We choose the Grand European Tour which was a voyage lasting 14 days and departing on August 24, 2014, from Viking River Cruises for that it offered the best itinerary to visit 5 countries on the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers (Netherlands, ... Read More
We choose the Grand European Tour which was a voyage lasting 14 days and departing on August 24, 2014, from Viking River Cruises for that it offered the best itinerary to visit 5 countries on the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers (Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary), for the extensions to Amsterdam and to Prague and for the small size of Baldur ship (190 passengers). We enjoyed very much our cruise : the ports of call were well selected, the shore excursions were well organized, the ship was new (2013) and had top notch facilities and services, the staff was friendly and helpful and the cabin was a good size, modern and comfortable.
The transfer with Viking was fast from hotel to the ship so we boarded at 14:15 and after showing our passports at the reception, we were directed to our Balcony Room (# 331).
The luggage came fastly after the arrival in our room. The stateroom was exactly as expected : a very comfortable bed, a large window door giving on the balcony with a table and 2 chairs. It is compact but convenient and we had enough room to store all our things. The bathroom was small but efficient with good smelling Occitane toiletries. The shower stall with glass windows was the best and largest shower we had in a cruise.
We visited Kinderdijk, Cologne, Koblenz, Miltenberg, Wurzburg, Rothenburg (which was an optional tour), Bamberg, Nuremberg, Regensburg, Passsau, Melk, Krems (for an optional wine tour), Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest. We strongly suggest Viking cruises to change the itinerary in the future: 2 days are required in Vienna instead of Melk where we saw only the Abbaye. In fact, Vienna is a very beautiful and large city that we were rushed to visit (city tour in the morning, Schonbrunn Palace in the afternoon and Music Concert in the evening). Moreover, upon return of our afternoon tour, our ship was not docked and we had to wait 45 minutes because the captain decided to wait another Viking ship. We missed time for preparation and had dinner very fast before our concert. We felt having not be respected as customers and considered this event as a lack of coordination.
Food in the restaurants was remarkable. The menu at the main dining room varied each evening and was wonderful. Many options for the appetizers, soups and salads, main entrees (beef filet, New York steak, salmon, tuna, duck, lamb, pasta, chicken, salads, vegetarian plates…) and desserts were available. We went two nights at the Aquavit Terrace but the menu was limited to 6 choices : burger, salads, pasta. The breakfast served at the restaurant was excellent : omelette, scrambled, fried or benedict eggs, french toast, pancakes, regular coffee, fresh orange juice, a large selection of bread and pastries, cereals, oatmeal, a good variety of fruits (pineapple, orange, watermelon, etc.), yogurt, cold meats, cheese, etc.
Now the bad things : the wine service was very poor. We were served every lunch or dinner the same red and white wine coming from the vintage Morwald owned by Viking. This house wine was a very basic table wine even if served generously. However, we visited Morwald Winery on the optional tour and tasted other excellent wines that should be added to the wine service on the ship.
The other thing we hated was to eat every evening at a table of 6 people and at the exact same time 7:00 o’clock, as well for breakfast and lunch. Therefore, we had no intimacy and no flexibility for meals during the cruise like other ocean cruises.
The service was excellent everywhere on the ship. Every member of personnel said hello and was smiling. In the restaurants, the service was very attentive, friendly and efficient. The room was cleaned twice a day.
The check out was well planned and we disembarked at 8:15 AM and we were transferred to Prague by bus for a journey of 8 hours.
Overall, it was a fabulous cruise, with remarkable service, gourmet food and attractive destinations. We recommend Viking Cruises for a river cruise but you must like being all the time with many people especially during meals.