We've been on one other river cruise (France) and loved it so much we were a little hesitant that this 14 day cruise might not be as nice. We shouldn't have worried. The ship was wonderful, the itinerary was wonderful and the ... Read More
We've been on one other river cruise (France) and loved it so much we were a little hesitant that this 14 day cruise might not be as nice. We shouldn't have worried. The ship was wonderful, the itinerary was wonderful and the entire Viking staff was amazing. Bottom line, we LOVED both the cruise line (Viking) and the itinerary (Grand European).
We arrived at Budapest airport in the afternoon of boarding day and were greeted (along with a lot of other people) by representatives of various river cruise lines. After check-in, we boarded a bus and set off for the dock. It was a little "iffy" at first as the crew on the dock didn't seem to realize that there was a bus full of people arriving from the airport (and neither did the front desk staff as it took several minutes for someone to appear). After that, everything was absolutely seamless.
We were shown to our cabin and then told a light lunch was being served. Of course it was the first day and everyone was exploring the ship and meeting each other, but the atmosphere was still calm and relaxed. The next day we awoke, ate breakfast and prepared for our included excursion. This was our only opportunity to explore Budapest but it gave us an overview and we were able to explore a little more, close to the boat, on our own in the afternoon. That evening, after dinner, the captain pulled away from the dock and gave us a brief cruise past the lights of Budapest. Beautiful!
During the remainder of our cruise we enjoyed good weather which helped but what we really enjoyed was the itinerary itself -- absolutely wonderful. I never dreamed that a major river (the Danube) would be narrow enough to enjoy the passing countryside, almost at arm's length. The cities we visited were amazing and the included tours, for the most part were very enjoyable and gave you a good overview of the cities.
The food and drinks on board were quite good and, while the serving sizes may be smaller than some are used to on cruise ships, I found it refreshing not to have to leave food on my plate because there was too much. Plus, if you wanted more, you received it! The buffets at breakfast and lunch were great and I loved the fact that you had two choices for dining. We loved, loved our bar staff and enjoyed many evenings just sitting and chatting with them.
We found everyone on the Ingvi Viking staff to be warm and welcoming and we really appreciated the fact that the crew did not try to call everyone by name. Instead, they chatted and bantered with the guests, answered questions, pointed out sights and just acted more like friends. In fact, the entire atmosphere of the ship was one of relaxed friendship. You could tell that from the Captain on down, everyone looked out for each other and, if someone needed help, another crew member was right there. I have never been on a cruise, river or sea, where there was such an obvious feeling of camaraderie.
If I could cruise again with the same ship, the same crew, the same itinerary and the same weather, I'd be standing on the dock, suitcase in hand right now. As it is, I now count Viking as one of my favorite, if not my favorite, cruise lines. (Of course, I've decided that I love river cruising!!) Read Less