First and foremost, we picked this cruise because of our past experience with Viking on the Grand European cruise. Secondly, we picked this cruise because of the countries and cities we would visit; Berlin, Prague and Krakow have been high on our list.
Our expectations, which were set very high by our previous cruise, were met in every way and we have already booked our next cruise for 2018 and have our sites on a number of others.
All three hotels—Berlin (pre-boarding), Prague & Krakow (post-disembark)—were spectacular. They were very well located, so we could make the best of our free time and take in all the sites we had planned to see. The hotel staff, food and the Viking representative did everything they could to make our stay memorable.
Life onboard was very comfortable. The staff were very friendly and worked tirelessly to ensure every, question, need, or desire was met. The food was exceptional and Viking made the evening meals into a real experience every night. The shore excursions are well organized and focused on the areas/things we wanted to see. Each tour guide was very knowledgeable and also provided us with background experiences from their time under Soviet rule; this was fascinating to learn. The cabin was cozy, though we spent very little awake time in it, and the bed very comfortable. If we were not on a shore excursion we spent most of our time on the sundeck to relax and enjoy the countryside and conversation with other guests.
We disembarked for our 2-night stay in Prague. It does live up to all the recent hype; what a spectacular city. There is so much to take in and it is not possible to do in 2-days/nights. We were able to experience our top picks though and hope to one-day return.
As wonderful as Prague and Berlin were, our favorite city was Krakow. It was far beyond our expectations. The beauty and history are equal to both Berlin and Prague, but it is much less busy, thus we were able to get around much easier and have a more personal experience. Our Viking representative gave us a personal tour of the city, something that was not part of the post cruise extension, and was able to also arrange an add-on tour of the Wieliczka Salt Mine. Our extension included Auschwitz-Birkenau, so we were not sure we could work in the salt mine, but she came through.
We used Viking’s air service on this cruise, which included flight itinerary and the airport pickup and drop-off. This was also well done and eliminated any concern of getting to the right locations at the right times.
Our only regret was our own fault; we wish we had also booked the pre-cruise extension in Berlin. Note, our cruise was booked prior to the current Elbe cruise offering.