1. Home
  2. Cruise Styles
  3. River Cruises Cruise Reviews

2,086 River Cruise Reviews

We flew to Prague on a two day pre-cruise extension staying in total three nights at the Prague Hilton Pobrezni. The hotel was excellent and Prague was enjoying its hottest week for 60 years! We did our own thing for two days before ... Read More
We flew to Prague on a two day pre-cruise extension staying in total three nights at the Prague Hilton Pobrezni. The hotel was excellent and Prague was enjoying its hottest week for 60 years! We did our own thing for two days before joining up with the main party for a Prague tour and then to be bussed to the Viking Schumann. We were due to board in Melnik but unfortunately and unbelievably following the June floods, the river was dry at the Czech border, so we joined the ship in Dresden. We should have visited Litomeric but this was not possible so the ship firstly sailed back towards Prague to Bad Schandau where we instead visited the Konigstein Fortress. Returning to Dresden the Schumann picked up the original itinerary onwards to Potsdam for Berlin. Here we again stayed three nights at the Berlin Hilton, an equally excellent hotel. Returning to the subject of water levels, it subsequently emerged that the heavy rain that we enjoyed whilst in Bad Schandau was just sufficient to enable the Schumann to make it to Potsdam. If the water levels do drop, Viking station their two ships at either end of the river or as near as possible and passengers are bussed to the sights with a change over from one ship to the other during the week. A point worth noting at this time of year as a cruise can become a coach tour from two bases! As for the Schumann, at over 20 years old, she is lovely. She is not one of the new Viking Longships as seen on TV, rather she is much smaller and lower in order to sail under the bridges on the Elbe. The public rooms are smart and the cabins, though not huge, are well appointed. The complaint voiced by my wife was that the bathrooms are 'wet rooms' which she hates. It does mean that the floors do get very wet but the shower behind the flapping curtain is large and with subsequent judicious use of towels, the floor is manageable. The food was excellent, the more so because we learnt on the galley tour that kitchen staff were two persons short. Unlike in an earlier review we found that there was no shortage of the included wine at lunch and dinner so we were very happy. We went on and enjoyed all the included excursions, the guides were first class, especially the one who took us on the comprehensive tour of Berlin. The organisation by Viking was at all times first class with the indefatigable Tour Manager Stephanie ensuring that we were always up to speed and having an enjoyable time. One further bonus was the abundant bird life along the River Elbe. Would we go with Viking again? They are not inexpensive, but we felt it was well worth it and we would recommend them without hesitation. Six nights in super Hilton hotels and seven nights on the splendid Schumann, just excellent.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
My sister and I chose to travel on Avalon Waterways Magnificent Europe tour starting from Budapest on 24 July 2013 and finishing at Amsterdam two weeks later on 7 August 2013. It was quite a change for me to be on an organised tour after ... Read More
My sister and I chose to travel on Avalon Waterways Magnificent Europe tour starting from Budapest on 24 July 2013 and finishing at Amsterdam two weeks later on 7 August 2013. It was quite a change for me to be on an organised tour after always traveling independently over the years. We started our journey in Budapest and enjoyed our explorations of that very beautiful city. My sister had a brief city tour in the eighties while it was still behind the Iron Curtain, conducted from the airport to fill in a 10 hour stopover. The city has greatly changed since then from all accounts. We arrived in the city a day early and were taken by a private driver to Intercontinental hotel to spend our first night before joining our cruise. Our hotel rooms were very comfortable and of a high standard, while the service we experienced was excellent. During our stay we enjoyed a light meal and wine in the bar on our first evening, and a beautiful buffet breakfast the following morning before checkout. The front desk advised that our luggage would be transferred to our ship over the course of the day. Prior to joining our cruise, our first day and a half was spent ambling around the local streets, checking out the architecture and local sights, trying not to double up on activities included in our city tour with Avalon the following day. Our hotel was beside the Danube so well placed for our explorations. We particularly enjoyed discovering a number of Art Nouveau styled buildings and some quirky bronze statues along the way. One perched on a fence near our hotel, 'the little Princess' was very endearing, the artist inspired by his young daughter playing princess dress-ups. Another of Ronald Reagan was a surprise encounter, I guess a tribute to his presidential role around the time of the move towards democracy in these parts. The most poignant monument was a collection of 60 iron shoes beside the river near the Parliament building. A tribute to a group of jewish people who were murdered there by Arrow Cross Militiamen in WW2. Ordered to remove their shoes, they were shot and their bodies were carried away by the river. Sadly the shoes were seen to have a secondhand and greater value than the wearers in the eyes of the fascists. It is one of the most moving street sculptures I have ever seen. Not far from the hotel we discovered a monument highlighting the city's roman past and also an area of archaeological excavation showing roman remains below a thick clear perspex window set in the paved square above. Unfortunately we didn't have time to visit Aquincum Museum and roman ruins during our stay, no doubt a fascinating outing. We did however delve into more recent history, visiting the House of Terror, the building that once housed the Arrow Cross fascists and Nazis, then later was taken over for by the Communist Secret Police as a torture centre. It is now a monument and museum as a reminder of this tragic past. How wonderful it must be for the population to now experience freedom. We joined our cruise on MS Panorama in the afternoon of our second day. We were given a glass of champagne, some canapes and a very warm welcome from Cruise Director Hendrik who introduced the senior crew. Instructions were provided for joining tours each day, collecting boarding passes which would indicate we were onboard on our return to the ship and obtaining headsets for our tour commentaries. This was all done with great precision along with much humour from Hendrik, and providing we all complied with instructions about our return to the ship was assured of running smoothly. We were then shown to our suites to settle onboard before dinner. My sister and I each had our own Panorama Suite so had the luxury of space without having to dodge around another inhabitant. The rooms are beautifully appointed and well maintained each day. I knew from the moment I entered my suite that I would feel at home there, and began nesting immediately. In fact the environment on the whole ship is of a very high standard, with plenty of space for passengers throughout. The ship holds a maximum of around 160 passengers, with a large crew to take care of passengers. The restaurant is very roomy so there is plenty of space for people who choose to sit in smaller groups. Our welcome dinner gave us a preview of the quality of dining that we would come to expect every meal while onboard for two weeks. I have to admit that it was a bit intimidating that first time we entered the dining room, not knowing anyone else onboard. We introduced ourselves to a lovely pair of ladies from the UK, and remained firm friends and dinner companions throughout the voyage; sitting elsewhere for other meals in order to meet other people. The food was fresh, superbly presented and very tasty, a credit to chef Orlando and his fellow chefs and helpers. A varied selection of wines were offered with our evening meal each day. We were able to select less courses from the menu each time as the four of us all preferred a lighter diet than what was on offer. But for those who prefer more generous serves and multiple courses this restaurant would not disappoint. Try as we might to be self disciplined, the pastry chef made desserts so tempting that this was a course not to be missed at meals. Any attempt to request smaller serves was subverted by him with that extra dollop, slice or scoop! Our empty plates and bowls were testament to his skill! The following day we headed out for a city tour, taking in the sights of both the Buda and Pest sides of the river. Our guide was very informative giving us a history lesson at the same time as pointing out the many and varied highlights along the way. Most of the tour was experienced from the bus, with a brief stop at Heroes Square, then an hour and a half to wander around Fishermens Bastion on the Buda side where we were able to enjoy some stunning views across the city. Much more time than a couple of days is needed to really appreciate this fine city. We also went on an afternoon excursion to a nearby town called Szentendre, a quaint little spot heavily reliant on selling souvenirs. The commentary on the way was detailed and interesting but did we really need a second telling of all these same points of interest on the return journey from our guide! I was thrilled to see Aquincum and some of the roman ruins from our bus, a small consolation for not being able to visit. We were all very excited when the ship finally set sail to the strains of the music 'Conquest of Paradise' by Vangelis, which is very dramatic. (I know some of the words, the ones that go mm mm mm mm mm etc) As the tour progresses we will discover that this is played each time we set sail and we never tire of hearing it, it quickly becomes part of our routine. Our first stop was Bratislava in Slovakia where we visited the Castle which is located at a high point with excellent views of the river and city. We were then taken on a walking tour of the old town to appreciate the very attractive old-world streetscapes. I had read about the quirky street sculptures featured here and had my eyes peeled. Eventually we were able to meet 'Cumil' (pronounced Choo-mill) who has his head and upper body protruding through a manhole on the side of the road. He is in such a precarious spot he has lost his head a number of times after being collected by cars and has undergone regular repairs. We also saw 'Schone Nazi', a strange name for a representation of a local well dressed character from the early 20th century who used to hang around the spot where the sculpture is located, greeting people and paying particular attention to any ladies passing by, sometimes even handing out flowers. In those days he was considered to be an oddball but in our times he would probably be on YouTube and famous around the world for his antics, much like the guy who was offering free hugs to people in public places. Sadly Paparazzi no longer exists, a sculpture of a man peeking around a corner with his camera. I had been eagerly anticipating meeting him. Next day and we were in another country! Aaahhh Wien! My husband and I visited this city many years ago, so we had experienced a visit to Schonbrunn Palace and other local sights. We started our day with a bus tour around the city locale. I had forgotten how amazing the architecture is here, truly stunning! Unfortunately this mode of travel doesn't allow us to explore in depth, you just whizz by in a bus taking photos with reflections, cars, poles etc. It is a taster but you can't expect to do any scratching below the surface of each location as I would normally do. We also went on a walking tour with our very eccentric and lovely guide Cordelia, who was able to point out some aspects of interest that were a little more unusual and gave insights into the Austrian sense of humour which is apparently distinct from Germans despite the shared language. We had a little spare time to check out some of the shops where I was able to pick up a lovely temporary souvenir from a baker - a berry torte. A work of art, it was well appreciated later, but not much later! It was great just walking around checking out the distinctive streetscapes and architecture. We returned to the ship for dinner. Later I boarded another bus to attend a concert of classical music, dance and opera. These concerts are prolific in Vienna and there are young people dressed up in period costume selling tickets all over the city each day. The hall was pretty but not particularly special however I enjoyed the concert very much. The orchestra and other performers were really good. Many of the musicians are apparently music students who are honing their skills in the final years of their degrees. I was a bit unsure about booking this optional tour but decided to give it a try and I am glad that I did. Our guide talked about the fact that many tourists now think that there are kangaroos in Austria, confusing them with Australia. How funny! When Phil and I visited Europe in 1984 many people thought we were Austrians when they asked where we were from because they didn't understand our accents. I guess it sounded like we were saying 'Austrayia' or the like. Haha! Now there are Tshirts and plastic bags with the slogan 'No Kangaroos in Austria', featuring a picture of a roadsign showing a kangaroo with a cross through it. I am pleased to see that our country is finally on the map. Of course when we clarified in 1984 that we were really from Australia the usual response was 'Ohhh Kangarooooo!' with a suitable mimicking of a kangaroo accompanying that phrase. Later when we visited the US and Canada in 2001, the population was more interested in Crocodiles than kangaroos thanks to Steve Irwin and also Paul Hogan's Crocodile Dundee. Our next stop was Durnstein, a pretty riverside village with steep vineyards surrounding it and a ruined castle on a rocky outcrop above, which is famous for holding Richard the Lionheart for ransom back in the time of the crusades. Coincidentally at home my other half had been watching Errol Flynn's Robin Hood which refers to having to raise gold and silver to pay a ransom for Richard who is a prisoner in Vienna. What strange timing! We were assured that Richard actually was living the life of Reilly while there, with servants, luxurious rooms and a fair degree of freedom within the castle; not chained up in some dark, damp dungeon as we might imagine. We really loved exploring the quaint streets here, admiring the pretty buildings and walking through laneways past the vineyards. It was very hot though so great to get back to the airconditioned comfort of the ship for lunch. We continued on to Melk, another town in the Wachau Valley of Austria. Again we were herded on to buses to tour Melk Abbey which we were assured was an amazing place to visit. This is certainly a fact but it was so hot that afternoon I found it hard to appreciate the visit and wished I had stayed on the ship for a quiet afternoon. I should point out that I had been struggling with sinusitis and a sore throat which was interrupting my sleep, so the heat was really draining. The abbey has beautiful terraced gardens but it was way too hot for any of us to spend much time exploring. The weather was much hotter than the locals are used to for several days in a row. Once returned to the ship we set off towards Linz for our final Austrian destination the next day. Linz required an early start as there were several optional tours on offer, We had opted to visit Salzkammergut Austrian lakes area. I was feeling like death warmed up so decided to give the tour a miss and stayed onboard, while my sister enjoyed a long day out traveling around 'romantic Austria'. It was the best decision under the circumstances as it was a much cooler day after some very hot days, so it was refreshing to sit outside and enjoy a cool breeze. With most of the passengers away on outings, I was one of a very small contingent still onboard. I found it relaxing to watch picturesque countryside and pretty villages pass by. Apart from the naturalist aspect, we thought we may even get to see more naturists' views as we did the previous day. It seems that the River Danube is a popular spot for getting the gear off for an all over tan. We were even bemused by the sight of men cooking barbecues in the all-together, an activity that seemed fraught with danger of burning the snags! Additionally we were able to observe the workings of some enormous locks along the way. We crossed the border of Austria and Germany through a very wide lock so two ships were able to go through beside one another, but with the narrowest gap between the side of the ship and and concrete wall. I was amused to see that the neighbouring boat was named Hendrika, because our Cruise Director is Hendrik. Another discovery on this journey was that it was a bit weird walking along the Skydeck in the opposite direction to the boat, as it had the effect of a treadmill, with the landscape beside me keeping up. > Our first stop in Germany was the extremely beautiful town of Passau, which sits where three rivers meet, the Danube, Inn and Ilz. Each is a different colour so it is very strange to see the three colours of water merging at the point where they all converge. After such high temperatures over several days, we had a huge downpour on arrival here which was quite refreshing. I enjoyed strolling around the streets checking out the architecture, the wonderful baroque cathedral and even had time to browse in some shops that were not stuffed to the gills with souvenirs. I strolled back to the ship beside the river in time to see the daytrippers returning from their outings. My sister shared photos of her day's outing with me and seemed very happy with her experiences. She did however feel that too much time had been spent at St Wolfgang, while another superb location with a Schloss reached by cable car did not have enough time for a visit. As days wore on I found myself struggling to catch up with my first email to family and friends. Wifi access was understandably sporadic along the river and canals so communication with home became difficult. The best time was when we docked somewhere and of course that meant being out and about on tour. Once back onboard the ship sailed off and again there was no wifi. I was also guilty of dozing off in between activities at times when my intention was to catch up on facebook, sorting photos and emailing. When I finally found the time I could hardly remember where I had been since Vienna! Fortunately we were given daily itineraries which made an excellent resource for jogging the memory. Next stop was Regensburg, Bavaria, which is an amazing city of UNESCO World Heritage status due to more than 1300 buildings of historic interest. After a short walking tour we were given a couple of hours free time to explore. It was great to retrace our footsteps and see the sights without a crowd of people around us. There is a lovely old stone bridge which dates back to mid 1100s, the oldest of its kind in Germany. It seems the biggest claim to fame is the Wurstkuchl which we were told is considered to be the world's oldest 'fried sausage kitchen'. Who would want to argue with that? Actually we were more interested in visiting one of the newest department stores in town than eating sausage and sauerkraut. Haha! I must agree the city is a fantastic place to stroll around. Those who did make it to the Wurstkuchl were full of praise for the sausage and beer consumed there. On return to the ship many of us took advantage of a chocolate tasting session. We enjoyed trying three different, delicious chocolate treats while our speaker shared some chocolate facts with us. Yum! After dinner our night was rounded off with a corny show by Hans, a One Man German Band, who had a massive moustache that looked like a broom under his nose. He had fun selecting 'volunteers' to play a variety of instruments he had hauled onboard. It was pretty silly but the crowd thoroughly enjoyed it nonetheless. We made sure we were seated near an exit to make a quick getaway if he headed our way at any point. While traveling to our next destination the following morning, an interesting presentation was held on the Main Danube Canal, with particular focus on the engineering of this waterway and the operation of locks. It is a fascinating aspect of this particular cruise as there are many locks to negotiate along the way. The fascinating city of Nuremberg was our next point of call, with so much to see but of course we were not able to explore in depth due to lack of time. It has a long proud history yet will always have the legacy of reluctantly hosting the annual party rally for Hitler's Nazis over a six year period. As a result of this association the city had more than 75% of its historic buildings destroyed. Clearly much of the Old City has been restored as the town walls, towers and beautiful half-timbered houses look in great shape. We made a brief stop at the Nazi Party Rally grounds and found that the building and interior is in disrepair, a crumbling monument to their failure in WW2. We also checked out the massive Zeppelin Field nearby, a site larger than twelve football grounds put together, which was used for huge Nazi parades associated with the party rallies. We were given an hour of free time away from this sad political history. We decided to visit the Toy Museum, a fantastic display specialising in German made toys which must be one of the biggest collection of its kind. The quality of the toys was brilliant and many still had their original packaging. We returned to the ship for a very popular beer tasting session, not my thing but well received by most passengers. As the cruise progressed, the food continued to be wonderful. The crew are so professional and attentive, chef Orlando is highly skilled and his army of helpers do an excellent job. They try and include local specialties at every lunch and dinner along with beautiful wines and a selection of other beverages. Bamberg was the next stop on our itinerary and what a beautiful town. Our dutch guide was great, very knowledgeable as she has lived in this town for many years and presented our walking tour with a sense of humour. She pointed out various places of interest including a fountain featuring Neptune which is known locally as the "Man with the Fork'. It is surrounded by stone seating referred to as the Ape Rocks, in deference to the usual zoo settings for Apes where they watch us watching them. I like that nickname, so apt. The Town Hall is an unusual tall half timbered structure which is perched precariously halfway along on a stone bridge, with water rushing under it. Local legend is that the bishop of Bamberg refused to grant land for the building of the town hall so the citizens rammed stakes into the river to create an artificial island for locating this landmark. Whatever the truth is, it is an incredible sight. Most of our guides have mentioned that there is an old German (Austrian) saying that a wealthy person is Stone Rich or Rolling in Stones, a nod to the great value placed on Stone in medieval times. The half timbered buildings were a way to build relatively grand homes without the extra cost of stones for upper levels. I guess that is where our saying 'Rolling in it' comes from when we talk about people with pots of money. Interesting. (Well I thought so anyway.) The afternoon schedule included a talk on the European Union so I decided to have a nap as I was feeling very weary. I had been battling hayfever for days which was progressing to a sore throat and it was all catching up on me. However I did book to go on the 3.15pm galley tour on the ship so set my watch to wake me at 2.30. I woke with a start at 3.21 pm to find that I had set my alarm for 2.30am! So much for my plans, oh well, back to sleep! I drifted in and out of sleep, waking occasionally to lie there watching the world go by through the huge windows in my room. My dinner companions later reported that the galley tour was great, highly organised and they were impressed with the cooking achievements in such a small space. We woke the next morning to a beautiful view of a hillside palace in Wurzburg, complete with the most perfect reflections on the river. I was able to capture some stunning images of this view on my camera much to my delight. We started our explorations with the obligatory walking tour which I almost passed on, but ended up being glad that I went. Our guide Valerie is British but has lived in Wurzburg for over 20 years. She proved to be an extremely effective speaker, very conversational and funny with a droll sense of humour. We visited the Wurzburg Palace located in town (as opposed to the one on the hill overlooking the river) and she took us on a journey back in time as she explained all of the features of the palace and the habits of occupants and visitors. We were introduced to the Prince Bishop who ruled the town in the early 1700s, by all accounts a humble fellow given that he commissioned a ceiling mural above the Grand Staircase that may as well be entitled 'The World Pays Homage to the Prince Bishop'. Even the gods appeared to be praising his image in this mural. The World only had 4 continents at that time, all featured in different displays. America was shown to be the least important or civilised, while Europe was advanced well ahead of all others. On the origins of words, she mentioned that the men who came to the palace in the 1700s were expected to wear wigs. If a man had a very long wig this indicated he was very important, hence the term 'Bigwigs'. We had a little free time to wander around town, taking in more splendid views with a leisurely stroll back to the ship along the river, just in time for more food. (In the unlikely event that anyone on board may starve...) Once that was done, we boarded buses for Rothenburg, a fantastic medieval walled town with narrow lanes and many half timbered houses. How lucky we were to have the same tour guide, Valerie, who entertained us on the bus to and from our destination. She gave us a bit of an orientation on arrival then we were cut loose to enjoy exploring for a couple of hours. It was a very hot day so nothing too energetic was on the agenda. Jill and I checked out some of the shops around the central marketplatz (naturally), including a huge christmas shop and surprisingly emerged with no packages between us. We decided to head to the town walls for a trek above the houses which was a great way to see a different view of the town. We also had an ulterior motive, to find the horse and carriages so we could take a ride. No luck, so we did the female thing and asked for directions and next thing you know we were taking a leisurely ride around the outer streets, under a shady canopy. The ride took 25 minutes with two stops; one a toilet stop but for the horses, not for us, and the other at a huge water trough for a drink, again for the horses not us! On the return journey Valerie entertained us all with personal stories about her adjustment to living in Germany, her children's bilingual issues and other funny tales. This lady could easily do stand up comedy or after dinner speaking. (Take note Avalon, she would be great onboard as a speaker, especially on the cross cultural issues she has encountered.) Our trip to Miltenberg was very leisurely as we were still sailing for half of the next day before we docked. Once again we were taken on a walking tour of the town, which is famed for its beer and franconian red wines. It is yet another medieval town, with many enormous half timbered houses lining the streets of the old town. The day we visited it was hosting a stopover of a very large contingent of cyclists who were following the way of a pilgrimage from town to town. They departed mid afternoon and the streets were very quiet in comparison. Back on board we had a local lady visit the ship to present a Vanilla Gipfel cookie baking demonstration. She managed to coerce a couple of the guys into helping her with this, and I noticed a few not so brave men quickly depart from the lounge once she announced she needed volunteers. Brigitte was very funny and lively so it was much more than a baking demonstration and whiled away an hour very easily. Soon after we set sail for Rudesheim to the strains of Vangelis and the view outside my window was perfect; a white swan was floating by, the light reflected on all of the buildings giving a glowing effect, the green of the countryside looked even greener than usual and I spied canoeists on the river. Lovely! That night the crew put on a show for us all in the lounge after dinner. They did a variety of funny skits as well as some musical moments. I guess all of these cruises do something similar as part of their entertainment. We got to see another side to the people who have been providing us with such professional service this past two weeks. They are a great bunch of people, very hard working. Many of them are married with children but barely see their families during the summer holiday season, They work long hours every day and most do a multitude of jobs, yet no task seems to be too much trouble for these easy going crew members. We also had a piano player each night, Nick, from Bulgaria. He has quite the repertoire, has a great voice and is a good musician so we enjoyed dancing along to his music most nights. We particularly appreciated our next destination, Rudesheim, which was another leisurely day spent on the boat until lunch time. We boarded our Petit Train on leaving the ship and trundled into town, saving a long walk uphill. It was greatly amusing to see how close the train got to the chairs in the outside dining areas of cafes. Luckily noone was sitting in them as we passed. We had visions of sitting there, then moving backwards to stand up only to be cleaned up by a colourful little train. We have seen news reports of all manner of tourist tragedies over the years, but never by this method. Oh the embarrassment to be killed by le petit train! On arrival at our destination, we waited to see which way our guide was going then headed in the opposite direction away from Siegfried's Mechanical Music Museum, before anyone spotted us making our escape. No reflection on this popular tourist activity but we had alternative plans! In my research I had found out there was a cable car that would take us to a lookout at a highly placed monument, which appealed to us more than an hour of antique musical instruments followed by coffee laced with brandy at the local Schloss. While I am sure that everyone enjoyed their music and coffee interlude, our journey above the terraced grape vines, with magnificent views of the town, the Rhine and beyond, was a perfect way to while away our time on such a warm summer's day. The Niederwald monument, commemorating the reunification of Germany in the late 1800s, was pretty impressive too. After our return journey we meandered through the streets back to the ship. We set sail to Cologne through the most picturesque stretch of the Rhine River, with commentary on the Skydeck from Hendrik, pointing out the many castles and other places of interest along the way. The weather was perfect for viewing these sights; cameras and iPads were kept busy capturing the images of steeply perched fortresses and charming riverside towns. Time was slipping by fast and before we knew it we were disembarking for our visit to Cologne. We chose to wander around the city centre rather than follow the guide as we have both been to this city in the past. We walked back to the ship through the old town, admiring the well maintained historic buildings and the river views. We had an early sailing that afternoon so headed back in good time to enjoy some people watching from the Skydeck. One couple was late getting back; Jill spotted them strolling slowly along the pathway before having to make an undignified dash for the boat with only minutes to spare after our Cruise Director Hendrik yelled out loudly to them. We had been warned previously that the ship would not wait for us if we were late so they were lucky to just make it. Once we set sail we had our final Port talk from Hendrik with special emphasis on disembarkation protocols. Hendrik's pre dinner Port talks were a fixture each day of the cruise along with Happy Hour in the Lounge, briefing us on the schedule for the next day and and what we could expect to see and experience. We had our farewell dinner one night early given that many of the passengers would be out and about on tour in Amsterdam the following night. It was a very special dinner, featuring a parade of all the people who had carefully prepared and served our meals during the cruise and also to pay tribute to all of the other crew who work tirelessly behind the scenes. Three cheers for you all, you are a credit to your ship and to Avalon. Our final destination of Amsterdam was reached overnight. We had a long day planned, starting with a canal cruise around this very lively and historic city. We have both been to Amsterdam previously so chose a country outing in the afternoon rather than further exploring the city sights. It was interesting to see the way that the land has been reclaimed from waterways for farming and housing. The farms had raised grazing lands punctuated by channels of water and I saw quite a few swans in the fields, a very strange sight. The farmhouses were square and the orange tiled rooftops were shaped like pyramids. We visited the town of Edam and wandered around checking out the pretty streetscapes of well tended houses. We then went on to Volendam, a nearby fishing village, with more neat little homes reflecting house proud locals. There were many sailboats on the water, a great sight as we walked along the dyke. It is a very touristy area with numerous souvenir shops, cafes and pubs. Our guide mentioned it is a busy place no matter what the season. Fortunately the charming backstreets were quieter so we escaped the crowds. There were channels of water covered in a type of duck weed, giving the impression it was a grassy pathway. Our guide was at pains to remind us of this, paranoid that one of us might mistakenly take a dip. We did spot a bicycle lying beside a pond covered in this greenery, and some orange and white tape had been stretched around the perimeter, serving as a warning to walkers to watch out. We returned to the ship for our last dinner onboard, then away we went again, this time for an evening excursion to check out the historic city centre, most notably the red light district Amsterdam is famed for. I enjoyed the canal cruise more this time as the light was much better for taking photos. Our guide was adept at discussing the issues of prostitution and legal use of marijuana in Amsterdam. Even though the two are legalised, it appears that there is still a criminal element causing social problems. For me, walking around this area is uncomfortable, not because of what the ladies are doing, rather because there is a feeling of treating them like they are creatures in a zoo by observing them. Any uncomfortable feelings are quickly wafted away by the strong smell of marijuana in these streets; we relax. Haha! There are cafes with special licences to allow legal smoking of dope, but clearly it is openly smoked everywhere else. This is all part of Amsterdam's culture and ways, so is something for visitors to be aware of, and hopefully show some level of respect as we move amongst the locals. After our tour we gather with some fellow passengers for a last night of dancing to Nick's music, chatting and debriefing about our experiences over the previous two weeks. It is a credit to the Cruise Director that proceedings run like clockwork and it all appears so seamless and trouble-free. I would like to make special mention of the lovely people who tended to our cabins behind the scenes. They work extremely hard over long hours and try to incorporate individual touches to make passengers feel special. I had brought along a tiny jointed cat toy on my trip as a piece of home to add to my room. Every night when I returned to my cabin after dinner, my bed was turned down by Anto, who also left a chocolate on the pillow and the little cat tucked up in bed. One day we were all thrilled to find that our towels had been expertly folded on our beds into animals, in my case a dog wearing my reading glasses and cuddling my little cat. These special touches along the way never failed to make me smile! The next morning we rose early to ensure our cases were outside our room at 6 am. It is hard to sleep when you worry you may not wake on time. I had some last minute packing to sort out and pressed down on my case to close it, hearing a noise that I thought must have been a wake up call. Hang on, I didn't order a wake up call! I realised it was a toy yodelling Marmot that I had bought as a souvenir gift, serenading me from my luggage! I quickly rescued it and put it in my hand luggage, thinking it might alarm a baggage handler if it went off during transit. Wearily we headed to the lounge for a quick continental brekky before boarding the airport bus to catch a flight to our next destination. We were both so tired that we dozed off on the plane, however I woke up when someone close by snored very loudly! Oh dear, was that me? Haha! I forced myself to remain awake after that mortifying experience! I hope this journal of my cruise experience highlights how wonderful the Magnificent Europe tour with Avalon Waterways is! Although I still favour traveling independently, I did enjoy the refreshing change of letting someone else take care of the detail, carrying me along on their journey. Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
From the moment we stepped through customs at CDG, we were pampered by Uniworld staff. Our Paris guide met us at the airport, and accompanied us to our shuttle. Once in our hotel, our guide (Pierre) provided information about the city, and ... Read More
From the moment we stepped through customs at CDG, we were pampered by Uniworld staff. Our Paris guide met us at the airport, and accompanied us to our shuttle. Once in our hotel, our guide (Pierre) provided information about the city, and about tours available. Our two nights in Paris before the cruise were wonderful, and we saw much of the city on foot, but we also toured by riverboat and bus. We also found it was simple and convenient to use the subway for those sights that were out of our walking range. The River Baroness is a beautiful ship. Our cabin was well appointed, with plenty of storage space. We found it interesting that the walls were padded and covered in beautiful upholstery. This probably contributed to the wonderful sound insulation. The bathroom was without a doubt the nicest of any ship we've been on. The shower was actually roomy, and there was never a lack of hot water. Our cabin was always kept clean, and was visited twice daily by the room steward, who left small gifts at the end of each day, along with the next day's itinerary. Water containers were provided for our use, and refills were available at the lounge (along with iced tea, coffee and treats all day long). All of the staff on the ship were exemplary. They all were very professional, yet friendly in their service, and we felt like we were very well taken care of throughout the trip. Our guides on our shore excursions were excellent, and some were residents of the towns we visited, so we really got an insider's perspective during the tours. Use of the quietvox system enabled everyone in the group to hear the guide's commentary without having to be in "ear shot". Our itinerary kept us busy, and we only opted for one optional tour (to Versailles). We did spend some time on buses reaching some of our tour destinations (the Normandy Beaches, Honfleur, and Giverny) but the guides took this time to give us valuable information about the destination, or about the passing scenery. The food on the River Baroness was delicious. Breakfasts and lunches were buffets....with amazing selections! Dinners were a la carte with several choices for each course. Wines and beer were free-flowing at lunch and dinner, and at breakfast, mimosas were available. The variety of cheese that was provided at breakfast and lunch was reflective of the regions we visited, and most were melt-in-your-mouth delicious. The only downside of the trip was that we spent very little time cruising along the Seine (at least in daylight). It was one of the highlights of the trip to relax on the deck, taking in the sights along the shore as well as the boat traffic in the river. Uniworld, and our experience on the River Baroness, has sold us on river cruising in Europe and we are looking forward to planning another cruise in the next year or two. Now we just have to choose an itinerary!   Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
Viking's Waterway of the Tsars river cruise is one of the most interesting trips I have ever taken. The few days we were in Moscow, we went to the Kremlin, saw the changing of the guard, went into Stalin's bunker (now the WC), ... Read More
Viking's Waterway of the Tsars river cruise is one of the most interesting trips I have ever taken. The few days we were in Moscow, we went to the Kremlin, saw the changing of the guard, went into Stalin's bunker (now the WC), took a river cruise by night, walked along the Moscow River, and walked through GUM. All of these were led by Russian/Viking guide who knew the history as well as anecdotes to amuse the American visitors. The few days were we in St Petersburg were equally wonderful, visiting the Hermitage, touring the city, going to see ballet "Swan Lake," and touring Peterhof and Catherine's Palace. Again, with our Russian/Viking guide and headsets, we learned history and enjoyed Russian humor. These two cities were, not surprisingly, the reasons for going. Surprises in between were the small stops along the way: medieval city, monastery, trading center, samples of early architecture, hand-made crafts, and school visit. The waterways were serene and quietly beautiful, interrupted occasionally by a lock, each one interesting to me for its uniqueness. Most days we spent a few hours docked with pre-arranged or extra-cost excursions and the rest of the day relaxing on the boat or going to a class (both interesting and humorous). I must say, I like the self-deprecating humor of the Viking/Russian guides.Things to do for sure: home visit with teacher (and hope you get Russian moonshine to sample), Russian ballet performance (surprised myself by loving this), Moscow folklore show (amazed by the talent . . . this is not your typical folklore show), classes on-board ship (I am now sorry that I missed some), painting my own matroishka doll ($$ excursion in Mandrogi kept me from spending too much in the shops), and a kommunalka visit (most dramatic excursion of the trip, giving insight into the way of life in Soviet times). Viking does an excellent job with its cruises. The food on-board ship was very good, especially the typical Russian offerings at every meal for us to try or not. The crew and staff have made this trip many times and have everything organized to the finest detail. They made our trip memorable from beginning to end. To see the cities and rural Russia, to learn her history after years of animosity between our two countries and to see the modernization now in progress was worth every minute and every dollar/ruble. Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
Our total trip, land + river, was 12 days. A viking representative met us at the airport in Shanghai and from that point on we were superbly cared for until a Viking rep dropped us at the airport in Beijing. The attention to detail, the ... Read More
Our total trip, land + river, was 12 days. A viking representative met us at the airport in Shanghai and from that point on we were superbly cared for until a Viking rep dropped us at the airport in Beijing. The attention to detail, the very personal care, the knowledge of our guide, the friendships we made - all exceptional. Quality 5 Star hotels, no cuing in lines for tourist sites, spectacular World Heritage tours. The Viking ship, Emerald, was good - not great....it's a little tired and could use some updating, but again the service of the Viking employees was exceptional. Breakfast and lunch buffet were excellent, but chef could use a course in preparation of western cuisine. When local fare was prepared, it was wonderful, but the kitchen struggled a bit with anything out of their traditional comfort zone (Chilean Sea Bass cooked till dry as wood chips) And cookies! How difficult would it be to offer a simple Toll House Chocolate Chip instead of dried compressed sawdust. But if those are the only two things that weren't up to par they were more than compensated for by the overall excellence of our experience. Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
We just returned from one of the most enjoyable vacations we have ever taken. It combined an AMA Waterways Danube cruise with a pre-stay in Budapest and a post-stay in Prague (both pre-stays booked on our own). The itinerary was a little ... Read More
We just returned from one of the most enjoyable vacations we have ever taken. It combined an AMA Waterways Danube cruise with a pre-stay in Budapest and a post-stay in Prague (both pre-stays booked on our own). The itinerary was a little exhausting but thoroughly enchanting. More on those stays in a bit but I'll focus on the cruise portion first. To preface the review, we consider ourselves "veteran cruisers" having taken about 15 trips (I've lost count!) with Princess, Royal Caribbean, Holland America, NCL, and Carnival. Itineraries have included both the Caribbean and Mediterranean. We had wanted to take a river cruise for a couple of years but were held back by the cost (both cruise and airfare) and the concern that river cruises were only for seniors (we're in our 50's). Once we decided to take the plunge, I began to research cruises via Cruise Critic and Trip Advisor. It became quickly apparent that river cruise reviews are few and far between. Especially for newer ships. Therefore I was determined to post this review as soon as we returned. For those who don't want to read the entire review, I'll simply say that our experience was excellent and AMA Waterways is a first rate cruise line. We absolutely would sail with them again. And more specifically, the AMA Prima is a beautiful river ship with a crew that is second to none. From the moment we first approached the ship to the final farewells (including hugs), they worked tirelessly to provide a first-class experience for every guest. From the outside the AMA Prima is attractive, though after seeing many cruise ships on the river, none of them will win a unique design award. The limitations imposed by low bridges and locks pretty much dictate a low, squat profile--very different from the big cruise ocean liners. AMA Prima is a little different in that the bridge (or wheelhouse) is large and modern-looking. When needed, it hydraulically lowers almost flush with the top deck. The top deck also includes a small pool--just enough for a dip to cool off on hot days. One interesting treatment was the deck floor covering. While most ships we saw had bright blue or gray indoor/outdoor carpet, the AMA Prima has a brown carpet with stripes that makes it look somewhat like teak flooring on ocean liners. The outdoor furniture was either cushioned wicker or teak deck chairs. The overall effect was contemporary and upscale. Once inside, the ship's beauty became instantly apparent. Materials were higher end and it felt like an upscale hotel. Off of the lobby/front desk was a very large lounge with a variety of comfortable (and colorful) seating groupings, a dance floor and piano, a bar plus a breakfast/snack area and separate coffee station. In one side area they had electric fireplaces and a small library--likely a great spot on a winter's day/Christmas market cruise. On the deck below the lounge was an attractive dining room. The rest of the ship was mostly cabins and crew areas with a few exceptions. A small exercise room, beauty salon and in the very rear, a 20+ person restaurant were aft. As a point of comparison, we had the opportunity to go through one of the new Viking ships on the way to our ship. While it looked very nice and had a larger lobby, the decor seemed rather stark, modern and monotone compared to the AMA Prima. Our cabin was in steerage (as one of our traveling companions called it). Located on the lowest deck, the cabin was very nice and had two small windows just above the waterline. While we missed having a balcony (those cabins were sold out when we booked), I have to admit that I was happy we did not spend the extra money on one. As other reviews have mentioned, often the ship is docked next to other ships making them unuseable, and the fact that you are on the go so much, I think we would have made little use of it. Plus the seating areas on the top deck are so comfortable and offer a panoramic view not available on a balcony. The cabin layout was a little tight compared to large cruise liners but is so well designed that almost everything fit without a problem. The only complaint would be in the bathroom. Storage is very tight and an extra shelf would help to hold toiletries. Despite that, the bathroom is like the rest of the ship...well done with upscale materials. Floors and shower were marble (or a faux marble tile).The shower was fantastic. It is angled and has real sliding glass doors (no more sticking/blowing shower curtain!). It offers a choice of rainshower or handheld shower heads. Countertops in both bath and cabin vanity were stone. One very slick feature was the closet clothes rod. Instead of an overhead light, the rod has a strip of LEDs built in the rod that downlights the clothes hanging below. The same feature is used on some of the stair railings elsewhere in the ship. Another interesting (and convenient) feature was the cabin door lock. A simple touch of the key card to the handle unlocked the door. We found the beds and duvets to be very comfortable despite a few reviews that said AMA's beds were on the hard side. Room service was impeccable, with twice a day cleaning and restocking. Meals were near gourmet (at least for us) and they tried to use local recipes/favorites for all of the dinners. Overall I felt the food was superior to normal cruise ship dining. We did eat one evening in the Erlenebis specialty restaurant. It was a fun experience and a great way to meet fellow passengers in an even more intimate setting. Service and food were great. I will say, however, that we thought the main dining room food and presentation were so nice that the specialty restaurant was really not needed. Service was very good in the main dining room at every meal. And AMA's free flowing wine and beer policy with meals is just that--free flowing. They are generous with the pours and glasses never went empty. While I am not a wine connoisseur, my wife and our friends "know their stuff" and found the quality of the wines to be very good. What really set the ship apart, however, was the crew. They were really outstanding. Most cruise ships have staff that are pleasant and polite, but to a person the AMA Prima's crew seemed to be genuinely happy to have us aboard. I'd guess there were only about 25 or so and they were all very friendly...from the head chef (Gino Guadagni) stopping me several times to ask how the meal was and truly interested in my reply... to the captain (Josef Olaj) saying hello all the time... to the cruise director (Reka Piros) who appeared to be on call about 20 hours a day and never lost her enthusiasm and infectious attitude. A little more on Reka. Obviously the cruise director tends to be the best known of any staff on a cruise ship. On a river ship the CD is even more visible because of the small number of passengers. Reka is the consumate cruise director. A real "people person", she was constantly on the go, whether it was introducing onboard entertainment, organizing tours or flagging down busses! Every conversation with her made you feel like you were an old friend. And her skills were certainly put to the test when the lock situation happened. She was wonderful at providing updates and reassuring us that they were working to guarantee that we had a great experience no matter what happened. Reka is one in a million and certainly helped make the cruise a memorable experience! Despite my initial concerns, the ship had a very nice mix of passengers (140+ in all)--most from the US and Canada, the rest from Australia, UK and a few from Europe/Japan. Ages ranged from about 12 (only one kid on the trip) to over 90. We had a group of about 18 guys from the US/Canada- all of whom were personable and a lot of fun- that booked through a gay travel agency. AMA's tours were well done and most of the guides were professional, well-prepared and entertaining. Tour busses were modern and spotless. The bike rides were great... bikes carried on board were in good shape and the crew was happy to adjust seats and handlebars to accommodate the various riders. We weren't sure what the difficulty level would be and were pleased to find that the rides were at a comfortable pace and not hard for the average rider. As for "glitches"...the only thing that happened was that for the last 3 days there was a lot of uncertainty as to whether we could reach Nuremberg on the ship. German lock keepers had gone on strike and they didn't know if they could make it through all of the locks we needed to pass. The situation changed hour by hour. As a result, we sailed faster in some spots. In the end we made it to about 45 minutes outside of Nuremberg. The ship docked at a stone/gravel yard and they provided buses to get us into the city and return for an overnight. We didn't get as much time in Nuremberg as planned due to a late bus arrival (I was disappointed). But on the good side, Reka offered to have us travel with ship extension passengers going to Prague on cruise line buses at no cost (it saved us over $500 collectively instead of traveling on the planned German Railways bus). They had an excursion planned to a spa town, Karlovy Vary, in the Czech Republic that we also were able to go on as we traveled to Prague. We enjoyed all of the stops, though Budapest was probably the highlight. The city suffered much destruction in the war yet they had rebuilt it exactly as before (also in Nuremberg and Prague). Absolutely beautiful public buildings, bridges, castle, etc. A very young city....lots of 20/30 somethings. One friend went to the mineral baths (the other 3 of us chickened out) and said it was a great experience. Many of the most impressive buildings are on the riverfront and they light them at night. As we sailed away, the captain did a riverfront cruise by. It was really spectacular, the whole city by the riverfront was golden light. If you haven't been there and get the chance, go! The rest of the places were all worth the visit. Probably the least charming was Bratislava, where you could really see the remnants of Soviet control and they are just catching up with many of the other cities. Had a great 18 mile bike ride in Austria right along the Danube, took a current-powered ferry across the river with the bikes and even stopped for a beer at a beer garden on the way. Vienna was huge and sprawling with so many beautiful buildings. Took a tour to Salzburg (inland from the river). The scenery was breathtaking. It is called the Lake district and is surrounded by mountains and lakes. People come from all over Europe to bike from town to town. We are all fans of the Sound of Music and on the trip to Salzburg stopped at the town where they filmed the wedding scene at the local church and had time in the church. In Salzburg itself we saw the gardens where they filmed several of the movie scenes in the Royal garden. Ate lunch in an old part of the cathedral. One of our friends and I took the bike ride to Valhalla. It is a place that looks like the Parthenon in Greece and is dedicated to famous Germans. It was 400 steps up the mountain to the summit (harder than the bike ride!!). In Nuremberg we did a WW II bus tour of the Nazi Zeppelin grounds where Hitler gave many party rally speeches. There is also a colossal building near it (never finished) that was to be his party congress hall. It is the only major Nazi building still remaining. Rode by the courthouse where the Nuremberg trials were held (closed on the day we were there). One final note, we booked our hotels in Budapest and Prague ourselves. In Budapest we chose the Continental Hotel Zara based on Trip Advisor reviews and great rates . We were not disappointed. The hotel is located in a large renovated building that had once been a mineral bath. Rooms were contemporary, clean and very pleasant. The hotel manager Zoltan Geher and I had corresponded beforehand via email and he made a point of sending us a bottle of wine in the room and coming to meet me before we left. I can highly recommend the hotel. While a little ways from the city center attractions, it is still within walking distance of the sights. In Prague we chose the Louren Hotel based on recommendations in Rick Steves "Prague" tourbook. Again a great choice. The Louren is a small (20 room) family-owned hotel. It had a charming lobby and bar/breakfast room. Our rooms were large, nicely decorated with new bathrooms and spotless. Best of all, the staff were very welcoming and helpful. Even to the point that when we asked for a recommendation to a local bakery to buy a birthday cake, they sent a chilled bottle of sparkling wine for our friend's birthday. While the hotel is a subway ride away from the city center, the metro station is close by and easy/cheap to ride. All in all, it was a wonderful trip and AMA provided a first-class experience. while we had initially considered Viking, I am very glad we chose AMA in the end. Our next river cruise will almost certainly be with AMA!   Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
My son (25) and I (58) took the July 9, 2013 Shanghai-Beijing "Imperial Jewels of China" 12-day tour, which included 5 nights on the Yangtze River going upriver. It was a trip of a lifetime. As an American, the cultural ... Read More
My son (25) and I (58) took the July 9, 2013 Shanghai-Beijing "Imperial Jewels of China" 12-day tour, which included 5 nights on the Yangtze River going upriver. It was a trip of a lifetime. As an American, the cultural differences between China and Northeast US where we live cannot be overstated. China, for the most part, is still a third-world country in many aspects. It's clear that this country only opened itself to the world in recent decades. The Chinese culture has a very strong history which is still unchanged by other cultures due to their centuries of self-seclusion. Celebrated in music, in theatre, in daily living, every day on this trip introduced my son and I to new outlooks, new foods, new scenery, new ideas and traditions, and new friends. We were able to see the truly amazing natural sites like the historic Yangtze River/extensive and awe-inspiring gorges and Chongqing's giant pandas, plus ancient and extraordinary man-made artifacts such as a buried enormous set of Chinese Bells, jade, Oriental rugs and rug-making, the Terra-Cotta Warriors, the Great Wall, the new largest-in-the-world (Three Gorges) Dam/5-lock system, which changed the face of that part of the world with the rising river water it produced, Shanghai's cosmopolitan modern city and Beijing's historic Tiananman Square and the Forbidden City. And more. The ship was lovely, the food was great, if sometimes experimental (the Chinese really do eat everything), and there were artisans onboard who could create you Chinese clothing made-to-order, beautiful Chinese paintings and painted articles, tea sets and Chinese tea culture, Chinese dancing and traditional costumes of various dynasties. You could also receive an introduction to Tai Chi or receive Chinese massage, pedicure or other delights. Daytrips were mostly covered financially as part of the tour price with only 3 charged extras, all of which we experienced, including two dinner-theatre events (Tang Dynasty and Peking Opera), and a traditional Peking Duck dinner. The boat is small, only accommodating some 240, which split into groups of approximately 30, each led by a Chinese tour guide, which traveled on individual buses for the land portions of the tour. Although ship cabins are always challenging in size if one doesn't have a huge budget, I found the shower to be larger than expected and the bathroom fairly spacious. The interior 270-sq-ft space was nicely fitted, with unanticipated added "comes-with-the-room" features like an umbrella and robe. Loved the veranda as well. In a very hot climate as the Yangtze river areas were, it was a pleasure to be able to sit in a private space to enjoy the view, or to, as we did, rig up a clothes-line system (we brought clothes line and pins) so we had a place to dry laundry, which we washed by hand on-board several times. This was allowed since it's a very common thing in China to hang your laundry; almost no one uses a clothes dryer anywhere, there. Definitely a good decision on the part of Viking to allow everyone to have a veranda. I was dismayed, on the next-to-last day of the tour when we were at the Great Wall, when I inadvertently took a wrong turn when trying to return to our meeting place and found myself far, far away from where I was supposed to be. Although I missed getting back to my meeting place in time and my bus returned without me on the 50-minute ride back to Beijing, this extremely frightening experience (I had no Chinese language and the people where I found myself had little to no English skills) cost me a taxi-ride back to where I was supposed to get to, where I found out for the first time I had been "stranded" by my bus at the Great Wall, Viking River Tours already had anticipated such innocent mistakes as mine, and because I was wearing a name tag with a Chinese character on it telling the Chinese who I was with and therefore where I was supposed to meet, and because that same name tag had the phone number of my bus's Chinese (Viking) travel guide, I was rescued by Viking. In fact, the company even paid for my second taxi...the 50-minute one back to Beijing to the luncheon spot where the rest of my group had gone ahead of me. So, two things about that....they rescued me and took care of/paid for my rescue....and they didn't hold everyone else up while my rescue was happening. Although I was terrified at the time, I was actually under good care (which no one could share because of the language barrier) and was safe all the while, due to Viking's efficiency and management of their tour spots. Because of this rescue and the Viking's overseeing my well-being, my son and I have decided to go on the Viking Oceans 15-day "Viking Homelands" tour on their new 2015 Ocean cruiser, the Viking Star. Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
Lobster until you couldn’t eat any more in Rockland. This was an Eagle Society cruise with special vistas. The tour didn’t start well with a bout of seasickness as we chopped through the Atlantic. With tender care of the crew, we were ... Read More
Lobster until you couldn’t eat any more in Rockland. This was an Eagle Society cruise with special vistas. The tour didn’t start well with a bout of seasickness as we chopped through the Atlantic. With tender care of the crew, we were fine the next day. Excellent history of Maine by Sam Ladley through out the voyage. Towns along the way, particularly Bar Harbor, were an experience in themselves. We returned to Bar Harbor the next week and there was the Independence tied up again. This is one trip we would like to do again, particularly the Coastal Main Botanical Gardens in Boothbay. Again the flexibility of the itinerary was something you wouldn't expect on a larger ship. As a member of the Eagle Society we pay one charge for the trip included excursions. Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
It probably compared equally to Seabourn for the quality of service and food (and we loved our Seabourn Croatia cruise). Everything was extremely well organized, air arrangements made by Viking were better priced than anything I could find ... Read More
It probably compared equally to Seabourn for the quality of service and food (and we loved our Seabourn Croatia cruise). Everything was extremely well organized, air arrangements made by Viking were better priced than anything I could find on my own. When we got to Marseille our luggage took a bit longer to come out so by the time we exited into the arrival hall there was no rep to be found. After about 25min she finally appeared and told us that the bus had left without us. Within minute she got us a taxi that drove the 2 of us to Avignon where the Viking staff paid the 196E charge for the ride. We received the most wonderfully warm welcome from everyone. Our cabin was smallish but surprisingly comfortable with tons of drawers and hanging space. The bathroom had a medicine cabinet which was so convenient as we usually have to balance multiple toiletries on the sink. L'Occitane toiletries are a nice touch. We thought chef Benjamin did a terrific job with his cooking. He had a couple of misses but many many hits. And they did change the wine for dinner for at least 4 or 5 evenings with some very good selections. We took all the tours -included and optional. They ranged from pretty good to great. The staff at the restaurant was just unbelievable, like the level you get in top NYC restaurants. The rooms were cleaned spotlessly. Met a bunch of lovely people who have done many of these cruises. My husband and I had actually paid for our next Viking cruise (to Bordeaux) before even going on this one. Now we can't wait till 2014 Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
The difference between Uniworld and other cruise lines is clear the first time you pull alongside another ship. From the enormous Baccarat chandelier (from NY's Tavern on the Green) in the lobby to the luxuriously padded and shaded ... Read More
The difference between Uniworld and other cruise lines is clear the first time you pull alongside another ship. From the enormous Baccarat chandelier (from NY's Tavern on the Green) in the lobby to the luxuriously padded and shaded chaise lounges on the deck, this cruise line spares no expense. This itinerary runs from Amsterdam to Basel or the reverse. There are optional add-on days in Amsterdam and Lucerne. The on-board meals were perfect and representative of the areas through which we cruised. During the cruise through the castle portion, there is even a traditional German brunch. During dinner, especially, there are plenty of options. Beer and wine flow plentifully at lunch and dinner for no charge. No need to ask for another--the servers are a step ahead of you. Mimosas are available with breakfast and the bar is open a wide range of hours. The day trips were excellently planned and never mandatory. We especially enjoyed the fortress at Koblenz and the Black Forest trip out of Kehl. Our Cruise Director was Hildegarde and she was spectacular. Our stateroom was perfectly appointed, and while small for twin beds, it had plenty of storage for two. The linens and L'Occitane bath products were extravagant. The TV even has a station that enables you to view the front of the ship as you're cruising. The Dining Room and Lounge were beautifully and intelligently designed. The dining companions we have met on Uniworld have been fascinating and well-traveled. The ship also has an indoor pool with a gorgeous view, a movie theater, laundry room and service and a fun lounge called the Bar du Leopard which is decorated... well, you can guess. The best part of this cruise is, without a doubt, the staff. They are positively lovely and welcoming and willing to do whatever it takes to please. I also enjoyed the care they put into the ship--I constantly saw housekeeping maintaining the common areas and the sailing crew touching up paint and polishing the deck. I cannot recommend this cruise highly enough. It costs a little more than the other cruise lines, but if you enjoy luxury, a beautiful ship, interesting itineraries and a 5-star staff, the value is absolutely worth it! Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
Unprecedented flooding disrupted our Danube cruise on the Viking Odin and turned it into a bus tour. The flooding was an "Act of God" and affected all river traffic. Eventually, the German authorities closed the river to traffic ... Read More
Unprecedented flooding disrupted our Danube cruise on the Viking Odin and turned it into a bus tour. The flooding was an "Act of God" and affected all river traffic. Eventually, the German authorities closed the river to traffic and ended any speculation that we might sail (for even a part of the trip). The Viking response was outstanding. The first night, they put us up in a first-class hotel in Budapest. Dinner and breakfast were included. After a city tour and lunch, we were transported by bus to Krems, Austria, where we boarded the Viking Freya, which was tied up in an industrial area (not very scenic). Nevertheless, the accommodations and hospitality on the boat were excellent. We toured by bus each day, as our cruise director, Stein, put a tour program together on the fly. After 3 nights on the Freya and tours in Vienna and Melk (with optional activities provided at no cost - more to follow), we were transferred to the Viking Odin at Regensburg for 3 additional nights. The Odin was moored in an attractive location within walking distance of the city center. We saw most of the highlights we expected to find on this cruise (other than the scenic cruising), and Viking made up for this shortcoming by adding optional tours and activities for no additional charge, for example: Tour of Regensburg Castle, winery tour in Krems, concert in Vienna. In addition (while we probably didn't need it), Viking provided an open bar for two nights on the ship and (a surprise!) forgave all the bar bills when we checked out. Finally, we just received a credit from Viking for 75% of the cost of our cruise (to be applied to a future Viking cruise within one year). I don't know how they could have treated us any better - under the circumstances. Thanks Viking! BTW, aside from a few rain showers, the weather was excellent - sunny and mild. I feel bad for the group that preceded us a week earlier when constant rain produced the flooding. One last note: If you spend the money to take the "Romantic Danube" cruise, spend a little more to take the 3-day extension in Prague. It was wonderful - and the full-time Viking people at the hotel were very helpful with tour information, dining reservations, etc.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
We boarded the River Countess after 7 wonderful days on our own touring Tuscany, Florence and Cinque Terre by car. My husband is a great driver and was able to master the 6 speed manual transmission! We turned the car in at the Venice ... Read More
We boarded the River Countess after 7 wonderful days on our own touring Tuscany, Florence and Cinque Terre by car. My husband is a great driver and was able to master the 6 speed manual transmission! We turned the car in at the Venice airport and took a cab to the Santa Marta docking space to board the River Countess. There was a smile as we entered.....the pictures you see online were accurate! The staff was professional and cordial. We had a light lunch and our cabin was ready by 2 pm. The cabin is small compared to ocean cruising ships ( we knew this before booking) but they have done a fabulous job using the space available. Luxury, fine linens, mirrors, marble, great water pressure in shower, plenty of storage (look under the bed for 2 more drawers), vanity/desk, 3 AC/110 outlets (we were able to charge phones etc. easily), a safe, good air conditioning system, all this adds up to an A+ cabin. Meals/dining room: Very well done, attentive staff, good presentation and variety, and of course 360 degree views of Venice most nights! That is a wow. Ports: Venice was terrific. Much larger than I had envisioned, more boats, more land, more dwellings. We actually spent a total of 4 nights in Venice...great. Had free time and some scheduled tours of the city. One highlight was to visit St Marks for a private tour at night....slowly the lights come on, very special! Such history.  Tour to Padua: By bus we drove about 45 minutes west to the city. They use 3 buses each day but have 5 city tours guides so your groups are about 16-20 people. The Scrovegni Chapel and interior fresco paintings (painted around 1305) come to life as our guide detailed the works. Of note, you have to sit in a cleansing room for about 20 minutes prior to entering the chapel...but they have video of the history so that is helpful. Lunch was on your own, I was disappointed that most of the shops were closed after lunch (we were not told this) then we had to board the bus at 2:30pm. Ravenna: This was about a 1 3/4 hour drive south to the "Mosaic Church" Basilica Sant' Appolinare Nuovo. A wonder to see! We did tour the town also and then had lunch at a local restaurant. We enjoyed the countryside ( lots of green crops) and a nap on the drive back to the boat. Bologna: This was a 2 hour drive south west from our port. WE had a city tour, but by this time it was a lot of dates, and old buildings. This stop I would not do again. The redeeming factor was a pasta making demo and a great lunch with wine etc. (I feel Uniworld could have done this pasta making somewhere closer to the ship and skipped Bologna) Too long a drive. Verona: Great city, had some free time too. Could have spent more time there. Good shopping areas. Also about 1 3/4 hours each way to the boat. Back to Venice on Saturday morning and we sailed the lagoon, wonderful from the sun deck and then had free time in the afternoon! While we did not have a great dock location that day Uniworld had Mercedes vans available to shuttle us to Plaza Roma and we could walk from there to many great places.Entertainment: A very versatile piano player was aboard for the week, George, he was great! One night they had Veneto Commedia Art'e...it was ok. They had a great band on Friday night and on Thursday they had some opera singers. A lecture on the Venice Lagoon was informative. Our "cruise manager" was personable but I am not sure how often he has done this itinerary with Uniworld. Lots of referring to notes and not as communicative as he could have been....still he was professional and approachable. I have detailed some of this cruise because no one had yet reviewed this itinerary. It is a river cruise but not like the Rhine. We did go through one set of locks and cruised the Po some. Venice is wonderful and having your first class hotel float with you is quite nice. Only had to unpack once. We will certainly consider Uniworld again. When it was time to leave for the airport they had a van and an employee help us into the airport and make sure our boarding passes were printed. That was a very good extra that we appreciated. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
The commitment of the company to satisfying its customers was impressive. The experience of sailing down the Rhine, Main and Danube under flooding conditions created extra excitement for the cruise. The Amadolce, sailing from Amsterdam on ... Read More
The commitment of the company to satisfying its customers was impressive. The experience of sailing down the Rhine, Main and Danube under flooding conditions created extra excitement for the cruise. The Amadolce, sailing from Amsterdam on June 6th, was the first boat to make it way almost all the way to Amsterdam after the floods. Were it not for a broken lock just before Budapest, the ship would have made it all the way. We were greeted with delight at each port with the locals saying that we were the first boat to make it in weeks. We were able to do this only due to the amazing skill of the captain. Captain Rien left his job as an administrator at AMA headquarters just to sail the Amadolce through this crisis. Because of high waters, sometimes we cleared low bridges along the way with only about a foot to spare. Our cruise manager was even more amazing. He proved to be particularly adept and creative in arranging for last minute excursions and tours since we were never sure how far down river we would be able to dock. He was invariably calm and good natured. Both he and the Captain kept us continually informed as to what we might encounter along the way. All this was on top of the customary top notch service, cuisine, and wine we received on the cruise. All in all, we couldn't have had a better cruise. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
While this vacation did not match our planned trip to Eastern Europe, I must say we all had a very interesting and enjoyable time. To be honest, I would have liked the planned trip, but given the record floods and the decision by Viking to ... Read More
While this vacation did not match our planned trip to Eastern Europe, I must say we all had a very interesting and enjoyable time. To be honest, I would have liked the planned trip, but given the record floods and the decision by Viking to attempt the cruise, I was astounded that our vacation was as enjoyable and educational as it was. No one loves bus trips, but we made the best of it...and the crew on the ship was outstanding at arranging trips on the fly. We saw things that we would not have seen (while missing some that we wanted to see)- I guess we will have to go back another time!! As for what we DID do on this ill-fated cruise...we had fun! Our young grand-daughter was at least 30 years younger than the average passenger, and this was her first river cruise. We felt pretty confident that she would be fine with this "adult only" type ship but one never knows. The reality was she had a grand time-- made lots of friends, some she is emailing now that she is home! While her deck was on the side of the ship next to the other docked ships, she and her mother spent more time in the public areas meeting people and enjoying the provided side trips. I was lucky, my room was on the water side, but honestly, I never really used the deck...I were too busy. We used our time in the little town of Novi Sad to really soak up Serbian life and the history of Eastern Europe after Communism. What a wonderful experience for all of us, but especially for our grand-daughter. For me, it was wonderful because I was close to the area where my grandparents were born. I saw things that they did in their home in America, and I now know where it came from ... the grape arbor in the yard leading to their door, the rugs my grandmother made on her loom..it almost made me cry!! We get so caught up in all of our "things" that it is good to see folks who are happy with far less. Our room steward was exceptional...the concierge went above and beyond for us, the entertainment was fine....you are not on a "Broadway" ship for goodness sake. I guess as a recent cancer survivor, I don't understand wasting energy being upset about what life presents to you...This could be your last day! It almost was for me, so I use each day as a day to learn, enjoy and be thankful! This trip was not what we planned, but it was not the worst trip by any means. We all (4 people)enjoyed this trip immensely, and then to be given a full refund )and I mean full... no thousands less, a free bar bill, and 1/2 off vouchers for the next cruise...what a treat!! I'm sure this was a big hit for Viking to take, cost wise....but we thought they did the best they could do once the error was made to do this cruise. Many of the folks I talked with thought the same thing.. Travelers should ALWAYS be ready for unexpected things to occur. Viking gave us a lovely ship, perfectly fine meals- (the local fare is what you expect if you are traveling in Eastern Europe), great staff, and some unexpected drama...some of which was brought on by the travelers themselves...What else do you want on vacation??? Would I travel Viking again...yes...next summer!!! Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
We took a Danube river cruise on AmaWaterways ship AmaLyra in early June. We arrived in Budapest on the day the Danube crested during the worst floods in 500 years. Nothing was moving on the river, and on the day of departure the AmaLyra ... Read More
We took a Danube river cruise on AmaWaterways ship AmaLyra in early June. We arrived in Budapest on the day the Danube crested during the worst floods in 500 years. Nothing was moving on the river, and on the day of departure the AmaLyra was marooned several hundred miles away on the wrong side of the Rhine-Danube canal. Our extraordinary cruise manager and the company made herculean efforts to keep us informed of alternative arrangements; we went to Bratislava by bus and were accommodated in a very comfortable Sheraton, so the Bratislava tour went off as scheduled. Then another bus to Vienna, and on to Ybbs, where we picked up the company's newest ship, the AmaPrima. Three glorious days on the AmaPrima took us to Wesenhufer, where we were again bused to Passau, then Regensburg, where we got on the AmaLyra at last for the last three days to Nuremburg. The company thought of everything; when we were unable to eat lunch on board (because there was no ship!) every passenger was given a substantial cash allowance for lunch. And the additional packing-and-unpacking chores were handled cheerfully by the crews of both ships. Staterooms were spotless, the food first class on both ships; and every crew mamber went out of his/her way to make the cruise a great experience for the passengers. On top of everything else, AmaWaterways gave every passenger a substantial credit - good towards any cruise through 2016 - for the 2 days that were missed on shipboard. Altogether a first class experience! Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
My husband and I are first time European river cruisers. We never liked ocean cruising but river cruising is another matter all together. Luxurious surroundings, outstanding service, food and wine selection; not to mention very ... Read More
My husband and I are first time European river cruisers. We never liked ocean cruising but river cruising is another matter all together. Luxurious surroundings, outstanding service, food and wine selection; not to mention very interesting, included excursions off the ship made our cruise very remarkable and memorable. We were very surprised how smoothly the ship sailed. Half the time, we never knew we were moving. The dining room was the focal point for our journey because we shared our daily experiences with friends we met on board. The maître de, Richard, was amazing! He addressed everyone's needs simultaneously either with a friendly welcome, sharing information or satisfying your requests. His humour and camaraderie are a real asset for the River Duchess. He worked shoulder to shoulder with his staff setting an outstanding role model. The selection of food, presentation, variety and preparation were above standard; always hot and delicious. Shore excursions were varied and interesting especially the ones where we met the local people of each country we visited. Our favourite was the home cooked meal with Anita in Croatia; industrious,fascinating lady. Our tour director, Mery, also contributed to our happy, carefree existence. Her comical interaction with my husband made our trip very relaxing; like being with friends and family at home. We cannot sing enough praises for the wonderful time, staff and tours we experienced on this ship. We are looking forward to our next cruise with Uniworld. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
I just returned from sailing on the Amalyra, Europe's Rivers and Castle Tour (Paris to Prague, 6-25-13) with my sister and mother. Easiest way to describe the journey - a fabulous experience - a five-star hotel set on top of a very ... Read More
I just returned from sailing on the Amalyra, Europe's Rivers and Castle Tour (Paris to Prague, 6-25-13) with my sister and mother. Easiest way to describe the journey - a fabulous experience - a five-star hotel set on top of a very quiet barge that glides down beautiful rivers. I'm in the hotel business, so I can be pretty critical. First off, the ship was absolutely spotless. You could literally eat off any surface on this ship. Cabins are small compared to a hotel room, but plenty of space to unpack and stow belongings – you’re not in the room that much anyway. French balcony, the ceiling-to-floor sliding door/window, made the room seem plenty spacious. Bathrooms were tiny, but laid out very well. Showers were wonderful (long hair needs good pressure.) I would suggest putting in memory foam mattresses - beds were a bit hard with the scaled-down mattress depth and no box spring. Ratko, the hotel manager, ran a very tight operation. At no point during the time on the ship did we experience ANY half-hearted or poor service. Having the crew made up of mostly couples obviously keeps the morale and service culture thriving. The aft lounge was beautiful, but they had just refinished the floor so it needed a lot more airing out - maybe windows that could open? Housekeeping staff was excellent and we absolutely loved the towel surprise and the little touches each night. The captain, Hank, and the very small contingent of sailors performed what seemed to me a miraculous feat of moving this floating hotel down the rivers and through the 55 locks. The nautical crew never seemed to be off shift; and yet they always smiled when the passengers pestered them with questions. We saw a Viking ship sailing in the opposite direction one day and it had peeling paint and a run-down appearance. The Amalyra sparkled in comparison with gleaming paint and polished wood. The crew never rested between sailing and sprucing. Again, the entire ship was spotless. Be warned - the sun deck does close down often (high water - low bridges), but there was always seating around the wheel house. The food service on board takes into account that people are waking at different times. The early bird offering in the lounge is a great idea - loved the 24-hour coffee machine. Having 2 options for lunch - lighter fare in the lounge rather than table service in the dining room was also a great feature. The culinary team was excellent. The menu each night was varied and the food beautifully prepared and presented. The menus for both lunch and dinner offered plenty of options. I heard some grumbling about wanting more regional fare. However, 7 nights of unfamiliar German food would have caused massive complaints. It is a great mix of cuisines. We were a party of 3, so the table arrangements caused us to seek out new dinner partners. Some large groups ran to the dining room and "hoxied" tables - sort of rude. Free flowing wine and beer during meals were served by the bartending staff, who always had a smile and a very generous pouring hand. Bar service is not included, but the prices were very reasonable and, again, very generously poured. Entertainment was provided most nights, variety of styles. Some got people dancing - Oh, my 82-year-old mother and those spiked heels! Visions of hospital trips and casts abounded but she had a blast because the atmosphere was fun and festive. The final artist of the cruise was a bit of a diva apparently and actually stopped her performance to shush the passengers. Since this was the last night of the cruise, maybe a band-type of entertainment would have been more appropriate when people were enjoying conversing with each other before leaving the next day. Amawaterways advertises that the ship docks at small towns which you can disembark and stroll to the town center. Be warned that this is true for only SOME of the docking sites. Your excursions are included (with the exception of Rothenburg) but you are bussed to most locations. Some local guides were better than others (a small complaint that a few talked way too much), Keeping us tourists together is probably akin to herding cats. Almost lost someone in Heidelberg, but the guy just didn't get on the right bus. Local guide was in a panic until all the guides added their numbers together. Buses were also spotless, drivers amazing (although a few us saw death coming going up to Bernkastle - thank goodness we backed up - LOL.) Vox system for tours is excellent. I saw many other tour groups huddled around their guides trying to hear instead of being able to enjoy the experience. System was easy to use and pretty flawless. Our cruise manager Kata was very knowledgeable, but seemed a bit stressed at times. I think they need to give them an assistant on the cruise. Organization is excellent, but sometimes info was presented in such a way that it was a bit confusing. Language was never an issue - English was spoken by all the crew and staff - accents could be heavy however. The daily "newspaper" which explained where, what and when was a great feature. Be aware that if you do the land portion - hotel in Paris was in the middle of the left bank (we chose to stay elsewhere and meet the tour for the transfer) and didn't scream "I'm in Paris!" Also passengers were a bit upset when they realized Prague was a four-hour bus ride from Nuremberg. It wasn't that bad, small rest stop break in between. Intercontinental in Prague was beautiful and extremely close to where you want to play tourist. The price for the entire tour was expensive - be prepared. You are not nickel-and-dimed to death - so it was very relaxing when on board (loved the warm towels and tea when we returned from an outing) - but this is not a cheap way to see Europe. You are pampered, wined and dined, entertained and astounded by the beauty of the land, buildings and sheer history of the area. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat - as soon as I pinch my pennies and save up for it. Amawaterways hits every note with precision, excellent service and top-notch accommodations.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
This was our first river cruise on AMA Waterways and we really enjoyed it. My husband and I took the 7 day cruise from Paris and Normandy. We docked at Vernon (Monet’s home and gardens), Rouen (capital of Lower Normandy, trips to ... Read More
This was our first river cruise on AMA Waterways and we really enjoyed it. My husband and I took the 7 day cruise from Paris and Normandy. We docked at Vernon (Monet’s home and gardens), Rouen (capital of Lower Normandy, trips to Normandy landing Beaches-WWII, seaside town of Honfleur), Conflans (trips to ruins of Richard the Lionhearted’ s castle in Les Andelys, town of Auvers-sur-Oise where Van Gogh spent the last 2 months of his life). Then we had the 2 day Paris extension. Our ship the AMALegro has a capacity of 150 passengers and was nearly full for our trip. The AMALegro is a very well maintained and comfortable ship. We had a B level cabin. It was comfortable and nicely decorated. It wasn’t spacious but it wasn’t cramped either. As we weren’t in the cabin all that much, it met our needs perfectly. Our cabin was thoroughly cleaned every day. Our room steward was terrific. The meals were delicious—better than we expected. Any local dishes were noted on the menu. We saw at the end of the cruise when all of the crew was introduced that there are 10 chefs/kitchen staff preparing meals. No wonder the food was so good! Sample dinner dishes included Normandy Free Range Chicken Breast with Lavender Potatoes and Vichy Carrots; Lamb Medallions Mont Saint Miguel with Ratatouille and Potato Gratin; Grilled Fillet of Pike Perch in Mustard Dill Sauce with Parsley Potatoes. Included in the cost of the cruise were the “house” (changed every day) white and red wine, beer, soft drinks, tea and coffee during meals. Mixed drinks and other wine choices were available for a cost. If you wanted a Coke at say 4pm, that would cost you about 1.50 Euro. Ice water, iced tea, hot tea and coffee were available for free at any time of the day in the lounge. Our bill at the end of the cruise was minimal. Our tour director Sebastien was knowledgeable, funny, energetic, and respectful. He answered all questions that we had. Sebastien conducted informative optional sessions most afternoons concerning the excursion choices for the next day. He also did an interesting commentary of the sights we were seeing as we cruised. On a related note, the local tour guides at each of our stops had a passion for educating us on what we were seeing so that we got the most out of the excursions. We really liked that usually half of the day was excursions (all included in the price of the cruise) and the other half of the day was free time. This gave the cruise less of a “sightseeing” feel and more of a relaxing atmosphere. This unhurried pace made possible 2 unplanned excursions: 1) to hear a choral concert given by fellow cruise passengers in a several hundred year church in Vernon, and 2) to see a highly advanced sound and light show (think George Lucas ) at 11pm using the 12th century Rouen cathedral as a backdrop. Regarding the 2 day Paris extension that we did at the end of the cruise, my favorite part was the tour of the art museum Musee d’Orsay. Our guide’s knowledge of art history and the time period really made the paintings and sculpture she highlighted even more meaningful. We really enjoyed our AMA Waterways trip, and we’ll be back for another!   Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
We started our trip on the SS Antoinette in Amsterdam. The ship was docked right behind the Central Station downtown. This made it very easy to access from the local transportation. We arrived at the dock around 12:00 noon and were met by ... Read More
We started our trip on the SS Antoinette in Amsterdam. The ship was docked right behind the Central Station downtown. This made it very easy to access from the local transportation. We arrived at the dock around 12:00 noon and were met by a representative from UniWorld who took our bags and escorted us on to the ship. Check in was very fast and we were told that lunch was being served on the top deck. They had sandwiches, salads, soup, fish and meat. They also had dessert and drinks (wine, beer, tea or soda) all complimentary. Around 2:00 P.M. a member of the staff come around told us that our cabin was ready. When we arrived in our cabin our luggage was already there. The room was even better than advertised. Very spacious and the bathroom was larger than any we have ever seen on a ship. The excursions, which were included in the price of the trip, were very good. Choices were offered everyday for morning, afternoon or both for local trips. Guides were good, and comfortable coaches were always there on time. The vinegar tasting was the highlight of our trip. So unique and interesting. The crew onboard was amiable and catered to just about every whim of the passengers. The food on the ship was above average with an attentive waitstaff. Meals varied every meal with a selection offered for those who didn't care for the special dinner. Champagne receptions occurred a couple of times during the week. Dress was tasteful casual. No money exchanged hands on the ship, down to the free laundromat, featuring very efficient washers and dryers. It would take a lot to beat this cruise, and we would jump at the chance for another UniWorld trip. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
We recently returned home after completing the Imperial Jewels of China Tour with Viking River Cruises on board Viking Emerald. Whilst we were very busy, with quite a lot of land-content and walking, the trip was wonderful with a set of ... Read More
We recently returned home after completing the Imperial Jewels of China Tour with Viking River Cruises on board Viking Emerald. Whilst we were very busy, with quite a lot of land-content and walking, the trip was wonderful with a set of new experiences and new sights every day. The overall organisation of our tour was expertly prepared and managed and our Tour Escort and Local Guides were very knowledgeable and highly professional. There is a quite a lot of walking with this tour, however those with difficulties were well-catered for with personal assistants and wheel-chairs readily available. The days on board Viking Emerald were relaxing, comfortable and quite luxurious, with the inclusion of a gym, beauty salon and massage centre. The ship is well-appointed and the staff were highly professional. China is an amazing country and the Chinese amazing people. We highly recommend this tour. We will be doing another cruise with Viking River Cruises in the foreseeable future. Our ports are not available in the list of available options, however all cities and ports that we visited had something different to offer, the land tours were professional with expert local guides. Disembarking and re-embarking the ship was safe and simple. On one occasion when the walk up the hill after disembarking the ship was very steep, there were assistants available to help those who needed it. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
With some trepidation after the heavy European flooding which caused so many river cruise cancellations we headed towards our departure point in Nuremberg For our Romantic Danube cruise and were relieved to see the ship ready and waiting. ... Read More
With some trepidation after the heavy European flooding which caused so many river cruise cancellations we headed towards our departure point in Nuremberg For our Romantic Danube cruise and were relieved to see the ship ready and waiting. This was our first ever cruise, river or ocean, and it was just fantastic from start to finish. We could not fault Viking, staff were fantastic, everything ran like clockwork, tours and guides were terrific, entertainment high quality, ship was clean and beautiful, and we just loved visiting so many amazing places we had never seen before. Budapest was the icing on the cake as the last port and point of departure, what an amazing city. We enjoyed meeting lots of different people, contrary to some reviews where people complain about not being able to reserve seating for dinner, we actually found it refreshing to sit with different couples each night and make new acquaintances. Cannot recommend this cruise highly enough, if we didn't live so far away in Australia we would be regulars!! Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
It was a really wonderful experience. The Viking staff were always attentive and courteous. The food and service were also excellent. It was great to travel with 188 people rather than 2,000 plus on a cruise liner. The bus ride portions of ... Read More
It was a really wonderful experience. The Viking staff were always attentive and courteous. The food and service were also excellent. It was great to travel with 188 people rather than 2,000 plus on a cruise liner. The bus ride portions of the trip were pleasant but not that enjoyable, apparently nobody in Europe believes in ice water! The excursions went to interesting places, the guides were great but a little too much walking for the older set! We had a glitch in Luxembourg, the newly minted guide seemed to abandon those that did not take the walking tour! Viking did get an earful on that one. It would have been nice to spend more time prior to the cruise in Paris but we did not think of that at the time we made the reservation. There never were any language issues as just about everyone spoke English. Lots of photo opportunities, I took only one lens, a 35mm equivalent to a 27mm to 300mm zoom. A few times a wider lens would have been useful. You can view ALL the photos taken at: http://www.jiffywebdev.com/rrbrakeman/Europe2013/index.html There was nothing more relaxing than sailing down the river watching the scenery go by as compared to the shore excursions that were a bit hectic. Again I must salute the Viking staff for handling all of the inevitable glitches in an excellent manner. They took excellent care of all of the passengers all of the time. We are trying to decide which Viking cruise to take next. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
We commenced our Gems of the Danube package with a 3 day extension in Prague. We were met by Cruise Director Martina and then transported to the Marriott Hotel to begin our stay. A short overview of the surrounds was provided by Martina on ... Read More
We commenced our Gems of the Danube package with a 3 day extension in Prague. We were met by Cruise Director Martina and then transported to the Marriott Hotel to begin our stay. A short overview of the surrounds was provided by Martina on our first evening and we walked the short distance to the Old Town Prague Square. The following morning we were taken by coach to Prague Castle and then walked down with Martina through the gardens and town areas over the Charles Bridge and back to Old Town Square. The following day we spent exploring on our own. Day 4 we boarded the bus to Nuremberg to join the Scenic Diamond. Some were a little disappointed as we had been booked on the Scenic Jewel a newer spaceship but due to the recent flooding the Jewel was not in the area. We had wondered how the rivers would be and whether we would make it all the way. Fortunately we were the first boat to do so. We were made very welcome by Marin and the rest of the crew. We overnight-ed in Nuremberg and the following morning took the Tastes Of Nuremberg tour which we enjoyed. The next day we arrived in Regensburg a lovely medieval town and enjoyed a tour of the township and an organ recital at the Cathedral. We ere entertained that evening by the Ommpah Band while we sailed on toward Passau. The township of Passau had been badly ravaged by the 500 year flood and we could see the watermarks on buildings near the river banks. I took the tour to Chesky Krumlov which was wonderful and my husband went to Slazburg and the Salt mines. The next day we berthed in Melk and toured the beautiful Benedictine Abbey. On through the beautiful Wachau Valley and the next stop Durstein a pretty little river town. The next morning we woke in Vienna and having previously seen Vienna we took the day tour to Bratislava. In the evening we were all bussed to the beautiful Palais Liechtenstein for a wonderful Mozart and Strauss concert which include opera and ballet. We did feel privileged. Budapest was our final destination on the cruise and we arrived early afternoon and were taken on a tour of Buda and Pest. This was a beautiful city and we were treated by the Captain to an evening cruise of the river at night with all the beautiful lights. The following morning we sadly disembarked our spaceship and bussed to the Marriott Hotel to be fare welled. We loved our cruise and the crew were all so friendly and obliging always with a smile they couldn't do enough for us. Everything was so well organized and we thoroughly recommend Scenic Tours. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
We sailed the ARosa Aqua along the Rhine from Basel to Amsterdam. It was our second river cruise and an unforgettable experience. The ship was clean and nicely appointed. All cabins are the same size, I believe 165 sq. ft, but the design ... Read More
We sailed the ARosa Aqua along the Rhine from Basel to Amsterdam. It was our second river cruise and an unforgettable experience. The ship was clean and nicely appointed. All cabins are the same size, I believe 165 sq. ft, but the design made the most of the space. Large bed - 2 twins put together, good walk-in closet space, functional bathroom with enclosed shower and a french balony. The crew were very courteous and eager to please. The food was exquisite - right on a par with the best cruise lines. Especially enjoyable was the all-inclusive aspect, so no need to whip out a card every time you order a drink, etc. Not to mention a nice supply of Havana Club rum! Other passesngers on ths cruise were mostly if not all American, generally in the 50-75 range and pretty experienced travelers from what we could tell. Everyone got along very harmoniously. There were included shore excurions daily in every port, and even bicycle tours offered. The tours were very good for the most part. The ports themselves were well-chosen, our favorite being Strasbourg. Entertainment was not so remarkable, but also not expected on a ship like this. In essence our experience was very, very positive and we would highly recommend it for someone who would like to experience an overview of slightly "off the beaten path" ports in an easy, relaxed and all-inclusive manner at very good value. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
We took the long European Sojourn cruise, Amsterdam to Bucharest. We made a great choice; seeing Europe from the river is fantastic. Unpack once and let Viking take you to see wonderful ports, sights, ways of life. One word of caution: ... Read More
We took the long European Sojourn cruise, Amsterdam to Bucharest. We made a great choice; seeing Europe from the river is fantastic. Unpack once and let Viking take you to see wonderful ports, sights, ways of life. One word of caution: we initially booked a lower level (100 series, riverview) cabin. On the 1st night the noise of water rushing by the ship's hull and any passing ship's propeller noise was going to be a "show stopper" for us. No way were we going to have this for the 23 day duration of the cruise. I immediately snagged an upgrade to the 2nd level cabin (#206) and gladly paid the extra cost. This saved our cruise from being a disaster. We moved cabins at 1AM that first night... thank goodness there were cabins available. We tried everything: pillows over our heads and ear plugs. Seriously, we considered leaving the ship and cutting our cruise short. That's how bad the noise was. Cabin: small but quite adequate, good storage space & ample closet space, well appointed, French balcony is nice, bathroom is roomy and well equipped with large shower. Bed very comfy but squeaked a little but I just pulled the beds apart a tiny bit and all was fine (when they're together they tend to rub and squeak). Both 110 and 220 volt electic outlets were available; fridge was nice and we kept our bottled water cold for the hot daytime tours. Dining was great... breakfast and lunch sit-down or buffet was perfect and dinner was just perfect as well. The single dinner seating at 7PM with all passengers was catered flawlessly. Internet WiFi connectivity was spotty depending on ship location. Our connectivity was not the best so I took my laptop up to the internet center and had better WiFi connect speed. In the center, two computers are available for passenger use at any time. I'm a coffee drinker and having it (& capachino, hot chocolate, etc) always available, especially with the home-made cookies and muffins was really appreciated. Remember, there's no "all-day dining" as on ocean liners Ports of call and the accompanying tours were well organized and the guides were knowledgeable and spoke English well. We had a slight detour as one of the locks was still under repair but Viking took care of us very well considering the situation. Two nights in Nuremburg & 2 nights at a lovely resort outside Paseau was the extent of our detour. Viking made sure we had 5-star accommodations and saw all the sights we were scheduled to see. To see the countryside from the river, to visit all the various ports/cities/towns/historic sites was nothing short of wonderful. Ship was super, meals were great, service was exceptional, fellow passengers were in our age group (55 thru 75) and tours went off like clockwork. We highly recommend Viking and this European Sojourn cruise. We thoroughly enjoyed this cruise, seeing 10+ countries, traveling in deluxe comfort and experiencing Western & Eastern European ways of life. I also suggest that booking a 2nd or 3rd floor cabin be seriously considered... I haven't read a review that mentions the noise, but I can say that the noise we encountered dictates no more 1st level cabins for us. If anyone else experienced similar noise, please let me know. We are advocates of river cruising and we're planning another Viking cruise for 2014... perhaps the Russia or Portugal river cruise. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013

Find a Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click