129 Viking River Viking Odin Cruise Reviews

We chose this cruise as it offered 2 nights stay in both Paris and Prague, and a visit down three rivers with stops in many towns that we were unfamiliar with in Germany. We did purchase the liquor package and only because we are not big ... Read More
We chose this cruise as it offered 2 nights stay in both Paris and Prague, and a visit down three rivers with stops in many towns that we were unfamiliar with in Germany. We did purchase the liquor package and only because we are not big beer or wine drinkers. we definitely got our moneys worth but I must add that the wines they served with dinner and lunch were top notch. Before booking this cruise it did not occur to me to check into the rising and falling of these rivers. I had no idea that they were prone to flooding at certain times of the year.Fortunately for us we left Paris before the flooding started and managed to maneuver the rivers without any problems. The sun deck had to be closed down during the last three days of our journey but that was due to having to pass under a series of bridges and the fact that the river was high. ( this was closer towards Prague) The service on this ship was superior. The crew members called us by first names and the captain joined in quite often with the passengers. He even helped with the loading on of fresh fruit and vegetables at certain stops. The meals were excellent and the entertainment although not up to cabaret standards was very good, enjoyable and related to the places we visited. You must remember.... this is not an ocean cruise. there are no swimming pools, casinos, mega bars or tons of people. Do not expect it to be like sailing on a Princess ship. this is a different experience and one that we enjoyed immensely and will treasure always. We met some fantastic people and had a great time all around. There were no line ups for security and bag checking embarking or disembarking at the ports... the buses to take you on the tours were new and comfortable and the guides immensely informative. I found a couple of times we did break away and go off on our own as some people are very slow. the average age of people on the ship I would say are in their 50's to 80's.. Our cabin was very efficient, we had a veranda and I found more than enough drawers and storage for our belongings. A lot more than on a ocean liner. I would not hesitate to recommend this Viking cruise or any other ones they offer. I am now looking into one of their ocean voyages. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
We loved our Viking cruise down the Danube the year prior. We have always wanted to see Prague and Paris so the City of Lights cruise from Bamberg to Trier was wonderful as expected. Viking surely has the right formula for accommodating ... Read More
We loved our Viking cruise down the Danube the year prior. We have always wanted to see Prague and Paris so the City of Lights cruise from Bamberg to Trier was wonderful as expected. Viking surely has the right formula for accommodating everyone onboard. The onboard entertainment is excellent. The crew is always on their A game and very friendly. For us, it is the right number of travelers on a ship. Everything is well orchestrated when disembarking on tours so that no group is too large. The few days pre and post cruise in Prague and Paris rounded out the vacation. Our only disappointment was the bus ride from Prague to Bamberg and then from Luxembourg City to Paris. While very comfortable Viking busses, the rides are too long and uneventful and cannot compare to our time on the ship. In the future, we will choose more wisely where there is only sailing involved. We will definitely try one of the Viking Ocean cruises and I am sure another river cruise. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
This was the Cities of Light tour. We wanted to see some castles and go to Paris for a few days. We thought cruising the river through Europe would be awesome, and it is! We could not have had a more bubbly and upbeat cruise director than ... Read More
This was the Cities of Light tour. We wanted to see some castles and go to Paris for a few days. We thought cruising the river through Europe would be awesome, and it is! We could not have had a more bubbly and upbeat cruise director than Claudia. The staff on the ship do an excellent job, and overall the customer service was impeccable. We were pampered from beginning to end. The food on the ship is very good and there is a good set of choices each night. Plus they pour wine with the meal and that is included. If you buy the beverage package then you can order wines for the meal (but not share them with other guests). You can also go to a package store and buy wine (and, in our case, whiskey) and bring them on board. They will open and pour your wine for you at the table, if you want, but keep any other liquor in your room. There are excursions planned almost every day, with some optional ones that you can purchase. I found the tour guides to be very good overall, and in most cases, they are knowledgeable people from the area you're visiting (perhaps from local university) who know a lot about what they're talking about. We would never have planned all of these trips on our own, and having everything planned for us was great. There were no kids on board and only a couple people under 30. We were a little younger than most others on the cruise (50's), with average age of probably 65-70, but we found ourselves hustling to keep up with the old people! It is a pretty busy schedule, but you can skip an excursion if you want to just lounge on the boat. You do a fair amount of walking each day, which is good because you are going to eat and drink like a pig! I can't imagine people NOT gaining weight on this cruise. Some have complained about the bus rides, but I think some folks just like to complain. You do have to board a bus typically to be brought to day's planned excursion. Generally a bus ride of an hour or less. I did not find this to be annoying or odd. There is wifi onboard but it can be very spotty and so you have to use it when it is available, which isn't all the time. This is the only area that I wish was better, but I understand the limitations. Overall, we felt that the cruise was terrific and something that we will never forget. Viking's customer service and attention to detail was about as good as it gets. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
We had a wonderful cruise. We started our Viking Cruise journey with an extended day in Paris and ended our Viking experience in Prague. Our dining experience throughout our trip was wonderful. The professional service and kindness of ... Read More
We had a wonderful cruise. We started our Viking Cruise journey with an extended day in Paris and ended our Viking experience in Prague. Our dining experience throughout our trip was wonderful. The professional service and kindness of staff was beyond our expectations. The land excursions ,by Vikings tour directors, were filled with historical and cultural information of great interest to us. We especially enjoyed the optional Lobkowicz Palace tour, It was hard to imagine the history of this beautiful palace which remained in the family, in spite of the drastic events of WW 2 and the Communist occupation. We also enjoyed our extended stay in Paris, from our walking tour of the city. to the beautiful spender of the Eiffel Tower , it's Cathedrals, and it's museums. While in Paris I just had to sample French Onion soup at a small restaurant with curbside seating. It was the best I ever tasted. My wife and I were also taken by the beauty of the rivers and the cleanliness of the river banks and surrounding areas throughout our River Cruise. Thank you Viking !!. . Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
Enjoyed the Cities of Light River Cruise sandwiched between stays in Prague and Paris. The Captain, Hotel Manager, Program Director and staff were attentive for the whole trip. We had 100 of 180 passenger capacity so the service was ... Read More
Enjoyed the Cities of Light River Cruise sandwiched between stays in Prague and Paris. The Captain, Hotel Manager, Program Director and staff were attentive for the whole trip. We had 100 of 180 passenger capacity so the service was favorable. Excursions included and optional ones selected were run efficiently and provided a topline visit to each port of call. Our cabin was on the 3rd floor with a veranda balcony that we nice to have with warm weather to enjoy the time sailing on the Main-Danube Canal, Main, Rhine and Mosel Rivers. Due to high water (I guess), we were not able to be on the top deck for three days at the start of the cruise, a little disappointing but understand for safety reasons. The Program Director ran a tight program and we felt our needs were taken care of while being comfortable the entire trip. Only one excursion in Paris, Montmarte Hill, was one hour late due to the bus arriving late. The others were on-time. We would return for another river cruise in the future. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
We wanted a cruise that included Paris...so we decided on the Prague to Paris- Cities of Lights- twelve day cruise with 2 nights in Prague, 8 days on the rivers and 2 nights in Paris. Viking Odin was a well organized, efficient team. ... Read More
We wanted a cruise that included Paris...so we decided on the Prague to Paris- Cities of Lights- twelve day cruise with 2 nights in Prague, 8 days on the rivers and 2 nights in Paris. Viking Odin was a well organized, efficient team. The crew was always striving to make our cruise the best ever.... And that is what we received. I highly recommend Viking. We enjoyed it so much that we have booked the European Sojourn next year, and of course Viking Air also. When we landed in Prague, we were greeted by a gentleman with the red Viking lollipop at the airport ( we also had Viking Air). We were greeted at the hotel by Suzy ( our program director). She was with us for the entire trip, and went the extra mile to make sure every moment was perfect. The next day we had a 4 mile, very interesting guide through the high points of Prague. This was the beginning of one of the most wonderful ... A dream of a lifetime trip!!!! Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
I chose this cruise because I liked the itinerary. This was my first Viking River Cruise. The ship was beautiful, the crew couldn't have been nicer. The food was excellent. Our room was spacious and very comfortable. Our tours ... Read More
I chose this cruise because I liked the itinerary. This was my first Viking River Cruise. The ship was beautiful, the crew couldn't have been nicer. The food was excellent. Our room was spacious and very comfortable. Our tours were great. The 176 passengers on this cruise were so much fun to be with. our cruise director, Bojan Bozic, was with us throughout our voyage. He was such a pleasant person and made each day more enjoyable. Some of the couples we met have become dear friends who I plan to keep in touch with. They are already e-mailing me on their next cruise on Viking in hopes we can all get together once again. The hotels we stayed at in Paris and Prague were beautiful. Our rooms were spacious and very clean. The overall pace of this itinerary was perfect for passengers our age(senior citizens). I will definitely be sailing again with Viking in the near future. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
Everything on this cruise was fantastic. The logistics were on the mark 100%; Viking has their act together. From the time they greet you to when you leave at the airport they are there to help you with everything. We extended our stay ... Read More
Everything on this cruise was fantastic. The logistics were on the mark 100%; Viking has their act together. From the time they greet you to when you leave at the airport they are there to help you with everything. We extended our stay in Paris and when they dropped us off at the airport we were greeted by a Viking rep who helped us get to the check in area and the security area. Everything was on time, smooth and no problems. You use the same bus, have the same driver the entire cruise, great setup. They make sure everything goes as planned and you always know where you are supposed to be and when you are supposed to be there. I almost felt like we were on a private yacht with the excellent service; they make sure you get off the ship ok, and always greet you with a treat when you get back on board. The food was great and the cabins are nice. I have told everyone they need to go on a river cruise and to use Viking. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
This was our first river cruise and my first time in Europe. We sailed on the longship Odin and was extremely pleased. This was nothing like a large cruise ship (which I have sailed on many many times - NCL, Carnival, Royal Caribbean). At ... Read More
This was our first river cruise and my first time in Europe. We sailed on the longship Odin and was extremely pleased. This was nothing like a large cruise ship (which I have sailed on many many times - NCL, Carnival, Royal Caribbean). At first I was a little leery thinking there wouldn't be anything to do on the ship. Well...I am VERY thankful there wasn't big time shows, casinos, pools, etc. This was a beautiful journey where the destination is the prize. We spent so much time sightseeing at so many different ports that we were always tired by the time we got back to the ship. Because there were only 165 people on board, it was very intimate and we got to know so many of the other passengers. The meals on the ship were very tasty and plentiful. I had a nice glass of wine with dinner at no extra charge, which was very nice. The crew went above and beyond for every single passenger, and I noticed how they all help each other out. They seemed to be like a large traveling family themselves. We had a cabin with a veranda, which was very nice, but as it turned out, we didn't really need a veranda because we would go to the top deck to be with all our "new" friends and watch the scenery go by as we travelled to the next port. The shore excursions were perfect and very informative with the Audio Vox that everyone used to hear the tour guides. I can't think of a single thing that I didn't like and I would highly recommend a Viking River Cruise - well worth the money. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
We had friends going on this cruise and they invited us along. The two days in Paris were great. The Viking Team met us at the airport and whisked us into the city in a beautiful car. The tea at the hotel took care of us as soon as we ... Read More
We had friends going on this cruise and they invited us along. The two days in Paris were great. The Viking Team met us at the airport and whisked us into the city in a beautiful car. The tea at the hotel took care of us as soon as we entered. The bus drive to Trier through Luxembourg was very comfortable and very emotional with the visit to the American cemetery. The food and drink on board were first class. The scenery was great. We had no issue with either low or high water. We were unaware that this can be a major issue. The crew and waiting staff were very attentive to our needs. The tours were informative and just the right amount of time. The extension in Lucerne was nice and again the Viking Team took care of us at the hotel upon arrival. They helped us get out of town also. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
we read a lot of reviews and also have friends that have gone on Viking cruises and we have never heard of anything negative. Their website does a great job of showing you the rooms and the whole ship in and out. They also show all the ... Read More
we read a lot of reviews and also have friends that have gone on Viking cruises and we have never heard of anything negative. Their website does a great job of showing you the rooms and the whole ship in and out. They also show all the ports you will visit and what to expect. Everything when you are on the ship meets all expectations. The food and service is fantastic. You are greeted every day by the crew with a smile. In the restaurant where you have no time expectations is well presented and the chef will accommodate any dietary needs. The rooms are kept beyond clean and serviced twice a day. Coffee is ready on all floors in the morning to take to your room before breakfast. At breakfast there is a chef to make your personal omelette and eggs, bacon and cheese. Lunch and dinner include wine and beer Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
25th wedding anniversary trip, Prague to Paris. Pre and post extended our itinerary. Prague was excellent and I suggest pre-extending to enjoy Prague because the Jet lag takes a day to get over. After Prague we traveled by bus to Nuremburg ... Read More
25th wedding anniversary trip, Prague to Paris. Pre and post extended our itinerary. Prague was excellent and I suggest pre-extending to enjoy Prague because the Jet lag takes a day to get over. After Prague we traveled by bus to Nuremburg where we enjoyed an excursion tour with an excellent guide. We boarded our ship that night in Bamberg. For the next seven days and nights we enjoyed excellent excursions along the Main, Rhine, and Moselle rivers. What truly made our trip extremely enjoyable was the superb staff on the Viking Odin. I would like to acknowledge the following: Rudolph (our room steward), Dada (the bar manager), Jindra, Lucia (restaurant and bar service), and Noel (Kitchen staff). These Viking employees where professional, friendly, and fun to converse with. I also enjoyed conversing with fellow travelers in the relaxed atmosphere of the Ship. It was emotionally harder to leave the ship in Trier Germany than I thought it would be. Paris was somewhat disappointing, getting around via public transportation was rather easy and the attractions (Tour de Eiffel, Arch de Triumphe, Notre Dame cathedral, Palace de Versailles, The Louvre, etc.) are impressive to say the least. The hotel we stayed at was under renovation and sub-par for the level of service we had become accustomed to from Viking. Fortunately the 4 night 3 day stay in Paris made us look forward to traveling home Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
This was our second time with Viking. The cruise was "The City of Lights'" from Bamberg Germany to Trier with an extra two night stay tacked on before the cruise in Prague and two nights afterwards in Paris. All organized by ... Read More
This was our second time with Viking. The cruise was "The City of Lights'" from Bamberg Germany to Trier with an extra two night stay tacked on before the cruise in Prague and two nights afterwards in Paris. All organized by Viking River Cruises. What can I say? We had a fabulous experience. Excellent shore excursions throughout hosted by knowledgable and personable guides. Accommodations on board the ship were comfortable, staff were amazing and the food always superb. The hotels we stayed in at either end of the cruise were luxurious and well situated for convenient sight seeing. There were always Viking Hosts available to assist us as needed with our daily excursion plans. This was our 2nd Viking Cruise. Our first was a wonderful cruise on the Rhine river. We enjoyed both cruises so much, we have booked a third cruise in October 2017, on the Danube River. This time, as on our second cruise, we are bringing friends along to share the experience with us. Highlights will include concerts and the Lippizaner horses in Vienna and the baths in Budapest. Looking forward, as always, to this next cruise with Viking. If a trouble free, no worries luxury cruise appeals to you... then we really recommend Viking. They are the best! Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
This was my wife's and I first river cruise. We did the city of lights cruise and it was great. The service from the time I called to ask questions to the time we where on our way home was unbelievable. Our cruise director was very ... Read More
This was my wife's and I first river cruise. We did the city of lights cruise and it was great. The service from the time I called to ask questions to the time we where on our way home was unbelievable. Our cruise director was very fun and knowledgeable and seemed to be everywhere. The housekeeping could not be any better. The food was excellent and had a wide variety and I am a picky eater, the wait staff waited on us like a 5 star restaurant, kept our glasses full of beer and wine. The rest us the crew was very friendly and made sure that everything was a great experience. The tour guides were very professional and fun to listen to. we learned a lot, the bus drivers were very good also. met a lot of very nice shipmates from all over. The only things I think could be better is the internet service and most people probably did not use it much but I am a late night person and like to be online at night. also not much for TV at night. We also extended our stay in Paris for 2 nights so that we could go to Normandy and Viking did not have any suggestions on what tour guide we should use. we did find one on our self and it was excellent. we will definitely be taking more river cruises in the future. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
They take such good care of you, they booked the entire trip beginning with the direct flight from the states to Paris. They meet you at the airport, and have you put your luggage next to the bus where you watch the bus driver put it in ... Read More
They take such good care of you, they booked the entire trip beginning with the direct flight from the states to Paris. They meet you at the airport, and have you put your luggage next to the bus where you watch the bus driver put it in the bus storage. I visited 4 different countries and many cities and I never had to worry about my luggage from that point on. We stayed 2 nights at a hotel in Paris (again, they took care of all the arrangements) and the morning we were transferring to the boat, we put our luggage outside out hotel room at a designated time and they picked it up. After breakfast we headed to the bus and our luggage was sitting next to the bus waiting for us to identify it before it went into the bus storage. Once on the boat, they take your luggage to your state room while you have a meet and greet with an overview of the cruise itinerary. The staff are friendly and so helpful, we would leave the room for breakfast and by the time we got back the room it was cleaned. The tours are wonderful, the tour guides are very knowledgeable and some add a sense of humor. They arrange for direct access to sites that would take you hours to stand in line without their prior arrangements. In the afternoon after the daily tours, they had placed towel animals (animals made from the towels) on the bed. We have taken a few of their added tours which included dinner at a restaurant in the town which appeared to be a local fun spot and a great way to end the day. Since the boat only holds around 250 people, meals are served in 2 hour windows so everyone eats around the same time. There were 2 options, the formal dinning room or the enclosed glass deck (the Avanti Deck) where it was more casual. This is my 2nd cruise and because of the small number of guests you tend to find people you get along with and you end up eating at the same table for each meal, makes it very nice to get to know people. We all got along so well on this last cruise that we are planning another cruise next year with the same group. Just sitting on the boat watching the castles go by while having a drink or lunch is a wonderful experience I'll remember the rest of my life. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
We took the cruise to The City of Lights- Paris to Prague. This was a wonderful experience for us, so much so that we are booked on another Viking river cruise this May. The people that worked in the ship were wonderfull, the service was ... Read More
We took the cruise to The City of Lights- Paris to Prague. This was a wonderful experience for us, so much so that we are booked on another Viking river cruise this May. The people that worked in the ship were wonderfull, the service was excellent and the food was exceptional. Our cruise director was incredibly attentive to our needs and always making sure that we were comfortable on the tours. The Viking River Cruise was beyond our expectations. We flew from Miami to Paris where a driver from the Viking staff was waiting for us at the airport to take us to our hotel. The hotel in Paris was at least a four star hotel. The next day we were treated to a very nice buffet breakfast prior to being taken, by private coach, to a mini tour of Paris which included the Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower. Late afternoon we returned to the hotel and had free time to explore on our own. A Viking staff member was always available to assist us. The following day we were picked up by luxury coach buses to take us to Luxembourg where we boarded the majestic Viking ship. Cruising through the River along the Moselle, Rhine and Main Rivers while seating on a comfortable couch in front of the huge glass windows sipping a cup of hot chocolate, was amazing! It was as if I was in a fairy tail, the once my mother use to read to me when I was a little girl. I have to say that the Heidelberg Castle in Germany was definitely a dream come true. To complete my fairy tale was the glow of Prague at Night. Taking this cruise in December truly brought the Christmas spirit to life. Each quaint small towns in between had Christmas markets all through the center of town making this trip even more magical. I will be taking this tour again this Crhistmas but this time, I will include my siblings. I suggest you do too. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
I've always wanted to return to Europe during the wintertime and visit the Christmas markets. We had been receiving brochures from Viking for a year or so but didn't have the "free time" to commit to such a voyage. I ... Read More
I've always wanted to return to Europe during the wintertime and visit the Christmas markets. We had been receiving brochures from Viking for a year or so but didn't have the "free time" to commit to such a voyage. I became more and more intrigued as the brochures came, earmarking each cruise of interest. When the opportunity finally came we jumped on the chance and went to see our travel agent. Booking the cruise was a breeze and the booklets describing our itinerary provided valuable information for preparation as well as planning our port excursions. This cruise focused on everything I wanted to see and do as well as allow me to return to Paris and visit Prague. Our travel from California to Paris then Prague back home was arranged through Viking and we encountered no problems or glitches. We were met at the airport and driven to the hotel where a Viking Representation handled our registration, secured our luggage, and gave us suggestions for dinner and seeing Paris. The crew was wonderful and the local tour guides were very knowledgeable and passionate about their cities/towns. The evening presentations focusing on the next port, its history, and sights were well prepared and extremely valuable. Each of the markets we visited reflected the food and local customs of the host city. Every meal on board was delicious and the dining room staff friendly and doting - going out of their way to ensure we had a great dining experience. If we particularly enjoyed a menu item (which was often the case) we were brought second servings ... and more!Each meal on board reflected the local specialties. The cooking and craft demonstrations were great fun, My husband and I had a wonderful time and look forward to travelling with Viking again in the near future. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
This was our first River Cruise. I am so thankful we picked Viking Odin. They were wonderful, from the pickup at the airport, checking into the Paris hotel, transportation to Trier for the River Cruise, checking into the hotel in Prague ... Read More
This was our first River Cruise. I am so thankful we picked Viking Odin. They were wonderful, from the pickup at the airport, checking into the Paris hotel, transportation to Trier for the River Cruise, checking into the hotel in Prague and then finally dropping us off at the airport. The Viking crew were wonderful. We could not say enough about the staff and how much they seemed to care that we were enjoying ourselves. Our cabin was spotless, Nicoletta was lovely and always made sure we were comfortable. Radim the Program Director was amazing. That guy never stopped - he really knows how to keep everything running smoothly and obviously loves his job. The dining was always spot on, everyone worked so well together and they all did a great job of bringing you things before you even thought you needed it. We were very happy with the food choices at each meal. The wines changed as we went through each region, the beers were excellent also. Unless you are really into a certain drink, the spirit package is really not necessary. I think the excursions were handled very well, we had three different groups most of the time, leisure and two faster but not so fast you couldn't take the photos you would like. There was always some free time at each of the ports we stopped at. We are in our 50's and had a great time - we look forward to another trip on Viking River Cruises. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
Cities of Light Viking Cruise on Main-Danube Canal, Rhine, & Moselle Rivers November 2015 ~~~ Prague, Czech Republic – Friday, November 20 ~~~ Today has been our second day here in Prague, Czech Republic, the starting point ... Read More
Cities of Light Viking Cruise on Main-Danube Canal, Rhine, & Moselle Rivers November 2015 ~~~ Prague, Czech Republic – Friday, November 20 ~~~ Today has been our second day here in Prague, Czech Republic, the starting point for our “Cities of Light” Viking River Cruise. Tomorrow (Saturday) we will journey by bus to Nürnberg, Germany, for our day’s tour there, and then on to Bamberg, Germany, where our riverboat, the Viking Odin, is docked on the River Main. The weather today was COLD with a slight wind and light rain, making our city tour of Prague a real challenge. We went by bus from the Hilton Hotel to the Prague Castle complex where we departed the bus for a walking tour of the Castle grounds. Passing through the Castle’s entrance, guarded by two diligent formal guards in their guard houses, our first stop was in a gigantic court yard, ringed with portions of the Castle now used for government offices. Then it was through another passageway to the St. Vitus Cathedral, an enormous Gothic structure, soaring into the sky; it dates back to the early 1400s. We were able to enter the Cathedral and observe the lofty, vaulted ceiling and admire the beautiful stained glass windows. It is hard to imagine the size of this magnificent church. Then we passed through yet another archway into another courtyard to the side of St. Vitus Cathedral with government buildings on the other sides; it is here that on one of the balconies the new president of the Czech Republic appeared when inaugurated. As I mentioned, the weather was quite cold, making my wearing of a hooded sweatshirt beneath a leather jacket very appropriate, especially having the hood over my head and ears. Back to the bus, we then proceeded through New Town, down to the Charles Bridge, an ancient structure spanning the River Vltava. Our walk to the base of the Bridge and our stroll across this historic structure was most interesting as well as crowded with the surprisingly many tourists. Across the bridge, we entered the Old Town and proceeded to the Square where is located the famous Astronomical Clock housed in its ancient tower. The hourly performances of the Clock are well viewed by the hundreds of tourists crowding into the Square. It was here that Jim and I decided to depart our tour and stop at the same restaurant at which we had dined twice on our previous visit to Prague in July. The tour continued through the Jewish Quarter before coming to an end at around 1 PM. Due to the cold weather we sat at an inside table this time and enjoyed goulash - Prague style, along with a glass of red wine for me, of course. After some difficulty in locating an available taxi, we returned to the Hilton Hotel and enjoyed another afternoon at leisure, napping and trying to make up for the lost sleep in transit from Los Angeles on Thursday and Friday. Once again we flew KLM from LAX to Amsterdam, experiencing some moderately rough air over the Labrador Sea between Canada and Greenland. Again, I thought KLM’s service was excellent and the flight turned out to be enjoyable, despite my failure to achieve much sleep during the 9+ hour flight. The flight was an hour late leaving LAX, making our 2 hour layover in Amsterdam before our flight on to Prague all that much shorter. However, the 1-hour Prague flight went well and clouded skies and brisk temperatures greeted our arrival. Viking personnel greeted us upon exiting baggage claim and soon we were bused on to the Hilton Hotel, arriving around 3 o'clock local time. Hotel check in was speedy and efficient, thanks to Viking, and we were soon in our room 1074 that overlooks the interior atrium in this modern hotel. Then it was time for sleep! Later Friday evening we again walked across from the Hilton to the nearby restaurant where we had twice dined in July. This time the Dvur Restaurant was quite full, although being a rather small place, and the ONE waiter was quite busy. Our meals were quite good, as usual, and afterwards we fought the slight sprinkles returning to the Hilton. It was good to be back in our warm room and continue with our sleep. Of course, with the difference in time zones, we awoke several times during the night. Perhaps after tonight’s rest we will be back to normal with the 11-hour time change. Tonight we again plan on returning to the Dvur Restaurant for dinner; perhaps it won’t be as crowded as last night. ~~~ Nürnberg, Germany – Saturday, November 21 ~~~ The bus ride from Prague to Nürnberg took over 4 hours along nice expressways in the Czech Republic and the autobahn, of course, in Germany. Our only stop was a rest stop just short of the Czech/Germany border where we were given the opportunity to use the bathrooms and grab a quick coffee – AND to spend the rest of the Czech money we were carrying; it is not acceptable anywhere out of the Czech Republic. Our arrival in Nürnberg was just before lunch so we sought out the recommended restaurant by our tour guide to enjoy the wonderful “Nürnberg Sausages”; the standard order was 6 sausages along with sauerkraut but I increased my order to 8, and thoroughly enjoyed every single one of them. For those of you not familiar with the Nürnberg sausages, they are smaller, finger-size sausages, grilled before serving, and DELICIOUS! Of course, a couple of pints of lager accompanied my lunch. Our first stop was at the Zeppelin Parade Grounds where Hitler staged all of his colossal events, and crowds in excess of 250,000 attended one such event. All that remains now are the stands and the podium; the columns forming the background behind the stands which were destroyed by the Nürnbergers in their attempt at “de-Nazi-fication”. The large stone swastika behind the podium was blown up by American troops immediately following their capture of Nürnberg. Also the ringing podiums along the sides and rear of the field are still there; these were used as toilets for the masses attending Hitler’s events. Aboard the bus, we next drove INTO the center of the Congress Hall – still unfinished; it was designed to hold 50,000 under a dome but its completion was delayed by the beginning of World War II, due to shortage of funds. Also as part of this gigantic hall is a permanent museum displaying much of the Nazi era documents and photos, called the “Document Center.” We did not have the time to tour this museum although I had done so on a tour during my previous visit to Nürnberg in 2007. Then it was a drive by of the famous courthouse where the Allies held the Nürnberg Trials of Nazi war criminals; we did not have the time to enter the courthouse; this I had also visited in 2007. With this abbreviated tour of Nürnberg finished, we next headed toward the town of Bamberg where our riverboat, the Viking Odin, was docked. By then it was getting dark as we boarded our home for the next 7 nights. With the terrorism events in Paris, there had been many cancelations of our cruise and I had inquired about the possibility of an upgrade in cabin to a Veranda Suite. Long story short, we WERE so upgraded and are happily enjoying the spaciousness of Veranda Suite 328. This suite is roughly twice the size of a regular Veranda Stateroom, has three separate rooms – living room, bedroom and a big bath, and has two large flat screen TVs. A bottle of champagne greeted our entrance to the room as well as fresh flowers and live orchid plants. There is a standard veranda off the living room as well as a French balcony off the bedroom. We were similarly upgraded to one of these Veranda Suites on our “Pathway to Eastern Europe” river cruise back in 2014, that time without solicitation. So we are understandably happy with our accommodation. After boarding the riverboat in Bamberg and settling into our room, we later enjoyed our first dinner aboard before falling into bed – exhausted; it had been a busy day. ~~~ Bamberg, Germany – Sunday, November 22 ~~~ Our riverboat, the Viking Odin, remained docked in Bamberg overnight and our first evening aboard was highlighted by a special “Welcome Aboard” reception and dinner, hosted by the Captain and his staff. My menu choice was a cut of Chateaux Briand, served medium rare: delicious! Then it was off to bed in our luxurious Veranda Suite. Breakfast aboard is always a delight on Viking cruises; there is an “egg station” in the center of the dining room where custom-made omelets are prepared – my choice, along with a selection of bacon, sausages, potatoes, and grilled mushrooms. Breads consist of the standard toasts as well as delicious pastries, croissants, etc. Fresh fruit – honeydew, cantaloupe, pineapple, and watermelon - is also offered. It one can’t fill up on breakfast, then there is something wrong! At 8:45 AM we loaded aboard buses for the short trip into downtown Bamberg for our city tour that lasted until 11:45 PM. As mentioned before, the temperature was COLD and we dressed accordingly, with earmuffs, scarves, and gloves. Off the bus, we were then led on a walking tour of some of the city’s highlights, including the old Town Hall built in the center of a river, and the cathedral and palace high on a hill overlooking the town. It was with no regret that our time outside soon ended when we re-boarded our bus for transfer back to the warmth of our riverboat. Once back on board, there was a mandatory Safety Drill in the Lounge, requiring each passenger to don his/her life jacket, and be identified; that was it! I was expecting a bit more. Lunch aboard is most enjoyable, as wine and beer are complimentary for both lunch and dinner. The dining room is ringed with large floor-to-ceiling windows that provide a panoramic view of the river. This is a beautiful boat! During the afternoon I attended a lecture in the Lounge on the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal that was most interesting in explaining its long-term plans and eventual completion in the late 90’s. Charlemagne first envisioned such a canal way back in history, which would provide a waterway connecting the North Sea with the Black Sea. Two of our river cruises have completed such a transit; Budapest to Amsterdam back in 2007, and then Budapest to Bucharest in 2014. Dinner that evening was as usual, enjoyable and delicious. Tomorrow we are at dock in Würzburg. ~~~ Würzburg, Germany – Monday, November 23 ~~~ Cruising overnight down the Main River, our riverboat arrived early in the morning of Monday, November 23, at Würzburg, Germany, where we were scheduled for a full-day tour to the nearby town of Rothenburg, starting at 9:15 AM. So, after our usual big breakfast onboard starting at 7 AM, we loaded on buses for the hour-long ride to this historic, ancient walled city of Rothenburg. Arriving in Rothenburg, we exited our buses required to park just outside the city’s walls; our entrance into the city was through gates in the wall. It was another walking tour and our route lead us up one of the main streets to the Green Market Square. We then observed the old Town Hall, prominent on the Square as well as many of the classically designed old buildings. Reminiscent of buildings in Amsterdam, there was a hoist located at the very top center of the building, used to hoist up furniture, etc., into the interior rooms, necessary due to the very narrow staircases inside. Lunch was included on this “optional” tour and we soon proceeded down another main street to a very nice restaurant where our group was seated in a separate dining room. Soup was the first course, followed by a generous serving of bratwurst, sauerkraut, and mashed potatoes. Desert was a cheesecake drizzled with a berry sauce. Wine or beer was also included; my choice, of course, was the nice dry white wine of the region. Free time was then given for shopping – NOT me! I found a convenient coffee shop near our meeting spot and grabbed a window seat from which I could observe the comings and goings of the many tourists. After two glasses of Müller Thurgau white wine, a local offering, I was ready to rejoin our group for the continuation of our tour. Next on our agenda was a visit to the Bishop’s Residenz Palace in downtown Würzburg. Having visited this magnificent “palace” on our previous trip in 2007, I knew what to expect, but even at that; I was still amazed at the splendor of this place. The first attraction is the grand staircase winding up to the upper level, beneath spectacular painted ceilings. The immensity of this ceiling and the task of painting the murals there is really mind-blowing! Then we entered the main reception hall, equally resplendent with statue-decorated walls and ceiling. The next room was a “waiting room” for guests to see the Bishop, and was splendidly decorated as well. Each additional room seemed to outdo the previous one, leading to the most ornate of the rooms; the “mirror room”. Covered with mirrors edged in gold with engraved “paintings”, this room was ablaze with reflections from the ceilings and walls. A truly spectacular scene. With the sun now down, our group finally exited the Bishop’s Residenz and reboarded our buses for the short drive back to our riverboat. It had been a very full and interesting day. ~~~ Wertheim (Heidelberg) - Tuesday, November 24 ~~~ The stop in Wertheim was primarily to disembark and embark buses for our full-day tour to Heidelberg, a journey of about one hour and forty-five minutes. The weather was again COLD with evidence of snow flurries on the fields and in the trees. It was rather beautiful to observe – from the warmth of our bus! Arriving in Heidelberg, our first site of interest was the old Castle, high on the hill above the city, which we reached by a steep street with many switchbacks. Disembarking the bus, we had a walk from the parking lot to the entrance of the Castle, already crowded with tour groups such as ours. It amazes me how the local guides succeed in keeping their groups together. Our guide was a middle-aged redheaded woman named Katja and she turned out to be an excellent, albeit humorous, guide. She must have had some theatrical background to perform for us the way she did. Her favorite color was obviously red because of her attire with a blazing red coat. Very easy to find in a crowd! We paused at a gate near the entrance while Katja told the story of it, a present to a princess by some king. Then it was into the Castle itself, passing over a dry moat and through the gated entrance, equipped with large wooden doors. Above could be seen an apparatus to dump boiling oil on unwelcome entrants. Inside the courtyard of the Castle, we were informed about each of the separate buildings ringing it, some partially in ruins, others in good condition. The Castle was built in many stages that could be observed due to the differences in design, construction and condition. Through an archway we found ourselves on a large terrace overlooking the city of Heidelberg and the River Neckar with the famous bridge crossing it. From this bridge is an excellent view of the Castle, looming just above. Back in the courtyard we were then led down into a room containing a gigantic wine barrel, and we are talking BIG! We were told that when full, it could contain somewhere around 50,000 gallons of wine! We climbed a stairway to the top of this barrel, walked over its top and down another stairway to the bottom. It was B I G! Thus completing our Castle tour, we walked back to the bus for transit on down into the city for our included lunch. After getting off the bus we had a fair walk down the main street, now crowded with preparations for their “Christmas Market”, and everywhere you looked there were signs of Christmas: lights, wreaths, trees, ornaments, etc. Passing the cathedral, marking the city center, we soon came to our lunch spot, the Hotel zum Ritter. Inside we were ushered through several dining rooms until reaching the one assigned to our group. Seated at tables for 6, we were joined by students from Heidelberg University, an idea from Viking that turned out to be quite a success. Drinks were included so I had a glass of good white wine (and also that of Jim who doesn’t drink.) A very nice salad started lunch followed by a delicious entrée of a rolled pork loin served with wonderful gravy, accompanied by vegetables. Dessert was an ice cream cookie drenched with a berry sauce. Needless to say, it was a most enjoyable lunch! Our conversations with the two girl students seated at our table proved to be a good experience. We chatted about their studies, their progress, their background, and many other items. They in turn inquired as to our own travels and lives, families, etc. Their names were Marie (23) and Becky (22); really fine young women. After lunch we were given “free time” with which to traverse the rest of this very busy pedestrian street, lined with shops, restaurants and coffee shops, a shopping “Mecca”. Instead, I found a nice coffee shop, planted myself at the window where I could observe the comings and goings along the street, and enjoyed two glasses of a local white wine. Then it was time to return to our bus and travel back to the riverboat. It had been another full day. ~~~ Mainz and Rüdesheim, Germany - Wednesday, November 25 ~~~ Today we made our first stop on the Rhine River at Mainz, Germany, near the confluence with the Main River, and our riverboat docked just adjacent to the modern city hall which is located right on the River. We then just walked off the riverboat for our short walking tour of the city, our first stop being at the Gutenberg Museum. Having been here before, we still enjoyed seeing the ancient copies of the Bible, first printed by Gutenberg and stored in a vault. We then viewed an informative demonstration of Gutenberg’s printing process including a discussion of the type sets and page construction; very rudimentary but revolutionary at the time. Then it was over to the big cathedral of the city; we entered the very dark chambers and were surprised at the austerity of this cathedral. At one time, there were NO windows in this cathedral, so it must have been like a dungeon! Interesting never the less, and with it the conclusion of our short tour of Mainz. We then walked back to our riverboat, just in time for lunch aboard, as we departed Mainz going down the River Main towards our next stop, Rüdesheim. Docking in Rüdesheim for the night, I chose to take an optional wine tasting tour in the late afternoon that turned out to be a sensational experience. Our small group of around 20 departed from the dock in a bus, going up, up and up the hill to the Schloss Johannesburg that housed the winery. Located high above the city of Rüdesheim, we first ventured to a lookout point from which we viewed the City below and surrounding vineyards in the fading light. Back in a courtyard of this classic castle (“schloss”) we were given our first wine to taste, a nice dry Riesling. It turns out that ALL wines made in this winery were from the Riesling grape. We were told to hang on to our glasses as we entered and made our way down old, worn stairs into the wine cellar below the Schloss. A true wine “cellar,” the floors were covered in a small gravel, the walls and domed ceiling were of stone, and the lighting was by means of hundreds of candles. Very romantic! We then received our second wine sample, also another Riesling, and VERY good! Proceeding through the wine cellar until reaching its end, we were given yet another wine sample. But we were not yet to the end of this wine cellar for we entered and descended yet another set of worn stairs in candlelight, down to the very bottom where we enjoyed yet another wine sample. Inside a caged room in this deepest of the wine cellar we observed bottles of wine dating back hundreds and hundreds of years. The oldest bottle was once desired for purchase of a rich Russian who offered $1 million, but was refused. Back up from the deepest cellar, we gathered around in the main cellar where two more wine samples were offered – all very good. Then it was time to go; back up the stairs to the courtyard and then back to our waiting bus. By then it was dark and the spectacular sunset we had observed earlier had gone. Our bus trip down the mountain, back to the dock and our riverboat, was in total darkness even though it was only a little after 6 PM. I had relinquished and purchased a bottle of wine before leaving the winery; for 7.20 Euros, it was one of the least expensive. It was the absolute best wine tasting I have ever experienced in all of my travels. ~~~ Cochem, Germany - Thursday, November 26 ~~~ After remaining at dock overnight in Rüdesheim, this morning we continued cruising down the Rhine River viewing the most scenic portion filled with ancient castles high on the hills overlooking the River along with hillsides covered in vineyards. From the Lounge I observed the beauty of the passing scenery through the floor-to-ceiling windows. Diana, the Program Director, gave a running narrative from the bridge. We passed by the Lorelei Rock, famous in myth for luring sailors to their watery death in this narrowest part of the Rhine where the water is over 80 feet deep. The “Middle Rhine” is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As we departed the most scenic part of our cruise and entered the city of Koblenz, it was time for lunch in the dining room, just below the Lounge. Soon the riverboat made a sharp turn to the left, past an impressive monument the “German Corner”, and entered the Moselle River. After only a short time, we entered the first of many locks, this time lifting the boat UP several meters, as we would be cruising UP the Moselle River as far as Trier. At the village of Alken, the Viking Odin briefly docked long enough for us to disembark and load aboard buses for the drive on to Cochem and our included tour of this lovely town, dominated by the Reichsburg Castle on a hill overlooking the town. Originally built nearly 1,000 years ago, with its mighty rectangular keep and many small towers, it has been destroyed and rebuilt several times, the last being in the 19th century. Today it is owned by the town of Cochem and maintained as a tourist attraction. Following a brief walking tour through the narrow, cobblestoned streets of Cochem, we loaded onto smaller minivans for the ride up to the Castle where we enjoyed a surprisingly lengthy and complete tour, visiting many of the recently restored rooms, loaded with antique furnishings. From the outside balcony of one such room, the view down to the Moselle River and the town of Cochem was absolutely breath taking. Our return by minivan back down the hill into the town dropped us into the Market Square where the Christmas Markets are in full swing. We then had to cross the nearby bridge and walk a fair distance to reach the location where our riverboat had docked. The many locks on the Moselle River are quite time-consuming and were the reason for our earlier disembarkation and bus ride up TO the town of Cochem while our riverboat transited the river and locks. In fact, the riverboat was 30 minutes late in arriving in Cochem for our 6:00 PM embarkation; knowing this lead us to seek out a warm café for hot chocolate while waiting for the arrival of the Viking Odin. Back aboard our riverboat, there was only a short time to dress for the Captain’s Reception at 7:00 PM and Farewell Dinner at 7:30 PM, preceded by the usual pre-dinner talk by the Program Director, Diana. I had brought along my blazer and tie for this special dinner - our Thanksgiving Dinner, complete with roast turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie for dessert! Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! It was the end of a most enjoyable, interesting and FULL day aboard the Viking Odin. ~~~ Bernkasel and Trier, Germany - Friday, November 27 ~~~ After enjoying our full breakfast aboard the Viking Odin, complete with custom-made omelet, crispy bacon, sautéed mushrooms, fresh-squeezed orange juice, croissant, fresh-brewed coffee and fresh fruit bowl, we departed our boat docked at Bernkasel and began our optional walking tour of the city, also including a wine-tasting stop. We strolled along the narrow cobble-stoned streets lined with half-timbered houses in this 700-year-old town, coming into the market square with the renaissance town hall and splendid town gate. As we have seen in other German towns, the Christmas Markets are already in full operation, with their many shops and cafes. Then we crossed a bridge to reach the Vinothek in Kues that was the location of our wine tasting. Very different from any other wine-tastings I have experienced, we were lead into a hall and given glasses and directed downstairs to a lower room with a series of chilled barrels each containing a dozen or so numbered bottles which corresponded to detailed descriptions along the walls. We were told to select a bottle of our choice and pour our own sample, and to repeat this process as many times and with as many different bottles as we wanted. Long story short, I sampled only one wine, a dry white Riesling, which I found to be quite good; at this time of the late morning, getting wasted on wine was not something I desired. Then it was back to the riverboat in time for our lunch aboard. Departing the dock during lunchtime, the Viking Odin cruised farther up the Moselle River, through this exquisite valley whose hillsides are covered with countless vineyards. This was my first time on the Moselle River and it was lovely. Again because of the time-consuming passage through the many locks, we docked briefly in early afternoon at Wintrich to disembark onto buses for the further drive on up to the city of Trier; we would later reboard our riverboat in Trier after our tour. Trier is Germany’s oldest city with much Roman influence: a gigantic Roman amphitheater and the massive Roman baths. There are also the wonderfully preserved Roman city gates called Porta Nigra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Also of note are the Trier Cathedral and the Church of Our Lady. Then we were given free time for shopping; the Christmas Markets were in full operation. I chose to find a nice WARM café in which to sit and enjoy a glass or two of wine. Back on the bus, it was time to return to our riverboat that turned out not to be so easy, because of delays it had encountered transiting the many locks on the River. In fact, we journeyed back DOWN the River to a rendezvous location where our riverboat was at dock, waiting on us. By now it was dark and we all had to walk from the buses along the riverbanks some 300 yards - in the dark - to the riverboat! Fortunately, our way was lit with flashlights held by crew members, every few feet along the way, wishing us welcome back aboard; a VERY thoughtful thing to happen! With everyone back aboard, the Viking Odin then cruised on up the river to its dock for the night in Trier. Of course, once back onboard in our nice WARM riverboat, it was soon time for our Captain’s Final Dinner, preceded as usual by the Program Director’s talk at 6:45 PM in which Diana told us of the planned happenings for the following day when we would be disembarking for the last time and traveling on to Luxembourg. The most unpleasant task of the entire cruise was now at hand: packing! We were to have our luggage in the hallway by 7 AM with our departure scheduled for 8 AM. Breakfast would begin earlier at 6:30 AM so it would be one last time for a fabulous omelet! ~~~ Luxembourg - Saturday, November 28 ~~~ The dining room was more crowded than usual, opening at 6:30 AM, as all passengers had to have their luggage placed in the hallway by 7 AM and many wanted one last big breakfast onboard before the long day ahead. Of course, I had my usual custom omelet along with crisp bacon, sautéed mushrooms, and grapefruit juice and coffee. It was with some regret that we would be saying goodbye to the wonderful crew who had served us so well for the past week; Mihai and Ivan were two of our favorite servers. Gratuities for the crew collectively is suggested at 12 Euros per day per passenger, but as usual we chose to increase our tip by $20 to our room steward, Lubka, and to the two servers mentioned above. The Program Director, Diana, received 2 Euros per day per passenger for each of the 12 days of the cruise; we each gave her $30 – she was excellent, one of the best we have had. (For reference, the Euro is now valued at slightly more than the dollar.) By the time we had finished our breakfast and returned to our room to retrieve our carry-ons for the 1 hour, 45 minute bus ride on to Luxembourg, all the luggage had been collected from the hallway and Lubka, our room steward, had already changed our twin beds back into a king bed, with new linens, in preparation for the new passengers who would be embarking later in the day. This crew had worked incredibly hard and at the same time was always pleasant and friendly. Viking does a good job with their training and crew selection. All 143 passengers had been separated into 4 colors: red, orange, green and blue, with approximately a quarter of the passengers in each group - about 35, each color corresponded to a bus to which we were assigned. Our color was green, and we departed the Viking Odin for the last time promptly at 8:15 AM. Earlier it had been raining but at that time it had thankfully ceased. We were soon speeding along an autobahn on our way to Luxembourg. Our first stop was at the American Cemetery in Luxembourg to pay homage to the many Americans who lost their lives during the Battle of the Bulge in World War II. Each of our buses had a local guide and ours was very good and informative. Inside the gate are large monuments displaying maps showing details about the Battle of the Bulge, overlooking the sea of white marble crosses amid lush green grass, a most amazing and moving sight. Most of the crosses were inscribed with the name of the fallen soldier while several were left unmarked for the unknown. The most prominent cross belonged to George C. Patton who, surprisingly, was NOT killed during the Battle but later in an accident involving a motorcycle. His stated desire had been to be buried at this location. Then it was back on our bus for the short drive on into Luxembourg City for a city tour and lunch. Again with the same guide, we started out on our walking tour along the cobble-stoned narrow streets, many dating back to Roman days when the City was a crossroads. Today the City has both an upper part and a lower part along a river; our walk lead us to an overlook from which the lower City was laid out below. Then it was back along other streets lined with ancient buildings, leading to the main square all decked out for the Christmas Markets, as had been the case in so many previous cities. Although the skies were clear it was still very COLD and our choice for a lunch spot was on the Square, near the point where we were to meet following our free time. Seated comfortably at a window table, I started out with a glass of Riesling wine – of course! - while Jim went back out shopping. By the time he had returned, I was on my second glass of wine, and we ordered lunch, my menu choice being a Kitsch Lorraine which turned out to be VERY good! Regrettably we had to depart this warm café and join up with our group now beginning the long walk back to where our buses were located. By this time, walking had become a real effort for my tired, sore legs. Once back on our “green” bus we prepared for the long 4-hour drive on to Paris. Even on the modern super highways, this would be a lengthy ride with only one rest stop halfway along the way. The weather was clear and the scenery was hard to resist to our sleep tendency. We soon crossed the border into France with no fanfare or border check complications. The rest stop was at an immense truck stop for 30 minutes, time for the restrooms and a quick coffee or hot chocolate, then back on the bus. As we approached Paris, the scenery gave way to industrial buildings and the traffic became increasingly heavy. By the time we entered the City the traffic had deteriorated into a slow crawl, continuing all the way along the Champs-Élysées, past the Place de la Concorde and past the Arc de Triomphe, as far as to the Place de la Porte Maillot where we turned off to our hotel, Le Méridien Étoile. Contrary to previous expectations due to the Friday the 13th terrorism in Paris, the Champs-Élysées was brightly lit with Christmas lights and was VERY crowded with revelers on this early Saturday evening. Christmas Markets persisted all along our route. Finally at the hotel, parking was a problem but we were finally disembarked near the hotels entrance, our luggage to be collected and delivered direct to our rooms. Our room in the “modern” hotel, Le Méridien Étoile, was nice although not as nice as had been our room at the Hilton Prague; no coffee maker, for one thing. After a brief rest and collecting our luggage, we ventured out to find a place to have dinner, deciding on the Chez Clement at the corner near the Porte Maillot metro station entrance. Sitting by the window we got a good view of passers-by and enjoyed our steak dinner – very good but on the expensive side. Then it was back to our room for a well-anticipated night’s rest. Our room did face the street, which was good, although we got a lot of street noise during the night, which was NOT good. Tomorrow would be a busy day with our City tour. ~~~ Paris, France – Sunday, November 29 ~~~ As usual, a breakfast buffet is included with our hotel stay at Le Méridien Étoile but what was offered was far from what we had come to expect. Compared with that offered by the Hilton Hotel in Prague, and especially the breakfast offered aboard the Viking Odin, our Paris hotel’s breakfast was just “adequate.” Since this morning would be our only opportunity to enjoy breakfast here, tomorrow’s departure being very early – before the restaurant’s opening, we had to be satisfied with what we got. At least the croissants were good. Our half-day city tour departed at 9 AM, with the red, orange, green and blue groups each with their own bus and tour guide. It was again quite cold outside so we were dressed accordingly with sweaters, coats and earmuffs. The two main attractions on our tour were a visit to Notre Dame and a photo stop at the Eiffel Tower, but the bus tour covered quite a distance with views of other famous Paris sights. We again drove down the Champs-Élysées, around the Arc de Triomphe, and past the Place de la Concorde where a large Ferris wheel had been erected, and eventually we disembarked from our bus within an easy walk of Notre Dame. A lengthy line of tourists was already waiting entrance but we joined the line that did move rather rapidly. Being Sunday, mass was in progress inside Notre Dame, which added greatly to our visit. We were permitted to walk along the sides of this gigantic cathedral, right up to and past the transept. Photos were allowed but only without flash. To be inside this famed church and be privy to the mass being conducted was a rare treat for me. After a while inside, we exited and were given some free time that I used to seek out a nearby café for hot chocolate while Jim went shopping. His return was just in time for our return to where our bus was parked, and we then continued our drive. We drove past and through the Louvre, viewing the glass pyramid in the center, and then crossed the Seine River to the left bank where we passed by several institutions of learning, the Sorbonne for one. Then it was on to the Eiffel Tower where the bus parked for several minutes for us to get off and take photos from a prime viewing location. Contrary to our previous visit in 2010 when the base of the Tower was crowded with masses of tourists, the few people present on this day was remarkable, due to the Friday 13th terrorism events in Paris. Afterwards our bus proceeded around the Tower and crossed the bridge over the Seine River to the Place du Trocadéro with an impressive monument fronted by gardens and magnificent fountains. From there we finally returned to our hotel, just in time for lunch. Again we chose the Chez Clement to eat lunch, our menu choice being large bowls of French Onion Soup; we were not disappointed. It was still rather cool outside and the hot soup sure hit the spot. Then we returned back to our warm hotel room for a rest and a nap, deciding that we had seen enough of Paris. As it turned out, our decision was a good one because of the riots that broke out in the afternoon near the Place de la Concorde by groups urging actions by the 150 countries attending the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference - “COP 21” on global warming. Such protests had been forbidden after Friday 13th but these groups decided otherwise. Over 100 were arrested as a result. President Obama was one of the COP 21 attendees and speakers. Had we been out further sightseeing, we might have been right in the middle of the fracas. Later in the evening we again returned to Chez Clement one more time for our final dinner in Paris. Being a small comfortable restaurant, this place had become our favorite and our dinner this night was again very good and delicious. We then fought the chilling wind during the short walk back to the hotel where our final packing had to be done in preparation for the next day’s early departure for home. ~~~ Departure from Paris – Monday, November 30 ~~~ Our Air France flight 66 was scheduled at 10:50 AM from the Charles De Gaulle Airport that meant that our departure from the hotel would be around 6:30 AM. Being before the restaurant opened, Viking passengers were given a special room for a quickie breakfast consisting of coffee, juice and croissants. Our luggage was to be placed in the hallway in front of our door by 6 AM for collection by hotel staff, but when we were called to board our bus, first identifying our luggage, our luggage was not present; quickly Diana went back into the hotel to investigate and very soon our luggage appeared at bus side. Another of my many complaints about this hotel, Le Méridien Étoile. With all of us onboard, including our luggage, our bus departed for the Airport, a journey of about 45 minutes. Unlike our departure from Prague back in July, no Viking personnel assisted us at the Airport, and at first it was total confusion of where to go, as we were disembarked from the bus on the Arrival Level – NOT the Departure Level. Soon we discovered the elevator up to the Departure Level at Terminal 2L and, with the help of an Air France agent, finally found where we were to check in. The line for check in was still rather short and finally we were all checked in on our nonstop Air France flight to Los Angeles aboard their AirBus 380, the double-decker. Our seats were 31 L & K, the ones I had selected months earlier. Air France turned out to be disappointing in service as well as food quality for meals. With an all male crew and announcements made first in French and in broken English second, there was certainly a difference from the superb service experienced on our KLM flight. We were given a treat of an ice cream bar about halfway through the 11-hour flight, however. Breakfast service was only an hour before arrival in Los Angeles, and I never did get my requested coffee. At one point, Jim actually took our used breakfast trays back to the galley, tiring of the wait for them to be collected. Not a good flight! The 1:40 PM landing at LAX was exceptionally smooth with this gigantic airplane seemingly floating in for touch down. The wait to disembark the aircraft wasn’t too bad and soon all 500 of the passengers were streaming down the long, LONG walkway towards Passport Control in Bradley Terminal, where thousands of other passengers from other flights were packed, awaiting attention. We luckily found one of the shorter lines and were soon through this trying ordeal and on to baggage claim where our 2 pieces were quickly retrieved. Then it was through the exit to the outside and a short walk down to the SuperShuttle dispatcher. Shortly afterwards we were on our shuttle bound for Orange County and Corona del Mar – HOME! - finally arriving around 6 PM. The first order of business was to turn on the heater and then to bed! It had been a long, LONG day! Ron Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
We went cruising to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. Some of the things we experienced are: Very good food with the chef giving some demonstrations of special treats Very social environment. We were encouraged to meet with ... Read More
We went cruising to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. Some of the things we experienced are: Very good food with the chef giving some demonstrations of special treats Very social environment. We were encouraged to meet with other cruisers Great tours. We signed up for every extra tours. This meant that we were up at 6 am every day, eating breakfast at 7 and touring at 8 or 9. For our anniversary, we were given 2 bottles of sparkling wine. We arrived in Prague and stayed at the Prague Hilton. The hotel was decent. Walking tours were provided that evening and the next day. The third day we spent a long time on the bus touring Nuremberg and then arrived in Bamburg where we embarked. A lot of time was spent on buses. Buses can move between towns faster than the boat. Many days we were bused to a town farther down river and then met the boat. The German cities were great. Beautiful, informative, and fun. We were not impressed by the city Luxembourg but the visit to the WWII cemetery was moving. Then came the 5 hour bus ride to Paris. We stayed at the Le Meridian Etois. It is located near the Arc de Triumph. Debarkation was not as organized as it should have been. Our bus had to be changed in Luxembourg due to a mechanical problem. It took hours to get our luggage in the hotel. Some people didn't get their luggage until 2 am. The Paris tour the next day was fair. It was mostly by bus with a tour of the Notre Dame cathedral. We stopped for 15 minutes near the Eiffel Tower. Normally, you would leave the day after that. We extended our trip 2 days but not through Viking. I highly recommend that. Paris is a city that would take weeks to see. We were able to see more of Paris and do some shopping. We will return to Paris and now know what we would like to see. The computers were down at the hotel when we wanted to checkout. Since we paid for our extensions ourselves, that meant we gave them our credit card and had to let them apply charges later. They emailed the receipt. I didn't like that but there was nothing that could be done. One final thought about the cruise. The majority of the passengers are over 60 (as are we). Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
The cruise was spectacular. The entire staff was perfect. The tours were all interesting and really very well planned. We had time to see the points of interest and hear all the discussions about the history and local flavor. Weather ... Read More
The cruise was spectacular. The entire staff was perfect. The tours were all interesting and really very well planned. We had time to see the points of interest and hear all the discussions about the history and local flavor. Weather was a little bit of an issue and it means packing clothes that will work under a variety of situations. Make sure your shoes are comfortable and broken in since walking is a big part of the trip. We travelled with friends but certainly during the trip met many people that we interacted with on a daily basis. This was certainly part of the fun. Every evening there was an activity/event in the ballroom and always worth going. Our favorite was the glass blowing. Our room had a television but we didn't turn it on until the last day! The internet connection was the only downside of the entire trip. Slow and hard to access. This was not a big issue for us but there was certainly grumbling about it. The food was all excellent. The open dining worked well and you meet people along the way and certainly eat with friends old and new. Unlike some cruises the food is not non-stop. That actually worked well and kept the calories and eating in general in a more normal scope. You are certainly never hungry. We bought the bar special for the trip and really enjoyed the crowd that routinely went there in the evening. As a beer drinker I would have liked more options but it was more than adequate. Service was 5 star in all ways. We plan to go again and try a new route. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
This was my second Viking river cruise. Based on how much I enjoyed the first one, I persuaded 3 friends to join me, and we were not disappointed. I personally enjoyed Prague more than Paris, so I wish we had chosen the opposite ... Read More
This was my second Viking river cruise. Based on how much I enjoyed the first one, I persuaded 3 friends to join me, and we were not disappointed. I personally enjoyed Prague more than Paris, so I wish we had chosen the opposite itinerary, giving us more time in Prague when we were not already overloaded with sights and a bit tired (my companions may not agree). I skipped 2 of the more strenuous excursions due to an injured knee, and actually had a lovely time on the ship as it glided down the river. In future, I may opt out of some excursions solely for the relaxation of it. (But I enjoyed the excursions I did take, and am especially grateful I did not miss Nuremberg. Our guide Tom was amazing and gave us such insight into Germany's journey toward self-understanding post WWII.) We made friends with 2 other women, so the 6 of us ate dinner together every night. I enjoyed the food, the easy on-and-off of the ship, the attention of excellent staff, the entertainment and especially the gorgeous scenery (long bus rides not so much). Already thinking about my next trip in a year or two. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
This was my first Viking cruise, and it was a huge expense for me -- but it was worth every dollar. The boat was beautiful, the staff was incredible, the scenery was gorgeous, and the excursions were mostly perfect. I loved every part of ... Read More
This was my first Viking cruise, and it was a huge expense for me -- but it was worth every dollar. The boat was beautiful, the staff was incredible, the scenery was gorgeous, and the excursions were mostly perfect. I loved every part of this journey. I'm sure there were people on the boat who expected something more luxurious, but I will say it was every bit as luxurious as anything I would have expected. I was particularly impressed with the crew, every one of them -- Claudia the cruise director, and all the other staff. I have never seen a staff work so well together. Claudia actually commented on how fun this group was. Lucky us!!! Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
I loved everything about City of Lights trip. Our accommodations in Paris and Prague were wonderful. I loved both of these beautiful cities. We met out Program Director, Claudia, in Paris. Claudia is extremely knowledgeable and lots of ... Read More
I loved everything about City of Lights trip. Our accommodations in Paris and Prague were wonderful. I loved both of these beautiful cities. We met out Program Director, Claudia, in Paris. Claudia is extremely knowledgeable and lots of fun! How she kept track of all of us is beyond me. She was always available to answer our questions or assist us in any way. Our group of 20 wanted to adopt her! The river cruise was absolutely fantastic! Everyone on board was very friendly, helpful and welcoming. They were also excellent at carrying out their various responsibilities. They could not do enough for us. I found river cruising to be a wonderful way to travel. The ports of call were fascinating. I learned so much from our tremendous guides. A few times some of us decided to stay on board instead of going on the tour. It was beautiful to see the towns and vineyards along the rivers. The free time we spent in the ports of call was very much appreciated. We were able to get a feel for the various places and people by stopping at cafes, shopping and just walking around. The food on the boat was excellent at every meal. I enjoyed hearing about the evening meal preparations from our chef, Andy, at our daily briefing. We had surprises from the kitchen everyday including a beautiful dessert buffet one afternoon.The demonstrations (cooking, German lessons etc.) and the special programs we had in the evenings including a classical pianist and violinist and the traditional German folk band were wonderful. My criticism are that due to low bridges we were unable to use the top deck for a number of days. Also, we had a near catastrophe when several people from our group attempted to go on the top deck after dinner and were almost hurt or killed by a low bridge. The captain screamed "get down" and they were scared but ok. I believe we should have been informed that there would be times when we would be unable to use the upper deck before we signed on. And certainly a rope or barrier should be put up to prevent people from going up the stairs when it is dangerous. Overall it was a fantastic experience. This was my first trip abroad and after City of Lights I know it won't be my last. I hope to take a river cruise again in 2017! Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
We were greeted at the airport in Paris by a Viking rep and escorted to our hotel. There we met with another rep and got great information on what the schedule was and what to do while there. Once it was time to leave Paris to catch our ... Read More
We were greeted at the airport in Paris by a Viking rep and escorted to our hotel. There we met with another rep and got great information on what the schedule was and what to do while there. Once it was time to leave Paris to catch our boat we boarded busses by letter assignment and we then stayed with that bus assignment for all tours. I thought this was an excellent method to not only keep everyone together, but it gave us a chance to meet our traveling companions and make friendships that lasted the whole trip. Although we had bus problems on the way to the boat, the Viking staff handled them quickly. It shows good organization when there is a hiccup but it is addressed quickly and with very little disruption to the guests. The boat cruise was very relaxing all through Germany with good food and really outstanding service. I had to work hard to get my wine glass empty because there was always someone there to refill it. Overall it was one of the best traveling experiences we have had and would recommend it. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
Viking Odin Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.5 4.5
Dining 3.5 4.6
Entertainment 3.0 3.8
Public Rooms 4.0 4.5
Fitness Recreation 1.0 3.0
Family 1.0 3.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 4.5
Enrichment 3.5 4.2
Service 5.0 4.8
Value For Money 4.0 4.3
Rates 4.0 3.6

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