We did the pre-cruise Lisbon two days and that added to the two days that Viking puts you in a hotel for two days in Lisbon gave us 4 days. Our mistake was not taking one of those days to go to Fatima. We paid to have tours from Lisbon ... Read More
We did the pre-cruise Lisbon two days and that added to the two days that Viking puts you in a hotel for two days in Lisbon gave us 4 days. Our mistake was not taking one of those days to go to Fatima. We paid to have tours from Lisbon to Porto (bus) and Fatima was one of the stops - what we didn't realize was that we would have approximately 45 minutes total in Fatima - not near enough. So my suggestion is to skip paying Viking for the extra stops on a bus ride you are going to be making anyway, take the free Viking transfer, and spend a day in Fatima on your own or pay for a private tour. Meals is Lisbon will cost you at least 40 euros per couple - not fancy places. Once on the boat in Porto we sat and rode buses for two days. Finally moving on the boat but each day is buses. Very little "cruising". Meals were so-so. Cabin seemed smaller than on our other Viking trips (this was our 5th trip). Could not see out the "porthole" because on this ship they have it covered with frosted plexiglass. Entertainment - how do you have a trip to Portugal and Spain and not have Fado? You do have a lecture on cork and a chance to buy cork products and a lecture on olive oil and a chance to buy olive oil but no Fado. Like I said this was our 5th so we are big fans of Viking - this trip was our most expensive but I rate it as 4th best. English is absolutely no problem in Portugal and since the cruising part of the trip is minimal one may be better off doing a land trip on their own. We also did the the two day post in Santiago and enjoyed the Cathedral and other sights; but once again English is no problem so one may consider doing it on your own. Meals in Santiago will run you at least 40 euros per couple. Airline - direct flight to Lisbon from Miami on TAP - seat arm rest was broken - very minimal English entertainment - food was horrible. Return flight - up at 5:30 to put luggage out and then to Vigo to catch flight to Madrid with only one hour to make next flight - we made it but they were getting ready to shut the door to the aircraft - this could have been avoided as there was a flight from Vigo to Madrid one hour earlier and as we had to sit in the Vigo airport for two hours waiting for our flight we could have been booked on the earlier flight. We had to literally run to make our flight connection in Madrid - no fun. Walking - get heavy duty comfortable shoes that are anti-slip (sidewalks can be a bit slippery when wet). So in summary - a good trip and glad we did it. We are booked on one of their ocean ships in March and looking forward to that. Read Less
Hild and capt johann were awesome. would repeat again. cruise program director emma was awesome. staff was great. food was great.
Viking did a magnificent job on the river cruise. 5 stars or more.
My "rub" was with the ... Read More
Hild and capt johann were awesome. would repeat again. cruise program director emma was awesome. staff was great. food was great.
Viking did a magnificent job on the river cruise. 5 stars or more.
My "rub" was with the hotels before and after the cruise. in zurich, the renaissance was located away from the city center and we were forced to wait in the lobby for three hours after we arrived before we could enter our room. so, a 12 hour flight experience to get to zurich and a 3 hour wait in a hotel lobby. come on viking!!!
Our hotel in paris, the pullman, was past its prime. yes it is next to the eiffel tower, but the room was more 2 star than anything else.
Note to viking; the passengers filled out the cruise survey without any feedback on the last two days in parish after disembarking. there is a gap there and if viking really wants feedback then figure out this gap.
We are big viking fans and have already booked our next cruise. Read Less
WE went on this river cruise because it's something I always wanted to do after a dozen big ships it certainly was different,we had a ball the crew were fantastic the food was great the cabin could do with some updating, the ensuite had ... Read More
WE went on this river cruise because it's something I always wanted to do after a dozen big ships it certainly was different,we had a ball the crew were fantastic the food was great the cabin could do with some updating, the ensuite had mould around the shower and the towels needed to be replaced getting a bit on the thin side. We went with Gate1 travel after friends recommended it and we weren't disappointed. The cruise director was excellent in arranging all the tours seeing the castle's on the Rhine Danube and Maine rivers was fascinating the towns we visited so much history amazing. There is a big difference between river cruising and ocean cruising that is on the ocean cruise you get a lot more time to relax where as on the river cruise you seem to be on the go all the time there's a lot of walking involved which we enjoy anyway but but at the end of each day we were certainly tired. Read Less
We chose Emerald because of recommendations on line. They were offering good on board credit and other discounts. The Radiance is a beautiful ship and the staterooms are stunning. The lounge is good but the bar is too big leaving only room ... Read More
We chose Emerald because of recommendations on line. They were offering good on board credit and other discounts. The Radiance is a beautiful ship and the staterooms are stunning. The lounge is good but the bar is too big leaving only room for sitting. There was no space if anyone wanted to dance. The bar is the wrong place. The Entertainment could have been better . There was the resident pianist and one evening a local group played. Having travelled with other river cruise companies this was poor compared with them. The crew however were amazing and made the trip very enjoyable. It is a full on trip with a very busy programme during the day. The weather was amazing which greatly enhanced our enjoyment. The food was very good but it is necessary to enjoy meat. Servings of meat were huge although vegetables were in short supply at the evening dinner. Fish was available as an alternative.
We purchased a drinks package which meant drinks were available all day. Other than this we spent very little, which meant while the trip might have appeared expensive everything was included for us.
We spent 3 extra days in Lisbon which was great and wished we had stayed longer in Porto as it is quite beautiful. Transfers between Cities, hotels and the ship went very smoothly.
I would recommend the Douro as the countryside was some of the most stunning we had seen. Not too many locks and all praise for the Captain as the river in some areas was very narrow and navigation must have been difficult. Read Less
This was our first River Cruise. We enjoyed the size of the ship and that there were only 168 guests, which made getting to know people very easy. The cruise director, Andreea, was exceptional - she managed all aspects of our itinerary ... Read More
This was our first River Cruise. We enjoyed the size of the ship and that there were only 168 guests, which made getting to know people very easy. The cruise director, Andreea, was exceptional - she managed all aspects of our itinerary seamlessly. The food was very good, with a varied selection of appetizers, soups, mains, and desserts. The wait staff were friendly and professional. Our cabin was very well designed so we had plenty of space to put everything. Our cabin was also spotless.
I would say that I found the itinerary a bit rushed - that being said however, I also chose to not stay on the boat, which I could have. Perhaps the same itinerary could be completed in ten days, allowing a bit more time in some cities.
Unfortunately on our second last day we ended being off the ship for almost 11 hours. Our tour of Regensburg was to last 4 hours. There was a problem with water levels being too low and the boat being unable to make it to our next destination. That is understandable - cannot control Mother Nature! I'm not totally convinced that there was not a way to get us on the boat earlier. So, the memory of my last excursion was a long, wet, cold day in a small city with nothing to do. When we boarded the boat everything was rushed. The next morning we had to wake up very early to be bussed to our last port of call. Unfortunately these events coloured my overall experience. Read Less
We booked this river cruise because of the great deal offered and because of what was about half-price we thought we got good value. The staff were friendly and welcoming, the tours were excellent and on the whole, the ship was ... Read More
We booked this river cruise because of the great deal offered and because of what was about half-price we thought we got good value. The staff were friendly and welcoming, the tours were excellent and on the whole, the ship was comfortable.
When we arrived we were greeted warmly, our baggage was immediately taken off us and carried onto the boat. The reception staff were always pleasant and helpful. We were directed to the lounge where there were soup, open sandwiches and cake being served for a light lunch. Shortly before 3pm we were escorted to our cabin and shown around. The cabin was small but quite comfortable with one armchair and a footstool in front of the small desk area, although we would have preferred an upright chair. We liked the French balcony which allows you to look out and get fresh air without wasting space on a real balcony that isn’t needed on a river cruise especially as often you’re rafted up to another boat. There was enough storage and room for suitcases under the bed. However, the bed was disappointing with a mattress that definitely needs replacing. It was very hard and even after we requested and were given another duvet to lie on, the bed sagged to one side and was uncomfortable. The duvet was also old and lumpy. We do wish people would provide a top sheet instead of just a duvet in Europe. We were near the back of the boat and did find it rather noisy for sleeping the first couple of nights. But we quickly got used to it and it didn’t bother us for the rest of the cruise. We were quite happy with the housekeeping service and the room was kept clean.
The small bathroom was good and had a decent shower. However, we woke one morning to find our toilet wasn’t functioning; a situation that lasted nearly all day as we had to wait for an engineer to come on at the next stop. Ours wasn’t the only one and another couple had several instances of their toilet flooding throughout the trip. Also, occasionally there was a whiff of an unpleasant smell in the bathroom. Clearly the plumbing system needs an overhaul.
We were very impressed with the cruise directors and the tours. Soma and Armin were great - professional, friendly and very helpful. They were always available for questions and would join guests at meals and other times to chat and offer advice. They accompanied all the tours and made sure that everything was running smoothly. We couldn’t have had better people. Soma gave a briefing every evening before dinner with a rundown of the next day’s programme and included plenty of tips on what to do at each stop as well as the included tour. Maps of the towns were given out at every stop. Armin put on quizzes and other activities during sailing times for which there were decent prizes of nice boxes of chocolates and bottles of wine instead of the cheap pins etc given on ocean cruises. The few times entertainers came on board, they were well worth watching. The Oompah band solo performer was terrific.
There was an included tour every day which were excellent with very good and knowledgeable local guides. All the stops were at beautiful and interesting places. Also, Soma provided excellent commentaries for the scenic cruising through the Rhine gorge, the Wachau valley and the sail into the Budapest. We were delighted to find that a full inside tour of the Wurzburg Residenz was included – ours was taken by an architect who provided lots of interesting detail. It’s worth asking your cruise director for advice on which local guide is likely to suit your particular interests. We took two optional tours which were also good and reasonably priced. The whisper devices with headphones seem to be standard these days and worked very well. Many of our guides told us interesting and amusing stories and one even quoted some of his own doggerel poems which were most entertaining.
The only tiny issue we had occasionally with the tours was the timing for the buses. In Bamberg the free time lasted too long on a cold Sunday afternoon with no shops or museums open. The bars and cafes became very crowded with all the tour groups in town who had nothing else to do. Many people returned to the meeting place early to wait for the buses. On the other hand, there was hardly any free time in Nuremburg as the tours went over time. There was the option to go back into town after lunch on a bus for the afternoon but just another half an hour or so in the morning would have been good. In Vienna the boat is docked way out of town at Nussdorf which isn’t practicable for public transport. The tour started at 8.15am and if you wished to stay in town, the only options for a return bus were at 3pm and 4.30pm. Shuttle buses running throughout the afternoon as they were in Amsterdam would have been much better. Nevertheless, we were very pleased indeed with the touring side of the cruise.
The one thing we were disappointed with was the food. While it wasn’t bad, it wasn’t very good either. The dining room is too small for the number of passengers so the tables and chairs are squeezed in with hardly any room to get in and out to go to the breakfast and lunch buffets. It was also extremely noisy which made talking very difficult. Service was not always very professional and rather bossy. For instance, you were instructed to pass menus, dirty plates, etc to the waiters the minute you were finished. They wouldn’t remake the used tables at breakfast and lunch so you were forced to walk around trying to find a spare space even if you had to sit apart from your companions. Once I was told off for sitting at a table already set for dinner even though there were no tables left ready for lunch. It was as if the staff felt we were there for their convenience rather than the other way around.
The meals were acceptable but rather repetitive with little variety. Some meals were lovely but others weren’t very well cooked. Servings were sometimes very small. The vegetables were generally undercooked and the soups mostly tasted the same and were too salty. The breakfast buffet was very good with a wide variety of offerings and a specialty cooked item each day as well as eggs and omelettes that could be ordered. Cold meats and cheeses were put out at breakfast but never with the salad buffet at lunch which was always one hot meat and one hot fish dish, plus soup, a hot sandwich or pasta dish that could be ordered. But the most disappointing aspect was the poor quality baked goods. The bread was mass-produced and not good. There were little rolls put out for breakfast but never for lunch or dinner. We heard that all the bread and cakes were frozen and then thawed out and you could tell. Many days the cakes at afternoon tea were a dry Sour Cherry cake and stodgy apple pie. This was so disappointing in countries like Germany and Austria that have such wonderful bread, cakes and pastries.
There was a coffee machine in the back corner of the lounge but it would have been good to have also had a hot water dispenser for tea and hot chocolate. It was frustrating to queue for ages while people made their coffees when all you wanted was some hot water. At first nice sachets for hot chocolate were available but after a few days they were replaced with an uncovered bowl of cheap chocolate mix – this in a ship where people were constantly coughing from a nasty cold that was going right through the ship. It got so bad that people were ordering taxis at ports to take them to pharmacies and even the local hospital on the weekends to get medication.
There was a choice at dinner of one white and one red wine that changed every night plus a house beer. There’s a bar the back of the lounge but it wasn’t easy to get any service. Even if you went up to the bar you were told to go sit down and wait for service. We waited 40 minutes to get a drink one night. The passengers were divided between those from Australasia who had prepaid their tips and those from North America who hadn’t. It became obvious that the wait staff were giving priority and better service to impress the people who hadn’t prepaid their tips. They always seemed to be served first and immediately presented with lots of bar snacks which instead we had to ask for. The back lounge has been converted to a steakhouse restaurant in the evenings which we went to once. The food was good and we enjoyed our evening with another couple. We sat there sometimes during the afternoons to try and avoid the coughing of the sick passengers. It was a pleasant place to sit and watch the wonderful views out of the floor to ceiling windows.
Disembarkation was well organised and you could request taxis to be ordered in advance. We were very pleased to be allowed to stay on board for a while longer because we couldn’t get into our apartment until later in the morning. All in all, we felt the cruise was very good value for what we paid. But for the reasons given, mainly the bad mattress and variable quality of food, we wouldn’t book with Gate 1 again if we had to pay full price. Read Less
Loved this idea of spending our 25th anniversary in Europe. All went well-great staff, good food, nice ports, but wished there was more free time and fewer ports to visit. Had to get up pretty early for the free excursions, which are ... Read More
Loved this idea of spending our 25th anniversary in Europe. All went well-great staff, good food, nice ports, but wished there was more free time and fewer ports to visit. Had to get up pretty early for the free excursions, which are largely church/history oriented, if you're into that sort of thing.
Would have preferred more intimate excursions (for free) instead of 50-60 people ushered around already popular destinations.
If you are a history buff, and like lectures, etc. This is for you. The passengers are largely 60+, and highly educated. A few wheelchairs also, although Europe is tough for them with all the cobblestones and hills.
I really prefer Gate 1 for this sort of thing. More free time, less expensive, and a smaller group. You're not tempted into gluttony as much.
Food was good, but not as good as some of the finer meals I've enjoyed in major cities.
If there were more shore excursions catering to intimate experiences, that would be better-like seeing a cobbler make shoes. Since the cruise is so pricey, these should be included without an extra charge. Read Less
This is not a first cruise for anyone. It's a cruise for people who've seen a lot, and want more. The "river" between St. Petersburg and Moscow is a combination of lakes, rivers, and canals. Near St. P, it's mostly uninhabited ... Read More
This is not a first cruise for anyone. It's a cruise for people who've seen a lot, and want more. The "river" between St. Petersburg and Moscow is a combination of lakes, rivers, and canals. Near St. P, it's mostly uninhabited area. Near Moscow, it's more inhabited. Of the 5 stops on the "river," only two (Yaroslavl and Uglich) are real towns. Kizhi is fabulous, as a recreated ancient community. Mandrogy is an artisan village, and fun (and expensive if you shop), but for tourists. The monastery stop was interesting, but due to fog, we were shepherded past any vendors and didn't see a real town.
St. Petersburg and Moscow were fabulous - and exhausting! You walk your feet off. It's worth it, but just be warned. The worst crush was The Hermitage in St. Petersburg - and I was there in a shoulder season! But the fabulous art is incredible and not to be missed. As are any of the St. Petersburg tours, and definitely Moscow by Night. The Kremlin (included) tour was very good, but I wish I'd done the optional tour that included the carriages, jewels, dresses, etc. We saw St. Basil's in the afternoon, which will NOT get you good pictures. You need to be there in the morning.
Best souvenirs: Uglich. We skipped the tour and just shopped for 3 1/2 hours. Do not try to buy souvenirs in Moscow; for some reason, they are scarce and expensive. At the St. Petersburg port, there is a souvenir shop, which is better than nothing.
Do not bring rubles; banks charge too much. I got rubles 4 times at ATM's, with a charge of $1 each withdrawal, and the best rates. Dollars are almost universally accepted, too. Though outside of vendors, very few people speak English.
On the ship, we were coddled by the staff. In the dining room, Jeremiah, Mikey and Dino took fabulous care of us, including telling us to wait til Uglich to shop. In the bar, Dasha and Egor were attentive and helpful. Sasha (from Russia) was a terrific tour director. Andrey was a terrific tour guide. Daniel was the M'd with a sense of humor! Don't miss the pelmini cooking demo, or the vodka tasting!
Russia has changed incredibly in the past couple of decades. Not a complete capitalist country, but growing so! The people were warm and friendly (they want our dollars).
If you go, you'll love it. I wish you good cheer! Read Less
A friend we were traveling with found Scenic and we just took his recommendation. The ship was excellent and the crew were superb. The only disappointment was our butler, who did very little and for the the odd time that we asked for ... Read More
A friend we were traveling with found Scenic and we just took his recommendation. The ship was excellent and the crew were superb. The only disappointment was our butler, who did very little and for the the odd time that we asked for something he still didn't come through. Otherwise, the entire experience was excellent.
The shore excursions were very well organized and we were very pleased that all the gratuities were included.
The motor-assisted bicycles were also a great amenity. We used two of them on one occasion and thoroughly enjoyed them. They were also very easy to learn to use.
The meals were outstanding and the chef took great pride in his craft. The selection of wines was mediocre but sufficient. The bar selection was likewise very good and the bar staff carried the torch for service excellence.
Overall, we had good value for our money and will likely cruise with Scenic again. Read Less
We explored Lisbon before we embarked our ship in Porto. I found Porto difficult to walk around with lots of potholes in the sidewalks and lots of empty buildings. In the future, I would skip Lisbon and head into Porto a little earlier. ... Read More
We explored Lisbon before we embarked our ship in Porto. I found Porto difficult to walk around with lots of potholes in the sidewalks and lots of empty buildings. In the future, I would skip Lisbon and head into Porto a little earlier. That being said, the hotel was lovely and our waitress in the hotel lobby knew her wines, and was generous in her information about Portuguese wines.
Embarkation went smoothly.
Our cabin was on Sapphire deck and was quite comfortable to our needs. Very comfortable bed. Housekeeping always kept the room immaculate and refreshed our little bar daily and gave us extra water. Loved the balcony which I could open and close at leisure.
We ate mostly in the Crystal dining room, but often ate a lighter lunch in the sun lounge. We ate once in the Portobellos, the specialty restaurant. Food was delicious on all counts.
Our entertainment and activities were light but highly interesting. Tours also were interesting, and there were always washrooms available. I am going to try to make the candied almonds that one person demonstrated on one tour. We especially liked the Fado music both on and off board, the cork demonstration, shopping with Chef and his demonstration, and tours to the wineries and villages.
Service was always with a smile and we loved the staff, their hard work and humor.
After disembarking at Porto, we flew on to Madrid. The only negative thing I have to say is about Portuguese airlines. Small and not on time.
We loved Madrid. Our tour guide was knowledgable, warm and welcoming. She was always more than available and helpful. The streets are pedestrian friendly. We would definitely go there again. And our city tour guide who was also our guide at the Prado Art Gallery was exceptionally knowledgable.
In conclusion, we loved Scenic. I love the all inclusive, I loved the wonderful variety of shipmates. I loved that the ship was Portuguese built, and the crew was Portuguese. But never fear - their English is impeccable. We would travel with Scenic again. Read Less
Scenic, The Scenic Team has responded
It sounds like you had a great time on board and we're happy to hear you loved your time in Madrid.
The Scenic Team
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