After 6 cruises on the big ships we decided for our anniversary to try a river cruise with Viking (we’ve done already 2 Viking cruises on the ocean). The cruise from Bucharest to Budapest sounded very interesting and we decided to try despite the fact that our friends from Atlanta got a better quote for the same cruise and the same cabin.
The ship was Viking LIF and the entire experience made us to started to look more in to river cruise for our future holidays.
Here are some suggestion and impression from our trip in eastern Europe
Bucharest – a beautiful city where the communism left plenty of marks. We loved the food and the architecture and, as a suggestion, maybe in the future Viking will organise a stay longer than one night. Excellent hotel and very well organised transfers.
Ruse – despite the fact that the journey to Arbanassii was quite long the excursion was amazing giving as the chance to learn about the history of this country (we didn’t have any idea about how old Bulgaria is). Great lunch and fantastic place to visit. Maybe the guides can be less ridged and less “primary school teacher”-like
Vidin – a very poor city but the trip to the mountains was amazing. Was great that the cruise director “forced” us to go and ignore the information about difficulty of the excursion. Was worth it and you don’t miss the breath-taking views with plenty of things to do if you don’t climb the rocks. Sailing day – the landscape is fantastic, and the information offered by the cruise director made us feel like in a Discovery documentary. We loved the new excursions introduced by Viking in a local village, an areological site and a fortress. The children invited on board were amazing despite the fact that the moderator of the conversation was trying hard to take over the entire conversation.
Belgrade – we would love to stay longer. What an amazing city! We strongly recommend the visit to the opera and a lunch on your own to a restaurant close to the ship with no name …just “?” (our Cruise Director was so right to recommend this place)
Vukovar – the visit to a Croatian family was fantastic and a real eye-opener. Maybe Viking can do something about the “rush feeling” of that day…we would like to explore more.
Kalocsa – the horse farm was an interesting and authentic experience. If you want to buy paprika do it here is far much cheaper and better quality than the one in Budapest. The small shop close to the ship has excellent prices and they all speak English.
Budapest – we’ve been to Budapest before but was a pleasure to visit it again. The hotel was a nice decent one, the tours were interesting but for us, Budapest was the end of our cruise so we were sad to leave Viking LIF.
The staff on Viking LIF was absolutely amazing and nothing was too much for them. Joy our room stewardess was a real “JOY” smiling, helpful and very well organised making our cabin impeccable every day. In the restaurant the manager Kristian was very helpful and friendly providing an excellent service with a lot of care and attention. Alin in the bar, great and very professional, learned in the first day our favourite G&T and we enjoyed every moment spent in the lounge. We fall in love with the reception team especially with Susanna very friendly and always ready to help.
But the top of this extraordinary team was our Cruise Director Leonard. He was working around the clock, almost 24 hours daily with the same passion, enthusiasm and professionalism. Was obvious that he is in love with his job and every meeting before dinner was a mixture of practical information, facts traditions and stories put together with a unique charisma and sense of humour. After the first day, was hard to find a place for his presentation in the lounge. Every night after dinner Leonard had a surprise for the passengers: lectures (the one about Dracula was as good as a real History Channel documentary and his story about Ceausescu time was heart-breaking), games (so much fun in the music quiz) and an amazing Disco party with music and dance until early hours in the morning. With brilliant organisational skills everything planned by him went perfect even if sometimes you can see the struggle behind.
Honestly if Viking will tell me that Leonard will be our next cruise director I will book a cruise even on the river behind our house!
After on week on Viking LIF I understand why Viking is the best and the only option to travel in comfort. Thank you Viking, thank you Lif, thank you Leonard! See you soon!
Great cabin, plenty of space, a touch of luxury. Love it!