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2,086 River Cruise Reviews

We had the misfortune of choosing to go on a European river cruise during the year of the 500 Year Flood! The waters of the Danube were extremely high so, unfortunately, we were unable to actually cruise up the river. We stayed on the ... Read More
We had the misfortune of choosing to go on a European river cruise during the year of the 500 Year Flood! The waters of the Danube were extremely high so, unfortunately, we were unable to actually cruise up the river. We stayed on the Viking Odin and the Viking Freya and were bussed to our shore excursions. We were one day behind on boarding a boat so Viking Cruises arranged accommodations for all guests to stay in Budapest at a beautiful hotel. We had a great dinner with entertainment and in the morning we started the day with an exquisite breakfast. We bus-toured around Budapest and then took a bus to the Viking Freya. The Freya is a beautiful boat with all amenities. The beds were comfortable, the entertainment was good, the food was great and so was the wine and beer. And the bathroom....you have to see it to believe it!!! When our stay on the Freya had ended we were bussed to the Viking Odin. The Odin is the same as the Freya; however, the bathroom wasn't quite as cool. We again enjoyed great food and wine and wonderful entertainment. The staff on both boats were congenial and helpful. Whenever we embarked after an excursion, we were greeted with a lovely shot of a delightful tasting drink. We were dealt lemons on this vacation due to the flood, but we chose to make lemonade. We had a great time, we met wonderful people, and I am in awe how Viking staff worked diligently to make our vacation a memorable one.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
The cruise entailed two one-week back- to- back cruises of the San Juan Islands and the Alaskan Inside Passage. We chose the San Juan Island cruise as it took us to a very scenic area of the US which is difficult to arrange by car and ... Read More
The cruise entailed two one-week back- to- back cruises of the San Juan Islands and the Alaskan Inside Passage. We chose the San Juan Island cruise as it took us to a very scenic area of the US which is difficult to arrange by car and ferry transport independently. As long as we were in this area, it seemed logical to add on the Alaskan cruise which followed on up the northwestern coast of the US. We thoroughly enjoyed the scenic areas as we traveled up close to the islands in this group, stopping at the various small towns along the way. At times on the cruise, we saw one of the larger cruise ships way off in the distance not being able to come in close to the islands nor the coastline. How much the passengers missed!! Wildlife sighting of dolphins and whales occurred along the way, The shore excusrions offered provided a very well-rounded look at the area: history, the economy, Native American Indian lore, life on the islands and along the coast, sea life and the natural habitat, and the scenery, both on water and land. All of this was supplemented by a historian who accompanied the excursions and who presented lectures on board about the area and the things that we were going to see so that we had an excellent orientation to make the most of the time ashore. In addition, there was always time for a recap of the activities at the conclusion of the day. On many evenings, local entertainment was brought on board which included music, dance, story-telling, etc. Sailing on a small ship provided the opportunity to dock and be very close to the center of town affording us many opportunities to explore on our own. It was also very enjoyable to have some local seafood served for lunches and dinners as we traveled in the area. Everyday, the ship's crew endeavored to make each aspect of the cruise most enjoyable. We thoroughly enjoyed both cruises and feel we really explored in depth this area of the Pacific Northwest. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
While there were a few minor glitches in our 17 days with Viking on the Embla and then on the Prague extension, the overwhelming majority of our experience was wonderful! The ports of call were outstanding, coupling small towns with major ... Read More
While there were a few minor glitches in our 17 days with Viking on the Embla and then on the Prague extension, the overwhelming majority of our experience was wonderful! The ports of call were outstanding, coupling small towns with major cities, but everywhere the ability to experience history and grandeur from the comfort provided by the ship made the experience something that will always remain one of our best vacations ever! Before going further I'd like to direct you to my day-to-day report/review on our trip that I posted daily from the ship. It's a lot more detailed than I can manage here, but may be a bit long and wordy for the casual explorer. http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1834574 Our first real negative involves the fact that we were actually supposed to be on Viking's Idun and not the Embla. We were never informed of the ship substitution and were actually unaware of the change until our transport bus pulled up in front of a strange ship. No adequate explanation of the change was ever offered other than the fact that the two vessels were sister ships and identical. While we had no problem with the ship itself and in fact believe that we lucked out due to some amazing personnel that obviously the Idun couldn't share at the same time, the change DID inconvenience some passengers who spent time and energy looking for a ship that happened to be cruising the reverse itinerary and was nowhere to be found. We found the food on the Embla to be wonderful, and a large cut above that which we've experienced on the host of ocean cruises we've taken. You cannot eat "continually" and if that's your draw for cruising, this may not be the best venue for you. The meals here were excellent with sit down or buffet choices at breakfast and lunch and excellent, many times local choices at dinner. Entrees were somewhat smaller than Americans may be used to, but after an appetizer, soup and in prep for a dessert, I found them to be perfect and I'm a big eater. Great cookies and coffee/tea are always available, but the main point is that with the included excursions you really don't have a lot of time for snacking. The rooms (ours was a balcony) are somewhat smaller than the same category on an oceanliner, but there's a ton of storage and we managed nicely even though we were on board for a full two weeks and I top out at about 240! Couple of negatives: the bathroom door is the pocket type. It doesn't offer the best of privacy, can be noisy at night and opened itself on occasion. In my opinion a significant design flaw. The beds were comfortable, but squeaky - again if you get up at night between the pocket door, the bed and a pretty loud toilet flush, it can wake your partner! The personnel on this ship at this point in time were outstanding. The cruise program director, Lucia was nothing short of outstanding! She was ably assisted by Mercedes (who would name their daughter after a car?! - Sorry, old joke!) who's the concierge. The wait staff was superb and the bar guys were as good. A point here though is that these folks change ships frequently (Lucia was subbing for a vacationing PD) and so the comments in this regard may be "temporary" as well. Still, they were great and contributed in a very large part to our enjoyment of this cruise! There is entertainment. The piano player (Neil, I think) plays almost continually and is there in the lounge until the last passenger packs it in. Not late in our instance. There's also local entertainment that they took aboard on a few occasions. They weren't spectacular, but good and solid; much like you'd find on a ocean cruise. Beer and wine are included with lunch and dinner and both choices were generally pretty good and flowed freely. Drinks are a bit steep in price, but the pours are liberal. We tend to opt for premium martinis by choice, and we found that they were huge here and that made them worth the tariff. The passenger list is ... Not young! We're in our early-60's and felt like the "kids". There were probably 3 or 4 other couples our age or younger, but the rest of the list was 70's plus. No problem though. Made for a smaller crowd at the bar at night and a slower exit off some of the buses, but the folks were all very nice, friendly and most were experienced travelers. I can't say enough about the ports of call. Each one was different enough to make the stops varied and interesting. Some, like the Cathedral in Cologne, the Melk Abbey, Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna, the Lobkowicz Palace in Prague and the night entry into Budapest take your breath away! Even the smaller stops like Regensberg and Bamburg were delightful and historic. WW2 buffs will love Nuremburg! I thought the 14 days would leave me a bit jaded after all the palaces and churches. Not so. Even with my back acting up, we made every excursion and most of the optionals. A word about the tours. The included ones are excellent with informative, English speaking guides and there's one per stop. We found the optional tours to be every bit as good - some even better, but they are pricey and with the number offered, that can add up. Almost a grand for the two of us. Worth it, but you have to budget for it on the top of a pretty expensive cruise to begin with! Research your options beforehand because there are two opportunities to sign up, one comes early, and some of the tours can fill up. All the tours are conducted in English using a device called a Quietvox. You wear it around your neck coupled with an earpiece and the tour guides can talk into theirs delivering a clear commentary completely separate from the guide a few feet away. It's your constant companion on the cruise and each room is equipped with 2 complete with chargers. There are two computers in the upper lobby area for "no extra charge" passenger use. Personal device connectivity can vary between good and none depending on where your stateroom is located. It's good in cabins near mid ships and wains the farther out you get. We were in 329 about 70% aft from center and had none in the room at all. This is something Viking should be able to fix easily to make the experience equal for all their passengers. The top "sun deck" is a nice experience with chairs, tables, lounges a putting green and shuffleboard. Some of the area is shaded with an awning and umbrellas. Note that when the ship is going through areas with low lying bridges (with us it was most of the Main and the Main-Danube canal) they have to clear the sun deck because clearances can be in inches. This represented about 6 days on our 14 day cruise. We did not miss it that much because most of the days we were off the ship the majority of the time and the lounges were generally not crowded at all. (With the exception of the daily briefing at which just about everyone attended. Chairs were at a premium if you came late.) A note here: the ride up the Rhine on the sun deck in the sun with castles and the Lorelei Rock was a real treat! A great ship; a great time; wonderful people and crew coupled with 6 beautiful countries! Even with a couple of little glitches, who cares!? We loved it! Bill Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
A least 25% of trip the Viking Sky was tied up to either the port or starboard side of our ship, the Viking Freya. This resulted in completely blocking the view from our stateroom, #211. I suspect you plan this to save on various fees ... Read More
A least 25% of trip the Viking Sky was tied up to either the port or starboard side of our ship, the Viking Freya. This resulted in completely blocking the view from our stateroom, #211. I suspect you plan this to save on various fees you may incur, however, I hope you realize this represents a very poor image for a company that advertises a unique and special experience. This same lack of view occurs in the dinning room. Instead of looking at a beautiful landscape we are looking at another ships hull. I found this whole docking side by side idea very disappointing and not representing the experience I thought I was paying for. Our captain was very reclusive. On the occasion he was seen in the passenger area, he rarely spoke or smiled or otherwise communicated with the passengers. I have experience the opposite on two other cruises we have taken. Previous captains would intentionally walk through the dinning room during dinner and stop at various tables to ask how everyone is doing and does anyone have any questions about the ship or various ship functions. It felt good to think the captain actually cared about how his passengers were doing. It has been my impression that a ship's captain sets the tone for the cruise. It appeared Captain Simon just wanted us all to go away so he could maneuver his ship. Our program director was just not a very practiced or well organized. Perhaps he was new at the job but he often was overwhelmed and made several mistakes during our cruise. I must say, he seemed to have a desire to please the passengers and took his responsibilities seriously, he just wasn't successful. One couple were put on the wrong tour. When they told Colin what happened, he asked them if they wouldn't mind paying for the optional tour. They did not and no apology was given. Of course, the misplaced couple came back unhappy that they had missed the optional tour for which they signed up. A mistake was made in the Viking Daily for the time of another excursion and my wife and I almost missed that trip. The women at the reception desk were very nice, always said hello, but were not very knowledgeable when he came to answering various questions about time of tours, what time we might be getting into our next port, what things they might recommend in towns. They just seemed very inexperienced. After much discussion, my wife was allowed to pay our bill the evening before our departure. When I turned in our room card keys, I was told the bill was not paid. We had our receipt but could not find it just at that moment. (We have found it and I can send it to you if necessary). This caused a bus of twenty people bound for the Budapest airport to be rather upset with us for delaying the bus by at least ten minutes. Colin, to his credit, finally told the bus to go after the desk clerk said, "Oh yes, I remember her paying last night." Not a great way to leave the Viking Freya. On last complaint, the lounge was either not big enough or was not furnished to maximize the space to hold all the passengers aboard at the same time. When we had general meetings some people had to stand outside the lounge area and could not fully hear the presentation. Probably nothing to be done about this logistical problem as it appears to be in the design of your ships. Some positive notes, the serving staffs that we encountered were exceptional. They often remembered special requests at dinner. Norbert was particularly helpful in providing tea and honey for my wife afterhours to soothe her sore throat. Many staff remembered my wife was not feeling well and frequently inquired about her health. This was very nice and made us feel the crew cared about us. Our housekeeper was such a delight. She was very hard working, kept our room immaculate, and no request was too big or too small for her attention. She helped make our trip better and I hope Viking recognizes her for her excellent service. The bathrooms were superb for shipboard design. We always had instant hot water with never a hint that it might be running low. The valves were of superior quality and worked flawlessly. These engineering considerations made our river cruise more delightful as every morning we had a comfortable shower to start the day. The Viking Freya was an amazingly quite running vessel. My compliments on an excellent engineering design. In summary, what could have been a truly exceptional experience turned out to be an adequate experience. The two things that distracted the most from making this trip superior was having the Viking Sky docked on our beam and The program directors inability to create an enthusiastic care free, and humorous atmosphere. I suspect if he was more relaxed and confident he would have been delightful person. Unfortunately, that was not the side of his personality that generally came through. I have talked with friends that traveled with Viking before and they had highly recommended your company. I am sure there experience was better than ours Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
Our 5 night cruise down the Yangtze River on the Viking Emerald was a core highlight of the 12 day Viking Imperial Jewels of China tour. Suffice to say that the cruise exceeded all of our expectations, as did the entire tour overall. The ... Read More
Our 5 night cruise down the Yangtze River on the Viking Emerald was a core highlight of the 12 day Viking Imperial Jewels of China tour. Suffice to say that the cruise exceeded all of our expectations, as did the entire tour overall. The Viking service was fantastic, led by our tour guide, Paul Liang, who set a very high standard for the rest of the Viking staff to follow. On board the ship, we were delighted by the exceptional service and cheerful friendliness of the entire crew. The food was of course very good, with many opportunities to sample the local cuisine. Cabins were a generous size, with balconies standard for all. Morning Tai Chi lessons on the sun deck with Master Tom every morning were a special treat for us early birds. The spectacular scenery of the Three Gorges region, with a particularly enjoyable excursion up the Lesser Three Gorges of the Daning River, proved to be a memorable backdrop for a great many enthusiastic photographers. As well, our close encounters with the local population, especially during our visit to a Viking sponsored elementary school, gave us all a new appreciation for the hospitality and openness of the Chinese people. Our program director, Daniel, did an excellent job of providing both informative and often humorous presentations on the history and culture of the region. Overall, easily 5 stars plus, with a strong recommendation to anyone who has not yet had the pleasure of visiting this great and ancient country to try the Viking Emerald and the Imperial Jewels of China. In one word, stupendous! Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
My DH and I (early 40's) disembarked from the Viking Spirit last Sunday from our Paris to Normandy cruise. I expected it to be good, but it really was great. I had read every single comment and review that I could get my hands on ... Read More
My DH and I (early 40's) disembarked from the Viking Spirit last Sunday from our Paris to Normandy cruise. I expected it to be good, but it really was great. I had read every single comment and review that I could get my hands on prior to this trip so I knew there were some things that people had complaints about. But I've also traveled enough to know that some people aren't happy doing anything so I took it all with a grain of salt. As it turned out, we had a fabulous vacation. Here are my thoughts on the ship and crew and also some notes about the trip in general.Sunday (and first impressions) We had arrived in Paris a few days early on our own so we gave the address of the ship to the Taxi driver and he took us there with no issues. The moment we stepped out of the taxi our bags were whisked away and we were greeted by Markus (the hotel manager) and Clara (the concierge). We arrived around 1:30 pm and our cabin (225) was ready so Markus took us there and made us feel welcome. On a side note, others who arrived earlier from the airport had their cabins available and were able to freshen up pretty quickly. We found the housekeeping crew to be very efficient so that’s not surprising.They had a light lunch available in the lounge so we had a nice lunch and then unpacked. We found our room very comfortable and the storage more than enough. The bed was great. The window is much bigger than I thought it would be so I was really happy about that. I picked this particular cabin level because the window opened and that was very important to me. True, when someone is seated at the vanity table, the other person can’t get by to the window side of the bed. We solved this issue by putting my clothes in the drawers on the window side of the bed so that when I was at the vanity, my husband could access the closet, the bathroom and his clothes without issue.The bathroom is compact, but that’s to be expected on a ship. The space was manageable and it had a small clothes line and a medicine cabinet with more than enough room for our toiletries. There was a shelf under the sink that offered more storage, but we didn't need it. They had L’Occitane products (shampoo, conditioner, lotion, bar soap and shower gel) that I loved. There is a hair dryer in the dresser drawer, but it’s a 1200 watt. Americans are used to an 1800 watt so if that’s a big deal for you, bring your own. It did take a little longer to dry my hair, but I knew that ahead of time and the slight inconvenience certainly isn't worth lugging your own hair dryer about. We did stay in 3 other hotels in France with the same hair dryer so it must be a standard. And if memory serves, there is one 110 outlet and two 240 outlets at the vanity. Our apple products and my curling iron didn't require a converter so we just had two small adapters and made it through fine.Also in the room is a very large bottle of water that they replenish whenever you need it. There is also bottled water available on tables when you leave for tours and of course it’s always available in the lounge. There is a coffee/tea bar on one side of reception with a magical coffee machine that makes every kind of coffee drink I could ever want. And I did notice they had cookies and other goodies out on that table at various times. Wine, beer and soft drinks are free with meals and then normal bar prices during off times. The bar staff is very good. They remembered my husband’s beer and scotch brands immediately.After dressing for dinner, we went into the lounge for the Captain’s welcome reception and then the introduction of the Program Director, Anika, and the Maître D, Joey. Anika then gave a port talk for the next morning (her first of many). Now, I had read a review that said that there wasn't enough seating for all of the guests. That’s just not true. There is ample seating. What happens is that people sit toward the back of the room to be the first to leave for dinner. So the seating at the very front (bow of the ship) is vacant. If you get there right when it starts it looks like there is nowhere to sit. So get there a little early. And I do recommend going to all of them. Anika is engaging and funny and when you leave you have a clue about what’s going on the next day.For tours, you give your room keys to reception and they give you a card that has your group number on it and also a card that is essentially a “boarding pass” for the ship. It has contact information for the ship should you run into trouble anywhere. You board the bus that has your group number and that is also your guide. When you return from the tour, you hand both the pass and the group card back into reception and they give you back your room keys. It’s very organized and the best way for them to know who is on and off the ship. I did read some complaints that there were huge backups to get back on the ship but never did we experience this. We might have waited a couple of minutes, but nothing major. It seemed a very organized way to get people into groups and also make sure everyone is accounted for on the ship.Now we come to dinner. If you've been on an ocean cruise, you need to throw your expectations out the window. This isn't a feeding frenzy where there are multiple venues for multiple times. There is ONE seating for dinner. Everyone goes in together and finds a table. There were tables for 4, tables for 6 and I think a few tables for 8. One of the things DH and I don’t particularly like is having to sit with different people for each meal. Luckily, we met one couple at the onset (Bob and Ann) and ended up sitting with them each evening. We sat near the back on the right and Zoran was our server with Filip assisting. Both were exceptional. Also we had during the course of the week Lukas and Bernadette for lunches and both of them were exceptional.The dinners themselves were really, really good. True, there were a couple of things that weren't quite to my taste during the week (one soup and one dessert), but the rest were quite good. There was always something on the menu that appealed to me. There were 3 options on the right side of the menu that were staples (steak, chicken and something else) in case the offerings for that day didn't sound appealing to you, but I never ordered from that side. In fact, only once did one of our 4 go to that side of the menu. And my DH and I aren't foodies, but Bob and Ann are very well traveled and knowledgeable about food and they agreed that everything was excellent. The portions were not huge, but then not small either. After a starter, a main and a dessert (plus cheese plate for DH), we left dinners full but not stuffed. And they would bring you more if you wanted it, but we never did. A couple of times they brought around a platter of one of the mains that I guess they had extra left over in case you wanted an additional portion. Everyone seemed to be served around the same time but the meals did take a couple of hours. Honestly, we enjoyed our company so much that we couldn't believe that it would be 9-9:30 when we got up from dinner. But I don’t recall ever having to wait. It was just a nice leisurely pace and to us that didn't seem too slow or too rushed.I know they had some entertainment in the lounge on some nights but I can’t comment as we didn't go. This trip was about the daytime tours for us and after dinner we went to our cabin each night to prepare for the next day and relax before bed.Monday morning - bus tour around Paris with stops at the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame. We had been in Paris for a few days and had been to the Eiffel Tower and to Notre Dame so weren't planning to do this, but then decided to go ahead to get an overview. I’m really glad we did. Our guide, Thierry, was incredibly funny. He is one of the Rick Steve’s guides in Paris and did a great job. We stopped for a great view of the Eiffel Tower in which to take pictures and then DH and I got to see some of the areas we hadn't had time for that we will plan to stop at on our next visit. The last stop was Notre Dame and since we had done that already, we broke from the group and did a little shopping and then had coffee at a nearby café waiting for group and the bus to arrive. The group had the tour of Notre Dame and then some free time.Monday afternoon – optional tour of the Louvre. Since we did the Louvre earlier, we skipped this tour. I can’t remember how much it was (maybe 49 euros?). After speaking to other passengers, it seems like they did pretty much the route that we did, hitting the highlights of Mona Lisa, Venus DeMilo, etc. But here’s my thing with the Louvre. I don’t think it should be done that way. The Louvre is MASSIVE, crowded and there are stairs everywhere. To get to each main piece it’s up the stairs, down the stairs, up the stairs, down the stairs, passing artwork that deserves attention in its own right. If I remember correctly, Thierry told us that if you spent 1 minute in front of each piece it would take 3 years to see everything. In the future, I believe we’ll take one wing and slowly make our way through. But I completely understand why they do the tour the way they do because it’s exactly what WE did. But just note that you’re in for an exhausting 4 hours.Tuesday - Giverny and Monet’s house and gardens. I must admit, this was the part that I was looking forward to and it didn't disappoint. We started early and our guide was Christophe. He was kind of like a nutty professor, but very knowledgeable and we liked him a lot. The water garden and the main gardens were beautiful. The house was interesting but I could have skipped it and been fine. One lady in our group got yelled at in the kitchen for taking photos. I’m not sure what was unclear about that. There are signs entering the house and then the person taking your ticket looks you straight in the eye and says, “No photos in the house.” Yet a man and woman in our group took pictures in every single room, which irritated me to no end. Please obey the instructions!Afterward, we went to the little café in Giverny and went into some of the small shops, but you also have the option of visiting the museum or walking to the church where Monet and his family are buried. On the bus, people remarked that they were happy with whichever option they had chosen.After lunch, we had free time to walk around the town of Vernon. I believe there was a painting lecture back on the ship and then a class to do your own impressionist painting for 10 euros. Even though I can’t even draw stick figures, I kind of regret not doing that. Vernon has some shops and we visited the grocery store to get a couple of sodas and to look at the different products. Everyone was really friendly, but of course we are very conscious of following the French etiquette rules of greeting the people you are to interact with using “bonjour” when arriving and then saying “merci” and “au revoir” when leaving. I noticed some others from the ship who didn’t do this and they didn't have the same friendly encounters that we did.Wednesday – Rouen. We spent the morning cruising down the Seine toward Rouen. The countryside was very pretty and it was a relaxing cruise. There was a lecture about Joan of Arc in the lounge. I didn't go, but my DH said it was good. They did also have some of the same information in the daily paper for this day and I was able to read up on that. We arrived in Rouen after lunch and there was a walking tour around the town. I had twisted my knee before the trip and the Louvre (up the stairs, down the stairs) had aggravated it so I decided to stay aboard an ice it because I knew after the tour I wanted to go into the town and visit a pottery shop that I had seen on the Rick Steve’s France DVD. My DH did the tour and the tour guide was Christophe (from the day before). He really enjoyed it. They were unable to go into the cathedral because there was a service inside, but they did get to hear the bells ring and see the outside.After DH returned from the tour, he and I walked around the town and the cobblestones made me extra glad I had stayed aboard and missed the tour. I found the pottery shop, but actually ended up buying from one around the corner 2 small handpainted dishes. I also bought a purse from the Longchamps store and some chocolates from the cholatier. There are a lot of shopping opportunities here in Rouen. We overnighted here so you could have had dinner off the ship, but we liked the dinners aboard so came back to dress for dinner.Thursday – Normandy Beaches. This is the day my DH was anticipating. When they had the welcome briefing at the beginning of the tour Anika said that if anyone was interesting in doing a tour that focused on the British Commonwealth instead of the American one to sign up. And since we were coming back to Normandy the following week and hiring a personal guide for the American sector, we eagerly signed up for the Commonwealth one. As it turned out, there were 10 of us for the British Commonwealth tour and we had a very nice touring bus for just the 10 of us.As part of the Commonwealth tour (and since there’s not as many British/Canadian stops), the first stop is in Bayeux to view the Bayeux Tapestry, which is 950 years old and depicts the story of William the Conquerer. After that, we met up with the whole group for lunch in Arromanches and here is where we lost most of our 10. 2 split off to take a taxi to Utah beach, as they had family connections. 3 split off to join the American tours (they wanted to visit the Tapestry and then the American Cemetery). 1 had mobility issues and only wanted to visited the tapestry so just stayed on the bus the rest of the time. So basically we ended up with 4 of us doing the rest of the tour. We went to the British/Canadian cemetery, Juno beach and then Pegasus Bridge. We had Christophe again and he and my DH got on famously so they talked war the whole 2 hour ride back to the ship.Friday – Les Andeles. We spent the morning cruising back down the Seine toward Paris and stopped just after lunch in Les Andeles. It’s a very small village with 2 shops and the remains of the castle of Richard the Lionhart perches on the bluff. The walking tour was through the little town and then UP to the castle remains. There was no way my knee was going to allow me to do that climb (and it IS a climb) so I peeled off the walking tour to visit the shops. One is a lovely store with home goods (pillow and candles and decorative items). There were a LOT of things I could have bought but in the end just bought a magnet. The other store is a small clothing/accessory store with scarves and jewelry, some purses and vintage lace items. Our stay in Les Andeles was short. We left at 3:00 to continue our journey. My DH really enjoyed the walking tour but did say that unless you’re reasonably fit, you shouldn’t attempt it. However, if you do and it gets to be too much, you can simply turn around and go back down.Friday afternoon debarkation talk. I must say, Viking has this down to a science. Anika gave a talk about how the debarkation would work for Sunday. They had people doing transfers to the airport, transfers to a hotel for the 3 day extension, transfers to the Vikings southern France cruise and then people like us who needed a taxi to go to the next step of our trip. They have different color tags that correspond to what time you need to leave the ship for your circumstance. Then, there is a sticker for the tag that tells what airport terminal you are going to. So if you left at 7:30 for CDG Terminal 2, you had a red tag with a Terminal 2 sticker. This allowed the people moving and loading the luggage to know where to send your luggage and at what time. It really was very organized. You just had to look up your cabin number on the form to find the color tag to get and the correct sticker. But if you don’t understand (and a few of the older guests didn’t), just go to Anika after the talk and she’ll help you. Saturday– Conflans and Versailles. There were several options here. You could stay and visit Conflans on your own. You could stay and take a walking tour of Conflans (which highlights the pretty house boats). You could take a ½ day trip to Versailles. You could do the full day trip to Versailles. With the full trip, you do the ½ day trip with everyone then you have several more hours in the gardens while the ship is sailing back to Paris. After Versailles, you get on a bus, drive to Paris and then have 2 hours in Paris before the ship docks and the bus brings you back.We did the ½ day tour of Versailles and I believe of the 2, that is the best option for the weather we had in May. Since spring is VERY late to Paris this year, it was around 50 degrees. The tulips had gone and there really was nothing else in bloom. So even though the gardens are massive, I believe we had more than enough time to get an overview. Plus, I wouldn’t have wanted to spend a whole day walking around Versailles then another 2 hours shopping in Paris before I could rejoin the ship.We loved Versailles and had the same guide as on our City tour of Paris (Thierry). We actually knew he was going to be the guide because he had mentioned it before so we asked specifically to be in our group and Anika arranged it for us. One thing about Versailles is that it’s incredibly crowded but since we were one of the first groups scheduled we got to go in and have a reasonably uncrowded experience. By the time we left, the line to get in was crazy. I would hate to see it when it’s sunny and warm!Sunday – Anika had arranged for a taxi to take us to the train station for our train to Bayeux to continue our journey. It went off without a hitch. We had an early breakfast then went back our room to gather our things. We had to have our luggage out into the hallway 45 minutes before our departure time. We then vacated our room to sit in the lounge until time for us to go to allow Maria (our room attendant) to get in and clean for the next guest. Either way, though, they ask you to vacate your room by 9am to give them a chance to do their work. But we were out by 7:15 and sat in the lounge talking until our taxi pulled up right on time at 8am.Overall: This was a great cruise. We did have some rain and it was colder than we would have liked, but we had clear skies for the main things so we were lucky in that regard. Here are just some other observations:Breakfast: served in the dining room every morning. There is an extensive breakfast buffet, plus some items you can order off the menu (or you can do a combination of both). Very good. Especially loved the oatmeal with lots of toppings.Lunch – usually served in the lounge for sandwiches and salads and then in the dining room for a salad bar and made to order items. We always ate in the dining room and were very happy with the meals.Internet – was very slow at times in our cabin, better earlier in the mornings. The lounge seems to be the best place for internet so if I were downloading something or attaching pictures to emails I would go to the lounge. Not a big inconvenience since we were in the lounge a lot. We took our ipad and it was fine. They do have a couple of laptops available to borrow if you just want to check in.Daytime Attire - for the daytime, whatever you were comfortable in for touring. We wore jeans mostly and our rain coats because of the weather. Wear comfortable, broken-in shoes that are appropriate for gravel and cobblestones. Some people wore t-shirts and shorts to breakfast and lunch, which was perfectly fine.Dinner Attire – mostly golf shirts or long sleeved collared shirts for the men with casual slacks. Several men wore nice jeans with their nice shirts and after seeing that, my DH wore his nice, dark jeans a couple of times without feeling at all out of place. At the Captain’s farewell dinner, there were 3 men in sport coats and 1 man with a tie. Everyone else dressed the same as any other dinner. For the women, it was mostly slacks and blouses. I brought a black pair of trousers, a black pair of dress crepe pants and then blouses and scarves that took up almost no room in the suitcase. I did see a few dresses.Information: Viking has a whole website section entitled YOUR TRIP. Ready it. Read every section in it. It’s the best way to know what to expect. For example: Tipping the Guides: Yes, the Viking people get gratuities (and they earn every penny), but you also have to tip the guides and the bus drivers after every encounter because they do not get part of the Viking staff tips. Some people didn’t read this and just totally stiffed the tour guides and bus drivers. Also, TIP IN EUROS, just as the Viking instructions ask you to! When you land at the airport, head to the ATM and get Euros. On every tour, we saw people tipping in dollars. You are in a foreign country and you should tip in the currency that is local to that country. I can’t imagine showing your appreciation in a currency that the guide/bus driver then has to take the currency exchange to get changed into money they can actually use.Laundry: We were in France for 2 weeks so we had to think about packing light vs. laundry. Yes, the laundry on the ship is comparable to what you pay at a hotel, but it’s a very expensive vacation so up front we budgeted some money for laundry and were happy we did. Other people were talking about doing laundry in their cabins and having it hanging all over the room to dry but this was a vacation for us so we let the ship take care of it and they did a great job. So whatever you’re comfortable with. Well, I think that’s it. The only (and I mean ONLY) suggestion that I had that I put on the survey was not a reflection of Viking, but more of some of the passengers. As Americans, I think sometimes we think that all cultures are the like ours when they aren't. I think it would be REALLY helpful for Viking to give just a short cultural talk on the first day for those people who don't really research the culture where they are going. I knew from research that the French aren't rude at all, they are FORMAL. If the person speaks even any English, they are more apt to help you if you approach them by saying "Bonjour, Parlez vous Anglais, sil-vous-plait?" rather than just saying, "Do you speak English?" Also, as I mentioned before, the formal rules of greeting and thanking people in shops. We had kind encounters and help where ever we went by following these rules and other people who didn't know these rules, well, didn't. And they were left with a bad impression of the French.We thought this would be our only river cruise but we were so impressed with the experience and the organization that we are looking forward to doing more and will definitely go with Viking. The food was great, the crew and guides were exceptional and the whole experience was completely organized and professional. It really did exceed our expectations.Melody Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
We were not going to travel this spring! we had taken a driving adventure this winter and drove 9,000 miles and decided to stay home. But our friends were doing another Tauck river cruise and at the last minute one couple was unable to go ... Read More
We were not going to travel this spring! we had taken a driving adventure this winter and drove 9,000 miles and decided to stay home. But our friends were doing another Tauck river cruise and at the last minute one couple was unable to go due to illness and we decided, with twenty four hours notice to take their place. I couldn't believe the travel agent was able to get everything booked and ready to go in that short of time, much less that we managed to pull it together on our end! The joy of being retired. When we arrived at the airport the ticket agent said the Brussels baggage handlers were on strike so we best not try to check any luggage. I ran to the gift shop and bought a small bag and we threw open our suitcase and took the bare necessities only. We called our daughter to come pick up our bag and flew off to Chicago and on to Brussels. we arrived in Prague late the next night. We joined our group one day late at the Marriott in Prague. right from the start the trip was just as wonderful as our previous Tauck river cruise through Belgium and Holland. The accommodations on the boat were fabulous, thanks to the fact that our friends who couldn't go had booked a suite! The food was very good and even excellent at times. But most of all, we so appreciated the knowledgeable Tauck guides who informed us of the history of everything before we even saw it. now you must understand, we didn't even know where we were going! We knew we were flying into to Prague and out of Budapest but that was it! we trusted our friends and mostly we trusted Tauck! We had learned the basic history of the Danube countries in school but we really knew so little! it was almost embarrassing to be so naive on the Hapsburg Empire and the rich and deep history of the Jewish people in Europe. The entire trip was beautiful and educational. There wasn't a day that seemed repetitive or boring in any way! the local guides that were hired to give us walking tours of each town were also excellent and very knowledgeable. The only problem we had with any guides was an occasional issue with understanding their English. Vienna was probably my favorite city, mostly because of the fabulous music we were treated to. Prague and Budapest were both wonderful surprises as we had such little expectations. But we really loved sailing on the Danube and stopping at small towns along the way. it was a beautiful and memorable trip that I am very glad we were able to do! Tauck took very good care of us the whole way and made the trip seem easy. The hotels they put us in we're top notch and every detail was taken care of. the old adage, "You get what you pay for," was really true. We only hope we are able to do many trips with Tauck! Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
We recently took the American Queen Steamboat from New Orleans to Memphis.We loved everything about it: the crew, the ports, the food, the entertainment, the accommodations. The American crew was very friendly and professional. They were ... Read More
We recently took the American Queen Steamboat from New Orleans to Memphis.We loved everything about it: the crew, the ports, the food, the entertainment, the accommodations. The American crew was very friendly and professional. They were there to serve our needs. The ports were great as they did not feature the usual t-shirt tourist shops,, instead a local guide introduced you to their hometown.The hop on hop off bus, which is included in the cruise price, gave you an overview of the area and allowed you to tour the places you wanted. You could do as much or as little as you liked. My favorite was St Francisville. Small town USA. Kids with lemonade stand raising money for the Wounded Warriors touched my heart. The food was good and featured regional items to try. Everything was freshly prepared.The entertainment was exceptional. The on-board entertainers and 6-piece Orchestra also presented professional shows. Our favorite was USO Victory Canteen Show. Special guests The Juggernaut Jug Band was our favorite, but we also enjoyed Mr. Banjo-Mike Gentry, who had us singing along. There were 4 couples in our group and we had rooms side by side on the Texas Deck (3). We liked sitting on the deck outside our room and visiting with the other passengers who passed by on the way to the Front Porch Cafe. Getting on and off the boat was not a problem. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
Our first river cruise turned into a bus trip. Fortunately we were booked with AMAwaterways, a first class company. The team on the AMAprima and AMAwaterways moved mountains to make our cruise the best experience possible in spite of ... Read More
Our first river cruise turned into a bus trip. Fortunately we were booked with AMAwaterways, a first class company. The team on the AMAprima and AMAwaterways moved mountains to make our cruise the best experience possible in spite of floods and cold weather. The ship is brand new and is very well laid out with two beautiful dining spaces and a large lounge. The staff in the dining room was very friendly and many knew us by the third day on the ship. The service was excellent. The cabin decor was very tasteful and the shower was great as was the bed. The French balcony was private and very well designed. There was always an AMAwaterways representative in the lobby of our two hotels (Prague and Budapest). Our guides were typically excellent and we loved the QuietEar head sets so we could always hear the guide. When floods prevented the ship from continuing on the Danube, our amazing cruise director managed to reschedule on the fly and find guides and buses to allow us to follow our itinerary. We were booked into a 5-star hotel in Budapest and arrangements were made for all our meals and tours. Any of the ports that we could not visit because of the floods were covered by bus trips. We would highly recommend AMAwaterways and would travel with them again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
Embarking on the Panorama at Budapest we had only cruised to Vienna when unprecedented floods made further progress on the river impossible. Along with another eight cruise ships from other cruise lines we were stuck there. Avalon ... Read More
Embarking on the Panorama at Budapest we had only cruised to Vienna when unprecedented floods made further progress on the river impossible. Along with another eight cruise ships from other cruise lines we were stuck there. Avalon immediately sent letters informing us of the need to use buses and offering compensation. We were really disappointed since we loved our suite with lovely comfy bed and spacious bathroom and had grown to like the crew. The food was great and plenty of wine with dinner.   As it turned out we used the Panorama as a base for a couple of days with buses taking us to places we would have cruised to then we were taken to a top hotel in Saltzberg for a night before busing to Bamberg where we embarked on the Expression. We then toured from there for a couple more days before going to Mainz and the Hilton. Here we joined the Vista and cruised to Amsterdam. I can't speak highly enough of Nico our tour director who, along with Avalon had to change arrangements, get buses, restaurants and hotels for about 150 people almost by the hour. They ensured we were accompanied by experienced bus guides who were very good and along with the planned tours we were able to see much of what had been advertised without the comfort of relaxed cruising. All the passengers I spoke to were disappointed about not cruising for much of the time but were impressed by the efforts Avalon and Nico in particular made to give us a good tour. All said we would all use Avalon again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
We have previously taken a number of cruises but this was our first river cruise. We arrived in Basel, Switzerland two nights before the ship departed. We stayed in a lovely hotel, Hotel-Brasserie Au Violon, which used to be a prison. ... Read More
We have previously taken a number of cruises but this was our first river cruise. We arrived in Basel, Switzerland two nights before the ship departed. We stayed in a lovely hotel, Hotel-Brasserie Au Violon, which used to be a prison. They have obviously updated it by converting to cells to one room with a lovely bath. The hotel staff were extremely helpful and knowledgeable and went out of their way to be sure our brief stay was pleasant. We boarded the River Queen early in the afternoon. The check-in process was extremely fast and easy, nothing like arriving for larger cruises has been in the past. The ship was beautifully appointed and looked exactly as advertised by catalog and internet. We visited the lounge to briefly await our cabin availability. When we were shown to our cabin we were very pleasantly surprised. We had been "warned" that river cruise cabins are very small. We found our cabin to be very comfortable and nicely appointed. There was adequate room for two single beds configured as a king, with night tables and reading lamps next to each side. We had two large windows, two straight-back chairs with a small round occasional table and a large dresser and mirror combination. The bathroom was small but certainly adequate. We found plenty of room in the closets and drawers to put away our belongings and promptly went about exploring the ship further. We sailed the first night right about dinner time. The meals were good and we enjoyed the freedom to sit where we wanted at every mealtime allowing us to meet a number of very enjoyable people. The breakfasts and lunches were served buffet-style and included a number of options. Complimentary beer and wine were generously served at both lunch and dinner. I would say overall, the meals did not match other culinary experiences we have had on Oceania cruises in the past, but were still pleasant. One concern was the noise in the dining room. My husband has a hearing impairment which proved quite challenging to carry on conversation at the table. However, he was not the only one who had such difficulties. It really became a topic of discussion amongst our fellow passengers. We visited many ports in France, Germany, Luxemborg, and The Netherlands. Although we were scheduled to sail both the Rhine and a tributary, the Moselle River, due to severe flooding we were limited to ports on the Rhine. Even with this complication, the Uniworld staff and our Cruise Director, made sure we were still able to visit each of the planned stops. They arranged coaches to transport us to the areas that weren't available by sailing even the though, at the time, the Moselle was three meters above flood stage. They even through in a few "extras" that weren't planned to try to make up for the fact that we weren't able to sail on the Moselle. There were only a few passengers that we heard of that really complained about this fact. After all, you cannot control nature. Each stop had very enjoyable excursions that were included with the price of the cruise itself. In addition, a couple of other excursions were available for an additional fee. The ship had great bicycles that could be reserved and most locations had fabulous bike paths readily available near the ship. The ship also made nordic walking sticks available which helped me immensely to more comfortably participate in excursions, as I have severe back problems. I skipped one excursion and scheduled a massage on board. It was fairly comparably priced and the young masseuse from Budapest was skilled and delightful. He spoke with our room steward who then provided ice for my back every evening after that. We didn't participate in the entertainment offered in the evening because we tended to turn-in for the night pretty early so we could get an early start each morning. One particular section of the Rhine river includes many castles and we passed this area during the day. Our Cruise Director announced and told a little bit about each one over the P.A. system so everyone could see and hear all the information. Our disembarkation was very quick and easy. We had to make our luggage ready to be moved by 8:30 a.m. on the last day. This was much preferred over larger cruise ships that require your luggage to be left in the hall on the last night. The ship arranged for a taxi to take us to the hotel. We stayed two additional nights at The Zandbergen Hotel in Amsterdam after the cruise. The hotel was very affordable and conveniently located, just a short way from the bustle of the city right on a tram line. The stairs were quite steep, but the cheerful breakfast room made up for that. The hotel staff were very helpful and knowledgeable as well. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
I know I should review the ship and the ports, but looking back on the trip, the service is what I remember most and what makes me want to travel with Uniworld again. The trip was great, despite the rainiest spring Europe has had in over ... Read More
I know I should review the ship and the ports, but looking back on the trip, the service is what I remember most and what makes me want to travel with Uniworld again. The trip was great, despite the rainiest spring Europe has had in over 30 years (or so said EVERY single tour guide). We did make it through the trip prior to the horrible flooding. We were extremely lucky. I was lucky enough to have my mother plan and pay for this cruise. We took the River Empress from Amsterdam to Budapest in late May 2013. 5 of us cruised together for the first time. 2 mother and daughters (first set: 60 and 40 2nd set: 50 and 14) and one husband. The entire ship had no idea who was whose mother, but that's another story. I cannot say enough good things about Uniworld. Our great service started from a room mix up in Amsterdam. Muriel, our Uniworld hotel lady (not sure of her technical term) was able to sort it out quickly and calm my crazy mother. She also sorted out a planned toured booked with another company. Without her help, we would have never sorted that mess out. The tours booked through Uniworld had no issues, it was the cheap ones my mother found on line that caused grief. Great welcome on board the beautiful River Empress. Lovely lounge and quiet Captain lounge. The bar service was great. Violetta, the bar manager, made sure the 14 year old traveling with us felt special, not like some little kid. Alex, the server, impressed us on the first night. Even though there were no assigned tables, we made sure we got to the 6 top in his section every night. He had patience and a great sense of humor. Again, service was amazing. The crew would bend over backwards to make us happy. Not my mother, the other mother, had pureed sweet potato with a dish. It was not prepared her normal way, it was savory, not sweet. She told Alex it would taste better with butter, sugar and cinnamon. He laughed and nodded and walked away. He shortly returned with 3 pats of butter, 6 sugar packets and a small prep bowl of cinnamon. He would also try to find diary free desserts for my husband, who didn't think he should mark the special dietary needs on his cruise profile. (TIP: mark lactose free on any cruise profile in the future) Our trip's only drawback was the weather. It was the rainiest and coolest in 30 years. It didn't rain 24/7, and we did have 2 sunny days and some partly cloudy days between the rain drops. This is not normal. I have been told by some Travel agents May and June are the perfect times to do this trip. Between our cruise director, Rik and our 1st captain, we were well informed of our progress and if the rising river waters would impede our trip. One more shoutout, to Daniella, the deck attendant. She along with Violetta and Alex made this trip of a life even more amazing. I may have mention a few memorable people by name, but the entire crew of the River Empress made this a great cruise. They all have spoiled me for any cruises in the future.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
Loved this river cruise from the moment we stepped on board in Memphis to a Dixie band welcome, to the moment we stepped off at the end in New Orleans. The boat is lovely with superb décor throughout, lots of polished wood and brass and ... Read More
Loved this river cruise from the moment we stepped on board in Memphis to a Dixie band welcome, to the moment we stepped off at the end in New Orleans. The boat is lovely with superb décor throughout, lots of polished wood and brass and a Mark Twain theme. One thing I learnt was that our vessel was a boat and not a ship as boats travel on rivers and ships travel on the sea! Our cabin on the Observation deck was very good with comfy bed, under bed storage for cases, and bathroom with shower, nice toiletries, bathrobes and slippers. The best thing though was that the doors opened out onto the deck where you could sit enjoying a drink and chatting to your neighbours and people walking by. It was all very social and a great way to make new friends. I certainly would not have swapped it for a more expensive private balcony, and in fact a few people with those did say they wished they'd booked the deck cabins! Near our cabin was a free laundry which was a brilliant facility and well used by everyone. Food on board was of a high quality with menus developed by famous chef Regina Charboneau whom we had the pleasure of meeting at her house on one of the on shore excursions. Both formal and informal dining was available, plus a 24 hour soft swirly ice cream machine with loads of toppings! All the staff we encountered seemed to work hard and were friendly and helpful. This includes those in the bars & restaurants and cabin cleaning staff. The Mississippi was quite high during our cruise so we had to miss a couple of our stops as we couldn't dock but this didn't detract from the overall experience. At the places we did stop there were hop on hop off buses which were of a high standard, ran every 15 minutes, and were a great way to see places of interest at our own pace. We were given maps so that we could easily find our way around. Entertainment in the theatre and around the boat was of a very good quality. We particularly liked the Dixieland band. I also loved the calliope steam pipes on the ship that tooted out famous tunes very loudly and sometimes off key! They usually played as we left port and really made you feel you were on a genuine Steamboat! I would recommend the American Queen Steamboat to anyone looking for a very special experience. It’s fairly expensive but as they say, you get what you pay for.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
This was our first river cruise and we were not really sure what to expect. We have enjoyed several ocean cruises and knew how much the staff and service can affect your enjoyment of your journey. Having said that, we were also concerned ... Read More
This was our first river cruise and we were not really sure what to expect. We have enjoyed several ocean cruises and knew how much the staff and service can affect your enjoyment of your journey. Having said that, we were also concerned with the small quarters, noise, and quality of food on a smaller ship. We were amazed and delighted that our room , though small has so efficiently organized and luxurious that it exceeded the larger suites we have enjoyed on the bigger ships. The noise was negligible even though we were on the top deck. To say the food was amazing does not do it justice. Every meal was delicious, with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. I particularly enjoyed the choice of local cuisine on the dinner menu. Requests were taken seriously and every effort was made to fulfill them quickly. This was no small task considering the variety of nationalities on board. The wine and beer selections were deliciously varied and appropriate for the entrees being served. As to the amount of food served, all I can say is I rarely finished everything on my plate nor did my husband , a heavier eater. It was more than sufficient. Having owned and worked in service industry businesses I was particularly attuned to the service and the staff. I give them all an A+. Exemplary, is putting it mildly. Everyone from the Captain on down went out of their way to insure guests needs and desires were met. Keeping in mind , the variety of cultures represented as well as (dis)ability (age and weight related) and demands, we were truly impressed with the high level of service. In particular Monica our cruise director, Elena the fitness and massage therapist and Lucian in the dining room were stand outs. In addition, our tour guides for the excursions were outstanding, especially Erika in Hungary. The only improvement I can recommend is to contract with local barbers or hairstylist and aestheticians for grooming needs while in port. 2 weeks ( sometimes as long as 4) is a long time to go without these needs being met. This should not be too difficult to arrange and would be much appreciated, especially for senior travelers. The best recommendation I can give is to say that my husband and I cannot wait to go on another Uni-world river cruise. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
I had researched long and hard for a couple of years, since our last ocean cruise in 2008 (Cherry Blossom Cruise) about European river cruises. Considering lines, ships, itineraries, inclusions and extensions that we wanted to make. Taking ... Read More
I had researched long and hard for a couple of years, since our last ocean cruise in 2008 (Cherry Blossom Cruise) about European river cruises. Considering lines, ships, itineraries, inclusions and extensions that we wanted to make. Taking into account all of the above decided on booking Scenic Tours Amsterdam to Bucharest, Black Sea and Turkey. 38 days in total, 21 days on board the Scenic Crystal. We booked through my travel agent and then Scenic tours, both our airline tickets with Singapore Airlines ( entitled to only pay taxes with early bird offer and free stop over in Singapore on our return) and our accommodation at Amsterdam at the Doubletree. My husband and I are in our late 40's, and traveled with my parents (mid 70's). We booked the Royal Panoramic Suite on the Danube deck (had paid a $500 fee to be informed when bookings opened to secure this cabin as there are only 2 of them, 20 months in advance of cruise date). Because this was our first time in Europe, I was happy to have transfers, etc all taken care of by Scenic. We arrived 7.20am on Saturday and had a private car meet us and transfer us to the Doubletree with a little orientation tour on the way into town from the airport. Arrived at Doubletree and we were able to check into our room before 8am, at no extra charge (we did not book it for the night before, as is sometimes suggested), so was very happy with the efficient check in service and the staff were all very courteous during our stay. We had upgraded at the Doubletree, to a King City suite, so had a room on the highest floor looking out over the city and Centraal station. The room was very clean, plenty of room and stocked with plenty of towels and toiletries. The hotel is ideally suited to exploring the city as all the trams run from Centraal Station, and the canal bus has a stop at the station, although it is only a 5-10 minute walk to Dam Square on the flat. The hotel also has bike available for hire (16 euros daily). Would stay here again. On the day of checkout from the hotel, Scenic had an information desk, luggage store and refreshments available on the first floor of the hotel. The Scenic Crystal docked the day before and there were passengers arriving from the ship waiting for transfers to airport etc, as they finished their cruises, so it was all happening. My husband and I had more exploring of Amsterdam planned, so left our luggage here to be transferred to the ship. We could have been back at 3pm for a bus transfer to the Crystal, or make our own way to the ship. After a full day in Amsterdam we arrived at the ship at about 6.30pm. We were welcomed on board by staff, checked in with our passports and given a welcome rose and escorted to our cabin. As the evening meal was being served in the restaurant, we dumped our coats & shopping and headed to the dining room and met up with our other family members. All the ship's staff was very welcoming and friendly, and there was lots of chatter amongst the passengers of where we had been, where we come from, etc. The ship was clean, with plenty of room for everyone and lots of areas for people to gather in small groups. The staff were helpful in guiding us with directions, until we all got familiar with the ship and routines. All the staff wore their name tags with their nationality, and there were a lot of introductions all round. Nothing was too much trouble, and it wasn't long before staff were anticipating what you wanted. There is always someone at the reception desk 24 hours (except when doing security rounds overnight for about 10 minutes at a time). Our cabin was at the rear of the ship, the panoramic suite, and we had no problems with noise, vibrations and/or fumes. In fact on some occasions we were docked when we went to sleep and woke to find that we were either in a different port or underway, and we hadn't heard a thing. The toiletries were fine and plentiful, as was the supply of towels and the linen changes. The linen and towels were of high quality and very luxurious. The panoramic lounge has many different seats available from couches to lounge chairs, bar stools & seats at tables. There is a library at the rear of the lounge that has many books about ports of call, it also has the coffee& tea making facilities. We always picked up a pot of tea or a hot chocolate here to take to our cabin when going to bed. The bar is toward the front of the lounge and there is a piano, where Josef our musician played during our cruise. THe river cafe is in the lounge and provided early risers breakfast, and light snacks/treats options during the day. Portabellos is an intimate Italian dining experience that is to the fore of the bar area on this level, and it a very pleasant dining experience. The Crystal dining room is a level down and has plenty of tables of all varying configurations, although pretty close together. Some meals here are table service meals and others are a buffet. There is always some meals you can order from your waiter and they are very happy to accommodate all requests. Drinks are served freely in the dining room and always plenty of cold water available. The food was exceptional, although if you like your meat well done, make sure you tell your waiter this, as they tend to serve their meat on the rarer side of the ledger. The food was always hot and if you want more bread rolls, again just ask. We dined at the La Rive table and this was a fun night of food and wine, the waiters, Adam & Stan, were so knowledgeable about the wines and the chef came out at the end of the meal as well. Because we were in a royal suite we dined on the Captain's table on the farewell night. The Captain was a very funny guy from Bulgaria and was more than happy to talk anywhere, anytime. When you are up on deck, you are always welcomed to go into the wheelhouse and ask questions, and even steer the ship. I had a small turn going through the Iron Gates, but got so nervous I was going to stuff up, handed the controls back. The gym was limited, with a treadmill, bike, cross trainer, and is used mostly by the Captain!! There are towels, water and apples in the gym. The electric bikes are available for use whenever in port and they are great. So easy to use, just make sure you turn the assist off when negotiating tight corners!! The wellness centre has and area for hair dressing and then an inner room for beauty and massage. Both the stylist and therapist here were excellent. I recommend a massage, and their rates are very reasonable compared to some ships. The platinum facial was pure heaven and included everything except a back massage! There was a shop on board that had branded clothing of Scenic, and some jewelry & watches for purchase. Room service was available in our suite and we had breakfast in the room a few times when we had to be up to buses early. The food was hot and huge serves, and always at the time requested. You could also order and early morning tea/coffee and this too was a little indulgent. Service was always with a smile and a little chat, with small touches like having bottled water at reception as you leave for excursions and having warm face washers and refreshing drinks to welcome you back on board. After one very wet excursion we were met with umbrellas to protect us up the gangway and warm face washers & towels after a very wet bike ride. The port excursions were well organised and there was a talk the day previous to explain everyone's options, and lay out the schedules for buses etc. Our cruise director, Marin, was always available and easy going, and made every attempt to meet your requests. Along the cruise there were entertainers that came on board, usually traditional dancers & musicians of the relevant country. Otherwise the ship's musician, Josef, provided the musical entertainment. On the day of disembarkation, we were given tags for our luggage and had to have them out the front of our cabins by 8am. It is all hands on deck, as everyone assists with the unloading of luggage. Some of the excursions we went on: Zaanse Schans It was wet, so a little restricted, but thoroughly enjoyed the windmills and the reserve in general. Tip: stop at the shops along the way, have much more variety than those at the main entrance. Photo revenue goes to continue the preservation of the buildings in the reserve. Cologne Guide was very poor. We ended up leaving him and joining another of our groups once we found out where to board our boat. Went back to the cathedral in our free time and climbed the 509 stairs to the top, the only ones on board to do so. Such a lovely city. Walked along the Hohenzollernbrucke rail bridge that is covered in masses of padlocks of couples declaring their love for each other and then casting the keys to their locks into the river Rhine. Loved it. Passau We headed from Passau to Cesky Krumlov for the day. Others went to Salzburg, and some others went to the salt mines. My mother stayed in Passau and went on a walking tour of the city (it was flooded 4 days later). Cesky Krumlov took about 1 1/2 hours via bus, travelling through Czech countryside, to a very impressive town with a very impressive castle. We spent the day exploring and had lunch, returning via bus to Linz, where we re-boarded the Crystal. Had tea and then some exploring of the city centre of Linz before setting off at about 11.30pm. Budapest What a thoroughly delightful city. We arrived on the Scenic Crystal at about 10.30pm and cruised up and down the river so we could all take photos of all these incredible sights lit up at night. It really was very magical. We docked opposite parliament house. This city has many places to visit. We went on a city tour with the Cave Hospital, that was very interesting, and saw many beautiful buildings and had more opportunities outside as it wasn't raining!! We could see the water levels rising whilst docked here. This was where all but 30 of us left the cruise and headed off in many directions, and a bunch of newbies arrived for the next 7 days into Eastern Europe. We walked to the Fisherman's Bastion, parliament, Shoes by the Danube, St Stephan's Bascilica, the Hungarian markets, the Gellert Baths, the Church in the Cave, and many other places along the river. The lighting engineer of Budapest has the most important job, as this city is so wonderfully lit at night. Need more time here. Bucharest Bucharest was the beginning of our land component of our Black Sea - Turkey extension. It was a relative unknown city, compared to the other cities we had visited. Communist architecture evident everywhere, but many gems to be found. The people's parliament is almost hideous in it's over sized grandeur, very similar to the Nazi architectural style of intimidation by size. There is some humour in Bucharest. A base of an old monument to Lenin (knocked down during the overthrow of the communist government) now has students place another monument there from time to time. It was a worm whilst we were there. We stayed at the JW Marriott, that was very nice and comfortable, although a little way out of town (a good 20-30 minute walk). Here is where the service industry is trying hard, but tourists, especially Western tourists are all very new to them. Not many smiles, no eye contact, although not that they weren't doing their job, it's just that they were often having loud discussions/disagreements with other staff in front of guests, and that sort of thing. I'm sure after a few more years they will have it all down pat. I recommend that you research what you want to see before you get here, as there is so much to see. We took an excursion to see the Snagov Lake and Monastery, which is about 90 minutes from Bucharest. It was lovely and similar to the Bulgarian style of church, with al frescoes painted all over the interior. There is only one toilet on the monastery island. It was a lovely preserved part of Romanian life. The shopping in Bucharest is good, with prices being the cheapest in Europe I had seen so far, with the quality not being compromised. I did enjoy our visit. Istanbul The Dolmabahce palace was beautiful, although Scenic used their own guides for the tour it was difficult to hear what they were saying with a larger group of 63 people. (the headsets are only used whilst on the spaceships). You are not allowed to take photos, the architecture inside is very impressive and beautiful. The site is perfect right beside the Bosphorous, and the gardens are equally magnificent. The mosque, underground cistern, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi palace were all very impressive. The Bosphorous cruise was a standout, as Scenic book the whole ship out so there is plenty of room to roam around and see everything in the 1 and a half hours spent on the water. The guides did a great job as we were there at the same time that Taksim Square was the centre of some riots, and they managed to show us everything around these disputes, and keep us out of harm's way. Underground Cistern Such an incredible feat of engineering from so long ago. Fascinating. Blue Mosque Enjoyed the knowledge of the guides and the beauty and scale of the mosque. Grand Bazaar This was a little dull, found the sales people a little rude, for the first time on my trip. Not many people around, maybe due to the Taksim Square riots. Hagia Sofia So much history. Love Ataturks' vision in making this a museum. Again knowledgeable guides. Bosphorous Cruise The Bosphorous cruise was a standout, as Scenic booked the whole ship out so there is plenty of room to roam around and see everything in the 1 and a half hours spent on the water, with all areas of interest pointed out to you by the guides. Topkapi Needed a little more time here, but that was not to be helped as our hotel was within the area locked down at 4pm around Taksim Square so we had to be back within a time frame that was not the usual. Spice Market Loved the presentation and the smells, although they sell a bit more than spices here. In conclusion, we had a great trip, in some difficult circumstances, although the staff never let on to the guests the extra work this caused them all. The ship was perfect, such a lovely indulgence. I did enjoy the direction we went (Amsterdam to Bucharest) but would have loved to have had the land content first and then lived it up in the boat not needing to go back to living out of a suitcase. But this is nit picking. The staff are the Crystal's best asset, and I felt privileged to have been part of their family for 21 days. Would recommend Scenic Tours to everyone, they were very helpful and all went very smoothly, and would definitely tour with them again. Karyn   Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
We were first-time river cruisers. We have never been interested in large ocean going cruising. We have taken sailing cruises and loved them. We enjoy the small number of passengers and camaraderie that come with the smaller ships. The ... Read More
We were first-time river cruisers. We have never been interested in large ocean going cruising. We have taken sailing cruises and loved them. We enjoy the small number of passengers and camaraderie that come with the smaller ships. The River Duchess was outstanding! The space in the cabin couldn't have been designed more efficiently. Every square foot had a purpose. Plenty of clothes closet space. Two large drawers under the end of the bed. Shower large enough for a big/tall person. Air conditioner controlled by you. We were in a category 2 cabin and would reserve this category again. The food was excellent. Significant variety prepared extremely well. I am small so couldn't eat all of the food on my plate. Amazing desserts. 'Made to order' omelets provided every morning for breakfast including just about anything else you can imagine for breakfast. The wait staff were remarkable, remembering what guests' preferences were. Very friendly and helpful. Example: One day we were arriving in Belgrade; we have an acquaintance who lives there and we wanted to contact him for a brief visit while we were in Belgrade. I asked our favorite waiter, Neb(who is from Belgrade), what would be the best way to phone our acquaintance. We did not have a cell phone so we thought we would use a public phone. He graciously offered to use his phone and call for us. Above and beyond the call of duty! We really appreciated it. All of the tours were very well organized and had exceptional, English speaking local guides. We learned a lot about Eastern European countries. There were several excellent lectures on board the ship. Most explaining Eastern European history with an emphasis on how the countries came to exist and why. It really helped us to understand the people of the countries we visited. The cruise we booked started in Istanbul and ended in Amsterdam. Unfortunately for us, the rains in Europe, June, 2013 caused the rivers to flood and we were stopped in Vienna and could go no further. The captain, crew, and cruise director did everything they could to continue to make our trip superior. Fortunately we had trip interruption insurance coverage and came home from Vienna. Uniworld's plan was to continue the trip via motor coach. That was not the trip we paid for. It was not Uniworld's fault that the rivers flooded and we do not blame them for doing what they thought was best for the passengers. Unfortunately some of the little villages were flooded so those would be skipped. Again, not Uniworld's fault. What we were disappointed with was the reimbursement amount that Uniworld gave passengers. They only reimbursed 25% of the cost of the trip. Considering the second half of the cruise virtually never started, 25% just didn't seem right. If you did not have trip interruption insurance, you were stuck...go on with the motor coach tour or lose all your cost, less 25%. Now I must comment that we have no other river cruise company to compare to, so this may be a standard in the industry, and we are trying not to judge too harshly. Uniworld and the River Duchess were so impressive that we are already eagerly making our plans to attempt to complete the Vienna to Amsterdam portion next year. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
This trip was a 50th anniversary gift to ourselves and our second Viking River Cruise. We knew from our prior one not to expect the ocean cruising experience of imitation Vegas shows, dress up night, bingo, dancing and spas. We came to see ... Read More
This trip was a 50th anniversary gift to ourselves and our second Viking River Cruise. We knew from our prior one not to expect the ocean cruising experience of imitation Vegas shows, dress up night, bingo, dancing and spas. We came to see and experience as much of China as we could see in 2 weeks. There are some highly detailed reports here, so I will just provide a summary. The passengers are divided into smaller groups with your own guide for the whole trip and there are local guides at each stop. They were all wonderful, with interesting, humorous commentary and surprisingly open comments about what China is like for its citizens now. We thought the hotels (2 Westins and a Ritz Carlton in Shanghai) were more modern and fancy than we expected. You hit all the highpoints: the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, Terra Cotta Army, pandas galore, the Three Gorges Dam and scenic cruising in the Three Gorges region. We thought the ship was comfortable if not luxurious, the food very good and the staff friendly and helpful. The fellow passengers were well traveled, informed and interesting. Everything, including transfers to and from the airport, moving from hotel to ship, etc. was super organized. We went in the spring and had nice weather which is probably better than trying this trip in the summer. As for the negatives, there is a lot of walking, stair climbing and keeping up with the group. It's probably not a great idea if you're not physically fit, although a woman in her 80s did fine with wheelchair assist at times. At times the trip felt a little like the TV show the Amazing Race and could probably use some more downtime. We also got pretty tired of Chinese cooking, but, of course, we were in China.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
This was a most enjoyable, educational, engaging and yet relaxing cruise. The amazing staff attended to absolutely every want, whim and need..... And always with a smile. The on board guides were particularly effective advocates for their ... Read More
This was a most enjoyable, educational, engaging and yet relaxing cruise. The amazing staff attended to absolutely every want, whim and need..... And always with a smile. The on board guides were particularly effective advocates for their country and never seemed to tire of queries about customs, history or political conditions. While the opulence of the palaces and the grandeur of the churches were most awesome and worthy of extreme photo taking, our highlight were the visits to the homes in the communailka and small village. The hosts were proud to share their life experiences, vodka and treats with us. We plied them with questions, and they did not flinch to give honest responses. The cuisine onboard never failed to tempt, and the servers were attentive and personable. On my return, I made pelmeni for Russian friends with the recipe acquired at the session with the chef. They were impressed and said it tasted just like their mother's pelmeni. A gem of a vacation. Most memorable. Viking excelled on all accounts. We'll be back for more. Dona & Bob, Ottawa, Canada Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
We boarded the AmaVida in Vega de Terron, which isn't really a port, in Spain, across the river Douro from Portugal. It is really a drop off point for buses. We had started the day in Madrid, and arrived here, via Salamanca. The ... Read More
We boarded the AmaVida in Vega de Terron, which isn't really a port, in Spain, across the river Douro from Portugal. It is really a drop off point for buses. We had started the day in Madrid, and arrived here, via Salamanca. The ship, like the other AmaWaterways ships, is beautiful. Given the size of river ships, the cabins are quite spacious - we were on the top level of cabins. The room has a small balcony, which a couple can access, one at a time, by sliding the doors back, but both can sit there and watch Portugal go by, as we did, quite regularly. We were a group of 6, 3 couples. Meals were fantastic, and the dining room is very noisy, although on the first night, extremely noisy as people seemed to be very excited about embarking on the cruise of the Douro River. One of the bonuses of the ship is that there is a coffee machine where one can make proper coffee at any time of the day. The top deck is marvellous, and lunch was served there twice on this 7 day cruise. The scenery is quite different to that experienced on the Amsterdam to Budapest cruise as this part of Portugal is relatively undiscovered. The ports were predominantly very simple, but the excursions provided by AmaWaterways were excellent, including such beautiful destinations as the Mateus Palace. We loved this cruise, and everything about it although most of the passing scenery is rural and lots of vineyards. No castles here. Porto the final destination, is a lovely and historic city. We had two nights there and were then transported by bus to Lisbon the final destination. We would recommend this cruise as a relaxing, interesting holiday. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
I accompanied my 90 y.o. mother on the Viking River Cruise (Danube Waltz) in April 2013. I tend to be somewhat skeptical -- yet on nearly every point my Viking experience exceeded my expectations. The ship itself was great. Our ... Read More
I accompanied my 90 y.o. mother on the Viking River Cruise (Danube Waltz) in April 2013. I tend to be somewhat skeptical -- yet on nearly every point my Viking experience exceeded my expectations. The ship itself was great. Our French Balcony was of course small, but very comfortable and there was room for everything to be stowed away. Bathroom was fresh and modern, equipped with a vacuum flushing system that worked very efficiently. We loved having only 179 passengers aboard, as we really got to know people. Most of our cruise was from USA, England and Scotland. I believe that someone could go on this cruise, not knowing anyone else, and they would feel totally be-friended and included. It is a wonderfully inclusive environment. The food was simply amazing. Very elegant, lots of options and courses, not too large of portions -- so you didn't feel guilty trying lots of interesting things. I found the 'regional specialties' to be delicious. They always had the traditional back-ups on the menu: steak, roasted chicken, salmon, Caesar salad, etc. There was always fresh fruit and wonderful salad. One huge hit with everybody was their Latte / Coffee machine that is available (and free) 24 hours a day. At 6am they have their amazing pastries from Schmidl bakery available (watch their video on Viking Food). I liked grabbing a moccaccino and small pastry early in the morning, heading to the Library and video-chatting with my husband (in USA) on FaceTime. I found the internet to be way better than I had read. The Library is a great location, in case your room doesn't have the best Wi-Fi reception. I had almost no problems posting a few pictures on FB, getting email, looking things up on Google or FaceTiming. I incurred almost no phone charges as I forwarded my iPhone to my home phone in USA. I asked AT&T to give me "International Roaming" (even if you don't make calls -- do this!), I turned OFF Cellular Data. Texts TO me cost nothing, texts FROM me were supposed to cost 50 cents, but most of the texting I did was through FaceTime, so it was free. The sites we visited were literally "jaw dropping" for me. I 'd done my homework in advance, so knew quite a bit about what we'd see -- and I was still stunned with the beauty and history. Our tours were fabulous. We just went on the included tours, as that was enough for us. On excursions I learned that we could ask to be included with the "gentle walkers", so the guide would find the easiest route, and take it slowly. I would have never thought Budapest would interest me -- But being up on Buda Hill seeing Matthias Church was amazing! Loved the Melk Abbey (Melk, Austria) and cruising through the Wacchau Vallay. Bratislava was an interesting medieval city. Vienna was so beautiful and elegant. In Salzburg we ate in a 650 year old restaurant, had delicious Hungarian Goulash. I bought my mementos here (but wore out my knees as it was a long day), Passau was a delight - town hall was beautiful and so rich in history. The crew amazed me. They were so friendly and personable. I thought surely they would just put on an act of liking their guests. But they truly ENGAGED us and actually enjoyed the interactions. They responded to every request with a "can do" attitude. When it was time to tip, I was pleased to give the suggested amount, and also hand special thank you tips to several others that had truly blessed us - like Frances who (when asked) would make menu recommendations) or Alexander who greeted us by name each morning and would ask for my mother by name if she was missing. I had considered NOT getting the Viking Optional Transfers (to and from airport) -- but in the end it was so much easier that I did it. It was a bit pricey, but it was so well organized and stress-reducing, that I was glad I chose that route. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
April 4, 2013 Viking Danube Waltz Current events -- the Dow is at record highs, currently 14500. + Cyprus's financial troubles has had some effects recently -- fear that it will fail and with that, bring markets down severely. ... Read More
April 4, 2013 Viking Danube Waltz Current events -- the Dow is at record highs, currently 14500. + Cyprus's financial troubles has had some effects recently -- fear that it will fail and with that, bring markets down severely. Banks have been closed, limits on ATM withdrawals and large depositors may have to experience losses to cover the Gov't debt. Other news -- North Korea threatening nuclear war against So. Korea and US -- moving missiles to their east coast... only time will tell if this is real or rhetoric from their new young leader. Check in at British air went smoothly, however, security did want to open my roll-on to see the small bag of PC accessories. Getting to the airport early helped to avoid the long lines later. The flight was comfortable, a Boeing 777 -- we had opposite isles, 23C and D Service was excellent, a meal (pasta) was very nice, wine, beer and mixed drinks were complimentary. Before landing in London, we were served a muffin and coffee, tea etc. The connection in Heathrow was another story... We had to get from terminal 5 to terminal 3 -- We thought that 90 minutes between flights would be a breeze... not so. Getting to terminal 3 took about 30 minutes -- then going through security was one of the worst experiences we've had in our many years of travel. Our luggage had to be hand inspected -- as did many others. The process was painfully slow. After about another 30 minutes and much frustration with how everything in our carry on was taken out for a closer look, we raced to the gate (another 7 minute walk)-- the flight was "closing" as we ran towards the desk and bus waiting to depart. Another unexpected challenge was having to carry our bags up and down steps to and from two planes that did not have jet ways. The flight to Prague was 1hr. 30 minutes and uneventful. A sandwich and soft drink then a brief nap... we arrived on time -- finally in Prague. Collecting our luggage and Passport control took another 30 minutes, then we exited to meet our Viking contact -- we waited briefly for 2 other couples who were also going to the Hilton (they were from Arizona). It's 30 degrees and overcast, but NO snow! The ride to the hotel took about 35 minutes. Road and residential construction in the heart of the city is beyond belief. Traffic as a result moves slowly. Patience was tested once again. Check in began with meeting Blanco -- she is our Viking contact at the hotel. We spent about 30 minutes with her, learned the schedule of tours, options and events. She's there from 8 AM to 7PM should we need assistance. Check in at the reception desk was easy. Martin had already seen from the record that Lucie Balazova (emailed her from US with power questions) had taken care of our preferences. Our room 2003 is just as we asked. Near the "lift" -- and king bed. The hotel and room are first class. Quiet, every amenity we could expect, plenty of 220 V outlets (only one 110V in the bathroom) a large safe, big enough for the largest laptop possible...we unpacked, (my pillow arrived fine in the vacuum travel bag) we then freshened up and decided to split a salad and sandwich (about $50.00) before collapsing -- so very tired from the full day of travel. Tomorrow -- breakfast then a city tour -- the evening at the opera... ------------------------------------------- April 5, 2013 Prague We awakened (several times) and then finally at 6AM -- dressed appropriately for the morning tour of the city with Viking. It's 30 degrees with slight wind and overcast. It's turns out to be exactly the same temperature in NJ! The "included" breakfast in the Hilton was excellent in every way! From immediate seating and wait staff attention, to the wide selection of meats, fish, breads, juices and such. The dining area was immaculate and everything on the buffet beautifully presented. Omelets and other egg choices were prepared to your order. We joined the Viking group of about 18 to tour with Renatta and her driver for the next 3 hours. The bus was clean and comfortable. Vaux hearing units were provided for the walking portions. As we passed through the city "the lesser" old and new, Jewish quarters etc. Renatta did an excellent job describing in detail ... and answered any questions we had. Our first stop was about 20 minutes from the hotel at the Prague Castle -- we walked over cobble stone and other rough surfaces. One gentleman in a wheelchair did have difficulties with some of the surfaces. We had cursory tours of the St. Vitus Cathedral and of the gardens and museum areas. More in depth tours were available for purchase if anyone wanted to leave the group. A brief stop at the stables -- where we enjoyed tea and hot chocolate. The cost was about 4.00 per cup!! But good! We were reminded by the waiter to tip ONLY if service if deserving. Leave nothing otherwise. After a couple of bus moves, at noon, we walked across the Charles Bridge, rubbed the St. John plaque (The Saint, not the dog) on the statue to assure our return to Prague, then walked into the old town square to see the "Astronomical clock". We arrived exactly at 2 minutes to 12, just in time to see (and video) the fascinating display of the 12 apostles and sound of the bells. Following that, Renatta suggested a local nearby restaurant -- We and another couple (Stan and Barb Foster from north of Pittsburgh) easily found the place (The address of the restaurant-street name-Michalsk 25,Prague 1-Old Town, located in Richter house, restaurant name V cípu) and enjoyed a delicious breaded schnitzel lunch with potatoes, 2 large pieces of meat, I had wine, Diane a beer, the total for the meal was about 11 dollars! Great service, fabulous value and nice atmosphere... Highly recommend it! We walked another ½ mile to the bus, then to the hotel. Traffic much more than we recalled from our visit in 2001. We tipped the driver equivalent of US $2.00 and guide $5.00 (100 crowns). Noticed that most of the guests did tip. Stopped at the Albert supermarket opposite the hotel and purchased ham, cheese, rolls and wine to have for a light lunch... delicious rolls make the sandwiches perfect. We also purchased Palatka (something we in the US reserve for holidays, they eat everyday). Note: We had difficulty using the Mileage Plus Visa card. The cashier could not find a way to process the charge. A long line of angry customers grew even more impatient as she continued to every trick she knew ... we ended up having to use cash for this purchase. Our room had not yet been cleaned so, wanting a nap we called to ask housekeeping to return at 6 while we were out for the evening. Don Giovanni at Estates theatre, we had ordered the tickets on the internet and had them mailed to NJ. A taxi arranged at the Viking desk (200 koruna -- 10.00 plus tip) Great performance (R) rated by our standards... 3 hours, tough seats to sit on for that long. Coats were required to be checked (tips were expected). The cab ride back to the hotel was "negotiated" at 250 korunas... + tip. The ride back took less than half the time there, the result of one way streets. A nightcap then to bed. Tomorrow is an easy day.... nothing planned except the Madam Butterfly at the State Opera Theater. Saturday, April 6, 2013 Another gray day, still in the low 30's, ... after breakfast we did a bit of shopping (for snacks) just at the other supermarket (behind albert's) -- more bread, cold cuts and soft drinks. Total about 10.00 US. We later arranged for car service for the opera, (thru the Hilton) at 6PM. caught up on some emails, did some reading and took a nap. The ride to the theater was another near disaster... We clearly told the Viking rep and the driver to please note the address of the opera... (we had been warned in the letter that came with the tickets to do so as the National Theater logo often leads to venue confusion) -- well, no matter how careful we thought we were ... we were dropped off at the wrong place. Fortunately, a young man working in the box office at the National theater called the Hilton for us, the car was sent back immediately for us... we made it to the State Opera Theater with enough time to leisurely check coats and be seated in the third row, center!! The 3 hour Madam Butterfly opera was beautifully done as was the opera house. The performance, the voices, the sets, the ambiance, the 65 pc orchestra all made for a delightful last evening in Prague. (Butterfly was about 250lbs. and about 40, as was Pinkerton.) The car was waiting, the ride back to the hotel was 5 minutes or less -- at a 200 crowns. We made & split a sandwich, did some packing, Diane ironed a few items, tomorrow we leave for Passau and the Viking Prestige. ------------------------------------------------------------- April 7, 2013 Lovely breakfast, checked out at 12, identified our luggage, then boarded the bus for the 4 hr. ride to Passau and the Prestige. Helga was our guide, Martin the driver. The temperature as we climbed the Bohemian mountains dropped to -2 C. The rolling hills and evergreen scenes thru the Forrest were beautiful even with the gray sky. The grassy areas were snow covered, the many homes along the way and small villages added to the charm of the country. We stopped briefly about half way at a lovely gas station for a snack and rest facilities. The pastries were delicious, tea and coffee available -- reasonably priced and very accommodating. As we reached Passau, the light snow had changed to rain. We quickly boarded, then checked in at reception and found cabin 304. The ship is immaculate, the decor beautiful, the public areas appear very attractive and comfortable. (except for the rough toilet paper which we complained about they were aware of the issue). Viking DOES LISTEN and respond to guest issues!! In no time, our luggage was delivered, we unpacked, had plenty of drawer and hanging space for the modest amount of clothing we brought. Freshened up, then did a bit of ship browsing to get some idea of what was where, then joined Sue, Tom, & Mary from Ohio in the lounge for wine and a presentation by staff of events and tours planned for the week. Standing room only -- not enough seating to accommodate all that came to hear the talk. Off to the dining room for dinner. Wine, Beer and soft drinks flowed freely (thanks to Viking Marketing and my suggestion a year or so ago) -- Diane and I each had the shrimp appetizer, then I the roasted salmon, she the veal, both were delicious, excellently prepared and nicely presented. Desert was fruit (tangerine) for me, coffee and a small pastry for Diane. Entre portion sizes were small, but adequate. Larger portions or additional servings were available for the asking. Back to the cabin to get some well needed rest! Tomorrow we start touring. April 8, 2013 Breakfast on board was another delightful experience. The buffet was filled with everything one might expect for the meal. Meats, fish, eggs, veggies, cereals, breads, coffee, juices and omelets made to order. A brief life jacket exercise, (a waste of time and no instructions) then a very interesting presentation on the EU. At 10:30 we met our group and guide (Sonya) for a 1.5hr walking tour of Passau. Old cobblestone streets easy to keep pace, Sonya who had been a geography teacher in her former life, did an excellent job keeping us together. At 12 we finished the tour at the cathedral, then walked back to the ship for lunch. We had two options -- buffet in the lounge -- or table service in the dining room. Lunch was soup, pasta, a Ruben, salads -- on the buffet tables there were all sorts of other selections and sides to go with anything one might decide on. Wine was available with the meal (complimentary). Nap time -- A delicious dinner (Chateau Briand) , was followed by a presentation on Mozart -- his life and music. Nicely done by program director, Wesley Peeman. -------------------------------------------------------- April 9th Salzburg (from Linz Dock) After a leisurely and delicious breakfast, (Tibor was our fabulous waiter) I was ready ...Diane was running late. Cloudy, but promising to warm to about 50, we could see the busses just steps from the ship. Checked our keys out, then boarded bus 5B (of 4 busses) with Veronica, our guide - for our 2 hour ride to Salzburg Austria, the birth home of Mozart. We will make a stop for snacks and rest rooms. The scenes from the road and the stop we made were absolutely gorgeous. Pictures do tell the story. From the road, as we approached Salzburg, (Salt Castle) Veronica pointed out locations where scenes in The Sound Of Music were filmed. (some were re-created in studios or elsewhere). All made to look like the actual sites. As we arrived in the town, the sun was bright, the temperature in the sun perfect! Great walking conditions. The streets paved with small granite cobblestone made for an easy and comfortable walking tour. We started in the new town, at the Mirabella Gardens, a gift from the bishop to his lover -- (he was denied permission from the church to marry) He ended up having 15 children with her, later, he ended up in prison for political reasons, where he died. She and the children asked for but were denied permission to visit him while incarcerated. from web site: The baroque Mirabell Gardens were used as a movie location for "The Sound of Music." What is not so well known though, is that the palace on the far end of the gardens has another romantic story: the original palace was commissioned by Salzburg's Prince Archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau in 1606, as a token of his love for Salome Alt, who was his lover and partner for over 22 years and gave him 15 (!) children. The tour took us to many historical homes of the famous -- the most important here is Mozart. Where he was born, the home he briefly lived in and so on. Sights that the Van Trap family stopped and scenes in the movie had been filmed. We walked over the chrome bridge with padlocks attached to it's chain link fencing...signifying lasting love, each lock had the names of the loving couple who placed it here. Views of the Danube from the bridge were spectacular! The pedestrian streets were very busy with tourists, locals and shoppers. Crowded at the historical sites, narrow meandering walks with high end shops and specialty restaurants, all kept immaculately clean. It was a perfect day. Veronica did a great job telling us of the history and the suggesting where we try the food... (at the square) we had lunch at Zipth Lager -- delicious and great service. Cost about 35.00 for two of us. Diane had the red sausage, I the wiener schnitzel. Beer and wine. Free use of the WC for patrons. Back to do some shopping -- famous chocolate Mozart Balls -- a pastry, some pins for the kids. More sightseeing then back to the Mozart birthplace for the walk to the ship. We must have walked 5-7 miles. The ride back (no stop) then cocktails with the captain for returning Viking guests -- then dinner. I had the salmon, Diane had the braised beef... excellent!!. Awa tried again to get the sound working on the TV -- This time she was successful. Found that the ship TV offers an excellent and wide variety of on demand movies (no charge). All the best and the latest releases. The entertainment system too, is state of the art. Music, TV, Movies, Voyage info,. and a connection for an ipod. The cabin too has more than enough AC connections -- both 220 and 110 and outlets on both sides of the cabin -- that's a first. The safe is large, the air conditioning very effective, plenty of drawer, cabinet and hanging space. Refrigerator, lighting in cabin and bath good, (a magnifying mirror in bath) beds comfortable entire ship kept immaculate. Larger than most shower tubes, plenty of hot water and hand held shower head is perfect. Tomorrow, Melk and the Abbey tour. After breakfast we boarded the Viking Busses (new and beautiful) for the short ride to the 900 year old Melk Abbey. It's raining this morning...Our tour guide Anita took us through the 3 hour excursion -- a huge facility of baroque architecture, not our taste, but incredibly detailed works of artistry and talent -- impossible to replicate today. Once the residence of the ruling family (Babenberg) it became a Benedictine monastery in 1089. Monks are active today, the school has 750 pupils today. Rooms in the Abbey are set up as you would find in most museums. Dramatic lighting, exhibits placed strategically and descriptions of items on display well written and positioned. (photos will tell the story). The tour was well worth the chill, rain and many steps it included. As the tour ended so did the rain... Anita did a superb job -- her English excellent, her knowledge enthusiastically shared. Everything about the tour was A+.. We returned to the bus and then the Prestige for lunch -- it too was as usual, delicious. Tomorrow, Vienna. April 11, 2013 Vienna -- tour guide Caroline Sailing thru the night, we arrived in Vienna at about 6AM. It's another great walking tour day. Broken clouds, promising to reach mid 50's -- perfect! At 8:30, we boarded the beautiful and comfortable (and CLEAN) Viking bus for the included city tour.. windows are kept especially clean -- great for photos! A short ride to the Ringstrasse (ring around the city) and it's many beautiful, interesting sights. We got to see the Opera House, St. Stephan's Cathedral... We were able to take photos in the cathedral -- a most impressive display of artistry, religious opulence and architectural design ... As for food, Vienna is well known for it's Wiener Schnitzel, Tafelspitz and Apple strudel... Coffee shops abundant, 100 art museums and other historical sights make Vienna a popular tourist destination. The food and pastries here are to die for (and from). At noon, it was back to the Prestige for lunch at 12:30 in the dining room (or optional Cafe lunch) served in the lounge. We rested after lunch so that we could stay awake later this evening when attending the optional concert at the stock exchange building, featuring 10 musicians, dancers and singers. After an early dinner for those attending the concert, we boarded busses for the 25 minute ride into the city for the event. Wow -- what a treat it was. There must have been about 200 guests -- all there from the 2 Viking ships (Prestige and Vienna). The acoustics in the large room we were seated seemed unimpressive ... that is until the music began, then WOW... these 10 players 4 women and 6 men knocked our socks off. Flute, piccolo, clarinet, first violin, second violin, viola, cello, concert master (violin) bass and piano -- sounded as if they were an orchestra of 65. Selections included waltz's, opera, and ballet. A copy of the program will follow in the photos. The program was beyond expectation, all we spoke with enjoyed the performance and felt it was well worth the price paid. (64 euros each) Returning to the ship, we opted for the goulash (soup) treat served in the lounge. Tomorrow, Bratislava Friday, April 12, 2013 Another cool morning 50's -- some drizzle, but no heavy rain. At 8:30 we boarded the bus for the city tour and the optional tour to the home of a resident. This was a really fun visit!! The ride from the ship to the home was about 30 minutes -- then as we were about 30 persons, the group was split into 2. We decided to go with the second group. As we approached, the lady (about age 70) was eagerly awaiting our arrival. This was the first time our guide visited here. We soon were cordially greeted and led into a small garden where the history of the family was briefly explained, our guide doing the translations. She was widowed at age 44 with the sudden death of her husband. The older of the two home sections (a one room house) was that of her husband's family. When first married, she and her husband (and her in-laws) all lived and slept in the one room. (When asked how she became pregnant, she said they had heavy blankets -- as did her in-laws) The larger part of the house, included a small kitchen, bath (no toilet) living room and some storage closets . Her daughter lived on the second level of the home, with her 2 granddaughters. She had prepared home made wine (from her backyard vineyard) cookies and a cheese pastry for us to taste. She had much to say about how her daughter and son lived... nothing good... Neither is married, both have children -- something she was obviously unhappy about...neither helps her with chores, nor the maintenance of the property. She has the vineyards, chickens, a dog, a cat and an outhouse. (Never connected to the sewage system). She was delightful -- shared many photos of the family, provided an opportunity for us to purchase souvenirs ... out guide seemed to also enjoy the candid look into this lady's life... much of which she openly shared with us. Back to the bus ... Busy night -- Farewell Dinner with Captain. Did some photos, emails etc., then readied for dinner -- What a surprise -- we are invited to Dine with the Captain!! Set for 8, each with a place card setting, we at with Captain Istvan Fekete, Artur Carvalheiro and 4 ship guests. (one couple, one young lady Donna and her step sister.) Dinner was outstanding -- Saved the menu -- Salmon Caviar & Crisp Potato Cake, Garden Green Lettuce & Caramelized Pear Salad, soup (lobster bisque) the entre we selected was the surf and turf -- Grilled Filet Mignon and Poached Jumbo Prawns .. Appetizer, delicious... Wine flowed, desert choices White Chocolate & Cherry Pudding or Fresh Fruits Cheese Plate ...any and all, deliciously outrageous. We learned that this was the captains 6th year with Viking, Awa (Head housekeeper) is his wife -- and that she has relatives in Brick NJ -- Small world. Tomorrow .... Budapest Saturday, April 13 After Breakfast, it's 8:30 and time for the Budapest City Tour... with our guide, Nora Three cities, merged in 1873 -- Buda and Obuda and Pest -- we will see Buda & Pest as they span both sides of the Danube. A short bus ride took us to where we passed through the city streets, making our way to the first stop at Heroes' Square. Monuments and historic buildings face the square. Great place and beautiful day for the photos that will help tell the story. Views from Buda Castle were especially great. Really the best images were those that we captured last night as we entred Budapest. The buildings all theatrically lit stood out as we had been told to expect. Time to return to the ship for our last lunch and final dinner on board the Prestige. This evening after dinner, we enjoyed local singers and dancers (Hungarian folkloric show)... another tastefully done treat by Viking. Said our goodbyes to the many aquaintences we made while on this trip. Tomorrow we are off to the airport at 11:30 for our BA flight from Budapest to Heathrow then Heathrow to Newark. Sunday -- April 14th Had breakfast, paid the bill, then sat quietly in the lounge waiting for the van to take 4 of us to the airport. (about 30 minute ride) Hardly any traffic. We were met by anothe Viking rep. (Richard) who took our luggage and accompanied us to the BA check in -- held our hand until we had to pass thru security. Passed that, then boarded the flight. Again, we had opposite isles --13C&D The connection in Heathrow was another story -- we had to go from Terminal 5 to 3... first a train, then a bus and on the bus the driver was speeding when all of a sudden he turned sharply and I went flying across the vehicle landing on my right knee and bumping foreheads with a lady who tried to stop me from falling. It was exactly 4:55PM -- just in case I need further medical atention. So far, I'm ok., not sure about the woman who tried to help, she may have a black right eye tomorrow. The flight from Heatrow was a financial loss for BA.. Only about 25% occupied, we were able to move to make ourselves more comfortable (stretch-out). Good mel, good audio/video selections wine and beer with meal -- no extra fees. Arriving in Newark, we thought to try out the GOES (Global Entry System) Kiosk program. What a pleasure! While lines of other arriving passengers waited for US Customs agents, we breezed thru, scanning our passports and fingerprints then presented the automatically printed pass to the officer as we departed the area. Must have saved at least ½ hour. Our driver was elsewhere at the airport, he promptly met us at door 7. The ride home was uneventful. Love to travel but always "no place like home" Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
I recently travelled from Lyon to Arles on Uniworld River Royale. The cruise ended April 14. The cruise was named Burgundy and Province. I had an excellent experience in regard to the ship, the staff , and the itinerary. I am writing ... Read More
I recently travelled from Lyon to Arles on Uniworld River Royale. The cruise ended April 14. The cruise was named Burgundy and Province. I had an excellent experience in regard to the ship, the staff , and the itinerary. I am writing because to highly recommend the dining experience on board this ship. The Maitre'd was Alexandre. He was a very positive, energetic and welcoming person. I found him to be very professional, thorough, and knowledgeable about food allergies and food preparation. I am allergic to gluten, MSG and most preservatives. I eat all fruits, vegetables, dairy, meats but they need to be free of chemicals and gluten. Not only did Alexander embrace the challenge, but he worked with the chefs and dining room staff to make sure that my food was safe and prepared carefully. I had excellent meals. I met with Alexander once a day to see how the menu could be modified so that I chose eat food from the menu for the following day. This required extra work and dedication. Because all the discussion took place in the library, we had a wonderful dining experience. The chef, Roger Demmers and his sous chef Caesar prepared wonderful meals and dishes. It was an adventure at every meal. The dessert chef Dalphina made me some wonderful desserts including a chocolate bomb...I think, and Baked Alaska. The sous chef, Caesar remembered me from a previous trip on the River Countess, and was able to prepare the creamy rice cereal that I brought from home. It was even prepared better that I could do it myself. Georgi prepared wonderful omelets each morning. Having food allergies such as mine, can be very challenging, embarrassing, limiting and frustrating for me, my husband and those with usi. I would like to thank the Dining room staff, the Kitchen staff and all the people involved in making this holiday a wonderful stress free dining experience. When one can eat like everyone else, enjoying fantastic food, the whole trip is enhanced. I would like to thank George and Violetta and many other servers for their professional work and their pleasant manner. I would highly recommend this cruise if you have a gluten allergy or food intolerance. Thanks to the extra work of Alexandre, the Maitre'd, I felt very welcome and included in the fantastic dining experience that everyone else enjoyed. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
We have just returned from the Apr. 4th Imperial Jewels in China. Wow. Before any other comments count - had hotels, food, sites all been awful, one element would have made it memorable anyway. Jin. He was our tour escort. He ... Read More
We have just returned from the Apr. 4th Imperial Jewels in China. Wow. Before any other comments count - had hotels, food, sites all been awful, one element would have made it memorable anyway. Jin. He was our tour escort. He endeared himself to us all. He not only had us laughing so often, always had our backs and filled our needs, seamlessly orchestrated all trip elements, but ALSO gave a 4 credit graduate course in the politics, history and economic development of China. Amazing. I actually feel truly sad each time I see his big full-faced squinting eyed smile in my mind's eye, when I realize I'll probably never see him again. He was the trip. Once beyond that, the highlights included a fabulous Ritz Carton in Beijing. Chef Nathan Brown made everyone so at ease and welcome with his constant presence in the lobby and dining room. The food and rooms were simply exceptional - along with the service of the restaurant wait staff. Top notch. The breakfasts and one buffet dinner were more than 5 star! Total treat. Also the trip sites (Wow, thanks Viking for the amazing 11 of 12 days of blue clear skies - we lucked out!!) were just as amazing as one might expect of China. The Great Wall, the Forbidden City - all the nationals visiting during grave sweeping - and being so sweet toward 'foreigners' - amazing. The Sacred Walk - OK, something minor after lunch. We didn't have a great Summer Palace tour - cold, crowded, and we didn't see a lot of it, not sure why. Then, the rickshaw, home visit, tea ceremony - all fantastic, especially with Jin's support. The 3 inter China flights were all on time and very nice, all airports clean and well run. Lunch boxes were always adequate, the Ritz one terrific, the next 2 OK, but good effort and decent. The Hilton in Xi'an was nice, totally comfortable. The Tang Dynasty Show was a winner, food and entertainment. The Warriors don't need our plaudits. Amazing, and local guide, Yale, was terrific. The time on the Emerald was perfect, beginning to end. The staff is above anything I can think of to say - every wait staff, room attendant - everyone was so sweet and there to make us happy. wow. The food was terrific. The ship is lovely, our cabin, 430, very nice. We loved the gorges, locks, learning to play Mahjong with Jin, carving vegetables, eating 1,000 yr old eggs Winking smile emoticon. The on-board tailor staff is incredible. Table service with Stan was incredible also. Also Debbie in the 5th deck lounge. It was all white glove service. The Chef is a keeper. Keep him. The school visit was my highlight - as a teacher I was delighted. Good for you for your sponsorship. Wonderful for me and my students to interact through postcards I brought and pictures I took away. Wuhan bells - beyond amazing. Shanghai Ritz is very nice, just more impersonal, with high service fees in their lounge, etc. Chef Brown in Beijing told us Stephen at Shanghai did a top - notch job - we'd say Chef Brown doesn't realize he and the Beijing RC is a cut above. The Acrobatic show, with Chinese family style dinner before were both just great! The few downsides were the jade factory and silk rug factory. The Jade factory had a really nice lunch. But prices are high for shopping - a too-rare chance on the trip. The silk rug factory was a major disappointment for us - we were so looking forward to the silk factory with the silk-pulling and shopping. It's a shame it was switched out from when we booked till we went, for the carpet site. The Mongolian BBQ is OK, but not worth loosing the silk factory. There are not enough chances to shop without being in a 'factory'. The one hour allotted at the end in Shanghai by the Gardens is NOT enough. We actually found the same objects at the airport upon leaving CHEAPER than the factory places we were taken to for 'lunches'. Ah, the BIG downside - Peking Duck dinner. I haven't read one review on Cruise Critic, or talked to one friend who's taken the trip from back to 2007 who's enjoyed the dinner. You can't mass produce Peking Duck. Why not offer suggestions and help in making local reservations for those who'd like them. The Opera separated and with some subtitles appears to be doing better. Also, the dinner for those who didn't go to Peking Duck was also 'yuk'. How about group Hot Pot? Heck, your Pecking Duck price per person is higher than Da Dong - and they provide a half duck for every 2 persons. Some of your guests got only one pancake with a slim slice of duck. Totally a bad choice. Luckily, we'd read enough on Cruise Critic to avoid that. We'd also read enough to learn about Black Sesame Kitchen in Beijing, which we visited for dinner on our own our first night in China. A full review of our night there is posted on Tripadvisor.com One thing that did surprise us and MANY - was the statement on website, etc. that wine and beer were available on all lunches and dinners, - only to find out it was ONLY on the ship. Come on, honest up. Wine is only available free on the ship. Your site is misleading on this issue, and many were unhappy with that. Over all - beginning to end - it was a trip of a lifetime. Well constructed, well executed. Thank you! Our only worry is we've done Viking's best - now what? Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
The American Cruise Line ship Independence is a very comfortable ship to cruise on. The cabin was very comfortable, water pressure good, and the shared spaces were very nice. The ship was clean and in good order. Our captain and crew ... Read More
The American Cruise Line ship Independence is a very comfortable ship to cruise on. The cabin was very comfortable, water pressure good, and the shared spaces were very nice. The ship was clean and in good order. Our captain and crew were pleasant and helpful. Food throughout the cruise was excellent. The tours we took were all very good. My only nit picky issue is that the lecturer on board was very much a generalist and did not provide enough depth. This was a wonderful relaxing cruise up the inter-coastal waterway. The small ship atmosphere gives you the chance to really meet your fellow vacationers. You get a much better feel for local culture on a small ship cruise. Our ship docked on islands a big ship just can't get into and many of our tours would not have been possible with large groups. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
I am motivated to write this review since the cruise was so outstanding. We were a group of 5 couples who are old friends.From the time we stepped off the plane in Prague and were met by the Avalon representative everything thing and every ... Read More
I am motivated to write this review since the cruise was so outstanding. We were a group of 5 couples who are old friends.From the time we stepped off the plane in Prague and were met by the Avalon representative everything thing and every day was like a well oiled machine. Management must be doing something right.Avalon transferred us to the Intercontinental Hotel in Prague. The hotel was in a perfect location for visiting this beautiful city. Two nights in Prague. We then transferred to the beautiful Panorama ship. Stateroom were well designed with plenty of storage space. The Bathroom with granite counter tops and a walk in shower was also designed with plenty of storage space. Our cruise director Mr. Akos Szalay was ever present and attentive to the guests. The crew members were friendly, professional and very attentive. The restaurant manager, Agos,did a fabulous job with the restaurant staff. I do not know how they can serve over 160 meals 3 x a day. Obviously, the staff works very hard. Our compliments to the chef "Orlando" for the quality and presentation of the the food. It was like eating in a 5 star restaurant. The ship is kept pristine clean from the staterooms to the decks. The included tour guides were excellent. This was our First River Cruise and it will not be our last.We will sail again on one of Avalon's Suite Ships. Our experience was so positive that I would never sail on a large cruise ship again. River Cruising is the best. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013

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