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Being as this was a very special occasion for us we chose to do this River Cruise to mark it and were not disappointed. It was however for us, quite an expensive holiday that we couldn't make a habit of doing. We had seen the advertisements on PBS showing Viking cruises and they of course look ideal with blue rivers and few people (which isn't the case and you'd be naïve to think it was!) The Danube is not blue - no matter what the music implies, and Europe's is busy, particularly in the summer time and not only was the boat full (which is expected) there were lots of people taking other Viking river cruises and of course other lines too, all off on tours of one sort or another so the streets were pretty full plus regular tourists of course. The other realization for us was how your trip could be severely impacted by high water, low water and broken locks, none of which affected our trip but did others just before us and after us. That being said Viking does a phenomenal job of reorganizing when need be and the logistics of it all is mind boggling. We were supposed to arrive in one town around 1pm in the afternoon. The top deck had been flattened as the boat would not be able to fit under the bridges otherwise (this was for 5 or 6 days of the trip and standard I believe) so our tour director was aware that people were getting a little stir crazy with only the lounge and a small outside area to go to and arranged for buses to pick us up around 11am and return with us a little further down the river just over an hour later so we could get into the town for an additional amount of time. Very much appreciated - Bamburg I believe. The other thing I would say is all the information on the trip made my brain feel as if it may explode - you think you know a lot when you're in your 60's and discover there is a whole lot you don't know! The tour director, Giles, was great and knew how to handle a variety of personalities with the different situations that may arise. Another instance was when we arrived in Melk to walk up to the abbey, it started to rain really heavily on the way back. Thunder and lightening and totally unexpected. We were already on our way back to the boat but others were left at the top waiting for buses. The buses being used that day weren't part of Viking and I understand that those drivers weren't very professional in conducting business but the staff from Viking were waiting when the bus arrived to return to the ship with large umbrellas - many of these staff were on their breaks and called in to do this. Some people were upset with all this so there was champagne offered to appease. As I say, this didn't affect us but I thought Viking did the best they could. I really enjoyed the excursion in Nuremberg World War 2 historical tour but the museum really needed a lot more time that we had. Another tour we quite like was the transit tour offered in Vienna. Only 6 of us did this but I quite enjoyed being like a resident on the transit rather than a tourist on a tour bus. In the evening we did the Optional Concert - the concert itself was wonderful but the down side was they packed far too many people into the performance room on very narrow chairs so that you couldn't help but be touching the person next to you all the way down your arm and leg. Add to that the exceptional heat and you can imagine just how uncomfortable it was and took away from the enjoyment of the music. The food was good - maybe not as good as a cruise ship but then there are fewer people to cater to. We drank more than we usually would as beer and wine was including with lunch and dinner. They had different wines all the time - I'm no connoisseur but I thought the ones I had were good. All the staff were good - really liked our cabin stewardess. She appreciated the fact that we always let her know that our room was ready to be made up by putting the sign out and she would do it promptly. I gathered that other cabins didn't always let her know and would then be upset when she knocked on the door to see if they were in there. If they put out the sign they wouldn't have a problem. The land tours were broken into groups of about 30-40 with personal headphones that you recharged in your room each time you returned. Quite an efficient system and nearly all the guides were very good. We had chosen to start our trip in Budapest and added the Prague extension. This was pretty expensive - not sure I would recommend it but it did work for us. We were picked up at Prague Airport and taken to the Hilton Prague which is a beautiful hotel but a bit far from the town. It didn't bother us as after we did the included bus tour, we got the transit 24 hour pass and were able to get around that way but that might not work for everyone - the would have have to get a taxi. Then Viking took you from Prague to Budapest by bus - left around 7.50am and arrived around 3pm with a couple of gas station stops. We had a guide on the bus that shared quite a bit of information at various points. I read some people didn't like the long bus trip but quite honestly it wasn't that bad for us. We were surprised at the little security on the boat - we discovered that you always take a pass to get off the boat then hand it back when you get back on but I'm not sure this was altogether clear to everyone the first day or two. I know a couple that got off in Budapest and didn't take their card - if the boat was due to leave, no-one would have known they weren't on board. After a couple of days everyone knew the procedure but I think it probably needed to be presented a bit better. Then of course if you don't pay attention, when you get off your boat that is dockside when you leave, when you get back on it may well be the 2nd or 3rd boat out. In the early days it can be confusing. You get to know the staff fairly quickly and they get to know you to so it does resolve itself. Traveling along the river and being so close to towns was really great. For the most part you can get off and walk into town - even in Cologne were we drew the short straw and were docked a bit further out than most boats but my husband and I are good walkers so didn't find it any trouble. We ended our cruise in Amsterdam and were transferred to the Moevenpick hotel as part of the package. The check in at the hotel was less than satisfactory as they only had a couple of staff dealing with check-ins and check-outs. Being as it was 8 or 9 in the morning, they had a lot of people checking out and we stood for a long time. Also it was a bit awkward getting into town from here. The cost of the hotel was a lot more than we thought it was worth and wouldn't choose to stay here again. Overall a great memorable holiday and perhaps if we come into a bit of unexpected funds, we could do another one.

Special trip for our 40th anniversary

Viking Atla Cruise Review by Late traveler

1 person found this helpful
Trip Details
Being as this was a very special occasion for us we chose to do this River Cruise to mark it and were not disappointed. It was however for us, quite an expensive holiday that we couldn't make a habit of doing. We had seen the advertisements on PBS showing Viking cruises and they of course look ideal with blue rivers and few people (which isn't the case and you'd be naïve to think it was!) The Danube is not blue - no matter what the music implies, and Europe's is busy, particularly in the summer time and not only was the boat full (which is expected) there were lots of people taking other Viking river cruises and of course other lines too, all off on tours of one sort or another so the streets were pretty full plus regular tourists of course. The other realization for us was how your trip could be severely impacted by high water, low water and broken locks, none of which affected our trip but did others just before us and after us. That being said Viking does a phenomenal job of reorganizing when need be and the logistics of it all is mind boggling. We were supposed to arrive in one town around 1pm in the afternoon. The top deck had been flattened as the boat would not be able to fit under the bridges otherwise (this was for 5 or 6 days of the trip and standard I believe) so our tour director was aware that people were getting a little stir crazy with only the lounge and a small outside area to go to and arranged for buses to pick us up around 11am and return with us a little further down the river just over an hour later so we could get into the town for an additional amount of time. Very much appreciated - Bamburg I believe.
The other thing I would say is all the information on the trip made my brain feel as if it may explode - you think you know a lot when you're in your 60's and discover there is a whole lot you don't know! The tour director, Giles, was great and knew how to handle a variety of personalities with the different situations that may arise. Another instance was when we arrived in Melk to walk up to the abbey, it started to rain really heavily on the way back. Thunder and lightening and totally unexpected. We were already on our way back to the boat but others were left at the top waiting for buses. The buses being used that day weren't part of Viking and I understand that those drivers weren't very professional in conducting business but the staff from Viking were waiting when the bus arrived to return to the ship with large umbrellas - many of these staff were on their breaks and called in to do this. Some people were upset with all this so there was champagne offered to appease. As I say, this didn't affect us but I thought Viking did the best they could.
I really enjoyed the excursion in Nuremberg World War 2 historical tour but the museum really needed a lot more time that we had.
Another tour we quite like was the transit tour offered in Vienna. Only 6 of us did this but I quite enjoyed being like a resident on the transit rather than a tourist on a tour bus. In the evening we did the Optional Concert - the concert itself was wonderful but the down side was they packed far too many people into the performance room on very narrow chairs so that you couldn't help but be touching the person next to you all the way down your arm and leg. Add to that the exceptional heat and you can imagine just how uncomfortable it was and took away from the enjoyment of the music.
The food was good - maybe not as good as a cruise ship but then there are fewer people to cater to. We drank more than we usually would as beer and wine was including with lunch and dinner. They had different wines all the time - I'm no connoisseur but I thought the ones I had were good.
All the staff were good - really liked our cabin stewardess. She appreciated the fact that we always let her know that our room was ready to be made up by putting the sign out and she would do it promptly. I gathered that other cabins didn't always let her know and would then be upset when she knocked on the door to see if they were in there. If they put out the sign they wouldn't have a problem.
The land tours were broken into groups of about 30-40 with personal headphones that you recharged in your room each time you returned. Quite an efficient system and nearly all the guides were very good.
We had chosen to start our trip in Budapest and added the Prague extension. This was pretty expensive - not sure I would recommend it but it did work for us. We were picked up at Prague Airport and taken to the Hilton Prague which is a beautiful hotel but a bit far from the town. It didn't bother us as after we did the included bus tour, we got the transit 24 hour pass and were able to get around that way but that might not work for everyone - the would have have to get a taxi.
Then Viking took you from Prague to Budapest by bus - left around 7.50am and arrived around 3pm with a couple of gas station stops. We had a guide on the bus that shared quite a bit of information at various points. I read some people didn't like the long bus trip but quite honestly it wasn't that bad for us.
We were surprised at the little security on the boat - we discovered that you always take a pass to get off the boat then hand it back when you get back on but I'm not sure this was altogether clear to everyone the first day or two. I know a couple that got off in Budapest and didn't take their card - if the boat was due to leave, no-one would have known they weren't on board. After a couple of days everyone knew the procedure but I think it probably needed to be presented a bit better. Then of course if you don't pay attention, when you get off your boat that is dockside when you leave, when you get back on it may well be the 2nd or 3rd boat out. In the early days it can be confusing. You get to know the staff fairly quickly and they get to know you to so it does resolve itself.
Traveling along the river and being so close to towns was really great. For the most part you can get off and walk into town - even in Cologne were we drew the short straw and were docked a bit further out than most boats but my husband and I are good walkers so didn't find it any trouble.
We ended our cruise in Amsterdam and were transferred to the Moevenpick hotel as part of the package. The check in at the hotel was less than satisfactory as they only had a couple of staff dealing with check-ins and check-outs. Being as it was 8 or 9 in the morning, they had a lot of people checking out and we stood for a long time. Also it was a bit awkward getting into town from here. The cost of the hotel was a lot more than we thought it was worth and wouldn't choose to stay here again.
Overall a great memorable holiday and perhaps if we come into a bit of unexpected funds, we could do another one.
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Cabin Review

Cabin
Accommodation on these boats is small - we had the French balcony but you really don't do anything other than sleep in them and you find a way to work around your partner when moving around in the unit. Very practical lay out.
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