Viking Eistla Cruise Review by loge23
- Sail Date: July 2015
- Destination: Europe River
- Cabin Type: Deluxe Stateroom
We are familiar with the longship design and layout and thus reserved our usual "aquatic" class room. We still see no value in a upgraded room for these river cruises. The cabins are all virtually the same size (save for the suites) and balcony/room time is usually limited to napping or sleeping. The party is on deck or in the lounge - and these cruises are essentially one big house party.
Consist was a bit older than last year's Bordeaux romp and less interested in the wines. The wine list therefore was lacking with the only reds available (aside from the house pours) being a Hungarian "Bull's Blood" blend, a German red (nuff said), a CA B-grade cabby, and a Valpolicella (best in class here). Also available (sometimes) were a right bank Bordeaux blend and a Barolo. I say sometimes because stock was limited. Wine lovers would be wise to shop early and often in port to take advantage if the no corkage policy aboard. Whites were similarly limited with no white burgundies or sancerres.
Still we opted for the Silver package and made do with generous pours of Veuve Cliquot and the occasional post-dinner Cognac (Hennessy XO). The bar staff was superb: Kris behind the bar and Emilian were among the finest gentlemen we ever experienced. Big kudos as well for Aryan (Maitre 'd) for his excellent service with the wines.
Dining was consistently good if not special. The chef was frequently seen and a gallery tour was offered. Dishes included a braised beef dish, osso bucca, veal (three different specialties with veal), chicken, and lamb shanks. A rib-eye steak was always available. Entree choices were the meat course, a daily seafood dish, and a pasta entree. I found the soups to be very good and not salty. All meals are available in the DR or in the lounge/terrace (less formal with less choices, but very popular). Breakfast is terrific! Coffee is plentiful but inconsistent with strength. A machine is always available for cappuccino outside the lounge (with cookies!). Order better expresso from the bar.
Dining room service was uneven at first, but we settled into excellent service from the amazing Vanya with her million-watt smile, steady Mate, and lovely Judit. Rusty also seemed to get good reviews from fellow passengers. I would avoid the front left side of the DR on entry - just saying.
The cabin was maintained with polish and promptness from Barbara.
Front house staff was superb: Nina (Concierge), the aforementioned Aryan (Maitre 'd), the sweet and efficient Hotel Manager (name escapes me), and the Master of Ceremonies - the Program Director, David from the UK (and his evil twin Fritz) were all top-flight professionals.
The ship was piloted by a well-drilled team led by a very young but hard-working Captain whom could frequently be seen working side-by-side with his staff painting, cleaning, etc.
Viking is a growing (50% market share of River cruising) company - they also now own the familiar KD cruises along the Rhine. I think recent reviews in the general forums are completely unfair to paint this organization as unresponsive to customer service. Our fourth cruise with Viking reinforced our first impression as a five-star experience from Viking.
Rumor has it that Viking is considering a Mississippi excursion, which we highly welcome.
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