My husband and I, together with two friends, were on the Elegant Elbe cruise in June, on the very new Viking Astrild. We were VERY lucky that the river level cooperated throughout our tour. The Elbe was very low during the weeks prior to ... Read More
My husband and I, together with two friends, were on the Elegant Elbe cruise in June, on the very new Viking Astrild. We were VERY lucky that the river level cooperated throughout our tour. The Elbe was very low during the weeks prior to our cruise, as well as the weeks after (low enough that Viking has had to cancel some July sailings). But thanks to some rain we were able to sail without major issues (however we had to use umbrellas during some of our shore excursions). We could not board the ship in Melnik as provided in the original itinerary, but instead boarded the ship in Decin, about half an hour away. Not a problem, as Decin has its own interesting sights to see. The Czech river authorities released some water from a nearby lock before our cruise to give the ship a "push."
As mentioned the Viking Astrild is new (I believe we were on its 7th sailing) so everything was in great condition. The food was very good; I can't recall having any bad food, although I didn't particularly enjoy the German dinner since I don't really care for German food.
The crew members were excellent, always smiling and eager to please. The program director Viktoria Muller was very well organized and made sure that everything went like clockwork.
Onboard entertainment was fun and the lectures were educational.
Shore excursions were mostly good, given the limited time available at each port. Every city has plenty to see, and there is no way that the local guides can show you everything. This was especially true in Dresden. If you want to see more, a river cruise is not for you. But for just the highlights, Viking's shore excursions are adequate. In some cities they also offer options for those who are less mobile. They even gave people the option to skip the tour in Potsdam and go directly to Berlin if that was their preference (though I don't recommend that since Potsdam is a "must see").
For the first shore excursion, we had the option of going either to Litomerice (beer tasting) or the Terezin concentration camp. I went to Terezin and found it very sobering and educational. I spoke to several people who went to Litomerice; they were not impressed. Not much to see in the town, and the beer tasting was nothing to write home about.
The passengers on average were in their 60s-70s, but there were a few young people traveling with their parents. My husband and I met a number of very nice people who became frequent breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner companions.
I was on the 2-week Rhine / Danube cruise last year and that is definitely more scenic than the Elbe, as well as very busy with other river traffic. I don't recall seeing other cruise ships on the Elbe other than the Astrild's sister ship, not counting the boats which just do day trips. There was never another ship docked beside ours.
For the friends who were traveling with us, this was their first-ever river cruise. They found it "delightful" and were extremely pleased with the experience. Read Less