Switzerland and left from Le Harvre, France to immigrate to the United States of America as a child. My desire was to replicate the pictures I had from Basel, so this was to be an enjoyable cruise for my husband and I, but I was also a woman on a mission– to see and photograph my roots. Anyway– we were on the Viking 'Odin' which afforded us luxury and a perfect home-away-from-home. Our stateroom was always kept immaculate by our 'housekeeper' Eloisa, and our meals were always 5-star delicious treats, served by friendly and efficient servers. The size of the number of guests on board- under 190, made it personable. We enjoyed the excursions offered to us by our Ship's Director- Dianna and made the most of them. The cruise ended in Trier, where we all boarded buses to our next destination: PARIS! That city was unique! We stayed at Le Meridien Etoile, with a Paris extension. Our room was clean, but we had problems with our room keys the entire time. I still am not sure what the problem was. The city tour along with our own touring using the Metro was simple and painless. I am so very glad that I had gone online three weeks prior our leaving the states and reserved tickets for the Eiffel Tower. The final day of our 'cruise' ended far too quickly, but it was indeed a delight! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2015
The hotel in Paris was very good, not great. It was very close to the Champs Elysees so touring around before the start of the planned tour was very easy and good. The Tour in Paris, like the other cities, was excellent. Using tour ... Read More
The hotel in Paris was very good, not great. It was very close to the Champs Elysees so touring around before the start of the planned tour was very easy and good. The Tour in Paris, like the other cities, was excellent. Using tour guides from the places you are visiting is great. You get good information from locals, not what is printed by somebody for another talking head to repeat. The use of head sets and a dedicated wireless channel was a great idea. You don't get 'duelling tour guides' yelling over each other or not being able to hear what is being said. There was enough free time in most ports to be able to walk around on your own to experience the local area. This was of particular interest to us as we are both Geocachers and were interested in finding geocaches where we stopped. The ship was fantastic with excellent service, crew, and food. The crew members are approachable and willing to chat. We had an excellent talk with one of the officers during an evening cruise. I recommend this cruise to all my friends. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2015
We stared our trip with a pre-stay in Lucerne organized by Viking Cruises. The pick up at the airport in Zurich gave us the opportunity to see sights on our way to Lucerne. The Schweizerhof Hotel was fabulous. Location was right on the ... Read More
We stared our trip with a pre-stay in Lucerne organized by Viking Cruises. The pick up at the airport in Zurich gave us the opportunity to see sights on our way to Lucerne. The Schweizerhof Hotel was fabulous. Location was right on the Lake. From there you could stand next to palm trees and see the snow covered Alps. Lucerne was a wonderful city, and with the Viking guided tour we got a good feel for the city and explored a lot on our own. Since all was booked through Viking, they then transported us to the ship in Basel. This was our third Viking cruise so we knew to expect really good guides at each of the stops. We were not disappointed. They timed our walks through the cities so we would have special experiences in each port. I am more impressed each time I cruise with Viking with the quality of their shore excursions. I walk slowly and always sign up for their leisurely group. It is so nice to have that option. We ended in Trier, then a bus to see Luxemburg, and on to Paris for two nights in Le Meridien Etoile. Great area for interesting restaurants, and a nice walk to the Arc de Triumph The ship was a Viking Longship. I really loved waking up and going to the lounge to have a couple of cups of Latte while my husband woke up. With the machine I could make it as weak as I like it - half water and half latte. I loved watching the Rhine and the castles as we cruised from the Lounge. This time when we booked all of the full balcony rooms were already taken so we booked a French Balcony. We decided that we do not like a French Balcony, and the full balcony is definitely worth the extra cost. Viking staff is always so helpful and really want to make the trip a special experience for you. The food has a nice regional touch, but with some choices for those that want more traditional food. I love the way the whole ship is invited each evening to learn the plans for tomorrow's activities, followed by the chef telling you what his dinner recommendations are. We normally spent so much time enjoying dinner, talking with the new folks we met at dinner, and the complementary wine with dinner that we just went to bed, and missed the evening entertainment. We have learned that booking the air, pre-stay, and cruise with Viking means you are fully taken care of. They pick you up at the airport, take you to the hotel, then ship, then back to airport. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2015
This is the first Viking cruise for my wife and I. We were celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary. The cruise was excellent, service, food, cabin, etc... all excellent. The staff was wonderful and very helpful. All the tours were ... Read More
This is the first Viking cruise for my wife and I. We were celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary. The cruise was excellent, service, food, cabin, etc... all excellent. The staff was wonderful and very helpful. All the tours were well organized and very interesting. We liked it so much that we are scheduled to go to China and Hong Kong in Oct of 2016 and considering the Med cruise in 2017. My wife enjoyed the gourmet meals the most. She owned and operated a restaurant for almost 20 years so she knows good cooking and food presentation. Service in the dinning room was excellent. The wait staff was excellent, they went the extra mile to accommodate our every need. Since the ship was small, entertainment was average; live piano. I had a slight disagreement with the piano player in that 'as time goes by' was not a classic song. Any film buff will tell you that this song is an all time classic. Highly recommended Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2015
This was my first trip to Europe. I had high expectations for the Viking River Cruise experience and I was not disappointed. The service, from the staff, was excellent. Everyone was super efficient and organized. I felt pampered because ... Read More
This was my first trip to Europe. I had high expectations for the Viking River Cruise experience and I was not disappointed. The service, from the staff, was excellent. Everyone was super efficient and organized. I felt pampered because the staff was very attentive and accommodating. The environment was intimate and encouraged the passengers to interact with each other. The ship was small enough to allow everyone to become acquainted and large enough not to feel crowded. The cuisine was outstanding and plentiful. The tours were fun and very educational. I was awed by the spectacular architecture of the historical buildings that were built centuries ago and were still standing and, in some cases, still functional. I loved touring the old castles, of which I had only seen pictures, and I marveled at the lifestyle of the people who lived during that era. The only negative comment I have, about the cruise, is the weather. It was cold and rainy in both France and Germany. April in Paris did not have the mild spring weather I am accustomed to in the U.S. Nevertheless, I would highly recommend taking a Viking River Cruise vacation and I am looking forward to my next Viking adventure. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2015
My daughter & I just got back from the Cities of Light cruise. We added two nights in Prague & then cruised the Main, Rhine, & Moselle & eventually ended up in Paris. It was a wonderful trip & worth every penny. The ... Read More
My daughter & I just got back from the Cities of Light cruise. We added two nights in Prague & then cruised the Main, Rhine, & Moselle & eventually ended up in Paris. It was a wonderful trip & worth every penny. The ship is immaculate & all the staff people are exceptional -- friendly, helpful, & gracious. The food was outstanding. Viking organized everything, including luggage, transfers, guided tours, & several on-board activities. Diana, our program director, was 100% on top of everything. We will definitely consider Viking again. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2015
The actual port of embarkation was Trier, Germany. My wife and I took the Cities of Light trip along with another couple from Paris to Prague. The crew were super friendly and very helpful. The program director (Claudia) was fantastic ... Read More
The actual port of embarkation was Trier, Germany. My wife and I took the Cities of Light trip along with another couple from Paris to Prague. The crew were super friendly and very helpful. The program director (Claudia) was fantastic and very knowledgeable of the areas that we traveled. We found that the captain of the ship was very approachable and friendly. We were allowed to spend time in the wheelhouse and see how he navigates the ship. Entertainment was quite limited on this trip but is to be expected on river cruises. The crew was quite good about keeping everyone informed about the upcoming plans for both that day and the next. Breakfast each day was exactly the same and did not vary one bit. Being in Germany, one would think that we would be blessed with abundant German food. That was not the case at all. One day for lunch, we stopped at the restaurant entrance to read the menu. It looked wonderful. It listed snitzel, purple cabbage, and other German delights. When we arrived for lunch a half an hour later.....Lunch had been changed to some sort of sandwiches. Thursday night was "German" night. Viking turned the sit down dining room into a huge buffet. This was a complete disaster. There were people on top of people. Very long lines......The kitchen struggling to keep up. In general it was a very unpleasant experience. Getting on and off the ship each day was easy and very efficient. The included tours were informative and nice. We may or may not travel with Viking. My wife and I may want to try another company to see how they size up. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2014
The following is my review of my recent “Romantic Danube/Christmas Markets” river cruise on the Viking Odin. A little background; I am 53, DH is 57 and while we have 20+ cruises under our belt, this was only our second river cruise ... Read More
The following is my review of my recent “Romantic Danube/Christmas Markets” river cruise on the Viking Odin. A little background; I am 53, DH is 57 and while we have 20+ cruises under our belt, this was only our second river cruise (The first was on the American Queen-Mississippi River), and our first European river cruise, and our second time to Europe. I like to think of myself as a “Glass Half Full” kind of person, but I must admit I was beginning to worry that this trip would not come anywhere near my expectations after reading several reviews that were full of doom & gloom with all that could go wrong; River levels too high or too low making a river cruise into a bus trip, strikes by the lock workers on the rivers, strikes by the Lufthansa pilots, broken locks, bad weather, etc. It just seemed that with a river cruise more could, and often did, go wrong. I am happy to report that my fears were unfounded. I won’t bore you with our flight details, sufficient to say that 7-hours from Philadelphia to Frankfurt, a 5-hour layover in Frankfurt, and another 1.5 hour flight to Budapest made for a rather long day plus. After arriving at the Budapest airport we gather out luggage, were waived through passport control, and we met by at least eight representatives of Viking to ensure we got on the right bus for our transfer to our boat. Apparently there were four Viking cruises starting in Budapest that day; two were doing Romantic Danube, and two others were doing the Danube Waltz itinerary. A very cheerful man gathered his weary flock of travelers, and got us settled on the bus, where they passed out bottles of water, and away we went. Embarkation-Fastest ever! Once we go to Budapest, and to where the boats dock along the Danube we were met by a chaotic scene of multiple tours buses of all kinds that were discharging or picking up passengers. However, it was all quickly sorted out, and soon we were on our way to boarding. We were met by a smiling Viking employee who handed us a warm, moist wash cloth that we could use to wipe our face and hands of the stain of travel, got in line to receive our key card (Took 3 minutes tops), then we were handed off to another employee that escorted us to our cabin. Within another 5-minutes our luggage had been delivered. Cabin-We had booked a window (Known as an aquarium class) cabin, and found it quite comfortable. The layout was efficient, and plenty of storage for hanging clothes such as coats, shelves for folded items, and 4 drawers for underwear and socks. The bathroom was tiny, but I loved the heated floor, and the fact we had a glass shower door, rather than a curtain. There were shelves here too for all of our toiletries. Every day our cabin was serviced twice a day by our marvelous room steward. The only drawback was I found the two pillows per person to be too thin for my liking, but we asked for, and quickly got an additional pillow each. There was a flat screen TV, and a selection of movies, and all the episodes of Downton Abbey available on demand. There was also a limited selection of TV stations available (Mostly news), and music too. Dining-There is one main dining room that is used for all meals. Normally breakfast was served between 7am-9am, but the hours were slightly adjusted depending on what time we were docking for the day’s tour. I think once it opened as early as 6:30, and on the morning we arrived in Nuremberg they served breakfast as late as 10am. Lunch was normally served between 12-2pm, and dinner most nights was at 7pm, but one evening they didn’t start serving until 7:30 (Night of the Captain’s Dinner). I thought the food was excellent. There were usually 2/3 starters to choose from as well as a soup and three entrees to choose from as well. For dessert there was a featured dessert, as well as several ice cream flavors to choose from. All seating was open so you may sit where and with whom you choose. Most of the tables seated 4 or 6. There were a few 8 tops. I didn’t notice any tables for two. There was a more casual alternative for those that wished on the Upper Deck called the Aquavit Terrace. A Continental Breakfast was served in the mornings, available about half an hour earlier then when the dining room would open, and at night you could get a lighter meal. Items served included; Cheeseburger, Chef Salad, Caesar Salad with Steak or Chicken, Chicken Quesadilla, and a Jacket Potato (Think loaded baked potato with bacon wrapped around it). We ate there two nights; the first night on board when we were so tired we only wanted a quick bite and be off to bed, and the last night when nothing on the menu appealed to me. Entertainment-They had something scheduled every night, starting around 9pm. We missed most of the entertainment as we normally turn into pumpkins around 9, but one night was a Christmas Sing-a-Long, another night was Hungarian Folk dancers. Ports: We had 6 ports on this itinerary; Budapest, Hungary, Vienna, Austria, Melk Abbey, Austria, Passau, Germany, Regensburg, Germany, and Nuremberg, Germany. Budapest-We arrived in Budapest around 4:00 in the afternoon on Saturday. After dropping off our luggage in our cabin we decided to go the Christmas Market on our own. The Program Director gave us easy to follow directions (Within walking distance) and we quickly found the market. However, being a Saturday afternoon/evening it was very crowded. By crowded I mean could not move forwards or backwards at one point. That proved to be too much for me, and we made our way to the Danube River, where we admired the Buda side of the river illuminated beautifully. We found a street vendor selling hot spiced wine who accepted euros, drank our wine and admired the view. We tried to find a boat ride that would have taken us up and down the Danube so we could see the Pest side of the river as well, but the only one we could locate was a dinner cruise for 40 euro each that took 2-hours. I wish Viking had taken the opportunity to give their guests a little scenic cruising that first night. The next morning we were up early for the bus portion of our included tour that drove past various points of interest including a cathedral, the opera house, several parks, the zoo, spas, and Hero’s Square. While our guide was very good, and was very knowledgeable about Hungarian history, it seemed that everything she pointed out was on the left side of the bus. Naturally, we were sitting on the right. Things improved when we go to the Buda side of the river, the Castle District, where we had the walking portion of the tour. After our guide was done we had about an hour of free time to explore the area, which included some shopping, and great views of the Pest side of the Danube. Then it was off by bus to meet the boat. Vienna-Vienna was our longest day. We arrived around 7am, and our bus tour left at 8 or 8:30. We started with a bus drive on the Ringstrauss and saw many impressive buildings, and then it was time for the walking tour. We had signed up for the leisure paced tour after being assured we would see everything everyone else did, and we would have plenty of free time. Our tour guide was excellent, and she did point out a number of interesting sites. We did go past the Famous Spanish Riding School, but it being Monday, the horses were having their day of rest so we saw no more than a horse or two poking its head out a stable door. What was disappointing to me was we ended up with only 35-minutes of free time, while other groups had at least an hour. I had wanted to go to Café Central, and managed to get to it in our free time allotted, but there was no time to actually have a cup of coffee. All too soon it was back on the bus to go to back to the boat for lunch. After lunch they had two shuttles for those that wished to go to the Christmas Market. One left at 2:00, the other at 2:30. There was also an optional tour to Schonbrunn Palace that had a cost of approximately 40 euro. We opted for the 2:00 shuttle to the Christmas Market. When we arrived at the Christmas Market we were told there were two return shuttles; one at 3:45, the other at 4:45. I had thought we would stay until the 4:45 shuttle, but we ended up returning on the 3:45 shuttle as we found the Christmas Market in Vienna disappointing. While large, most of the stalls were filled with mass produced items. I don’t think I was the only one disappointed as it appeared everyone was trying to get back on the 3:45 shuttle. There were two sittings that night for dinner; one at 6pm for those that had chosen to go to the optional Mozart/Strauss concert that evening (Cost was 63 euro pp) and another at 7:30. As we were going to the concert, as was about half the boat we ate at 6:00. The concert was excellent and appeared to be enjoyed by all. When we got back around 10:15 they were serving a light supper in the lounge of Hungarian Goulash Soup (Excellent). Scenic Cruising through the Wachau Valley & Melk Abbey-Day four found us sailing through the Wachau Valley, which I found to be as beautiful as advertised. Have your camera ready, especially around 8 in the morning as that’s when we passed Krems on the right, which is postcard pretty. It was one charming storybook town, church and castle after another. In the afternoon we docked at Melk Abbey. For those that were feeling fit, you could walk up, for the rest of us there were buses. One group left at 1:00, and the other group left at 1:30. Melk Abbey was very impressive, and once again we had an excellent guide. The Basilica of the abbey is jaw-dropping beautiful, and even my husband, who normally doesn’t get that excited about churches, was impressed. Passau, Germany-Passau is a charming, very walkable town, with narrow, twisting cobblestone streets. Unfortunately for the town they do have an issue with flooding. We had yet another great guide. There were a couple of options for the end of the walking tour. You could choose to end at a bakery for a demonstration in gingerbread baking, or end at St. Stephen’s Cathedral for an organ concert (The organ at St. Stephen’s is the largest in Europe). Because I love torturing my husband we went to the organ concert. There was no additional charge for the concert, which lasted about half an hour. The inside of St. Stephen’s is very impressive. After the concert we went to the Christmas Market which was just outside the Cathedral. This was a nice market, which a nice selection of booths, and great food. My husband enjoyed a bratwurst kabob, while I loved my steak sandwich slathered with sour cream and topped with raw onion. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. Yum! The boat was leaving right after lunch, but for those that wished, you could stay in town and take a bus at 5 that would bring you back to the boat up river. We opted to stay in town, exploring and shopping. We found a charming store, where my DH finally got his longed for cuckoo clock. Regensburg, Germany-Here we had another walking tour. However, I personally didn’t enjoy it as much as the one the day before in Passau. Part of the problem was the town was over flowing with tourist from river cruises. Not just Viking, but other lines as well, and unlike in Passau where the tour guides would take different routes to avoid congestion, it seemed like every guide wanted to go to the same place at the same time. We also didn’t have a very good guide. He walked very fast, and kept leaving members of our group far behind. I kept running up to him, to no avail. He seemed to think it was the group’s responsibility to keep up to his pace, rather than for him to adjust to the group’s pace. He also used some crude language that I found off-putting. We finally gave up on him, and with another couple bailed on the tour when we came upon the Christmas Market in town. After perusing the stalls, and drinking a glass of a hot, eggnog punch (I was getting tired of gluhwein) that was delicious we went into St. Peter’s Cathedral, an impressive Gothic Cathedral, before making our way back to the boat. That afternoon we took the optional tour to the Thurn & Taxis palace in Regansburg. The palace was very beautiful , and once again we were blessed with an knowledgeable tour guide. After the tour we then went to the Christmas Market on the palace grounds, and this was my very favorite market as there were a number of vendors with beautiful hand-crafted items. Nuremberg, Germany-Our final stop. We didn’t get to Nuremberg until a little after noon on Friday. There were two tours to choose from, one that focused on the WWII history, and one that didn’t. We picked the one that didn’t, but still got quite a bit of WWII history before we went to the “Old” part of the city (Nuremberg was nearly destroyed in WWII and what appears to be medieval buildings are actually rebuilt since the late 1940’s). There you could continue with a walking tour, or go straight to the Christmas Market. About half of the bus went on the walking tour, while the rest of us opted to go straight to the Market. This was another great market as I felt it had something for everyone. There were stalls with hand crafted items, and stall with less expensive mass produced items, and enough food choices for any palate. It’s very large and in the 2+ hours we were there I don’t think we saw everything. So, to sum it all up. I loved this trip. I thought the food, service, accommodations, and tours offered by Viking were top-notched, and would sail with them again in a heartbeat. I also loved the Christmas Markets, the towns we visited, and the people we met.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2014
The ship name is Viking Orient and leased from Pandaw, but not on the list so I've put the name of the ship as the closest to "Orient". The cruise started in Mandalay, and not Yangon, but there is no such option for the port ... Read More
The ship name is Viking Orient and leased from Pandaw, but not on the list so I've put the name of the ship as the closest to "Orient". The cruise started in Mandalay, and not Yangon, but there is no such option for the port of embarkation so I choose the closest available option- Yangon. Please keep in mind that the opinion expressed here is my personal and could be very different from your personal experience. I'll tell it chronologically with some practical advises as it goes. Flight: we flew from NY to Taipei and from there to Bangkok one day prier to "official" day of arrival- to get used to 12h time difference and to see more. We've used pills "No jet lag" which, probably, helped, because we've arrived to Bangkok at noon in, I'd say, pretty normal condition. We did not purchase transfer from Viking, so we got a taxi to hotel on our own. Here is how to do it: When you leave Custom area, don't go out, but to the right on the escalator, down, and only now leave the terminal (the door will be on your left- 90 degrees to the escalator) and on your right (45 degrees) you'll see few counters with girls. You're getting to any of them, specify what hotel you want to go (the taxi driver usually stands behind her and listen to it). she gives you piece of paper with your destination and info about driver/taxi- (in case you forget something behind or would like to complain), driver takes your suitcases and lead you to his car. The moment he is in it and if he did not turn on the meter, say to him (and this is going for all your future taxi usage in Bangkok) "meter, please!" He will turn it on and it will show 35B. He will ask you "highway"? Tell him "yes" and be prepared to give him 25B on first and 50B on the second stop at the toll booth. At the end of trip (between 35min to 1h, depending on traffic and hotel. Millenium takes longer, Shangri-La is shorter) you need to pay him whatever on the meter 250-300B plus 50B for the girl's booking at the airport. Tip is not expected, but common to round up to the next 10 B. So, 5B-15B tip will do. In general try to use skytrain or Chaya river boats and not taxis, because the traffic in Bangkok is really bad (see about it further) and while taxi is not expensive (most rides in the center should cost between 60B-90B, but you can spend much more time in taxi then exploring.... Before leaving the airport you'll see a lot of currency exchange booths- all of them have the same exchange rate (it was 30.78 on 11/1), so change SOME money, because in the city you'll get better rate. (For example in hotel it was 31.29 and near Wat Triamit 32.2). We've expected to be in Millenium so I've booked it for additional night in advance and on non-refundable basis ($160 including breakfast), so when Viking informed us that Shangri-La will be our hotel, we did not have much choice, but stayed 1 night at Millenium and then 2 nights in Shangri-La. To compare: both hotels are VERY nice, swimming pool & breakfast is better at Millenium, but Shangri-La location is better. There is Wi-Fi in both hotels, but in Millenium it works only in common area. BTW, the time difference with Bangkok - 12h (compare to NY) Day 0. We arrived at hotel, went for short swim and went for two major attractions - Wat Arun & Wat Pho. Wat Arun is much smaller, you can climb to the top (recommended) and then took boat across the river (3B cost, the pier located to the left of Wat Arun) and went to Wat Pho,- it is about 150 feets from the pier- on your left will be the walls of Royal Palace and after 150 feets on your right the entrance to Wat Pho. It is extremely large and beautiful place. Prepare to take your shoes off periodically. It is getting dark around 6pm so about when we were heading back to hotel it was dark. We went to the same pier, caught a boat to "Safam Tsakin"- central pier, about 5 stops. You buy ticket on board, 15 B. Millenium ran free shuttle service from the central pier to the hotel, so when get out at the pier, turn right go the pier on the right, ask, policeman there "Millenium"? and he will tell you when the right boat comes. We did not go for Dinner to Millenium- the prices there....main entry $80-$100 plus service and tax, so we went to the left of hotel by the river and in about 150 feet got to local restaurant where prices were "Thai prices" - main dishes 90B-200B and food was ok. Day 1 (official arrival day) Next morning after having breakfast- very large selection, including a lot of "Chinese breakfast dishes" we took another shuttle from hotel (to the left of complimentary shuttle boat) across the river to "River City" shopping complex (do not bother if you're after shopping- see later; the complex mostly empty) 3.5B cost of the transfer. We were on our way to self-guided walking tour of China town. The first stop was Wat Triamit (golden budda), but it was about 15-20 min walking from the pier thru typical China town When we looked unsure where to turn one of the locals asked (with his hands) what are we looking for and showed us where to go. (In general people in Bangkok where extremely nice and pleasant in communication). wat Triamit was ok. (I'm not going to describe the tour- if interested you can download a lot of different versions of it). Then we've passed a lot of gold selling stores, China town market with plenty of kick-off bags- my wife got 3 for about 400B each- after negotiations, took a river boat to hotel and took a taxi to Shangri La. The official "cruise" has began! At Shangri-La we met Viking representatives Tum & Tango and got keys to our room. We wanted to see traditional Thai dance show so they've recommended one at the nearest hotel (Oriental), but since it was on the short notice, we're informed that the sits will be too far from the show, so we opted for another place $65/p including dinner. We'd be picked up from hotel and dropped off. That place we were told an hour from the hotel. Well, this day we got first hand knowledge of Bangkok trafic: it tooks us 2.5 hour to get there and 20 min to get back! The dinner was nothing to write home about and the show was very interesting and nice! Pick up time was 5.30pm and we've back about 10:30pm. Day 2 At 9am we've first briefing with Viking reps (Tum & Tango), were divided in two buses (total 50 people)- and this division will hold for the whole trip, got "quiet boxes" with spare batteries (keep them, you almost for sure will need them later) and informed about day schedule (10am-12:30am visit to Grand Palace by boat, 6:30pm leaving for the Thai restaurant dinner) and collected $10/p for tips to everyone in Bangkok besides them-selves (this amount seems reasonable, even though it is not acceptable practice in Thailand to tip...). There is no canals included in the tour, even though it was supposed to be included according to Viking brochure. Piece of advise: if for some unlucky reason you're in Tango's group, insist on going with Tum. In my view Tango's English is absolutely is incomprehensible and while he is very nice guy this does not compensate for the fact that you'll be not able to understand his explanations in Royal Palace and/or on the way there. IMHO, he should not have been employed at all. In the afternoon we went for Thai massage (300 B for 1h.) I recommend it- you'll be streched, pushed, pulled, but eventually will feel better. If not go for foot massage - the same cost. And we went for shopping in MBK. This is very interesting place (including food court on 5 fl) and if you've some time to spare, go for it! It is 5 stops by skytrain ("National Stadium" stop), 37 b each way. Dinner was fine,- community style service, most of the dishes too spicy for my taste, but manageable. And it will be your first chance to sit with your companions - stupid and poor people don't go to such cruises so, I think you will (mostly) enjoy it! (in our group the oldest lady was 90y old, the second 86 y.o and my wife - 52 y.o was the youngest one). Day 3. In the morning we got transfered to airport for our flight to Mandalay. It was well organized process, no complains. The fly leaves around 12:30pm, lasts 1:30 h, they feed you lunch (extremely spicy so you better off to make some sandwiches in the hotel). When we arrived, we where met by Andrew & Nan Da- our PD's (program directors). They're going to be with you for the duration of the cruise until you leave from Yangon back to Bangkok. It is not sure that you'll get the same guys- there are 4 PD's for each ship, so which 2 you'll get is unknown. In any case, Andrew's English was easier to understand than Nan Da's, but Nan Da was more open about things and it is hard to say who was better. You can exchange money at the airport, but if you ask PD to do it tomorrow in the city you'll get 3% more for your money. I suggest to exchange only $100 per couple (they suggest twice that much),- a lot of places accept $$$, but some not. In any case you can exchange back or leave it as a tip at the end of the cruise. since it was already too late to go to monastery as planned (it closes at 4pm) we went directly to the ship and all planned things were moved to the next day. the trip to ship takes 45 min. On the bus, PDs will suggest to give $50 each toward tips for everybody not from the ship. At the end of the cruise you'll get the breakdown how that money was spent. We all (besides one couple) agreed and from looking on the breakdown of expenses I strongly recommend to give them only $30 p/p- it seems sufficient enough,- the tip IMHO, was not only exessive in some cases, but also given to some people that simply should not have got it at all. The ship (Viking Orient). Huge disappointment. Not even close to European river ships. The room is too small (about 140 sf), the storage space is very limited, the only "window" is the door that you came thru, but if you keep it open, then, everyone who passes will see inside your cabin. There is no A/C common space and sun deck is too hot during the day. There is also extremely bad acustics in dining room and you need to raise your voice in order to be heard. Put A/C on the "wave" you'll get better cooling. There is no Wi-Fi on board, but 2 computers with slow internet available, most of the time. Nothing blocked. Regarding clothing: don't worry about what to wear to monasteries or pagodas- every day it will be announced what is appropriate and worse case scenario you'll be given something to cover yourself. I suggest to pack light, the dress code is super-casual, no formal nights and no ties, suits, evening dresses- this is not like in Europe. Wear flip-flops, if you can. The schedule looks like that: 7-9am breakfast (very limited choice. You won't go hungry, but this is not Shangri-La) with tea or coffee; 9am -11:30am sightseeeing 12am- lunch. (Very good salads, poor main dish). 3:30pm- second sightseeing. 6pm- coctail hour; 6:45pm briefing for the next day. 7pm dinner. 8:30pm some kind of entertainment- movies ("The Lady"- highly recommend, and "The life of Budda"- put me to sleep), local productions- worth to try and once trivia game. At 10pm the computer is all yours- everybody is sleeping. There is no tea/coffee served during the lunch or dinner- there is machine at the bar where you can get very bad cappuchino or so-so coffee and normal tea. The drinks are included, besides imported hard alcohol (so local Wisky or Rum and local wines and coctails as much as you can). I'm not much drinker so have no clue about quality of any drinks, including beer. The desserts are mostly nothing to write home. BTW, Viking use to issue every traveler name tag (very convinient), but for some reason stop doing it few weeks ago. When you leave the ship for the daily excursions you'll get battle of water; when you come back you surrender your foot wear for the cleaning (do it) and get it in 1/2 h. Regarding sickness: I'm 100% sure that nobody ate anything from outside the ship and still every time someone was sick for 1-2 days. I think the reason for it the spices and the combination of unfamiliar food with drinks. At some point about 9 people were sick and did not show for excursion. Don't use Imodium, but rather Pipto-Bismol. Back to the day 3. At 6:15pm we got briefing with Hotel Manager- Dominiqe from Switzerland. Very nice and open guy. What is important, is that he said that in the area we pass there was no malaria case in the last 5-7 years so you don't have to take any profilatics. Day 4. The full day of Mandalay, including lunch in local (Chinese) restaurant. Very nice. Here you'll get your first real taste of Myanmar,- the city of 3m, looks like oversized village and simply different from Europe or USA. I'm not going to describe what we've seen (mostly), because you'll see it yourself, but rather just prepare you for any logistics or surprises. Day 5. Ava . Here you're going for the first time encounter local vendors,- mostly girls 7-17y old. They will try to sell you some costume jewelry (negotiate) and try to make you feel gilty ("what is your name? will you think about buying? (we're going thru them again) do you remember me? You make me unhappy if you don't buy" etc). My advise: if you like something- negotiate and buy, it is not expensive. If not, then tell them that their happiness is not your concern. The horse ride was unplesant. Amarapura. The visit to monastery is really waste of time; the gandolla ride on the lake is much more interesting. Unfortunatelly because of the time spent in monastery we don't get the chance to walk on the teak bridge. The entertainment: classical Burmese Ballet. highly recommend. Day 6. Your real encounter with village in Burma. Well, if you're after church-castle-palace-square, you'd be better off in Europe. Here it is totally different.... Evening entertainment: lecture about Bagan. While the subject is really interesting the lecturer was falling asleep and was done in 12 min on the subject that could be told hours. Very disappointing. From my later discussion with Dominiq it seems that there is a problem to find English speaking lecturers. Day 7. Bagan. Extremely interesting area, magnificient views. A lot of vendors. Some women bought "elephan pants" $4-$5, T-shirts and other touristic souvenirs. Vendors- see day 5. We dock near reasort where you can get Wi-Fi. Some people went to their coffee shop in the afternoon, but we choose their pool (they did not charge us, but I've heard about $10 fees). Very nice! Entertainment: Puppet show. Could not stand it more than 15 min. Very repetative. Day 8. Another village. Afternoon in Sale with monastery. Day 9. Another village. Afternoon in Magway, by trishaw to Pagoda with very nice view. This was very interesting- the city is not spoiled with tourist attention so we got to feel like on parade. Day 10. Monk blessing on the ship. Works for 26 days. Visit to local market. My wife got "Tanaka" 70c a jar plus some remedy against headachack- another 65c. I bought some bag for my camcorder- $3. In the afternoon we went to Minhla port- total waste of time and another small town. Day 11. Visit to local school where they made serious reception for us with dances, meals etc. (The tip money that left over get contributed to this school) Day 12. We get to Pyay and this is the last stop. For some reasons instead of going by ship to Yangon (160miles), they choose to get there by bus - 7 hours of not pleasant ride. We visited Shwe San daw Pagoda- very interesting and archeological museum- really nothing. Afternoon on your own. But it is so hot that no desire to go and explore more of that town. Disembarkation briefing. Tips: Viking recommend about $200 to crew (per couple) and the same to PD. In my view it is really exesessive,- I think 1/3 to 1/2 of it will do. To crew you can put it on credit card, but to PD only in cash. could be given later in Yangon. Dominiq also collected from everyone e-mail addresses and distributed list with it. Day 13. After breakfast we hit the road to Yangon and by 3pm we're there. Yangon, is the first normal town you'll see. A lot of traffic, normal streets & shops, even supermarket, squares with fonutain. Nice. We went for a swim & then to downtown- very close. The dinner in hotel is included, a lot of selection, but nothing to eat.... Day 14. The climax of the trip Shewdagon pagoda. Unforgettable! It is good thing that we started from Mandalay, because have we started from Yangon everything after that would be really downhill. At the top we got calendar for 2015 (50 cents) with the pictures of Pagoda. Extremely beautiful (both)! In the afternoon we went to supermarket to get idea about local production. Rum- 80 cents bottle. the other imported things are on par with US. Farewell dinner at hotel. Day 15. Moving back to Bangkok. 1 hour flight. The time difference with Birma 1/2h (compared to Bangkok). The same Tango met us, transfer to hotel, return your head pieces and we done. Day 16. Flying home! All in all was very interesting trip. Read Less
Viking Odin Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.5 0.0
Dining 3.5 0.0
Entertainment 3.0 0.0
Public Rooms 4.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 1.0 0.0
Family 1.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 0.0
Enrichment 3.5 0.0
Service 5.0 0.0
Value For Money 4.0 0.0
Rates 4.0 0.0

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