It has been a month since we returned from our November 2018 visit to Prague and Danube River Cruise. We experienced the same low water levels that so many have commented on, this was out of Vikings control and we can hardly blame them ... Read More
It has been a month since we returned from our November 2018 visit to Prague and Danube River Cruise. We experienced the same low water levels that so many have commented on, this was out of Vikings control and we can hardly blame them for it. During our week on the cruise we transferred to three different ships, spend a lot of hours on buses and got to see some interesting truck stops on the way. While not what we were hoping for - still an experience and not Vikings fault. We also consistently encountered friendly staff at the pre-cruise hotel and on board the three ships we used for this journey. We did (and do) have an issue however with how Viking communicates and handles Customer Service issues such as lost bags.
First off - if you only speak English don't worry, at every city we visited we were very comfortable finding our way and TONS of folks (especially younger folks) speak English. I was a little worried and shouldn't have been.
We visited Prague on a Viking pre-cruise extension, staying at a hotel for a few days prior to the bus ride to the ship. Following instructions from Viking staff, we left our luggage by the bus and then boarded the bus for our trip – we didn't see the bag again until Christmas Eve (an unexpected but pleasant surprise). Viking eventually found the bag and sent it to us - it had been left on the bus. This stuff happens, but they could have communicated status and acknowledgement to us more. We had no idea what was happening and had basically written it off (had over $700 worth of stuff inside).
About the cruise - some learnings: First, in November it's chilly - as in cold. No sitting on the deck, in fact none of the deck chairs or deck activities were even available. It was wet some days too. Second (and most importantly) is that it gets dark early this time of year. Not enough daylight to do all you'd like, and worse when you "burn daylight" sitting on a bus changing ships. Third, when you are stuck indoors on the small ship or in a bus, you can't escape the folks on the trip with you - and they can't escape you. Creates a more intense social scenario. We weren't really ready for this.
That said - we loved the pre-cruise extension in Prague (which is now one of my favorite cities to visit!). We will definitely do a pre-cruise extension again - and we regret not having booked a post cruise extension as well. Viking tour of the old town was good.
We did the tour of Terezin as I had relatives that died in the concentration camp there and a family history of bad experiences under the Nazis. Chilling, sobering, not "enjoyable, but one of the most important experiences of the trip. Well, done, well led by Viking, and just the right amount of time.
Krems (wasn't really Krems as we never got close to the place due to water levels) was mostly visiting the Abbey -in the dark due to bus ride time and the time of year. Missed the entire exterior view (a big part of the excursion). Good but not great but would do this again in the daytime
Regensburg was wonderful but our experiences limited as we arrived on Sunday and everything (I mean everything) was closed. Unlike the US, it's the law in Germany.
Vienna was a jewel - and given our bus time we had precious little time to spend there. We will go back, the Viking tour was good. The classical music concert was epic. One of the best aspects of any cruise we have taken. Viking city tour was also very good.
Budapest was a surprisingly fun city too - we just didn't have enough time there given the change in schedules/bus travel. We got up really early just to walk around some, wish we had more time,
All said, I would definitely do this cruise again, in warmer weather, when days last longer, and only if the boat actually gets to float down the river. Yes, it would cost more - but I will be paying it.
Final note - our experiences with Viking were probably not their best example of service in that they had a stressful European River Cruise season - all the rivers had problems. It was at the end of the season and you could tell that the Viking folks were looking for the season to end. They did a good job given the stresses (they are people after all) but I suspect they would have liked things to be better and less stressful too. Will we go on another Viking cruise - yes - but we will do so hoping for better circumstances. We will also consider an actual bus or train tour of Europe (because that's what we got) as it would be less expensive and hotel rooms would be more comfortable! Viking was fair in their granting of cruise credit for a future cruise to compensate for the lesser experience this year. Had a good time, hoping for a better one on the next Viking cruise. Read Less