Sail Date: August 2013
Pre-Cruise We flew from Atlanta to Basel via Amsterdam on August 20, arriving on August 21. Had about a 3-hour layover in Amsterdam which gave us time to locate our flight which was in the "lower 40". We took a bus to our plane ... Read More
Pre-Cruise We flew from Atlanta to Basel via Amsterdam on August 20, arriving on August 21. Had about a 3-hour layover in Amsterdam which gave us time to locate our flight which was in the "lower 40". We took a bus to our plane and walked up the stairs. In Basel Roy and Mom (who had wheelchair assistance) were moved by a lift to the ground so they didn't have to walk down the stars from the plane. We found a cab which could accommodate all 6 of us and our luggage and arrived at the St. Gotthard in Basel around 11am. No problem at all to check in early. Great location, across the street from the train station and around the corner from the tram stop. We had free tram passes for the 2 days we were there so this worked out great. No restaurant in the hotel, but several nice ones in each direction. Breakfast was included in our reservation, which at the price, it should have been. I think we paid 250 Swiss francs per night. Rooms were relatively small, but pretty good sized for Europe. Adapters came in handy for charging computers, cell phones, etc. Took dual voltage flat iron and curling iron which cold plug into German or Swiss plugs by using the adapters; all electronic chargers could also be used with these. After arriving we went to eat at the train station and Dad picked up something for Mom at the McDonalds next door. All of us flaked out, took naps until we got together for dinner around 6pm or so at the restaurant next door. After dinner we took a quick tram ride downtown. The next day we went to Les Reyes Trois hotel for lunch. Had reservations to celebrate Mom's birthday there. Amazing restaurant, with lunch having about 7 courses. She enjoyed it, which was important. They have a balcony overlooking the Rhine where we watched all the river traffic. We also took tram to the marketplace downtown and to see the cathedral. Great veggies early in the morning. Later in the day we took the tram as far as possible just to see what we could see, about 50 miles into the suburbs. Dad, Sandy and John to the zoo. We met Liz, Henry and Jean at a pizza place for dinner. We had a lazy morning the next day then got a cab to go to the riverboat (actually 2 cabs). They had to search a little bit to find the exact location of the boat, but once we got there, people from the ship helped unload the taxis and took our suitcases from there. We were guided to the lounge and a buffet lunch and waited until about 2pm before we could get into our staterooms. Viking Jarl My first impression concerned how easy everything was and how personal. They took care of our suitcases right away, and we walked onto the ship. No lines, no security, just make yourself at home. Everything light and airy feeling, very friendly staff. We met the Captain within 10 minutes of boarding! Our cabins were on Deck 2, same as the reception desk and the restaurant. We had a French balcony which is a room with a sliding glass door with no where to go...but lots of window! Not very much closet/cabinet space, but enough; also, pretty tight getting around the bed for us, but doable. I'm not complaining here, just know not to bring a huge amount of clothes. Day 1 - Basel After boarding the Jarl you have the option of taking a bus to the city center and going on a walking tour. We didn't do this since we'd been in Basel, but several of our group did. We had our initial meeting in the lounge at 6:30 meeting the captain, hotel manager and program director, all of whom were friendly and welcoming. This was followed by dinner at 7:30; we cast off at 7pm. The head chef, Georg and Maitre d' Sasha were wonderful. Just about every night Georg would give us at update before dinner as to what our options would be. When one of our party was sick one evening, Sasha brought some crackers, apple sauce and soup to her in her cabin...think that would ever happen on an ocean cruise??? We added the silver plan to our drinks at $150 per person for the 7 day trip and were able to drink whatever we wanted for the entire trip. We'd order a drink, say we had the silver plan and that was all it took. Your wine at meals is included, but they didn't have the wines I like and cocktails are extra. We thought it was a good deal and it was. I didn't record what we had for meals, but they were great. The crew would get fresh produce and meats, whatever, from just about every port. We even saw the captain helping load and unload! Day 2 - Breisach & Black Forest We had breakfast in the dining room, your choice of buffet or ordering from the menu (or a combination of both). Our first excursion, from 8:30am to 12:30pm to the Black Forest. I chose not to go to look at cuckoo clocks, but to go for a walk. After about 10-15 minutes I turned around, just too much in the way of hills for my lack of fitness. Ran into Mom and Dad and we went into the restaurant and ordered some black forest cake'too large for 3 people and to die for! Really pretty area there. I didn't actually go into any of the shops of which there were 2-3, but of course you can. Pretty drive. Viking had 3-4 buses that followed the ship to most destinations; tour guides changed but buses and drivers remained the same. That afternoon 3 of our group went on a World War II excursion and thought that made their trip. Excellent guide, very knowledgeable, and a great museum in Colmar. All things Audie Murphy, and just fabulous. Several of the others went for a walk in Breisach to the cathedral up at the top of the hill and through town. All enjoyed that, also. The cost was $39 per person and think they would have paid more! Entertainment was primarily a wonderful piano player, who had a really extensive repertoire, including "All My Exes Live in Texas" with a German accent! Sit and listen to him or dance, at your discretion. He did a great job. Day 3 - Strasbourg We arrived in Kehl, east of Strasbourg at 8am and after breakfast went on a bus tour around Strasbourg, seeing various UN buildings and the European Parliament before stoping at the cathedral and touring it. We had made reservations at the Chez Yvonne a local restaurant, that had been in operation since the 1800s, to celebrate Sandy's birthday. Her favorite thing in the world (other than her husband) is foie gras and that's their specialty. It was only a few blocks from the cathedral so this worked out great for us. Great meal, then some of us took a cab back to the ship and others walked around some more and returned to the ship via the shuttle which the Viking Jarl was operating until 5pm. Day 4 - Heidelberg and Rudesheim Bus tour of Heidelberg followed by tour of the castle then back to the ship for lunch. The ship cast off at 1pm for Rudesheim, arriving about 6:30pm. That afternoon we visited the wheelhouse and stood behind the captain to learn about how the ship was being operated, radar, etc. Very interesting...again, something you don't do on larger ships! After dinner a group of us went to Rudesheim and visited their street of wine taverns on our own, just a little ways from where the ship was docked. Others enjoyed a glassblowing demonstration. We stayed in Rudesheim overnight. Day 5 - Cruising the Rhine, Marksburg Castle, and Koblenz Traveling down the Rhine and seeing the amazing castles most of the morning until we got off for a tour of Marksburg Castle. Not for the faint of heart with lots of uneven stones, steps and uphill walks, but a wonderful sight to see. Don't do this one unless you're in pretty good shape! From here the buses took us to Koblenz (ship had already arrived there) where we had lunch. We were there the rest of the evening. That evening attended a great musical trivia quiz with program director Rene and our great piano player. Day 6 - Cologne We arrived in Cologne around 9:30am for a city walking tour including the old town and fabulous cathedral. We were docked about 10 minutes walk from the cathedral, very centrally located in an area with lots of other riverboats, a park-type area. There was a chocolate museum and a mustard museum which some enjoyed. A few of us just stopped in a cafe and had some great wine or beer. Some of our group did a little shopping since we were close to downtown. We sailed that evening around 11pm. Day 7 - Kinderdijk We were sailing in the morning, had an interesting program about all things Dutch from Rene and a great cooking demonstration from Chef de Cuisine Georg. After lunch we arrived in Kinderdijk and had an interesting tour of all their windmills, even walking inside one (and some climbing up). That evening we had our farewell dinner with all the crew being introduced in the dining room. Day 8 - Amsterdam We woke up in Amsterdam harbor with riverboats on either side of us, but I went up on the sun deck and could see the harbor. After breakfast we left the ship with help from the crew carrying our luggage. Rene and Dora had made arrangements for taxis for us to go to the train station. We could have walked, it was so close, but not with all our luggage! Off to Hamburg and our next trip. Other Thoughts: 1. Internet was great, free, and never had any problems getting on. 2. We never had problems hearing the information in the lounge. Just be sure and get there early so you can get a seat. Most days it's not a problem. 3. Food was wonderful. If you don't like their food, I don't know what to suggest. 4. Laundry service was available with about a 2-3 hour turnaround, fastest I've seen anywhere 5. Sometimes they set up leisure groups for those who walked slowly, but several of the guides didn't seem to know that was the purpose of the leisure group...we kept on asking them to slow down and they never looked back. If you're a slow walker, you might have to go on your own or else stay at the ship. 6. I'D TAKE ANOTHER VIKING CRUISE IN A HEARTBEAT!   Read Less
Sail Date: December 2013
Arrived a couple of days early to visit the museums and go around town a bit. If luggage light, take the subway in from the airport for about 5 euro; otherwise walk outside to the Connexion Blue Vans and get dropped off at your hotel for ... Read More
Arrived a couple of days early to visit the museums and go around town a bit. If luggage light, take the subway in from the airport for about 5 euro; otherwise walk outside to the Connexion Blue Vans and get dropped off at your hotel for 16.50 apiece. Four people? Taxi is cheaper…. Stayed at the MovenPick on the waterfront, great location between the two piers that Viking uses, 5 minute walk from the Central Station and on a tramline. 7 euros gets you a day pass on the tram / bus system. Go online and see what kind of deal you can get. Invest in the executive package at the Movenpick for 65 euros/day/couple, you get a buffet breakfast that they usually charge 30 euro each for, an afternoon cocktail party with appetizers and good wine (food very good), and free internet. In addition, you get a Krupps expresso maker that turns out the BEST hotel room coffee I have ever had…. Note: bath is so trendy, it has a swinging frosted glass door, and use a lot of caution in that slick shower. ATM in lobby. City stuff: Van Gogh and Rijks museums, canal tour, stop at a grocery store, visit to Saturn Electronics to buy a 220v to USB plug for the electronics. The deal is on a City Pass, which gets you most of these plus a 2 day transit pass for about 45 bucks, plus skipping the lines in the museums. Lunch was at the Café in the Rijks – very good. Boarded the Jarl about noon on the 6th, dropped off the luggage, had some lunch, then took a walking tour (bucket list: Red Light District), then the canal tour. The ship: launched in April, it shows no signs of wear. The cabins are a romping 150 ft2 and you’re going to be bumping into each other (a lot). You can go for the twin beds, sharing the space in the middle, but some genius has put light switches in the headboard. I survived turning the lights on accidentally in the middle of the night on a regular basis. Good nightlight in the bath, decent sized shower – I’d bring some soap, the cabin attendant really guards the premium stuff. 110 v and 220v plugs both available, about 3 of each? Have to leave a card in the switch if you want lights (bring one of those casino cards from home – they work just fine) . Coffee and lounge on the upper deck – best coffee machine, bar none. I always stopped at breakfast and let the machine make me some expresso, then went back down to the restaurant. A tray of pastries sits beside, in case the climb up the stairs weakened you. Lounge has a bar, two roll down projection screens, and not quite enough seats for the nightly briefings, so arrive early and get a drink. Reception is on the mid-deck, and the cruise direction Rene and his assistant Dora were the best we’ve had in a dozen+ cruises. In case you’ve eaten the pastries on your way back down, there is a dish of cookies on the reception desk. Restaurant: Food was small portions, but you could always get more. “No sugar” desserts are available, and really good. The soup cook really knows his stuff on this boat, and I had seconds a few times. The baker was really good, and the croissants were top-notch. The free wines were crummy, the red palatable, the white poor. One night we had a good Riesling, but never seen again. There was a choice of about three beers. Bad things: other than the light switches, the corrugated steel ramps to the piers are quite slippery and hazardous – how about a rubber mat? The lower deck “half window” starts right about at the level of my wife’s hairline – to see out, she stands on the bed. Bring a rain coat, wear layers, good walking shoes (hiking type is good) Dinner that night was ChateauBriand (talk about setting a high standard…) Day 2: Kinderdijk Windmills Foggy /drizzly morning, walk a quarter mile to a windmill to go inside, then back to the museum next to the ship. I’m taking in a bit of that, and birding in the marsh while waiting. Afternoon – cruising. Nice to have a sea day! We take advantage of the afternoon to have some Dutch dishes and a shot of “gin”. Dinner was crispy chicken, haddock/mashed, consommé with ravioli, cheese soufflé. I have the cheese plate every night to get my calcium (not a lot of milk to drink in Europe). After dinner: lecture on Dikes/water management. Day 3: Cologne Sunday, so the Dom is closed for group tours. It is surrounded by a couple of overcrowded Christmas Markets. I liked the Roman museum next to the cathedral with artifacts found while digging, and the talk about flooding on the Rhine opened my eyes a bit. Gernan lunch aboard of Bratwurst, minestone soup, kraut; then back to the markets for a little pushing and shoving. Give up on the weekend crowd and go back to the ship for a nap. A kid’s choir entertains, then the captain buys champagne for the Explorer’s Club members (about half the passengers). Dinner is a marvelous roasted veal tenderloin. Day 4: Rhine Gorge Dock temporarily in Koblenz, bus up and go up the hill to the Marksburg Castle. Warning: if you are ability limited, don’t even consider taking this excursion! Rejoin the ship in Brauback, take a couple more pictures, then cruise through the lovely Rhine Gorge on the ONLY sunny day of the trip. Have to go the church and light a candle…. Rudesheim at dusk, and what a lot of people considered the nicest market of the trip. About a kilometer walk each way, but nice lighting, best prices. The drink at a market is gluhwein – heated wine with spices. Couple euros a cup, another euro if you want a floater of schnapps (I like apple), another couple of euros for the souvenir cup. Non drinker? Just buy the cup! Dinner was a great cauliflower soup, John Dory fish, English beef cut, cheese with a really good tomato jam. Day 5: Heidelberg Disembark in Mainz to catch the bus – tour the castle in Heidelberg overlooking the town. Warning: slippery slopes of round cobblestones, a good walk involved. Back down for a walking tour of the town square, which we skip since my wife graduated from Heidelberg High (DODS). The market is permanent, and attached to the outside of the cathedral. If music is your thing, check the cathedral – the music students from the University might be giving a concert with the lovely pipe organ (free). Rejoin the ship in Speyer – 1 kilometer from the Technical Museum, 2 kilometers from the cathedral. There’s a walking tour to the cathedral at 4:15, but a retired science teacher? Off to the Tech museum. How about a 747, racing cars, a Russian Space shuttle (never used), mini subs and torpedos, and a real German U-Boat to go aboard (our WWII subs are a LOT bigger). Another check on the bucket list…. Day 6: Strasbourgh Probably the best looking city of the trip – the half timbered houses are beauties. The tour is good, ends at the quite nice cathedral, and its about a mile walk back to the bus. An extra cream of vegetable soup at lunch gets me going again…. Afternoon option is to a wine tasting in Alsace: an hour drive through 3-4 villages to get to Barr, 4 glasses of decent wine, then the usual chance to buy a few. On the way back, we stop at Obernai – for some reason, this city with its original city walls looks very cool in the fog, and the Market isn’t bad, either. Dinner is French Onion Soup, Shrimp Avocado, Sea Bass. Day 7: Breisach Awake to find ship moored in the fog, surrounded by a big flock of Mute Swans in the water at a meter distance from our window. Bus up for an hour’s run through the Black Forest for a cake and cuckoo clock demonstration (I go across the road for a hike in the forest and go birding). There’s a stop on the way for a Baroque church (St. Peter’s) in a forgotten town. Back to the ship for Spinach Soup and Veal/mushrooms. Board the bus for the optional tour to Colmar. I’m about citied out, and just went and looked at my pictures to remember the town. Recommendation: skip it. Dinner was Filet Mignon and mushroom soup, just as good as the previous ones. Day 8: Basel We’re in the second batch to leave to catch our flight to Munich (we’re spending a few days in Bavaria as long as we’re over here). The restaurant is open at 4 A.M. for the early risers, and I have my last batch of smoked salmon of the trip… Airport is about a 20 minute trip.   Read Less
Sail Date: March 2014
This was our first river cruise (Tulips and Windmills) (although we have taken many ocean cruises) and we were impressed with accommodations, staff, quality of the tours, food and fellow passengers. There were only two shore guides that ... Read More
This was our first river cruise (Tulips and Windmills) (although we have taken many ocean cruises) and we were impressed with accommodations, staff, quality of the tours, food and fellow passengers. There were only two shore guides that didn't impress us, but overall the tours were well done and very informational. We traveled mostly at night so we didn't see much of the various rivers and weren't always sure where we were headed even during the day, but it didn't really matter much. Have already booked another Viking cruise next summer. We were in the lowest level cabin and have booked that again because we really weren't in our cabin very much so didn't need to pay for large windows. When outside, enjoyed the rocking chairs and warm blankets that were provided on the bow. We arrived a few days early in Amsterdam and had no trouble using public transportation to reach our B&B, and Viking handled the transfers well when we returned from the Tulips and Windmills cruise. We were impressed with Viking's working with passengers who needed a more leisurely shore excursion. Enjoyed the entertainment brought on board that gave us the folk flavor of The Netherlands. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2014
April 17: Cut a deal with Icelandic Air to stay in Keflavik for a day (saved enough to pay for the hotel and meals), then took a jeep tour with localguides.is to the glacier, geysir, waterfall. Pricey, but a lot of fun and includes ... Read More
April 17: Cut a deal with Icelandic Air to stay in Keflavik for a day (saved enough to pay for the hotel and meals), then took a jeep tour with localguides.is to the glacier, geysir, waterfall. Pricey, but a lot of fun and includes Icelandic meals and snacks. Stayed at Hotel Berg in Keflavik and ate dinner at Cafe Duus a hundred meters away. April 18: Up early, breakfast, and catch the hotel shuttle to the airport for the 3 hour flight to Amsterdam. Catch the Connexion van in front (buy tickets at office, cheaper for four pack) to the Doubletree beside the Central Station. Afternoon spent walking around Amsterdam from station down to the Dam Square. Dinner upstairs at the Doubletree, surprisingly good. April 19: buy a return ticket to Enkhuizen on the train. Enkhuizen is a restored 1700s fishing village north of A-dam, hour trip on the train. Light lunch there on the site. Indoor museum was disappointing, outdoor great. Buy tickets via ferry at the VVV next to the Enkhuizen station, and walk back to the station through the town. The 'T Kleine Cafe across from the station is a nice place to wait for the next train and have a beer. April 20: I'm up early for birding in Flevoland with Emile Dirks of http://www.birdwatchingholland.nl for the day. We have a good time (22 new lifers, 48 species by lunch) and Emile drops me off at the Viking Jarl, which is moored out in the industrial district next to a scenic scrap pile of junked cars. The town is full of river ships(maybe 20?) for tulip time, and moorings are hard to come by. We have our nightly briefing in the lounge, meet the captain, get a safety briefing and tomorrow's activity schedule. Dinner of Sea bass / veal chop Crab-tuna tartare, cheese souffle. April 21: Awake to find we've shifted moorings – now we're next to the Train Station. Canal tour this morning (better than the normal tour!), Bloomenmarkt tour via bus. Make sure to stop in the adjacent shops and taste the cheeses. Don't buy the bulbs – you can't bring them back to the States. Nancy buys a big bunch of 25 tulips and a vase for 14 euro, and our cabin is decorated for the voyage. Our afternoon is free, and with a public holiday, the big museums are packed, and we catch the tram out to the Artis stop and go to the Resistance Museum – very informative and too much reading, and if you go, make sure to open all the little doors. Back to the ship for briefing Amuse Bouche (tonight is a chicken nugget with Curry, last night was BBQ. Starting to wonder if we're getting these Pre-chewed pellets of pulpy Poultry every night?) Captains toast and good champagne is free and plentiful pouring, ceviche and appetizers are brought around. Dinner is scallops / Chateaubriand, salmon with caviar (excellent) April 22 (Hoorn): Email finally shows up on the Kindle. Best Internet speed is on the 3rd deck, although Nancy's phone works fine with the email (think she's getting it via cell tower). 5:00 – leave for Hoorn, we're in the back on the lower deck and the engines are quiet. Hoorn is a nice small town with an older center. We tour around, then visit a local resident for coffee and fruit tart and conversation. This is a great time, and Viking has a good idea here. We get a retired doctor who now does some volunteer work in Africa. For the afternoon, I roam around the town and pick up a couple of Netherlands soccer shirts for the grandkids to wear to practices, then roam the parks birding. Shopping street runs from the main square to the train station, if that's your thing. Amuse Bouche tonight is a Tuna Tartare, dinner is Duck or Honey Salmon, a poor polenta and spinach still sandy, and the service is slow and disorganized tonight. Have the feeling that the kitchen must of spilled a pot of soup or something.... At 9:00, we have a presentation on how to make wooden shoes, which is mostly a chance to order some for pickup at voyage end. April 23 (Arnhem): Morning tour is to the Het Loo Palace, formerly the royal residence with magnificent gardens (make sure you walk around, and DO go to the back) This is close to Versailles in scope when the flowers are in full bloom. The palace is decent and not too handicapped friendly. In the afternoon, we opt for the Kroller-Muller museum for the Van Gogh painting (most of which are from his early years and are VERY dark) and the sculpture garden. Get to sing “Starry, starry night...” on the way back, and it finally makes sense. Willing to tackle “Louie, louie...” but no go. Dinner is choice of Veal Tenderloin or Red Snapper with bacon. Never saw the city, other optional tour is to the battlefield. April 24 (Kinderdijk, cruising): tour of windmills (half mile level walk) and museum. Make use of your time, go around the corner and into town a bit and discover an overlook that has a nice view of 14 of the windmills. Then go another 100 yards past the church to a bakery and buy some GREAT sugar pretzels. Back aboard for a lunch of smoked trout and lobster mac/cheese. April 25 (Antwerp): tour the city in the morning with lots of cobblestones and stairs. Tremendous cathedral to see. After a fair lunch of bland sphaghetti, I return for a tour of St Charles Borremeno (all carved wood and very nice), then attempt St. Jakobs church – closed for renovations. Briefing tonight is a talk on Belgium – very good, then a talk on future cruises and plans for new ships and rivers (float the 'coming to America' story, but Viking has to buy a couple of Senators for that one...) April 26(Bruges, Ghent): morning tour to Bruges – guide is too fast, then we get to the main square and he wants to deliver a 20 minute lecture standing on one side. All the nice museums look to be on the way back to the bus, and we have no idea how to find them. Off goes the earpiece, and we explore on our own. Research shows WC in corner of square.... Nice cathedral, walk around the center a bit and have some frites, then back to the bus. Not enough time in this town, but you can stay the afternoon if you want. Back to the ship for an excellent pumpkin soup (I have a second), then bus to Ghent. St Basa's Cathedral proves to be better than Bruges, all carved marble. Good dozen mini-chapels around the altar and better stained glass (clerestory windows are plain). We didn't get enough time in this town, either. The bucket list for our next trip to Europe is growing..... April 27 (Veere, Delta works): bus to the Watersnood Museum, made of some surplus WWII caissons that blocked a dike break in 1973. Museum decent. Tour Veere – quaint nice village with a large church now bricked up and decaying. One of these years, it's going to collapse and bury the town. Off to the Delta Works to look over the construction. Back to the ship, and the crew is outside with a “Welcome Back” sign. Lunch of Fish/Chips, then leave to go north, passing through 2 locks on our way to Rotterdam. Dinner is Wellington or shrimp, mushroom soup, and a chocolate tart. At 9:00, we have a show with the local Shanty Singers, straight out of the senior center circuit. Really good, with broken English and boundless enthusiasm – think they're doing it for the beer afterwards.... Rotterdam? We go ashore, touch the ground, back on the ship. April 28 (Keukenhof): awake back in A-dam, board buses for the 40 min transfer to the gardens. Spectacular 80 acres of tulips with pavilions full of flower arranging displays, If this day isn't peak, it's close enough. We see maybe half, Nancy orders tulips for fall delivery in the States (free delivery, bonuses if you buy enough). Try to see it all, is my advice.... Back to the ship for broccoli soup (x2 again). One of the diamond places is offering a free shuttle this afternoon, so Nancy goes shopping and I go birding in Vogelpark, plus stop at a grocery store and pick up a few things. Oxtail soup, no longer available in the USA and a great soup/gravy base, some candy bars for the grandkids, and some toast sprinkles for the gkids. Final dinner of River perch or short ribs to end the cruise. April 29: taxi for 6 to the airport split 3 ways, then a couple hours of waiting. Off to Iceland (beers cheaper on the plane) and into Denver about 7 at night. General: Staff aboard the Jarl is professional and friendly, and since we just sailed on the Jarl up the Rhine in December, we have a nice basis for comparison. This time, Richard the Food Manager was superb. Gary the passenger manager was good, but Rene last time was the best. Robert and Marita on the lower deck took the utmost care of our room needs, and Dimeche, Carlos, and Emerik in the dining room were the best. Chef George in December was better, and if it weren't for the Amuse Bouche, this voyage and Chef Roman would be ranked lower. The dessert cook this time isn't very good, the soup cook started out not so good, but got better. Breads both times were killer good! I like the idea that the entire staff is introduced, including the line-handlers and the dishwashers. They all split the tips, so it's only fair. On our first Viking cruise, I watched the chef out on the pier helping to hustle suitcases. Your room is 155 sq ft, and we didn't figure to use the balcony or even open the window, so we went the cheap route. The floor in front of the bath has some kind of access hatch that catches our feet, maybe from worn carpet? Flat screen TV with a limited selection of channels, mini fridge for your beer, free bottled water, 110/220 volts both, decent bath and a shower with a solid door and a night light. Only bad thing – who designed the switches beside the bed? Getting better, only turned the lights on in the middle of the night once. Euro system where you insert a card to turn on the lights, so bring an old casino card or something and just leave it in there. High-end toiletries. Need firmer pillows for some people. Several passengers were on the slow walking side of senior citizens, and the ship always ran a leisurely tour group. Keep in mind that Europe is cobblestones and stairs, though. It is not wheelchair accessible. There is an elevator between the 2nd and 3rd decks, but shore access might be from the 4th deck and steeply sloped. Breakfast is smoked salmon, bacon/sausage, scrambled eggs, potatoes, good homemade yogurt, oatmeal, egg station. Bread is baked aboard, and VERY GOOD. There is an expresso machine 24/7, and the coffee is better there than in the dining room. Beside the expresso machine is a bin full of pastries, later in the day replaced by cookies. Lunch is a salad bar, usually some kind of meats and cheeses, a pasta station. All in all, great cruise, great food, Viking staff are the best, and we've already booked another for the fall. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2014
Our timing for this cruise was fortunate, since northern Europe had a warm winter, and the tulips were in full bloom. We could see tulip fields from the air before our landing in Amsterdam. We had the opportunity to see the fields on ... Read More
Our timing for this cruise was fortunate, since northern Europe had a warm winter, and the tulips were in full bloom. We could see tulip fields from the air before our landing in Amsterdam. We had the opportunity to see the fields on several occasions, as well as a tour of the beautiful Keukenhof Gardens. An excursion to a tulip farm was extremely informative. We had no idea that most of the tulips grown outdoors in fields are not sold as flowers but are instead the means of growing larger bulbs for sale. We were also moved and educated by a tour of the Watersnood Museum, which commemorates the flood of 1953. It was one of the best-designed museums we have ever seen, and well worth the trip. We enjoyed all of the ports on our cruise and the included excursions. Hoorn was especially notable for the hour long stop in a private home for wonderful Dutch apple pie, coffee, and conversation with the family The Arnhem tour and museum provided fascinating background on Operation Market Garden near the close of WWII. Kinderdijk taught us a lot about the history of land reclamation in The Netherlands, as well as an opportunity to see 19 historical windmills as part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We toured Rubens home in Antwerp, as well as a cathedral including several of his paintings and altarpieces. The stop in Bruges was one of the main reasons we booked this cruise, and this beautiful medieval city did not disappoint us. We loved a canal cruise there, as well as a similar cruise in Amsterdam on our first day. Although we thoroughly enjoyed the experience, we probably would not recommend this cruise for a first river cruise. This was our third, and the actual scenery during the time spend cruising could not compare to what we saw on previous Viking river cruises in France and Germany. The waterways in the Netherlands and Belgium are more industrial, and Viking planned the schedule accordingly. Most of our river travel took place at night, so we could maximize our time in port. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2014
April 17: Cut a deal with Icelandic Air to stay in Keflavik for a day (saved enough to pay for the hotel and meals), then took a jeep tour with localguides.is to the glacier, geysir, waterfall. Pricey, but a lot of fun and includes ... Read More
April 17: Cut a deal with Icelandic Air to stay in Keflavik for a day (saved enough to pay for the hotel and meals), then took a jeep tour with localguides.is to the glacier, geysir, waterfall. Pricey, but a lot of fun and includes Icelandic meals and snacks. Stayed at Hotel Berg in Keflavik and ate dinner at Cafe Duus a hundred meters away. April 18: Up early, breakfast, and catch the hotel shuttle to the airport for the 3 hour flight to Amsterdam. Catch the Connexion van in front (buy tickets at office, cheaper for four pack) to the Doubletree beside the Central Station. Afternoon spent walking around Amsterdam from station down to the Dam Square. Dinner upstairs at the Doubletree, surprisingly good. April 19: buy a return ticket to Enkhuizen on the train. Enkhuizen is a restored 1700s fishing village north of A-dam, hour trip on the train. Light lunch there on the site. Indoor museum was disappointing, outdoor great. Buy tickets via ferry at the VVV next to the Enkhuizen station, and walk back to the station through the town. The 'T Kleine Cafe across from the station is a nice place to wait for the next train and have a beer. April 20: I'm up early for birding in Flevoland with Emile Dirks of http://www.birdwatchingholland.nl for the day. We have a good time (22 new lifers, 48 species by lunch) and Emile drops me off at the Viking Jarl, which is moored out in the industrial district next to a scenic scrap pile of junked cars. The town is full of river ships(maybe 20?) for tulip time, and moorings are hard to come by. We have our nightly briefing in the lounge, meet the captain, get a safety briefing and tomorrow's activity schedule. Dinner of Sea bass / veal chop Crab-tuna tartare, cheese souffle. April 21: Awake to find we've shifted moorings – now we're next to the Train Station. Canal tour this morning (better than the normal tour!), Bloomenmarkt tour via bus. Make sure to stop in the adjacent shops and taste the cheeses. Don't buy the bulbs – you can't bring them back to the States. Nancy buys a big bunch of 25 tulips and a vase for 14 euro, and our cabin is decorated for the voyage. Our afternoon is free, and with a public holiday, the big museums are packed, and we catch the tram out to the Artis stop and go to the Resistance Museum – very informative and too much reading, and if you go, make sure to open all the little doors. Back to the ship for briefing Amuse Bouche (tonight is a chicken nugget with Curry, last night was BBQ. Starting to wonder if we're getting these Pre-chewed pellets of pulpy Poultry every night?) Captains toast and good champagne is free and plentiful pouring, ceviche and appetizers are brought around. Dinner is scallops / Chateaubriand, salmon with caviar (excellent) April 22 (Hoorn): Email finally shows up on the Kindle. Best Internet speed is on the 3rd deck, although Nancy's phone works fine with the email (think she's getting it via cell tower). 5:00 – leave for Hoorn, we're in the back on the lower deck and the engines are quiet. Hoorn is a nice small town with an older center. We tour around, then visit a local resident for coffee and fruit tart and conversation. This is a great time, and Viking has a good idea here. We get a retired doctor who now does some volunteer work in Africa. For the afternoon, I roam around the town and pick up a couple of Netherlands soccer shirts for the grandkids to wear to practices, then roam the parks birding. Shopping street runs from the main square to the train station, if that's your thing. Amuse Bouche tonight is a Tuna Tartare, dinner is Duck or Honey Salmon, a poor polenta and spinach still sandy, and the service is slow and disorganized tonight. Have the feeling that the kitchen must of spilled a pot of soup or something.... At 9:00, we have a presentation on how to make wooden shoes, which is mostly a chance to order some for pickup at voyage end. April 23 (Arnhem): Morning tour is to the Het Loo Palace, formerly the royal residence with magnificent gardens (make sure you walk around, and DO go to the back) This is close to Versailles in scope when the flowers are in full bloom. The palace is decent and not too handicapped friendly. In the afternoon, we opt for the Kroller-Muller museum for the Van Gogh painting (most of which are from his early years and are VERY dark) and the sculpture garden. Get to sing “Starry, starry night...” on the way back, and it finally makes sense. Willing to tackle “Louie, louie...” but no go. Dinner is choice of Veal Tenderloin or Red Snapper with bacon. Never saw the city, other optional tour is to the battlefield. April 24 (Kinderdijk, cruising): tour of windmills (half mile level walk) and museum. Make use of your time, go around the corner and into town a bit and discover an overlook that has a nice view of 14 of the windmills. Then go another 100 yards past the church to a bakery and buy some GREAT sugar pretzels. Back aboard for a lunch of smoked trout and lobster mac/cheese. April 25 (Antwerp): tour the city in the morning with lots of cobblestones and stairs. Tremendous cathedral to see. After a fair lunch of bland sphaghetti, I return for a tour of St Charles Borremeno (all carved wood and very nice), then attempt St. Jakobs church – closed for renovations. Briefing tonight is a talk on Belgium – very good, then a talk on future cruises and plans for new ships and rivers (float the 'coming to America' story, but Viking has to buy a couple of Senators for that one...) April 26(Bruges, Ghent): morning tour to Bruges – guide is too fast, then we get to the main square and he wants to deliver a 20 minute lecture standing on one side. All the nice museums look to be on the way back to the bus, and we have no idea how to find them. Off goes the earpiece, and we explore on our own. Research shows WC in corner of square.... Nice cathedral, walk around the center a bit and have some frites, then back to the bus. Not enough time in this town, but you can stay the afternoon if you want. Back to the ship for an excellent pumpkin soup (I have a second), then bus to Ghent. St Basa's Cathedral proves to be better than Bruges, all carved marble. Good dozen mini-chapels around the altar and better stained glass (clerestory windows are plain). We didn't get enough time in this town, either. The bucket list for our next trip to Europe is growing..... April 27 (Veere, Delta works): bus to the Watersnood Museum, made of some surplus WWII caissons that blocked a dike break in 1973. Museum decent. Tour Veere – quaint nice village with a large church now bricked up and decaying. One of these years, it's going to collapse and bury the town. Off to the Delta Works to look over the construction. Back to the ship, and the crew is outside with a “Welcome Back” sign. Lunch of Fish/Chips, then leave to go north, passing through 2 locks on our way to Rotterdam. Dinner is Wellington or shrimp, mushroom soup, and a chocolate tart. At 9:00, we have a show with the local Shanty Singers, straight out of the senior center circuit. Really good, with broken English and boundless enthusiasm – think they're doing it for the beer afterwards.... Rotterdam? We go ashore, touch the ground, back on the ship. April 28 (Keukenhof): awake back in A-dam, board buses for the 40 min transfer to the gardens. Spectacular 80 acres of tulips with pavilions full of flower arranging displays, If this day isn't peak, it's close enough. We see maybe half, Nancy orders tulips for fall delivery in the States (free delivery, bonuses if you buy enough). Try to see it all, is my advice.... Back to the ship for broccoli soup (x2 again). One of the diamond places is offering a free shuttle this afternoon, so Nancy goes shopping and I go birding in Vogelpark, plus stop at a grocery store and pick up a few things. Oxtail soup, no longer available in the USA and a great soup/gravy base, some candy bars for the grandkids, and some toast sprinkles for the gkids. Final dinner of River perch or short ribs to end the cruise. April 29: taxi for 6 to the airport split 3 ways, then a couple hours of waiting. Off to Iceland (beers cheaper on the plane) and into Denver about 7 at night. General: Staff aboard the Jarl is professional and friendly, and since we just sailed on the Jarl up the Rhine in December, we have a nice basis for comparison. This time, Richard the Food Manager was superb. Gary the passenger manager was good, but Rene last time was the best. Robert and Marita on the lower deck took the utmost care of our room needs, and Dimeche, Carlos, and Emerik in the dining room were the best. Chef George in December was better, and if it weren't for the Amuse Bouche, this voyage and Chef Roman would be ranked lower. The dessert cook this time isn't very good, the soup cook started out not so good, but got better. Breads both times were killer good! I like the idea that the entire staff is introduced, including the line-handlers and the dishwashers. They all split the tips, so it's only fair. On our first Viking cruise, I watched the chef out on the pier helping to hustle suitcases. Your room is 155 sq ft, and we didn't figure to use the balcony or even open the window, so we went the cheap route. The floor in front of the bath has some kind of access hatch that catches our feet, maybe from worn carpet? Flat screen TV with a limited selection of channels, mini fridge for your beer, free bottled water, 110/220 volts both, decent bath and a shower with a solid door and a night light. Only bad thing – who designed the switches beside the bed? Getting better, only turned the lights on in the middle of the night once. Euro system where you insert a card to turn on the lights, so bring an old casino card or something and just leave it in there. High-end toiletries. Need firmer pillows for some people. Several passengers were on the slow walking side of senior citizens, and the ship always ran a leisurely tour group. Keep in mind that Europe is cobblestones and stairs, though. It is not wheelchair accessible. There is an elevator between the 2nd and 3rd decks, but shore access might be from the 4th deck and steeply sloped. Breakfast is smoked salmon, bacon/sausage, scrambled eggs, potatoes, good homemade yogurt, oatmeal, egg station. Bread is baked aboard, and VERY GOOD. There is an expresso machine 24/7, and the coffee is better there than in the dining room. Beside the expresso machine is a bin full of pastries, later in the day replaced by cookies. Lunch is a salad bar, usually some kind of meats and cheeses, a pasta station. All in all, great cruise, great food, Viking staff are the best, and we've already booked another for the fall.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2014
The benefit of a river cruise, which we expected to be less crowds in ports and more personalized service, were evident; however there were many disappointments. First, we paid more than $1000.00 per day more than a year in advance on the ... Read More
The benefit of a river cruise, which we expected to be less crowds in ports and more personalized service, were evident; however there were many disappointments. First, we paid more than $1000.00 per day more than a year in advance on the premise that this was half price. Not so! The majority of the people we met paid less than half of what we paid, only a few weeks prior to the cruise. River cruising must be increasing In popularity but imagine the disappointment of opening the blinds to your balcony in the morning to find that you are looking into the room on the next boat! The food was not good, very, very salty, with limited vegetables, and often undercooked meat. The staff were friendly, but inflexible to accommodation requests, including medical restrictions. Wine included, but only with meals, and no selection, white or red, and generally one glass. Well organized for sure, but we would not do this again, not good value for the cost, and misleading advertising on the issue. I asked to be contacted at the end of the cruise (when specifically asked if we would like that), and had no opportunity to express concern, no contact was made. Buyer beware here! Read Less
Sail Date: June 2014
A river cruise was top of our bucket list & after looking into several companies, we decided to go with Viking. We spent 2 wonderful weeks on Viking Jarl travelling from Budapest to Amsterdam. The longboat was wonderful - modern, ... Read More
A river cruise was top of our bucket list & after looking into several companies, we decided to go with Viking. We spent 2 wonderful weeks on Viking Jarl travelling from Budapest to Amsterdam. The longboat was wonderful - modern, clean, suites were well equipped & the crew were fantastic. In the dining room, the food choices, quality, presentation & staff were world class. Lunchtimes we decided to go for lighter fare on the Aquavit terrace where we could watch the world go by while we ate & in the fresh air. The included tours gave us an insight into the places we docked & there was a good choice of optional tours. We liked the fact that the walking tours were graded as to difficulty. That really helped in our choices & everyone was comfortable. Staff were most attentive to our embarkation & leaving the ship at the end of the cruise. Would we choose Viking & another river cruise again?...in a heartbeat! It was truly a dream vacation. Thank you Viking & the fabulous crew of the Viking Jarl! Read Less
Sail Date: July 2014
Thank you for asking our opinion. As this was our third cruise with Viking, we have become used to the very high standards, not only in hospitality, but also in organisation. We have been to Russia, to China, and this year to Europe. We ... Read More
Thank you for asking our opinion. As this was our third cruise with Viking, we have become used to the very high standards, not only in hospitality, but also in organisation. We have been to Russia, to China, and this year to Europe. We found the cabins on our previous cruises slightly more roomy, but we understand that there are limits to the size of the ships on the European rivers. We went on, and enjoyed, all the on-shore excursions with very knowledgeable guides, but here we have a suggestion. The guides are excellent and told us an enormous lot about the buildings, the towns and the history. However, we found that after even a short while we could not remember most of what they told us, something our fellow passengers also found. It would be really helpful if Viking could provide a more detailed information sheet with all the information the local guides give us, after we return to the ship, so that we could return to it again at a later date. It seems a pity that all the work and effort the guides put in to explain to us, is lost again through no fault of theirs, but through our limited memories. We were planning to join another cruise in 2015, but unfortunately there was no room available at a time convenient for us. We have asked the office in London to put our name on a waiting list just in case there is a cancellation and we hope to cruise with Viking again in the near future. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2014
This the the first river cruise for my wife and me, although we have taken several ocean cruises. I always was curious about the Viking ad of less time getting there and more time being there. And it was so true. Our cruise started in ... Read More
This the the first river cruise for my wife and me, although we have taken several ocean cruises. I always was curious about the Viking ad of less time getting there and more time being there. And it was so true. Our cruise started in Amsterdam and ended in Budapest with pre stay in Amsterdam and then post stay in Prague (via motor coach). The sights were amazing, a real step back in history with so many gothic churches and awesome castles, the likes of which I am sure cannot be seen anywhere else. The cruise was wonderfully organized, the staff aboard could not have been more pleasant, the food was very good with quite a variety of choices over the 14 days, the tours were very well organized with quite knowledgable guides. The pre and post city extensions were well worth the time to allow more in-depth exposure to the areas and more chances to visit museums and other sites. The only real disappointment is the "blue" Danube isn't so blue (actually muddy brown, unlike the TV commercials). We were thoroughly pleased with the tour. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2014
When you have traveled a lot you think you have experienced it all but that's not true until you take a Viking river cruise. We did the 14 day Grand European on the Jarl. From the minute we left O'Hare Airport until we returned ... Read More
When you have traveled a lot you think you have experienced it all but that's not true until you take a Viking river cruise. We did the 14 day Grand European on the Jarl. From the minute we left O'Hare Airport until we returned 15 days later we really never had to think, only experience. Viking truly thought of everything before we even knew we needed it. The cabins appear terribly small until you put everything away and there really is a place for everything. They are fine, the bed is wonderful and the showers are plenty large. The food was great for every meal with many choices and amazing soups for lunch every day. At every port the guides were there and ready for us, we never felt like they were herding cattle. The vox boxes were a real plus because you did not have to worry about being close enough to the guide to hear. It is hard to pick one place that was our favorite, I thought it was Cologne until we arrived in Budapest at night to all the lights. That experience itself made the trip worthwhile. Everyone is very casual and friendly and we made friends that we keep in touch with since our return. We are not big fans of the giant cruise ships but this is a totally different experience, you get to go sightseeing and relax all at the same time. Hopefully this is not our last Viking Cruise because we are both anxious to go again. The crew of the Jarl were truly wonderful and fun and by the end of the two weeks with only 180 passengers and 50 crew you know everyone. I especially loved the night when the introduced the entire crew, every single crew member not just the ones that interacted with passengers. The value for the money is extraordinary. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2014
My wife and I were very pleased with the cruise we took. The ship was very clean and very well kept. The crew was constantly polishing and vacuuming. The food was always very good and we were happy that the portions were smaller. We hate ... Read More
My wife and I were very pleased with the cruise we took. The ship was very clean and very well kept. The crew was constantly polishing and vacuuming. The food was always very good and we were happy that the portions were smaller. We hate it on the larger cruise ships the way food gets wasted. The shore excursions were very good and the guides were exceptional with the knowledge of the surroundings. But the thing that impressed us the most was the crew. They were all so friendly and accommodating. Gary, the tour director, was very helpful in directing us to things we should see and do. Laura, at the desk, always had a smile on her face and was very cheerful. Our cabin steward, Ivo, was very accommodating cheerful. Emeric and Martina, in the restaurant were a pleasure along with the other young lady, whose name escapes me, on the other side of the restaurant. All in all, we had a very enjoyable trip and convinced two other couples to take the cruise. They did and raved about the cruise when we got together with them. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2014
I would recommend Viking to anyone interested in doing a river cruise. Everything was fantastic from the day we boarded until we had to leave. The crew were very attentive and every need was met. We even had a dental emergency while ... Read More
I would recommend Viking to anyone interested in doing a river cruise. Everything was fantastic from the day we boarded until we had to leave. The crew were very attentive and every need was met. We even had a dental emergency while onboard and the Program Director Petra and the Concierge took care of everything and then let us know what we needed to do. Cabins were very spacious and comfortable for what we had booked The meals were great. I loved the way that we could change tables and/seats for meals. Never had to be seated at the same table, if you did not want to. The availability to either sit on deck or sit in the lounge area and watch the scenery was wonderful. It was rather nice to be one of approximately 130 passengers instead of one in 2000+. Disembarkation for the tours was handled very smoothly and with not a lot of hassle. You do get your moneys worth when you cruise with Viking. The attention to detail and friendliness of staff and crew is beyond expectations. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2014
I jus arrived home from a fabulous 3 week vacation in Europe including the two week Grand European Tour on the Viking Jarl. This was certainly a trip to remember and I would recommend it to anyone who loves to travel and experience new ... Read More
I jus arrived home from a fabulous 3 week vacation in Europe including the two week Grand European Tour on the Viking Jarl. This was certainly a trip to remember and I would recommend it to anyone who loves to travel and experience new places and people. Viking does a stupendous job of giving its passengers an introduction to the many ports on the cruise and unlike large ship cruises you see a new town each day. On river cruises there are no "sea" days and most of the ports on this route are small towns with medieval origins so get ready to walk your footsies off. You can take the included tour and then wander on your own or skip the tour completely if you prefer but the tour gives a bit of history, interesting facts and orientation so I recommend taking it if it is your first time in that port. The service on the Viking ships is outstanding and our crew was exceptional in their helpfulness and friendliness. By the time the cruise ends you feel like you are part of a large family of Viking crew and passengers. Unlike the large cruise ships venues never feel crowded and you know or at least recognize virtually all of your fellow passengers in a short time. The food is outstanding and although there is no room service or the availability of 24 hour snacks, each cabin had a small refrigerator so you could stock items if you wanted something to eat between meals. Croissants and pastries are available from 6-11 AM and then there are cookies in the afternoon. Coffee (including specialty coffees and hot chocolate) and tea are available around the clock. If you are looking for gambling, wild nightlife and Las Vegas or Broadway type shows, river cruises will disappoint. There is music and dancing every night with local talent brought in for short shows in a number of ports. All of these were worthwhile and fun but not what passengers on the large cruise ships are used to. We had a group of singers who did arias from famous Vienna associated composers, Hungarian musicians, a Liar's Club (a late night large ship staple) and an incredibly entertaining glass blower to name just a few. In addition there are optional excursions offered to shows and if the ship leaves the port late the opportunity to do a night event on your own. Viking offers pre and post cruise extensions but I feel that their pricing is high unless you are uncomfortable planning your own trips and traveling on your own in European cities. I spent three days in Prague and then one night in Budapest before boarding the ship and would recommend a similar plan if you have the time and interest. One night in Budapest (included in the cruise) is not nearly enough to see this fascinating city. Visiting the Parliament Building was a worthwhile (though fairly costly) tour not included on the cruise. Traveling by train in Europe is generally easy, and comfortable and the trip from Prague to Budapest although 7 hours was relaxing. I also spent 3 nights in Amsterdam post-cruise (again arranged by myself) and found that an excellent way to end my journey - exploring the museums, canals, sights and streets of this active city. Just be careful walking in Amsterdam, the bike traffic is amazing and bicyclists are not always very considerate of pedestrians. I stayed at the Doubletree, which is in an excellent location. It is about a 5 minute walk (without heavy luggage) from where the river cruise ships dock and right across from the central train station which is where many buses, trams and canal cruises start. You can walk almost anywhere in the city from there and have innumerable options for eating, shopping and also uniquely Amsterdam activities. I did no tours in Amsterdam but did not feel this hurt my experience. This was my second Viking trip, having done one in China last year, and my experience confirmed that this is a high class operation. I would recommend Viking River Cruises and the Grand European Tour with enthusiasm to anyone interested in the ports on this trip.   Read Less
Sail Date: September 2014
My husband and I decided to do this after a trip to Ireland. It was the best trip ever. We have driven over German before and have seen a lot of sights and he was stationed there but nothing can compare to this trip. Everyone from the ... Read More
My husband and I decided to do this after a trip to Ireland. It was the best trip ever. We have driven over German before and have seen a lot of sights and he was stationed there but nothing can compare to this trip. Everyone from the Captain to the Room Stewards were great. The service is beyond compare. After cruising on the big ships, this was a way to get spoiled. Your excursions are included in the price along with fantastic meals. When you disembarked for your excursions of the day, it wasn't a major hassle and was handled in a very calm manner. Even emergencies were handled in a very caring way as I had a major dental problem and they took care of finding a dentist in the next town that would take me. Made arrangements for the taxi to pick us up and take us there and explained to the dentist what needed to be done. (also much cheaper and better there than in the States). When the cruise was over, they also made arrangements for the cab to pick us up at the dock and take us to the hotel with very little walking on our part and we didn't even need to touch our luggage, if we didn't want to. Viking is definitely the way to go. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2015
We landed in Paris and and flew to Nuremberg. The flights over were not cozy but acceptable. However, on the actual cruise from the first to the last, our trip was amazing; the ship, the food, the excursions, the free time and best of all ... Read More
We landed in Paris and and flew to Nuremberg. The flights over were not cozy but acceptable. However, on the actual cruise from the first to the last, our trip was amazing; the ship, the food, the excursions, the free time and best of all the staff were all superior. The amenities were extraordinary. For example, ocean cruises, in our experience, do not offer free wine and beer at meals, and they often charge for some restaurant meals. This river cruise was different. The Viking guides were very knowledgeable and amiable. So many smiling people made us happy every morning. When we thought our association with Viking was over, we were surprised once again when we were met by a Viking staff member at our Hotel in Budapest. He got us settled; he gave us advice and best of all he got us to the airport without any snags. Again at the airport we were met my another staff member who walked us smoothly through the passport miasma and sent us on our way. Hooray for Viking and especially Chantal, who welcomed us with open arms. We have been on ocean cruises and, as far as we are concerned, they are a far second best to the river cruise we took with Viking. I am almost afraid to go again, lest I be disappointed by a second trip. Our one, and I do mean one, bad experience was on Delta returning home to Boston. The seats were so close together that we could not move once we were in them. Eating was extremely difficult; sleeping was almost impossible. When the passenger in front of my husband inclined his seat, my husband was held captive. We took the Viking choice to schedule our air--wow I hope they choose more carefully next time. If Viking has an association with an airline, make certain they have the same considerations of their passengers as you do yours. We will definitely do another Viking cruise; we will try very hard not to fly Delta. Take a Viking river cruise; you will be enchanted and amazed. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2015
Service, accommodations, food, and daily tours were all top notch. We liked the experience of a small cruise which allowed us to meet many new people. Our only concern was being among the last 10 people to board the boat because of plane ... Read More
Service, accommodations, food, and daily tours were all top notch. We liked the experience of a small cruise which allowed us to meet many new people. Our only concern was being among the last 10 people to board the boat because of plane delays. We missed the orientation and for the first day were at a loss about how things worked. Perhaps the program director could prepare a one-page summary of her opening presentation to be given to late arrivals like us. Otherwise, our cruise was an extremely pleasant experience and we're already signed up for another one in 2016. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2015
This is our third river cruise with Viking. The previous two were fabulous - Canals of the Tsars and the Danube/Main/Rhine cruise. We have also done more than a dozen sea cruises, including adventure cruises to Galapagos, Antarctica and ... Read More
This is our third river cruise with Viking. The previous two were fabulous - Canals of the Tsars and the Danube/Main/Rhine cruise. We have also done more than a dozen sea cruises, including adventure cruises to Galapagos, Antarctica and Alaska. This by far, except for a forgettable Yangtze cruise with another company, was the most disappointing of all our cruises. We departed from Budapest to sail down river to Bucharest. As it is our second visit to Budapest, and we have done all the major sights in the city during our first visit, we booked two optional excursions with Viking instead. These were tours to places outside Budapest. We were eager to checkout the surrounding countryside and had really looked forward to the two tours. Both turned out to be very disappointing. One was nothing more than a visit to a little old town full of over priced tourist shops. We stopped at a bakery/cafe for tea as part of the itinerary but it turned out to be a rather unhappy experience as the tour guide and the waitress were hopeless. It took forever for the orders to be filled and they ran out of items, then the serving was at a snail pace. Our guide did absolutely nothing to speed it along. The second tour to the favourite castle of Elizabeth (fondly known as Cissy to Hungarians), was slightly more interesting but nothing to write home about. Please do not waste time and money on any optional tours. They are overpriced and a complete waste of time. Save the money for nice meals and gifts instead. We spent two nights in the Marriott hotel, then we packed to board the ship. At the end of the cruise in Bucharest, we had to check into the Hilton hotel again for one night before departure. I much prefer the arrangements in Russia, where we stayed on board our ship throughout and did all the sightseeing from there, using that as our base even in St. Petersburg and Moscow. Saved us the hassle of packing and unpacking. That's one of the reasons why we pay so much to sail instead of taking cheaper land tours. I cannot fault the Viking team on board. They were always friendly, helpful and informative. We also had excellent guides in the cities we visited and I thoroughly enjoyed talking with them and trying to gain a better understanding of the Balkan War, which saw so much unnecessary bloodshed in several of the countries we sailed through. As the war ended only about 10 years ago, this region is still trying to rebuild and it is obvious they are struggling. High unemployment is rampant and abandoned factories dot many of the highways we pass through when we drove out to visit scenic sights. Some of the towns we sailed into are small and have not much to offer - certainly nothing close to what you would see along the Rhine/Main rivers. The trips and visits were all short and not very exciting. There were occasional gems but most days, we were done before lunch and that leaves a free afternoon with nothing much to see or explore in town. Even the shopping was pathetic. I wanted very much to shop and put some money into the local economy but could find very little to buy, besides tourist trash. Of all the cities we visited on this part of the Danube, Bucharest was the biggest surprise. What a charming and lovely city. Viking's sightseeing arrangements in the city was quite limited. We visited the Museum Village with them and opted to see the Parliament of the People instead of doing the Old Town walk. It was the right decision as the ENORMOUS Parliament building, a testament to one man's oversized ego and the excess that resulted from it was really quite elegant. I had expected it to be really over the top, so was nicely surprised to find some of the rooms rather pleasing. Many of them were quite empty and crying to be used. Those who went to the Old Town walk (basically 90% of the guests) found themselves with nothing to do after an hour of walking and had to wait for us to return to join them for our next sightseeing. Most of them were deterred from going because Viking's advisory said there were 200 steps to climb. What they did not elaborate was that it is the total number of steps for the entire tour. Many of the guests could have made it if they were given the correct information as we have climbed quite a lot of steps during other visits and I have seen most of the guests making it. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2015
The ship itself was lovely, clean and well laid out. They even had good wifi and enough plug outlets for all our electronics. Food was excellent and pleased both the adventurous and meat and potatoes sides of our family. Service was ... Read More
The ship itself was lovely, clean and well laid out. They even had good wifi and enough plug outlets for all our electronics. Food was excellent and pleased both the adventurous and meat and potatoes sides of our family. Service was good, but not great, or quite as personal as the high end cruise ships we have been on. Don't expect a broadway show, but do expect to learn about the cultures and history as the staff and locals share their favorite recipes, folklore and history. A much more personal, locally infused entertainment. This is an adult voyage, and geared towards adults in all ways. There are no kids activities or clubs. We enjoyed it so much that we did not wait a month from our return to book our next river cruise. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2015
Failed in the area of knowledgeable land guides. Although not Viking personnel, Viking is responsible for the experience. There was one good guide out of seven. High expectations for food; and the food was, at best, average. Failed at ... Read More
Failed in the area of knowledgeable land guides. Although not Viking personnel, Viking is responsible for the experience. There was one good guide out of seven. High expectations for food; and the food was, at best, average. Failed at ports of call. All but two ports required bus transportation, not walking distance as pictured in the brochures and on-line. Two ports were cement and cinder block manufacturing companies. Two days, our room was without some power. No a/c, no refrigerator, no TV/music, spotty internet. This will sound petty; but you must prepare for this, and we were not. You go through more than 20 locks. Two or three are interesting. The cabin was impossibly small. Evening briefings were painstakingly read, as were the "lectures" on local culture and attractions. Outstanding staff. Can not say enough about the staff. Beautifully appointed boat, two years old. Clean and well maintained. Some of the on-board "local" entertainment was really good. The rating below are based on the overall price of the cruise. It costs a whole lot more; and therefore, the expectations are a whole lot higher. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2015
Fantastic boat with fantastic staff. Nothing was too much trouble. Excellent food well presented. Interesting excursions with good guides. Be careful not to be overwhelmed by American travellers. It is possible that Viking target certain ... Read More
Fantastic boat with fantastic staff. Nothing was too much trouble. Excellent food well presented. Interesting excursions with good guides. Be careful not to be overwhelmed by American travellers. It is possible that Viking target certain cruises for the Americans. Try to find out when booking. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2015
After a wonderful pre-cruise in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Prague, we started our Viking cruise last Sunday, leaving from Nuremberg. The ship, Viking Jarl, is lovely, sleek and low key, spotlessly clean, with a ... Read More
After a wonderful pre-cruise in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Prague, we started our Viking cruise last Sunday, leaving from Nuremberg. The ship, Viking Jarl, is lovely, sleek and low key, spotlessly clean, with a reasonably sized stateroom and bathroom (for a cruise ship). The food is excellent. The very-well trained staff is attentive, professional and delightful. There is nothing about this particular ship or its staff that has contributed to my dissatisfaction. HOWEVER, the discrepancy lies in the deliverables as presented by Viking in their advertising and in the materials we have received. In my mind, the key differences between large ship ocean cruising and small ship cruising are twofold: the idea that in small ship cursing, there is the ability to use the availability of the river to dock in the middle of a city and the ongoing scenery as the ship goes from one place to another. Think about those Viking ads on PBS (like before "Downton Abbey") where they show amazing vistas as you cruise leisurely down the river. THE REALITY: As expected, we took a bus from Prague to Nuremberg (4hrs) where the cruise would start; it would end in Budapest. Unfortunately, the ship couldn't dock in Nuremberg because there were too few spaces and somehow our ship lost the toss and had to dock elsewhere. To do see the Justice Hall or any other WWII related sights, one had to select the optional tour, at an extra cost. This meant you could not participate in the included tour which was mostly on a bus, with the guide (who was well-versed), pointing out the window at the medieval aspects of the city plus a short stop at the castle. The first stop of the cruise, which was supposed to be in Regensburg, was actually on a desolate river bank in the middle of nowhere. Once again we had to be bused to the city. Some of these trips were as long as 40 minutes each way. For half the week, the cruising itself was mostly through locks which means seeing huge blank concrete walls. THE BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT: Midweek we were informed that there was a bridge repair going on in Bratislava that would necessitate our actual cruise ending in Vienna. Their version of the "good news" was that we would be spending an extra night in Vienna! This was because, instead of cruising overnight from Vienna to Budapest, arriving early the next morning, we would be boarding a bus the next morning to drive to Budapest, arriving in Budapest around lunchtime, thereby losing half of the one day in Budapest since the cruise ended the next morning. We would be put up in a hotel for the night. Included in the cruise package was to be a city tour during that morning we'd be driving and an evening cruise on our ship to see the beautiful harbor at night. We have not been informed yet on how they will provide these deliverables. WHAT HAS WORKED SO FAR: When we arrived in Passau, finally we docked in the city and could experience what was anticipated: a walking tour in the morning, lunch on the ship (if desired), and the ability to walk off the ship, stroll around all afternoon and decide when you wanted to head back to the ship. This afternoon, cruising from Melk to Vienna, for the first time, the scenery was magnificent, castles and vineyards and charming towns. FINAL COMMENT: The Viking Daube River cruise, which was significantly more expensive than a large ship cruise, was quite different than the literature had me anticipating. While, as stated earlier, I found the ship and crew to be superlative, this cannot compensate for my overall disappointment. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2015
Travel Dates: August 30, 2015 – September 6, 2015 Viking Boat: Jarl My husband and I, along with our friends (another couple) booked our Viking “Romantic Danube” cruise almost a year in advance. My husband lived in Germany ... Read More
Travel Dates: August 30, 2015 – September 6, 2015 Viking Boat: Jarl My husband and I, along with our friends (another couple) booked our Viking “Romantic Danube” cruise almost a year in advance. My husband lived in Germany for several years, and we have traveled a lot through the region, but had never cruised the Danube before. We wanted to see all of the beautiful towns along the way and to savor the relaxing feeling of cruising down the river while taking in all of the sights. This is what Viking advertises, and we believed them. We began the cruise on the Jarl in Budapest. A couple of days before the cruise our friends – but not us – received an email from Viking notifying them that the water levels were low and there may be a delay of the start of the cruise. They were directed to go to the Intercontinental Hotel in Budapest and await further instruction. Thankfully our friends received an email, otherwise we would not have known this crucial piece of information. We contacted the Viking representative at the Intercontinental Hotel and specifically asked her whether the boat would make it all the way to Nuremberg given the water levels. We specifically said we wanted to cruise- not be bussed from city to city. She assured us that the water levels were now fine and that the boat would leave on time – AND MAKE IT TO NUREMBERG. The boat did leave on time. And, for the first three days of the cruise it was lovely. The staff was amazing. They are professional, friendly, personable, and truly went out of their way to make the experience enjoyable. The tours of Budapest, Melk, Vienna and Passau were good. And then it all went downhill. On night four of the cruise the ship stopped for several hours for repairs. And, after Passau the ship stopped cruising for two days. Nights 5 and 6 were spent docked next to the road on the industrial side of Passau. Our balcony was level with the asphalt, looking at the gas station across the street. And we were the lucky ones. The people on the opposite side of the ship were looking into another Viking boat- they stack boats next to each other next to the shoreline so you are literally looking into another person’s cabin- for two days! The ship could not reach Regensburg on day 6 as scheduled. So, Viking bussed us 1.5 hours each way to the city. This is 3 hours taken out of our day, a day we were spending a lot of money in order to enjoy. On day 7, the day we were supposed to spend in Nuremberg, we were told that we would be bussed 3 hours each way in order to see the city, a total of 6 hours. Many people, including us, declined and stayed on the boat, parked next to the gas station in Passau, instead. The boat finally eked its way to Deggendorf on the last day of the cruise, and Regensburg by the final morning. This is still only a little more than half way of the distance we were supposed to cruise. We were not allowed to leave the boat during this period, except to go on the long bus rides to the next two cities, and in any event couldn’t have gone into the old city of Passau as it was across the river from us. The icing on the cake was the day of disembarkation. People, based on groups, were told to leave their luggage outside their rooms beginning at 3 a.m. The last group had to have their bags out by 5 a.m. We were put on buses at 8 a.m. and bussed for close to two hours to Nuremberg. Aside from the fact that the boat only cruised about half of the distance promised, there were other things which made us deeply regret having spent $7,000 on this cruise. For instance, despite the fact that we paid extra (several hundred dollars) for the upgraded liquor package, they ran out of ALL Cabernet Sauvignon by day 5, and all but the cheapest cognac by day 6. We could not understand why they couldn’t replenish their supplies when we were literally parked next to a city or why supplies couldn’t be taken from the other 5 or 6 Viking ships docked next to us! On day 5, when it had become clear that we were not going to travel any further up river – something we learned in private from the waiters and which was NEVER communicated by the ship administrators – we approached the program director and the hotel manager. We asked that we be permitted to disembark in Passau and that Viking refund the last two days of the cruise. He smirked condescendingly and told us that we were “free to do whatever we wanted,” but that the most they would do for us is help us find hotel reservations (at our own expense). We decided to stay on the ship to the bitter end. We had paid more than $1,000 a day and didn’t want to have to spend more money on accommodations and food for those last two days. The mood on the ship from day 5 onward was somber. Even the staff seemed down and it was reflected in the overall service they provided. In short, we are deeply disappointed in Viking. The cruise is nothing like we expected. Most of the cruising (what little of it there was) was done at night and there was literally only one day – going through the Wachau Valley – when we saw the beautiful sights advertised. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2015
We took a 'Mom and Two Sons' river cruise from Budapest to Nuremburg. It was time to spend together traveling like we had not before and visiting cities, world heritage sites and countries that none of us had visited before. ... Read More
We took a 'Mom and Two Sons' river cruise from Budapest to Nuremburg. It was time to spend together traveling like we had not before and visiting cities, world heritage sites and countries that none of us had visited before. Every facet of out Viking experience was timely, stress-free and truly enjoyable, From the time we were met at the Budapest airport to the 'ship swap' to the Viking Atla to delivering us to the Nuremburg airport, we were treated like kings and queen. I do not enjoy crowds, so the size of the ship was perfect. Service was just right and quickly our 'favorites' were known and served. Each crew person was personable, fun to get to know and in a short time, became a friend who we cared for very much. Dining was so enjoyable and the chefs were fabulous. We truly enjoyed our meals and were very happy for the excursions so we could walk off the calories! Each excursion guide was friendly, informative and interesting because they lived in the cities where we toured. The extras from the city-natives was insightful and I felt like they were sharing their love of history as well as the beautiful architecture. I especially enjoyed walking on the Roman/Medieval roads, seeing the art and sculptures and the magnificent cathedrals. Realizing how real World War II remains in the cities we visited was eye-opening. The physical losses and rebuilding was truly conveyed to all of us and gave me a new appreciation for each city's peserverance. We did not have the opportunity to stay for any extra time in Budapest, although I certainly would love to return. Yes! I would love to take a longer river cruise when I retire in 2-3 years. What a great way to start a new phase of my life! Perhaps my sons will be able to come with me once again so we could create more memories. I have recommended Viking to many of my friends and co-workers because it was such a wonderful way to travel and see the world. Thank you, Viking, for my memories of the beautiful cities, valleys and time spent with my sons. Read Less
Viking Jarl Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.4
Dining 4.0 4.6
Entertainment 3.0 4.0
Public Rooms 5.0 4.6
Fitness Recreation 1.0 3.3
Family 1.0 3.3
Shore Excursion 4.0 4.4
Enrichment 4.0 4.3
Service 4.0 4.8
Value For Money 3.0 4.2
Rates 4.0 5.0

Find a Viking Jarl Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click
Compare and book excursions for your next cruise