Overall we had a very good trip. However two things were irritating, the boat switch halfway through the trip and the beverage package. This was the most expensive vacation I have ever taken and I expected perfection.In those two areas ... Read More
Overall we had a very good trip. However two things were irritating, the boat switch halfway through the trip and the beverage package. This was the most expensive vacation I have ever taken and I expected perfection.In those two areas Viking fell short. I also felt the Moevenpick was not a great hotel for the post cruise stay in Amsterdam. I see why they use it, location works well for ships coming and going.
Was right there in Budapest and got us to the boat. Nice young people greeted me, took my luggage to van and we were off.
Transport was on time for return trip, very efficient.
First set of flights had me traveling west to Pittsburgh, fly west to Chicago, then fly to east Europe, getting in at 4pm or so Oct 2.
At my request changed to flying from JFK and saved me about 8 hours of travel. This should have been handled better, I would expect professional Viking Air reps to know better.
Arrangements were fine after that.
Arrival: I got there first and our room was ready, so it was great to unpack and get organized.
We went up to the Aquavit for buffet lunch, great weather and very good service.
General comments: When we were traveling through the Wachau Vally, it would have been nice if the crew had wiped down chairs so they were not wet before folks came up there at 8am. Also, should have been serving coffee or tea also.
Ship was clean.
Laundry service was great, came back nicely folded.
Boat switch in Nuremburg:
This was so disappointing. I was ready if there were water level problems or lock issues. We were told on day 2 that we would switch boats in Nuremburg b/c of a labor contract issue.
So a company made problem forced us to pack up and have our bags out and the switch took place during touring.
The switch was pretty fast and other than a missing umbrella for 3 days, that worked.
The problem is one of the reasons you select a trip like this is to avoid the hassle of moving. I had steamed all my clothes for the duration - what a waste.
Also the servers know what you like by then, had to start all over.
You also had to clear out your account on the Eistla and start again on the Bestla. They have a pretty inefficient way of clearing out accounts vs an express check out
We were never offered anything but an open bar - worthless for us with the beverage package.
As much as I liked the cruise overall, this is really tainting my ability to recommend Viking for the Grand European. I did see that they are doing this a lot in Nuremburg and it really stinks.
Other passengers said the Bestla was in Budapest when they arrived but gone before the cruise. So whatever the issue, my opinion is the company needed to suck it up and keep us on the same boat and eat whatever the expense was.
I did not feel that the Viking acknowledged the inconvenience nor did they do anything substantive to apologize or reward us for the issue.
Eistla vs Bestla: The crew that was on the Eistla was superior to the Bestla from a service perspective. The Bestla food was a hair below but the food service was really less efficient. Dinner courses had long waits and I think it had to be a kitchen issue. Once food was ready the servers really worked to get the food out.
Servers on Bestla - like any staff there are good and bad. The female servers on the Bestla were way less hospitable and at times a bit cranky.The male servers - Claudiu, Mirko, were great.
If you came later for the open meal period at breakfast or lunch, they were already setting for next meal and would be a bit rude about having you move.
I understand they have tight turnovers but inform us in the initial briefing so we get it? Figure out a way to tell people better.
They did not have a wine we liked on the Bestla, and next day they had it, beverage steward came up and said we got it from the other ship since we didn't have it and you liked it - great move.
On Bestla, the one night we asked for a menu in the Aquavit, the server said "don't you remember it from last boat?" We hadn't used the Aquavit for dinner yet, so didn't know the menu. This is just an example of the difference with servers on the ships. Just give us the menu without the snide commentary.
Esitla: The servers had great wine recommendations and remembered you. All the servers were super. Seta and Agnes in particular. They were on top of the crowd, efficient and friendly.
This was not what was promised from the espresso drink offerings. We purchased it thinking I could have all the fancy espresso drinks I like. That was not true. It made it seem like I could have access to a variety of Starbuck like drinks.
All passengers can get pretty good coffee drinks at the two beverage stations off the bar area.
I first asked at lunch, and was told I could go to the machines. Later in the trip I noticed a Jura coffee machine at the bar, and started to order capuccino. It was hit or miss, of you were on bar/Aquavit level you could get it, in the dining room you could not. I was told they had to go upstairs......so that marketing was pretty misleading. It also seems goofy that I couldn't get the drinks at meals, which we took most B/L/D in the dining room.
I would suggest you not get the package where one of the cabin mates does not drink much.It is only sold to both people in the cabin. It was a total rip off over $800. We could have had house wine, which was very good and a mixed drink here and there for $200. They will also cork any wine you bring on the boat for free.
A clear case of marketing and execution not meeting.
Food in general was pretty good.
Breakfast and lunch were buffet style plus a few items off the menu.
Lots of fruit, breads, meats and cheese in the am. Fresh preserves, steel cut oats with the fixings. Eggs and omelets to order plus always a few items from menu.
Lunch always had a choice of salads plus a nice selection off menu. And a fresh cooked pasta to order.
Portions overall were very nice, a half of a club vs huge american portion, which was perfect.
Dinner was good, sit down and changing menu every night. Steak you could always order with three sauces was very good. Can also order chicken or salmon.
Again, good portion sizes.
It would be nice to get a plain, large salad available at dinner beside the caesar.
Aquavit - very good, casual and buffet style at lunch and breakfast, set menu at dinner. Wished they had told us in advance when they were doing hot dogs or hamburgers up there.
We only signed up for the WWII tour with extra cost. While the courtroom 600 was in use, we got a great overview of the Nazi party workings in the 30's and the trials. Highly recommend this.
Everyone who took the Rotherberg excursion loved it, I would take it if I went again b/c there was so much good feedback on it. I think that was available on the Wurzburg stop.
Like any tour guides, some are really good and others are OK. I prefer facts vs opinions, but got lots of info. Overall good experience.
Passau, Regensburg, Wurzburg and Bamberg are where you can shop for German things. Cologne and Koblenz are really big cities and finding stuff there was hard, all international shops or really cheap touristy stuff.
Concierge and Program Director:
Berona & Gigi very good.
Verona was very bubbly and informative. She helped a few folks with Anne Frank House, which they appreciated.
The commentary on sailing days was excellent.
Tour groups handled efficiently and very organized. Gigi was always milling about checking on things.
Amsterdam post cruise at Moevenpick:
Location is walk from ship but in highly industrial area. Have to walk quite a bit to get to restaurants.
Cost at over $500 pp for short transfers and walking tour plus room/breakfast a bit pricey
Viking people in lobby overwhelmed with guests, so that turned out not to be a bonus since it was hard to get to them.
Walking tour with Klaas was good.
Hotel is worn and not exceptionally clean. There was scum on the bottom part of the toilet that I see in homes not well cared for and god knows what on the underside of the TP holder. Trash wasn't emptied. Staff at desk not knowledgable of area, had to see concierge…always busy with a line.
Breakfast was a large buffet and communal seating, lots of offerings. Food was good. Excellent hot chocolate.
If I had to do it over, I would stay at the Vienna Marriott, located in a better area, close to museums and good restaurants and saved money.
Over $1000 was not a value at all.
Anne Frank House - they will get you tickets on the ship, I got ours on line earlier in the summer. In any event there is a huge line to buy tickets at the museum, if you get them ahead you get buzzed in and can go right through, but only at the time they give you on ticket. Beware, they are sold for specific times.