31 Viking River Viking Atla River Cruise Reviews

NOTE: Our cruise started in Basel, Switzerland and TERMINATED in Amsterdam, Netherlands My wife and I booked this cruise, our fourth river boat cruise and first with Viking, pursuant to an offer we could not refuse. Overall, we were NOT ... Read More
NOTE: Our cruise started in Basel, Switzerland and TERMINATED in Amsterdam, Netherlands My wife and I booked this cruise, our fourth river boat cruise and first with Viking, pursuant to an offer we could not refuse. Overall, we were NOT disappointed. Since this was our fourth river boat cruise, I have a considerable basis for comparison. Based on previous experience with two other river cruise companies, I can highly recommend Viking. A river boat cruise is vastly different from an ocean cruise. River boats transport approximately 200 passengers. Ocean cruise ships now transport as many as 5 or 6,000 passengers. The entire experience is very different. River boat cruising is intimate and personal. Ocean cruising is impersonal and being part of a herd. River boats allow you to get to meet and know many or even most of your fellow passengers. This is simply not possible on most of today's monster ocean cruise ships. On the other hand, the monster cruise ships offer Broadway style entertainment of varying quality and casinos. River boats do not. The Ship and Accommodations The Viking Atla is a fairly new ship. I believe it was around 6 months old when we boarded her on December 20. The ship is clean, beautiful, and nicely laid out. It even provides an elevator for those of use who have difficulty with the stairs. The dining and "lounge" (where briefings and entertainment were provided) areas were spacious and comfortable. The upper deck offers two small putting greens and, unfortunately*, a jogging track. The staterooms were very spacious especially compared with some ships of competing river cruise companies. The bathroom was well designed with a shower large enough to allow movement. If you have ever been on an older river boat, you know what I mean! Our stateroom was equipped with a modern, LARGE, flat screen TV (see comments under entertainment). The bed was comfortable, but the pillows were MUSHY and no firm ones were available. We did have ONE significant problem with our stateroom and understand that other passengers experienced a similar issue. There was something wrong with the stateroom thermostat from the beginning of the cruise all the way through. Regardless of the temperature programmed on the device, the temperature in the room consistently dropped to 64-65 degrees F (about 18 degrees C). This is too cold for comfort; especially when you just come out of the shower. We reported this problem and the staff, both hotel and ship crew, did try to remedy the problem. The ship's engineer investigated the problem twice and reported that the thermostat's programmable ship was likely defective. He did not have a replacement onboard but he said that the issue would be addressed either in Amsterdam or when the ship was docked for the Winter. * "Unfortunately because some drunk was jogging at Midnight, directly over our heads! The Crew and Service Everyone aboard the Viking Atla were very dedicated to true customer service, although we found our cruise director to be a bit abrupt. We understand that he was not originally scheduled for this cruise. Perhaps he wanted to be with his family Christmas week and was not a happy camper. Perhaps. The crew is divided into sailing staff and hotel personnel. The Captain was VERY personable and approachable, as were all of his officers and sailors. The hotel staff, headed by Michael Schmidt, were wonderful. They were friendly and helpful, or at least tried to be helpful, regardless of the situation or time of day. The dining room staff were terrific. As a gluten free passenger, I can testify to the care and special attention given to my dietary needs. I do need to point out one individual for special mention because she seemed to be everywhere whenever we needed ANYTHING. Her name is Agnes. Technically, I believe she was assigned to bar duties, but I truly found her trying to help us wherever we were and whatever we needed! Dining One of the reasons you go on vacation is to avoid cooking for a while. Ocean cruises are (in)famous for feeding you 24/7. River boat cruises are different in this respect, too. The Atla offered two styles of dining; informal upstairs and formal in the dining room (not formal in the clothing sense). Breakfast aboard the Atla was excellent. The omelet chef was a whiz and made the omelets with very little oil. Breakfast choices were quite varied, but there was no gluten free cereal for me. Something I hope that Viking will change in the future as more and more people discover their sensitivity to gluten. Lunches were good, but not spectacular. My wife and I were spoiled by the creativity, especially in making soups, by another river boat company. Again, the crew attended to my special dietary needs (there were at least two other gluten free passengers onboard) with gluten free bread and pasta, as well as gluten free beer. Dinners were excellent, although somewhat lacking in creativity and imagination. In their defense, when you cook for large groups, you cannot make foods with sharp, spicy, or highly unusual spice palates. I eat a lot of fish and was pleased that the Atla offered a different specialty fish every evening including halibut, in addition to the salmon filet that was always available (and which they made in accordance with my lemon and caper request). Sadly, the fish was very overdone one evening. Thin filets cook very quickly and are easily overdone. One evening, lobster and filet steak were offered. River boat cruises offer all you can drink house wine or beer during meals. Ironically, if you order either outside of meal times, you are charged for the beverages. Entertainment This is the one area of this cruise that was disappointing, especially when compared with the other two river boat companies we have tried. In fact, one of the reasons we chose Viking for this cruise was our observation of a cooking demonstration on another Viking ship that we were alongside of on a different river boat company's ship! Most evenings had no entertainment other than the mediocre onboard musician. Local musicians were brought onboard at one port. They provided an excellent piano plus violin program, but I really do not recall much else other than a sort-of German language lesson from the cruise director. Other boats that we have been on offered local beer and wine explanations and tastings, history discussions, several local musicians at different ports of call. As noted earlier, we witnessed a cooking demonstration on another Viking cruise along side of us! Most cruises, ocean and river, offer a crew show that is usually extremely entertaining. The closest that the Atla came to this was a brief "joke" about mixing a drink. In the stateroom, there was a very large, modern, flat screen TV. BUT, the viewing choices were severely limited and NO programming schedules were available. Other companies provide American sitcoms and programming schedules. Viking sponsors the "Downton Abbey" series to which my wife and I are now addicted. Even the availability of this show was limited to only 6 or 7 episodes of the third season but omitted the season finale. I realize that you do not spend a lot of time in your stateroom, but why provide a nice TV if you are not going to offer something decent to watch? Ports of Call I can honestly say that I enjoyed all ports of call on this cruise. The Rhine, of course, was a major highway throughout the history of the area. The only disappointment was Cologne Germany because we were there on Christmas day and everything was closed! We were disappointed that neither the cruise nor the before trip extension included even a walking tour of Basel Switzerland, the port of embarkation. But the precruise stay in Lucerne Switzerland was wonderful. At the terminus of the cruise, Amsterdam Netherlands is NOT to be missed! Note on Transfers My wife and I took advantage of the precruise offer of an extra two nights in Lucerne Switzerland. Since we booked our hotel stay at the WONDERFUL Radisson Blu in Lucerne with Viking, Viking handled our transfers and transportation to Basel, the actual port of embarkation for the cruise. As note above, we were disappointed that no time was allotted for even a walking or driving tour of Basel. What was worse was the timing of departure from Lucerne that placed the bus in the WORST of the Friday rush hour. The last thing you want to do when on vacation is to sit in rush hour traffic! Had the bus left 2 hours earlier (around 2PM, comfortably after lunch, instead of 4PM), we could have at least had a driving tour through Basel instead of sitting in heavy traffic.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
After spending two nights in Amsterdam, as a Viking add-on, we cruised the Rhine to Basel. The Atla has just been launched earlier that year. It as a bright, spacious, friendly ship. The small size, compared to ships that carry thousands, ... Read More
After spending two nights in Amsterdam, as a Viking add-on, we cruised the Rhine to Basel. The Atla has just been launched earlier that year. It as a bright, spacious, friendly ship. The small size, compared to ships that carry thousands, was a big plus. Cabin, with a veranda, was spacious and well appointed with plenty of closet and drawer space. Toiletries and service were first rate. Weather cooperated - mid 40's in December, so veranda came in handy on sunny cruising days. Food was varied and tasty. Wine and beer flowed copiously during dinner and lunch. Dining room service was at times a bit slow, as the staff was limited in size. Cruise Director was very knowledgeable, as was the entire staff. Included excursions were interesting and informative. The Holiday markets were quite fun with some incredible lighting displays. Lots of cobblestone walking, so bring real comfy shoes/boots. Water bottles and umbrellas (when needed) handed out when disembarking on tours. Viking transfers from Airport to hotel where flawless. Staff stayed with us at Basel airport until we were all checked in. Highly recommend Viking !! Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
We would give this cruise mixed reviews. By far, the best aspect of the week was our tour director, Marianne. She was friendly, knowledgeable, energetic and extremely helpful in all regards. Flights/connections- Our port of entry was ... Read More
We would give this cruise mixed reviews. By far, the best aspect of the week was our tour director, Marianne. She was friendly, knowledgeable, energetic and extremely helpful in all regards. Flights/connections- Our port of entry was Amsterdam. We arrived just in time for dinner so we had limited time to do a walking tour of Amsterdam...a must if you have never been there. We had Viking arrange our flights and we would have preferred to have arrived earlier so that we would have had more time to wander around the town. I realize that is difficult for them as they are busy doing the disembarkation/arrival process. Excursions- We felt that the extra excursions were overpriced for what they offered. The Alsasc wine tour provided very small tastings of about 4 wines. The cask room was interesting. Due to the time of year (November) we did not tour the actual vineyards. We were also very disappointed with the Black Forest excursion. The scenery and church that we toured were beautiful. We thought we were then going to a quaint village where they made cuckoo clocks. Instead, we were dumped at a major tourist trap on the side of the highway. A small corner of the store had a bench where a small demonstration of cuckoo clock making was described. The clocks, while beautiful, were pricy. Our biggest disappointment with the regular excursions was that they felt rushed. In particular, we were rushed in Heidelberg. Traffic was slow due to regular traffic congestion and road construction. The castle tour was interesting...not much to see, but interesting. We then had a long trip back down to the city due to the traffic congestion. Our tour guide was quiet during the bus ride. Once we got to town, we stood out in the cold weather while she gave a prolonged art history review of Heidelberg. Very interesting but could have easily be done while on the bus. When she finished, she informed us that we needed to be back to the bus in 45 minutes. None of us had eaten lunch and we were expected to eat and tour in 45 minutes time. We also had limited time in Strasbourg. After a lengthy tour of the church, we had limited time in what I felt was one of the most beautiful cities. Food- While the food was good, we felt that the food was far superior on the river cruise that we took with another company. The offerings for breakfast were exactly the same each day. I did like that they had a fish dish for supper and they were all expertly prepared. The German lunch buffet was also excellent. Room/Cabin- As the Atla is a new ship, the rooms were more than comfortable. As stated in another review, it would have been nice to have more options on the TV. As we were cruising in mid-November, it was too chilly to be on the top deck and we probably spent more time in our cabin and would have liked more options. Follow up- We completed the evaluation on board at the end of the week. One of the boxes I checked was that I would like a Viking representative to contact me. Well, that was 2 months ago and I have not been contacted. Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
The Viking Atla is a new river cruise ship, and we were with the third group to sail on it - on the "Rhine Getaway" from Amsterdam to Basel. The amenities, comfort, and design of the ship were beyond what we had imagined ... Read More
The Viking Atla is a new river cruise ship, and we were with the third group to sail on it - on the "Rhine Getaway" from Amsterdam to Basel. The amenities, comfort, and design of the ship were beyond what we had imagined possible. The crew were wonderful and the service was excellent. Groups for excursions were kept relatively small, and there were many tours/ activities to choose from. They had some excellent lectures and classes on the ship, so those who did not want to explore land-based sites had things to do on the ship. The Rhine river gorge was just as beautiful as the photos we had seen - castles around every bend! We stayed in a Veranda Suite - so had a separate "living room" with a balcony, in addition to a very nice bedroom. The cruise had seemed rather expensive initially, but we found out that you get what you pay for, and were very satisfied that it was well worth it by trip's end. We would highly recommend this ship and this itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
Our first trip to Europe was designed to be a river cruise to help us get into the heart of Europe and away from the coastal cruise ship ports. We cruised the Rhine Getaway tour with Viking, doing the trip downstream, departing from Basel ... Read More
Our first trip to Europe was designed to be a river cruise to help us get into the heart of Europe and away from the coastal cruise ship ports. We cruised the Rhine Getaway tour with Viking, doing the trip downstream, departing from Basel and terminating in Amsterdam. We booked the 3 day pre-cruise tour and spent those days in Lucerne, Switzerland which was delightful and begs to be repeated. Our suite on the boat was cozy (some would say small) and quite comfortable and due to our early booking, was right in the middle of the boat-only a few steps to be where we wanted in any direction. The Aquavit Terrace ended up being our favorite spot for all meals. We would skip supper in the main dining room and enjoy what Viking calls 'bar snacks'. These were delightful and well-prepared items on a small menu and the weather allowed us to sit and enjoy the scenery and the beautiful weather. On our last day of cruising in the Netherlands, we were blessed with a beautiful sunset, calm waters and a warm evening that, I'm sorry to say, no one else on the boat saw or cared to investigate! The tours and excursions each day were great, the food and beverage service was outstanding, the crew was very professional and we mark this as one of our best-ever vacations! Thank you Viking River Cruises! Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
This was our 3rd cruise on Viking. As with the other 2, it was amazing. I cannot say enough positive things about the accommodations, the crew, the food, the service and everything else. Since we started taking Viking cruises in 2007 we ... Read More
This was our 3rd cruise on Viking. As with the other 2, it was amazing. I cannot say enough positive things about the accommodations, the crew, the food, the service and everything else. Since we started taking Viking cruises in 2007 we have had no desire to go back on the big cruise ships. With Viking, you get more personalized service and really get to know your fellow passengers and the crew. We have wanted to take the Tulips & Windmills for several years, but the timing was never right. I was so thrilled that we were finally able to do it in March. The shore tours in all the ports were wonderful. Seeing the windmills in Kiinderdyke and learning their history was very special as my heritage is part Dutch and my maiden name is Miller. The tulips at the garden in Amsterdam were beyond beautiful. There are no words to describe them. They must be seen to be appreciated. We are so hooked on Viking that we have a 4th cruise booked for later this year. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
Viking Atla Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.6
Dining 4.0 4.5
Entertainment 3.0 4.0
Public Rooms 5.0 4.6
Fitness Recreation 1.0 3.3
Family 1.0 3.3
Shore Excursion 4.0 4.5
Enrichment 4.0 4.2
Service 4.0 4.8
Value For Money 3.0 4.2
Rates 4.0 5.0

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