Sail Date: August 2018
We just come back from a cruise from Budapest to Amsterdam with Viking and after reading all the opinions of other travellers we decided to have our input too. We travel with them exactly when the low water in Europe affected everybody ... Read More
We just come back from a cruise from Budapest to Amsterdam with Viking and after reading all the opinions of other travellers we decided to have our input too. We travel with them exactly when the low water in Europe affected everybody cruises and I think is fair to identify two different aspects of the issue. On one hand a big disappointment: you except Viking to be honest and transparent with their customers and inform them in advance about this type of issue which will bring ship changes, long bus rides, in general a discomfort for passengers. The only e-mail we got 8 days before the cruise was regarding the change of the ship: Viking Embla instead of Viking Lif. We contacted Viking office and we were told that will be no problems, that “everything is like was mentioned in the itinerary” and the “water is not a problem anymore”. Is it right Viking to lie to your customers just to avoid cancellations and compensations? On the other hand when we were on the boat and we started to experience problems with the water everything was perfectly organised smooth and with no stress and we reach Amsterdam after a 2 amazing weeks. In this case, when everything on the boat is so well planned and organised, having a minimum impact on our journey, was it so difficult to find the same level or respect and transparency when we call the Viking office? We travelled on 2 boats: Embla and Lif which supposed to be identical, but the reality was a little bit different. We liked Lif more being a newer ship, more comfortable and more spacious. But the massive difference was the service and the staff: while on Embla everybody was very professional on Lif we had the feeling that we landed on a “training vessel” with everybody trying to do their job but failing almost every time. Katja, the hotel manager on Embla, was always in control, always with the passengers and always efficient and smiling. Her leadership abilities reflected positive on her entire crew who was brilliant. On Lif Jeronimo, the hotel manager, was very arrogant, never interacting with the passengers and more interested in having a “good time” with the rest of the staff then acting to achieve a good service. We tried to speak with him about some on-board credit issues, but he was always busy, avoiding us and passing the problem to the reception. Not the expected level of customer service from Viking. George the restaurant manager was superb and everybody in Embla restaurant was perfect: remembering our names every lunch and dinner, impeccable service (we fall in love with Martina) and delicious food. On Lif we never had the chance to speak with the restaurant manager, the waiters giving us the feeling that they just learn the job, making mistake with orders, speaking in front of us in their own language and never check if an extra service was needed. We ended on Lif to have dinner in the lounge were Christian and Ivan were far more attentive and professional then others. The reception on Embla was extremely helpful, booking a lot of trips for us and helping everybody to find their way around. Especially Lucia was always kind and smiling and when she didn’t know the answer didn’t have a problem to ask the cruise director for the correct information. On Lif the two young men at the reception (didn’t make the effort to remember their name) were very unprofessional and arrogant with an attitude more appropriate to a cheap hostel than a Viking ship. At every question they were giving us the feeling that we were stupid, and this patronising way to answer was always topped with the wrong information. They were the worst receptionists ever!!! On the positive side the housekeeping on Lif was amazing with our steward Ivan very helpful and professional. While on Embla we never meet the Capitan, on Lif the Dutch Captain was a pleasure to meet and talk to and his evening presentation was informative and funny. The only constant exceptional experience for us on these two boats was the Program Director – Leonard. From the very first moment when we embark Embla in Budapest until the moment when we left Lif in Amsterdam Leonard was far above any expectations. His was an excellent organiser managing perfectly the guides, the coaches, the time tables, everything and everybody involved in changing the ships so well that for all of us was just a normal day not a major trauma or drama! During the long bus rides he was jumping from one coach to another, from one group to another to check if everything was fine and to solve any problems and he manage to find time during the transfer to buy to all of was a chocolate hart … how sweet! One day he was assisting a passengers with reduce mobility while he was giving information about best shopping in town and locating a lost cell phone and another day he was helping very professional (my husband is in ER) with a medical emergency (quite a ugly wound on somebody leg) while he was trying to help a passenger from another Viking ship left behind his group. Really ??? How many things you can do so well Leonard! Leonard knows the history, culture, tradition of any stone, city, castle and church on our itinerary and sometimes his explanations were better and more accessible than the guide’s ones! Each evening briefing and lecture was a unique opportunity to access in an easy, interesting and entertaining way complicated stories about history, art and culture. He had such a versatile personality: a strong organiser in the morning during the excursion, informative and efficient in the evening and fun and charming in the evening. What a joy to have him on board! For sure we will go back to Viking…they know how to make every moment special despite the fact that they still need to work on some issues (do something about Lif…is a beautiful ship with such low standards). And by the way we want Leonard as a Program Director! If anybody from Viking read our review, please send our massive “THANY YOU!” to Leonard for making this a vacation of a lifetime. He really is a “ Rockstar “ who made this so much fun and so Read Less
Sail Date: August 2018
We really enjoyed our river cruise, as always. There is no other way to travel! Looking forward to new itineraries and cruising more!, I would like to have available a stretching, Pilates or yoga class. As a Pilates instructor I have had ... Read More
We really enjoyed our river cruise, as always. There is no other way to travel! Looking forward to new itineraries and cruising more!, I would like to have available a stretching, Pilates or yoga class. As a Pilates instructor I have had numerous fellow passengers want to join me when I am doing my exercises. I would gladly teach for a few dollars off our trip. After all the walking some stretching feels great! We enjoyed the excursions. One problem I see is there were some people who had trouble maneuvering stairs etc that were in our group for the excursions. They should put the more active people together and have another group for the people that can’t walk as far, as fast, etc The food was great and the waiters and waitresses are so accommodating! A lot of good choices for food and of course the wine was really good also. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2018
We were interested in seeing more of Eastern Europe after having been to Prague on our last river cruise. We knew before we left that river levels were low. We did have to leave our ship early and were bused into Budapest. It would have ... Read More
We were interested in seeing more of Eastern Europe after having been to Prague on our last river cruise. We knew before we left that river levels were low. We did have to leave our ship early and were bused into Budapest. It would have been lovely to have cruised into beautiful Budapest! Food was not quite as good as our previous river cruise. I celebrated my birthday on the first day of the cruise. My husband had called Viking ahead and told them this. He also asked one of our servers at dinner about my birthday. He was told they were aware of it. They still managed to forget to acknowledge my birthday. The next day something showed up in our room. I was very disappointed and my husband was not happy. Not the service we expected! Budapest was the highlight of the ports. Beautiful city with lots to see! We have another river cruise booked for 2019. It will most likely be our last. We have done one Viking ocean cruise, and we much prefer the ocean to river cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2018
The cruise went from Budapest to Amsterdam. We normally never do tours, we always travel on our own. We Really loved this. We felt very taken care of. It was a really Super fun boat. People were the best including the Staff and the ... Read More
The cruise went from Budapest to Amsterdam. We normally never do tours, we always travel on our own. We Really loved this. We felt very taken care of. It was a really Super fun boat. People were the best including the Staff and the guests. We Made great friends. We Got completely spoiled. We had Great tour guides who were very knowledgeable. They had Fast and slow groups which accommodated all. There was Fab live music. The menu had Local foods and other great tasting meals. There were Excellent bartenders. Outside decks were breezy and comfortable. The Inside lounge areas had with plenty of room to relax. There happened to be a medical emergency and it was handled well. All the buses for the tours were very comfortable. I would have chosen another month because it was too hot for me in the port cities. I already have my eyes on other Viking tours. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2018
Heard many great things from many past Viking Guests. Wanted to go to Europe , Germany etc, thought I would give Viking a try. Our first week we were on another ship, then midweek we had to transfer to another ship Due to the low water ... Read More
Heard many great things from many past Viking Guests. Wanted to go to Europe , Germany etc, thought I would give Viking a try. Our first week we were on another ship, then midweek we had to transfer to another ship Due to the low water of the river. Really hated leaving the 1st ship. Loved the staff. The second ship the Embla was a little smaller stateroom. We were never on the Aegir. I forgot the name of the first ship. The transfer was painless and everyone was very professional. I give credit to our tour guide Stephen. Food and dining service fantastic and friendly. The only negative thing I have to say about the dinner, was that the dinners all started at 7 p. M. It would have been nice to have an earlier dinner, because by the time you were finished dinner, you had to go right to bed because you had to get up so early in the morning for the excursions.Ship clean and attractive. River Cruises are different from sea Cruises There is nothing to do on the ship of you don't go on the excursions. A small library, relaxing on the top sundeck where there is a walking track and a small putting green. The top deck is not accessible when the ship has to go under bridges for height restrictions. The only nightly entertainment they had was a lady singer who was very nice and a electric piano player. Every night everybody would gather into the lounge, where the tour guide would discuss the plans for the next day and the excursions. Sometimes they would have lectures the day before on specific details of the area that you were going to see the next day. They also had a couple of demonstrations, making Turkish coffee for instance. Beware of the excursions, where they say or easy or moderate, it's not exactly true to form. There are times where you have to walk up steep hills on cobblestones for quite a while just to get where you have to meet your guide. These excursions are for very healthy fit individuals that can do a lot of vigorous walking, at least three to four miles per day. Europe especially has lots of uneven cobblestones streets which can wreak havoc on your back. You are not allowed to bring any type of scooter on board. You are allowed to bring a wheelchair, someone even brought a motorized wheelchair but no scooters are allowed. I had a hard time keeping up with the groups. I am in my 50s, and unfortunately I could not keep up as much as I'd like to. Some excursions were better than others.My advice, if you wish to do excursions with any type of river cruise, is to make sure you're able to walk 3 or 4 miles on cobblestone streets which are prevalent in Europe. I'm glad I went on this Viking tour, however regarding the excursions, I don't think that they were very accommodating to people with any type of mobility issues. The walking tours that were included with Viking we're Fair. The ones I would recommend in Europe specially Germany is to go to all the Palaces. The interior of these palaces were tremendous. Unfortunately due to the restrictions you are not able to take photographs inside. would I travel with Viking again, yes I would if there was a particular place that I would like to go see, and also the price. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2018
We wanted to celebrate our 45th wedding anniversary in a special way, and had heard of Viking's excellent reputation through friends. The idea of a river cruise sounded appealing, and the ports were all new to us. We expected to ... Read More
We wanted to celebrate our 45th wedding anniversary in a special way, and had heard of Viking's excellent reputation through friends. The idea of a river cruise sounded appealing, and the ports were all new to us. We expected to receive good service on the Elba, but what we experienced was so much more than that. Everything, from the port tours to the on-board special presentations, were so varied and well organized. And the staff were amazing. The housekeepers consistently smiled and said hello, desk personnel were always professional and helpful, wait staff were so accommodating and pleasant, and our Program Director, Violeta, was such an attentive and hard working representative for Viking! It was so obvious that all had the same goal...to make this voyage a wonderful and rewarding experience for their guests. And they succeeded! We loved the special touches too, such as a champagne toast upon our arrival and the offer of a wonderful piece of chocolate on our return from the Vienna tour. Dining was exceptional, and we truly enjoyed trying the delicious regional offerings. We are so impressed with Viking that we have convinced 2 other couples to book trips with them, and we have already booked another Viking cruise for ourselves! Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
This was our first river cruise and understood Viking was a top provider. BUT, we were very disappointed. The crew/staff were excellent, but after that things fell down. Getting a balcony is a waste of money as many times we were moored ... Read More
This was our first river cruise and understood Viking was a top provider. BUT, we were very disappointed. The crew/staff were excellent, but after that things fell down. Getting a balcony is a waste of money as many times we were moored next to another Viking ship's balcony which was just 2 feet away. No view or privacy! Breakfast was fine but other meals were poor. It became the joke many times to see what was served compared to what was ordered. Many times when we docked at a town we then had to be bussed. We were not able to simply get off the ship and walk around. A couple times we docked in industrial areas. On included tours guides were friendly and knowledgeable, but we were always rushed. Numerous times we had to move along as there was a group behind us. No time for questions (later) and photos. A typical tour was bussing, see a cathedral/palace/castle listen to some history/stories & then some free time. When you combine the amount of ships of Viking & it's competitors, tours become a herd! For the price do not recommend Viking. Will not use again. Viking may have been a class outfit, but possibly have lost control with expansion. Deep research needed for any river cruise. Have taken over a dozen land trips with success, but our ages require a more leisurely experience. Read Less
Viking Cruises, Community Team has responded
Thank you for taking the time to share your experiences aboard Viking Embla with the cruising community, ffg7711. It is pleasing to learn that you found our crew and staff to be excellent, however we do recognize your disenchantment with your balcony due to double docking. Although we regret to hear about your dissatisfaction with the onshore tours, we are grateful for this opportunity to collect feedback about our third-party vendors for review by our Executive Team. We appreciate this chance to respond, ffg7711, however should you like to share more about your Viking experience, we would be happy to collect additional comments at TellUs@vikingcruises.com. Thank you for sailing Viking, and have a wonderful day.
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
We selected this cruise because we lived near canals for two years and it looked like fun. The advertising promised convenient, in town docking locations, small tour groups and excellent dining. Instead, we discovered that there were ... Read More
We selected this cruise because we lived near canals for two years and it looked like fun. The advertising promised convenient, in town docking locations, small tour groups and excellent dining. Instead, we discovered that there were usually four to six Viking ships in town at a time. We often docked 20-30 minutes from town in a cargo area and were bused into town and back. This meant that the tours involved around 1,000 people - more if you included the ships from other companies. The next to last stop was supposed to be in Kinderdijk. Instead, we docked in Doordrect and rode on buses for 30 minutes each way. The food ranged from good to terrible. Several of the meals were inedible. They were bland beyond belief and often poorly prepared. The standard "always available" lunch entrees were a hamburger (overcooked and dry) or a hot dog. The local menus on the Danube were good. From that point on, the local menus ranged from standard sausage and kraut (good) to incredibly bland, and definitely not representative of local dishes. The Dutch ones were particularly horrible. Unlike anything available in the Netherlands. We also did not appreciate the overdone drinking culture. There were no non-alcoholic options available at the "free receptions" and the whole cruise seemed to revolve around alcoholic beverages. I guess that is one way to keep some gusts happy. The included shore excursions were mostly 1 1/2 hour walking tours through town. Some were interesting. The guide for the Vienna city tour was irritating. The two optional music activities in Vienna were the highlight. I would never do this itinerary. The four days cruising the Danube-Main Canal were the worst and mostly a waste of time. I would recommend choosing either the Rhine or the Danube (preferred) but not the Grand European. The entire environment was geared towards relatively untravelled Americans. It was too structured for our taste and lacked the international flavor we have enjoyed on other cruises. The crew worked incredibly hard and were efficient and friendly. The Program Director had to work constantly to compensate for Viking's disorganization and oversold activities. He was knowledgeable and certainly among the best in the business. Our French Balcony cabin was small, but worked fine, especially since we spent little time in it. The internet service was simply awful by any measure. The free internet on European trains works 100 times better. It was incredibly slow when it was semi-functional. Most of the time it was not, unless you tried it before 6:00 AM. The onboard WiFi system did not provide adequate coverage, the authentication system was buggy. Read Less
Viking Cruises, Community Team has responded
Your thoughtful acknowledgment of our hard-working crew is well appreciated, O1dT1mer. We’re pleased that you found the musical activities in Vienna enjoyable, even though we recognize your disappointment in several aspects of your Grand European itinerary, including the docking locations and dining. Though we have taken note of your post-cruise comments for executive review, should you like to share more about what could have enhanced your Viking experience, we would be happy to hear from you at TellUs@vikingcruises.com. We appreciate this opportunity to collect your comprehensive feedback, O1dT1mer, and wish you the very best.
Sail Date: May 2018
We chose this cruise because of the timing that worked out for our younger daughter and son-in-law as well as for us (mid-May), the discounted cost ("two-fer" in terms of cabin costs) and because it covered a part of Europe we ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the timing that worked out for our younger daughter and son-in-law as well as for us (mid-May), the discounted cost ("two-fer" in terms of cabin costs) and because it covered a part of Europe we had not yet visited. (We had been in Budapest but not any of the other Balkan countries we visited). We had high expectations, and the trip exceeded them. I cannot remember any bad or even difficult moments (except perhaps for the heavy rain on the Budapest day - but that's not under the control of the Viking planners). The food and service were superb, varied, interesting and with more than enough choices. I cannot believe it was cooked so well in the small kitchen we toured. The chefs and helpers obviously work together very closely and very well! The entertainment and lectures were excellent. I learned more about Balkan history than I ever thought I'd want to know, but enjoyed the lectures/presentations, and now have a better understanding of WWI, WWII, and even the Balkans today. The entertainment, especially the folk-dancing, in Romania during lunchtime, and other times on the boat, were a delight. My husband and I enjoyed the Port trips we could take (he has some walking limitations) and the optional trips we added. One highlight was the cooking class in Bulgaria. "Ramona's Banitsa" will now be added to my cooking repertoire. A second highlight - and probably the most interesting - was the visit to the violin maker in Kovacica, Serbia. I seem to talk about that particular afternoon, and show the pictures I took of Jan Nemcek that show how he made violins more than any other part of our trip. Two other highlights were visits to homes in Croatia (actually "B&B's") where we met and enjoyed talking with the hosts in our small groups, and the Hungarian "horsemanship" show in Puszta. We had been to Budapest before, so on the second day (now with good weather) we hired a "TukTuk" and had a 2-hourguided trip to revisit the important and meaningful "Shoe Memorial" along the river, and Chris, our guide, then took us some small parks and meaningful sculptures that we would not have known about without him. We enjoyed the trip so much we have made reservations for another Viking Cruise next May - and this time we will share it with our other daughter and her husband! Read Less
Viking Embla Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 4.0 4.1
Entertainment 3.0 3.6
Public Rooms 5.0 4.3
Fitness Recreation 1.0 2.9
Family 1.0 2.9
Shore Excursion 4.0 4.1
Enrichment 4.0 4.0
Service 4.0 4.5
Value For Money 3.0 3.8
Rates 4.0 3.7

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