WE are a retired couple that loves to travel. When we were offered a chance to visit the Amazon with Viking, we immediately booked our cruise. This was our first cruise on a Viking ocean going vessel. Having been on three river cruises, ... Read More
WE are a retired couple that loves to travel. When we were offered a chance to visit the Amazon with Viking, we immediately booked our cruise. This was our first cruise on a Viking ocean going vessel. Having been on three river cruises, we expected the best, but were surprised to find it even surpassed our expectations! I can tell you now, that we can't wait to book another ocean cruise with Viking. We have been on many other ocean going cruises with a variety of companies... but this was the BEST! The entire crew from room attendants up to officers ingratiated themselves being so helpful, happy, while also very professional. The numerous restaurants had not only quality food, but choices beyond our belief!! Even with a 22 day sail, we could not experience all they offered. We enjoyed the he excellent guest lecturers- all had very interesting programs. Entertainment aboard was varied and very much appreciated. There was always a variety of choices, and all very professional. Read Less
I will begin this by saying, this trip was booked for the sole purpose of visiting the Christmas Markets. My mother had been to Germany several times, and I was anxious to see the wonderful sights she had seen while visiting the Christmas ... Read More
I will begin this by saying, this trip was booked for the sole purpose of visiting the Christmas Markets. My mother had been to Germany several times, and I was anxious to see the wonderful sights she had seen while visiting the Christmas Markets previously. We have traveled on several cruises together through the years, but always pn ocean liners. We researched the trip. We researched the destinations. We definitely did our homework.
That being said, I will refer to a particular evening when our Cruise Director was going over the following day's itinerary. I heard a passenger lament that we were going to "Another Christmas Market" with a groan and eyeroll as she said it. I turned to my mother and said, "How could she be upset about that? This was advertised as a Christmas Market Cruise!" I heard many of these rumblings throughout the trip. I was somewhat offended, because I will cherish the trip, the memories and the people we met for the rest of my life. I had an awesome trip, so I found it a little hard to stomach the ones that were saying such rude things.
I found the ship and crew warm and welcoming. The staff bent over backward to make us feel at home. Many of the crew members filled multiple roles. They did so with efficiency and kindness. As I said previously, we had been on several cruises. They were ocean cruises. This was the first river cruise I'd been on. I knew that the grandeur of a ocean cruise ship would not be found on a river cruise. I knew there would be no casino, no nightclub, no nightly shows. I knew there would be no midnight buffets with ice sculptures. I don't care about those things. We booked this trip to add to a lifetime of memories that my mom and I have been making together. We were not disappointed.
I found the ship to provide for every necessity we had, and provide well. The ship was well kept, it was lovely and when I compared it to other ships we saw cruising the Rhine I was pleasantly pleased that our ship was amongst the nicest.
Dining. I heard quite a few people complaining about the fare. I heard some rather needless and unkind things being said. So here is my assessment of the food and dining experience. I found the food to be good, plentiful and very tailored to the passenger pool. If we were to take a walking trip around the meal bar you would find: fresh cheeses, sliced meats, salad options, fruits, bread, desserts, hot and cold cereals, soups, rice, fish, sandwiches, hot veggies, meat choices, usually a pasta choice, omelettes to order at breakfast and the list goes on. If you want a lighter fare you can visit the lounge and enjoy a pancake, french toast, soup, pasta or sandwich at breakfast or lunch. At dinner the menu also plentiful. Typically there were 2 choices of appetizer, a soup, a featured item as main course and a dessert. If you did not care of the featured main course there was a choice of chicken, steak, fish or Ceasar Salad every night, as well. No, you will not find the vast array of food you'd find on an ocean cruise. That being said, if you find fault in the food on this cruise then I would say you should have booked a Cuisine Cruise instead. I found the food to be delicious, and I thought the Chef was wonderful.
Entertainment and Activities were not a huge priority to us. We did not book this cruise to be entertained and party. We were on this trip to enjoy time spent with each other and any new friends we would meet, and we did meet some wonderful people. We thoroughly enjoyed the glassblower, the cookie making, the musical entertainment, the movie nights, disco night and trivia. They were wonderfully presented and fun to attend.
Service. The ENTIRE staff bent over backwards to help us. If I were going to say anything on the downside, it would be that my mother and I are not alcohol drinkers. I found it a bit difficult at first to get a soft drink. The wait staff have to go to a different location to get a soft drink so it throws off their service rhythm. Which I totally understand. Dining on a smaller scale ship is like a well thought out ballet. Everything has it's place because of limited space. They are super organized and efficient. I felt I was inconveniencing them to ask for a soft drink. They are pronto with the alcohol, but soft drinks not so much. I worked it out by mid cruise, I began ordering my soft drinks two at a time so that I wouldn't have to ask for a refill later in the meal. Ironically, the majority of the ladies we sat with began doing the same so we became known as the soda drinkers. We also made sure to sit in the areas of the dining room that we knew the waiters were a bit more flexible. From the Captain on down to the room stewards, everyone was wonderful.
Ports, docking and excursions. Ports were wonderful. Transportation from the ship to our destinations was quick and efficient. I enjoyed the all the places we visited. I absolutely LOVED Rothenberg, which in our package was an excursion. It was my absolute favorite. If we had thought it through more, we would have gotten an earlier flight to Nuremberg and visited the Market there before boarding the ship. We enjoyed a diverse choice of stops with the commonality of the Christmas Markets, which we loved. If I was going to find a downside, I would have to say the arrival times to the Market locations. I had anticipated this experience for so long. After researching the destinations and seeing pictures of the marketplaces at each, I had a very clear vision in my head. I was mildly disappointed that the majority of the markets we visited weren't even open when we arrived, because we arrived in the mornings. I was excited to experience the markets in the evening when they were lit up to get the full effect of Christmas time festivities. I was grateful to get to see them, but would have loved to see them all at night. I understand we were at the mercy of our port time and sail schedule, but that would be the only thing I would say was disappointing.
Overall, this was the trip of a lifetime and I enjoyed it thoroughly. I would do it again and again, and I would sail with Emerald again to do it. It was a great way to "sample" some locations to possibly revisit so that I can spend more time in the places that truly stood out to me.
In an nutshell: I loved the entire trip. What I didn't love was the bashing being done by some of the other passengers. Read Less
After several longer river cruises (i.e., Budapest to Amsterdam) we thought that we might like what would be a much shorter trip (Douro river is only what, 125 miles long?) and kind of quirky itinerary; small towns and wineries with time ... Read More
After several longer river cruises (i.e., Budapest to Amsterdam) we thought that we might like what would be a much shorter trip (Douro river is only what, 125 miles long?) and kind of quirky itinerary; small towns and wineries with time to walk and explore.
Wow did we like it! Beautiful countryside in Fall colors, visits to often tiny towns, and so on. Castelo Rodrigo, for example, is a hilltop hamlet with about 48 residents. We had time on our own in some very small towns to just wander. Very restful, actually Quite different from say, Vienna!
I don't recommend this for one's "first cruise". Take a longer one, or several, with Viking and then try The Douro. Doing that really helped us notice the differences and fully appreciate the laid back leisurely nature of this trip. It is very well thought out and complete. I think you'll find it wonderful.
As always with Viking there are little extras; to be met back at the ship with a Port wine toast, local foods acquired almost every day, and some unique entertainments. Portuguese Fado music. for instance.
I HIGHLY recommend the post-river add-on trip to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain. The shrine of Saint James is not only the ending point of "The Way" pilgrimages, but also a UNESCO Heritage center. We loved the city and its foods. Tapas three times a day! Read Less
Paris is always a draw but we were particularly focused on seeing Normandy. This cruise did all of this and more. The time spent in Paris was fun and well spent. We were quickly caught up on France's great history. The Louvre and Notre ... Read More
Paris is always a draw but we were particularly focused on seeing Normandy. This cruise did all of this and more. The time spent in Paris was fun and well spent. We were quickly caught up on France's great history. The Louvre and Notre Dame were great. Traveling on the river to Normandy presented great excursions. Visiting the farm in Rouen was a particular highlight and Monet's gardens and home were a real treat. Normandy was a very special experience, especially the visit to Omaha Beach. Looking at the geography of the beach, one has to wonder how our great soldiers were able to overcome the odds by making it up that wide expanse of a beach and then up the hills beyond. This has to be seen to understand how difficult a time they must of had. The ceremony at the Memorial and the walk through the cemetery fulfilled our purpose for taking this cruise. As always, the food was wonderfully prepared and served. Our servers quickly became our friends and their entertaining capability made each meal more than just a food experience. The ease of coming and going throughout the whole trip is much appreciated. Read Less
We had never tried river cruising before, and it seemed to have some possibilities, so we gave it a shot. At first, with such a small boat (relative to our Previous 38 ocean cruises) it seemed small. But that was exactly the point for ... Read More
We had never tried river cruising before, and it seemed to have some possibilities, so we gave it a shot. At first, with such a small boat (relative to our Previous 38 ocean cruises) it seemed small. But that was exactly the point for Viking. You get to MEET and dine and take excursions with the same people and get to know them, and vice versa. We have forged some friendships with people from all over. As a result of the "coziness" these ships offer we will be going salmon fishing in Alaska this summer with fellow ship mates.
But back to the cruise: the meals were a notch up from other cruises we have taken. Everything was done to perfection. The daily excursions are (mostly) included. And we had evening entertainment that was up close and personal. It's not everyday that you get to witness a virtuoso violinist from one of Europes most prestigious Philhormonic orchestras play a 350 year old fiddle. She didn't need any backups. And on another night we were treated to an Oom Pas Pas German group.
Overall, the Viking Mani, her wonderful crew from Captain Helmut to George our cruise director, the meals, excursions and unequalled show of cruise customers' interests were why we have already signed up for another Viking River Cruise. I give Viking a double thumbs up, a standing ovation, and a hearty BRAVO.! Job well done Read Less
Very pleased with overall performance . The included shore excursions were well planned & executed . The most outstanding comment each day was HOW HARD & DILIGENT the program director was. I saw him from morning to evening at ... Read More
Very pleased with overall performance . The included shore excursions were well planned & executed . The most outstanding comment each day was HOW HARD & DILIGENT the program director was. I saw him from morning to evening at every event - observing, directing & controlling the entire program. His onboard & general knowledge of the entire trip was a amazing. ( without any notes). I only know of him as JOE. He is certainly an asset to this company. I would like to know of any other Viking cruises he is on , as i would definitely consider booking it.
Everyone i talked with were completely satisfied with all aspects of the cruise.
I will definitely consider another Viking cruise.
River cruising has a distinct advantage over ocean cruising in the ability to view more of the country side as you are underway and very important -- the lack of "sea sick "movement of the ship. Read Less
We picked this cruise from three other possibilities as we liked the itinerary and the option to have free time to do our own thing. The passengers were mainly 60 plus and my husband and I are 51 and 48. The passengers were a pleasant ... Read More
We picked this cruise from three other possibilities as we liked the itinerary and the option to have free time to do our own thing. The passengers were mainly 60 plus and my husband and I are 51 and 48. The passengers were a pleasant mix of mainly American, Canadian and Australian. From my observation everyone was very friendly and mingled well. Everything went very smoothly from airport pickup to airport departure. We had one minor hiccup with our baggage being misplaced at the end of our tour at the hotel and this was sorted quickly with very minimal fuss. Our cruise director Patricia was excellent. Nothing was ever too much trouble and made sure everything ran smoothly. The dining was spot on. Buffet breakfasts and lunch and five course sit down dinners with endless wine. Special thanks to Eldar (Eddie) and his offsider (I'm so sorry can't remember your name) they were always very attentive, polite and great fun. Our cabin was always very well maintained by Aulia who was friendly and always greeted us by name with a smile. The ports and shore excursions were well thought out. A map with clearly marked points of interest were always handed out with a complimentary bottle of water. We did an optional tour to Rothenburg and special thanks to Renee (Renate) as she organised a tasting tour as we walked through the main street. This was for me a real highlight to try foods from the local businesses. A great touch. All in all we had a great cruising experience. We have cruised before on the ocean but this was our first river cruise experience and would absolutely do another. Read Less
Ship was beautiful, cabins were huge very spacious the bathroom was a very generous size with a amazing shower.
The dining on board is the best dinning experience i have ever had the waiting staff very polite and knowledgeable ... Read More
Ship was beautiful, cabins were huge very spacious the bathroom was a very generous size with a amazing shower.
The dining on board is the best dinning experience i have ever had the waiting staff very polite and knowledgeable regarding wines and dishes being served.
The port of call were fantastic great choice with very knowledgeable guides who were happy to answer any questions along the way.
Seeing the Eiffel Tower illuminated and sparkling was a great start to our cruise.
Service we received from every single staff,crew member was brilliant.
The whole experience from start to finish was seamless
Entertainment was very low key which was fine, nice music playing in the background each evening.
I would 110% recommend a Scenic Cruise to friend and family i can guarantee you will be blown away.
Looking forward to planning another one and i know Scenic will be my first choice every time. Read Less
In general, cruises have never appealed to us. However, the idea of being on a river and getting off each day to explore and the specific itinerary convinced us to give it a try. We were not disappointed. In fact, we had a trip beyond our ... Read More
In general, cruises have never appealed to us. However, the idea of being on a river and getting off each day to explore and the specific itinerary convinced us to give it a try. We were not disappointed. In fact, we had a trip beyond our expectations.
The local guides were superb! We enjoyed their in-depth knowledge as well as the personal anecdotes they shared. The ship's crew was an unanticipated surprise. Although we expected them to be polite and helpful, this crew was totally engaged with the passengers and really provided an extra level of service and comfort.
Being somewhat of a neatnik and a planner, I was delighted by the level of organization and all the little things that were planned for and thought of by the crew and Viking.
Last but not least at all, France and all the excursions were fantastic! We went non-stop and enjoyed a mix of included excursions, purchased excursions and exploring on our own. The food was excellent and provided a lot of choice for all palates.
I'm already thinking about where my Viking River Cruise will take me. Read Less
We were attracted to the design of the ship, especially the drop down balcony area. On receiving the brochure it was difficult to choose a trip because they all looked so good. The Rhone/ Soane are was chosen for the scenery, the history ... Read More
We were attracted to the design of the ship, especially the drop down balcony area. On receiving the brochure it was difficult to choose a trip because they all looked so good. The Rhone/ Soane are was chosen for the scenery, the history and the culture of the area. Wine growing was an advantage. Each day the morning walking trip with expert guides was included in the cost and well worth doing. Group 1 was always available for a slower paced walk. Walking poles and umbrellas are provided in cabins but we did not need them. After lunch on board, excellent with all dietary needs catered for, there was always an optional extra trip you could pay for. We took part in 3 and felt they were worth it but one other trip friends took part in was felt to be less interesting than the description given implied. As part of Emerald Active there were bikes on board to borrow at each stop and the tow paths were very well maintained. Regular cyclists were able to do 15-30k rides with a guide meeting the boat at the next port on the afternoon we cruised.
Entertainment was limited but enjoyable with a pianist during meals, We were lucky in having Darren as our cruise director. He was very efficient with all the arrangements and was great entertainment being a natural comic. We also had a French singer one night and music to listen or dance to in late evening though the dance area was very small. The swimming pool was small but for exercise at the flick of a switch you could swim as long as you wished without moving forward. This are became a cinema after 9pm most nights and had it's own bar and tea station. We didn't use the gym but a massage went down well after all the walking. there was a hairdresser and beautician also. With a small library and table games as well as the putting green and walking track on deck there really was not enough time to try every thing available.
Our cabin was compact as the bed was huge and we had 2 chairs and a table in the balcony area plenty of cupboard and drawer space and the best shower I've seen even in a hotel. There was a safe and TV but no kettle but tea etc was always available with good choice. It was plenty big enough as your balcony are is inside the electric drop down windows. This was an advantage over conventional doors as no chance of things rolling or blowing into the river. Our cabin attendant was very good.
All the staff were friendly, efficient and professional often multi tasking. We enjoyed the informality of talking to the Captain and other staff. Catering was excellent with plenty of choice and drinks included with meals. Don't worry if you have food intolerance as they mark up a menu for you so you can make informed choices. Overall the trip was great and the ship brand newbut we did find Emerald inflexible to deal with prior to the trip and as we booked 18 months ahead some details had changed but we were not informed.We will book again though. Read Less
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