My cruise was the Danube Waltz, December 1-8, 2012. We flew into Munich and Viking met us at baggage and quickly directed us to a waiting motor coach. After a beautiful drive, 1.5 hour, we arrived at our amazing ship in Passau Germany.
The ship was in the center of this sweet cobbled village and check in was casual.
We never had to lift our bags again after we were greeted by Viking.
There was plenty of hot beverages and lunch to be had and we couldn't access our rooms until afternoon so we went wandering around.
Passau is a beautiful and friendly small town.
The Christmas market is in the center by the famous church that is on the tour.
If you travel at Christmas, get a Gluhwein, which is hot mulled wine. It comes in a mug but when you return it, you get a return deposit. Same with plates and silverware when you eat a dish of food at the market.
Anyway, when we were able to get into our room, around 3 pm, we settled in and unpacked for the week.
Our room was on the bottom level (steerage, ha ha) and the water level view was awesome.
The amenities are so modern. The electrical outlets are in 110 as well as 220(French plugs). So if you only need to charge a couple of things, ie. phone and camera, don't worry about buying adapters, just use the provided 110 outlets.
The beds were small but comfy. I was travelling with a friend so we had twin beds.
The room is small but so well appointed you have everything you need. Even a fridge in case you buy something in town.
The shower is so strong and the products are high quality!
A couple of points on the downside, the bathroom is completely glass. I know they did it to make the room feel spacious but it's awful.
There is a switch right inside the door to frost the glass.
In the middle of the night one person can't use the bathroom with the light on because it REALLY lights up the room. Also, when you're in the shower it's a full on shadow peep show! We just tried to leave the room and give each other privacy as much as possible.
I don't see the point in the design.Oh well,just turn on all the room lights when someone wants to shower so it can be less like a stage show.
And the lights in the room are extremely harsh (obviously not designed by a woman:)
Other than those two things, great rooms!
After the first walking tour I realized I am not a walking tour person.
They are very very slow and entirely too much information is imparted for my taste. Other people enjoyed it so you may too.
I just felt tethered and was unable to wander into stores and the guide just talked and talked in my ear. Great headsets though!
To highlight each town in my opinion:
Passau. Simon gave a great gingerbread demonstration and his restaurant/ shop is around the corner. The molasses recipe is so great. All his products travelled well and were so well received as gifts, delicious!!
I cannot speak to Linz because we arrived early in the morning and left for Salzburg. We we arrived back at the ship, I never went into town.
Salzburg was a town of fashion forward shopping, delicious food and sweets.
The people were so lovely and the town is surrounded by the Austrian Alps. The motor coach there is spectacular and the city is even better.
It's quite pedestrian friendly. I skipped the tour and met my group at the bus.
Melk was just a morning tour of the Abby and a stroll through an enchanting village back to the ship. If you're able, don't miss the stroll. The ship doesn't leave til after lunch so there are plenty of spots in town to eat.
Durnstein I noticed is off the tour for 2013 and 2014 in the catalog.
Alot of people complained because we were there for 6 hours and nothing was really open. Those who didn't do the optional wine tasting class stayed on the ship.
The village is nothing but small wine producers so they close up tight after October. Since we were there in December it was very quiet. But so lovely!
I see the Krem is on the tour now but if you are fortunate enough to go to Durnstein, please go to Weingut Bohmer.
Herr Bohmer is a young man who, with his wife and family, produce delicious varietals. He has a 6 table joint in town where you can get a chilled glass of his Gruner Vetliner and a feast of salamis, cheeses, pickles and breads. As friendly as it was inexpensive:}
The town is built away from the river. You load into motor coaches and they tour you around the Ringstrasse before letting you out at the Albertina Museum.
Then they go on a walking tour (I did not).
Because Vienna is so vast and not pedestrian to the river, Viking did a great job of running busses back and forth for shopping and so anyone who wanted to lunch on the ship could go back later.
I had a wonderful Apple Strudel at the Hofburg Cafe.
Bratislava was my absolute favorite town. I had all morning since I did not take the looooong slooow walking tour.
I like to shop so I had Bata Shoes on my hit list. If you enjoy wine, Trunk wineshop is friendly and affordable. There are grapes in this region you will never drink again until you come back. Alibernet for one. Get a bottle for the ship and a couple to take home in your suitcase. No customs issues just pack well and declare it.
Don't miss shopping in the all pedestrian village in the center of Bratislava.
This is a long review:}
And Budapest. If you are looking to spend quality time, here's the highlights. Ancient baths. Shopping the Vaci Utca, which ends at Great Market Hall. Buy ChocoMe bars and bring lots and lots home. And walk down to the Shoe Memorial. It's very powerful.
The lights at night rival nothing I've seen and I have been to Paris! This town is on my must return list. One day will not do!
On the ship:
Viking time is slow time. You will not blink and find this trip over quickly.
You will be treated like a VIP traveller the entire time with no exceptions.
Excellent service, everything well presented and as promised.
The food was a little banquette but I'm just not willing to complain. There were so many options and everything tasted really good.
Viking produces their own wine and it is delicious! No joke.
It's fully included at lunch and dinner. And later in the lounge when you are paying, you get a big fat generous pour with a carafe next to it for about 4.50.
I bought my share of wine, had my laundry done, bought lip balm from the lobby shop. and sent postcards and my incidentals were 40 Euro.
I cant say enough (obviously) about how much I loved this cruise.
The cities, the accommodations, lovely travellers, and a state of the art, modern floating hotel.
I saved for a year to make this trip and I could see where every penny went!