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9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2013
First, let me say that the crew of the Avalon Visionary were wonderful. They did everything in their power to make the trip a pleasure, but couldn't overcome the shortcomings of stateroom 202. The continuous sound of running, ... Read More
First, let me say that the crew of the Avalon Visionary were wonderful. They did everything in their power to make the trip a pleasure, but couldn't overcome the shortcomings of stateroom 202. The continuous sound of running, splashing, gurgling water beneath our cabin floor caused us endless sleepless nights. We would emerge in the morning for breakfast looking like zombies. When exhaustion did bring on sleep, we were frequently awakened green and gasping as diesel exhaust fumes wafted through our cabin courtesy of the air conditioning system. There was no fear of motion sickness on board, but carbon monoxide poisoning was a real possibility. The on-board entertainment system was nice, but only worked sporadically. Then there was the day when our room inexplicably locked us out. This was surely an omen. Only a crew member with a master key could let us in that day until the entire lock system was replaced. On the final evening of the trip we had a silent tour of Budapest at night when our local guide was given a dead audio transmitter. Note to beer lovers: The complimentary on-board beer served with dinner is awful. It looks and tastes like....well....you know. After the first night nobody touched the beer. We all switched to wine, which was quite good. Small (0.3L) bottles of German beer were available at the bar but cost 3.5 Euros (about $5). Slake your beer thirst in Prague, where delicious Czech beer cost less than $2 for a half liter. Wish we had brought a case on board. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2013
We have just returned from the Viking Emerald - China's Cultural Delights August 2013 First and foremost, think twice before traveling to China in August. The temperatures were near 100 with 100% humidity daily. The trip has a lot of ... Read More
We have just returned from the Viking Emerald - China's Cultural Delights August 2013 First and foremost, think twice before traveling to China in August. The temperatures were near 100 with 100% humidity daily. The trip has a lot of walking and stairs - the temperature makes the excursions more difficult to handle. Consider your level of fitness, if stairs leave you out of breath or walking more than 1 mile is not going to happen, consider a different trip. You will also encounter lots of pollution. The Viking staff goes out of their way to be helpful and does a good job of taking care of you during your stay, however the trip does leave a lot to be desired. If you are paying more than their  price deal you are paying too much. The ship is warm and damp - with temperatures regulated globally rather than per cabin. The dampness = a musty odor. Floors are uneven and the carpet needs to be re stretched. The cabins are a good size and comfortable. During your river cruise there is a daily excursion, but the majority of the day/night is spent cruising the river. You will have a 3-4 hr excursion which generally includes a 30 min to 1 hour bus ride to your destination. Viking takes you on an extreme number of shopping experiences - rugs, silk, porcelain, jade all served with a mediocre Chinese lunch. You will be taken through a factory and shown the process, with every tour ending in a shop where you can purchase something. If you are not a shopper, beware  of your excursions are shopping experiences. The on board food is plentiful - but quality and taste are not always great. The land portion of the trip is fast paced, the hotels nice, the food plentiful - but not gourmet. You will spend less than 24 hours in most locations and only see a quick highlight of the locations you are visiting. Meals are served on lazy Susan - drinks are usually a warm water, soda or beer - no wine is offered on land. You are encouraged to tip daily for guides and bus drivers- I would suggest you take $100 American Dollars for these tips. Additionally you can charge the on board tips, but if you want to ensure that the tips are going to those you truly appreciated, tip them directly. What you will see and experience is a wonderful culture with people who are genuinely happy and optimistic about their country and their opportunities for a better future. You will interact with local children and their grandparents who greet you at every port. You will see China's richest treasures in Shanghai, Beijing, Xi'an and at several stops along the Yangtze. You will sail through beautiful gorges and past mega industrial sites. You will leave with an overview and appreciation for China.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2013
The Columbia River scenery was nice, the locks and dams were interesting. The pros: Laid back Quiet not crowded Casual The cons: Cabins are really small Food is very marginal and little choice Snacks are very salty, pretzels etc., ... Read More
The Columbia River scenery was nice, the locks and dams were interesting. The pros: Laid back Quiet not crowded Casual The cons: Cabins are really small Food is very marginal and little choice Snacks are very salty, pretzels etc., not good for seniors Waiters are really young and inexperienced. Some real surprises here. Shore tours are pricey, save your money Not much to do on board, just relax and read Entertainment was really lacking Mostly old folks, some friendly, some are not Grossly unfair? They allowed some folks to reserve tables, bummer Hot food is cold, service is really poor Young kids who do not really fit in, some of them are trying Actually, the kids are overworked, do food handling then the restroom cleaning Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2013
I was dazzled mesmerized mislead by Viking Cruise lines elaborate advertising campaigns. I truly believed that I was going on a first class river cruise, but instead I felt as if I was on a subpar barge floating down the Danube river. The ... Read More
I was dazzled mesmerized mislead by Viking Cruise lines elaborate advertising campaigns. I truly believed that I was going on a first class river cruise, but instead I felt as if I was on a subpar barge floating down the Danube river. The staff was cold and unfriendly. The food was good, but not great. Breakfast and lunch were buffets, and dinner was very small portions and the bread basket was full of slices of bread the size of a quarter. I love dessert and I was so disappointed in every dessert that they offered. It reminded me of what you would get on a buffet, or in a cafeteria. Our bathroom had a dirty toilet from the previous guest, which was cleaned up immediately. But I think the worst part was the fact that my 75 year old father was forced to pay my room expenses before he and the rest of the bus passengers were allowed to exit there bus at the Munich airport. I was unclear on why they did not just charge my credit card that was on file. And now I have been spending the last month and a half trying to reverse the charges from my father and apply them to my credit card. So far I get the impression that Viking River cruise does not care about their customers once they get your money. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2013
As a preface, we are a couple of active, still working adults somewhat on the low end of the age range of typical river cruisers. I cancelled a back to back Celebrity cruise touring Iceland and the Baltic after reading about river ... Read More
As a preface, we are a couple of active, still working adults somewhat on the low end of the age range of typical river cruisers. I cancelled a back to back Celebrity cruise touring Iceland and the Baltic after reading about river cruising. Our experience has been mostly with the Royal Caribbean/Celebrity product. I considered Tauck, Uniworld and a few other lines when booking this trip last October. I chose Scenic based on the inclusions(tips, alcohol, all excursions, butler, internet), greater population of Australians, and appeared to have more "active" inclusions such as a gym and use of bicycles as well as "tailor made" self touring. As many of CC members, I researched and read reviews and had a good idea of what river cruising was about -- or so I thought. We booked the Jewel - the newest ship of the Scenic fleet-- based upon itinerary, and the fact that it included a gym (we love to eat). We arranged our own air/hotel stays which included 10 days in Europe prior to our July 1st Scenic cruise. Budapest is just as wonderful as all of the reviews. We stayed in a lovely B&B (Kapital Inn) for 3 nights. Our first disappointment came 2 days prior to the cruise in a forwarded email from our TA. We would not be cruising on the Jewel in Budapest, but instead would be on the Diamond for 3 nights, then we would be bussed to the Jewel which was upriver and unable to make it to Budapest due to a lock being closed up the Danube. We took a taxi to the Marriott to drop our luggage and take transportation to the ship. Quite a few people had not received word that we would not be on the Jewel. Most of us had been aware of the flooding, and although there was a little grumbling about not being told in advance, it wasn't a huge problem. Our cruise director Marin was the only staff that stayed with our group during our very challenging cruise. He did an amazing job considering the problems he faced. I'd like to mention the other ships we stayed on, as we found huge differences that impacted our trip. We ended up having to change ships again due to lock strikes in Germany after being docked in a commercial area in Bamburg for 3 nights and long bus trips for excursions. We started on the Diamond, moved to the Jewel and ended up on the Pearl. Our vision of unpacking once and enjoying the river from our balcony ended up being not so ideal. We spent much more time being on big bus tours than we thought. Did the interruptions impact our cruise enjoyment? Probably. We never did experience the "afternoons enjoying the villages on our own" The only village we stayed at required a 10 Euro one way taxi ride. I thought there would be smaller than the 40-50 groups were regularly on and the long bus rides to our destinations.Diamond: Some wear and tear obvious on the ship. It didn't matter to most of us, as we knew we would be meeting the Jewel in a few days. Some negative comments "we didn't get what we paid for", some people ended up in different cabins due to the ships not being identical. The staff however was lovely. We were greeted with cool towels, glass of champagne and a rose for the ladies. Passengers waited in the lounge. We were escorted to our standard balcony cabin after a very brief and orderly check in process. The room was explained by the very friendly stewardess. The balcony was a great feature, space for two chairs and a small table. It was somewhat annoying that the railing was just at eye level when sitting. The ability to move the window up and down was what i guess is Scenic's "signature" feature. To get the A/C to work, the sliding door to the balcony needed to be closed. Our butler "Zoltan" came to introduce himself. He was a favorite on the ship. Most wished we could take him with us. The bed was two two twins (full size twins) pushed together to make a king. L'Occitane bath products, and shower had a complicated spray system, gave it a somewhat higher end feeling. There was a "meet and greet" before dinner, where officers made some comments and the CD explained the river situation, assuring all that we wouldn't notice the ship change, that all would be seamless. Buffet first dinner, somewhat chaotic. The dining room was noisy, most were tables of 6 with a table for 2 right next to it. We found fun tablemates the first night and ate with them frequently during our trip. The wait staff was friendly and seemed very busy and hardworking. We were treated to a night sailing on the Danube to see the lights of BUdapest. We enjoyed the Diamond. DIdn't enjoy packing up three days into our trip. The plan was to take the scheduled tours with being bussed to the ship which was ahead of us. Jewel: We were to have a BBQ lunch on the top deck. Kinda sounds like fun, but it wasn't. The lines were long around the buffet, there weren't too many near tables. Drink service was odd, with waiters asking what we wanted, then never bringing it. No reception when entering the new ship. Not much in the way of greeting. Given our room keys. We find the new cabin to be much nicer -- a better use of space, no sliding door to the balcony, but a nifty folding door that we just left open. The bathroom had a huge shower!! no more complicated shower system. The public rooms were somewhat the same, it was just obvious that overall the physical layout of the Jewel was much better. You would think that this would make happy campers, right? Well, there was a HUGE difference in staff across the board on the Jewel. The ship captain was a substitute and the hotel director appeared to be on vacation. I wish this was an exaggeration. While we saw the hotel director working alongside his people, and checking on dining room status, the hotel director was never seen. People were scratching their heads, how can waiters and bar staff seem to look so "busy" all the time, but people couldn't get any service. Overall, it impacted our experience. We heard there were many verbal and written complaints. We didn't put ours in writing, because at the time I wasn't sure what was going on. THe wait staff didn't appear to be trained on how to do their job, so rather than say it was the problem with the staff, I place the blame on the uninterested hotel director. I did notice that we seemed to "warm" up the staff, mainly because I think we had a very tolerant, fun loving group of passengers. Pearl: like the DIamond, great, hardworking staff. It's hard to believe the difference. I had low expectations for food quality, and high expectations of service, but the reverse actually happened. For example, there were only two menus placed on each table of 6-8. Never did a waiter point out there were alternate selections each night. We were offered a "red" or "white" wine, and it took a few days to figure out they stock more than one choice. You had to be on guard as the waiters often would just pour what was in hand, not noticing you perhaps were drinking a Chianti that night. There was no coffee served dinner. Dining choices on the menu were limited, the food was well presented. I was pleased with my meals. Dining by buffet is difficult when all passengers eat at the same time. I never stayed in the long line for the carved meat or breakfast selections.Scenic promises much more than they are able to deliver. If you enjoy large organized bus tours, or walking tours where you are herded from one location to another Scenic can give you that experience. Our best days happened to be those which we decided to take a pass on the bus tour, and stayed on the boat while it was moving to the next port. The best experience was meeting new friends. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2013
Out Viking River Crusie was disappointing from the start overpriced, 2 for 1 sale, that is always on The Emerald Centruy Riverboat is old and dated, musty, damp. and dreary. The young Chisese staff try very hard and many are great at ... Read More
Out Viking River Crusie was disappointing from the start overpriced, 2 for 1 sale, that is always on The Emerald Centruy Riverboat is old and dated, musty, damp. and dreary. The young Chisese staff try very hard and many are great at their jobs, but are always rushed, confused, which leads to a lot of noisy confused and chaotic dining. The entertainment is odd, and very elementary. The food is served Lazy Susan style, so everything is palced on a spinning platform, often no order or reason. One person is spinning one way, one the other and things get spilled and glasses knocked over. It is noisy and pressured which makes it very hard to visit with your tablemates The tours are often to Viking owned "safe" shops, for carpets, embroaiary, jade, art, etc and all the shops are very expensive. Overall I think Viking is a poorly run company, the Chinese staff try very hard but they are so pressured. Tip the staff directly as Viking bills tips put on your tab to their carpet company and I doubt the realy sevice people see much of the tips. Viking wants and pushed a lot of tipping. One should bring at least 100 $1.00 bilss for buses, local guides and anyone else. Other guides want $10-15 a day per person. I would rate this trip 3/10 or 2 star This was a big disappointment to me and my travel companions, Invest your travel dollars elsewhere. Vijing was difficult to deal with from day one. When you call them, expect to be on hold always, 10 minutes up to an hour. Think twice   Read Less
Sail Date: July 2013
The comments below are from a letter sent to Viking following our July, 2013 cruise from Bucharest to Amsterdam. Overall the trip did not meet our expectations. We realize that some problems were caused by the rolling lock strike, but the ... Read More
The comments below are from a letter sent to Viking following our July, 2013 cruise from Bucharest to Amsterdam. Overall the trip did not meet our expectations. We realize that some problems were caused by the rolling lock strike, but the way that Viking handled that issue was disappointing. In addition, there were aspects of the trip independent of the strike that were disappointing. First, since the negotiations between the parties had been going on for months, Viking clearly knew that there was the possibility of a strike long before the cruise, although the actual dates of the strike were uncertain. Viking made the decision not to inform their clients of this possibility. Had we known about the possibility, we probably would have decided to take our chances, but we would have been aware of potential disruptions. This unwillingness to communicate was further manifested on the cruise itself. There was very little information provided except to assure us that everyone was working hard to make alternate arrangements. As time progressed and it became apparent that the cruise would have to be terminated, we were asking questions, and the staff seemed to be trying to assure us that we would still be able to continue. Frankly, the failure to communicate left us with the impression that Viking River Cruises was completely unprepared for the strike and that they were making arrangements on a day-to- day basis. As a consequence, at least one of the contracted bus companies (Wii) was completely incompetent, first getting lost in Heidelberg, taking an unnecessary and dangerous route to the castle and then trying to take us back to the ship in Nuremberg rather than going to Wurzberg where the ship was docked. Our belief is that Viking needed to have vetted companies in preparation for a strike in order to avoid these kinds of issues rather than appearing as if they were making all arrangements the day before. Basically, we felt that Viking was not open concerning various plans and options, and furthermore that we were being treated as children. Independent of the strike issues, however, there other issues that made the cruise less than optimal. Most importantly, we feel that Viking's decision to have two people (cruise director and concierge) responsible for 180+ people was wholly inappropriate, regardless of how competent those individuals may be. As teachers with over 70 years combined experience, we cannot image how difficult it would be to keep track of that may people on excursions. One place where this deficiency became apparent was on bus excursions. With only two Viking personnel and four or more buses, if there was a problem, there was no one from Viking there to address the issue. As a matter of policy, no bus should ever leave the ship without a Viking employee on board independent of any contracted tour guide. That employee (who could be from the wait or hotel staff) should be able to communicate with the cruise director, Viking, and the bus company. That employee should keep count of the people on that particular bus, allowing a departure when everyone assigned to that bus is on board. Doing so would avoid the usual lengthy wait as only two Viking people tried to get everyone on board various buses. In Bamberg the lengthy delay meant waiting in an extremely hot bus since the bus was not able to idle and turn on the air conditioning. It was extremely uncomfortable. Had we left our dog in a car in similar heat, we could have been prosecuted. On excursions, guides from different buses should vary the order of tours to avoid the inevitable congestion that occurs when 180+ people are following the same path. Moreover, when lunch is served on an excursion, more than one restaurant should be used when possible. The amount of time spent feeding 180+ people at once meant that time spent either in sightseeing or free time was significantly reduced. Later in the tour we simply skipped the offered lunch because of the crowds and noise. Furthermore, all optional excursions should be advertised well before the cruise. We learned about some optional excursions only on the ship. Finally, the comfort of passengers should be the top priority. On buses, toilets were frequently locked, and staff on long bus trips (more than 1 hr.) should never say that a rest stop will occur if there is an emergency. As a matter of policy, when travelling on a bus, passengers should be allowed a rest stop at least every 1.5 hours, and the time allowed for these stops should be realistic. (Stating that the stop will be 10 minutes when more than 180 people have to use the toilets is not realistic.) Finally, we would like to address what we feel is misleading advertising by Viking River Cruises. Ads show three or four people with a guide. The reality is up to 40 on a tour, which as former teachers we feel is too many for a single guide. Second, unlike the ads, it is only after one has paid for the cruise, that there is any information that ships may be rafted together, thus making use of a veranda impossible. We spent two days in Budapest rafted without use of the veranda. Surely, the ship could have turned around or switched with the other ship (both were Viking ships) to allow some use of the veranda. Third, the ads say that dinner is between 7 and 9, leaving the impression that one can go into the dining room and be served at any time during that period. The reality is that everyone is expected to begin dinner at 7 as each course was served to everyone at the same time. Given that the tables are for 6, 8, or 10 people, everyone waiting for the next course meant that the noise level in the dining room was so high that conversation was nearly impossible. As an alternative, consider tables no greater than 6 and encourage people to vary their dining time to make interaction easier. Fourth, in the ads people were dining on the Aquavit terrace. When one of us inquired about that possibility, the person at reception at that time argued that the terrace was open for lunch only. Only after one of us continued to insist and also showed her the information in the booklet in which the word evening appeared, did the receptionist check with someone and come back with the limited evening menu. Dinner on the terrace was wonderful until the word got out, and it became more popular. Initially, people were told that dinner could only be served in the enclosed portion of the terrace, but later the staff relented and allowed dining in the open area. The problem was that the number of people serving (2) was not increased as the area become used more, with the result that food was sometimes cold before it could be delivered. Finally, the ads imply that the cruise would be a voyage of cultural and intellectual discovery. However, the time taken to organize excursions, the time allowed for shopping, and the general ambiance encouraged aboard the ship seemed to us to be an attempt to create more of a party experience. In sum, although we found parts of the trip interesting and stimulating, our overall experience was a disappointment. Had we had a more accurate understanding of the reality of Viking River cruising, perhaps we would have been less disappointed. More importantly, our disappointment cannot be attributed wholly to the dislocations due to the strike, although that was an important component. One way to judge a tour company is how well they perform when things go wrong rather than when things go well. By that criterion, we believe that Viking has work to do. While we are not precluding a future river cruise, and even one on Viking, we have much lowered expectations based on our experience. Moreover, when asked if we would recommend Viking River Cruises, our recommendation must be, at best, qualified. As a consequence of this letter we received a $1000 voucher which we thought was a response to the letter and not linked to the promised 25% voucher. On Aug. 13 we received the 25% voucher and an hour and a half later received an email rescinding the $1000 voucher. Very childish and petty. We definitely would NOT recommend Viking to anyone. At this point we feel we have been had.   Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2013
This is a beautiful boat. Tastefully decorated. Wonderful staff. Really wonderful. Barely enough Wifi to get emails. Very irritating! The breakfast was great but it was hard being a vegan . Like pulling teeth to get something to eat. ... Read More
This is a beautiful boat. Tastefully decorated. Wonderful staff. Really wonderful. Barely enough Wifi to get emails. Very irritating! The breakfast was great but it was hard being a vegan . Like pulling teeth to get something to eat. The staff however tried to be helpful. We did not starve! I think if you write down what you cannot have it should be easy to follow. It was not. One other irritating thing was that we had to stock up on water! Drinking water should be free. At least put a water filter in every stateroom. Nickel and dimeing on the water is not attractive. Our remote didn't work. Had a guy to fix it but it didn't really work. These are all minor things but it would have improved things. Our stateroom was really nice. It would have been nice to go straight to he ship upon landing . I will probably do another cruise with Vantage if they bone up on my suggestions. Your staff is definitely your strength ! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2013
Our Viking cruise was to have initiated in Basel, Switzerland Saturday June 1. We flew in early to be able to see Lucerne, Switzerland. The locals in Lucerne said the Rhine was higher than they had seen in twenty years and it was still ... Read More
Our Viking cruise was to have initiated in Basel, Switzerland Saturday June 1. We flew in early to be able to see Lucerne, Switzerland. The locals in Lucerne said the Rhine was higher than they had seen in twenty years and it was still raining. This probably should have been a tip off for us that maybe there was a problem. My view is Viking should have given us the choice of canceling the river cruise at this point. Yes it probably would have been a mess to arrange flights back home but we should have been given a choice. Instead we were bused to our ship on Saturday which was now docked in Briesach, Germany. The Rhine River was so flooded that the boat couldn't make it up the river to Basel. Apparently there was an issue of navigation safety due to river flooding and low bridge clearance. Briesach was to have been the first stop on the cruise. The ship remained docked there from Saturday(6/1) through Wednesday(6/5). Each night, the ship's officers indicated that we were not able to sail due to river conditions. During these four days we were bused to the various stops that were supposed to have happened had the boat sailed. One of the excursions was an extremely long and uncomfortable bus trip. I mean from Briesach to Heidelberg and then back to the boat was a long miserable day. During the four days we were in Briesach, the ship was parallel parked next to another ship so the view from our veranda (at additional cost) is into the stateroom of the adjacent ship. The ship was moved at the end and the view was actually quite nice in spite of the river being at flood stage. On Wednesday, we were bused to Cologne to another ship. This boat is docked in an heavily industrial area with a very steep rope lined gangplank. Difficult to maneuver for us old guys but no one fell in. The normal docking downtown was of course precluded by the flood stage of the river. Finally on Friday(6/7) we were bused to Amsterdam for an over night hotel stay and flights in the morning.. The whole trip consisted of an evacuation from one end to the other. It's not a river cruise when the boat never leaves the dock. The trip was totally disrupted by the flood conditions that precluded the ship from ever leaving port. We were basically evacuated from the beginning to the end. We felt that we didn't get anything resembling what we paid for. We requested a full refund for the cruise including airfare from Viking. We received a response from Viking acknowledging there were disruptions to the trip. However what they offered was 75% of the cruise cost applicable to a future Viking River Cruise. In my view, this is totally inadequate.   Read Less
Sail Date: June 2013
Where do I begin?...Well to begin with, Viking River Cruises claims to be the "World's Leading Cruise Line...By Far." However, after my trip aboard the Viking Pride during "Paris and the Heart of Normandy," I have ... Read More
Where do I begin?...Well to begin with, Viking River Cruises claims to be the "World's Leading Cruise Line...By Far." However, after my trip aboard the Viking Pride during "Paris and the Heart of Normandy," I have since learned otherwise. I will break-down the experience into sections: ARRIVAL/Embarkation: Okay, my son (18) and I had been in Paris for a couple days before the cruise was set to embark. We took a taxi from our hotel to the port the ship was docked at. Note: Some taxi drivers do not know how to find the docking area, and taxis just do not line up at the dock afterwards either--you must pre-arrange one (which reception handles). The overall appearance of the ship's exterior is nice, as the crew cleans the outside areas daily. The inside was pretty clean as well, with some of the furniture (in the dining room mainly) being in need of a cleaning to remove food stains. The receptionists are nice to deal with when you board the ship; however, you have to wait for your room to become available after it is cleaned. So, the top-priced rooms (i.e. the high level) are cleaned more promptly. The passenger clientele is primarily around the 50-70+ range (my son was one of the youngest at 18). It is much more intimate than Ocean Cruises I have been on, with around 140 passengers. There is a coffee/tea area set up for 24 hours/daily by the lobby. The machine is a powder-based one--so the beverages were of relatively low quality and were disappointing for the price Viking charges at close to ~$1,000 a day. Lunch is served as you board on the first day in the lounge. Drinks (including sodas and wines/beers are "complimentary" at meals only. STAFF: Our program director was not very impressive by all means. In fact, my son and I found him rather rude--we tried to ask him questions; he said he would address them later. I think the program director (and all staff) is there to SERVE YOU--it is their job. Also, some of the staff members seemed really on edge and apprehensive. This is because at the end of the cruise, Viking asks you to complete several hefty-length review forms and surveys. These are "used" to make improvements and changed in the company's operation, so crew members are also evaluated accordingly and are worried about gratuities and performance standard issues. The captain did not attend the "Captain's Dinner," which I found very unusual--as I have been on several cruises where this is not the case. The 2nd Captain did not speak much English, so he never associated with passengers much. Some of the dining room waiters were much better than others, depending on where you sit, as there are no assigned seats. Also, the tables are arranged in 4, 6, or larger sets--so there are no private tables for two. You end up knowing a lot of the guests, as each night you meet new people which was nice. The service was usually pretty quick. FOOD/Offerings: In terms of the food, the coffee in the dining room was good. The house wine was just okay. Viking offers a premium "Silver Spirits" package, which allows you to order more wines and cocktails. The food was decent. Every day, I really enjoyed the soups (Pear-Ginger, Tomato-Basil, etc.). Breakfast was standard, with bacon, sausage, eggs, and the other usual American items. *I really expected more traditional French cooking, as we were, indeed, in FRANCE. One afternoon at lunch, they ha hot dogs in the lounge buffet. The dining room had better food. At that price for a cruise--I did not travel there to eat hot dogs; very few passengers ate there. In the room, they offer a bottle of water each day; the water is German, which is not overly impressive since I expected to drink French bottles like Evian (for purchase only), Badoit, Vittel, Volvic. Lastly, my son was disappointed on the last night when the Tuna Tartare he ordered was made with imitation crab! In a region with tons of seafood, fresh crab would be an expectation! At $1,000 per day, I think that would be a reasonable request. EXCURSIONS/Guides: The ship does not sail on the first day, leaves at dinner (7:00 PM) the next day. The distance traveled is relatively small (around 160km if that) for 6 days--as the 6 locks gone through take lots of time. We docked at Rouen, Giverny, Paris. Some excursions were included (Normandy Beaches, Paris City Walk, Rouen Tour, etc.), while others were "optional" where the program director sells you the package. We did the Versailles one, as we wanted to see it. However, Viking really makes a great profit off of them, as Versailles's half-day tour was ~80 Euros per person. Admission there costs ~22 Euros. The bus ride from the ship there was around an hour. To Normandy, the bus ride was 2 hours and a bit. Some of the tour guides were much better than others. Some did not really care, while others were very knowledgeable and polite. And, they like tips at the end too, so they recount tons of information to impress you. I wish more of the basics were reiterated--less "fluff." Some of the tours require you waking up early--6:00 AM at times. And, some of the tour guides were very slow to guide the groups (they split you up into several groups, usually A, B, and C). They also counted the number of people on the buses several times, and constantly seemed apprehensive about managing the group which I guess was because they want to reduce any liability on their part. They need a fast group for people who would like to be more adventurous--not everyone was 80 on-board or disabled. ROOM: The cabin was very small--which we anticipated, as we got the last room on the ship due to a cancellation in March--the cruise was June 26. The bathroom was adequate with L'Occitane ammentities. The beds had dismal linens, just a duvet cover. The pillows were not very usable--they were too soft and had no support. There is a desk area with a chair. It is difficult to store suitcases, but we just shoved them under the desk. The heating/cooling vent is behind the curtain by the window--a little unusual. The housekeeper we had was efficient and kind; they fold towels into shapes at night during turn-down while your at dinner. They likewise make-up the room in the morning as you eat breakfast. The sundeck was nice (when open), except for when people chose to smoke and the smoke emanated across the deck. I would also have loved a fitness room to be on the ship somewhere. Problems: Upon checkout, we forgot our camera battery charger plugged into the desk-area outlet. However, we immediately called the ship to inform them. They were relatively unhelpful, denied the charger being in the room (even though we know if was there), and said they take no responsibility. The hotel manager said they "thoroughly check rooms as they are cleaned." I doubt that! And, several guests had issues with the in-room safes: ours did NOT work at all. I went to the front desk and told them--they did nothing to rectify that. The fact that they were dishonest about the charger is the part that concerns me--I do not care about the charger as much as I do the lack of integrity and respect for guests once they are off the ship and no longer are a potential profit. And, when I called Viking, it is very difficult to deal with any customer service, as there really is not any. They refuse to give you phone numbers of any high official and take no part in helping you. As soon as the cruise ends, the tone towards you is modified--as you are no longer paying them; thus, are not a focus. SYNOPSIS: The entertainment was a pianist. That was it except for the last night with opera singers on-board. A couple games in the atrium--nothing else. Other passengers agreed that it could be made more upbeat, with more post-dinner activities (even BINGO would have been a change!). At this price, I would not travel with Viking again. Principle goes a long way these days. They are not the best cruise line "by far." Take your money and enjoy a vacation elsewhere, such as with Crystal Cruises, Grand Circle Cruise Lines (based in America), or Croisi Europe (more authentic). Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2013
My wife and I made reservations for the Viking 2013 Passage to Eastern Europe (June 15 Budapest to Bucharest) cruise in August of 2012. Their brochure described a wonderful journey spending eight days cruising down the Danube and visiting ... Read More
My wife and I made reservations for the Viking 2013 Passage to Eastern Europe (June 15 Budapest to Bucharest) cruise in August of 2012. Their brochure described a wonderful journey spending eight days cruising down the Danube and visiting venues we had not seen before. They particularly highlighted the Iron Gate area. In addition to the monies paid to Viking we used many thousands of air miles for our flights. These miles could have been deposited back in our account had the trip been cancelled prior to leaving. Due to extreme flooding on the Danube I checked with Viking regularly during the seven days prior to the departure date from Budapest both by phone and their online site. They said we would be notified if the cruise were to be cancelled. I called Viking 24 hours prior to leaving San Francisco Airport and again was advised the trip was a go even though Viking had cancelled many trips due to rising waters on the Danube and elsewhere. Their online site still stated we would leave Budapest as scheduled. Whoever made the call to force the trip from Bucharest back to Budapest made a very unfortunate decision. With state of the art weather information, history of flooding, local river officials and continued cresting of the river it is unfathomable Viking would depart Bucharest only to be stuck between bridges in Novi Sad. It was not waiting one day for the river to subside but six days. In addition we paid extra for an outside balcony we could use sitting in chairs enjoying the described sights. Unfortunately we spent six days looking at another boat tethered one foot away. After cancelling so many trips I also wonder if the insurance company put pressure on Viking to make an attempt to depart. Had Viking cancelled this trip the insurance I paid for would have reimbursed me and I could have put my air miles back in my account for future use. In any case Viking with its resources knew the river was or would not be navigable and should not have left Bucharest. The decision to continue this cruise was a reckless decision and is the full responsibility of Viking Cruises. As stated in a petition signed by many we believe we were lied to by Viking as they knew full well a completion of the journey to our embarkation point of Budapest was not possible. Why Viking would risk it's reputation and the loyalty of passengers with such a feckless decision is beyond comprehension. We finally left after six days in Novi Sad to cruise 20 hours mostly in the dark to Calafat Romania. We went through the highly touted Iron Gate at night. We were then bussed six plus hours from Calafat to Bucharest enduring a flat tire on the bus along the way. We arrived in Bucharest around 4:30 pm, were hustled to a tourist trap restaurant for what should have been a 12pm lunch where we had exactly one hour to eat blah food and listen to loud music. Initially we were offered 50% off a future cruise and after the petition was presented were offered 100% back on this cruise excepting air costs and 50% of the value of this cruise towards another cruise we must book before June 2014. I am not sure why other posts indicated only a credit of 75% credit on different cruises. To those Viking sycophants' who defend Viking because of the weather I say yes you can't control the weather but you can make intelligent decisions with the information at hand and if you don't at least be honest to your customers. If some of the malcontents had not signed the petition I am sure the first 50% offer would have been the only one. I won't comment on noise, food or rambling bus trips as those have been already been addressed on other posts and I for the most part agree. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2013
My wife and I flew from Australia in Business Class on the 10th of June 2013 as part of four months travel throughout Europe beginning with a two week Viking River Cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest and the Viking River Cruise formed the ... Read More
My wife and I flew from Australia in Business Class on the 10th of June 2013 as part of four months travel throughout Europe beginning with a two week Viking River Cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest and the Viking River Cruise formed the beginning of our journey which was supposed to allow us to relax onboard for two weeks, before embarking independently, for three and a half months throughout Europe and everything was booked and paid for accordingly prior to leaving Australia. Six days prior to flying out of Australia, I discovered on SBS news on the 4th of June that there was flooding occurring in and around Bohemia so I emailed both Vacations To Go (who we booked the river cruise with) and Viking River Cruises to get an up date as to what was going to happen as a result and that my wife and I were not interested in an altered bus and river cruise scenario at the last minute, so we wanted information sooner so we could have the time before flying out of Australia to plan an alternative cruise which was not going to be affected by the floods, for example, sailing through the Fjords of Denmark, Sweden and Norway as we were going to be in Amsterdam. We were offered a last minute cancellation or a 50% credit voucher of the total amount paid which is not transferable to be used within 12 months off any future Viking River Cruises which we made both Viking and Vacations TO Go very clear, that we were not in a position to look, at as my wife has Melanoma Cancer and this trip, was the trip and was planned accordingly. We asked both organisations if we took up the cancellation offer, what was the actual amount that we would be refunded, who would be refunding the money and when would the refund amount be actioned so we could plan alternative arrangements as we only had few hours before having to check out of our hotel in Amsterdam, leaving us with a two week hole in our itinerary in the middle of a European summer with no place to go and a $13923 hole in our budget. All along we emailed both organisations wanting to know who was going to refund us the money, how much was the actual amount going to be and when was it going to hit my credit card or bank? We have even gone to the Vice President of Viking River Cruises as we were instructed to by Vacations To Go and to date, haven't even got a reply. Viking wanted to know from Vacations To Go what amount we had paid even though the amount was paid via AMEX directly to Viking? Consequently we did not get answers regarding the cancellation so we were left with no option but to board the Viking Skadi on the 22nd of June 2013 and sail to Frankfurt before being bused around which was not part of our plan. All of this email dialogue was taking place after 2 a.m. Amsterdam time and we were due to board that day! Still to this day we are none the wiser and in fact got an email from the Customer Service Manager of the Australian branch of Viking River Cruises on August 23rd which stated that as the cruise proceeded in a modified form, had we in fact cancelled, we would have forfeited all monies paid which amounted to $13,923. So our decision to board the vessel was totally justified, what else could we have done? We have subsequently asked both organisations to consider giving us the credit voucher amount back in monetary terms but they have ignored our requests and the sensitivity of our situation. We both feel that we were given a false sense of a credit when in fact they had no intention to cancel as they were only ever going to do a combination bus and river cruise and as they had a captive audience, they had all the cards stacked in their favour and used them accordingly. The modified land portion of the river cruise (four days & nights), which included a bus tour, with accommodation and food were appalling and of a two star rating as we had paid for a five star vessel with cabin that included a private balcony. All my wife and I wanted was the actual information regarding money back so we could make the decision earlier and avoid what was and has been the worst travel experience both of us seasoned travellers have ever endured. Fellow travellers: " You have been warned"....If travelling with Viking "travel at your own peril" Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2013
River was high, so we had to take a bus from Basel to some town further up the Rhine. They let us know ahead of time, and I thought no problem, wrong. Couldn't figure out where they were. Finally stopped at a Viking ship that was ... Read More
River was high, so we had to take a bus from Basel to some town further up the Rhine. They let us know ahead of time, and I thought no problem, wrong. Couldn't figure out where they were. Finally stopped at a Viking ship that was there and they said check some of the busses along the river. So we drove past all the buses asking if they were Uniworld and the fourth bus was. They never even put out a sign. Castles, what castles. One day, that's all, you got to some castles along the river for one day. Thought I was going to be seeing more than that on a cruise labeled Castles on the Rhine. Mostly farm land, industrial complexes, power plants and towns. I cruise Regents most of the time so if you haven't cruised them, my review may mean nothing to you. The waiters were surely. Finally determined where I wanted to sit most of the time, tipped waiter 20 euros and my best friend was found. Food was mediocre, not even close to Regents quality, nor the service. You had buffets for breakfast and lunch, cafeteria dining. The ship is showing it's age, and it's new! Had a swimming pool, about 8'x10', would have liked to use it, except for the strong sewer smell in the area. We were in a suite and it was nice, but showing age on the bureaus (faded and chipped paint). Bathroom was nice, double sinks and the shower was larger than I expected for a river ship. Having other ships tie up next to you about half the places we stopped at was not nice. Paid the extra for the suite and the big windows, and half the time, I was looking a someone else's curtains or dining rooms window of another ship. The top sun deck was nice to set out on, when you were cruising, but you mostly arrived in the morning and left in the evening, so you really didn't get much time to do that. The ship did allow you to bring your own booze onboard and that was nice. Some people love the rivers and as you can tell I'm not one. Food quality, service and great places to stop are important to me and this cruise did not deliver. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2013
This was our second Viking River Cruise.The first on the Aegir. We had a room downstairs that was below water level,which made me search out escape routes before we left port.2 ways out. We stopped in Belgrade and were showen bullet ... Read More
This was our second Viking River Cruise.The first on the Aegir. We had a room downstairs that was below water level,which made me search out escape routes before we left port.2 ways out. We stopped in Belgrade and were showen bullet ridden buildings.Returning to the boat there was no security check and the gangway remained unmaned all night. There were a lot of Buffet meals. The cabin was tiny ,just bigger than the bed two singles beds,pushed together. Advertised as a Romantic Danube Cruise ,it was anything but romantic, with war stories and comunnism the main theme The scenery was nice if you dont mind a polutted river. I think it will be a few more years ,for this part of the world to get it together Read Less
Sail Date: March 2013
We sailed from Amsterdam at the end of March on the Helvetia - our first river cruise although we have been on various ocean cruises. Our cabin was very comfortable with a window just above the water level, which was fine for us. Our ... Read More
We sailed from Amsterdam at the end of March on the Helvetia - our first river cruise although we have been on various ocean cruises. Our cabin was very comfortable with a window just above the water level, which was fine for us. Our cabin was serviced twice daily by a lovely lady, Julia. On this particular ship there are some cabins with small French balconies, which are not big enough to sit on. Also, these more expensive cabins were the same size as ours - the only difference being that they were higher up on the ship - we were one floor down from the dining room and 2 floors down from the bar/lounge. We travelled in a party of 8, celebrating 2 ruby weddings. One of our party was a vegetarian and she was not catered for sufficiently, in spite of notifying the Viking Office previously. Otherwise, the European meals were of mixed standard, some being better than others. If you were a meat eater there was plenty of choice, with salmon, chicken and sirloin steak always available as alternatives to the main menu. I am primarily a fish eater - one night I had Butterfish, which was my best meal of the week. This is only our view, I guess others will find the food O.K. I didn't have cooked breakfast, but others in our party said these breakfasts were virtually cold, so this needs to be redressed. Dining service was poor; some evenings we didn't get away from the dining room until well after 9pm, having sat down at 7pm or earlier. The dining staff worked very hard and were very pleasant but seemed to be stressed an understaffed; also the Maitre d seemed to be at odds with his staff - this was the first week of cruising for the Helvetia so we did try to make allowances for this, but again this needs to be redressed for future cruisers. We went on some of the organised trips included in the price; these were adequate. The evening entertainment was variable, including a glass blowing demonstration, a French lady singer, a classical music event (enjoyable for me but not to the taste to some of our party) and a resident pianist, the latter being quite quite good and my personal favourite. To sum up, we thought this particular cruise wasn't very well managed, in particular the evening dining, vegetarian meal choices were poor and also we felt this river cruise was not as good value for money as our ocean cruises (P& O, Ocean Village and Cunard). Again, this is only our personal view. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2012
It seems ridiculous to gripe about a Holiday Cruise up the Rhine River from Basel, Switzerland to Amsterdam, but when researching cruises, I appreciate details which tend to make a real difference, but are rarely reported. Here are the ... Read More
It seems ridiculous to gripe about a Holiday Cruise up the Rhine River from Basel, Switzerland to Amsterdam, but when researching cruises, I appreciate details which tend to make a real difference, but are rarely reported. Here are the things I feel added up to a completely unsatisfactory vacation. You cannot eat dinner alone. There are only tables for six, eight, ten. It rapidly becomes tedious asking people about their lives and then acting as though you are instant friends and interested. One man's son was incarnated and his daughters didn't want him at their home for Christmas so he was cruising unhappily; another woman's husband had committed suicide. Lots of older people who wanted to talk. I didn't want to go on vacation with them, but did. No Room Service and you can't take a plate to the bar. The food was not good. Breakfast was adequate (a buffet) and lunch was the high point, especially the salads, but dinner was simply bad. A $7.95 All You Can Eat Buffet in Vegas would have been an improvement. I like to sleep with my partner. Pushing twins together works if you really make them into a queen bed and not leave a big open line down the middle. Even the sheets were twin and the blankets (while lovely European cotton) were two twin sized blankets. They were very understaffed. I don't know if this was due to the holidays but, while we had the liquor package (150 Euros more per person) you couldn't get a drink easily because the bar tenders were always off doing something else. People were lined up all the time. The staff didn't look you in the eye because they feared you might ask them for something. They ran out of everything--wine, nuts, juice. The Cruise Director stayed on the intercom incessantly repeating things until you couldn't remember what you were supposed to do. Morning, noon and night--didn't matter what you might be doing in the privacy of your suite, she was talking to you with no way to silence her. It continued in person until you wanted to smack her. The itinerary was not good. Part of it was due to the fact the Rhine was high and we missed some ports, but mainly because the timing was poor. Two hours in Heidelberg, but four in Kinderdijk? Kinderdijk has a few windmills (fabulous) which take maybe 30 minutes at best. We ran through Heidelberg, pretty much seeing nothing. Amsterdam was waiting but we stayed docked for hours in Kinderdijk and didn't get into Amsterdam until we were ready to go to the airport. The other stops were either an Old Town or a church. Everyone was kept in a big group--all 200 of us. So, four big buses would pull up and dump everyone at a small cuckoo clock shop or a glass blowing demonstration. Totally overwhelming so no one saw anything and everyone was unhappy. There is no elevator. It bothered some of the older passengers but we had no trouble going up and down. The problem came when the supplies were delivered or the staff needed to get food platters up to the lounge/bar. The staff formed a human chain to pass wine cases, toilet paper, fruits, fish and all other supplies up and down as needed. Passengers had to dodge the toss and it was embarrassing when you heard the grunts. Every lunch platter was carried up the one set of steps while you attempted to stay out of the way. The staff stays to their daily rituals regardless. Couldn't get off the ship because of high water? Too bad I need to vacuum the room, hallway, steps...now. Ten minutes late to the dining room? Order now, get on the schedule with the rest of the table. If you didn't want to play games with the Recreation Director, she pouted--"It would only take two minutes." They don't have a computer system for accounting. You are supposed to leave your credit card over the last night so "my colleague can do the processing". Every Diet Coke and Old Fashion required a paper written ticket unless you were on "a package". They owed us for a cab ride and couldn't just credit the bill, but rather had to pay out in Euros. You had to leave your room key so they could keep up with who was on or off the boat. Think lines. We were on the top deck but many of the guests on lower decks complained about the smell in their rooms and backed up toilets. That was just rumors for us, but folks were upset. Having Wifi was great. We cruise a lot. We are generally happy people, but the irritants simply added up until we couldn't wait to get off the boat. We take what we spend on vacations seriously and when we realized that we would rather have stayed at home, we knew it was time to report it for others considering Viking. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2012
I've waited a few months before writing this review to see if time would mellow my feelings about this cruise. If anything, they've intensified. We've cruised the Caribbean with Windstar, the Adriatic with CroisiEurope ... Read More
I've waited a few months before writing this review to see if time would mellow my feelings about this cruise. If anything, they've intensified. We've cruised the Caribbean with Windstar, the Adriatic with CroisiEurope and the Danube with Luftner. Based on the fabulous times we had on those cruises, we were really looking forward to our Christmas Markets cruise with top-rated Viking. Sadly, we were very disappointed. Although this was a Christmas Markets cruise (and other cruise lines along the river were decked out in their holiday finery), the Viking Sun's decorations weren't put out until the end of the cruise. What's appalling about this is that, despite the fact that many passengers complained to the staff about this, nothing was done. The food was (to quote another passenger) was "adequate banquet fare." Other than a few regional lunch buffets in the bar area, there was absolutely nothing special about the food. It wasn't bad but it certainly wasn't as memorable as it was on our other cruises. Our Program Director, Tom, seemed more interested in self-aggrandizement than in helping passengers (although, to be fair, some people did enjoy his sense of humor). The tours were good, but I'm sure the same could be said of the tours offered by any of the other cruise lines. Based on our experience, we'll never book with Viking again. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2012
Sailed on the "Enchanting Danube" from Budapest to Passau with the subsequent Prague Extension. Some thoughts: 1. Service aboard the ship is very attentive. I think this is somewhat the norm on the Euro river cruises and ... Read More
Sailed on the "Enchanting Danube" from Budapest to Passau with the subsequent Prague Extension. Some thoughts: 1. Service aboard the ship is very attentive. I think this is somewhat the norm on the Euro river cruises and aboard the River Beatrice was no exception. 2. The food is good and certainly acceptable but not outstanding or particularly memorable. 3. Both the standard and optional excursions are very much in need of improvement. Firstly, the groups are much too large with no sense of engaging in something unique or exclusive--much too typically touristy. Some of the guides are fine but many if not most are simply just functional and offer little in the way of good commentary or insight. I would recommend that paying extra to engage the service of a local guide on your own would be a better use of time, or just simply strike out on your own. 4. The Prague Extension was in large part a fiasco. The local Uniworld contact and guide was very much overwhelmed. The official tour included a ONE HOUR AND FORTY FIVE MINUTE BUS RIDE FROM THE HOTEL TO THE CASTLE (neither the guide nor the driver bothered to check that the route would be under heavy construction). The tour itself was like being a cow herded through chutes--an absolutely horrible experience. I would strongly suggest that those wishing to go to Prague do so on their own--it will be a much more rewarding experience. In short: Uniworld does an overall good job but not what you would expect for what is regarded as one of the more premium operators. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2012
I'm an active mature solo traveler, and experience with 36 cruises. I took Amtrak to the embarkation port of St. Paul, MN, and the train was better than the cruise. This cruise was a three-night round-trip Mississippi River cruise ... Read More
I'm an active mature solo traveler, and experience with 36 cruises. I took Amtrak to the embarkation port of St. Paul, MN, and the train was better than the cruise. This cruise was a three-night round-trip Mississippi River cruise from St. Paul, MN to two ports, Wabasha and Red Wing, MN. Embarkation was a scrambled logistical nightmare with a grouch for a bus driver. Confusing printed and inaccuarate boarding information. The boat is visually stunning and beautiful in its reproduced glory as an 1850s riverboat. However, renovations are ongoing, and there are a lot of broken, damaged, or worn-out items needing attention. While a few of the crew gave superior outstanding service, the majority were learning on the job at the passenger's expense. Terrible service in the dining room, with a sullen, angry, depressed, nearly silent unsmiling server at my table. Food was usually lukewarm or cold, and took forever to be delivered to the table. Big black flies swarmed all over the food, tables, dishes, and this was prevalent all over the eating venues on the boat. Between the flies and food, there is a huge potential for health risks on board. Many of the crew were suffering from obvious severe upper respiratory infections, too, which may have contributed to their sour dispositions - but it also exposed the food and passengers to a lot of germs while these sick people coughed and sneezed all over the food, tables, and other people. The two ports, Wabasha and Red Wing, MN were delightful small town Americana preserved from the 1800s, with warmly welcoming nice people and plenty to see on foot or on the tour buses which go with the boat. I toured independently on foot, and was royally treated and entertained the entire day at each port. This is not a cruise experience for children, between the lavishly decorated public spaces and antiques, and lack of any special activities for them. There did not seem to be anything aimed at keeping children entertained. Entertainment was good, with a live orchestra and four young crew who put on two good musical review shows appropriate to river lore, and other entertainment throughout the day and boat. Some of the historian offerings and other indoor activities took place during the day while I was in port exploring, so I missed out on them. The itinerary changed on short notice, and deprived us of seeing anything of the Mississippi River during a daylight cruise - all the sailing was done at night, in heavy fog. Adequate cabin with sparse furniture, but comfortable. Twin beds converted to king kept separating, with nice but noisy linens. Thin cabin walls let noise in constantly. French doors to the outside open veranda deck let in air, light, noise, and water due to a hole between the doors, which was reported but never fixed - same with the broken door lock and noisy plumbing Nothing was ever fixed. Not much privacy, either, with the inadequate skimpy curtains over the glass windows in the two French doors. Safe in closet is too high to reach on a top shelf. Bathroom was nice, with all the amenities. Toilet did not flush one day, but this happened all over the boat. Towels did not dry due to overuse of fabric softener. There were several noticeable tears and rips in the clashing, dark, and mismatched wallpaper. Plastic boarding cards are issued and used for purchases and security accounting, but don't open the cabin - one has to lug around a heavy big metal key at all times. The passenger majority were mature, well-to-do and well-traveled experienced people who were not shy about voicing negative opinions about the various problems on board. We all enjoyed each other's company, however, as socializing was the main activity and appropriate to the age group on board this short cruise. Most said they couldn't wait to get off the boat and go home due to the terrible food and service. Internet service was slow and spotty at best in the public lounge area, but not in my cabin, at least, or in other cabins, from what some passengers said. The midnight to dawn luggage collection on the last night of the cruise sounded like a herd of elephants on the metal decks, and kept me awake most of the night. Luggage was placed out in the open on the public landing dock in St. Paul, and it was raining or drizzling while the luggage sat there without any kind of cover or shelter. Disembarkation repeated the logistical scrambled nightmare at the beginning of the cruise, with delays and inaccurate printed and verbal instructions and confusion, resulting in my taking an expensive cab ride after getting my rain-soaked luggage, rather than waiting on the boat for an additional three hours until the free bus service from the boat to Minneapolis finally got going. This start-up company had a good idea with its unique and beautiful river boat, but doesn't follow through on what their website and literature promises and advertises. Training crew on the job is terribly unfair to people who pay a lot of money for a cruise, and who end up as guinea pigs in an experiment instead of receiving quality service in a professional manner. I was extremely disappointed and felt that most of the trip was a total waste of money. I would not recommend this company to anybody, and I would not cruise with them again even if the cruise were free. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2012
Was assured in writing by Viking prior to the cruise that the Idun did not have water problems. I know that at least 2 rooms on the main deck had major flooding (one had soaked carpets on arrival) and many rooms with showers that backed ... Read More
Was assured in writing by Viking prior to the cruise that the Idun did not have water problems. I know that at least 2 rooms on the main deck had major flooding (one had soaked carpets on arrival) and many rooms with showers that backed up. 2 balconies were unusable due to standing water. Also was told by 2 different parties that the carpet outside the lounge was soaked at night (they went to the coffee bar in their stockings). I saw many signs of prior wet carpets, including major damage to the bar area. Be aware that the included excursions are mostly bus city tours where you drive by the "sights.". I asked Viking customer service about the Budapest tour prior to going because we were spending extra days there and wanted to visit (tour inside) some particular places on their included tour in that city. I was informed that we would explore and have plenty of time in those places, when in fact we just stayed on the bus and drove by. We were not able to visit these sights at all because they were sold out by the time we realized we would not be going there. Viking's priority in the included excursions is to get you back to the ship in time for lunch (this was explained to me). It is not the fault of the local guides who are on the bus with you, as all groups go to the same itinerary. Since Viking is paying for the buses, the guides and the audio boxes, I don't understand why they cannot have some worthwhile content in their included tours. The 2 optional excursions were great. I would not have booked with Viking if I had realized that we would not be visiting inside most of the sights that they list in their itinerary. Worst yet was that the ship had a broken propeller from the prior cruise and had to go into dry dock, which meant that we were bussed to Passau and Regensburg during the day. This was actually received by the passengers with little complaint. What was terrible was that the excursion staff, including the Cruise Director, left us all on the side of the dock without any of them being in the area to give us news when the ship did not arrive on schedule in Regensburg to pick us up. We wondered, "are we in the right place? Where is the excursion staff? How long are we going to be here, with little seating?". There were passengers who needed to have a place to sit; we all tried to sit on the grass or steps, or planter boxes. One person sat in dog poop on the grass, another stepped in it! It would have been so much more thoughtful and caring for them to let us wait at the sausage place, with picnic bench seating, than to have abandoned us. At dinner the Cruise Director gave us a chastising and snarky talk in which she said the Captain had nautical issues. I never heard any complaining about the Captain; the passengers had issues with the way this situation was handled by the CD. This is but one instance where the crew showed a very uncaring and unfriendly attitude. The food was very good, the service by the dining staff and room steward was good. The ports on the Grand European Tour were good. The ship obviously has some problems. The dining room has had some sound absorbing material added to the ceiling recently, but it is still loud and they need to do more. I cannot recommend Viking as a company because of their terrible customer service. They gave me inaccurate answers to my specific questions. If I had the correct information, I would have been prepared to lead our group of 4 on our own tours. They already had our money, paid in April before the bad Cruise Critic reviews, and we could not have backed out of the trip. We are people who love to cruise and see the world. We felt like we were just being bussed everywhere and given superficial tours and hardly any cultural or culinary experiences of the areas.Viking is more expensive than the ocean cruises we have taken, but because of the included tours, we thought it would be a reasonable value. Sad to say, this is not so. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2012
Did a 12 day cruise on this boat from St. Petersburg to Moscow and was not impressed with anything about this cruise(except for the sights of St. Petersburg and especially Moscow). If this is the finest river ship(as advertised) in Russia ... Read More
Did a 12 day cruise on this boat from St. Petersburg to Moscow and was not impressed with anything about this cruise(except for the sights of St. Petersburg and especially Moscow). If this is the finest river ship(as advertised) in Russia I'd hate to see the worst! Even though its had a $11 million makeover it was a 3 star boat at best. Very small rooms with teeny tiny bathrooms. Pink thin wall cladding nearly everywhere just riveted on(looked like a cheap houseboat) and not much style anywhere. Very tired and old looking. Room was missing amenities such as No Clock, No Bin other than the clumsy foot operated flip top one in the bathroom, could use a clotheline somewhere, and the beds are small. The girl cleaning our room at times did not replace things such as soap and bottles of water. I had to ring a few times to get them sent up. Not very good. One of the big gripes I had was with the service in the restaurants. For the price you pay for this cruise you'd expect the restaurant staff to be much more professional and better trained and at times some were just rude and not very friendly. And quite a few of them spoke limited english to the point that they needed to get a translator when you asked them anything. Not very good. Most of the drinks staff were a joke a lot of the time and to get any service at all was sometimes difficult. One night I had to ask three times just to get a glass of water and you would see the drinks girls sometimes serve one table 2 or 3 times and other tables hadn't been served at all. The food staff were not quite as bad but had no idea about proper service and was very lacking in class. I'd expect better service at a cheap diner. No one ever really seemed in a rush to do anything and the service was sometimes very slow. I will say the food was quite good except for the last nights dinner where they dropped the ball big time. Desserts were not their strong point although everything else at luch and dinner was quite good. Breakfast could do with some improvement. The selection of fruit was poor and inconsistent, and the fruit salad sometimes clearly from the day before. And if you only drink decaf coffee all you get is luke warm coffee from an urn. Definitely no cappucinos. There is a lot of time spent cruising (all you see are millions of silver berch) with not a lot of stops and to be honest I could have just seen St. Petersburg and Moscow and left the rest out. We stopped at one place called Svirstroy which was a ramshackle little town with a small market and just down the river was a very nice little town which was pointed out to us where two other big cruise ships docked and we just sailed past! Overall not impressed with this cruise and neither were many others that we talked to and compared to the river cruise through Germany I did the previous year which was great this Russia cruise I would give a wide berth. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2012
Accommodation: Cabin was well equipped but there was little space to move around. Restaurant: was very cramped for space and poor acoustics made conversation almost impossible.There was barely sufficient space for 188 passengers.There ... Read More
Accommodation: Cabin was well equipped but there was little space to move around. Restaurant: was very cramped for space and poor acoustics made conversation almost impossible.There was barely sufficient space for 188 passengers.There was a mad rush to to the restaurant after breifings for next day, to get seat at a table with someone you knew, with a server who was good, big scramble for about six tables, people missed breifings to hold seats most nights. Food: Dinner Portions were small,(no mean), seconds were offered sometimes, but often the quality of the first portion was poor, lacked taste and/or was badly cooked and therefore declined. Lunch was often a buffet, adequate but when served on forward deck a scramble for both food ,cutlery, seating & tables especialy when Sun deck closes (5 Days Did you not Know!!)restarant was civilised at lunch times , no the food was no better. Breakfast seating was easier to find, food quality harder. one young chef tried valiantly to service the queue for fresh cooked breakfast, poor lad. There was a VERY noticable recycling of left over food. Service: With few exceptions restaurant service was rushed , offhand and gave you the feeling the staff wanted you out of the way, there was no conversation with waiting staff. One one occasion whilst eating my starter ,with glass of beer, side plate of bread, I was HANDED my main dish, He had nowhere to place it down ,neither did I !!!! Housemaid Quiet But Very Efficient!room was Spotlessly clean This overall was very very poor value for money. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2012
Just back from a Danube River Cruise on the new Avalon Vista, we are disappointed by the poor overall experience that Avalon Waterways delivers. Budapest-Nuremberg. August 2012: We boarded the ship in Budapest and were very impressed ... Read More
Just back from a Danube River Cruise on the new Avalon Vista, we are disappointed by the poor overall experience that Avalon Waterways delivers. Budapest-Nuremberg. August 2012: We boarded the ship in Budapest and were very impressed by this new ship, having cruised a lot all around the world , and on many river cruises. The ship was docked next to the famous Chain Bridge, in the heart of Budapest, a short taxi ride from our hotel. It couldn't have been a better location. The ship itself is impressive for a river ship, beautifully designed, with sleek lines and a tasteful, modern decor. The main lounge is stunning, with panoramic floor to ceiling windows all around, and even better, there is an open deck lounge forward from where you can see everything. The Club Lounge located aft is also extremely nice and cosy, with drinks available at all times, but bad cookies. Our Stateroom, #208 was just fabulous, with the famous floor to ceiling sliding windows (really great), lots of space, great closets and drawers all around; better than on many large cruise ships, good lighting and large beds. The bathroom was especially great: Large, lovely decor with marble, good lighting, great L'Occitane amenities nicely replenished all along the cruise; and an extra large shower with a glass door and good water pressure. The best showers I have had in a long time. The Welcome couldn't have been nicer, with crew and staff extending a warm welcome and committed to make you feel welcome. Everything seemed perfect, ready for a great experience, but problems were lurking: Bedding: It turned out that the bedding looked much better than it was comfortable: If the sheets are made of nice cotton as advertised by Avalon: The pillows are made on 100% cheap synthetic fiber, hard like a rock, just like in the cheapest roadside motels along some remote highway. We asked for soft, feather pillows (or pillows made of natural fiber) only to be told by both the housekeeping manager and the front desk manager that none were available, and that there was nothing they could or would do about this. That was the first big disappointment. Giving it a try that first night; we developed quickly a pain in the neck and ended up the first night sleeping on folded bath towels! On a luxury ship! Fortunately, we have friends living in Vienna, the next stop on the cruise, and we called them immediately, asking them to lend us two good soft feather pillows (filled with 100% natural fiber) for the remainder of the cruise. Believe me, this was not a luxury or an indulgence. But we had to ship the pillows back at the end of the cruise at our own expense and disturb our friends. The duvet: Again Avalon touts its duvets. Unfortunately they are also made of synthetic of the cheapest kind. We had to take out the duvets out of the sheet and replace them by the blankets provided, which were also of a cheap quality (76% synthetic) but we had to make do with that. However this was not pleasant. Overall, the bedding was just not comfortable, and only our friends' pillows saved the day. Food: Overall the food was from mediocre to just plain bad, and this all along the cruise. If a good selection of breads was always available at breakfast, including all the famous german breads, and the small good individual rolls; they were never available at lunch or dinner where only puny, mediocre little slices of plain bread were available. The cookies were a complete disgrace: some were hard like a rock. I nearly broke a tooth on one, no kidding. They were especially bad and cheap in the Club Lounge. All this while we were crossing countries famous for their cookies, breads and good food! In fact, the food and the breads were so mediocre that we ended up looking for a bakery at each stop during the cruise, always finding one easily, and buying breads, cookies and cakes for dessert. Never done that before on any cruise! We also ate lunch or dinner ashore when we could, in order to have some good meals. Never done that before in my life! Only one lunch, touted as a "German Lunch" was decent and interesting with some local specialties; otherwise the food was so plain, so mediocre, so disconnected from what was all around us that it was shocking and meals became a real bore when they could have been a great experience as the service and the design of the restaurant itself were extremely nice. The salads and buffets were especially mediocre. This is a real shame, as Avalon could easily deliver a luxury experience as: -The layout and design of the ship is innovative, impressive, luxurious and even stunning. -The staff was extremely nice and helpful, always trying to make you welcome and comfortable (with what they had). Their training was impeccable, and they were providing great service at all times. -The Cruise Director was extremely good and nice, doing a great job at all times without fail. -The excursions were well organized, with interesting guides. However, considering Avalon prices, the food and the bedding are not acceptable. Overall, Avalon fails to deliver a good experience, and we are very disappointed. It was a relief to find a good bed and good food in Munich where we stayed after the cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2012
This is my third Viking river cruise. I had expected this would be our best cruise yet, but we were disappointed. Moscow and St Petersburg were fascinating, but the river cruise itself was rather boring. We had long intervals of ... Read More
This is my third Viking river cruise. I had expected this would be our best cruise yet, but we were disappointed. Moscow and St Petersburg were fascinating, but the river cruise itself was rather boring. We had long intervals of nothingness and the there weren't many on-board activities planned. We watched TV movies in our cabin most nights. On some of our excursions, particularly the tour Moscow at Night, we could not understand the tour guide. His English was very difficult to decipher, which made the tour a complete waste of money. The air schedule was also a problem. We had less than an hour lay over in Atlanta. Our flight from Savannah to Atlanta was a little late arriving and we literally had to run through the worlds busiest airport and just made the flight. Not a very relaxing start to our dream vacation. Previously I was a big Viking fan and told many people in our Sun City community about your cruise line. However, now I feel that I can no longer recommend Viking. We plan to do a lot more traveling, but this may have been our last trip with Viking. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2012
This was our 5th European river cruise and our second Viking river cruise. Our first choice was to go with Uniworld,but they were sold out. We decided to go with Viking because we'd had a wonderful experience with them in China. We ... Read More
This was our 5th European river cruise and our second Viking river cruise. Our first choice was to go with Uniworld,but they were sold out. We decided to go with Viking because we'd had a wonderful experience with them in China. We took this cruise primarily for the Normandy Region and the history of D-Day. Viking notes the Pride was renovated in 2009 but it's appearance is still dated and tired. The deck furniture is stiff and uncomfortable. We were told the ship is going to be replaced in 2014. Pros 1-Met wonderful people 2-Overall ship service was very good, with hats off to the housekeeping. Cons 1-Bath robes and slippers provided only on request, really that screams we're cutting corners. 2-Dinning room service is a major problem, more problems that I can list. Bottom line; dinning room is short staffed waiters must also bus tables, staff training is seriously needed; inconsistent service; improper serving and removal of dishes, explaining order substitutions,timeliness of greeting guests, and the list goes on. The Hotel/Dinning Room Manager should have been monitoring the dinning room service was no where to be found. 3-In Paris Viking charges extra "optional excursion fee" for Palace of Versailles that should be included in the cruise price. 4-Paris City Tour guide was fabulous, knowledgeable, engaging and mixed current local tidbits with the standard tour information. Unfortunately, the subsequent tour guides were no where near as good and were more like walking recordings of the local sites. On two occasions we left our tour guide within the the first 15 minutes out of boredom. Read Less

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