I enjoyed being on the boat, watching the scenery go by and falling to sleep with the movement. Almost everything else was a bust. Being an experienced traveler, I understand and expect that I will be required to suck up some inconviences and disapointments on a vacation, but when this is true everyday in some way or another, there is a problem.
I am an avid gardener and cook. One reason I like to go to Europe is for the very quality of the food. The cruise food was good for breakfast and that spread was incredible. I can't say as much for the other meals. I would say, if you like Applebees, you will probably enjoy this cruise food. I know from experience that I get thirsty when I eat processed foods and I was very thirsty after eating the cruise meals. One meal was particularly disappointing. As we were approaching Budapest, the Hungarian chief prepared what was called goulash. What was served was chips of beef covered in a sauce. Hungarian goulash is a soup.
The cruise included free beer and wine with the meals. These were poured from Viking labeled bottles. These products were clearly inferior. While it was, initially, just another "suck it up" irritation, it became truely abnoxious as we traveled through Germany and sampled some of the world's best beers when we were off the ship. I am not a heavy drinker, and Viking only found cost savings in my case on a single serving of beer per day. For what we paid for the trip, that was unreasonable.
The outtings were short. Each excursion involved assembly in the parking lot and ussually a bus trip of 30 minutes to 2 hours. When the assembly started at 9 or ten, and concluded by getting us back on the ship by four, the tours you see pictured in the brochures are often as short as one hour. The guided tours are of mixed quality, rangeing from inciteful, fun and highly educational to a complete waste of expensive travel time. Be prepared that tips are expected everywhere on this "all inclusive" trip, including the tour guides.
My most serious complaint was with the double docking. In many ports, especially in Germany, Viking only used one slip for as many as three ships, connecting the ships sideways. If you are paying extra for a balcony, it is a complete waste when this happens. The side of the ship with the most exclusive staterooms is always in the outside, but even those may be locked in when they connect three boats. You pass through the boat on the dock side, and several times the stench on that boat was bad. It was some combination of mildew and sewage. I found it very claustrophobic, but it also is a safety hazzard. There is no way off the boat through the window, only the single route though the stateroom door, then down the hall. I'm not sure how that even passes safety regulations. It would be a deathtrap in a fire and would never be allowed for a hotel or apartment.
You end up spending evenings socializing with your shipmates. Every dinner you are seared at tables of 6 and 8 travelers, followed by cocktail parties in the lounge, where alcohol is additional, and is charged to your room. This can get tedious or worse. You have to feel your way around all the lifestyle, political and religious issues Americans feel so strongly about. Affluent, older, Christian, conservatives are going to find themselves most suited to this socializing.
Overall, I'm glad to have gone, but we spent A LOT of money on this, and I would say it was a very poor value. We were given vouchers to apply toward a future cruise, but we chose to take half the value in cash. We might try a National Geographic cruise, but not Viking again.