Before I give my review let me just say that we have sailed on USS Norway when the smoke stacks backed up, on Royal Caribbean several times, on 3 Princess, 1 Celebrity, 1 Silver Seas, and now our first river cruise so we are not first time ... Read More
Before I give my review let me just say that we have sailed on USS Norway when the smoke stacks backed up, on Royal Caribbean several times, on 3 Princess, 1 Celebrity, 1 Silver Seas, and now our first river cruise so we are not first time cruises.
Now for my review of our trip to the Tulips and Windmills, Amsterdam to Belgium and back to Amsterdam. We also stayed two extra days in Amsterdam prior to the trip although one was wasted with travel. All travel arrangements done thru Viking, including insurance and transfers.
Left Tampa 6:30 pm, flew to Kennedy, then to Paris, then to Amsterdam, arrived around 3:40 pm local time. Transfer Driver not there. He had picked someone else up who was wearing a Viking sticker but never asked their name. Took them to our hotel, the Movenpick, which was very nice but too far from downtown. They weren't even staying there. That's when they found out they left us at the airport. We had to get a tour guide from another company to make phone calls for us. Not a good start! Finally got to the hotel about 4 pm local time.
Was told that the Flower Parade which is held once a year was nothing to bother seeing so settled for a walking tour of Amsterdam, which we could have done on the last day of the cruise. They should have offered it as a special excursion. And they knew that we would be docking back in Amsterdam on Saturday when the Jewish Museum would be closed. why didn't they switch a tour around or at least remind us of that happening so we could have gone during our first days there.
WE thought we were getting an upscale cruise, but it was horrible.Viking River Cruise - Worst cruise we have ever been on. Between lousy weather, wind, rain, cold, even saw hail, for half the week, then we couldn't use our veranda which we paid extra for because the ship kept docking up against either another ship or the rusty metal docks which became our view, and then illness. We were in Cabin 211 and apparently all the odd number cabins had this same problem. There was no indication in any of the cruise literature that our view would be obstructed. Viking doesn't even tell the travel agents this info. And I have pictures to prove what I am saying. We had to walk thru another ship at times to get to the shore and people had to walk thru our ship at times to get to the shore. That wouldn't be bad if it didn't block our view. The second half of the cruise also had horrible weather. I have pictures to prove our view and horrible weather.
The water canal cruise was in the pouring rain; the very wet guide in Hoorn kept forgetting what he was supposed to say. The poor people whose homes we visited had to deal with cold wet people with wet shoes. But they were very gracious about it.
There was one tour, thinking Antwerp that we even had hail. There was no way to get off the ship and walk to various places as we were docked in mostly industrial ports, and had to be shuttled back and forth to town. The last day in Amsterdam there was a lapse in busses, from 3:30 to the next one at 5 pm. We went looking for a pharmacy, we didn't want to stay in town with the crazy mobs from th rock concert and beauty convention and cruise ships, we wanted to get back to the ship so we could rest up.
In Kinderdjk, even the guide, who lives there, said the weather was horrible and couldn't wait to get back indoors. Again, another cold wet windy raining day.
Yes, both of us came home sick. He came down on the second Wednesday or so with a sore throat, cold, runny nose, cough, etc. I caught it towards the weekend. Came home 10 pm Sunday night, He went to Urgent Care as he was so miserable didn't want to wait until 3:30 for reg doc. He has a strep infection, sinus infection, fever was 101.7 at the docs and higher later and can't hear. I have something wrong with my ear, inflamed or something, couldn't catch what the doc said but both of us are on antibiotics and other meds for this darn thing. I am trying to prevent my symptoms from becoming worse since he was told he could be contagious. He had to go back to the primary doc, have exrays for his lungs today, and changed to a stronger antibiotic.
And when on the River Cruise we were told they are not allowed to sell any medications including simple aspirin. We had brought some things but fortunately one of the other guests had some Nyquill they shared, and we found a local doc who gave us the equivalent of Tylenol but stronger, and I gave him my nasal spray to use until we could find a pharmacy. We were able to get some other simple meds for him by walking around and finding a pharmacy but were told that things like Nyquill, Dayquill, Contac are too strong so they don't sell them.
He missed a couple of excursions and meals, but he did get to see the Keukonhoff Gardens and I think I would have put him in a wheel chair to see that as it was the highlight of the trip since we missed the Flower Parade the Saturday before we left Amsterdam.
Fortunately another of the guests that we were spending time with is a Doctor and he helped us figure out what to do. But after 17+ hours and 3 connections to get home we are still functioning but not well. We had the dog sitter keep the dogs an extra day and will pick them up today. Had to cancel two social events because of this dam thing.
The Concierge said he tried to get Viking to change our flight arrangements but to no avail, so we had to do the triple change on the way home. Thus my ear drum popped, had a nose bleed on the plane and he lost his hearing. Our expensive Travel Insurance program ($1500) was worthless. We were told that either he would have to be admitted to the hospital and if they could not cure him then they would jet him home. And also, he would have to be seen by a doctor and certified that he was not well enough to fly and maybe they might have jetted him home. Or we could have made other flight arrangements on our own ($5,000+) extra and then try to collect from the Insurance company's claims department later. And it was bought thru Viking. Viking never offered to get us a doctor on board until The last day and then he would have missed Keukenoff.
Have no plans to go on another Viking cruise. And am not a big fan of Air France either. We sat on the tarmac for 1.5 hrs after arriving 1 hour early and we thought for sure we were going to miss our Delta flight home which is the last flight out of Kennedy to Tampa. Last time we flew this combination we did miss the flight home and had to stay overnight in NY.
I think that Viking is expanding too quickly and cannot give the service their clients deserve. The ships are getting old and could use a bit of freshing up. The people we met were delightful which was a lifesaver. And we were liking the idea of them doing the Mississippi in 2017 but we won't be on it.
All the hype one sees on TV? Well. We didn't see it. Oh did I mention that the only authentic Belgium food served was at the waffle demo and 6 pieces of chocolate at a dinner. The Dutch stew supposed to be a sample of real Dutch food, was a joke. We had a Dutch stew in a restaurant in town the second night on our own and it was wonderful! We were also told that because of so many allergies, and varied tastes of the people on board the chef doesn't use much in the way of seasonings, that explains the bland dishes. One night my husband ordered prime rib, and gave me the first bite which was ice cold. So we sent it back. The next piece came out raw so we couldn't eat it. The next order was a piece of salmon that came out over cooked. Read Less