Sail Date: October 2018
We've had done 4 European river cruises over the years - 2 with Viking and 2 with other companies and we wanted to do the 2-week Grand European River Cruise as part of a relaxing October vacation. This trip, however, turned out to be ... Read More
We've had done 4 European river cruises over the years - 2 with Viking and 2 with other companies and we wanted to do the 2-week Grand European River Cruise as part of a relaxing October vacation. This trip, however, turned out to be a total disaster from start to finish - anything but relaxing! Viking has yet to offer us adequate compensation for our ruined vacation. and until they make things right, I cannot recommend this once-leading company any more. On the Grand European River Cruise, buyers need to prepared for itinerary changes, canceled side trips, ship swaps, and many segments of the trip done by bus rather than on the water. There is also high likelihood that even when you do arrive at a city by ship, you will not be docked "in the heart of the city", but out by some oil storage depot where you cannot come and go on foot but need to be bused in and out on a particular schedule. Most of the cruising is done at night when you can't see anything Two of the three Viking river cruises that we've taken have had shortened itineraries and bus trips substituted for river cruising. and the few times that we've docked in or near a city, we've been double- or triple- docked with other boats so our pricey balcony was useless. This latest "cruise" had 65% of the itinerary covered by bus, and 35% by water, and was only a thin piece of what was advertised. . . Our troubles on this cruise began the day before we were arriving in Budapest to meet the ship. I was emailed to say that the ship wouldn't make it to Budapest due to low water, and that we'd be put up in a hotel for the first night - but the Viking management didn't know which hotel it would be - and then we would be transferred by bus up to to Vienna, skipping the river cruising. Not knowing where to go in Budapest, we stopped by the Sofitel, (which Viking had used in the past), and fortunately we found a rep there who said we should go to the Marriott. We did, but nobody there knew where the Viking people were, and we didn't see a rep until the following morning (the second day of our supposed cruise) when a bus came to pick us up. We spent day 2 of the cruise sitting a bus to Vienna, where we actually did get to board a ship. Despite assurances that our luggage would be in our stateroom when we got there, I found I was missing one critical suitcase with my medications, (which staff eventually found in another stateroom).I The rest of the cruise followed in the same disorganized vein: cruise a few days, then more busing. Switch ships, cruise a day or so, then more busing. Eventually the ship made it to Mainz which was it's "end-of-the line", and we had to be bused all the way up to Amsterdam where we had another chaotic hotel check-in. On bus days - there were many - we had group lunches at so-so- restaurants, and occasional highway rest stops for which we had dig out our own change to pay for rest rooms (Viking should have passed out Euros to everyone for this!) Most of the pre-paid-for side trips were cancelled, and while we eventually (2 months later) got a refund for ours, it wasn't the full amount we'd paid. By the end of this so-called "cruise", I think most of the crew were demoralized and the passengers were glad to say goodbye. As I said, this once-noble company has to make this one right before I can recommend them! Read Less
Sail Date: October 2018
We had taken a Viking cruise from Budapest to Bucharest two years earlier, and thought that two weeks on a ship from Budapest to Amsterdam, passing through some areas that we had not visited before or had seen decades earlier, would be ... Read More
We had taken a Viking cruise from Budapest to Bucharest two years earlier, and thought that two weeks on a ship from Budapest to Amsterdam, passing through some areas that we had not visited before or had seen decades earlier, would be pleasant. Little did we know that Europe would experience five months without rain, that the rivers would be too low for the ships to sail, and that two-thirds of this cruise would be done on buses, including a final six-hour ride from Mainz to Amsterdam on a bus filled with coughing, hacking disgruntled fellow passengers. So much for the view of Budapest's chain bridge at night, or a cruise past Bratislava on the way to Vienna, or any cruising on the Rhine at all. At least we caught a glimpse of the Rhine when we crossed it on bridges. Viking could not do anything about the weather, so it cannot be faulted for the low river levels. But several other aspects of the cruise did not meet the expectations we had for a river cruise. Viking gives the impression that sailing through the heart of European cities means that you dock in the cities and can disembark and reembark at your leisure. That would have been true in Budapest, had a ship been there, and was true in Vienna, but then things changed. In Passau, where the ship was supposed to spend one night but actually stayed two, the ship stopped in the center so passengers could disembark, but then in the afternoon moved to a docking location out of town to which a person could not walk, but rather had to wait for a bus transfer. The cruise to Regensburg was a bus trip from Passau to Regensburg and then back to Passau, so there was no chance to simply walk off the ship and explore on one's own. The cruise to Nuremberg was a bus trip from Passau right past Regensburg on to Nuremberg. At Nuremberg a ship was waiting, and could sail on the lock-controlled waters of the Main-Danube canal. The next port was Bamberg, but did the ship stop conveniently in the center of town? No, it went beyond town to an industrial port from which people were bused to town. And was the ship there at the end of the day? No, it sailed on, and the passengers took buses to a small port further down the canal. So much for walking on and off the ship and exploring at leisure . The next port was Wuerzburg. As the ship sailed in we saw another Viking ship docked right in the center, with Viking banners and a red carpet, and assumed that we would dock beside it. Instead our ship sailed another five miles down the canal to dock in what appeared to be an oil terminal, from which people were bused back to the city for an abbreviated visit. Meanwhile another Viking ship passed going in the opposite direction and docked in town. The Grand European Tour is supposed to be Viking's premier cruise, yet it had the worst possible docking position. The words to describe that situation come from the barnyard. In Wertheim the ship docked in town, but then departed as soon as the passengers got off, so there was another bus trip to catch up to the ship. If a person tired early, there was no going back to the ship to relax. When the Main river joined the Rhine, the cruise ended. The ship docked in Mainz for two days, and then came the bus trip to Amsterdam. Viking did offer an excursion that included a short river trip to see the Lorelei, and the bus to Amsterdam stopped in Cologne for lunch and a quick tour, but there was no Koblenz, nor a cruise past the Drachenfels through Bonn to Cologne, nor a cruise on down the Rhine, nor any windmills in Holland. So what has Viking done for the passengers on this cruise? Certainly not a partial cash refund for the missed cruise experience. It has offered a voucher, valid for a year, worth fifty percent of the fare paid to be used toward a future Viking cruise. That is of no benefit to the people for who this was to be their final cruise, perhaps for health reasons or because they have cruised all of Viking's other offerings, or for people who for reasons of logistics or finances cannot make a decision within a year. It is Viking's cold, cruel calculation that most people will not use the voucher, and the company will pocket the money and continue its advertisements showing ships sailing through European cities. Just remember, their may sail through, but they don't necessarily stop there. Adding further insult, when refunding money paid in advance for optional tours that were canceled, Viking converted the dollar amounts paid to euros (the currency used on board the ship), and then reconverted it to dollars to make the refunds. As the exchange rate had changed, the dollar amount refunded was less that the amount originally paid. Finally, I do not wish to disparage the crews on the ships, nor the people on the ships responsible for the entertainment and the tours. They worked extremely hard under difficult and demoralizing circumstances as passengers became increasingly irritated and depressed, and appeared to have no support from Viking's headquarters, which was just over an hour's train trip up the Rhine from Mainz. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2018
We picked this cruise from an advertisement. We didn't really check anything out before hand but it was for our 50th wedding anniversary so off we went. This was the most relaxing vacation we have ever been on. Viking looks after ... Read More
We picked this cruise from an advertisement. We didn't really check anything out before hand but it was for our 50th wedding anniversary so off we went. This was the most relaxing vacation we have ever been on. Viking looks after everything from the moment we deplaned in Amsterdam to check in in Budapest!! Always with you, but never in your way. We boarded Lif after a couple of fun days in Amsterdam. This is one of the newer Viking ships..a beauty. We had a lower level cabin, it worked for us, we just sleep there. Well appointed, smallish, but everything we needed. The dining was absolutely amazing...variety, chef performed miracles!! and the service the best you can get.. There was an included shore excursion everyday...sometimes walking off the ship and sometimes taking a shuttle on one of Viking's amazing tour buses. There were no children on board...really nothing for them to do... We WILL be back. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2018
Grand European Disappointment Although we were suppose to be on the Aegir we were switched to the LIF and the part way through the cruise to the Embla We have just returned from our trip to Europe were booked the 15 day Grand ... Read More
Grand European Disappointment Although we were suppose to be on the Aegir we were switched to the LIF and the part way through the cruise to the Embla We have just returned from our trip to Europe were booked the 15 day Grand European River Cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest with Viking River Cruises. In a few words it turned out to be a huge disappointment. River levels were reportedly too low to navigate the full length of the cruise. River Cruising was replaced with Bus Trips. Nights on board ship were replaced with hotel. Cruise ports at the city centers were replaced with docking at Industrial Ports and Gravel Pits. This certainly was not the trip of a lifetime we envisioned. Viking had no control over the situation, so they said, but some of the things they said they didn’t have control over and some they did I question whether the statements made were true or not. As an example, we were told the reason our ship, the Aegir, was not at Amsterdam when we arrived was water levels were too low for the ship to get there. Interestingly enough, as we were being bused from Amsterdam to the industrial site in Koln to board the new ship we were assigned I saw the Aegir cruising toward Amsterdam. Struck me as a bit strange. Further the Aegir was able to get all the way back to Budapest for some of the passengers to board that were extending their trip. That being the case why wasn’t the Aegir able to be in Amsterdam and why did we have to change ships part way through the cruise? Was the one night of rain in the Alps sufficient to swell the entire European river system? At this point I have to inject that Stefan Mototolea, our cruise director, stayed with us throughout the entire trip and did everything in his power to arrange for the people on board to have the best experience possible given the difficulties being encountered. He kept us well informed about what was going to happen, good or bad and answered all the questions presented to him. Further he was relentless in his efforts to keep things running as smooth as possible throughout the trip. Hopefully; Viking cruise lines appreciate his efforts, I know we did. Further, Leah, the individual assigned by Viking to watch over us in Amsterdam when we had to check into the Hotel for the first night as our ship was not there, needs to be recognized for her efforts. We were told at check in that we did not have a room reserved for us and the hotel was totally booked. Somehow she and the hotel director found a way to get us a room. Perhaps traveling as part of a large tour group had something to do with that perhaps not but in any event she never stopped assuring me and my wife that we would have a room. We finally got our room. Let’s speak to the parts if the cruise we were able to take: This was our first river cruise and every port had an included tour associated with it but the stop at Cologne was eliminated because the ship couldn’t get there. Really? How did the Aegir get there coming down the Rhine on its way to Amsterdam? With that, we were offered the choice of taking a bus back to Cologne to visit that port and be bussed down river to meet the ship at another port or cruise the Rhine to see the castles along the river. We opted to stay on board and cruise to see the castles and scenery along the Rhine. We were glad we made that choice. The next day Viking arranged to add a sightseeing cruise with lunch on our way back to the ship from our Castle tour so those who missed the castles could see a couple of them. This had to be abbreviated about half way through so we could get back to the ship on time to leave the port. Those that missed the cruise up the Rhine really don’t know what a great portion of the trip they missed. Castles and terrific scenery everywhere. The included tours at the ports were quite good but having to be bussed from a gravel pit and back, docking at industrial sites instead of at the cruise ship docks at cities we were supposed to dock at and having to walk from outside cities edge to center city where we were supposed to have docked did not live up to the hype of docking center city and walking off the ship to visit Viking advertises in their wonderful looking river cruise propaganda. It’s not like the ports didn’t have those docking sites; other river cruise ships were docked there. What happened to the docking sites Viking claims to own at these cities? Do they exist; did they rent them out to other cruise lines? We were told it is up to the port manager to assign the berths. If you own the site why can’t you use it? Optional tours were also available and you always take your chances with them. We only took one of the optional tours to the Schonbrunn Palace. If you’re thinking about this tour forget it. It should be called the cattle chute tour. Your group tour will be constantly interrupted by individuals touring the palace on their own. They have preference and you will be hustled form site to site within the palace and jammed into a corner in each area while the tour guide explains what you are supposed to be seeing. A couple of optional tours you might want to consider are The Mozart & Strauss Concert in Vienna and The Hungarian Horsemen tour in Budapest. These were reported to be excellent by those that participated in them. The food on board was eatable but was nowhere near the quality we have had on ocean cruises. Eggs prepared by the chefs at the buffet line were great but when you ordered things off the menu for breakfast; example eggs benedict prepared in the kitchen, they were served partly done with uncooked portions of the whites and watery hollandaise sauce. Lunches were pretty good however dinners left a lot to be desired. Maybe comparing ocean cruise food to river cruise food is not fair as I have never taken a river cruise before but in any event, for the price of the cruise I expected a lot better. Overall my wife and I got to see a lot of interesting things, visit a lot of European cities, interact with people from diverse backgrounds and share experiences, however; we both admit given this experience we will not likely take another river cruise. Advice to travelers: Given you have to book so far in advance, wait for the drought to end in Europe before deciding to take a river cruise there and be sure you have the option to cancel for weather reasons built into your travel insurance if you can so you can back out last minute if you need to. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
Friends highly recommend this exact cruise on Viking. Our disappointment started from the 1st day leaving the hotel, we were bussed from Amsterdam to the ship. We were supposed to board the ship in Amsterdam. We had many, ... Read More
Friends highly recommend this exact cruise on Viking. Our disappointment started from the 1st day leaving the hotel, we were bussed from Amsterdam to the ship. We were supposed to board the ship in Amsterdam. We had many, excursions we were bussed to instead of disembarking from the ship, 2 were over 3 hours. We spent as much time on busses & in hotels as we did on the ship. The environmental issues can’t be changed, but staff seemed as frustrated as guests. Once we swapped ships (repacked,unpack)all seemed fine. The crew was exceptional, until our director announced we’d be spending our last night at hotel(following 3 hr bus ride). The service deteriorated dramatically. It was SO obvious. This was day after a technical stop(resupply), we were told they were out of multiple supplies available throughout the cruise; good champagne & other elite supplies. The service was invisible. Empty glasses, long wait times, personnel visiting amongst themselves etc. I believe they thought their tips were compromised by the disruptions. No one ever expressed “we’re sorry”. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2018
We wanted to try a river cruise, having enjoyed a Viking Ocean Cruise last year. We have previously done ocean cruising with Seabourn and Silversea and we are looking for the right cruise line for us. What a disappointing trip this ... Read More
We wanted to try a river cruise, having enjoyed a Viking Ocean Cruise last year. We have previously done ocean cruising with Seabourn and Silversea and we are looking for the right cruise line for us. What a disappointing trip this was. River levels were low, and on the first day we were bused to Slovenia to join a boat- the Embla- , rather than sailing out of Budapest. After a week we had a 3.5 hour bus trip to transfer to the Lif where we made it to Cologne before being advised we could not travel any further and that everyone would be bussed to a hotel at Schippol airport (Amsterdam) the next day. Therefore the cruise ended a day early. Viking are of course not responsible for the low water levels, but it was the management of the issue that left a lot to be desired -we always felt we were being kept in the dark and drip fed information. This extends to having heard NOTHING from Viking since our return - although we know other passengers who complained have been offered 25% discount off a future cruise. Of importance to us was the poor quality of the meals, particularly dinner. Fish was almost always very overcooked, as were the steaks and the overall menu and quality of the food was just so disappointing. Wine choices were ok, we took the silver package so had a better selection of drinks. As others have noted, only a few times did we dock where you could walk into town, and more than once we docked in industrial areas - once next to a giant smelly rubbish skip. Many of the towns where we stopped were small german towns and had little to see. Often you were stuck in the town for hours after the included tour with nothing to do but wait for the bus transfer back to the boat. Staff on the Embla were ok but were much better on the Lif. Our Verandah Suite was very comfortable, with a separate lounge area. Beware that you are often rafted next to other boats so have to keep your curtains closed at all times. We will not do a river cruise again - and after loving our Viking ocean cruise we are now very disillusioned with Viking - so won't be sailing with Viking again. Our search for the right cruise line continues. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
WE chose Viking for a cruise of the Danube/ Amsterdam to Budapest along with our 90 year old parents. The trip started with NO VIKING REP at the airport gate- we had to search and decided to go to the buses/ taxis where the rep ... Read More
WE chose Viking for a cruise of the Danube/ Amsterdam to Budapest along with our 90 year old parents. The trip started with NO VIKING REP at the airport gate- we had to search and decided to go to the buses/ taxis where the rep finally appeared. This happened several times during our trip where they simply 'dumped us off' without any tour guide assistance. Our parents would have been absolutely lost without us!!! Additionally, Viking is cheap, cheap cheap! A Vienna symphony concert, as displayed in the brochure, was simply 12 understudies in their 20's who played well, but absolutely not the Vienna symphony. The Ship/ Lif had filthy windows and a very unfriendly staff. We changed boats to the Embla mid tour and their staff was much better. There are countless items we can criticize but we won't bore you. We took a Tauck Rhine tour 2 years ago and they excelled!! Choose Tauck cruises / Not viking !! Read Less
Sail Date: July 2018
We had already done one river cruise and enjoyed it so much discussion we decided on the Grand European Tour. It had many of the things we were interested in. Although we arrive late in the afternoon and were tired from the long trip we ... Read More
We had already done one river cruise and enjoyed it so much discussion we decided on the Grand European Tour. It had many of the things we were interested in. Although we arrive late in the afternoon and were tired from the long trip we did enjoy the harbour tour in Budapest for the lights of the city. Arrival and embarkation was smooth even though some confusion arose because of the low water levels and a last minute change of departure ships. The ship and cabin were compact but efficient and immaculately clean. Dining and other on board services were 5 star as usual. We took maximum advantage of the port excisions. After all we were there to experience culture, history, architecture and of course the people, oh and can't forget about the wine and beer. We will definitely be river cruising again and definitely with Viking but we will research other of their cruises as we want to experience new things. Our only caution is to watch the time of year you choose, for us the July/August time frame was a little warm for us Northern Canadian boys. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2018
We really thought the Viking longship was built just right with its very convenient and pleasant public areas and restaurants. The service was excellent. The staterooms were kept extremely clean and our AA Suite with its separate living ... Read More
We really thought the Viking longship was built just right with its very convenient and pleasant public areas and restaurants. The service was excellent. The staterooms were kept extremely clean and our AA Suite with its separate living room was worth the substantial extra charge. The Danube itinerary, which we had done on Viking a few years ago, is excellent. However, while docked you are frequently tied up to other Viking boats and have no view while in port. While mid-trip we were forced to switch from another Viking longship due to low water conditions (which of course Viking cannot help), the switch was accomplished very efficiently with a 3 hour bus trip. The Tour Director "Leonard" was simply excellent the entire trip not just in the transfer. However, the food while offering various options was so disappointing and mediocre at best. We are used to very good and often excellent food served on ocean going ships. Perhaps Viking is providing that on its new ocean going ships, but we will not book another Viking riverboat cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2018
We chose this particular cruise itinerary in order to see a part of Europe not previously visited. Viking Cruises impressed us in every aspect of our voyage: attentive and personalized service; delicious meals, beautifully presented, and ... Read More
We chose this particular cruise itinerary in order to see a part of Europe not previously visited. Viking Cruises impressed us in every aspect of our voyage: attentive and personalized service; delicious meals, beautifully presented, and impeccably served; fascinating tours with local guides; concerts, horse shows, wine tastings, every planned adventure meticulously coordinated - and an unplanned adventure the same. Our cabin was immaculate when we arrived, and maintained that way on a daily basis, as were all the ship's spaces. From the beautifully set dining room to the comfortable lounge and the casual forward deck, the walking circle and the upper deck, and the library and the stairs from level , all areas showed the constant maintenance of a conscientious crew. The library held volumes related to the cities and country on the ships itinerary; the latest books of fiction and non-fiction, a joy for this passenger. The spacious lounge, with its windows overlooking both water and land, became a favored spot for a cup of tea and a cookie, and to savor meeting other travelers from around the globe. Personally, a favorite experience of mine was the novelty of moving through the locks on the rivers; absolutely fascinating. Our first river cruise with Viking surpassed our expectations, and, yes, we are scheduled to do another river cruise. Read Less
Viking Lif Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 0.0
Dining 4.0 0.0
Entertainment 3.0 0.0
Public Rooms 5.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 1.0 0.0
Family 1.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 0.0
Enrichment 4.0 0.0
Service 4.0 0.0
Value For Money 3.0 0.0
Rates 4.0 N/A

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