3 Viking River Viking Helgi Europe - All Cruise Reviews

My wife and I have recently returned from our Russia river cruise via Viking. We actually sailed on a combination of canals, rivers, and lakes from Moscow to St Petersburg on the Viking Helgi. The Helgi is larger than the ... Read More
My wife and I have recently returned from our Russia river cruise via Viking. We actually sailed on a combination of canals, rivers, and lakes from Moscow to St Petersburg on the Viking Helgi. The Helgi is larger than the “longboats” we’ve sailed in previously on the Danube. Though longer, they have two decks, while the Russian river boats have four. The Russian boats are certified to sail in the ocean—but not too far from land. This was good, because some of the lakes we crossed were enormous. There are quite a few of these boats, all based on the same design. The Helgi was built in 1984. Viking acquired five of the boats in 2008 and completely stripped the interiors and rebuilt them to reflect the standards that Viking passengers are familiar with. The difference between the Viking ships and the other Russian boats is very apparent. The boats frequently dock side by side—you often have to walk through one or even two boats to get to yours, especially in the larger cities. There’s a dramatic difference when first walking through a Russian boat then onto ours. The Russian boats are quite drab. All in all she’s a beautiful and comfortable ship. One thing Viking didn’t do when they redid the interiors was improve the sound baffling between the cabins. There doesn’t seem to be much. We could clearly hear conversations and other sounds (use your imagination) from the cabins next to us. The first night aboard, exhausted from long flights, I had to politely ask our neighbor if he’d please turn down his TV, which he quickly did. Otherwise our veranda cabin was great with a very comfortable bed, pillows, linens, etc. The bath was small, but worked well and had a surprising amount of storage. The food was wonderful—every meal was great. Dinner each night featured a menu of different Russian specialities: appetizer, entree, and dessert. There are more “continental” offerings on each menu as well. The chef onboard the Helgi is German—Herr Benjamin. Though not identified as such, many meals have featured German specialties (krautwirkel—cabbage rolls; pflaumen kuchen—plum cake). They and the Russian offerings have been delicious. We looked forward to every meal. Viking offers wine or beer with lunch and dinner with no charge. I was a bit skeptical when it was clear that the only wine and beer was going to be Russian. The beer is actually excellent. Wine (red and white) is surprisingly good too, although not as good as Washington state, Oregon, or California wines typically are. Servers aboard don’t like to see empty glasses; they keep refilling your glass until you ask them to stop. Service aboard was absolutely amazing. Our cabin was kept spotless. But most impressive was the service in the bars and dining room. Servers are a combination of Russian and Filipino. They were all very friendly and extremely attentive. By the third day aboard every server was calling us by name. We’re not special, they seemed to know every passenger’s name. It was pretty amazing. Our fellow passengers were all very much like us—all older, and frequent travelers. We started with three days in Moscow. We were surprised at how much we liked the city. It was safe, extremely clean, with parks and extensive gardens everywhere. We had a pretty hectic schedule for the three days we were there, but were grateful we saw as much as we did. The next five days we cruised making stops at various cities, towns, and UNESCO heritage sites. The Russian countryside we cruised by was beautiful. We selected this cruise because of the number of days it offered in St Petersburg—three with the boat as our hotel. We opted to add the extra two days in a hotel offered through a Viking post cruise extension. Even five days wasn’t enough for this beautiful city. We’d highly recommend this cruise. All in all Viking did everything extremely well. The only thing that could have been better was the transfer from our post cruise extension hotel to the airport. Ours from the hotel was a little... um ... undersupported. We were told to be in the lobby at 2:45 am where a Viking rep would meet us. We’re there on time (5 couples) and waited. There was a Viking shuttle out front but no one in it. When someone checked again after 10 minutes the driver was sitting in it and indicated he was waiting for us. So we all boarded and he drove us to the airport and dropped us with our luggage in front of a terminal. We stood and looked at each other wondering where to go. Someone asked the driver; he pointed in a direction, shut the door and drove off. We all struggled a bit to figure out where exactly we should go to check bags etc., but eventually figured it out and helped each other out each step as we learned something useful. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
This is our 2nd cruise with Viking. We had taken the Grand European Cruise the summer before and fell in "love" with the way Viking does cruises and does business. The cabins are awesome, we always get a veranda so we can sip ... Read More
This is our 2nd cruise with Viking. We had taken the Grand European Cruise the summer before and fell in "love" with the way Viking does cruises and does business. The cabins are awesome, we always get a veranda so we can sip wine and watch the world go by - so much fun. The cabins are well appointed. The food is fabulous and the choices are just right. The ability to choose which trips outside of the cruise - every day was just so nice and the things we could do were so educational and culturally appropriate for Russia. We learned so much - more than you could ever learn in a book, you have to live it. The entertainment was fun on board and on the excursions!!!! Oh....And the service was so nice, our cabin was always neat and clean and the staff was ALWAYS very attentive to our needs. We fell in love with Russia and St. Petersburg in particular. We stayed there a few days in advance of the cruise and someday we hope to return. We would love to return on another cruise in Russia and maybe we will. There is still a lot of the Viking World to explore and return trips will have to wait until we do some more of the "Viking World." The one thing we would re-do is take the advice and do the "Special" tour of the Hermitage - it is 8 hours. We did the regular tour - 4 hours, and were disappointed that we could not stay longer. You could visit there for years and not see all of the Hermitage. We also like the fact that there are NO children on board. We are adults and prefer the company of like minded adults for culture, education, and cruising in no smoking and no gambling. IF we wanted to do that we would go on a cheap ocean cruise with another company. We like Viking on both the Helgi and Baldur River Boats. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
We just returned from Waterways of the Tzars with Viking and although the trip was enjoyable there were several problems with the cruise. The boats in Russia are not nearly as nice as the Longships Vikings uses in Europe. They need to be ... Read More
We just returned from Waterways of the Tzars with Viking and although the trip was enjoyable there were several problems with the cruise. The boats in Russia are not nearly as nice as the Longships Vikings uses in Europe. They need to be updated and reconfigured. The public spaces are tiny and bar area are so small that they cant hold everyone during lectures and briefings. The outside common area on the back on the boat is allowed for smoking, that is to say they can smoke anywhere outside so non smokers really could not enjoy the back of the boat...which was a shame because we had incredible weather. Viking should rope a particular area off or allow smoking on the outside of the side of the ships or better yet say no smoking at all! There is really no place to exercise or walk and while you do walk on the excursions it isn't enough for people who are fit. The food was great and as always the crew does there best to keep you happy. We did notice that most of the servers where much younger than on other Viking cruises and while they worked hard the service was not up to what you experience in Europe. Communicating with some was nearly impossible. Wine and beer choices were limited mostly to Russia even with the Silver package. And we were told that some beer would be available on tap, this was not the case. Again, just little things that start to add up when you are on a cruise for two weeks. The Russian escorts were incredible and really made the tours and excursions interesting. On board entertainment was wonderful we really enjoyed Anthony and Joanna's music. A special should out to Lubov our stewardess, she was UNBELIEVABLE. Also enjoyed getting to know Calvin and Tina at the back bar. It is very easy to use the Metro in St Petersburg and Moscow so don't be afraid to explore the big cities on your own. The maps on board show you how and we had no problems. The Metro is clean and safe. Be aware that the Hermitage is warm and crowded. One couple from our cruises was pickpocketed there. This cruise could have been outstanding but unfortunately the boat and some of the service was not what we had expected from Viking. WE will carefully decided whether to continue to cruise with Viking or begin to explore other lines. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
Viking Helgi Ratings
Category Editor Member
Rates 3.0 3.4

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