Danube Waltz - 2 June 2013: Viking Legend Cruise Review by Trelia

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Danube Waltz - 2 June 2013

Sail Date: June 2013
Destination: Europe - River Cruise
Embarkation: Budapest
We arrived at Budapest Airport in the afternoon of 2 June - full of hope for our first river cruise. (We have previously undertaken many Ocean cruises).

The Viking rep was there to greet us at Arrivals.

He told us that the river was a little high right now but we'd be taken to a hotel for a short while, to get some refreshments and then we'd be taken to our boat/ship to begin our holiday. Hurrah!

He didn't appear to be concerned so we weren't, we had no reason to doubt what he was telling us.

On arrival at the hotel (very nice hotel) we got refreshments, met other passengers and heard from our Program Director, David. He said we shouldn't be there too long, then we'd be taken, by coach, to the Viking Legend, which had, had to be moved due to the river levels on The Danube.

Our stay at the hotel was longer than anticipated but eventually we were on our way to the ship.

I think we arrived at the ship about 8 30pm, so dinner was More served immediately. At that stage we didn't have our luggage, so all went in to dine as we were.

The food was - okay.

During dinner, David spoke about our plans the next day - a trip in to Budapest by coach. He told us that we'd have a chance to lie in the next morning (a lot of us had, had very early starts - we were up at 3 30am). While we were in Budapest the ship would be moved, he didn't know where.

We were still given the impression, at this stage, that we would be cruising soon.

The next morning at 8 30am, David's voice came in to the cabin, to tell us that we would be leaving for Budapest at 9 30am - panic stations, so no leisurely lie in and we had to get breakfast.

The day in Budapest was fine - we had lunch at a restaurant (the best service of anywhere on the whole trip) and we enjoyed it.

The coach journey back to the ship, at it's new mooring, took around 2.5 hours. We were moored at a small, probably disused, industrial harbour in Kormano, Slovakia. It wasn't pretty.

We were the inside ship of four tied together, the Viking Bragi was immediately next to us, then a German cruise ship and another we didn't find out about.

We got back to our cabin, with Juliet Balcony, we paid extra for and now had a view of a Viking Bragi balcony, they'd already closed their curtains, we did the same - that was the end of daylight in the cabin.

We had another minimal briefing from the Program Director and were told that the next day we would be coached in to Bratislava. The ship would remain where it was. We still had not been told that we would not be cruising anywhere on this holiday.

The journey in to Bratislava was long the next day as we were obviously not in our intended mooring.

The highlight of our journey in to Bratislava was a comfort stop at a petrol station, four coach loads of people, all stopping at the same time - two ladies toilets, facilities for the men.

Guide said we should be back on the coach in ten minutes - no way, this stop took the best part of an hour.

We had lunch in Bratislava, the service took two hours, shambolic.

Our tour of Bratislava was not as long as it should have been, due to travelling distance, long lunch break and the comfort stop.

On return to the ship it was evident that the water had risen quite significantly. The German cruise ship had been evacuated and we learnt that the Viking Bragi was being evacuated the next morning.

At the briefing that night we were told that we'd be going to Vienna by coach the next morning and that plans were being made to take us to Munich the following day, where we'd spend three nights at a hotel. The Danube was now officially closed. Quite a few people were unhappy about going to Munich - I believe some people left the cruise.

The next morning again, the river level had risen, the walkway to shore had been extended. Lots of sandbags around the buildings in the area. The Viking Bragi had been evacuated - we were to return for another night.

The estimate of our coach trip to Vienna was out by two whole hours. It took about four hours each way.

We had a wander round the city, with the guide on arrival. Then lunch. The service was so bad (2+ hours to get to the main course) that my husband and I left, so we'd have some free time in the city.

Viking also ran a trip to Schönbrunn Palace for those interested. We were told it was a very quick visit due to the time constraints of getting back to the ship.

That evening we had to pack for Munich. The suitcases had to be ready, outside our cabin, for 8 30am as they were going separately - so they'd be waiting for us in Munich on arrival.

Once more on leaving the ship the following morning, the river had risen, the walkway had been extended as far as it could go, over the flooding water, it was really quite concerning. The coaches couldn't park as near, so to get to them we had to negotiate sandbags and an extremely steep, temporary, set of steps up and down. These were quite a challenge for me but positively frightening for some of the more elderly guests who weren't as confident on their feet.

The journey time to Munich, by coach, we had been told was 6.5 hours plus stops. No one was happy about that but we had to get on with it (as the Americans like to say on the board we had no option but to 'make lemonade')

We set off to Munich at 9 30am - we arrived at the hotel at 9 45pm - TWELVE HOURS LATER.

Of course, our suitcases hadn't arrived either - because they were so late in arriving, some of the passengers, plus the Program Director & Viking Hotel Manager, had to sort them out. All we wanted to do was get to bed.

The hotel in Munich was nice but a few of us were told that we were Viking customers, so were made to feel inferior to the 'normal' guests there. There was no choice at dinner. I asked for a single scoop of vanilla ice cream, instead of the chocolate mousse served and was told 'it's not possible for Viking customers to deviate from the set menu'. Even if I paid for it, no, not possible.

If you wanted to eat lunch at the hotel, it was charged. The internet was at a premium charge. These things were included on the ship.

During our time at the hotel a trip in to Munich, with a guide was organised. Also a lengthy trip to Salzburg (which had been part of the original itinerary I think) or by public demand an alternative was also set up to visit Dachau.

Munich was chosen as our final destination because people who were not extending our holiday were mostly flying from Munich (the extension was to Prague, which I guess was another lengthy coach journey). We flew home from Munich.

The fact that The Danube flooded was not Viking's fault - not the fault of anyone. It's an act of God.

However, Viking have access to the finest weather reports, river condition reports and forecasts. This did not happen overnight and catch them out.

Some other river cruise lines cancelled their cruises that were due to depart the same day, on a similar itinerary.

Another cruise line departed Budapest on the same day as us, then aborted the cruise two days later, as they realised their cruise could not be completed on The Danube.

Viking cancelled their return sailing of our cruise on the same day we departed.

It was an expensive holiday which turned in to a series of extremely long, arduous, bus excursions.

This cruise should never have taken place as it cruised NOWHERE. Less

Published 07/15/13
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