I selected the Viking Grand European River Cruise from Budapest to Amsterdam. I was attracted to this cruise because everything was included in the price and the route takes you through most of the big name cities and attractions of Europe. After experiencing the cruise I could not be more pleased. The service that the crew and staff of the Viking Baldur provided was outstanding. The level of service we received on the cruise is totally unheard of in the US. The crew and staff went out of their way to make the voyage the most enjoyable trip of our lives (thus far!).
For example, we arranged our own air travel since we wanted to spend time in Warsaw before flying on to Budapest to start the cruise. When we arrived in Budapest, I asked the Viking reception team at the airport if we could pay for a ride the transfer bus to the boat since we had not arranged for the transfer in advance because of our uncertain arrival time. The assistant for Viking said that we could take the Viking transfer bus, but that it would be less expensive for us to just take at taxi at that point. I do not speak Hungarian, and the Viking representative took us to a taxi and provided detailed instructions to the driver on where the boat was parked, which she would not have had to do since we did not use the airport transfer service. This is just one of many examples we experienced over the next 15 days on the cruise of the way the Viking representatives go out of their way to make your voyage the most enjoyable experience possible.
Regarding the cruise categorization; I would call it a Luxury Cruise. It was not specifically a seniors cruise, although there were no children on the boat (much to my relief). Most people were north American, although there may have been a few Aussies there also, and virtually everyone spoke English, as did all the crew and staff. The food and wine were gourmet quality and there were choices of several different items at each meal. If you didn't like to eat in the more formal "sit down" fashion at the main dinning room, you could eat more casually on the terrace. There were no formal seating assignments in either dinning area and you could sit wherever you wanted and with whomever you wished. Dress on board was casual; no fancy clothes required.
Excellent cabin accommodations; cozy, but that's to be expected in Europe and on a ship. The cabin was very quiet, and we slept well every night. There was virtually no rolling sensation like on some big ocean ships; all locations on the ship felt rock steady, so no problem with "sea sickness". The service provided by our Baldur cabin attendant Thomas was OUTSTANDING. He kept our cabin clean and neat, when he serviced the cabin several times a day. Every time we'd leave the cabin for a shore excursion, or a meal, it would be tidy and neat by the time we returned. Bathroom was adequate and well stocked with towels, soaps, shampoos and amenities. Electrical outlets were provided for both US and European plug in devices. A safe to store your valuables was also provided in the closet and we used it every day for passports, money and cameras. Due to the geography of the river (in a valley) the internet connection was not always the best, but we didn't go on the cruise to be fiddling on the internet anyway, so that was not a problem for me.
The Budapest tours included a walking tour of the shopping area near the boat and a guided bus tour of the city as well as the famous Fishermans Bastion area.View All 353 City Tour Reviews
The Budapest tours included a walking tour of the shopping area near the boat and a guided bus tour of the city as well as the famous Fishermans Bastion area.View All 85 Highlights Tour Reviews
A bus drove us to the center of Vienna and we took a walking tour with a guide around the central part of the city.View All 169 City Tour Reviews
Bus drove to the palace and a guide took us through the palace. We had a limited amount of time in the palace and very little time to tour the gardens. No photos were allowed in the palace.View All 179 Schonbrunn Palace Reviews
Took a bus from the boat to the Abbey and a guide took us through the building. We walked back to the boat.View All 62 Benedictine Abbey Reviews
It was a grey, cloudy day when we took the walking tour of the city. We saw several important buildings and streets as well as the cathedral. We also took the tour of the cathedral which included an organ concert. The organ concert in the Passau cathedral is the largest church organ in the world and the sound was excellent.View All 112 St. Stephen's Cathedral Reviews
It was a grey, cloudy day when we took the walking tour of the city. We saw several important buildings and streets as well as the cathedral.View All 218 Walking Tour Reviews
It was sunny and warm in Regensburg and we walked around the streets in a guided tour stopping briefly at most of the key sites in the city. The most interesting stop was at a little bratwurst stand for lunch; the brats and kraut were outstanding and I enjoyed that the most.
I was most impressed with Nuremberg; my idea of the city going in was that it was a Nazi town during WW-II, and while the tour briefly drove by the site of the Nazi party rallies and the war trials, the best part of the tour was the Imperial Palace and castle. We walked through and around the old castle and continued through town to a large plaza were we had an ice cream sundae overlooking a beer festival with bands. Several old double arch bridges and rivers bordered the plaza and it was a great day in the city. That evening the boat also provided entertainment with a klezmer band from town that played on board. It was excellent.
It was raining the day we were in Wurzburg, so that put the damper on the tour. Nevertheless, we walked with umbrellas through the old town area and we also took the tour through the Prince-Bishops Palace in the heart of town. No pictures allowed in the palace, but the guided tour provided lots of information about the history of the site. It was an interesting tour, in-spite of the rain.
I loved Koblenz; we took a bus tour to the nearby Marksburg Castle high on a hill overlooking the Rhine river. The castle was one of many dotting the hillsides near the middle-Rhine valley. The walking tour at the castle included the cannons, blacksmith, kitchen, knights armory, bedrooms, and adjacent areas. It was very informative and provided spectacular views of the Rhine river far below. Back at Koblenz, the boat was parked near the giant statue of Kaiser Wilhelm at German Corner near the confluence of the Rhine and another major river. It was a great walk around that area and convenient since it was near the boat.View All undefined undefined Reviews
We took a bus ride from the boat into Cologne and toured the cathedral and the major historical district within walking distance around the cathedral. There were lots of people at the cathedral and around the courtyard in front of the building. The interior stained glass windows were spectacular and I enjoyed the tour, however, the guides warned us to watch out for pick pockets. While no one in our group had a problem, due to the large crowds in and around the cathedral, it was the one area that I felt was dangerous from a security standpoint.View All 184 Cologne Cathedral Reviews
The Prince-Archbishop of Cologne maintained a summer palace and hunting lodge at the nearby town of Bruhl. We took a bush ride to the palace and toured the building as well as the gardens. No photos were allowed in the palace. It was spectacular as were the adjacent gardens. Here again, it was drizzling when we started the tour, but since the first part is an indoor tour of the building, we didn't get too wet and by the time we were able to go to the gardens, the rain stopped. The gardens were excellent and in my opinion, better than those at the Schoenbrun palace in Vienna.View All undefined undefined Reviews
Before we got to Amsterdam, the boat stopped at a site of over 20 windmills in a town called Kinderdijke. We walked from the boat to the windmills and were able to tour the inside of one of the working units. We also toured a modern plump and wood working building at the windmill site. From Kinderdijke, the boat sailed on to Amsterdam the next day and we went straight to the airport the following morning. It would have been nice to take the extended stay for a few more days in Amsterdam to tour that city, but since I'd already been gone for a month in Poland and on the cruise, I headed straight back to the US.View All undefined undefined Reviews