When I retired from teaching after 40 years of service, I wanted to celebrate my new life with a European river cruise. We chose the Grand European Tour for 2 reasons. The first reason was that it was highly recommended by friends and family and the second reason was that a close friend had already booked on this particular cruise. As my husband is an amputee, it seemed like a good idea to travel with someone we knew, just in case there were difficulties. However, we needn't have worried about that, as from the moment we arrived in Budapest until the time we departed the cruise in Amsterdam, we received amazing support and guidance from the whole Viking crew. Embarkation and disembarkation went smoothly because all the crew was involved.
The food and wine were delicious and plentiful, prepared and served by attentive and friendly crew members. The focus on food and wine specialties of the regions we were visiting increased our enjoyment and added to our cultural knowledge and understanding of those areas; but there was also a wide variety of alternatives to satisfy everyone's food tastes and requirements. I can't live without fruit and salad and they were available with every meal!
The ship's facilities, such as the walking track (which I personally loved - fresh air, exercise and beautiful scenery), the sun lounge and the indoor bar and lounge, provided ample opportunity for travelers to relax alone or to meet up with others in a comfortable central location. The entertainment presentations and daily briefing by the Tour Director in these areas were fun and informative and the advice regarding tours suitable for my husband was always appropriate.
We chose a cabin with a veranda because we thought that if my husband was unable to join in some of the excursions, he could still be outside enjoying the passing sights. We loved the small, compact bathroom (my husband went so far as to declare it was the best bathroom he had ever used), because the heated floor dried out any water quickly, the folding shower chair provided by Viking fitted perfectly into the shower recess, and the solid bench tops gave him stability when moving around.
The most important experience I would like to share though, is not about the wonderful tours and highly competent tour guides we had, nor the ready access to a wheel chair for any tours requiring a lot of walking, but about the professionalism and care we received when my husband had the misfortune to have problems with his back during the cruise. Simply bending over to tie his shoes one morning, resulted in him twisting his pelvis, which brought on painful muscle spasms. One of the waiters helped me to bring food and fluids to the cabin for my husband as any movement caused him extreme pain. He made it clear he was happy to do anything to help me. The hotel manager and concierge organised a doctor's appointment for that afternoon, and a taxi to take us to the doctor. The doctor recommended and gave a cortisone injection and anti-inflammatory tablets as the best course of action, given we were leaving the town that afternoon and would not be in a big city for the next two days. My husband immediately felt some relief from the injection, and the pain and stiffness eased over the next few days. We could not have anticipated this problem, but the Viking crew treated us with the care and concern as if we were members of their own family. They continued to watch over us and check that we were doing OK. We will be forever grateful for their gentle and considerate support.
This cruise was a once-in-a life-time occasion for us, but we would go again in a heart beat if we were able.
Very comfortable - great bed (but pillows were a little flat), plenty of drawers and cupboard space. Very clean and fresh.