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2,086 River Cruise Reviews

I have to say, this trip was special. When we arrived in Paris, Delta had lost our luggage. Viking had someone stay at the airport near us while we did a claim. When we were done, they were ready to take us to the ship. We got to ride ... Read More
I have to say, this trip was special. When we arrived in Paris, Delta had lost our luggage. Viking had someone stay at the airport near us while we did a claim. When we were done, they were ready to take us to the ship. We got to ride along with the chef (Rickie) who was coming off of vacation back home in Greece. It made the ride from CDG very pleasant. Michael Bright, the cruise director, met us at the gangplank and already knew about our troubles. He told us Viking would pick up our laundry bill until we got our luggage, even if that meant the entire trip. They went out of their way to make us comfortable. Our luggage finally arrived at CDG airport when the ship had sailed to Vernon. A young lady took a car and drove back to CDG and produced our luggage at out room door at 11:03 PM on day three. That is service, not some hollow promise that most other businesses would give you. Carlos, the Matre 'd, was on top of all things "food" if it related to service. When things got busy and they needed the help, he pitched right in. All in all, the crew made a great trip wonderful. The tours were very good and informative. I think the entire plan was well thought out. The after-cruise at the Warwick Hotel was very pleasant. The only questionable thing I have is why no one thought to schedule something for the morning of the hotel transfer. Everyone knows you are not going to get in until the afternoon. It rained the day we transferred and we had to slosh around the Champs Elyseese looking for some place to stay dry. Minor complaint, but I think, valid. Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
I originally booked this cruise to sail from Budapest to Nuremberg on the 25th Oct,to be told that the cruise would be cancelled due to lack of passengers.I agreed to sail on the 18th Oct rather than cancel only to find that crew members ... Read More
I originally booked this cruise to sail from Budapest to Nuremberg on the 25th Oct,to be told that the cruise would be cancelled due to lack of passengers.I agreed to sail on the 18th Oct rather than cancel only to find that crew members told me the ship was still sailing on the return journey on the 25th Oct.I find it strange that the date I wanted was in fact sailing but had to cancel Having said that the river cruise was very good and the crew excellent.A new ship was a pleasure to sail on and food very good.Another good thing about Emerald is the inclusion of gratuities although the cost of the cruise is expensive but you do not have to think about tipping the driver or tour guide and crew staff.The pool was small but very few people on board took advantage of this facility.The evening cinema was a welcome distraction from the nightly entertainment. I have used other river cruise companies like VIKING and Amawaterways and they are all very good.I would not use Emerald again after being lied to,I would rather give my business to more truthful companies even though gratuities are not included. I have had stories from other passengers about being flown out 2 days before a cruise without hotels being booked,subsequently changed and others booked on flights without guaranteed seats and only available last minute. Ship crew excellent background staff not very impressed.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
Viking River Cruises' River of Gold cruise was a wonderful experience. From beginning with a hotel stay in Lisbon, including city tour and coach trip to Porto for embarkation through the entire cruise, everything worked beautifully. ... Read More
Viking River Cruises' River of Gold cruise was a wonderful experience. From beginning with a hotel stay in Lisbon, including city tour and coach trip to Porto for embarkation through the entire cruise, everything worked beautifully. The staff was super -- friendly, efficient, helpful and fun. The food was as wonderful as usual. The beverages -- many local wines and ports included -- were delicious, too. What was exceptional, however, was the scenery. The Douro, or Golden River in Portuguese, isn't your typical European cruise river. This was our sixth Viking cruise, and we were blown away by the wilderness aspect of it. Almost every excursion required a brief to medium-length coach trip to and from the bus, but that was not a problem as Viking owns their own coaches and the drivers stayed consistent throughout the trip. The spots we visited were unspoiled and beautiful -- quaint little villages without too much of the generic commerciality we often see these days. We felt we had had a truly unique experience, and would recommend people go before globalization catches up with this river. Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
HOLIDAYING overseas with friends in 2013 we decided to put together a small group (total 6 - 3 couples ages 50 - 61) to embark on our much discussed European River Cruise. After a deal of research we chose Avalon Waterways as our Cruise ... Read More
HOLIDAYING overseas with friends in 2013 we decided to put together a small group (total 6 - 3 couples ages 50 - 61) to embark on our much discussed European River Cruise. After a deal of research we chose Avalon Waterways as our Cruise provider and the AVALON ILLUMINATION as our ship. Travelling from our home in Australia to Budapest, we spent a couple of days sightseeing before embarking on our chosen ship. Arriving on board this near new ship, we were immediately impressed with the friendliness of the crew, the cleanliness of the ship and the efficient way our luggage was slipped into our Stateroom where we received a guided tour by our Stateroom Stewardess. OUR STATEROOM was extremely well appointed, extremely comfortable bed, 5 Star bathroom and amenities, and a full width Balcony Panorama Sliding Window. We found plenty of storage space in the wardrobes, desk drawers, bedside table drawers, numerous electrical power points and WiFi, flat screen TV, refrigerator, and very comfortable chairs, fully adjustable air conditioning. Our Stateroom number 203, on Sapphire Deck (2) was only a few short steps from the Restaurant, the Guest Relations and Cruise Director's office, and the Main Lounge. Many activities and tours were included in our price, however, there were also numerous optional excursions which we could add, most of these we felt were very reasonably priced. Our "Port Talk" each evening with our Cruise Director painted the picture of the plans for the next day, and usually a day or too after that as well. Our "Cruise Director" was nothing short of brilliant, friendly, approachable, with many years of experience with Avalon/Globus - extremely knowledgeable and spoke 5 languages fluently. All the tours and excursions we undertook ran on time and were well worth the $$, local guides were generally very good with some of them absolutely first class, very friendly and fun to be with. DINING.... what can we say, but high quality all the way, our table service Wait Staff were fantastic and had great memories for what types of food and drinks we preferred. The menu varied each Lunchtime and Dinnertime, with a few standard features each day. Evening dinner usually ran to 4 courses, sometimes 5, and luncheon was usually a well stocked Buffet with some special orders available. Breakfast was another well stocked Buffet meal, with special menu orders available, as well as the usual "Egg Chef" for eggs as you desire. ENTERTAINMENT: On board general entertainment was provided by a musician in the main Lounge, with local artists coming on board from numerous ports - music, lecturers, wine tasting, beer tasting etc., generally all good fun. DISEMBARKATION: AMSTERDAM - a very disappointing day as we were quite sad that the Cruise had come to an end and we were saying farewell to some quite good friends we had made amongst the Crew during the last 14 days. IN SUMMARY: YES we would Cruise with Avalon Waterways again in the future, YES, we would recommend Avalon Waterways to our friends & family, we found the Cruise to be value for money and given the quality of the Ship, service, food and facilities we were very pleased to have made our original choice to travel with Avalon Waterways. Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
One of the best cruises that we have ever taken. The crew and staff went over and above for the passengers. Although the bar staff could be a little more proactive. The ports were great and the walking tours were fantastic. The local ... Read More
One of the best cruises that we have ever taken. The crew and staff went over and above for the passengers. Although the bar staff could be a little more proactive. The ports were great and the walking tours were fantastic. The local guides were informative and very knowledgeable of the areas that they took us to. The meals were excellent and we liked the fact that wine and beer were included with the meals. We weren't nickel and dimed to death. We would recommend this tour and Viking for a great time. Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
This was our first experience with Viking and although the cruise part of the tour and pre cruise trip was only 5 days, the entire trip was 15 days for us. There were lots of logistics for them to handle and we felt they did an excellent ... Read More
This was our first experience with Viking and although the cruise part of the tour and pre cruise trip was only 5 days, the entire trip was 15 days for us. There were lots of logistics for them to handle and we felt they did an excellent job. In fact we have signed up for a 30+ day Baltic/ Norwegian/Iceland extravaganza on their new ocean ships for 2016. We feared that 5 star in China might not mean 5 star, but really I think it is pretty accurate, but this is not a cruise for the person looking to go to the spa, dress up, drink exotic cocktails, see glitzy shows, dance and gamble the night away. This is for the hard core travel addict who is there to see the country, expand their horizons and come home with a new appreciation for a different culture, but wants comfort and safety. The tour guides and staff took their jobs very seriously and gave us wonderful personal insights into their country. We have cruised on many different cruise lines, but Viking seems to have matched our interests better than the others. Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
We landed in Zurich and Viking bussed us to Basel. We spent a very enjoyable day in Basel and spent the night in the Radisson Blu. The hotel was very nice and the buffet breakfast was fantastic. We embarked the next day and started sailing ... Read More
We landed in Zurich and Viking bussed us to Basel. We spent a very enjoyable day in Basel and spent the night in the Radisson Blu. The hotel was very nice and the buffet breakfast was fantastic. We embarked the next day and started sailing at 7:00 or 8:00 PM. The Viking Tor was christened in 2013 and holds 190 passengers. The dining room was very spacious and comfortable with floor to ceiling windows. The staff was exceptional and very friendly. The food was excellent and offered a varied menu. The beverages during lunch and dinner were complimentary and bottomless including beer and wine. Every meal was an adventure in local dining. WE embarked in France (Strasbourg) and several cities in Germany (Rudesheim, Cologne, etc.), and Netherlands (kinderdjik) before arriving in Amsterdam. There were at least two different excursions in each port (e.g. Alsation Wine tasting, the Black Forest, WWII memorial, Heidelberg Castle, Marksburg Castle, the DOM Cathedral in Cologne, and the windmills in Kinderdjik). All of the docents on the excursions were knowledgeable and very personable. I would definitely recommend a Viking River Cruise in Europe. I want to sail the Danube next from Passau Germany to Budapest Hungary. Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
I was thoroughly impressed with Viking River Cruises, from the cleanliness and comfort of the stateroom (which we weren't in very often) to the on-board and local tour guides, to the food and service, and the overall value. I had a ... Read More
I was thoroughly impressed with Viking River Cruises, from the cleanliness and comfort of the stateroom (which we weren't in very often) to the on-board and local tour guides, to the food and service, and the overall value. I had a wonderful vacation and learned a lot. The weather was gorgeous throughout the trip, although since we traveled in October, it got a bit chillier than expected as we neared St. Petersburg. Viking was very attentive and provided detailed daily itineraries explaining in advance which tours were included or optional. All of the tour guides were extremely knowledgeable and enjoyable. Our favorite part of the trip was the home visit in Uglich-- connecting one-on-one with ordinary people like us. The only thing I can complain about is that we didn't receive many communications in advance of the trip, which would have been nice for first-time travelers (and had been mentioned, so we were expecting that), but it is easy enough to read up on the places you'll visit and make your own plans, I guess. I traveled with my mother, who used a walker. She found most of the tours to be physically challenging, and the gangway(?) from the ship to the pier in St. Petersburg was very steep and slippery. Otherwise the ship was great. Viking staff were very helpful, but it was still not very comfortable for her, and she declined to take part in some tours. Russia is not set up to accommodate disabled people; we didn't see anyone else with a walker the entire time we were there. There aren't curb cutouts in big cities, for example. So beware this fact if it applies to you or your traveling companions. Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
Viking River Cruises guided us through a cruise of a lifetime. Portugal and the Douro River Valley were beautiful and we saw so many amazing sites and learned so much about the Portuguese culture and country.. We did the pre cruise stay in ... Read More
Viking River Cruises guided us through a cruise of a lifetime. Portugal and the Douro River Valley were beautiful and we saw so many amazing sites and learned so much about the Portuguese culture and country.. We did the pre cruise stay in Lisbon, and a private car met us at the airport and took us to the hotel. The city guides were outstanding as was the Hotel Lisboa Tivol and especially the Skyview Bar on the top floor patio, which provided a beautiful view of the city, light dinner and excellent wine to end each day of our stay. We were transported to our mini long ship in Nuevo de Gaia and Porto by very modern bus with wifi. The program Tour Director during the cruise , Carmen, was gracious, informative and had a great sense of the history and culture of Portugal. We learned so much about the country and were very impressed with her organizational skills and knowledge. The stateroom was very comfortable and storage was great and the bed very comfortable. We had a veranda room and the weather so nice, we made good use of it and our views were never obstructed. The Torgil sailed only during the day and docked at night. We could not have been more happy with our compact accommodations . The dining room and the food served also exceeded our expectations! We loved the Portuguese cuisine and many choices at each of our meals.. The wine served at lunch and dinner was also quite good and the wine steward was most helpful in finding a wine suitable for each meal and our own tastes. The chef was superb and the food always cooked to perfection and service was wonderful. We enjoyed the fresh salad ingredients on the buffet for lunch and a choice of three entrees were also included for those who prefer heavier meals at mid day. The breakfast buffet was also varied and ordering from menu was also encouraged. Steaks and fish were cooked perfectly and we were never disappointed with our meals, including those provided off ship. The included day tours and guides were wonderful. Every day was a real treat and we also enjoyed our fellow guests on the cruise. We took the optional tour to Grimares but extra time in Porto would also have been good, there was so much more of Portugal we would have loved to see and enjoy, but felt Viking River Cruise provided a wonderful and varied experience that was enhanced by the wonderful tour guides. And the day trips,to Salamanca, QUintos du Sextos, Coimbra , Lamego, Castello de Rodrigo, Mateus, and others were well planned and interesting. The wine tasting tours in Gaia and Sandeman were very touristy but informative. The actual tasting was so rushed and we were not fans of the ports being served but when in Portugal you really should taste the port! And one evening we had the added treat of a demonstration on opening a bottle of 20 year old vintage port using fire and ice. This Vintage Port was also served after dinner that night and we became fans of quality port. We extended our tour to visit Braga and Compostella de Santiago and this was the perfect conclusion to our vacation. We would happily repeat the Douro River Cruise. Portugal is a wonderful welcoming country to visit and Viking and their connections to the people and various sites made this a very memorable trip. Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
Outstanding cruise. My wife commented that everything on the ship was exactly what you saw in the brochures -- there were no surprises. I was impressed with Viking's ability to quickly adapt to changing situations: there wasn't ... Read More
Outstanding cruise. My wife commented that everything on the ship was exactly what you saw in the brochures -- there were no surprises. I was impressed with Viking's ability to quickly adapt to changing situations: there wasn't enough water level for the ship to get to Passau so we pulled over to the river bank in the middle of nowhere, dropped the gangway and there were 6 Viking buses waiting for us. The ship made it to Passau by the time our tour of the city was finished. Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
This was our first cruise, ever! What an amazing experience it was! We're hooked. River cruising is a fabulous way to travel. With only 190 or so fellow travelers on board, it is intimate and not overwhelming. You have lots of ... Read More
This was our first cruise, ever! What an amazing experience it was! We're hooked. River cruising is a fabulous way to travel. With only 190 or so fellow travelers on board, it is intimate and not overwhelming. You have lots of opportunities to meet people from around the world, and even some quite close to home. From the moment we boarded the ship in Amsterdam until the morning we (sadly) left for home, everything was more than we ever expected. The ship was beautiful and extremely well maintained. The all-English-speaking staff was outstanding and treated each of us as though we were family. The shore excursions were well organized and LOADED with history and information. The English-speaking guides were exceptionally knowledgeable and personable. The food on board the ship never ceased to amaze us. The portions were perfect, the choices were unending and the service was top-notch. Our stateroom was immaculate every single day. We couldn't have asked for more. And with a walking track on the top deck, we even managed to get extra exercise and lose a few pounds in the process. And that says nothing about how beautiful the Rhine River is and what a fabulous river to cruise! Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
Last October 2014 I had the pleasure of taking the American Empress cruise on the Columbia River from Vancouver, WA to Spokane, WA. I have been on several cruises, on both larger and smaller boats and enjoyed them all, but this by far was ... Read More
Last October 2014 I had the pleasure of taking the American Empress cruise on the Columbia River from Vancouver, WA to Spokane, WA. I have been on several cruises, on both larger and smaller boats and enjoyed them all, but this by far was the best cruise I have ever been on. The newly refurbished Empress is in beautiful shape, extremely clean and comfortable. The food was very good, and the entertainment was GREAT! Loved the lounge pianist, who was one of the best I have ever heard. (I never missed a late evening listening to him.), and best of all were Lindy and Greg Pendzick, our entertainers and hosts. Besides being very talented dancers and singers, they made sure everyone had a good time! I can't wait to go on another American Empress cruise!!!   Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
This was our first river cruise and our first time with Viking. From the time we got on till the time we left the crew and staff could not have been better. Everything other than drinks in the lounge and some extra tours were included. ... Read More
This was our first river cruise and our first time with Viking. From the time we got on till the time we left the crew and staff could not have been better. Everything other than drinks in the lounge and some extra tours were included. The informational and cultural tours were fantastic. At each town that we stopped at there was a walking tour by a local guide. We have been on about five other cruise ships, but there is no comparison to the smaller boats. There was less than 150 passengers on our boat and it was much more pleasant than with big crowds. You actually get to know the staff and they you. At the end of the river cruise we extended three more days in Paris. We did everything through Viking and they took care of everything from transportation to a Viking host at the hotel. We stayed at the Hotel Republique, which was a charming old world fine hotel. In a great area that was convenient to the Metro. We would recommend Viking to anyone that enjoys the less hectic, more intimate cruising. It's a little more than some of the others, but you get what you pay for. We are already planning our next trip with them. Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
We booked this cruise along with 5 other couples. We arrived in Amsterdam 4 days early then went on the cruise. We felt totally taken care of the whole time. The food was great, something for everyone. The bar was good not too expensive, ... Read More
We booked this cruise along with 5 other couples. We arrived in Amsterdam 4 days early then went on the cruise. We felt totally taken care of the whole time. The food was great, something for everyone. The bar was good not too expensive, and the excursions (Included) were fantastic. We had great guides at each stop, if you wanted there were optional excursions to so you could go all day if you wanted. They also made groups for those that had mobility or stamina issues. they saw what we did, just didn't have to walk or climb as far. The staff was awesome, what ever you needed they took care of it or found a way. There were folks that didn't book transportation through Viking but they assisted them with their transfers as well. This was a fantastic cruise! We highly recommend Viking. Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
Along with 8 other friends we started our European adventure with 3 nights in Prague. None of us had ever River cruised before, or been to these countries so we wanted to maximize our vacation. Our hotel in Prague was first class. The ... Read More
Along with 8 other friends we started our European adventure with 3 nights in Prague. None of us had ever River cruised before, or been to these countries so we wanted to maximize our vacation. Our hotel in Prague was first class. The tours were extensive and very informative throughout all our stops along the Danube. The coach we took from Prague to Passau was comfortable and our tour guide gave us a running commentary along the way and we stopped to take pictures of the beautiful scenery. We then boarded our ship In Passau. The cruise along the river was smooth and very comfortable. We were fortunate to have warm weather the entire trip and rain free. Budapest was wonderful. We sailed in at night and were wowed by the lights and beauty of the buildings . We toured Buda and Pest, and again learned so much about the city and its history. From the time we stepped off the plane in Prague and boarded the plane in Budapest, Viking took care of everything! It truly was a great vacation. Service, room, food, staff, tours, were top notch. I highly recommend it. Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
Our Seine River cruise with Vantage had everything we were looking for. Our stateroom and meals were comfortable, clean and inviting and the meals were varied and met all our needs. My wife is a diabetic and facilities were available for ... Read More
Our Seine River cruise with Vantage had everything we were looking for. Our stateroom and meals were comfortable, clean and inviting and the meals were varied and met all our needs. My wife is a diabetic and facilities were available for refrigeration for her meds and the menu, with Healthy Options met her needs in selecting foods that her diet demanded. But we were there for the chance to see some of the culture of Normandy and the history there. All the overnight stays were in sites which offered us chances to become involved in the Impressionist art scene, historic abbeys and cathedrals, sites with historical references to the Vikings, the conquest of William of Normandy, and artifacts related to Richard the Lionheart. The more recent history involving the D Day Invasion and other World War II sites are also there. The day at the Normandy Beaches and the American Cemetery were enhanced by our guide Richard who was excellent. The little towns of Vernon, Giverney, Les Andlys, and Honfleur were picturesque and made you feel like you had stepped back into the past. Our trip to Etretat was very interesting. Top all this off with Paris, Versailles, and the Louvre and what more could you ask of a trip to France. My wife took over a thousand pictures. How much price can be put on sailing into Rouen and see the Cathedral lit up at night, watching the Eiffel Tower twinkle from the top deck of the ship, just being to step back into the past and walk down streets lined with half timbered buildings? This trip was all we were looking for. Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
This was my first cruise experience and it was a blast. Hats off to Viking Cruises for the very efficient handling of everything: from the flight bookings, to airport transfers, embarkation and disembarkation to and from the ship, the ... Read More
This was my first cruise experience and it was a blast. Hats off to Viking Cruises for the very efficient handling of everything: from the flight bookings, to airport transfers, embarkation and disembarkation to and from the ship, the tours, the accommodations. The staff was just great, from the kitchen, restaurant, housekeeping, entertainment to the tour guides. I have spread the word to family and friends that if they want a great cruise experience, they should try Viking first. There is nothing like a river cruise vs. an ocean cruise. It just makes a difference having a few hundred people to thousands of people traveling with you. I cannot say enough of the guides who were very knowledgeable and just a fountain of information. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
Yes we experienced both good and sad ever lasting memories from our September-October 2014 twenty-seven day Black Sea to Bonn trip. The events that developed on this cruise have prompted us to share our exceptional experience with you. ... Read More
Yes we experienced both good and sad ever lasting memories from our September-October 2014 twenty-seven day Black Sea to Bonn trip. The events that developed on this cruise have prompted us to share our exceptional experience with you. The Marriot Hotel in Bucharest was off the chart, one of the best Marriott’s we have stayed at. The day of our 2-3 hour bus ride to meet the boat in Constanta was cold, dismal, and rainy. We barely got through as the rain changed to snow, 4+ inches which cause the authorities to close the highway (snow in Bucharest in September!!!). The storm propelled 20 to 30 foot waves at the harbor throwing rocks the size of watermelons over the seal wall and causing the harbor master not to allow our boat to cross the open bay to get to the river. This forced the staff to scramble to find lodging for 4 bus loads of passengers (approximately 160 people). The next day the staff had to arrange for our busses to find an out of the way, obscure dock, in the dark, heavy rain for us to finally be on board. All this was accomplished by the staff with a seamless, no inconvenience to all of us. As a result of the furious storm, the river was full of debris and many floating large trees and logs. Unknown to the passengers the propeller was damaged due to hitting a large submerged log/tree trunk. The boat had to make an unscheduled trip to a dry dock near Frankfort, again causing the staff to scramble and locate 4 buses to accommodate another change in plans. We received an extra bonus due to the dry docking – an unscheduled trip to Salzburg!! Again, thanks to the superb efforts of crew and staff we never missed a beat of the original schedule and itinerary. So much for the good part of our trip. On Sunday early morning 2:00 AM we received a call from California, my wife’s son advising us to get home ASAP, as her 58 year old daughter, curator of the Abilene, TX zoo had a seizure and was in a coma. At 2:30 AM we woke up the cruise director with the request to get us back to Dallas. By 4:00 AM he had us booked out of Frankfort/London/Dallas. (2 days short of our planned trip) Our boat at this time was en route from Frankfort to Rüdesheim, Germany. They had to stop and berth the boat at 7:00 AM along the river, arrange for a taxi to pick us up at a remote city park for a one hour drive back to the airport to catch a 10:00 AM plane to London. We were back in our house in Plano, TX at 8:00 PM Sunday night!!! What an effort by the staff on that boat – We will never forget what they did on our behalf. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
APT have a good reputation plus we had been to Alaska with APT, Egypt and Turkey, they always had us in the best hotels when travelling on land and very close to the city hum, therefore we did not lose time travelling into the hub which ... Read More
APT have a good reputation plus we had been to Alaska with APT, Egypt and Turkey, they always had us in the best hotels when travelling on land and very close to the city hum, therefore we did not lose time travelling into the hub which other companies do. They also allowed plenty of time for walk abouts whereas other companies just drove by areas and points of interest we wanted to stop at. Sure we payed a bit more but well worth it. The on board experience was great, very impressed with the food and variations to choose from. The free drinks, alcohol, was top shelf and late into the night. We had local entertainers which was great. I would take the same cruise again but something different, probably the French Rivers. Plenty to choose from in regards to the land excursions, we had four choices at each stop, how good is that. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
I just returned from this trip and it far exceeded my expectations. (I traveled the direction: Beijing to Shanghai.) First I can tell you that I heard nothing but good reviews from my fellow passengers about their own Tour Guide, but I ... Read More
I just returned from this trip and it far exceeded my expectations. (I traveled the direction: Beijing to Shanghai.) First I can tell you that I heard nothing but good reviews from my fellow passengers about their own Tour Guide, but I still think ours was the best: Terry! From start to finish everything was first class. The land portion has passengers staying in 5+ star hotels. Enough cannot be written about how outstanding the hotels were - one simply must experience them. Taking this tour, one sees all the highlights of China, and if there is something in particular you wish to see that is not on the itinerary, the staff is more than helpful in assisting you to put something together so that you can see what you wish. Do come prepared to be in, and experience, a non-Western country. Some individuals on my tours were disappointed they ate so much Chinese food! Others became impatient because a Chinese national could not understand English. Since we were in China this surprised me; I simply thought we all came expecting a country, food, culture and language very different from our own. As with touring anywhere outside of one's home country digestive tracts can become upset trying to adjust, so do come with over-the-counter preparations to help you with such symptoms. I had no issues at all, but about 10% of our group had mild to moderate digestive problems for a short duration. The Summer months can be hot and humid. I understand that Spring and Fall are perhaps ideal times to visit. My trip was at the tail end of Summer and so the climate was still fairly warm and muggy. Light-weight travel clothes that launder well by hand are ideal. On-board I would recommend asking for a dehumidifier for one's room as soon as you board. It will still feel a bit damp in the room, but the dehumidifier does make a pleasant difference. My recommendation is to make this tour starting with Beijing if possible. The Beijing portion is the most physically taxing - long day and significant walking at Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, Summer Palace and the second day at the Great Wall. It makes the relaxation when you get to the boat even more enjoyable. I do wish there had been one more day in Shanghai and others seemed to agree with this, so if your plans allow, add time in Shanghai. In all ways I recommend this tour. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
Just back from the "Romantic Danube" Viking river cruise on the Viking Idun in Early September 2014. We left from Budapest and cruised up to Nuremburg, and added the extension in Prague. Viking gets my highest rating. Here's ... Read More
Just back from the "Romantic Danube" Viking river cruise on the Viking Idun in Early September 2014. We left from Budapest and cruised up to Nuremburg, and added the extension in Prague. Viking gets my highest rating. Here's a few thoughts. The Program Director Barry and the chef Ronald are both out of central casting. Ronald was frequently invited over to our table so we could complement him and beg him for recipes. The menus were flexible, and locally themed. The soups were wonderful. As for Barry, the best test of a PD is how do they handle unexpected problems. One day of our tour, the ship was late getting to a port of call (Regensburg) because of river traffic (there are many locks so the ship actually travels at a low average speed). So at 2 in the morning, Barry called a bus company to pick us up at an earlier port at 8 am, bus us to the city (cars are faster than the ship) so we can have time to do our tour of the city while the ship caught up with us. In Nuremburg, the ship arrived early, so Barry had busses ready for us to take us on an extra morning visit, where we beat the crowds and had some quality time in the city. We just felt like we were in good hands the whole time. The service was extremely friendly and high quality the entire way, on the ship, and off as well, including our many transfers around the cities and to and from the airport. The tour guides were very knowledgeable, and the portable listening devices came in handy. The cabins are small, but the public rooms, especially the bar/lounge, was never crowded (except for Barry's evening 15 minute roundup of the next day's agenda). The roof top was nice, but rarely open due to low bridges. No gym or spa. Food was more than enough, including an open seating buffett breakfast (show up anytime between 7 and 9:30) with an omlettte station. Lunch and dinner had timed seatings for the more formal restaurant, while there was an informal buffett option upstairs by the front deck. The house wine and beer offered at lunch and dinner was actually pretty good. They didn't drop the quality to force you into the premium liquor package, which is very expensive. Nice touch Viking. The coffee machines had snacks next to them all day long, which is wonderful for your diet. Dress code was casual. Only about 20% of the men wore a blazer during the most formal evening of the "captains dinner", though the women noticeably dressed a bit nicer every evening than during the day. Daytime dress was very casual. This trip was certainly a taste of Europe with frequent, short stops in the ports of call. Vienna deserves more than 8 hours. Do the optional classical concert excursion. For visitors from the US, add on Prague, and do the reverse of what we did. Do Prague first for a few days (ladies, do not wear heels in Prague, cobblestones everywhere), get un-jet lagged, and then bus to Nuremburg (via Viking) and go to Vienna and Budapest last. Don't worry about the view from the Nuremburg port (shipping containers), the views will get very charming in no time. The docks themselves are very undramatic (just basically a gangplank), and frequently we were docked side-by-side with other ships, which makes for an interesting morning view from your room. Unlike my Alaskan cruise, there was no risk of motion sickness on this trip. The ship was very stable and we had to look out the window to see if we were moving. We bought our flights through Viking, which put us on non-direct flights, despite other airlines offering direct flights. Still, we liked the guarantees from Viking of making our connections, especially when Lufthansa's pilots went on strike on our departure day. Just a great trip and would recommend it to anybody. We went with another couple, which was a good idea and lots of fun. Even though we were by far the youngest passengers on the ship (I'm 53), we had a blast and felt like we were in good care from Viking. Read Less
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.   Read Less
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 very ... 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.   Read Less
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 ... 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. Read Less
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! Read Less
Sail Date September 2014

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