Viking's ship is lovely. It has a very clean and crisp aesthetic with white linens and light wood. Our room had a French balcony, allowing us to get some fresh air and spectacular views right from our room. We didn't spend much time in the room, though. We preferred hanging out on the sundeck or Aquavit Terrace. The Aquavit Terrace is a little café setting adjacent to the Viking Lounge. It has doors that retract for an open-air experience. Continental breakfast, plus full menu meals are served here. If you want a spot to eat on the Terrace, come early so you can snag a table. Otherwise, there's plenty of seating in the main restaurant. Each evening around 6pm, the captain and crew host Ship Talk in the lounge where they discuss the dinner menu, the plans for the following day, and perhaps teach us a thing or two about the area. Viking's excursions are very well organized. They provide an earpiece and receiver for all guests to use on walking tours so they can easily hear their guide. Our guides were entertaining and knowledgeable.
The servers and bartenders on the ship were a lot of fun. They liked to crack jokes and tease a lot. However, one of them kind of pushed the limits a bit with his sarcastically rude attitude. I thought the speed of service was decent, but at times there would be a noticeable delay.
Concierge services did what they could to answer questions and be as helpful as possible. There was always someone available to help out and take care of the guests.
The cabin was lovely with well planned spaces to store your things. One thing that would be nice is if the bed faced the other direction so it's looking out the window. I also thought the vanity/desk area by the sliding door should have a lighted mirror. I wanted to get ready and do my makeup there, but the lighting wasn't very good.
Budapest is a beautiful city. Such neat architecture and plants thrgouhout the city. Some attractions I would suggest checking out are Hero's Square and the Opera House. The indoor market was really cool, too. So many vendors with crafts, wine, spices, salamis, cheeses, fresh seafood, and much more. You must try the Langos (pronounced lawn-go-sh) for lunch! One attraction we didn't go to, but wish we did was the Széchenyi Thermal Bath. It's the largest medicinal bath in Europe. Its water is supplied by two thermal springs, with temps between 74 °C and 77 °C. Pro tip – when you need help from a local, look for someone in the younger generation. They're more likely to speak English because they learned it in school growing up post-communism. I would also suggest arriving in Budapest a day early so you can experience Budapest on your own. There isn't really much time in Budapest with this itinerary. The morning after we arrived, the ship departed Budapest at 8 or 9 in the morning. Guests could go on the walking tour that morning and then be bussed an hour away to another town upstream where we hopped on our ship that met us there. There were a couple of guests who decided to spend the morning in Budapest on their own, but they had to meet us at the market by noon to get bussed to the ship.
Krems was my favorite town on this trip. It's a quaint and hilly village in Wachau Valley, which is a world-famous winegrowing region known for Gruner Veltliner, Riesling, and others. It has a neighborhood with cobble stone mall walkways and artisan shops around every corner. This area is also famous for its biking. There's a paved bike path that meanders along the river and through vineyards for over 20 miles. We rented some e-bikes and rode the path to a nearby village called Durnstein, passing through rows of wine grapes growing along the way. It was a truly beautiful ride, and I wish we had more time to experience it. We packed a picnic comprised of Hungarian salami and Austrian cheeses. We enjoyed it on the banks of the river with some berries, olives, and almonds. 10/10 would recommend a European picnic if you have the chance. I'm bummed we didn't have much time in this town. We had to be back on the ship by 12:15. I would have loved to spend a day and a half here!
Passau, Germany is a very relaxed and quiet village. It's known as the vollage where three rivers meet: The Inn, The Ils, and The Danube. If you look at the rivers from an aerial view, you can see the more green-tinted river meeting the more black-tinted river. The colors are due to different geology, plants, and sediment in the rivers. Neat! We took this day to sleep in and then go for a little hike around town. There's a lovely castle that you can hike to. You can hop on a bus or drive, but the hike was very enjoyable and pretty quick. Overall, this town was a little too quiet and sleepy for my taste.
Unfortunately, the water was too low in Regensburg that we weren't able to cruise that far. After we enjoyed our day in Passau, we backtracked to a tiny town called Engelhartzel, Austria. The cruise team hoped we could dock in Passau, but they were full with dock reservations. So, they got creative and found Engelhartzell. The program director said she's never even heard of this town, but we're going to make the best of it! Although we couldn't dock in Regensburg, Viking provided coaches to take guests there for a day trip. We went along so we could see the town. After two nights docked in Engelhartzell, our cruise came to an end. We hopped on a coach to Prague, where we spent two days exploring the city on our own.
Regensburg is a lovely village. It has truly mideival bridge that's still in operation today. It was built in the 12-century. Many of the statues have been replaces or refurbished over the years, but it still carries a beautifully historic presence. This town also has many fun shops and restaurants. The big dining attraction is famous Wurstkuchl. The riverside café has been open for more than 500 years, feeding the stonemasons and dockworkers and much has remained the same to this day: The open charcoal grill, the home-made sausages made from pure pork ham, the sauerkraut from our own fermentation cellar and the famous sausage cake mustard according to the historical recipe of Elsa Schricker. Don't forget the steins of beer! If you don't have time to wait in line for a table or food to go, you can go to the gift store across the street and buy Wurstkuchl's famous mustard.
Engelhartzell was a TINY town that was a pleasant surprise. If by some odd chance you're ever there, you should check out the old church by the water. It has two very old and very real skeletons in a glass crpyt with blingin' jewelry adorned all over them. I like creepy things like this, so I was fascinated. We didn't see a lot of the town because we took the coach up to Regensburg for the day. However, we did have a pleasant time that evening in town. We went for a walk and stumbled upon a fun gathering. There was a big band with horns, clarinets, drums, a conductor, the whole works. They had a potluck dinner, plus beer by the stein and wine by the glass. All the townspeople at the party were having the greatest time. We couldn't tell what they were speaking in German, but we could see them all wiping tears from laughing so hard and having a great time. They welcomed us in since they could tell we weren't from there. They were super nice and we had the best time hanging out with them.
Vienna is a neat city. There's a lot of history with so many people of power residing there. The most notable are the Hapsburgs, known as one of the most prominent dynasties in European history. They have a palace in the middle of town and they have a summer palace on the edge of town. Both are humongous. While I didn't go inside, we learned about them on our walking tour. Payton and I also spent some of our free time on the Schombrunn Palace grounds exploring the gardens and greenhouse. Other things to note: St Stephen's Cathedral is not only gorgeous, but it's a great landmark to help you navigate the city. It's smack dab in the middle of old town, and it's steeple towers high above all the buildings. Also, the subway system is super easy to navigate. We just bought a 48-hour ticket and went wherever we needed in our free time. Don't forget to validate your ticket!