80 Viking River Viking Lif Cruise Reviews

We just returned from an outstanding trip on Viking Lif. This was a bucket list trip for my wife and I and our good friends we often cruise with. We engaged Viking after purchasing a Holland trip at a charity event. We had always wanted to ... Read More
We just returned from an outstanding trip on Viking Lif. This was a bucket list trip for my wife and I and our good friends we often cruise with. We engaged Viking after purchasing a Holland trip at a charity event. We had always wanted to do this river cruise so we traded in our purchase and upgraded to the Grand European Tour. We added days on both end of the cruise in Amsterdam and Budapest. We booked the trip through our Agent except for air travel which we arranged our selves.* (More about this later!) We've cruised a lot on all sizes of ships big n little. The LIF is nicest appointed small boat we have been on. Very nice Suites, great bed and bath, sitting area, excellent climate control. Room services was exceptional....Thanks Emily! Sitting areas, library were excellent. Bar and exterior eating areas forward were great and the dining area had phenomenal views while we were under sail. We had been warned that the food was rather bland....to the contrary the food was excellent with very few misses over 15 days of meals. Soups were spectacular! Great breakfast buffet. Entertainment in the Lounge by Bobbie at the Piano was outstanding. He can play anything and we danced almost every night. Top deck of the boat has a nice track to get some exercise to work off all those great meals. Unfortunately for us with the high water on portions of our trip the area had to be closed to get under the bridges for about 4 days. (Note to the designer: Lay the track out over the bar area versus over the cabin section so that early risers can get exercise without disturbing late risers.) The boat has wifi but it has limited capability so don't expect to be sending 40 gig files from the boat! Shore tours were very well done and we never had a guide that was not fully engaged in their job. We hired private guides for Amsterdam and Budapest on our extra days before going on the trip. I strongly recommend this! We received great insight along with exceptional history in both cases. The Cruise Director needed a vacation.... He did a lot of the info talks along the cruise and constantly referred to his material. I've been spoiled in this respect by the Historians and Naturalists provided by Cruise West (RIP ;-( ) and American Cruise lines. Viking should think about guest presenters to unload some of the Directors responsibilities to get better results in this area. Now about our travel arrangements! We booked our own flights through U-suck United. They always exceed my expectations....their always worse than I thought they could be. Moved flight time up on our Houston connection...NO notification. Fortunately we were early enough that it didn't manner. We had Viking transfers on both ends of the trip. Looked expensive but our Agent said book-em. They were phenomenal.....Their view of "Transfer" is really Escort you to the gate! On heading back to the states we arrived at the airport only to find once again U-suck United had changed flight times and had not notified us even though we were frequent flyers and they had all out contact info. Viking stayed right with us at the Budapest airport allowing us to use their phone for an hour and half while I wrestled with United "No Service" service agents. Ultimately we had to go back to our hotel and check in for another night. Viking arrange the taxi back and THEN the next morning once again escorted us to the Gate to see us off..... Unbelievable Service! And the rest of the story is that Viking had no responsibility for our flight arrangements.... ours was a self inflicted debacle. Our Lesson: BOOK ALL YOUR TRAVEL ARRANGEMENT THROUGH VIKING! Finally this is a fabulous way to see Europe. We've done the train thing in Italy, packing and unpacking at every spot. On this trip we unpacked once and went 14 days without touching a suite case. We are looking forward to another Viking experience in the future!   Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
My husband, father and I have just returned from the Grand European Tour on the Viking Lif, starting in Budapest and finishing in Amsterdam. My husband and I are in our 40s/50s and my father is in his 80s, so it was interesting that we ... Read More
My husband, father and I have just returned from the Grand European Tour on the Viking Lif, starting in Budapest and finishing in Amsterdam. My husband and I are in our 40s/50s and my father is in his 80s, so it was interesting that we were on the extremes of the perceived demographic regarding age on the boat. Firstly, it was a wonderful trip. Here are the points that made it remarkable: * The staff on the ship, who with one exception (see later), could not have been more kind, helpful and friendly. Service most definitely came with a smile and often a laugh, and the ship was immaculately clean. * The Lif itself - we were only the fifth set of passengers to travel on it and it showed. Everything still smelled new, and despite the usual age group who take these cruises, we felt that it would have appealed to many of our more middle aged friends. * The quality of the on shore guides in every place we stopped was excellent - and every one of them was a memorable personality, which really added to the enjoyment. * Pianist and singer on board - if you read some other reviews for Viking cruises, this sounds like a flannelette nightgown and slippers kind of evening entertainment. BUT - it really wasn't in our case as the pianist was excellent and versatile, ranging from smooth cocktail sounds during the day and full out rock and roll dancing at night. (Thank you Bobby! xx) Now, secondly, some travel tips: * Personally, we didn't see the point in spending a lot for a room with a view. We didn't, and it was more than adequate. Whatever room you book, you get the same bed, shower, TV etc. The bed is very comfortable, the shower has excellent water pressure. Several people we spoke to regretted spending so much extra as they barely spent time in their state room, or else it was parked up against another ship (normal with anyone who has experienced river cruising before). * If you are from the UK, you may be surprised to find yourself out-numbered by Americans, Canadians and Australians. They were mostly great actually, but we definitely have different cultures.....! * The Aquavit terrace is lovely. As soon as they start opening it for meals, I recommend you get up there as it seems to take time for word to get around and you may have it almost to yourself. Personally, my husband and I found the more relaxed and scenic atmosphere up there more pleasant than the restaurant. There is officially "open seating", but you may well find that as is normal with human nature, people start to assume territorial "rights" over their own table. Personally, I can't imagine anything worse than sitting with the same people you don't know for every meal for two weeks, but maybe that's just me. FINALLY - I am giving this cruise a top score as we found it close to perfect. However, we were extremely unhappy with the programme director for a number of reasons. We will be contacting Viking about this shortly. I didn't think it was appropriate to mark the whole team down for the ineptitude and failings of one team member though, in total fairness.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
We are veteran ocean cruisers on a river cruise for the first time. I did a lot of research before booking nearly a year ago and paid attention to all the reviews written on the Grand European/Danube cruises since booking. I approached the ... Read More
We are veteran ocean cruisers on a river cruise for the first time. I did a lot of research before booking nearly a year ago and paid attention to all the reviews written on the Grand European/Danube cruises since booking. I approached the embarkation date with several concerns. Food, quality of crew, size of staterooms and lounge and river conditions seem to have caused negative reviews. I will try to deal with those issues as I go along. We booked the airfare through Viking and did take advantage of the extra 100 dollars they charge to be able to talk with the travel agent. It was worth it. The air travel was exactly what we requested, non-stop from Kennedy to Amsterdam, on the airline we requested and one stop from Budapest back to Kennedy. Viking was there to pick us up upon arrival in Amsterdam and the transfer to Budapest airport at the end was efficient. We arrived in Amsterdam so early that our cabin was not ready, so we left our luggage to do some exploring and the luggage was in the room by the time we returned to the ship. We had heard complaints before we booked on the lack of view from the upper decks due to nesting in the ports so saved the money and booked the 1st deck with the porthole. We were very satisfied with the location, size and cleanliness of the room. The Room Steward catered to our every request. Only complaint about the room was the quality of the television service. We found that the lounge size was adequate most of the time, even at the nightly briefing, although we did have to stand a couple of times when we arrived late. Food service was great. We stayed to one section of the dining room and had the same waiters each meal. They got to know us and could not do enough to satisfy our requests. The waiters were very friendly and professional. Most of them had been recruited from other cruise ships. The food quality for breakfast and lunch was excellent. It was a combination of buffet and sit down. You could get your omelet prepared at the buffet and order your pancakes from the waiter. Dinner was sit down. The quality on most nights was superb. We were disappointed on a couple of occasions with either the quality or quantity. Don't order the lamb chops. The seafood was generally fresh and tasty. But the positives greatly outweighed the negative, with unlimited wine and beer with meals. The program director and his staff did a great job. The excursions organized by the ship went off without a hitch. The only complaint might have been that they gave us an hour to an hour and a half at the end of each tour to relax, shop and taste the local delicacies before the bus picked us up to go back to the ship. I would rather have seen some additional sights, especially in the larger cities. The entertainment they brought aboard was enjoyable. The piano player was very accommodating. Not many passengers stayed around after dinner to dance. Of course, the star of the trip was the River and the cities we stopped at. The water level was a little low so we had to bus around one of the low points. The cities along the Main River and Canal had a certain sameness to them, a fortress and church in each, but the guides were informative and did their best to highlight their particular city. Our favorite cities were Cologne, Nuremburg, Melk, Vienna, Bratislava (a sleeper) and Budapest. Arriving in Budapest at night with the city lit up was a distinct highlight. Our fellow passengers were interesting, friendly and had a wealth of life experiences to share. So in the end we were very pleased with our trip, felt the cost was fair and will have fond memories. Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
This was a first river cruise for my husband and myself. What a pleasure! I'm not a fan of ocean cruising on large ships as I am the type who gets sea-sick on a swing. I was also put off by the propensity of ocean cruises to hold ... Read More
This was a first river cruise for my husband and myself. What a pleasure! I'm not a fan of ocean cruising on large ships as I am the type who gets sea-sick on a swing. I was also put off by the propensity of ocean cruises to hold cruisers hostage onboard to keep the $$ close to home. The Viking Tulips & Windmills cruise was a breath of fresh air in that arena: We spent most of our daylight hours on INCLUDED tours or on our own exploring the port city. There's was a great deal of walking, which we really enjoyed, but there were options for those less mobile. If the city center wasn't within walking distance, a shuttle was provided. One of our fellow cruisers was confined to a wheelchair. The only tour he couldn't attend was the windmill tour (and there was some trouble with the cobblestone streets). There were only a few optional tours, which we decided to skip and either enjoy the view from our balcony or wander about the port city at a more leisurely pace. As for dining, the food was fantastic with many options from the menu and buffet! The open seating on a small ship (compared to ocean liners) allowed for meeting many interesting people; by the end of the tour, there were many new Facebook friends. We had great fun dancing in the lounge some evenings. The entertainment makes good use of local talent and interest, but don't expect grand musical numbers (which we didn't miss at all). My take: The excellent: The responsiveness of the staff; the quality of the food; the comfort & cleanliness of the rooms; great included tours; some tour guides were excellent and able to share a great depth of knowledge about the area; home visit; included headsets made it easy to hear the tour guide in large groups. The not so good: The schedule was pretty tight and regimented (although cruisers can opt out and do their own thing); some tour guides rushed the group with little info (a great disappointment in Bruges); not suitable for young children (cabins are limited to 2 persons), but there were many families traveling together with their independent young. Read Less
Sail Date March 2014
My husband and I along with four friends were on the inaugural Lif sailing through the Netherlands and Belgium on March 23, 2014. My husband and I and another couple had not sailed before but have traveled extensively throughout Europe ... Read More
My husband and I along with four friends were on the inaugural Lif sailing through the Netherlands and Belgium on March 23, 2014. My husband and I and another couple had not sailed before but have traveled extensively throughout Europe managing our own travel arrangements. I have to admit that our Viking trip exceeded our expectations. The most amazing part for me was the crew. The crew made us feel so comfortable and welcome. We were always greeted by the staff and crew. There were a number of extras that the staff did like greeting us back from an outing on the dock - holding letters which spelled out "welcome back". It was our home away from home.  The food was plentiful and delicious and the choices would please a picky eater. We even tried dishes that we would not normally choose. The excursions were well planned, interesting and always on time. The information for the next day's excursion was detailed at the evening's briefing session. There were a few glitches but they were minor and when they was brought to staff's attention, they were acknowledged and corrected. That is how a problem should be handled. Our trip truly delivered what was promised and we are looking forward to our next Viking cruise. Read Less
Sail Date March 2014
Viking Lif Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.5
Dining 4.0 4.4
Entertainment 3.0 4.2
Public Rooms 5.0 4.5
Fitness Recreation 1.0 3.2
Family 1.0 3.2
Shore Excursion 4.0 4.4
Enrichment 4.0 4.3
Service 4.0 4.7
Value For Money 3.0 4.1
Rates 4.0 N/A

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