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12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2014

This was the first Uniworld cruise for my husband and me but we had been on several other river and ocean cruises. We recognized that the logistics for this itinerary would be challenging since it is a river cruise without much river, ... Read More

This was the first Uniworld cruise for my husband and me but we had been on several other river and ocean cruises. We recognized that the logistics for this itinerary would be challenging since it is a river cruise without much river, and since getting to our Veneto destinations took bus rides of 1-2 hours each way. Add to that the fact that local shops close for the “siesta” at mid-day (cutting out shopping) and you have a recipe for some dissatisfaction.

However, knowing all these things we chose this cruise because it was the only one that offered Venice and nearby cities with historical significance. And much of it was good – for example, Ferrara was a real sleeper and well worth the visit. We were so tired after traveling overnight, arriving on Sunday, and having a full-day outing to Padua on Monday, that we decided to sleep in on the Bologna-or-Ferrara day and in the afternoon took the provided bus to Ferrara to walk around on our own. What a pleasure to see a real castle and moat, an old church, and a medieval village all within a few blocks. Padua had one church where we spend a lot of time but didn’t’ have much else. Ravenna had excellent mosaics in church and chapel and a great place for lunch; Verona was big and crowded but beautiful with many buildings of interest. Venice was…Venice! Arrive a day or two ahead or stay a day or two after the cruise to explore Venice on your own.

Our cruise director was very knowledgeable but sometimes told us more than we needed to know – for example, about the movements of the ship while we did excursions. We only needed to know things that would directly affect us, one day at a time. We were not sure how well-organized he was.

Some of our guides were excellent, like Manuela in Ravenna, but others were hard to understand and some pushed the “Puccini” group (those with mobility issues) a little too fast. It was a good plan to have a slower-moving group but not quite carried through. On the bus, we were promised a comfort stop on one of the trips but it didn’t happen. Sometimes it seemed that we were rushing in and out of our destination towns. And we had very little time between getting back to the ship and going to the lounge for the port talk. If it had been televised we could have taken our time preparing for dinner. But in Venice the market visit with the chef was very well done, and the evening visit to the Basilica with Susan was excellent. The buses were quite comfortable. The vox system worked fine.

On the ship we were extremely pleased with the front desk people who were very helpful and efficient; the cleanliness of the ship and of our room; the organization and staff that got us from and back to the airport and provided help inside the airport; the Captain who projected competence and care; and the staff of the Osteria. The ship was not full so the Hotel Manager moved us to a room farther away from the exercise room and the coffee machine – much appreciated.

We were less impressed with the friendliness of the staff in the main dining room. Early on we took to eating lunch and dinner in the Osteria, which offered pizza, prosciutto, and salad and of course wine. The view was great, the atmosphere informal, and the self-service for food worked just fine. We ate what we liked and felt no pressure to have more courses. We gave mixed reviews to the staff in the lounge – some extremely attentive, and others who took orders but drinks appeared whenever. Only once did we get the little snacks that come with drinks. We did not know whether the new “all-inclusive” policy, that included tips, had an effect on the attitude of the staff.

The food was good but it didn’t seem to us that it was special. The menus in the main dining room were not exciting. At the Captain’s dinner I got halibut that had the watery quality of fish that has been frozen. On the other hand, the sea bass at the Farewell dinner (bought in Venice at the market that day) was excellent. The pizza toppings were good but the pizza oven was apparently not large enough to generate a crispy crust. The pizza was good anyway.

Unfortunately there were things that were provided but we either weren’t told about or heard when we were sleep-deprived, but it wasn’t just us who didn’t know that there was a Bistro menu in the lounge; that you had to ask for the prosciutto in the Osteria; and that vaporetto passes could be bought at the front desk.

All in all we enjoyed the cruise but there was definitely room for improvement.

 

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Sail Date: September 2014

I jus arrived home from a fabulous 3 week vacation in Europe including the two week Grand European Tour on the Viking Jarl. This was certainly a trip to remember and I would recommend it to anyone who loves to travel and experience new ... Read More

I jus arrived home from a fabulous 3 week vacation in Europe including the two week Grand European Tour on the Viking Jarl. This was certainly a trip to remember and I would recommend it to anyone who loves to travel and experience new places and people. Viking does a stupendous job of giving its passengers an introduction to the many ports on the cruise and unlike large ship cruises you see a new town each day. On river cruises there are no "sea" days and most of the ports on this route are small towns with medieval origins so get ready to walk your footsies off. You can take the included tour and then wander on your own or skip the tour completely if you prefer but the tour gives a bit of history, interesting facts and orientation so I recommend taking it if it is your first time in that port.

The service on the Viking ships is outstanding and our crew was exceptional in their helpfulness and friendliness. By the time the cruise ends you feel like you are part of a large family of Viking crew and passengers. Unlike the large cruise ships venues never feel crowded and you know or at least recognize virtually all of your fellow passengers in a short time. The food is outstanding and although there is no room service or the availability of 24 hour snacks, each cabin had a small refrigerator so you could stock items if you wanted something to eat between meals. Croissants and pastries are available from 6-11 AM and then there are cookies in the afternoon. Coffee (including specialty coffees and hot chocolate) and tea are available around the clock.

If you are looking for gambling, wild nightlife and Las Vegas or Broadway type shows, river cruises will disappoint. There is music and dancing every night with local talent brought in for short shows in a number of ports. All of these were worthwhile and fun but not what passengers on the large cruise ships are used to. We had a group of singers who did arias from famous Vienna associated composers, Hungarian musicians, a Liar's Club (a late night large ship staple) and an incredibly entertaining glass blower to name just a few. In addition there are optional excursions offered to shows and if the ship leaves the port late the opportunity to do a night event on your own.

Viking offers pre and post cruise extensions but I feel that their pricing is high unless you are uncomfortable planning your own trips and traveling on your own in European cities. I spent three days in Prague and then one night in Budapest before boarding the ship and would recommend a similar plan if you have the time and interest. One night in Budapest (included in the cruise) is not nearly enough to see this fascinating city. Visiting the Parliament Building was a worthwhile (though fairly costly) tour not included on the cruise. Traveling by train in Europe is generally easy, and comfortable and the trip from Prague to Budapest although 7 hours was relaxing. I also spent 3 nights in Amsterdam post-cruise (again arranged by myself) and found that an excellent way to end my journey - exploring the museums, canals, sights and streets of this active city. Just be careful walking in Amsterdam, the bike traffic is amazing and bicyclists are not always very considerate of pedestrians. I stayed at the Doubletree, which is in an excellent location. It is about a 5 minute walk (without heavy luggage) from where the river cruise ships dock and right across from the central train station which is where many buses, trams and canal cruises start. You can walk almost anywhere in the city from there and have innumerable options for eating, shopping and also uniquely Amsterdam activities. I did no tours in Amsterdam but did not feel this hurt my experience.

This was my second Viking trip, having done one in China last year, and my experience confirmed that this is a high class operation. I would recommend Viking River Cruises and the Grand European Tour with enthusiasm to anyone interested in the ports on this trip.

 

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Sail Date: September 2014

After a stress free flight from London Heathrow my wife and I enjoyed 12 days of luxury cruising between St Petersburg and Moscow.

The ship was very well appointed and spotlessly clean. The on board staff were very friendly and ... Read More

After a stress free flight from London Heathrow my wife and I enjoyed 12 days of luxury cruising between St Petersburg and Moscow.

The ship was very well appointed and spotlessly clean. The on board staff were very friendly and very helpful especially as my wife was disabled, they were always there to assist. The food was excellent with a wide variety of choice. The Viking Daily was very informative giving details of what was happening the following day.

Having 4 days in St Petersburg at the beginning of the cruise and 3 days in Moscow at the end gave us ample time to see the main attractions. The organised excursions were well planned and had excellent guides, nothing was rushed.

We will have no hesitation in booking another Viking Cruise.

 

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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2014

My husband and I celebrated our 40th anniversary with AmaWaterways' Romantic Danube cruise. This was our first cruise of any kind. Therefore, although we have nothing to compare it to, we can't imagine a river cruise line that could be ... Read More

My husband and I celebrated our 40th anniversary with AmaWaterways' Romantic Danube cruise. This was our first cruise of any kind. Therefore, although we have nothing to compare it to, we can't imagine a river cruise line that could be superior. Many of our fellow passengers who were seasoned river cruisers agreed.

Our ship, the AmaPrima, was named "Best River Cruise Ship 2013". It has 3 decks of rooms and carries about 160 pasengers. There is a spacious and comfortable lounge area (and like the entire ship, impeccably clean -- we'd see crew on deck early in the morning, cleaning and polishing every square inch, every day), with plenty of seats, tables, an attractive bar area, and and 24-hour self-serve coffee and tea area with a wide selection of teas, milks, sugars, dark hot chocolate (not too sweet), and an espresso machine that produced everything from a cup of coffee to a cappuccino with milk foam. This area, by the way, was also always in order and perfectly clean, as if we were the first of the day to use it.

On the lowest deck, there is a large dining room with an assortment of table sizes and booths for 4 or 6. There is open seating, so you can seat wherever and with whomever you wish, for any meal, and there is always plenty of room. There was one seating per meal, and they recommended that you arrive within 20 minutes of the beginning of a meal to have plenty of time to relax and enjoy it. There is an attractive buffet with a wide selection of choices at breakfast and lunch, as well as a menu from which you can order. At breakfast, there is a chef present who will make an omelette or eggs any style you wish. The dinner menu always has 2-3 choices for the appetizer, salad, entree, and dessert, plus other main courses (such as a main dish salad or quiche) that you can order. The quality of the food, as well as its presentation, exceeded our expectations. Every night, we had a choice of fine wines (included) and the servers were most generous with it!

At the back of the ship between the middle and top deck is a smaller restaurant, The Chef's Table, that seats about 24. You have an opportunity to dine there on one night of the cruise (you make a reservation when you embark), perhaps to celebrate a special occasion. This meal has multiple courses served by attentive staff in tuxedos -- and you can observe the chef preparing the meal in a glass-walled kitchen adjacent to the dining room. We were pampered by all of the AmaPrima staff, in the nicest way possible, for the entire week -- but the staff to guest ratio in The Chef's Table was even greater.

We were in cabin 208, an AA (the roomiest) cabin (other than the suites), on the middle deck of three that had cabins. We had plenty of room, thanks to all of the clever storage features and both an inside and outside seating area. Our luggage was out of sight under the bed. The bed and pillows were extremely comfortable. It came made up with a duvet, but the housekeeper will change that to sheets and a blanket if you prefer. I think a slightly smaller cabin would be fine too, and that cabins on the top and middle decks are equally good. I'd also like to add that the decor was classy but simple and tasteful; I nixed a couple of cruise lines while I was perusing different ones online because of the fussy, overly feminine decor.

I think what sets AmaWaterways apart, other than their ships, is their staff. Our captain was German, our outstanding cruise manager Frederico was Croatian, and the rest of the staff largely hailed from Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria. Without exception they were very friendly, thoughtful, cheerful, polite, and accommodating. I've heard that it's tough to get a job with AmaWaterways, and they certainly have a first-rate staff. Frederico (the cruise manager), was extremely knowledgeable, organized, present, and had a pleasant voice -- very important, especially when you're listening to him speaking into a microphone in the lounge or over the PA system as he gives a commentary while we're cruising. Our housekeeper, Andreea, was a prize; she would whisk in while we were at breakfast to clean our room, and again while we were at dinner to spruce it up again. Three times, we found our towels arranged origami-style into different animals: two swans for our anniversary, a dog, and the biggest surprise -- a monkey swinging from our ceiling! A fun surprise when we would return to our room. We tended to sit in the same area of the dining room, so we often had Christina as our server; if you happen to have her, you'll find she's not only efficient, hardworking, and attentive but exceptionally thoughtful and friendly.

At different ports, there were choices of activities (including biking) both during the day and sometimes in the evening. Our four highlights were visiting Cesky Krumlov (with our outstanding guide Veronika), touring Melk Abbey, biking from Melk to Durnstein (though note: while rated by AMA as a "5" in difficulty, if you are fit, it's more like a "2") along the Danube and through the vineyards, and the evening concert at the Hofburg Palace in Vienna. The orchestra and singers were not only first rate, but engaged with the audience and displayed a delightful sense of humor. AMA clearly tries to offer a wide variety of activities to suit everyone, from a "gentle walkers" group to biking, and from introductory city tours to behind-the-scenes hidden walks and wine and sacher-torte tasting. The only activities that had a surcharge were the evening concert in Vienna and the tour of Schonbrunn Palace near Vienna.

Every evening, there was a gentleman playing the keyboard and singing in the lounge; some evenings, there was special entertainment brought on the ship: two opera singers, two violinists & a guitarist, and Hungarian dancers. All were excellent!

In summary, if you're looking for a river cruise, we can recommend AmaWaterways highly. If you want to cruise the Danube, I think any of their Danube cruises would be equally good -- but I'm glad we cruised east ending in Budapest, because on our last night, the captain sailed the Budapest harbor so we could enjoy the illuminated bridges and buildings.

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11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2014

Before booking this kind of holiday please make sure it is for you. If it is what you want it is great, if not you could very well be disappointed. My husband and I cruised on La Marguerite 9-16 September 2014. Our first disappointment ... Read More

Before booking this kind of holiday please make sure it is for you. If it is what you want it is great, if not you could very well be disappointed. My husband and I cruised on La Marguerite 9-16 September 2014. Our first disappointment was that we in our mid 50s were the youngest on board. On booking we had asked about ages and told it was mixed, but most were 70+. The ship is very nice, but not a lot of space to move about. Food was excellent but the lack of activity made it hard to enjoy it, as I never felt that hungry. All the staff were sweet and attentive - faultless in every way, and the boat was immaculately clean. The Vietnamese cruise director was incredible - Son - he could sell you anything - each day raising our hopes about the 'beautiful' things we were going to see, and though on each trip we were disappointed, we still believed him again next time. Without his lead there may well have been dissatisfied voices, but no-one wanted to upset him I think! the local guides who travelled with us had excellent English and tried hard, but they had little to show us.

The real problem was the excursions. There really is nothing to see along the way, in Vietnam the river is wide and brown, the shore the same old farming land or village slums and rubbish, and most of the other boats you pass are large dredgers. In Cambodia it is slightly better, no dredgers. I didn't find anything beautiful to look out at. the sky is cloudy all the time, creating oppressive heat, then at some point each day there is a torrential down pour which can last hours. If you are on an excursion at the time, bad luck, put on a mac and get on with it. Mud everywhere! The daily excursions are to villages and to look at the homes of the people - so poor and full of rubbish - schools, markets (with some quite unpleasant sights) and temples, that are neither ancient or attractive. By the end of the week about half of the party had given up getting off the boat!

If you want to see the real life of the local people, can face the dirt, smells and rubbish, and like sitting around chatting on the boat with free drinks and good food, and amateur evening entertainment - including poor copies of dvds - then this is for you. If you are expecting luxury, 5*, freedom to walk around on lovely excursions (during the briefing each night Son told us that the excursion would involve about 500 mtrs walking and 10 or so steps to climb - you get the idea - not meant for those with energy or no walking issues) then choose something else. As I said before - if this is what you are looking for you will love it. I felt we had been missold - or maybe I should have done more research before booking rather than relying on the travel agent and glossy brochure.

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8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2014

Travelled from NYC up the Hudson River, through the multiple locks on the Erie and Oswego Canals, into Lake Ontario, through more locks on the St. Lawrence Seaway all the way to the Saguenay in September 2014. We stopped at many smaller ... Read More

Travelled from NYC up the Hudson River, through the multiple locks on the Erie and Oswego Canals, into Lake Ontario, through more locks on the St. Lawrence Seaway all the way to the Saguenay in September 2014. We stopped at many smaller cities and towns along the way as well as Montreal and Quebec City. This was a great experience. We had 72 passengers (capacity is 88) with the majority being in the 60-late 80s age range. The staff on the ship were efficient, pleasant and professional. Food was for the most part excellent and always abundant. Fresh fruit, baking, hot and cold beverages available 24/7. We had a pastry chef on board which meant fresh bread and/or baking every meal. With Blount's home port being Rhode Island, seafood was frequently on the menu. Food restrictions were able to be accomodated. Onboard entertainment in the evening included an onboard lecturer, local to the port musicians, movies. Bus and walking tours were available at many ports at an extra cost. Lecturer organized a short stretching session pre-breakfast later in the trip. (Would be awesome to have entire trip!) Cabins are small but efficient. Some folks in top deck rooms commented on their rooms being cramped as they had separate shower stalls and sliding doors onto the deck. Main floor rooms were more spacious depending on location. Avoid main floor rooms at the stern due to noise from engines/generators as well as ones near to doors into the dining room, lounge and deck due to noise. Blount has a BYOB policy as well as complimentary beer and wine at lunch and supper. Blount hosted 3 happy hours with open bar and hors d'oeuvres.

My only real complaint was with internet access. First world problems! But if you are someone depending on using your cell to keep in touch with home or work while away, be aware that Wifi was not available most of the time in part because the ship only uses a hot spot and limited number of people could use it at any one time if you did have reception. Once we entered Canada, there was no wifi the entire time as the host of the hot spot didn't have a Canadian data plan or had used up their data plan. Because of the route, there were often times when we couldn't get any cell reception (via 3G). Don't count on there being easy internet access at some of the ports, esp at the smaller ports.

I do highly recommend travelling with this line!

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Sail Date: September 2014

My husband and I spent a wonderful week on the Viking Prestige from Sept. 7 - Sept. 14, 2014 from Passau, Germany to Budapest, Hungary. Viking arranged our flights and transportation from the airport in Munich to Passau; all was trouble ... Read More

My husband and I spent a wonderful week on the Viking Prestige from Sept. 7 - Sept. 14, 2014 from Passau, Germany to Budapest, Hungary. Viking arranged our flights and transportation from the airport in Munich to Passau; all was trouble free. It was very easy to locate the Viking representative at the airport and transfer to the bus was simple and quick.

We were welcomed on-board and immediately shown to our room. Lunch was still being served so we went to the Aquavit terrace where we enjoyed a delicious light lunch. We found the food on board to be very good. The portions were a good size - not too much which would be frustrating since I hate to waste food - and the quality was very good. I don't remember having an issue with anything that we were served and there were at least 3 options at each meal (plus the "always available" options - baked chicken, steak and salmon); there was always a vegetarian option. We dined with some people who had dietary restrictions and they were always served something that fit their needs.

The ports were all wonderful - both the small towns and the cities. The local guides were all very knowledgeable and friendly and the "quietvox" system was helpful - you didn't have to crowd around the guide and they didn't have to yell to be heard. We attended 2 optional tours - the Schonbrunn Palace and the concert in Vienna. Both were very enjoyable and worth the extra price. The service (dining room and housekeeping) was outstanding. We extended our trip (on our own) at the end by taking the train from Budapest to Prague. The concierge arranged for a taxi to pick us up at the ship and take us to the train station, called us in our room when the taxi arrived, and got our bags to the taxi; it took all of the stress out of getting to the train station on time. This trip lived up to my (very high) expectations. I would have no hesitation to book another Viking cruise!

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Sail Date: September 2014

We just recently returned from our week long Romantic Danube River Cruise. We were a party of four traveling on Viking for the first time. We felt like the crew gave over 100% in making sure all patrons were well taken care of at meals, ... Read More

We just recently returned from our week long Romantic Danube River Cruise. We were a party of four traveling on Viking for the first time. We felt like the crew gave over 100% in making sure all patrons were well taken care of at meals, going and coming from our land excursions and our time on the ship. The pace of the trip was relaxing. In addition to the many excursions planned, the schedule allowed for time to just sit on the desk and enjoy the beautiful countryside. We made lots of new friends from several countries. I would gladly sign up for another Viking River Cruise as I really enjoyed seeing the countries from a more intimate perspective. The ride was very smooth and quiet.

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Sail Date: September 2014

This was my first river cruise and I honestly don't feel it could have been better. We were treated like royalty from the moment we boarded. John, the cruise manager, was so well organized that we never had a doubt about where to go or ... Read More

This was my first river cruise and I honestly don't feel it could have been better. We were treated like royalty from the moment we boarded. John, the cruise manager, was so well organized that we never had a doubt about where to go or what was available to us. the local guides were great and the on-board entertainment just right. In addition, the food was amazing, especially in their very fine restaurant which you can book once during the trip. I also enjoyed the free-flowing local wine and beer and found a few I hope to get here in the states. The only suggestion I would have is to try to make a reservation at least a year in advance so you can get a bigger room. The ones on the first floor are very small. I didn't really care about that because I was only there to sleep and change clothes. All in all, this was a great trip (Melodies of the Danube).

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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2014

Recently back from a great cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest (followed by Prague extension). Exceeded my expectations. Had the youngest (German) captain in Viking (Bestla) fleet and it seemed he set a nice tone as everyone aboard ... Read More

Recently back from a great cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest (followed by Prague extension). Exceeded my expectations. Had the youngest (German) captain in Viking (Bestla) fleet and it seemed he set a nice tone as everyone aboard enjoyed the experience. Biggest surprise was the great food. We've sailed quite a bit and it seems the food has steadily got worse but this time it was excellent. Also Viking matches others with free wine & beer at lunch & dinner and it flowed easily with me being permitted to select whatever beer was onboard. Enjoyed the ports and most of the guides did an good job. Nice to not have to pay for the tours. Took a couple of extra excursions but final bill was low. Cruising isn't cheap but we feel we got our money's worth out of this trip.

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