This trip was three years in the making, thanks to Covid. When we were finally able to go we were ecstatic. Our first experience with the Viking Vali team was when we arrived at the dock with two large suitcases. A very nice gentleman with a British accent ran up the steps and took our bags down to the dock. He told us he'd take care of them and to go aboard. We took another Covid test and proceeded to our room. Our bags were delivered shortly thereafter. We unpacked and explored the ship, stopping for a delicious roast beef sandwich on the Aquavit Terrace. A bit later we had a very interesting walking tour of Budapest, which is a really beautiful city. Dinner, in fact every meal onboard, is open seating so we got to talk to different people each time. The evening entertainment was provided by Csaba who is not only a terrific pianist but also very funny. We had a drink and talked to our Program Director, Stephen, who was the nice gentleman who took care of our bags earlier. Throughout the cruise he was seemingly everywhere doing just about everything. In fact, we started joking that except for driving the ship, cooking the food and cleaning the rooms, he did everything else. And he did it very well!
The food and service were what we've come to think of as "typically Viking" which is to say, excellent. Without exception the staff members are friendly, efficient, willing to go above and beyond to make sure the guests are happy. My husband saw a polo shirt he wanted to buy in the shop but they didn't have his size. So he asked the woman at Reception if they had any other sizes. She said they didn't but that she would "check with the neighbors". On a river cruise the ships often dock next to each other and, on occasion, you need to walk through another ship to get to yours. At this point there were three Viking ships side by side. When we returned from our shore excursion the polo shirt was on our bed.
The included shore excursions were informative and a great way to get to learn a little about each city. We booked two extra excursion, Hungarian Horsemen and Schonbrunn Palace, both of which were incredible! I would definitely recommend the Grand European cruise - it was amazing.