We have sailed on seven ocean cruises over the last 16 years and had always liked the idea of a river cruise, but as these are not generally open to children, we have waited until our son could be left home alone. We chose the Romantic ... Read More
We have sailed on seven ocean cruises over the last 16 years and had always liked the idea of a river cruise, but as these are not generally open to children, we have waited until our son could be left home alone. We chose the Romantic Danube cruise as it suited our dates and started in Budapest where we wanted to extend our visit. We spent two days there before starting the cruise. We used a company called Budapest Locals for a personal tour and were extremely pleased with the service they gave us.
Having sailed on ships carrying from 440-4500 guests we were looking forward to being on a boat with less than 200 people and experiencing open seating, which we would not normally do. This proved to be the best part of the cruise for us. After a bit of a slow start, we found most people were very friendly and we really enjoyed our meals, getting to meet new people from different countries (though almost exclusively English speaking guests).
Embarkation and disembarkation were excellent.
The food was very good, however, the service was not to the same standard as we have experienced on any of the other cruise lines we have travelled with. Some staff undertook table waiting, bar work and room cleaning at various times, which resulted In them being less experienced at their jobs. Staff were very pleasant, but perhaps a little overfriendly at times. We had paid for the drinks package, which was very good, except that at dinner we found it much harder to get served wine than those who were partaking of the free wine. On one evening another guest in our company asked three different waiters for an after dinner drink and it took about three quarters of an hour before he actually got it! It would appear that the reason for this was that as the result of our boat swap (more of which later) there was a free bar, so those of us who had pre paid for our drinks had trouble getting served.
Entertainment was low key, but enjoyable.
The included shore excursions were variable. Some tour guides were excellent, others poor. The paid for excursion we went on also had problems. Our boat was moving further up river while people were on tours. It got held up and we had to wait for around two hours before we were able to get back on board.
We also fell victim to a lack of water, resulting in us having to change ships, as the river was closed. The fact that Viking have so many ships on the Danube meant that we were able to swop with passengers on the Var. In fairness to the staff on the Tor, it was the staff on the Var whose service we found less than satisfactory. We missed sailing that section of the river, travelling instead by coach, However, the whole transfer etc was handled very well.
The downside of Viking having so many ships, became apparent to us, when we boarded on our first day. It was mentioned in the small print that on occasion ships will dock along side each other, but the impression was that it was not a problem. However, we, along with many others we spoke to, were extremely unhappy to have paid a considerable amount more for a cabin with a balcony, only to find that we could not even see out of our window, never mind go out on the balcony, as there was another ship docked beside us. I would estimate that more than half of the ports that we docked in, at some stage our balcony was blocked. As well as blocking our view, light, ability to sit on our balcony, our privacy was also affected. Although the boats tried not to park window to window, on occasion we could actually see into the cabin of the boat beside us.
Viking claims to have 96-97% satisfaction from customers. Their questionnaires are worded in such a way that negative responses are hard to give. We were given the opportunity on the questionnaire to say if we would like someone from the company to contact us about the matters we were unhappy with. We have now been home for more than 5 weeks, but as yet have not received any communication from the company - apart of course from lots of brochures trying to sell their holidays.
To conclude, although we found many things about our Viking tour enjoyable and even excellent, the at times disappointing service and the situation with boats docking side by side, means that we would not contemplate sailing with Viking again and are now looking for companies who do not have this policy. Read Less