This was our second experience on a Viking River Cruise and once again, I am happy to report, the experience exceeded our expectations. Our timing may have been a little late in that the weather was less than favorable, but we were prepared for that eventuality., Our first impression of our ship, The Ingvar, was it appeared a tad tired. We understood that this was its final cruise of the season and attributed those minor imperfections to the conclusion of a busy season. Our cabin was adequate, but if I were king I would make the balcony smaller or even eliminate it in favor of a more spacious cabin. The fact that the sliding glass door opens would be ample for me. That again is just a personal observation
The food was excellent if anything there may have been too much of it. On some days we barely finished breakfast and lunch was about to be served. The lunches could be lighter, but no one was forces us to eat.
I thought our cruse director, Alina, was an empty uniform. Perhaps I do not have a complete understanding of her duties, but compared with the cruise director we had on an Avalon Trip from Basel to Amsterdam (we could not get on Viking). there was no comparison. We had a man named Dragan who was omnipresent and far more involved with the passengers. He personally led many of the tours and was a veritable mountain of information. On the tour of the bridge the Captain was nowhere in sight, and delegated that duty to the first mate. There may have been a reason for this, but it was not explained to the guests..
Our cabin was always cleaned nicely and the wait staff was courteous, cooperative, cheerful and attentive. In particular Rica and Antonio stood out as superior employees.
After experiencing the trip I understand why so much time is spent in Moscow and St. Petersburg. There is simply little of interest between the two cities. Viking did an excellent job in adjusting to the low water situation by arranging to bus us to Yaroslavl. I was unimpressed with Mandrogy which came off as little more than a tourist trap selling authentic Russian Rubbish. Kizhi as an opportunity to walk in the fresh air.
The visits to the school and the home also seem contrived. Some folks seemed to enjoy them and I may be a bit cynical, but they did little for me.
The piano player and the singer became a little tedious by the 5th day. It would seem to me that an organized sing along or even an impromptu amateur hour have added some variety or spontaneous guest involvement.
In summary, while I have offered some critical observations, I remain very pleased with our experience and have become an unpaid sales person for Viking by encouraging others to enjoy river travel. The fact that you only unpack and repack once is marvelous. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being perfect, I would rate our trip a 9.5.
Was a little tight due to the veranda which was our choice but would opt for room without veranda in the future.