1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2018
The cruise through the beautiful Douro Valley in Portugal was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. The scenery is breathtaking- in places the river is so narrow you can almost touch the shore - a major navigational feat for the captain. ... Read More
The cruise through the beautiful Douro Valley in Portugal was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. The scenery is breathtaking- in places the river is so narrow you can almost touch the shore - a major navigational feat for the captain. Since the Douro is a major wine producing region the shores are filled with almost continuous terraced vineyards. In spite of the hot summer the landscape was very green. The ship is small, accommodating only 106 passengers but it provides a feeling of a small community. The stops along the river offer opportunities to taste and observe the manufacture of the famous port wine as well as other wines, including moscatel. One stop included a trip into Spain for a day in Salamanca, home of the oldest university in Europe. There are included excursions every day as well as additional optional excursions so lots of activity to keep passengers busy. Or you can opt to enjoy the beautiful scenery and weather from the sun deck. Food on board was excellent; buffet service as well as menu options at breakfast and lunch and table service at dinner. As with every Viking river ship there is open seating at every meal. One dinner offered a complete Portuguese menu and was interesting. There was high quality service in every aspect from the cabin stewards to the dining room staff. Several educational activities were offered during the sailing periods - an informational talk on cork, olive oil tasting and a demonstration by the chef on how to make the addictive egg tarts. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
This River cruise was our first visit to Europe. It was a trip that was one of my favorite vacations ever. All personnel from the bus drivers, guides, chefs, waiters, cleaning were so welcoming, friendly and would do anything to make ... Read More
This River cruise was our first visit to Europe. It was a trip that was one of my favorite vacations ever. All personnel from the bus drivers, guides, chefs, waiters, cleaning were so welcoming, friendly and would do anything to make our vacation perfect. All the excursions were so interesting and beautiful. I read posts of the individuals cruising a few months before our trip and how their food on board were below standards. I can't say how much we enjoyed our food throughout our trip. It was fantastic! We did the pre-cruise Lisbon and it was wonderful walking in the evening in downtown Lisbon. All the history, the people, the food and restaurants. A must if you go on this cruise. My husband and I just turned 50 and the majority of the guests were much older, but that didn't stop us from enjoying our vacation. We're hooked and we already have cruising plans for 2018. Viking has my business for now on. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
We did the pre-cruise Lisbon two days and that added to the two days that Viking puts you in a hotel for two days in Lisbon gave us 4 days. Our mistake was not taking one of those days to go to Fatima. We paid to have tours from Lisbon ... Read More
We did the pre-cruise Lisbon two days and that added to the two days that Viking puts you in a hotel for two days in Lisbon gave us 4 days. Our mistake was not taking one of those days to go to Fatima. We paid to have tours from Lisbon to Porto (bus) and Fatima was one of the stops - what we didn't realize was that we would have approximately 45 minutes total in Fatima - not near enough. So my suggestion is to skip paying Viking for the extra stops on a bus ride you are going to be making anyway, take the free Viking transfer, and spend a day in Fatima on your own or pay for a private tour. Meals is Lisbon will cost you at least 40 euros per couple - not fancy places. Once on the boat in Porto we sat and rode buses for two days. Finally moving on the boat but each day is buses. Very little "cruising". Meals were so-so. Cabin seemed smaller than on our other Viking trips (this was our 5th trip). Could not see out the "porthole" because on this ship they have it covered with frosted plexiglass. Entertainment - how do you have a trip to Portugal and Spain and not have Fado? You do have a lecture on cork and a chance to buy cork products and a lecture on olive oil and a chance to buy olive oil but no Fado. Like I said this was our 5th so we are big fans of Viking - this trip was our most expensive but I rate it as 4th best. English is absolutely no problem in Portugal and since the cruising part of the trip is minimal one may be better off doing a land trip on their own. We also did the the two day post in Santiago and enjoyed the Cathedral and other sights; but once again English is no problem so one may consider doing it on your own. Meals in Santiago will run you at least 40 euros per couple. Airline - direct flight to Lisbon from Miami on TAP - seat arm rest was broken - very minimal English entertainment - food was horrible. Return flight - up at 5:30 to put luggage out and then to Vigo to catch flight to Madrid with only one hour to make next flight - we made it but they were getting ready to shut the door to the aircraft - this could have been avoided as there was a flight from Vigo to Madrid one hour earlier and as we had to sit in the Vigo airport for two hours waiting for our flight we could have been booked on the earlier flight. We had to literally run to make our flight connection in Madrid - no fun. Walking - get heavy duty comfortable shoes that are anti-slip (sidewalks can be a bit slippery when wet). So in summary - a good trip and glad we did it. We are booked on one of their ocean ships in March and looking forward to that. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2017
A wonderful trip! The staff in Lisbon and on the boat were wonderful. The daily excursions were entertaining and informative. The food was good, the drinks were good, the weather was good- it was an amazing trip. The hotel in Lisbon, ... Read More
A wonderful trip! The staff in Lisbon and on the boat were wonderful. The daily excursions were entertaining and informative. The food was good, the drinks were good, the weather was good- it was an amazing trip. The hotel in Lisbon, Tivoli was very nice in an ideal location. Make sure you visit the Sky Bar. The trip to Porto on a very nice coach with 3 stops was a great day. Porto is a neat city, with lots and lots of port wine. The staff on the Viking Hemming went above and beyond in every aspect, from a Pedro and Valter in the bar, to The cleaning staff to the Captain and his crew to the chef everyone helped make this trip wonderful. The majority of the guests were over 70 but active and fun. People were from the US, Canada, the U.K. . Europe and Australia. We stayed in 326 and it was a nice, comfortable room. The ship only sails during the day so no noises to keep you up at night. The excursions were enjoyable. Again, lots of wine and wine tasting. Many days were filled with cobblestone sidewalks. Confortable shoes are a must. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
I was really skeptical coming into this trip. My grandma had told me that she loved the river cruises she had been on but that people my age don't typically go- that there would be all old people. BUT, within the first couple hours in the ... Read More
I was really skeptical coming into this trip. My grandma had told me that she loved the river cruises she had been on but that people my age don't typically go- that there would be all old people. BUT, within the first couple hours in the city of Lisbon I fell in love. The food was incredible and the people taught me so much. We boarded the ship and I immediately was on first name basis with 30 of the 34 crew members. I LOVE THEM SO MUCH! I was not surprised my energy and youth kept the boat alive. Everyone from Marcio the bartender to Vitor the waiter who put up with my dairy allergy, to Jens, the manager, to Leandro the security night guard, was so welcoming, funny and nice. I could be myself. I also learned so much from the older people, having gone through so much of life already. We went all over the place but the hemming was unforgettable, we danced sang, ate, tasted olive oil and made custard. I fell IN LOVE with the crew and the people.I also got close to the bus driver Azy, and everyone on the ship. I don't know what I have to say to make you book your hemming cruise but all you need to know was that I made 32 family members on this trip and 100 friends. I cried my EYES OUT when I left and I am having withdrawal still. I eat at 7 (breakfast) and stick to the schedule even off the boat. I am going to miss Emanuel's playing or dancing the waltz with Marcio.The country is incredible. Also, I was fortunate enough to have my birthday on the last day (when we headed home) but they threw me a celebration the night before, Christovao and Vitor (crew members) decorating my table and giving me gifts. I WANT TO GO BACK!!!! Best experience of my entire life. Prettiest country. THE ROOMS ARE SO NICE TOO! And the food!!!! Jan, best dishes ever (the chef is also hilarious). Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
After cruising on the Grand European last year I joined this year the Rivers of Gold in Portugal. The Scenery is stunning and amazing. Besides wonderful excursions to Porto, Salamanca, Lamego, Mateus Palace, Sandeman, Pinhao and great Port ... Read More
After cruising on the Grand European last year I joined this year the Rivers of Gold in Portugal. The Scenery is stunning and amazing. Besides wonderful excursions to Porto, Salamanca, Lamego, Mateus Palace, Sandeman, Pinhao and great Port wine tastings I enjoyed every single minute on board the Viking Hemming. The Crew has been incredible friendly and caring - they gave a home away from home feeling. Carolina and Milan were the waiters that took so good care of me. Chef Jan and his team prepared wonderful food with many local tastes. I fell in love with the Spanish Paella, the Pork Cheeks or the wonderful Chateaubriand. Furthermore I met wonderful people from around the world. For the entertainment we had wonderful shows like Flamenco and group of young students providing an great flair of Portuguese music. I am already planning on the next Viking Cruise - Thank you Viking. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2017
We chose this cruise because we had never been to Portugal and we love Viking. This cruise was highly recommended to us by the crew during our Russia cruise. The crew of the Hemming was wonderful. Jens, the manager, could not have been ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we had never been to Portugal and we love Viking. This cruise was highly recommended to us by the crew during our Russia cruise. The crew of the Hemming was wonderful. Jens, the manager, could not have been more helpful and delightful. Barbara, our program director, was excellent. She made sure that we were always informed about the particular tour we were taking. She took care of every detail during the tours and made sure that everyone was having a good time. The dining area crew and the cleaning crew were incredible. The entertainment on the ship was excellent. We thoroughly enjoyed the tours as well as the lectures on the ship. The olive oil tasting as well as the port tastings were most enjoyable. The trip was a huge success!!!!! I am very happy that we attended this cruise and would highly recommend it to friends. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
We have river cruised before with another company and went on a sea cruise with Viking last year which we loved. We thought we would give the river cruising arm a go! We really enjoyed the trip ( by the way we were on the same trip as Gina ... Read More
We have river cruised before with another company and went on a sea cruise with Viking last year which we loved. We thought we would give the river cruising arm a go! We really enjoyed the trip ( by the way we were on the same trip as Gina - see below) - we too were at the younger end of the passenger age range and we understood some of her concerns. Overall we had a very good time - the Douro is absolutely beautiful, the ship, buses and staff are excellent. I will get the negatives out of the way straight away....there were food problems on this cruise...staff turnover had left inexperienced chefs in charge and they struggled all week to keep on top of things. Lunches were very disappointing most days, and in the evening food service and quality was inconsistent. Waiting staff were also either inexperienced or suffering low morale as a result of the kitchen problems. The advice I would give to anyone thinking about this trip is to read carefully and understand what trip you are going on. Viking are quite clear on the logistics of this cruise and if that combination of coach tour and river cruise is not for you then perhaps look elsewhere. We found the two days in Lisbon excellent - the recently refurbished Tivoli hotel was very good indeed and we were very happy there. We were amazed how much we saw on the half day tour - we have been to Lisbon before and saw less in a weekend than on our tour! We had plenty of time to explore on our own which we appreciated. The trip to Porto via Coimbra was excellent with a great lunch with Fado music. Porto is a beautiful town and we were easily able to explore ourselves. We took the cable car from right by the ship , walked across the bridge , took the funicular down and the water taxi back....a lovely afternoon in the sun after the Viking morning tour. The day tours were well organised, generally interesting and we had plenty of time to explore and walk in our free time. The group was very sociable. Cabins were very well kept, bar service excellent and the local entertainment very engaging. It is true that this group was on the older side....we are in our early 60s and very fit but we're very happy with the mix of activities. The villages you go through are small and off the beaten track and authentic and that is part of the charm. Viking responded positively to my concerns when we returned, and I know are committed to addressing them. We thoroughly enjoyed our trip but some improvement is definitely required to the food service and quality. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
You start in the Tivoli in Lisbon: Astheticlly a nice hotel. It is missing many high level hotel details. What drove many in our group crazy was that there is no shelf or place to put the soap/shampoo in the shower, leading to a more ... Read More
You start in the Tivoli in Lisbon: Astheticlly a nice hotel. It is missing many high level hotel details. What drove many in our group crazy was that there is no shelf or place to put the soap/shampoo in the shower, leading to a more difficult shower. After a long day of touring, I like to tune into TV, but there were only 2 English speaking channels and they left little to be desired. What was most troubling is that the headboards are not fixed properly, so we heard several different hotel rooms “quickly slamming their headboards to the wall” (if you get what I mean). The soundproofing in this hotel is horrific and if you are not listening to screaming people on the street, you are listening to your neighbors getting busy in their rooms or doors slamming out in the hallways. Viking provided breakfast included at their restaurant and it was a great spread and the service was good. From a service perspective, the hotel staff rarely answers the phone, so you are forced to go downstairs and wait in line for even the most minor of things. We went one day ahead of the cruise and book a private tour of Sinstra, which was our very best day on this vacation! Pena Palace and the Moore Castle was amazing and we paid about $140/pp and had a private car and driver on our own (same price as the ship charges to go on a bus with 30 people and do the cattle call). Day in Lisbon: Viking’s included tour in Lisbon was good, but not great. It hit the high points, but our guide failed to have interesting details or stories that we have had with other wonderful guides during travel. Lisbon is a fun city with much to do. We enjoyed our time there. Off to Porto: We spent the extra money for the Fatima/Monastery tour. I would say it was not worth it. We were in Fatima on a Sunday and it was crowded with a service, so seeing anything was pretty impossible. The Monastery was beautiful, but I am not sure I would have paid the money to see it, had I known about Fatima. We drove a total of 4 hours or so, in between the sites we saw, getting out 3 times. We had lunch at a restaurant on the beach with a wonderful view, though the food itself was just OK (and beware, if you don't like fish that was the only thing they offered us, though, after complaints they did bring something else). Viking ship: Know this, other than a young blind woman and her guide, we were the only people under the age of 60. The average age is around 70, with many close to or over 80 on this cruise. What this means is that (among other issues this creates) the tours are geared at people that cannot handle much. A 15 minute walk is advertised highly, to encourage all to attend and know it is not too much. What this means is that tours tend to be dry and boring. The pace of walking is more than sluggish and the amount you see is minimum outside of the coach. The guides are not at all interesting and, being an extensive traveler, I have never been so bored in my lifetime. Each day means 2-4 hours on the bus, as there is nothing close by. You MUST go on their tours and deal with extremely uncomfortable long bus rides. There is no private tour booking availability and the "program director" never even responded to our request to book such. There is literally nothing to do on this ship, so staying back behind is not a option and there are no towns at the “ports”. The “pool” is about 10 feet long and 2-3 feet deep. There are 3 steps to get to the bottom of it, if it tells you anything. What a total waste. There is no gym (Viking does tell you this) and, further, you may not run along the top, as the people can hear you in their rooms. You must concede to no exercise at all on their cruise and you won’t make it up in walking, as you see much of what you do from the bus. The scenery you sail is very beautiful, but there really is not much to do except visit wineries. If you do not like port, which is a very sweet wine, that makes for a very boring vacation. Your ship moves as your bus does, so you get little of the sailing time through the valley since you are on the bus much of the time the boat is sailing and it cannot sail at night either. TV: Warning, you lose satellite at times during the trip. Since there is nothing to do on the ship, this is problematic. Their list of movies is garbage, which was also a bummer. We also had some issues with our TV, as it would sometimes not work and they were constantly trying to fix it. They had the opportunity to at least have some current features, which were not available, to pass the time when you are trapped on ship with nothing else to do. This also goes to wireless availability and cellular service. They all drop off for long periods during the sailing. Do not book extra excursions prior to boarding. They have plenty of spaces to add when you are on the ship and cannot do a refund on the ship, which causes issues. They told us to get a refund on line and the on line system didn’t allow it either. We had to fight with Viking, who eventually did give us a credit. Staff: Many are wonderful. Our guide (bus 1C from the June 4th sailing in 2017, however, seemed impatient and with attitude. The reception staff were requested of things and would just force us to follow up over and over again, never following through on their own. The program director said she would try and set up somethings for my husband and I , tired of the bus. We heard nothing from her again. The matra de was wonderful and the wait staff was very accommodating. The chef was very friendly and with a sense of humor Food: . I was told by many that had been on other Viking cruises that this cruise did not match the normal Viking river dining experience, which was a bummer for us. Mediocre at best. Good fruits like berries are not present and they make their own yogurt, which is watery and gross. Not sure why they don’t just buy local yogurt like most do. Night one, we had steak as the special, but it was slightly overcooked. The dessert special was amazing. We were told the steak would come medium rare and it did not. Night two was the lamb chops. They were OK, but not great and there was little to the dish. Dessert was a marscapone and it was terrible. Night 3 was a peppered chicken. It had way too much in pepper on the skins and it was not pleasant to eat. The waiter also did not understand the dish, as I asked about the potatoes served with it and he said a thick pieces of potato and it was actually more like a hash brown. I am not certain how they cannot know what is being served. Dessert that night was a banana split, which was a banana cut in half with one scoop of vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce, whipped cream and almonds on it. It was OK, but certainly not worth the calories. The next night was a pork tenderloin special, which was not good. The dessert was a sort of custard advertised with berries. It came with 2 small blueberries for each person on the ship and when we all asked for more, we were told they ran out. How can you have a dessert based on blueberries and run out? Breakfast too, was mediocre. They have the waiters making eggs and they tried twice to get me eggs over lightly and both times they broke them. Even the chef made eggs one morning and needed 2 hands to crack them (awkwardly) and broke one! Salmanaca night the menu was horrible and almost 100% of our table ordered the rib eye from the base menu instead, which was good. The mashed potatoes came out ice cold (not warm, truly cold). The dessert again was subpar. They seem to do a lot of custard type desserts and not one was good, so they need to figure something out. The next night’s menu was good and I ordered the filet mignon, which was cooked perfectly. Dessert, again, we a disappointment. Lunches have been a struggle for most of the cruisers. They just don’t have the basic menu they need and try to be too fancy…..and cannot seem to handle that either. I would recommend they come up with a basic menu for lunch that is always available, full of “normal” eating, which they lack right now. They did have Gluten free pasta and options, which was nice. I will give the chef kudos for the last night’s meal, a veal dish. It, along with the starters, were excellent the last day. Had the food been this good throughout, we would have been more than satisfied! Day 1 in Porto: This tour was a “panoramic” tour, meaning you see little up close. You do go into the train station and get a full (LOL) 40 minutes to walk around, but that is the end of it. Guirames: What they do not tell you is that every tour is a long bus ride. This one is an hour there and an hour back with less than 2 hours at the place. As with most Viking tours, there is little time on your own. After buying it, we skipped it. Mateus Palace and Gardens Tour. There was a 45 minute ride to a “palace”. The tour was done by a university student with terrible English. Many could barely understand him and when you could, his information was dry and boring. What a shame, as this seemed like an interesting place. Then we went to another Sandelman’s winery. The tour was interesting, but frankly a repeat of the other day’s tour at Sandelmans in Porto and the “tasting” was of a mixed drink with port in it. Pinhao: Another hour ride to Castelo Rodrigo. It is a cute, ancient town, but you only spend an hour or so there, as there really is not much to see and do. The tour was a total of 10-15 minutes. There is a very cute church there, but the guide didn’t even go over the interesting things about that church, which was the usual way of these very boring guides. You have around an hour on your own. The guides told us to wait to by cork at this stop and there were literally 3 shops, with very little in them. While the price of cork was better than other places, there was little to choose from. As with other days, we were in the bus for 2 hours for just over an hour spent at the destination. PS, there is someone that comes onto the ship with good cork prices and handmade items (purses, wallets and jewelry mostly) on the last night that is worth the visit and her presentation on cork was good too. Salmanaca: 2 hours each way by bus. There is around a 45 minute tour, done by Spanish guides, who were far better than our Portuguese ones and then 3 ½ hours on your own. Salmanaca was a very interesting stop, with a lot to see and enjoyable shopping and food. Finally, we had a day where we spent a good deal of time away from the boat. This was a long bus ride, but definitely worth it when comparing to other days. Favios: This town has very little to offer….not even a shop! It was interesting to see how she made the bread and it was hot and tasty. Then we were off to the bread and wine museum, which seems to have been created for these Douro river tours. There is not much of interest, but they have done their best to create something that goes with the cruise. We then had a tour of a Muscaret winery and a tasting. Again, way too sweet for us. We then went for a long traditional Portuguese lunch at a winery and this was done very well. The owner is funny and interesting to listen to. The food was good and dessert very good. The bus ride is just over an hour each way. There is no free time or shopping on this excursion. You go back to your ship in Pinhao. You can walk around but there isn’t much to see or even much in shopping, just really the train station and a casual stroll. Lamego: 30-40 minute bus ride to Lamego. It has a cool staircase that you can walk down and is worth the 5-10 minutes it takes to do so. The town itself has several pretty churches, but that is about it. It does have nice cafes and a couple of decent shops. It isn’t really a quaint town, but it seems they are looking for places to bus their cruisers, so this is it. Had we stayed on the boat, it takes you to another port in a city that has a few shops to offer. Then you leave on your ship again., off to Porto. Thank God, we are looking forward to the end of this cruise for sure. Back to Porto: We had one night left in this pretty town. We enjoyed a tuk tuk tour on our own, had another éclair and enjoyed the spa at Hotel Flor Village (where we stayed). It’s located in a great square and we had a lovely evening with tapas! Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
What a great trip and the itinerary was perfect. We opted for the additional excursion to Cascais and Sintra which turned out to be one of the highlights of our trip. The walking tour of Lisbon was special - such a beautiful city and ... Read More
What a great trip and the itinerary was perfect. We opted for the additional excursion to Cascais and Sintra which turned out to be one of the highlights of our trip. The walking tour of Lisbon was special - such a beautiful city and learning about the history was memorable, thanks to the local guide. The cruise on the Douro was wonderful and the excursions to the Sandeman winery and to Favaios were special. The scenery along the Douro was reminiscent of the Mosel River - you know you're in wine country. We enjoyed the excursions to Lamego and the the Mateus Palace. Salamanca and Santiago de Campostella are not to be missed, they added so much to the travel experience we enjoyed. We owe a special thanks to Bruno, our Viking rep. in Lisbon for his help and guidance for the first two days. All in all, the local guides were great for each of the excursions. Read Less
Viking Hemming Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.6
Dining 4.0 4.5
Entertainment 3.0 4.1
Public Rooms 5.0 4.6
Fitness Recreation 1.0 3.5
Family 1.0 3.5
Shore Excursion 4.0 4.5
Enrichment 4.0 4.4
Service 4.0 4.6
Value For Money 3.0 4.2
Rates 4.0 N/A

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