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156 River Cruise Reviews

We were amazed to find Viking River Cruises get the Top Travel Award for Service again-I'm sure the service used to be top class-but we and many of our co-travellers agree that service has drastically deteriorated recently-probably ... Read More
We were amazed to find Viking River Cruises get the Top Travel Award for Service again-I'm sure the service used to be top class-but we and many of our co-travellers agree that service has drastically deteriorated recently-probably because so much time and money is going into their new Sea Cruise Enterprise. Our Danube Cruise from Nuremberg to Budapest in July 2014 was a disaster from start to finish; nightmare transfers, no luggage for first 5 days, no access to the Sun Deck ever while cruising, and finally no cruise to Budapest either-we stopped short at Bratislava-200 Km. from Budapest. Viking were able to blame every problem on others - KLM, the Danube Main River Authorities and a broken lock at Bratislava - but good customer service is most vital when things go wrong!! Viking didn't and still don't want to know ! On board we had to fight for Free Laundry, help with getting access to shops for clothing etc. They didn't even supply us with toothpaste-we were provided with Dental Fixative instead! Faced with600Km. of coach travel in last 36 hours of our "cruise" if we wanted to get a glimpse of Budapest - we asked for overnight accommodation in Budapest on the last night- it would have saved us 400+ Km. in the bus and salvaged some relief from the disaster of our cruise but no-it would have cost them money - for Viking their "bottom line " is more important than their clients' needs. The standard apologies and offer of 10% off a future cruise costs them nothing - some service!! Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
We departed Amsterdam on June 10 for a Rhine, Main, Danube river cruise. It started off well, but when we reached Regensburg (day 9) we were told the river was low and we would not be able to leave Regensburg. On day 10, we took a bus to ... Read More
We departed Amsterdam on June 10 for a Rhine, Main, Danube river cruise. It started off well, but when we reached Regensburg (day 9) we were told the river was low and we would not be able to leave Regensburg. On day 10, we took a bus to Passau (1.5 hours). While there, it was a religious holiday, so many shops were closed, and we were not allowed to hear the organ concert. (Also, we had to take an "optional" excursion previously because the town we docked in did not have any stores open on Sunday-the optional town had open stores-as long as you paid for the bus trip to get there). Anyway, back to our now "bus" tour...we took the bus back to Regensburg, and then found out we would have to take a bus to Vienna (5 hours away). This meant we could only do a short stop in Melk, and we could no longer go to Durnstein. In Vienna, we have had to take numerous bus trips-from our hotel to a far away restaurant for dinner; from downtown to a far away restaurant for lunch, back to the hotel-with no option to go directly back downtown, etc. There has been delayed communication about what is happening next, and the only way we can get the information is if we go to the large group meals in restaurants. This does not give us the opportunity to bypass the long, time wasteful bus rides. Today, we are going to Bratislava, but again, only for a short time. There is not enough time to go to the optional excursion to someone's home, as advertised. The bus rides are long and cramped. The restaurants have been extremely slow, and only some have been good. All in all, this is not what we paid for. Apparently there were similar problems last year-with floods rather than low rivers, but you would think Viking would have figured out how to deal with less than optimal river conditions better. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
This was our 4 trip with Viking--all except this one have been absolutely terrific!! We were on the Spirit and then moved to the Hermod. First thing we noticed was how bright and upscale the reception area was, very impressive. Next thing ... Read More
This was our 4 trip with Viking--all except this one have been absolutely terrific!! We were on the Spirit and then moved to the Hermod. First thing we noticed was how bright and upscale the reception area was, very impressive. Next thing was how tight our room was compared to the Spirit. Shelf/drawer space was less and the shower was tight due to being tile/glass doors, therefore easy to hit with elbows. The other big thing we noticed was that the staff just hasn't seemed to "gel" together yet. There was not the warmth nor helpfulness shown as on the other 3 ships we've been on. Another disappointment was that nearly all menu items were a repeat of the first week on the Spirit. Other than that food issue, the breakfasts and lunches were fine for variety. There were frequent times when it was difficult to flag down a waiter just to be served water. As per usual for Viking the included excursions were all good, with good to outstanding guides. Disembarkation was a disaster for our group of 4. It was 0400 and very dark, with no crew from the Viking to light the way plus the sprinkler system along the sidewalk to the bus turned on showering us. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
My wife and I just returned from our fourth Uniworld trip in the past two years and we have our fifth Uniworld trip already booked for this September. We have become frequent and loyal Uniworld customers because of the extraordinary ... Read More
My wife and I just returned from our fourth Uniworld trip in the past two years and we have our fifth Uniworld trip already booked for this September. We have become frequent and loyal Uniworld customers because of the extraordinary quality, service, and care we have experienced on earlier trips. This cruise on the Douro River was a different story entirely. This is not a Uniworld-owned ship--a fact that is not at all clear unless you read the very tiny print at the back of the catalogue. In fact, the ship is owned by a local Portuguese company, Douro Azul, and there is only one Uniworld employee on the entire boat. The Queen Isabel itself has a gloss of Uniworld decorating about it, and it flies a Uniworld flag at its bow, but it is by no means equal in quality to the Uniworld-owned ships we have enjoyed before. The failings of this ship and its staff are far too numerous to detail, but the most annoying of all was that we could hear every single time a toilet flushed on every floor above us (we were on the bottom deck, so that's a lot of toilets!). Between 10 and 11 in the evening we would hear as many as 6 flushes per minute (I counted!). The noise was so loud that the cruise manager moved us to another room, where the flushes could still be heard but not quite as loudly. The flushes were also clearly audible in the hallway outside the rooms. Who designed this ship?! I have a bad neck and the pillows on the bed were so soft that I couldn't get the necessary support for my neck. Since Uniworld boasts in its catalogue that “you always have your choice of pillow options to ensure the most restful sleep,” I asked the manager for a firmer pillow. He had none, but said he could go ashore the next day and buy me one if I could tell him what I wanted. Uniworld promises in its catalogue: “We’ve crafted a culinary program for the most discerning of palates. . . .” Not on this ship! Dinner the first night set the pattern for the week--food that was, on the whole, mediocre to inedible. The first night my beef was nothing but fat and gristle--and it was accompanied by frozen mixed vegetables! Service was rushed and the wait staff was inadequately trained, lacking the professionalism we have experienced with wait staff on other Uniworld ships In short, this is not a Uniworld ship and it is not a Uniworld operation. Despite Uniworld’s promise, you will not have a “Six-Star Experience” on the River Isabel. You’ll get a Douro Azul experience, which is something quite different. What astonishes me is that Uniworld states in its catalogue: “Unlike many other river cruise lines who use third-parties to cater their onboard operations, Uniworld handles ALL aspects of our onboard operations—hospitality, culinary, and nautical.” This is flatly wrong with regard to the River Isabel. It is owned and entirely operated by a third party—Douro Azul. Since there is only one Uniworld employee on the ship with the rest of the staff—and the ship itself—owned and operated by Douro Azul, I think it’s fair to compare the price of the 7-night Douro River cruise on the River Isabel with the other Douro Azul-owned ships that take visitors on the identical trip (same length, same stops, same excursions). Douro Azul's Douro Spirit and Douro Cruiser both offer the 7-night trip. The base price ranges from 895 to 925 Euros. Douro Azul charges extra for the excursions—but if you include those in the price and convert to dollars (at 1 to 1.36), you get a total price for the trip on the two Douro Azul ships of $1,535 to $1,576 respectively. Uniworld charges from $$3,849 to $4,499 base price for the same cruise on their Douro Azul-owned and operated ship—not a bad markup for doing a little decorating on the ship and adding a single Uniworld employee to the voyage! Even if Uniworld could get Douro Azul to get its act together, I wouldn’t recommend this trip to anyone who is familiar with Uniworld quality. As long as the River Isabel is owned and operated by Douro Azul, it will never match the quality of a Uniworld-owned and operated ship. It's that "third-party" operator problem that Uniworld says in its catalogue that it doesn't do (but, in fact, does do on this ship). I also believe Uniworld should make it clear in their catalogue that this trip will not meet the standards touted in their catalogue. If you believe you will be getting Uniworld’s “Six-Star Experience” on the River Isabel you will be disappointed and for Uniworld to offer this trip with the suggestion that you will receive that level of service amounts to little more than “bait and switch.”   Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
After spending a week on the Viking Spirit, an older ship, boarding the Hermod took your breath away. The public rooms and dining room were beautiful. The cabin was pretty as well but the size left a lot to be desired. A nice wall mounted ... Read More
After spending a week on the Viking Spirit, an older ship, boarding the Hermod took your breath away. The public rooms and dining room were beautiful. The cabin was pretty as well but the size left a lot to be desired. A nice wall mounted flat screen TV, good shower and full length mirror but the cabin was just too small-a good 50 sq. ft. smaller than on the Spirit. The staff with the exception of the wait staff acted as though we were bothering them when asking for anything. The hotel manager is the responsible party for the staff and he and the staff should learn from the Spirit crew who were outstanding. A dirty tissue was in the hallway and stayed there all day until finally removed. There's no excuse for this lack of caring by the crew. The main lounge had two big screen tv's but the channels were so limited, we couldn't get Wimbeldon or the World Cup. The Viking needs to opt for better programming. Again, only one after dinner program with the other nights you were on your own. The food on the Spirit was much better than on the Hermod even with the menu being the same in the evenings. Again, a 7 day cycle for the meals even though 3/4 of the guests on the shop were on the Spirit. Viking needs to correct this oversight when the trip was sold as one cruise. Majority of the guests that were on the Spirit felt the same way about the Hermod and the crew. Newer isn't always better. The hotel mgr. and Maitre D were never too visible and left a lot to be desired. At one port, it was a steep ramp to the get off the ship and I had to ask the Maitre D to have a crew member assist those who had difficulty walking up the ramp-they should have known this-lack of customer service. We had engine trouble at the beginning of the trip and we were delayed 5+ hours and ended up missing one port-the program manager nor hotel mgr apologized for the delay and didn't even offer a free drink or something to compensate us. The Hermod was a real disappointment. Looking forward to my next ocean cruise. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
On its website the company promotes this ship in a manner which is quite misleading and leaves one very disappointed. In particular: “The Art of cruising A la Francaise”, “exquisite dining with French cuisine” “our gourmet ... Read More
On its website the company promotes this ship in a manner which is quite misleading and leaves one very disappointed. In particular: “The Art of cruising A la Francaise”, “exquisite dining with French cuisine” “our gourmet cuisine is worthy of top fine dining restaurants “, “French chic and elegance” “Crew members, all versed in elegant discretion” “fully bilingual service on board”, Well, the truth is quite different. Excepted for a handful of French officers, rarely seen about, and the small number of French bartenders, the majority of the crew was Asian. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, except in that this lot, whilst very nice and friendly, where mostly poorly trained, disorganised, but worse of all spoke little English or French. And yes they were discreet, but only because communication was difficult. There was a little or poor supervision of the staff in the dining rooms. Some of the food was delicious, but mostly hit and miss, and often very disappointing. No comparison to fine dining restaurants. The ship was beautiful, but a number of passengers were complaining as they were sleeping on convertible sofa beds, as their cabin was actually the living room component of a suite transformed into a cabin. The entertainment was second rate.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
We were the first group to sail on the Hlin from Amsterdam to Budapest. There were issues from day one when the boat was delayed due to construction on one of the bridges. Instead of docking in our first port of call, we were bused there ... Read More
We were the first group to sail on the Hlin from Amsterdam to Budapest. There were issues from day one when the boat was delayed due to construction on one of the bridges. Instead of docking in our first port of call, we were bused there and back. The major problem started on the second day. While entering a lock, our ship stopped and we were told there was a problem with the lock. The ship backed out of the lock and stayed off shore where we stayed for many hours. Again we were told there was a problem with the lock, but we could see other ships going through the lock with no issues. It turned out there was a major problem with the Hlin's software, and they could not continue the cruise, but the staff continued to tell us the problem was a problem with the lock. This delay turned a river cruise into a bus tours often with the bus rides up to 2 hours one way, with returns to our floating hotel while we were docked in ugly industrial parks. The delays also cut into our free time in the destinations, and it seems the tour guides were told to hurry through the tours. Many time we had to ask the guides to slow down both their presentation and the pace. Additionally, as we made our way through the lock, the top deck had to be closed for at least 5 days, depriving everyone of the only opportunity to get any exercise as the top deck had the walking path, mini gold and shuffle board, and of course, the best views. Had I known that, I probably would not have booked this tour. We finally caught up about 2/3 through the tour and the rest of the trip was wonderful. It was terrific to dock in a city and be able to explore it and then return to the ship. We were told that these types of delays are very common with river cruises, low or high water, issue with locks can impact a schedule. However, our delay was due to an issue with the Viking ship, yet it was never acknowledged and no compensation was offered. I felt cheated and the cruise did not deliver what had been promised, in fact when referring to the evaluation,it was commented: "pls remember we are the conductors of the tour not the composers" On the positive side, the rooms were very clean and comfortable, the staff and service exceptional. The food was good, although dinner service was slow and there were some odd things in the food (corn on Cesar salad, cinnamon on corn cobs, fennel seeds in fajitas) Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
This was our first river cruise, after many hours of research of different river cruise ships, we chose UniWorld due to so many great reviews. We are well traveled seniors, having visted over 40 countries the past 10 years. Disappointment ... Read More
This was our first river cruise, after many hours of research of different river cruise ships, we chose UniWorld due to so many great reviews. We are well traveled seniors, having visted over 40 countries the past 10 years. Disappointment with this cruise and cruise line would be a vast understatement. The Queen Isabel is a leashed ship, and falls short of meeting the high standards and expectations of UniWorld superior reputation. Several malfunction of the ship put a damper on the comfort of the passengers. Two guest had an unexplained loud noise in their cabin, they spent the first night sleeping in the lounge, called it to managements attention the following morning, maintainance was sent to check the problem. It was deemed as a unknown problem, the solution was the guest either put up with it, or sleep in a very small, dark room on the next level down. They chose to sleep with earphones on the remainer of the cruise. A couple nights later they were given a free bottle of wine to compensate for their inconvenience. The air conditioner quite working and it reached well over 90 degrees in the dining room for the last 3 days. The breakfast and lunches were good, but dinners fell way short of of expectations. Most shore excursions required 1-2 hours each direction on very curvy roads, many of the passengers experienced motion sickness. On the plus side the housekeepers, waiters, and tour guides, did a superior job. When sharing our grievances with UniWorld, five couples whom we are in touch with, did not even get a response . After several attempts, five months later, and the help of our travel agent, we were offered a pittance ,their cookie cutter offer for any unhappy customers, a 350.00 credit for a future cruise with them. No Thank You, we have scratched them off our list. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
We booked this cruise as at the last moment, the cruise we had planned on Danube from Budapest to Germany got canceled becuase the ship was damaged and had to go into dry dock for repairs. Our pick up at Marsailles airport was well done. ... Read More
We booked this cruise as at the last moment, the cruise we had planned on Danube from Budapest to Germany got canceled becuase the ship was damaged and had to go into dry dock for repairs. Our pick up at Marsailles airport was well done. So from June 22 through June 30 we were on the Viking Buri, a brand new ship for 2014. Upon arrival at the Buri, we were told we could not sail as scheduled the next day, Monday June 23, was Bastille Day, a French national holiday and the river locks would be closed! Question was immediate, why did not Viking know this in advance?? A preview of things to come! We remained tied up until Tuesday. As the river was up a bit (high water), the top (observation deck) was closed as the Buri was too high to pass under the bridges with the deck set up for use with chairs and awnings. We were told it took two hours to take down everything on the top deck and two hours to set it up so since the bridges were closer together than four hours, the deck would remain closed. So that meant 190 or so unhappy passengers would have to try to find room on the small bow observation deck where there was room for possibly 50+. Due to the river height the Buri was trapped at Lyon between low bridges. So we ended up in Lyon, where we stayed for four days. The Buri was tied up next to her sister ship which blocked any view of Lyon. The dock area was far from the city center dock so it meant getting a taxi or a long hoofing to get out of the industrial area into the city proper. We ended up getting bussed to the various sights but it was a long walk to get to the bus pickup area, a problem for those on board who could not walk long distances. The river at our docking area stank badly also making the observation bow deck unpleasant and generally prevented anyone from opening their cabin windows if they were on the left side of the Buri. Those on the right side looked directly into the sister ship, several feet away, not exactly pleasant. Our weather was hot (90+ F) but the Buir's cooling system kept the ship very comfortable. Naturally a fair number of passengers raised holy heck about the situation. Unfortunately there was nothing the staff, crew or ship's officers could do about the situation. Nothing was ever heard from Viking Corporate Management about the situation. Management did not handle the situation very well at all. Obviously some part of Management had put the new Bari and sister ship on this river without regard to the ships overall size and cruising conditions on the river. Essentially a very stupid Management decision. There was no mention at the time of any compensation or partial refund which would have gone a long way to calming some passengers (nor even a free open bar). Upon returning to the USA, I heard some had later received a letter about what happened, but I did not get one. Overall, very poorly handled by Viking!! The staff and crew were excellent under this trying situation. If you had to get trapped on the river, at least being in Lyon was better than being stuck in one of the other much smaller towns and villages. Many of us on board, did our best to make our extended Lyon stay as good as possible. Our shipmates overall were a good, friendly bunch of people from all over the world. Our dining was excellent with a variety of choices always available for each meal. Service by the wait staff was excellent. The lunch and dinner wine/beer or other selections were not top-shelf but still good. Our room was serviced very well each day. Several evenings there was entertainment in the lounge which most enjoyed. Some passengers who paid the somewhat expensive up-tic for drinks were disappointed at the lack of selection and variety. On a previous Alaska cruise in 2013, our small 50 passenger ship had a much better stocked bar and at lower prices. SUMMARY - I have been asked by friends if I would choose Viking again and, honestly, I have to say no, mostly due to the lack of response from their Top Managment. It is difficult to accept that Bastille Day popped up out of nowhere for them and that by late June, that no one was aware (concerned) that the ships could not always pass under the bridges on the sailing route. What really dismays me is that the Viking 2015 Cruise Brochure shows the Buir and her sister ship still scheduled to sail for this particular voyage. DON'T THEY LEARN ! ! ! ! Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
The best part of Vikiing is their marketing. Among the worst problems with our cruise was the rafting up of up to five boats at a location. I did not pay for an interior cabin and looking into another persons bedroom and bathroom is not ... Read More
The best part of Vikiing is their marketing. Among the worst problems with our cruise was the rafting up of up to five boats at a location. I did not pay for an interior cabin and looking into another persons bedroom and bathroom is not high on my list of "must sees". Among the stops were the tiny towns of Dörnstein & Melk. Save your shoe leather and energy ...don't waste your time. An additional day in Vienna or Budapest would have been much better. The waitstaff was outstanding in their aim to please and friendliness . Food was excellent . The tour guides were not viking employees and varied from poor to good. The Mercedes buses were comfortable. We arrived a day early and had a great visit and few brews at the Hoffbrauhaus in Munich. Skip,the food there. The oompah music and the beer are beyond delightful. A visit to the Dachau concentration camp, will leave you with an indelible impression of the horrors of the Holocaust. The boat ( not ship) Legend hs been used beyond its useful life. It is, however, well maintained and spotless. We have had many years of cruising experience and the Danube Waltz aboard the Viking Legend was the low point of of our adventures. My comments about our non-functioning toilet will not appear in this review, but the problem was never corrected, despite my daily complaints.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
Grand Circle has a lot of rapid repeated travelers, but I'm not going to be one of them. Their style just isn't for me. This all started with an email telling us the ship wasn't going to be in port and directing us to a ... Read More
Grand Circle has a lot of rapid repeated travelers, but I'm not going to be one of them. Their style just isn't for me. This all started with an email telling us the ship wasn't going to be in port and directing us to a hotel that had no idea what they were talking about. First up, lets talk about the ship. Its slightly smaller than the newest river ships at around 160 passengers and our cruise must have been packed to capacity. Its an older ship, I think they said the captain had been on this ship for 10 years, so that makes it older than that. Its is in good repair, but its just not a luxury ship. It feels like one of the really old $399 a week Carnival ships. There isn't much in the way of public areas The lounge- This is overcrowded to fairly comfortable individual movable chairs and tables nominally set up in groups of 4. In practice its a wall to wall sea of chairs with no room to walk between them. It made it really unpleasant to get seating in the lounge. You had to push chairs around and climb over people to get to seats. They really need to gut it and replace with a more space efficient bench/booth setup. Also during briefings when the whole ship is there its impossible to seat everyone. If you don't arrive early and fight for a seat you end up standing in the hall. They don't have a way to broadcast any of these briefings to the rooms BTW so you have to show up if you want the port info. The bar is also here. They have a small selection of beers, but I hope you like pilsners as there is almost zero variety in styles. There is also a free coffee machine and tea. Iced water is available in a pitcher, but the glasses provided are good for about a swallow before you have to refill. Don't plan on being able to fill up and going up on deck for awhile. They have beer, wine and soft drink packages available. At several points we saw the crew berate passengers. The Sun deck- The whole top of the ship has seating. There are a number of tables, a few shades and lots of reclining deck chairs up here. There is a bar, but it was never open during our entire cruise. Sure would have been nice to get able to get a drink up there, especially on our full day cruising. Space isn't really an issue here, but people will fight for the chairs up front going through locks, etc. If you want to smoke the only spot on the ship to do so is way in the back up here. The Dining room- The dining room doubles as the buffet. There are a variety of table sizes here. Seating is not reserved and dining times are not flexible. Every meal there is a huge cattle call and rush to grab the table you want. If you show up a few minutes late expect to dine at the worst table and have your party split up if you are more than 2 people. During the buffet they have salad (With no sneeze guard and people grabbing stuff with their hands) and those large cylindrical trays with the rotating tops for hot food. There is usually a cook doing something like pasta omlettes etc in the center. They rotate directions on what tables are served first for table service. Inside tables near the buffet to the back and the outside one night, opposite direction the next. Service is glacial. Expect 2hr meals. I also don't think there was many meals where someone at our table didn't have something forgotten. Drinks that never show up, skipped for a course, etc, etc. On an ocean cruise these people would have been sacked long ago. If I were treated this way at a restaurant at home there is a fair chance I would be walking out, or speaking with a manager. Food- Breakfast is acceptable. They have both hot and cold foods and you can eat on your own time as its a buffet and it is far less crowded. Nothing amazing, but nothing to screw up either. Lunch is half buffet, half table service. Nothing on the buffet ever interested me other than a salad. Most of the stuff you can pick up otherwise looks like the finger sandwiches you might get at a tea party. The table service stuff is a little heavy and there are only two choices a day. Lunch takes way too long in general. Dinner is a disaster. There have 3 choices of entree. Meat, fish, veggie. Its theoretically local, but its more like cruise ship unrecognizable dish to reuse as much leftovers as possible. No effort was made to call out local stuff or where it was from. Desert there are two choices. The rest you get what you get. I had all sorts of overcooked, uncooked and plain gross meals come out of their kitchen. Fairly often my wife ended up eating only the sides of her main dish and leaving kind of hungry. There are a few always available choices (hamburger, chicken breast, etc). There is no room service. There is no food available on ship outside of normal meal times. You get hungry? Tough. You didn't like dinner? Tough. Go to bed hungry. Wine, soft drink, or beer is included with dinner. You can also get iced tea. Tours- GCCL includes at lot of its tours. This is sort of a dual edged sword. On one hand its nice not to have to worry about booked stuff ahead of time or worry about getting ripped off by the cruise line tour rates. On the other hand its a cruise line tour. Most of the tours ended up with lot of 'drive by stuff in a bus' with little actual exploring of the places we were in. In the end I felt like we drove through most of the places we went rather than really visited. The big downside for me was the buses. Our ship was divided into 4 buses. You stick with the same bus and people stand outside early to fight for seats. One bus getting off at small attractions is a big enough problem. The issues is that all the buses were going to the same spots and they didn't space them so you missed the other buses. So you ended up having 100+ people show up at the same spot at once. A lot of the places we went to weren't very crowded.... until we showed up. It made getting people free pictures almost impossible and you always felt like you were fighting peak crowds where ever you went. The whole experience was kind of stressful. GCCL suggests you tip all the local guides and bus drivers as well. The one nice bit was the headsets they hand out for the trip so you can hear the guide without crowding around him. It allowed me to explore a little bit while the guide talked. All the ID cards and radios make you stick out like a sore thumb as a tourist while I like to try and blend in as much as I can. Rooms- The beds in the rooms fold out of the walls. This wasn't immediately obvious to me before I booked. That means you have to sleep apart from your spouse for the whole trip. The mattresses are the cheap thing spring variety you might find at a summer camp. Seriously think about upgrading to some latex foam ones GCCL. The storage is pretty nice except for the fact that you can't get to two drawers with the bed down. It makes dressing in the morning a challenge as they don't want you folding up the beds on your own. The bathroom is functional, nothing special. No mini fridge in the room, so forget about cool drinks in your room. I resorted to leaving bottles on top of the air conditioning vent to have semi-cool drinks. The small TV in the room does have a HDMI port in the back if you want to bring a bluray player, computer or similar. The CCTV system only shows the front ship cam, no view for the lounge for port talk info. Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
We wanted to take my elderly mother on a river cruise as this was something she really wanted to do, so we booked with Viking for a jaunt down the Rhine. At the time of booking we specifically requested assistance at airports and received ... Read More
We wanted to take my elderly mother on a river cruise as this was something she really wanted to do, so we booked with Viking for a jaunt down the Rhine. At the time of booking we specifically requested assistance at airports and received confirmation that we would have suitable help (my mother needs a wheelchair where is a lot of walking involved). It wasn’t until the very end of the booking process that we discovered there was no lift in the ship. Luckily, my mother is able to cope with walking short distances. We were also very specific about my dietary requirements which are not hard to manage and require only a modicum of forethought to ensure my comfort and wellbeing. On arriving at Heathrow, we received no assistance and had to make our own way through with the wheelchair and hand baggage as best we could, which was very frustrating and made the journey more challenging. The same happened when we reached Basel - no assistance at all. We had to make our way through the airport with all of our luggage and my mother in her wheelchair! We were greeted with great enthusiasm by various Viking representatives, however it was only then that we were told we would have to be on a coach for another hour and a half as the water level was too high for the ship to actually reach Basel. They will have known this in advance and it would have been nice to have been told that there was a problem – email is quick and efficient and seems to work when they require payment! The ship was clean and the greeting was efficient and friendly. We were shown our rooms and settled in. We booked cabins on the lower deck, not realising the issues that we would face. We had assumed (based on the blurb) that we wouldn’t be in the cabins much and so didn’t really need a large window or balcony – how wrong we were. The ship travels mainly at night, and the engine noise was deafening, meaning that on many of the nights we had very little sleep and what we did have was disturbed and uncomfortable. This really put a downer on the trip as we had to manage ourselves and ensure my mother was OK. She struggled with all the steps, but seemed fine with negotiating the ship itself. The majority of the staff were very helpful and took tremendously good care of my mother. Especially when she got lost! Unfortunately, some of the plumbing was faulty and by the second day on board we had issues with the shower not draining and the bathroom floor being covered with water. The problem was “fixed”, but happened again the following day – this time there was so much water (some of it coming up from the drain) that it poured into the main room, soaking an area of carpet. Luckily for us there was a spare cabin across the corridor and we were able to move to a dry room. This matter was handled reasonably well, but was not very pleasant and gave cause for concern as we heard that other cabins had had similar problems, although not as severe as ours. In addition, after we moved to the other cabin, we found that our bed was not being made and the room wasn’t being cleaned. We raised this on several occasions over two-three days before the issue was properly dealt with. The food was generally good, the service was reasonable and the chef was a delightful man who kept coming out with freshly prepared goodies for everyone to try. However, no account was taken of my specific food allergy, and I had to keep mentioning it and asking about the ingredients in each dish. Some evenings I had very few options indeed. While on board we met some lovely people, one of whom is vegetarian. She had even more problems than I, as the majority of the meals were meat based, so she had to eat either pasta or salad at most of the evening meals. For the price we paid, this is simply unacceptable, yet no matter what we said, nothing was done to address these issues. My allergies were generally accommodated by simply omitting elements of meals, but I did have to regularly send meals back to be changed, which was annoying and unnecessary. Seating at all meals was haphazard as it was completely open, so sometimes we struggled to find three seats together, or even to be seated at the same table. Breakfast was very early and quite short. If the included excursion had an early departure (which many of them did) it was a bit of a bunfight to get to breakfast and get away in time. Again, the staff did their best to be helpful and friendly and they worked hard to get things done and keep people happy, so it was difficult to have to keep asking for things and not get them. One morning we asked for some tea, but it never arrived, and the staff all vanished into the mist. No idea what happened there. When we had to stay on the ship, on the days the ship was moving and during the evenings, apart from eating there was very little to do. We do not drink and although there was a (very capable) pianist in the bar area, it rapidly became monotonous spending time gazing out of the window with no other activity available. On one evening there was a bizarre dance competition, but other than that, not much. Most of the included excursions were quite short and involved a bit of a coach ride and it rapidly became clear that the included excursions were scheduled early to make room for the “optional” trips, which were clearly geared to getting more money out of the passengers. Most excursions were well organised and efficient, but there was such a lot of sitting around on coaches – granted these were comfortable and air-conditioned - that we eventually felt we were on the wrong trip. Although most of these excursions involved some walking, once back on the ship, we often felt very confined. We also had problems with my mother requiring a wheelchair. Unless my husband, who heroically pushed my mother around on every excursion, specifically asked for guidance (ie, “I can’t get the wheelchair up those steps, is there an alternative route?”) allowance was very seldom made for our specific issues. Of particular note was the Strasbourg excursion, where we kept being left behind. There was a photo opportunity which involved climbing up three flights of stairs, which of course we could not do. We found a wheelchair-friendly lift and managed to explain to the (very helpful) attendant (with the assistance of another passenger who spoke very good French) that we wanted to go up to see the view. No Viking personnel were on hand to assist us in any way. Another lady who walked with a stick was also having difficulty and she came with us in the lift. Once at the top, we stayed long enough to take some photos and gaze at the view, then came down again only to find that the party had moved on. At this point, my mother asked to use the nearby restroom, so we helped her into there and waited. The program director, whose prior demeanour had been rather jolly, came thundering in and told us with enormous impatience that we needed to keep up with the group. On explaining that my mother needed the loo, he became even grumpier and told us we would have to rely on the radios (used by the guides for the ongoing commentary) to find where everybody was, My husband pointed out that the range of the radios was quite short, which nearly resulted in an argument about the quality of the radios, until my husband pointed out he could still see the guide crossing a bridge and the audio commentary was already breaking up quite badly. The program director showed a distinct lack of consideration and from that point on we were acutely aware that his air of jollity was entirely artificial. He did not help us at all. However, in spite of his churlish conduct, we managed to catch up with the group. The guide seemed blissfully unaware that we had been missing. What would have happened if we hadn’t been able to catch up, I wonder? We paid for only one excursion and it was a nightmare. We were taken to the venue on a “choo-choo” train which was really a tractor. This was not pleasant over cobble stones!! The restaurant was noisy and although the promise was “a meal and a show”, it was clear that the show was just the resident band doing their thing. The meal was a fixed menu (not made clear before we signed up) and consisted mainly of things we could not or did not want to eat. The food was slopped down in front of us and when I pointed out I could not eat the food it was simply taken a way and an alternative provided. I was not asked what I wanted – none of us were. It was awful. The restaurant menu was available but not provided and it became clear later that we could have obtained a better meal from the same restaurant with a short walk into town – and for half the price! We felt utterly ripped off and misled and we were not alone. It was supposed to be a fun night out, but it was anything but fun! Ironically the following night’s meal was also a German food night, which was immeasurably better. If this had been the paid excursion, it would have been good value. Also, if we had known that the on-board German food night would be the following evening, we wouldn’t have wasted our money on the excursion. The TV commercials that persuaded us to sign up, depict the ships sailing along during the day with glorious views, but we had only one day like that, the rest of the time we travelled either early or late in the day, or at night and were docked during the day, so (as mentioned) sleeping was a problem. On departure, we again received no help at the airport at either end, although it was clear other (more mobile) passengers whom we had seen on the same ship, were being ferried from one area to another. Bearing in mind that the airport at Amsterdam is enormous, we walked for a long time with everything in tow and were tired and fed up by the time we reached the terminal. Not a great way to end a holiday. Unfortunately, we had previously booked a Christmas trip with Viking for just my husband and me at the end of this year. However on the strength of our holiday experience, we have cancelled. It will be of interest to others that Viking do not refund the deposit, even though we cancelled more than seven months out! Clearly they are only interested in making as much money as possible and are not interested in customer satisfaction. We will never travel with Viking again and, should we book another river cruise (which at this juncture is unlikely) we will go out of our way to ensure we receive the level of service we believed we had paid for with this company. Overall it was a disappointing and frustrating experience. We raised some of these issues when cancelling our Christmas trip, but Viking clearly do not care, so this review will be posted in as many places as possible as a warning to the unwary. If you have dietary issues, or need any help with your journey to or from the ship, do not travel with Viking as they will not keep their end of the bargain. Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
This 7-night "Portraits of Southern France" sailing on the Viking River Cruises longship Heimdal didn't meet all of my expectations given all the glossy literature I had received from Viking and the fancy TV commercials they ... Read More
This 7-night "Portraits of Southern France" sailing on the Viking River Cruises longship Heimdal didn't meet all of my expectations given all the glossy literature I had received from Viking and the fancy TV commercials they run on PBS Masterpiece. I made the booking for the May 24, 2014 trip from Chalon-sur-Saone to Avignon a year in advance. The Viking 2-for-1 price for a category B stateroom #219 with a verandah was $8111; I paid $6895 through an Internet travel agency or $493 per night per person. We made our way to Chalon and checked into a hotel the Friday night before the cruise was to leave On Saturday morningI received an "urgent" email from Viking notifying me that the ship would not be leaving from Chalon and we were to make our way to Lyon, about 100 miles south, to board the ship there. No explanation for this change was given. The email did say we could proceed to the docking location in Chalon and bus transportation would be provided. I had a rental car so I drove to the Viking dock at a run down industrial area but no bus or Viking representative was there. I checked with the car rental agency and was told I could return it in Lyon rather than Chalon for no additional charge so we made a decision to drive through the Burgundy countryside to get to Lyon. We found the ship, were directed to our cabin, and were told we would be staying in Lyon until Tuesday noon. The cabin was intelligently designed except for the very limited space between the end of the bed and the wall unit, which prevented one person from passing if the other person was sitting on the bed to get into the unit's drawers. The food served in the restaurant was very good.  At breakfast and lunch one could eat from a self-service buffet, order from the kitchen, or both. Dinner consisted of a choice of three starters, five entrees, and three desserts.  Wine, beer, and soft drinks were complementary in the dining room.  Coffee and tea were available anytime in the atrium. Off ship tours were ok but in many cases the guides tried to present just too much information. The passenger makeup was mostly American couples over 60 years old. There was a few brits, a large Asian family, a few teens, and no children. The Saone and Rhone rivers have none of the charm of the Rhine, Main, Elbe, Moselle, and Danube rivers.  Most of the stretches of river the ship passed through were lined with industrial factories not picturesque medieval villages. Nits that I had about Viking were: 1. On Sunday, the ship's tour of Beaune went on via a 4-hour bus ride (2 hours each way) that included a group lunch of mostly inedible food served in a hot, very crowded second floor dining room. 2. The ship's master (captain) did not speak a word of English so the few times he spoke to the passengers in the briefings in the lounge, he spoke in French and his comments had to be translated by the cruise director or hotel manager. 3. Vikings literature states "Weather permitting, the ship‘s sun dec is its most popular area when the ship is sailing." Not true on this cruise. The weather was mostly fair but the sun deck was NEVER opened when the ship was moving. 4. Given that Viking saved fuel and port charges that the passengers' undoubedly paid for, there was no compensation (not even a free drink) offered for the missed stops (Chalon-sur-Saone, Macon) and missed sections of the river. At the end of the cruise, I left some less than positive comments about the value Viking provided on the guest questionnaire. After we returned home, both my wife & I received emails containing a voucher for $811.11 (a total of 20% of the original retail price of the cruise) off a future cruise within the next year. In what world would a company presume that a customer who had problems with one of their products would return to spend good money after bad on another of their products? Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
The benefit of a river cruise, which we expected to be less crowds in ports and more personalized service, were evident; however there were many disappointments. First, we paid more than $1000.00 per day more than a year in advance on the ... Read More
The benefit of a river cruise, which we expected to be less crowds in ports and more personalized service, were evident; however there were many disappointments. First, we paid more than $1000.00 per day more than a year in advance on the premise that this was half price. Not so! The majority of the people we met paid less than half of what we paid, only a few weeks prior to the cruise. River cruising must be increasing In popularity but imagine the disappointment of opening the blinds to your balcony in the morning to find that you are looking into the room on the next boat! The food was not good, very, very salty, with limited vegetables, and often undercooked meat. The staff were friendly, but inflexible to accommodation requests, including medical restrictions. Wine included, but only with meals, and no selection, white or red, and generally one glass. Well organized for sure, but we would not do this again, not good value for the cost, and misleading advertising on the issue. I asked to be contacted at the end of the cruise (when specifically asked if we would like that), and had no opportunity to express concern, no contact was made. Buyer beware here! Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
After 11 trips with Vantage (plus some with other lines) , all of which were great, we finally met the worst cruise ever. The elevator was broken and not fixed for the entire trip. Many travelers were using canes and walkers and had great ... Read More
After 11 trips with Vantage (plus some with other lines) , all of which were great, we finally met the worst cruise ever. The elevator was broken and not fixed for the entire trip. Many travelers were using canes and walkers and had great difficulty going up and down the stairs numerous times daily. Others (as the average age was probably 70+ also had problems navigating the boat. In addition, the Bulgarian chef did not know how to cook. Most lunches were the same sandwiches and pasta for the entire trip. Most dinner entrees were inedible. Salt prevailed in all soups and dishes. There was a concierge on board who did absolutely nothing. There used to be 3 or 4 guides on board (one per group) now there was only one person leaving the entire shore excursions to local guides with no Vantage personnel to assist. Now what really was unacceptable was that we were the longest (most travelled with Vantage) persons on board. We never had a response from Vantage management regarding our concerns that we provided on the form at the end of the cruise. Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
Having enjoyed our first Viking cruise, some 6 months earlier (on the River Elbe), we were looking forward to an exciting itinerary from Budapest to Passau. We arrived at the ship and were shown to our expensive cabin with a French ... Read More
Having enjoyed our first Viking cruise, some 6 months earlier (on the River Elbe), we were looking forward to an exciting itinerary from Budapest to Passau. We arrived at the ship and were shown to our expensive cabin with a French Balcony. We were surprised that the curtains were fully drawn (around noon on a sunny day) and immediately flung them open. To our surprise, the view that faced us was the balcony of another river boat (the Viking Freya) little more than 12 inches away! From then on, at every mooring, on every single day of the holiday, part or all of the time was spent with no view other than an adjoining boat. Apparently, this is the norm, with the various boats swapping places every 7 hours to make it 'fair' for all passengers. We would have called the policy, making it 'unfair' for all passengers at some point every day! Now, if you are someone who just uses a cabin for sleeping, then this is no real hardship (excuse the pun). However, we like to spend a fair amount of time in our cabin, (which is why we pay for an expensive one) and the situation made our cabin, completely unusable when adjacent to another cabin or the restaurant (on a couple of occasions) on another ship. Also on a couple of occasions, our boat was sandwiched between two other boats, so everyone suffered at the same time! If you are happy with all this then fine, but remember that the design of the cabins is such that the dressing table mirrors on each boat provide a perfect view from your cabin directly into the toilet of the adjoining ship's cabin AND vice-versa! Without going into too much detail, the sight of of a man on the toilet of his cabin on the adjoining boat made sure that we fully closed the toilet door on every occasion! However, we should not have to do this in our private cabin. This whole experience ruined the cruise for us, despite very much enjoying the excellent itinerary. It goes without saying that the problem never occurred on our earlier River Elbe cruise with the same company. Now on to other matters, where, again compared to our earlier cruise, the food was generally poor. Some chefs have empathy with cooking fish (our preferred choice), but not so on our cruise! We were rarely able to eat the main course and indeed on the main 5 course meal, my wife had a tiny smoked salmon starter and a tiny piece of cheese for the final course, with nothing in-between. However, I managed the soup as well, so had 3 of the 5 courses! Generally, the meat eaters fared better, though at lunch we once had goulash, which turned out to be tough, dry and tasteless (and uneaten!). Interestingly, neither the Maître d', nor any waiter every enquired if there was a problem! Incidentally at least two of the waiters were 'over friendly' trying to 'force' you to drink or eat more. On one occasion, spare desserts were actually served to us and cajoled to eat them despite repeatedly saying no (we just left the table to escape). On a minor point, the white wine was also never cold and changing the subject, the WiFi was never good (even moored in a city) and generally only just usable. You have been warned! P.S. Oh! And don’t get us started on the absolute chaos between disembarkation and boarding the flight home!   Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
Having just returned from a 7 day cruise on the American Queen, plus a pre-night Hilton hotel stay, my wife and I certainly agree that the boat (it’s hard not to call it a ship, with its 400+ passenger capacity) is a lovely, ... Read More
Having just returned from a 7 day cruise on the American Queen, plus a pre-night Hilton hotel stay, my wife and I certainly agree that the boat (it’s hard not to call it a ship, with its 400+ passenger capacity) is a lovely, nostalgia-inducing vessel with Victorian era furnishings and charming public rooms. We liked what we saw on their website video and booked one of the two flagship cabins to fully enjoy the boat (The Mark Twain Suite, #501), which was lovely and had a huge private balcony. But after boarding the boat in New Orleans and settling into our cabin, things started to go awry. We joined our fellow passengers for the 8:00 PM second seating for dinner at the waiting room outside the restaurant … and waited … and waited. Some of us were now hearing grumbling from the first seating passengers that menu items were unavailable, or delivered cold. After we were finally seated we were served a poor and disorganized meal by frustrated staff who were clearly doing their best to please us. One of them apologized for the confusion and told us that many of the crew had walked off the boat without notice the night before and they were very short-staffed. This staffing issue impacted the entire trip. The food quality never remotely approached the enthusiastic reviews I had read before booking the trip and many cabins were not serviced until dinnertime. Two of the "bartenders" mixed every drink by looking them up in a book (for a gin & tonic?!) But I have to give credit to the Engine Room Bar bartender, who was as experienced and professional as I have found anywhere. The on-board entertainment ensemble was also excellent. After a fine day off the boat exploring Natchez, our third stop, many of the passengers were in a bit better mood. But when it was time to leave, the Captain announced that there would be a delay because the generator was inoperable and that a part had been ordered. The delay continued until bedtime and we woke to find ourselves still in Natchez. Later that day the Captain announced that we would be fixed soon, but that all future stops and excursions were being canceled so that we could be in Memphis by our disembarkation time. Since those future stops included Vicksburg, Mississippi, the highlight of the trip for many, all good feelings vanished, (as did the Captain) even after we were offered free drinks. When we learned that the same problem had occurred earlier this year and hadn’t been corrected, it was even more annoying. By the time we all got off the boat a few days later, we found no one who was happy with the trip. By that time we had also heard the American Queen Steamboat Company’s solution to the issues – a $500 credit for each of us toward another of their cruises, which added insult to injury. For a fare of over $15,000 for those few days, we expected much better. Perhaps these problems were unique events, and won’t be repeated again. But from the mood of the remaining crew (more left when we docked in Memphis) the American Queen is currently not a happy boat, as lovely as it may be. I would advise any potential future clients to reassure themselves that both the personnel and mechanical issues that are present now are resolved before booking a trip.   Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
We just returned from our 3rd Tauck trip and in the past we could never say a bad word about them - this trip sure changed that. The Tauck land portion was up to their usual standards, but unfortunately the Swiss Emerald was certainly ... Read More
We just returned from our 3rd Tauck trip and in the past we could never say a bad word about them - this trip sure changed that. The Tauck land portion was up to their usual standards, but unfortunately the Swiss Emerald was certainly not. The staff was very uncaring, and not at all what we expected. Our room wasn't cleaned several times during the cruise and when we complained the response was, in a word, surly. Service in the restaurant was very poor. Once they took your order you didn't see the staff again until the food was served, and then if there was anything you needed (like a 2nd glass of wine) you had to literally get up and go find someone. Also, the menu was very limited with only two choices of entree's most nights, no salads, and the only appetizer was of their choice. There are many other choices on the rivers in Europe but Tauck shouldn't be one of them.   Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
This was a well organized, relaxing, and enjoyable cruise. It was my second cruise on the Viking The on the Viking River Cruise line. They never disappoint. The communications prior to the trip were detailed and beautifully presented. ... Read More
This was a well organized, relaxing, and enjoyable cruise. It was my second cruise on the Viking The on the Viking River Cruise line. They never disappoint. The communications prior to the trip were detailed and beautifully presented. The hotel in Paris was very good, served a full breakfast and was not far from the Metro Our room overlooked the Eifffel Tower. What a view! Transfers to the ship embarkation were timely and well organized. The ship was beautiful and very clean. Dining room was beautiful. Activities, entertainment, and shore excursions were very appropriate for the guests. Cabin was small but we spent very little time in except to change clothes and sleep. Beds were very comfortable. Beautiful views from our window, The food was the best ever. Kudos to the chef and his staff for their preparation. The entire staff was friendly and always accommodating. They were very eager to meet the guests needs. Service was exemplary. Disembarkation was perfectly arranged and uncomplicated. Absolutely cannot wait until I take my next cruise. They continue to impress me. Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
We were welcomed aboard by Nico and received key information that we needed. We later had the overview that evening and had a wonderful dinner. Our cabin steward was most efficient and we had everything we needed. The excursions were ... Read More
We were welcomed aboard by Nico and received key information that we needed. We later had the overview that evening and had a wonderful dinner. Our cabin steward was most efficient and we had everything we needed. The excursions were well-organized. One tour I was not looking forward to way the village (Enkhuizen) on the ZuIder Zee, as it was cool and windy. Once we landed, it was very pleasant and the walk around the village fascinating. Well worth the trip!! We also loved the tulip bulb farm and, of course, the day tour of Amsterdam by boat. Another highlight was Bruges, although the walk on cobblestones was a challenge. But once there we loved the tour and the great sights of a medieval town. We always like the enrichment lectures on board which add to our knowledge about the upcoming cruise. The staff were very friendly and our dinners delightful. Disembarkation was the most efficient ever! We had someone escort our bus to the airport. She got off the bus and helped us with our passport so we were quickly on our way. Overall, an excellent tour with wonderful memories! Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
We suffered Viking River Cruise's Forseti for the first of this season's week long cruises out of Bordeaux, France. It was our worst cruise ever, by far. We have cruised over fifty times, over 300 nights with Princess alone, ... Read More
We suffered Viking River Cruise's Forseti for the first of this season's week long cruises out of Bordeaux, France. It was our worst cruise ever, by far. We have cruised over fifty times, over 300 nights with Princess alone, covering all seven continents and including eight river cruises, three with Viking (Rhone and Elbe in 2012, Duro in 2013) which begs the question - what went so badly wrong this time. Answer - plenty. Forseti is a new and light and airy vessel, one of Viking's new 'longships' which each hold 180 passengers. Transfers from and back to Bordeaux airport were efficient. Front line junior crew (mostly European) were excellent, cheerful, attentive, without exception. Our cabin was a little smaller than we expected but well designed with a comfortable bed, an adequate shower cubicle, and a 'French balcony' with one of the two full length windows sliding. So far, so good. The lounge was very comfortable with windows on all of three sides, but too small to accommodate all the passengers at daily briefings. Bar staff pestered overmuch. Entertainment. A pianist/singer in the lounge. On one night, an hour of three opera singers scheduled to sing French music. Included an excellent rendition of Mozart's cat duet. . Administration was muddled, the cruise director's accent sometimes impenetrable. Itinery. Actually, there isn't all that much cruising, and the schedule was further reduced because the TGV railway bridge was under repair. The rest of the cruising schedule was substantially altered and then altered again (it was difficult to find out exactly what was happening) because of the times of the tides. This fazed many passengers considerably more than it did us. As compensation, we were all offered a free cruise of Bordeaux's market with the chief cook and a promise that Viking would contact each of us individually on our return home. (A letter from Viking apologised for the schedule disruption and offered 25% of the cost of this cruise as a discount off a future booking. It made no mention of our being tied to the quayside at Bordeaux for three of the seven days of the 'cruise'.) Excursions. There were many. The shorter ones were free, the longer ones hideously expensive. We found most of the French guides difficult to understand and either lacking or reticent in their knowledge. Food. Merde !!!! Varied from mediocre through dreadful to inedible. Portions were small. Four examples. Day two - dinner. Halibut is our favourite fish and we still remember a wonderful dinner in Washington. On Forseti - two tiny tiny portions each of textureless whatever overpoweringly flavoured with I couldnlt make out whether it was very strong barbecue sauce or low quality soy sauce. I returned it and asked for 'always available' chicken on potato instead. The waiter brought something entirely different on polenta which two of my table companions screamed at me not to touch because they had tried it. The eventual chicken breast was mushy at one end, reasonably cooked in the centre, raw at the other end, on low quality mashed potato accompanied by highly seasoned broccoli. Day three - lunch. Menu said terraine of figs, country ham and gorgonzola. Sounded delicious. What came? A thin half slice of rye bread mostly covered with savagely stewed sliced capsum ('peppers') accompanied by a wire basket of thick undercooked 'french fries' Oh, I nearly forgot, a one-eights slice of a small fig, a postage stamp sized portion of the thinnest sliced ham I have ever met, and two childs' little- finger-nail bits of tasteless gorgonzola. Followed by a banana split, from which the sous chef had omitted to cut the rotten end off the banana so I did it for him. (Earlier, the executive chef told us plated food is never checked as it leaves the kitchen.). Same day - dinner. Flat and dense 'failed' cheese soufflé. Two tiny portions of almost tasteless sea bass with a small amount of finely chopped capsums (see 'lunch') with two small chunks of tinned grapefruit. One small slice of chocolate tart. Once a week, on Sunday, there is afternoon tea. Lukewarm water with a teabag on a bit of string to allow you to dunk it without getting your fingers wet. Tiny and highly spiced savoury things. One lady who arrived a few minutes late evoked considerable amusement by asking where had the cakes and sandwiches gone. One day, we tried the vegetarian option. Cooked endive on toast. Part way through the cruise I received an e-mail from Viking. "Food glorious food. Decadent deserts, mouth-watering meals and succulent delicacies ....... let us tease your taste buds with regional specialities and flavoursome delights...' I e-mailed Viking's head office immediately, adding that we are dumping them. They have not replied. Several other passengers voiced their expectation of obtaining repayment of substantial parts of their cruise cost. Some muttered intent to sue. On previous cruises with Viking their food has been good, apart from meat on the Rhone cruse which was so rare that I felt an urge to cross-match the dripping blood. What went so badly wrong here? I would dearly like to know. Whatever it is, Viking must sort the problems out, fast, for the sake of all the passengers who have booked on Forseti over the rest of this season. Our overall impression of Viking from the four cruises is they resemble the little girl of which it was written 'when she is good she is very very good but when she is bad she is horrid.' The customer's problem is it is impossible to know in advance which it will be. Read Less
Sail Date March 2014
I want to share with you our recent sailing (12/21/13) on Uniworld Holiday Markets, starting from Nuremberg and ending in Frankfurt. Our family (6 of us) have travelled with Uniworld on the Danube in the summer of 2011 and had a wonderful ... Read More
I want to share with you our recent sailing (12/21/13) on Uniworld Holiday Markets, starting from Nuremberg and ending in Frankfurt. Our family (6 of us) have travelled with Uniworld on the Danube in the summer of 2011 and had a wonderful time. We had high hopes this time around, having heard and read so much about the wonderful Christmas markets in Europe, and seeing that we would be visiting them just about every day, as publicised in the travel brochure/catalog from the company. We were terribly disappointed. Day 1 was spent lolling in the lounge of the river boat, and the staff were quite adamant about everyone checking in at 3PM. For those of us who had arrived early on Day 1, it was a complete waste of our time and no activities were planned. Day 2 was a day tour of Nuremberg plus a visit to the local Christmas market. That was kind of fun, as we could stay on at the market till evening on our own. However, for those passengers who had adverse flight logistics (missing bag, late arrival, ..), and missed this outing, it would prove disastrous. This was the only outing to a Christmas market, as on the rest of our trip (Day 3 - 8), all the markets had shut down. I found out from the locals that 12/24 (from around 1PM) through 12/26, and in some cases, 12/27, were holidays taken very seriously as non-working days, to be spent with family. The markets were completely shut down/dismantled, and most of the local shops in the towns on our cruise were closed. Even the museums, some churches (e.g. Nativity Walk) were closed. The guides were a missed bag: some of them were young and relatively inexperienced, and generally not as enthusiastic as I would have expected. Some of the key highlights of the places listed in the brochure, and even from what I had read before the trip, were not touched upon. There were 3 optional excursions listed prior to departure, 2 of which were not even offered on the trip. I understood on the one remaining excursion (Nuremberg Documents Center), there were only 2 takers. On board the ship/boat, in spite of the brochure listing "Welcome Gala" and "Captain's Farewell Gala", there was no special event. This cruise taking place over 12/24 and 12/25, and given that the paucity of programming over the Christmas holidays with everything shut down, the least one could have expected is some kind of attempt to put on a festive celebration, Christmas music, party favors, etc. Evening recap time in the lounge seemed to be an occasion to get the guests together to partake of (self-paid) alcoholic and other "cocktail (alcoholic or otherwise!) of the day." On the cruise on the river, there was no commentary at all - no one pointed out what towns we were passing by, let alone any special features, cuisine, traditional crafts, or history and how the war affected these German towns. There was no commentary about the locks system, the number on the trip or how the system worked. Aside from the dining room and cleaning and engineering staff (who were extremely hardworking and pleasant), I found the administrative and nautical officers, including the cruise manager, very nonchalant and not very interactive with passengers. There were comments from some passengers about how they could allow "girlfriends" (e.g. of the captain) to sail on the boat. This sailing (12/21) should never have been offered, or at least if it was, the promotional material relating to the holiday market sailings should not have been given to the passenger. The cruise manager made it clear at the last presentation in the Lounge that she was an independent contractor dependent on gratuities as she was not paid by Uniworld. However, I fail to comprehend how Uniworld did not know that everything shuts down by 1PM on 12/24, and in some cases, through 12/27, and the cruise ends on 12/29 (disembark from ship), and offered a cruise that promised Christmas markets for 80% of the sailing. Extremely disappointing trip.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
We had heard very good things about Viking River Cruises and we anxious to give it a try. Our travel experience has been with luxury and premium cruise lines and we love to travel independently, making our own way via rental car, and ... Read More
We had heard very good things about Viking River Cruises and we anxious to give it a try. Our travel experience has been with luxury and premium cruise lines and we love to travel independently, making our own way via rental car, and private guides. We found the experience of Viking on their Bucharest to Budapest route to be closer aligned to a bus tour on a boat. The itinerary was less than wonderful - no way to get into a town in some places unless you took the long bus tours. Everything is done as a group: Excursions that lasted many hours on packed buses. Dinner with everyone heading to the dining room at 7pm - and no ability to have a quiet table for 2. Very loud dining room because the ceilings are so low. Unlike larger ships with 300-700 people, there was no attempt on this ship to learn the names of passengers or learn their likes or interests. Everyone is treated as a member of "the group". Corporate could initiate some low or no cost amenities that could make this a better experience for guests: 1. Encourage staff to learn some of the guests names. We were told by one officer who we had just handled our shore card with our names, on a day when we did not go on the tour, that "he couldn't be expected to know all 175 names of guests" 2. Encourage officers to mingle with guests when they have time. Especially if the ship is empty, when most are on a tour. 3. Provide a morning coffee or afternoon tea in the lounge for those staying on board and not going on the tours. Make it special - This would be a welcome activity for those guest who choose to stay onboard. Have officers who are not doing anything sit and talk with guests during this period. Simply bring the cookies near the coffee machine into the lounge and serve the coffee or tea. We found no fault with our cabin, it was comfortable and well decorated. Food onboard was quite good, but the buffets at breakfast and lunch were so crowded with people moving constantly. And the buffet area is right in the middle of the dining room. Overall it was a very disappointing experience for us. But then again, most people onboard enjoyed the trip and the Viking Experience. Just not a good fit for people who like independent travel   Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
After hearing several favorable reports on Viking River cruises we signed up for the Odessa to Kiev cruise on the ship Lomonosov, now being refitted to look like the Viking Rurik, but with the same staff. Our disappointment cannot be ... Read More
After hearing several favorable reports on Viking River cruises we signed up for the Odessa to Kiev cruise on the ship Lomonosov, now being refitted to look like the Viking Rurik, but with the same staff. Our disappointment cannot be overstated. We knew, of course, that the ship has no elevator. But who would dream that it has no telephones either? Every question means a separate trip down the stairs to the reception desk. This was not among the features mentioned in Viking's literature! And there are no smoke detectors, an amazing omission! Our upscale large stateroom was hard to heat and harder to cool. The lack of heat was solved by the ship's maintenance staff by bolting the three large windows permanently shut. This did nothing for cooling. The food is alright if somewhat bland. But the din in the two dining rooms comes close to defeating conversation. No sound absorbing materials are anywhere in view. Service is slow and limited to one item at a time (do not ask for desert and a beverage ... they do mean one at a time). Refills of wine or coffee or tea were infrequent in the larger dining room. Diet soda ran out on the fifth day of the voyage but was restocked later on. Although it was on the bar list, there was never any port, and the supply of gin ran out. There is very little on board entertainment. Two lectures - one an hour, one a half hour - are the total history and culture offered onboard the ship. A folk music show was the only cultural event. How did having the waitresses dress as pirates one evening help? The daily movie on TV ran at times other than scheduled and was sometimes not the announced film. At the end of the first half-day city tour we realized that our assigned guide would not work out for us ... her walking pace and content were both problems. We asked to be reassigned but the tour and activities director told us that would be impossible because all bus seats were taken. In actual fact one of the five tour busses was only half full. Since our assigned guide also presented the two history lectures, our entire perspective on Ukraine was through her eyes and she was a cynical, biased person who ignored questions she didn't like. "Jewish Odessa” tour was inexplicably switched from Friday to Saturday, which made it impossible to visit any synagogues. Our Viking guide urtes all of us to cancel the "Jewish Kiev” trip, which she assured us would be "depressing.” One last insult: two preliminary bills didn't show the cost of our extra tours, although we signed up for them on the first day. Only the final bill picked up the charges. We were prepared for a three-star ship about to be retired, but Viking's promised five-star personal service was nowhere in sight. What a disappointment.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
We were promised exceptional service and food, but believe me, what we got was not even average! The menu was never explained, so many people never knew you could order special items for breakfast. Food was cold, and looked pre-cooked. ... Read More
We were promised exceptional service and food, but believe me, what we got was not even average! The menu was never explained, so many people never knew you could order special items for breakfast. Food was cold, and looked pre-cooked. There was not enough help, so we had to get our own pre-paid for drinks, and we were told to get our own ice water at dinner! One night they never served an entrée, and I ended up eating dinner from my mini bar. The crew had a party, below our room, until 1 am and we could not sleep. We have traveled on Grand Circle, Vantage and Uniworld, for much less money and had way better food and service. The crew on Scenic were from former Soviet Union countries, and that is exactly what the service was like....HORRIBLE. Many of our fellow passengers have traveled with Scenic before and they could not believe how bad this trip was. A travel agent who booked 12 rooms was outraged at the poor service. I complained to the head office and they blew me off, after we spent $20,000 on this trip. DO NOT go on Scenic. Nest year we will do Tauck.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2013

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