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2,939 River Cruise Reviews

This is a duplicate of the review posted for the preceding Paris leg of the trip. In May 2015 we embarked with UniWorld on their ship the River Baroness (RB) on the Seine, followed the next week on the River Royale (RR) sailing the ... Read More
This is a duplicate of the review posted for the preceding Paris leg of the trip. In May 2015 we embarked with UniWorld on their ship the River Baroness (RB) on the Seine, followed the next week on the River Royale (RR) sailing the Dordogne and Garonne in the Bordeaux region. This coupling of itineraries provides an excellent combination of the quintessential charming and glamorous Paris, with side excursions to interesting, quaint medieval towns, castles, chateaus, gardens, and to the Bordeaux region. The cruise lasted 15 days, including a land transfer from the RB to the RR using the high-speed TGV train. The itinerary of the trip was essentially as described in the UniWorld catalog. The scenic highlights of this cruise for me were of course Paris and surrounds, Normandy Beaches, St. Emilion, and the Chateaus of Bordeaux. The land excursions were mostly excellent, and very nicely selected to provide a broad spectrum overview of the area and culture. This review will mostly focus on execution of the cruise. Please be aware that some of the descriptions in this review will be in comparison to a UniWorld cruise we took in June of 2012, sailing on the River Duchess (RD) from Vienna, Austria, through Germany, ending in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. River Baroness and River Royale The RD set our expectations for a river ship. Never having been on a river cruise before that time, I was somewhat awestruck by the beauty and splendor of the ship; the reception, dining room, its lounge, and certainly its inimitable staff and crew. The stateroom was small, but definitely adequate. Three years later, now experiencing the RB, it is clearly an older ship in need of freshening. The reception area is tired and did not leave a great impression; neither did the lounge. The staterooms (level 100) are notably narrower than the RD, maybe a foot or two less, but that made a big difference in less ability for two persons to maneuver while dressing or trying to relax. This ship made us realize that on future cruises we need to get better informed and thoughtfully consider the ship and its accommodations. The sites where the ships docked were not necessarily in attractive or convenient proximity to their respective cities, except for Rouen and Bordeaux. But the most displeasing thing about where ships dock is that ships often tie up together side-by-side. This happened most of the time with each ship (RB & RR), resulting in no view whatsoever from the staterooms on that side of the ship. I realize none of the cruise ships have much control of this situation, especially due to the increasing popularity of river cruises. Fortunately, one usually does not spend much time in a stateroom except for sleeping. Culinary Experience As one would envisage, the cuisine is a delightful 5-star experience. Breakfasts, lunches, and dinners have typical, gourmet, and eclectic offerings to suit your preference. If in the unlikely case that the offerings do not meet your dietary needs or desires, the chef(s) are fervent to find something to your satisfaction. The best part of the cuisine are the dinner specials of the day, which are usually a specialty of a nearby locale; always a dining adventure. Dinners were usually five-course sumptuous feasts with fine wine selections. Moreover, much of the fare on-board is locally sourced. Of course, being in France, you can expect a smattering of interesting cheese, pate´, fish, duck, and luxuriant pastries and desserts. The soups were unique and delectable; they were on our must-have list every evening. On the RR, there was an excellent sommelier who every evening gave a short presentation of the wines selected for dinner. He also held wine education and tastings for small groups. This was a very nice and appreciated dividend indeed. One enticing option offered is the Saveur (flavor) Dinner in the RR Sky Lounge, a sunroom-like enclosure on the top deck of the ship. This popular sign-up option was limited to 25 persons or so, for a more intimate dining experience. The down-side of this experience is that the acoustics are so bad the conversation din was headache inducing. Further, the chairs had such narrow seats it was actually painful for some of us to sit. Lamentably, the staff admitted it was a known issue. Lastly, the sun shined so brightly through the large windows that sunglasses were a necessity. It was worth it though, to enjoy the perfectly prepared multi-course tasty cuisine. Almost as good as the food was the choreographed sharply executed food presentation at each table, reminiscent of a ballet. On the RB, the dining room staff were superb. They were omnipresent, yet nearly invisible when not needed. It seemed the very moment a glass needed refilling or plate removed, it happened instantly. The staff were all efficient, courteous, engaging, smiling and friendly. On the RR, the staff was equally efficient and worked assiduously, but apparently very understaffed, or maybe not as well trained. They just were not as attentive as the RB staff. My impression is that the staff was short due to cutbacks since the ship was obviously well below capacity. Shore Excursions Excursions are a main attraction of river cruising in France, and the itinerary offered on these cruises was exceptional. UniWorld’s selection of tours, sights, chateaus, castles, towns, farms, gardens, venues etc., were superb. They provided a broad overview of the region, while adding unique up-close views of past and present-day life. Because of the extent of the area, by necessity some of the tours required an extended bus trip to get to the destination, but those drives were often through beautiful scenic countryside with vineyards and charming villages. The guides were excellent, had amazing breadth and depth of knowledge, and were charming and witty, one and all. Each night before dinner a presentation was made about the itinerary and logistics for the following day, especially about the excursions and optional activities. Sometimes these were a bit hard to follow, much due to the fact that the written next-day itinerary was not distributed until after the talk. It would be much easier to grasp details if the itinerary was already in-hand when trying to listen to someone speaking with an accent. We found these talks to be important and useful to help decide which excursions we would choose, or not. UniWorld River Heritage Club The Heritage Club (Club) is obviously intended to reward, and thereby entice return customers. When poorly executed, as in our case, it is a dissuasion. The Club is purported to afford a cabin upgrade if available, have a private cocktail party with Captain and crew, provide a complimentary fruit platter upon arrival, and offer free weekly laundry, among other perquisites. After receiving none of these items on the RB, at the end of the week we inquired why. The purser said there was no record of our previous cruise (on the RD in 2012). Upon boarding the RR the next week, we asked the purser to look into it, as well as inquiring with our Travel Agent. The next day the purser said the record had been corrected. Nevertheless, there were these issues with the Club on the RR: 1) Never did receive a welcome platter. 2) Cabin upgrade was not offered, even though there were only about 74 guests on the ship (maybe 2/3 capacity), and apparently empty cabins. 3) We were ignored at the Captains cocktail party; no hors d’oeuvre served us. Admittedly, we were not sitting at a table with a “Reserved” card, but the reserved tables were occupied. We were, however, sitting at an adjacent table; likewise were a few other tables with Club members, but none of us were searched out. Part of the problem was that the cocktail party was set up in the lounge, and other guests started mingling with the party shortly after it started. Of course, none of those perks really much matter except for the cabin upgrade, and we were in fact afforded laundry service. UniWorld needs to overhaul management and execution of the River Heritage Club. Until then, you should ask for what you expect, - - or you may miss out. Summary These combined itineraries made for a great and enjoyable cruise. If you enjoy culture, art, and history, these are definitely for you, especially on the Seine. For the Bordeaux part of the cruise, you will enjoy it more if you are a wine aficionado or at least appreciate and enjoy wine. The length of the trip seemed about right, but another week extension onto the ship in the Burgundy region would probably be well worth it, given the expense to fly to France from the US or beyond. Obviously we had a few disappointments, hopefully just an anomaly, but we do not hesitate to recommend this cruise itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
We've recently sailed on American Eagle from New Orleans to Memphis. It was not a pleasant experience though: First of all and the most important: if you ever been on a river cruise in Europe/Asia with let’s saying Viking, ... Read More
We've recently sailed on American Eagle from New Orleans to Memphis. It was not a pleasant experience though: First of all and the most important: if you ever been on a river cruise in Europe/Asia with let’s saying Viking, AmaWaterways, Tauck, Avalon etc…- do not take this cruise: you’ll be vastly disappointed. But first let me briefly describe our trip: We stayed at a hotel next to the French Quarter, in the morning got to the New Orleans port and had a smooth on time check-in. For an unknown reason musicians already stopped the embarkation entertainment and all welcome drinks were gone. It was a first call something is wrong, but we realized it later. So here is what we experienced during this cruise and what defers it from let's say an ordinary Danube cruise: - Same people (mostly college students on a summer break) work as a housekeeping stuff and serve dishes in the dining room. That’s the source of all service issues. - Very limited breakfast selection and by menu only. So expect to spend twice much time than if there was a buffet. - No barbecue on top deck in spite of a mostly nice weather. - Overall very limited food selection: only American food. No such things as thematic dinners: let’s say French, Italian etc… - Mostly “Gallo family” wines used. (the cost is around $3 in our local Walmart store). - Minor thing but no wine service in the dining room: need to pour glasses by ourselves. Wine is already on a table. - As other reviewers already mentioned the acoustic in the dining room is terrible. - Our cabin was never vacuumed - Many cabins have dampness issues. Shame for a new ship and whoever designed it! - Slow wireless internet disappearing at the same time as your cellphone service. On top of that the American Cruise Lines did not even fulfill what was promised with no explanation given: we never visited Oak Alley Plantation as advertised in the day by day schedule on their website. Overall it was a 1 start cruise for us but thanks to the entertainment and included tours which were pretty good I am giving it 2 stars. Here is the summary: I'd recommend this cruise only if you absolutely do not care about the service you receive, your kin is impatiently waiting for your death and tons of money under your bed still needs to be spent. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
This was my first experience with American Cruise Lines. All aspects of the cruise was FUN! More training needed of the young service personnel for their sake. All personnel was courteous. Tours were interesting, food was top quality, ... Read More
This was my first experience with American Cruise Lines. All aspects of the cruise was FUN! More training needed of the young service personnel for their sake. All personnel was courteous. Tours were interesting, food was top quality, kept up to date on a daily basis for tours, activities on and off the boat. Looking forward to another trip. Best part, you get to travel, see sights' meet new acquaintances without having to pack & unpack each day. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
The American Empress is the 2nd ship for American Queen Steamship Co and plies the Snake and Columbia Rivers in Washington and Oregon. Like the American Queen (AQ), the American Empress (AE) is a paddlewheel ship but AE is diesel powered ... Read More
The American Empress is the 2nd ship for American Queen Steamship Co and plies the Snake and Columbia Rivers in Washington and Oregon. Like the American Queen (AQ), the American Empress (AE) is a paddlewheel ship but AE is diesel powered with two "Z" drives supplementing the paddlewheel. AE was originally built in 2003 for Majestic CL as their Empress of the North. After Majestic failed the ship was returned to its bond holder. the US Maritime Administration, until bought by AQSC and returned to service last year as American Empress. Although the Empress looks like a steamboat from the outside, inside it is much more modern with large cruise ship styled cabins, almost all with balconies. AQSC is a upscale American owned, operated, and crewed company and thus fairly expensive. I am a "single" and usually AQSC charges double for singles which was the case with this trip. As AE holds only 220 guests, whereas AQ holds over 400, public spaces on AE are very few except for a lovely dining room, River Grill for casual meals at breakfast/lunch and reservation for dinner, a Show Lounge, and one Lounge/Library/Internet Center/Bar combo. Food on AE, like on AQ is excellent however the menu is "shorter" on AE with an emphasis on Pacific NW foods, e.g lots of seafood, whereas on AQ the food is more Southern/Cajun style. CREW/STAFF - all American with great morale/attitude. Never without friendly "hello's" and a smile on their faces. Itinerary - AE does a 7 night river trip from either Clarkson WA (Lewiston ID) to Vancouver WA (Portland OR) or reverse. Each trip begins or ends with a stay at a delightful upscale hotel. In my case it was the wonderfully restored 1914 Davenport Historical Hotel in Spokane. Once you reach your first night hotel everything with AQSC is "seamless" and outstanding in every respect. You check in, have dinner (on your own), provided with luxury overnight accommodations, breakfast the next morning, and then either have the morning to explore or take an extra cost AQSC tour. Your luggage "disappears" from your hotel room and reappears in your cruise stateroom, in the afternoon you are transferred to the ship and your trip begins. We went west down the Snake and Columbia rivers traversing eight river locks over the next days. Each day the "boat" docks at another town and you either take a Hop On/Off tour on AQSC busses which accompany the ship along the journey (travelling along the shore), or a extra cost Premium Tour to destinations further away. On the rivers we traversed from a desert like environment in the east to a heavily forested landscape in western OR/WA. (The Columbia River is the boundary between WA and OR). Personally I found that the stops on AE, while interesting etc. did not provide the variety or number of places of interest as found on AQ on her Mississippi River trips. This was the route of Lewis and Clark when exploring the area and was the "theme" of this voyage. A wonderful lecturer (called the Riverlorian) provides lectures, river commentary etc. On the 8th day we arrived in Vancouver WA, across the river from Portland OR where AQSC transferred us to the airport, tours, or their post cruise hotel. Other Comments - on AE cabins are "cruise ship like" with small baths and very small showers. Cabin walls are very "thin" and easily transmit "conversation" from next door. On AQ cabins are smaller, furnished with period furniture, large baths with tubs, but very few "private balconies". On AQ cabins mostly open to open Promenade Decks whereas on AE all cabins but six have private balconies. This was my 3rd AQSC trip and I find them expensive yes, but excellent is all respects. Your fellow passengers at least on this trip made this 75 year old feel that he was a "youngster". It is not just the "retired", but the "long retired" here on AE. Summary - it is almost impossible to find anything to "niggle" about on the AE or the AQ. AQSC is a great company and is I understand, part of the Hornblower Maritime "empire" which offers various maritime services around the world. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
We stayed at a hotel near the port in Memphis. The check-in process was smooth. The boat was in good condition and traveled on the river very well. Spending time on our balcony while going down the river was pleasant. The shore ... Read More
We stayed at a hotel near the port in Memphis. The check-in process was smooth. The boat was in good condition and traveled on the river very well. Spending time on our balcony while going down the river was pleasant. The shore excursions were very interesting and enjoyable The internet connection was slow, when available The meals were better on some days than others, but the one consistent thing was the food was served cold most of the time. Talking to the Kitchen Staff along with Management did not make a difference - their attitude was "you do not matter and take the meals as is". The Staff turned distant and aloof after our comments and complaints, making this cruise disappointing. Entertainment on the boat is nonexistent We enjoyed the time off the boat visiting the small cities This cruise is very expensive and did not live up to expectations Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
I had wanted to visit Europe for decades, and, being recently retired, I felt this was the time to go. I wanted a no-hassle experience. A river cruise with the "hotel" traveling with me, instead of having to pack and unpack at ... Read More
I had wanted to visit Europe for decades, and, being recently retired, I felt this was the time to go. I wanted a no-hassle experience. A river cruise with the "hotel" traveling with me, instead of having to pack and unpack at every stop, was extremely appealing. The moment my wife and I arrived at our cruise ship, we knew something was different. The relaxed, yet organized atmosphere, the cordial staff members, the modern setting, and the sun deck all portended a remarkable experience. We were taken care of like royalty. The food was delicious and abundant; our veranda stateroom, though compact, was comfortable and well-appointed; the staff consistently went out of their way to make sure we were comfortable and were enjoying ourselves. Even though several of the cities we visited were in Germany, we found that each city had its own personality, and, though we only got a slight taste of the city, that taste was always well-organized and informative, with well-prepared tourist guides. Everything that happened before our cruise and afterwards felt like "reality." But, as I mentioned to my wife as our plane landed in our home city, the cruise felt like "a dream." There is nothing that we've experienced that can compare to it. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
Advantages Bed comfortable Clean room and ship generally well maintained Disadvantages Food and Drink Included wine poor quality table wine. All food was luke warm or cold. Food was not good quality e.g. steak thin and ... Read More
Advantages Bed comfortable Clean room and ship generally well maintained Disadvantages Food and Drink Included wine poor quality table wine. All food was luke warm or cold. Food was not good quality e.g. steak thin and tough No tables for two in main restaurant and only two on Aquavit Terrace. Menu on Aquavit Terrace same every night and similar to pub food (eg beef burgers) Maître d’ had a bandaged finger for a week but was still serving and touching food in the Aquavit Terrace while not wearing gloves. Waiters leaned across your dessert to clear the table and tried to take away plates before you had finished. Logistics Double docking with another Viking cruise ship meant we had no balcony for two days. Often left for too long in the town before picked up by coach e.g. Miltenberg. On a night when 4 coaches took guests to a concert, the restaurant staff would not let us sit at a table for 4 as a couple, even though there were a large number of tables available and insisted we sat on a table for 12. Customer service Generally average. We would not go on another Viking river cruise. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
This was our second Viking river cruise. The accommodations, service, food, and ports of call are all top notch. Every detail was well organized. Lots of fun people to meet. We extended our tour pre and post river cruise to Amsterdam ... Read More
This was our second Viking river cruise. The accommodations, service, food, and ports of call are all top notch. Every detail was well organized. Lots of fun people to meet. We extended our tour pre and post river cruise to Amsterdam and London. We planned our own itinerary, but joining the cruise went very smoothly. The ship was beautiful and had many places to relax, meet other people, have a drink or enjoy wonderful food. There was entertainment each evening in which to participate, but quiet places could be found as well. We traveled with 6 other friends which was nice as we always had someone to enjoy different activities with. There was a variety of choices for activities so everyone could find something to do on shore. Our food stewards really gave our group top service getting us whatever we needed. The food was beautifully presented, wine was plentiful and the food was delicious. The activity director was very helpful in planning activities and helping us choose which points of interest to see at a particular city and what restaurants to choose. I felt that there were many opportunities to meet other people so a pre-organized group was helpful, but not essential. The ship had many amenities-snack bar, lounge bar, library, top deck walking track and games, and different places to eat meals on the ship-casual to fine dining. The shore excursions were well planned in small groups so little time was lost exiting and traveling to the cities. Usually you were divided into regular groups so you had a chance to meet people traveling with you in smaller groups. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
This was our first cruise on Viking River Cruises. We went from Bucharest to Budapest which is the direction I would recommend for anyone that hasn't been in Eastern Europe before. Our prior cruises have all been ocean cruises and we ... Read More
This was our first cruise on Viking River Cruises. We went from Bucharest to Budapest which is the direction I would recommend for anyone that hasn't been in Eastern Europe before. Our prior cruises have all been ocean cruises and we loved the more intimate feel and personal attention of the river cruise. I believe that Viking does an exceptional job in this regard. We opted to extend our stay an additional 20 days which Viking allowed us to do. We arranged our own transportation form Budapest, Hungary (the end of our tour) to Bonn, Germany. Viking made our flight arrangements from Germany back to the USA for us. This allowed us to stay with friends in Germany for that additional time. We enjoyed our river cruise so much that we will probably forgo ocean cruises for now. We enjoyed the smaller number of people and the personal attention that we received. When we departed Budapest, Hungary on our own to Germany, the Viking staff were very helpful even though their responsibilities to us had ended. The shore excursions were great. We are usually interested in learning about the countries and people we visit and these were very informational and well done. Not to mention the opportunities to interact with people. I think the most extraordinary thing about visiting this part of the world earlier this year was that the immigration problems that Europe and especially Hungary began facing several months later were so much clearer to us. We felt that we have a greater understanding of the situation and problems. It turned into an incredible eyeopener for us. This was a unique trip at a unique time. We enjoyed the great service and personable staff. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
First of all I should mention that we had awful weather - cold and wet - and this obviously affected my enjoyment of the cruise. We were new to river cruising and I am glad that we chose a shorter cruise as our intro. There were no onboard ... Read More
First of all I should mention that we had awful weather - cold and wet - and this obviously affected my enjoyment of the cruise. We were new to river cruising and I am glad that we chose a shorter cruise as our intro. There were no onboard activities apart from a quiz one evening. Scenic cater for the more mature traveller and we found that the tours were not active enough. For example the best day weather wise was Salzburg but there were two stops on the way there so having done the walking city tour - one hour - and had lunch, there was only 45 minutes of free time. Regarding the ship itself, the restaurant and bar area were very cold - I was in layers the whole time. If you feel the cold take plenty of sweaters and shawls to put over evening wear. People didn't seem to dress up as much as they do on ocean cruises. There are also 68 locks to navigate if you take the whole trip to Amsterdam so nights are noisy - take earplugs. We dined in Portobello which is just a glassed off area at the front of the bar and also Table la Rive which is just a table for twelve at the far end of the restaurant - both meals were good. The standard of food overall was good with plenty of choice although the buffet dinner on the first night was a bit of a scrum. There were some interesting towns along the way - its worth walking around Regensburg because if you choose the Weltenburg abbey trip you won't see the town at all. I would have liked to explore Passau but as soon as we came back from the tour of Salzburg we sailed off - there did seem to be a rush to get to the next lock - presumably to avoid queueing. The sun deck was closed off most of the trip because the river was high and bridges low. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
The cruise from Bucharest (port was 1 hour drive away) to Budapest in May 2015 was excellent. We have been on 16 cruises (2 with Viking) and the food on this ship was the best that we have ever had. Our original ship, the Lif, was not ... Read More
The cruise from Bucharest (port was 1 hour drive away) to Budapest in May 2015 was excellent. We have been on 16 cruises (2 with Viking) and the food on this ship was the best that we have ever had. Our original ship, the Lif, was not able to get to our port near Bucharest due to high water levels on the other side of Budapest on the Danube so the Embla was substituted. The ships are identical so this was no big deal. In fact Viking is getting rid of their older river boats and changing them to the Longships so if river levels are a problem, they can bus people from one ship to another if they cannot get under a bridge. So you pack up on one ship and they transfer everything to the other ship and you are on your way again. This is a great move by Viking to keep the water complaints down over which they have no control. The boat's crew were always helpful and the excursions and the guides were excellent. We did the 3 day extension in Bucharest which included a overnight stay at a Ramada on the way to Dracula's castle. The Hilton Athenee Hotel in Bucharest where we stayed a total of 3 nights is a beautiful hotel which was changed from the Radisson Blu that is right across the street and is not as nice a hotel. The Budapest hotel where we stayed for 2 nights was the Marriott where all rooms look out on the river and look toward the Buda side. This was also a very nice hotel and right in the middle of everything in Budapest. The only complaint I have with Viking is that you have to pay for the cruise a year in advance. Also I originally booked the 3 day extension to Prague with Viking but they changed the hotel from the Hilton to the Corinthia Hotel which is not located near the city center (although Viking did provide a shuttle). Since I wanted to stay near the city center, I cancelled the extension and this apparently made me ineligible for the bus transfer from Budapest to Prague according to the Los Angeles office. So I booked RailEurope train tickets for 2 for $330.00. When I was at the hotel in Budapest, I spoke to the Viking reps at the hospitality desk and asked if I could get on the bus with the other extension people to go to Prague instead of taking the train. They said OK and I just filled out a credit card authorization form for $240.00. So next I had to take a taxi to the train station in Budapest to get my train tickets stamped NOT USED and then had to mail them back to RailEurope when I got home. Might get about 60% of the cost of the train tickets back eventually after they deduct from their handling charges and shipping charges. there were 20 empty seats on the 8 hour bus trip to Prague so capacity was not an issue. Viking should change their policy on this and allow anyone to take their transfers whether or not you are staying in their hotel. The Four Seasons hotel that we stayed in in Prague was the same price as the hotel that Viking booked people into. Looking online you could book the Corinthia hotel for about 110 Euros and Viking was charging about $1600 for the 3 day stay in Prague and the only extra was a city tour that they provided. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
What a greeting we got the window to board was one hour we had come from Tokyo by bullet then a Taxi that did not know were the port was then we got out of the Taxi two crew took our bags and lead us to the gangway very nice touch, on ... Read More
What a greeting we got the window to board was one hour we had come from Tokyo by bullet then a Taxi that did not know were the port was then we got out of the Taxi two crew took our bags and lead us to the gangway very nice touch, on entering the Ship 23 min early we were treated to you are early sit there till your cabin is ready , our party was made up of a 86 year old a 70 & a 60 year old the attitude shown was rude abrupt discourteous and not a credit to the French people it followed on with the reception counter staff also French The cabin was great but no list is given on what is included in you package and what is paid for the most of the cabin crew & restaurant staff are great not French the off handed French restaurant manger falling over the French customers but keeping away from the Australians Food quality could not be described a fine dining it had its moment but over all was not up to P&O at half the cost P&O , Carnival Line & Princess Line are able to handle 2500 passengers boarding in four hours this boat could not handle 200 Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
We talked to friends that went on a Viking cruise and enjoyed it very much. We went on our cruise and thought the experience was excellent. Will go again, but have to save to go. We will go again.in a few years. The crew was ... Read More
We talked to friends that went on a Viking cruise and enjoyed it very much. We went on our cruise and thought the experience was excellent. Will go again, but have to save to go. We will go again.in a few years. The crew was outstanding and the Tour Professional, Jean Pierre, was the best. He had everything arranged and all went on time with no problems. The only hiccup was the visit to the Lourge where it took a long time to get into the building and the crowds were too much. I would surely go on another Viking cruise. It is on our bucket list. Just need to save up and go in about a year. The tours provided were excellent. All of the tour guides were very professional and took their time explaining the sites. No problem with questions. All were top notch. Jean Pierre our tour director made the voyage a very memorable experience. He sure put everyone at ease. The dining experience was also outstanding. We like the idea that you could eat casually or dine with everyone else. We will plan another trip soon and try to convince others to join us. The cruise was expensive, but I believe that it was worth the money. We just need to save. The house keeping was also outstanding and the wait staff was fun and also outstanding. I do not know who hires the workers on the ship, but they have done a great job. Keep up the good work. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
Just returned from a Viking River cruise from Passau to Budapest. Overall a wonderful trip. We were in a cabin on the main deck. Very nice cabin with plenty of hanging space and drawer/cabinet space. You don't spend a lot of time ... Read More
Just returned from a Viking River cruise from Passau to Budapest. Overall a wonderful trip. We were in a cabin on the main deck. Very nice cabin with plenty of hanging space and drawer/cabinet space. You don't spend a lot of time in your room and many times you are docked next to another ship so we didn't miss having a balcony window. The half window was fine. Had an issue with a flooded bathroom (pump was broken) first night but the crew worked on it immediately and we had no problems after that. Great coffee machine on upper deck with all types of coffee such as café au lait, macchiato, cappuccino, hot chocolate etc. There were flavorings to add to the coffee and lots of varieties of tea. Cookies were served every afternoon. Food in the dining room was very good. Only complaint is at breakfast and lunch it was hard to get a menu or waiters to bring food not on the buffet. The chef on our cruise, Erik, was phenomenal and will do anything in his power to make your dining experience great including giving guest recipes for their favorite meals. Most meals were of the regional cuisine which was fun and flavorful. The hotel manager and activities directors were both exceptional, and the piano player sang Tom Jones tunes one evening and was wonderful. There were educational talks which were quite good and regional entertainment at night that was enjoyable. The ports were good. Passau was interesting but I could have skipped the organ concert it wasn't as good as I expected. If you get a chance have the Leberkase it is wonderful (it is also available in other stops.) The Melk Abbey Monastery was not to be missed and we had a great guide. In Durnstein I took the advise of the concierge and did not climb (as it was raining and he said it would be slippery and not much to see) but my husband along with another guest climbed to the castle ruins and said it was the highlight of his trip so I would advise if you are physically able to climb to do so. Bratislava was a disappointment as you do not go into the castle and there is not a lot to see. Vienna was wonderful but the tour does not take you inside any buildings. I was disappointed in the Symphony. The venue even though it was in the Palace was a quite ordinary room with jarring modern painting murals in orange and red on the ceiling and walls. Acoustics were good and the drummer had some amusing moments. Sailing into Budapest at night was spectacular and I was glad we started at Passau and ended here so that our first impression was the night time lights of all the gorgeous buildings on the Danube. Again the tour is mostly the exterior view of buildings except for Matthias Church. Our guide, Laslo, was the best. He sang to us and taught us a Hungarian dance which we did outside the church. Met some wonderful people and enjoyed our time. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
My wife and I (both in our late 30's/early 40's) booked a Category 1 stateroom (201) on the River Ambassador for May 2015. She had always wanted to visit Prague and go on a river cruise along the Danube, so this itinerary was the ... Read More
My wife and I (both in our late 30's/early 40's) booked a Category 1 stateroom (201) on the River Ambassador for May 2015. She had always wanted to visit Prague and go on a river cruise along the Danube, so this itinerary was the perfect fit. We really can't rave about this cruise enough! The service and staff on the ship was top-notch: friendly, enthusiastic, knowledgable, and professional. The food was truly fine dining with all alcohol included. The chef always cooked a local dish using local ingredients each night. Presentation was excellent, and the food tasted even better! The excursions were excellent with knowledgable and friendly local guides. Didn't expect as many bus rides, but at least the bus itself and the drivers were all excellent. The cabin itself, while small, was well-appointed and comfortable. The ships amenities were quite convenient and in good order, and we loved the location of our cabin: right off the lobby but set back enough so that you didn't hear any noise whatsoever. The port talks every evening were very helpful in deciding which of the tours to go on the following day. There were several optional tours that cost a little bit extra that were well worth doing. Although, I would give a second thought on doing all the optional excursions in Vienna along with the featured excursion as you buy yourself a total of six bus rides on the first day, which was a little excessive and tiring. All transfers were handled very well. The Captain did a great job navigating the river, always staying a couple steps ahead. The Danube river level was rising and the Captain got us moving a little earlier than anticipated one evening so that we wouldn't get stuck behind a low bridge, thereby ensuring we made our next stop. All in all a phenomenal experience, and we are Uniworld fanatics for life! Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
As always, Viking's focus was on destinations and enrichment. The ship is pristine, superbly designed, relaxing and entertaining. We enjoyed all the included excursions. I'll note that the quality of the guides was not up to the ... Read More
As always, Viking's focus was on destinations and enrichment. The ship is pristine, superbly designed, relaxing and entertaining. We enjoyed all the included excursions. I'll note that the quality of the guides was not up to the normal Viking bar - with some notable exceptions. However, I'm sure Viking will sort that out in short order. The food was plentiful and easily accessible. And what a pleasure it is to sail without the constant pestering to spend money on ship. There are so many quiet places on board where the traveler can go and recharge, read, have conversations with other guests. The crew, as is always true with Viking, is superb - friendly, cheerful, accommodating. We couldn't ask for more. And the destinations are topnotch. Gdansk was the only destination that wasn't fulfilling. I hasten to add: I'm still happy Gdansk is included because of its historical significance. I enjoyed seeing the city. It simply didn't impress. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
This by far the best cruise we have been on. When it came time to review the experience not one of us could come up with anything that could have been better. The staff were outstanding, welcoming, helpful and always there with a smile ... Read More
This by far the best cruise we have been on. When it came time to review the experience not one of us could come up with anything that could have been better. The staff were outstanding, welcoming, helpful and always there with a smile - all credit to David, the Hotel Manager. The food was awesome, varied and full of flavour - not one average meal for the whole trip, they were all 5 star! The boat was always pristine and extremely well presented at all times. Anyone thinking of a river cruise would be well advised to put this cruise line on the top of their list. WELL DONE VIKING! and thank you. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
We were first-time river cruisers and had such a good time that we already have booked another one. We like the more intimate feeling of a longship, especially the open seating at meals. Informative lectures helped us understand more about ... Read More
We were first-time river cruisers and had such a good time that we already have booked another one. We like the more intimate feeling of a longship, especially the open seating at meals. Informative lectures helped us understand more about Russia, and the articles in the daily paper let us know more about the things we were seeing. The tour leaders are exceptionally trained and were able to answer any question from the group. Viking is well organized for on- and off-boat routines, tour bus numbers and groups, and keeping things moving. Do pay attention to the codes for levels of walking in the itinerary if you have any problems (knees, hips), and ask the tour director or guide before setting off about the distances and restroom availability (one on our bus was on water pills). Staff hands out bottles of water every time you leave the boat for a tour. Excellent! Do not miss the home visit in Uglich; it was the best stop on the trip. Wonderful homemade vodka, brown bread and dill pickles, followed by apple cake and tea, then a visit to their backyard to see a huge garden with nary a weed in it. The food was exceptional with many choices at every meal. Big buffet for breakfast with hot and cold choices. Buffet including salads, and a printed menu for lunch. Printed menu with many choices for dinner. Most nights there was a Russian specialty among the dinner choices. Also, we enjoyed the Russian dumpling class and the tea session with a samovar and platefuls of pastries. My husband liked the trip as the dress is casual. No suit, no tie. Yes, some people had a jacket for the welcome and farewell dinners, but most men were in khakis or slacks with a collared shirt or sweater. Women wore pantsuits, skirts, a few sparkly blouses, but no cocktail or formal dresses. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
My sister and I were on the Viking Hermod from Chalon Sur Saone to Avignon in May 2015. It was a wonderful experience. We spent several days in Paris in advance, then took the train to Chalon. Mostly, it was the staff who made the ... Read More
My sister and I were on the Viking Hermod from Chalon Sur Saone to Avignon in May 2015. It was a wonderful experience. We spent several days in Paris in advance, then took the train to Chalon. Mostly, it was the staff who made the cruise so great (sincerely friendly, professional, helpful and fun). The ship was gorgeous and our balcony room very comfortable and extremely well designed for space, storage, ease, etc. The food was great and there were always several choices. The complimentary excursions were usually excellent, and there was a surprising number of optional excursions to also chose from (fairy priced). We had great weather and no sailing problems. We enjoyed meeting fellow travelers during cocktail hour, dining, and on the excursions. The other travelers were the type of people we wanted to cruise with - adults, diverse, well-mannered, considerate, fun, from many countries. After the cruise, we took the hi-speed train from Avignon back to Paris CDG. So, my husband & I are going on the Rhine with Viking next year! Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
We had an amazing experience on Emerald Sun! Our cruise director Yana was absolutely wonderful, so attentive and knowledgeable! We really enjoyed her port talks and lectures, she truly works very hard to meet everyone's needs. Our ... Read More
We had an amazing experience on Emerald Sun! Our cruise director Yana was absolutely wonderful, so attentive and knowledgeable! We really enjoyed her port talks and lectures, she truly works very hard to meet everyone's needs. Our panorama balcony suite was quite functional, lots of storage space, comfy beds and high quality bedding. Very nice shower, great water pressure and temperature. The rooms are cleaned twice daily, and our housekeeper Mariana always did a great job. My only complaint would be not having enough TV channels, however free on demand movies were a nice touch. We used the pool quite a few times, it had an "endless swimming pool" feature which can be turned on/off if needed. We didn't use the exercise area but I did get a massage and it was exceptional. Food on board was excellent, great variety and flavours. They try to match lunch buffet's theme to a particular port you happen to visit that day, which is very thoughtful. A la carte dinners were always superb, included wines were also high quality. Restaurant staff is simply outstanding, by the end of your cruise you really start to feel like you're surrounded by family because everyone is trying very hard to make your stay as comfortable and enjoyable as possible. Embarkation/Disembarkation were very well organized, and there was a light lunch served on the embarkation day while people were waiting for their cabins to be prepared, in case you arrived too early. The reception staff is very friendly and always ready to help. Unlike the previous reviewer I actually found the ship to be very stylish, and loved the modern furniture and lighting, it had a very European feel to it. I also found the entertainment to be sufficient - besides the live piano tunes, there were two local bands invited on two separate occasions, a glass blowing presentation and a presentation on apricot processing in Austrian wine country, which I enjoyed a lot (and everyone got a free jar of jam!) and movies, of course. One night the crew also put on a talent show which was very cute. The included tours with local guides were exceptional. The only optional tour we went on was the viennese concert which in my opinion is an absolute must, it was incredible. We enjoyed all the ports except perhaps Rudesheim which felt a bit like a tourist trap, but this is where people usually start the Rhine Gorge cruise so I can see why they'd choose to stop there. We cruised the Gorge on a beautiful sunny afternoon so it was great to see the sights and all the castles, accompanied by Yana's commentaries. All in all, I would most definitely recommend this cruise and this particular ship to anyone, and would gladly take another Emerald cruise in the future. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
This is clearly the most opulent steamboat ever built. The decor was beautiful. Everywhere I looked, there was great detail and beautiful craftsmanship, and all the main areas of this boat were unique and grand. The highlights of the boat ... Read More
This is clearly the most opulent steamboat ever built. The decor was beautiful. Everywhere I looked, there was great detail and beautiful craftsmanship, and all the main areas of this boat were unique and grand. The highlights of the boat were the theatre, dining room, ladies' parlor, men's card room were all spectacular. The pursers were very helpful. Whenever I called or stopped by the purser's desk, they were always knowledgeable and eager to help, with a smile. All the staff and crew, no matter which department they worked in were friendly and helpful. I really enjoyed my housekeeper, Adam. He went above and beyond to meet our needs. In addition to his routine tasks, Adam made sure we had ice for our wine bucket, provided morning coffee service when requested, gave us shore excursion recommendations, and made creatures out of towels and left them on our beds. He was always respectful and fun to be around. While on my short trip, I became friends with both passengers and staff members. Dining was also a treat, not only was the food great, but the service was impeccable. My waitress was Cassandra and her assistant was Jada and they were fabulous. After my first couple of nights of dining, Jada knew that I didn't drink wine so when I arrived she had water and orange juice waiting for me. She realized quickly they were my drinks of choice. Also, having an assigned wait staff and dining time made dinner so much more enjoyable. It afforded an opportunity to get to know the wait staff and them the opportunity to better cater to my dining needs. The food was delicious. I'm a vegetarian and my needs were always met. If I needed a change in the menu the head waiter, Galvin was sure to accommodate me. To make sure my meals were satisfactory, he created a personal meal plan for me. I rarely ate lunch or breakfast, but when I did it was superb. The selection of food was always great. When I did eat lunch I usually ate on an area of the boat called the Front Porch of America, which is less formal than the dining room. It was buffet style, but there were always great options. There was also a small bar, ice cream, a variety of drinks and sweets. It was like being on a porch, riverside. There was an option to eat inside or out on the deck where there were rocking chairs, porch swings and table and chairs. Being able to go down to the engine room and see how the boat ran was so cool. The engineers answered any question I and provided a great deal of information on how the boat operated. There were also, guided tours up to the pilot house. I was special treat to be taken up by the riverlorian. He provided context to all that I was experiencing while on my trip. I was impressed with his knowledge. While the tour was in the pilot house the captain and his crew spent time answering questions and explaining the operation of the boat. There was daily playing of the calliope. It is not often that someone gets to see a working calliope. This was another added gem. On the same deck as the calliope there was a pool and gym. I didn't use either, but it was nice knowing they were there. I loved the fact that I could enjoy the boat at my own pace. If I wanted to just relax and read or take in the scenery, it was very easy to do. If I wanted to be more active, there were activities during the day and entertainment most of the day and late into the night. There was always something going on. Sometimes it was hard to choose whether to stay on board or explore when we were docked at a port, because the boat is so relaxing and beautiful. My friend and I didn't take advantage of the paid shore excursions or the hop-on-hop-off free tours. We usually chose to check out bikes that were provided to explore on our own. The bikes were easy-to-ride three-speeds which had assigned locks and helmets. My friend and I had so much fun doing our shore excursions this way and we often went to the same stops as the hop-on-hop-off tours. The pursers provided us with the same maps the tour used. I was impressed on all fronts with this steamboat cruise. There was so much to take in, both on and off the boat. I will most definitely be back. I'm eager to check out their other boat, the American Empress. If its anything like the Queen, I'm sure I'll be in for a treat. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
Failed in the area of knowledgeable land guides. Although not Viking personnel, Viking is responsible for the experience. There was one good guide out of seven. High expectations for food; and the food was, at best, average. Failed at ... Read More
Failed in the area of knowledgeable land guides. Although not Viking personnel, Viking is responsible for the experience. There was one good guide out of seven. High expectations for food; and the food was, at best, average. Failed at ports of call. All but two ports required bus transportation, not walking distance as pictured in the brochures and on-line. Two ports were cement and cinder block manufacturing companies. Two days, our room was without some power. No a/c, no refrigerator, no TV/music, spotty internet. This will sound petty; but you must prepare for this, and we were not. You go through more than 20 locks. Two or three are interesting. The cabin was impossibly small. Evening briefings were painstakingly read, as were the "lectures" on local culture and attractions. Outstanding staff. Can not say enough about the staff. Beautifully appointed boat, two years old. Clean and well maintained. Some of the on-board "local" entertainment was really good. The rating below are based on the overall price of the cruise. It costs a whole lot more; and therefore, the expectations are a whole lot higher. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
We've done a couple of ocean cruises and always wanted to go on a River Cruise. So we chose Viking (the best reputation) and sailed from Amsterdam to Basal, Switzerland. The ship was very nice and comfortable. Staff were excellent ... Read More
We've done a couple of ocean cruises and always wanted to go on a River Cruise. So we chose Viking (the best reputation) and sailed from Amsterdam to Basal, Switzerland. The ship was very nice and comfortable. Staff were excellent as was the food. And our room was lovely and spacious with a veranda that we didn't use often, but it was nice to have. When we asked about river cruises, one of the positives was that the ship docked right in the towns and we would get off the ship and be able to walk around. Out of the 7 or 8 stops we made, that only occurred twice. The rest of the stops required us to take a bus and, in one case, the bus was a 10 minute walk away. So that was disappointing. The excursions overall were very nice, although the additional excursions that we purchased were only so-so and, in hindsight, we should not have booked them. On the last two days we were out all morning on a regular excursion, than back for lunch. Then out for a second excursion which lasted until 6:30pm. With dinner at 7 that doesn't allow any time to rest or clean up. And on the last day the ship was delayed at the locks so they didn't get to our dock until 45 minutes after we arrived on the bus. And it was just a field with a little dock so we had no place to go - just stand outside the bus and wait. Not fun. While it was quite lovely to be able to sit on the deck with a glass of wine and cruise down the Rhine, there was nothing else to do on the ship. Because we were used to ocean cruises where there is always some activity, this felt like a real lack. No pool, no snack bars or places to eat other than the one restaurant and the terrace. It was relaxing to just sit and read. But after awhile we found ourselves getting antsy and wanting something to do. This is no fault of the cruise line. It was just our expectations. At many ports the ships dock right next to each other so, if you have a window or balcony on the wrong side, you have to keep the shades closed or you will be looking into someone else's bedroom. All in all, I'm glad we took a river cruise for the experience. But going forward we can book three ocean cruises for the cost of one river cruise and that is what we will do. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
This cruise was problematic in: - Lack of food to buy onboard between meals Room was strictly average in care and staff upkeep -Food was mediocre although it looked good, but poor quality -Staff was mediocre in politeness and ... Read More
This cruise was problematic in: - Lack of food to buy onboard between meals Room was strictly average in care and staff upkeep -Food was mediocre although it looked good, but poor quality -Staff was mediocre in politeness and helpfulness; unaccomodating -Half of the tour guides were above average, the rest mediocre and below average - Scarcity of onboard activities - Program director and her immediate staff were helpful and agreeable Comments by some staff members: When our shower flooded: "That happens sometimes on these ships". No apologies? nothing When I requested more food: "We don't have anymore- was thrown away" Ridiculous- no civility or manners. Much dismissiveness on our requests- who trained these people? - It might help if their English skills were better also. We paid a considerable amount of money for this trip- I can't believe how poor it was. -We have been on cruises to the Mediterranean, Alaska, and the Caribbean. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
We have been in n many ocean cruises, and this was our first river cruise. Based on this experience, we are "hooked" on river cruises. We took the Grand European tour - Budapest to Amsterdam. We loved the small number of ... Read More
We have been in n many ocean cruises, and this was our first river cruise. Based on this experience, we are "hooked" on river cruises. We took the Grand European tour - Budapest to Amsterdam. We loved the small number of passengers, personalized service by all staff, shore excursions.and fellow passengers. We are retired, and most passengers were 50 or older, well traveled, and interesting. I have problems walking very long distances and standing for long periods of time. My husband, on the other hand is very athletic and active. There were tour groups that fit both our needs. There is a leisure group that is slower and avoids multiple steps and more strenuous terrain. Tour guides were excellent and knowledgeable . If you don't like group tours, the concierge is very knowledgeable about alternatives - hop on hop off buses, etc. I enjoy exploring on my own and met a fellow passenger who liked the same things. Like all cruises, we would like more time in certain cities -Vienna, Cologne. Unlike ocean cruises, there is no casino, fitness center, evening shows - we did not miss. Every evening there is a review of tours and things to do in port-recommend attending these. Also available on in room TV. Evening/afternoon entertainment was based on local culture, information. I do recommend some of additional shore excursions - price is reasonable compared to ocean cruises. We loved the Vienna music and trip to Rothenberg. Husband loved Beerhaus tour in Cologne. Food was excellent and there is personalized service for special dietary needs. We used frequent flyer miles for airfare, but did purchase transfers. Well worth cost. We booked through Viking -but will use travel agency next time -Most who used travel agencies had extra perks. We did not book pre or post cruise tours. Heard great reviews for Prague and Bdapest. We are planning our next river cruise -hope you join us! Read Less
Sail Date May 2015

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