In many reviews, people tend to focus on the negative - the squeaky wheel gets greased. In this review I will also point out some negatives. However, overall I am very glad to have taken this cruise on the Danube (Viking Atla from Budapest ... Read More
In many reviews, people tend to focus on the negative - the squeaky wheel gets greased. In this review I will also point out some negatives. However, overall I am very glad to have taken this cruise on the Danube (Viking Atla from Budapest to Nuremberg, May 31 to June 7, 2015). It was a great time to go. The weather was excellent, warm and sunny most days.
• The ship is very comfortable and pleasantly decorated. Lots of outdoor space for watching the sights go by as we cruised, with seating in many places. A walking track on the upper deck as well as a shuffleboard court and putting green (neither of which I saw anybody use, though). Coffee, tea, water, seltzer available 24/7.
• The staff was great, very attentive and welcoming. That makes the experience much more valuable. Program director Mario, concierge Cristina, front desk staff, maître de, executive chef, wait staff all are customer oriented. It greatly enhanced the week.
• The cruise includes port excursions, and offers optional (extra money) ones as well. Some included excursions began with a bus tour, followed by a walking tour. I would have preferred less bus and more walking. Although driving by a landmark does affordable one the opportunity to see it, I think it’s a much fuller experience to actually get out and look around. I would prefer seeing fewer sites, but in more depth.
• The optional excursions do offer this opportunity. However, I was disappointed that one I wanted, a tour of the Doheny Street Synagogue in Budapest, was not offered on my cruise (although it was listed in the print literature I received from Viking). Neither was the scheduled stop in Roth for people who wanted additional time to visit Nuremberg. We did take the optional World War II tour in Nuremberg, which was excellent.
• The length of time at each port is limited. In some case this is fine (for example, in the town of Melk, Austria, where there is one sight to see). But in larger cities (Budapest, Vienna) it is not enough.
• The air conditioning in the dining room malfunctioned and it took Viking too long to fix – 2 days. Of course this can happen anywhere anytime, but the key is be prepared to fix it quickly.
• The Internet was slow – but Viking is very up front about this, clearly explaining this may happen. It was also down for over 12 hours on two separate days.
• The on board lectures were interesting. History of Germany, history of canals and locks (the cruise passes through 27 locks) were both very informative.
• The last full day there was no access to the sun deck (necessary due to numerous low bridges.) this severely limits outdoor space.
• Viking provided transfers from and to airport. At the end of the cruise I was pleasantly surprised to be met by a Viking representative at the airport on our way home; I had expected just to be dropped off. This was a nice ending touch.
In retrospect, we should have gone to Budapest, where the cruise began, a couple of days early to truly experience the city. I would suggest people extend the cruise either before or after (or both) to spend more time in the city. Read Less