60 Viking River Viking Odin River Cruise Reviews

Being that this was our first cruise I wasn't sure what to expect. I can say that that the entire crew went well beyond my wildest dreams. They were so friendly and and made sure all of our needs were met. From being met when we ... Read More
Being that this was our first cruise I wasn't sure what to expect. I can say that that the entire crew went well beyond my wildest dreams. They were so friendly and and made sure all of our needs were met. From being met when we arrived, Sasa made sure we had everything we need during the entire trip, to the Program Director Claudia who kept things fun and interesting. Plenty of on board entertainment along with the great side excursions. The food was fantastic. I consider the Odin a 5 star hotel and a 5 Star restaurant. The scenery along the river can not be beat, at on point it was castle after castle. We left with many great memories and and new friends. Thanks to the Viking Cruise Line. I might say that that this is great for all ages and I would definitely go with Viking again! Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
We have traveled a good part of Europe and have toyed with the idea of a river cruise. With the Cities of Lights cruise it gave us the opportunity to extend both our front end stay in Paris and our final stay in Prague and experience ... Read More
We have traveled a good part of Europe and have toyed with the idea of a river cruise. With the Cities of Lights cruise it gave us the opportunity to extend both our front end stay in Paris and our final stay in Prague and experience river cruising on the Moselle, Rhine and Mein. To say that the cruise exceeded our expectations would be an understatement. Our experience on the Viking Odin was fantastic. The entire crew, amenities, food and cabins were first class. We wouldn't change a thing. Excursions via motor coach in Luxembourg and Germany were well planned, educational and inspiring. Our tour guides in each stop were exceptional. Their knowledge, humor and patience made each excursion something to look forward to. Traveling through the many locks along the rivers was an unexpected thrill and gave us the opportunity to watch the expertise of our captain navigate the Odin through the channels that was inches wides than our ship. We are already planning our next river cruise. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
This was our first river cruise with Viking, and it couldn't have been a better experience. We were met at the airport by our Viking representative and taken to our hotel in Paris. From that point on we were taken care of ... Read More
This was our first river cruise with Viking, and it couldn't have been a better experience. We were met at the airport by our Viking representative and taken to our hotel in Paris. From that point on we were taken care of completely. At all times at our hotels in Paris and Prague, there was a Viking representative available to assist with booking tours or just giving directions. The Odin was very nice - probably the best cruise ship we have experienced - and the crew was friendly and attentive, and the meals were excellent. This was also our first trip to Europe, and we really enjoyed experiencing all of the Medieval castles and small towns along the rivers. If I had to find something to complain about, it would be not having enough time in each port. If you go on the available tour in each port (which were excellent), then you wouldn't have enough time to explore the village completely. I would give up one of the ports to allow more time for the others. However, we enjoyed it so much that we booked another one as soon as we got home for next year. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
From pick up at the airport in Prague until drop-off at the airport in Paris, we were treated like royalty. The crew is excellent, from room stewards to captain. I was worried there would be too much down time while on the boat. Just the ... Read More
From pick up at the airport in Prague until drop-off at the airport in Paris, we were treated like royalty. The crew is excellent, from room stewards to captain. I was worried there would be too much down time while on the boat. Just the opposite. There was always an activity to join if you wished. Ship accommodations were five star. Bus drivers were friendly, and took passenger safety very seriously. Tours were well managed and guides were very knowledgeable. If I were to make changes to our itenarary, it would be to NOT do as many extra excursions. We would have enjoyed just wandering the locations on our own after the tours if we had planned more free time for ourselves. Our cruise director, Claudia, was a gem. So thoughtful yet fun. Can't believe the skill of the Captain taking us under bridges at a very high water mark. Michael, the Hotel Manager, made every sailing moment a fun experience. Four thumbs ups from this pair of Viking Cruisers! Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
Some friends asked if we would join them on this cruise and we had been wanting to try one. The cruise was a lot more relaxed than being on a large ship. It was nice being just steps away from the lounge and dining areas rather than ... Read More
Some friends asked if we would join them on this cruise and we had been wanting to try one. The cruise was a lot more relaxed than being on a large ship. It was nice being just steps away from the lounge and dining areas rather than traversing a lengthy ship. The service and staff was exceptional. The food was good, the free wine and beer with dinner was great, and the entertainment was adequate (usually a singer/pianist in the lounge). The cabin and bath were spacious enough. The cruise director (?) was hilarious and very informative regarding the history of the ports we were to visit. The only disappointment was missing an entire port due to a weather-related issue (not being able to get under a bridge, thus losing a day's itinerary. Although I did learn to make towel animals that day!) It would have been nice to receive some kind of recompense. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
Embarkation and disembarkation were a breeze (though be sure to buy airfare or transfers directly through Viking because they make it absolutely painless). The ship was so comfortable, and the staff were top-notch and professional. It ... Read More
Embarkation and disembarkation were a breeze (though be sure to buy airfare or transfers directly through Viking because they make it absolutely painless). The ship was so comfortable, and the staff were top-notch and professional. It was so relaxing. The food was PHENOMENAL. The ports of call were wonderful, and it was very nice to not have to pay for each and every excursion (as compared to ocean cruises which my hubby and I frequently go on). The only downside is that my hubby and I are very active but the boat doesn't have a gym. It only has a walking track so I would walk 2-5 miles per day, but it's hardly the normal exercise I get at the gym. The cabin was very comfortable; it was very nice to be able to leave the balcony door open at night and get a cool river breeze. Lastly, the other passengers were delightful. We had a wonderful time and would definitely go again. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
This was my wife and my first river cruise, as it was for my in-laws and their two friends who traveled along with us. It will definitely not be our last cruise with Viking! My wife and I are both in our early to mid 50's and have ... Read More
This was my wife and my first river cruise, as it was for my in-laws and their two friends who traveled along with us. It will definitely not be our last cruise with Viking! My wife and I are both in our early to mid 50's and have reasonably extensive travel experience. Our traveling companions were in their mid to late 70's. There is simply not a bad thing to say about the entire trip. It started with the agent at Viking who was friendly and very attentive at helping with all of our booking. We had lots of questions since this was our first cruise. It could not have been any more of a smooth and easy process. We opted for a two-day pre-cruise extension in Budapest. We met our connection easily at the airport who took us to the hotel. The hotel itself (Corinthia) was spectacular as was the service by all of the staff. There was a desk manned by Viking in the lobby during our stay to answer any questions. Boarding the boat was hassle free. The room was clean and more than adequate for our needs. For the next 8 days we enjoyed non-stop continuous superb service by every single member of the crew. The food was excellent and we can’t say enough good things about our service staff. They felt like family by the end of the cruise. The cruise director was humorous, friendly, and always helpful. All of the side excursion were incredibly well planned, enjoyable, and with highly professional and interesting guides. As we had read in advance, navigating this part of the Danube river is highly dependent on the recent rain activity. Water levels either too high or too low can cause problems. This was the case for one small portion of our trip which required a slight deviation from our itinerary. That said, as we had also read before our trip, Viking and the crew did a spectacular job of making accommodations. Our party, and I sense almost universally the remainder of the passengers, were more than satisfied with the arrangements. We are already planning our next Viking cruise and would leave tomorrow if we could. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
We loved our Viking cruise down the Danube the year prior. We have always wanted to see Prague and Paris so the City of Lights cruise from Bamberg to Trier was wonderful as expected. Viking surely has the right formula for accommodating ... Read More
We loved our Viking cruise down the Danube the year prior. We have always wanted to see Prague and Paris so the City of Lights cruise from Bamberg to Trier was wonderful as expected. Viking surely has the right formula for accommodating everyone onboard. The onboard entertainment is excellent. The crew is always on their A game and very friendly. For us, it is the right number of travelers on a ship. Everything is well orchestrated when disembarking on tours so that no group is too large. The few days pre and post cruise in Prague and Paris rounded out the vacation. Our only disappointment was the bus ride from Prague to Bamberg and then from Luxembourg City to Paris. While very comfortable Viking busses, the rides are too long and uneventful and cannot compare to our time on the ship. In the future, we will choose more wisely where there is only sailing involved. We will definitely try one of the Viking Ocean cruises and I am sure another river cruise. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
Enjoyed the Cities of Light River Cruise sandwiched between stays in Prague and Paris. The Captain, Hotel Manager, Program Director and staff were attentive for the whole trip. We had 100 of 180 passenger capacity so the service was ... Read More
Enjoyed the Cities of Light River Cruise sandwiched between stays in Prague and Paris. The Captain, Hotel Manager, Program Director and staff were attentive for the whole trip. We had 100 of 180 passenger capacity so the service was favorable. Excursions included and optional ones selected were run efficiently and provided a topline visit to each port of call. Our cabin was on the 3rd floor with a veranda balcony that we nice to have with warm weather to enjoy the time sailing on the Main-Danube Canal, Main, Rhine and Mosel Rivers. Due to high water (I guess), we were not able to be on the top deck for three days at the start of the cruise, a little disappointing but understand for safety reasons. The Program Director ran a tight program and we felt our needs were taken care of while being comfortable the entire trip. Only one excursion in Paris, Montmarte Hill, was one hour late due to the bus arriving late. The others were on-time. We would return for another river cruise in the future. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
Just completed the Viking River Cruise "Paris to Prague" which includes a river cruise from Trier, Germany to Bamberg, Germany. The Paris to Trier part and the Bamberg to Prague part of the trip are by bus. Trier to Bamberg is ... Read More
Just completed the Viking River Cruise "Paris to Prague" which includes a river cruise from Trier, Germany to Bamberg, Germany. The Paris to Trier part and the Bamberg to Prague part of the trip are by bus. Trier to Bamberg is along portions of the Moselle, Rhine, and Main rivers. My wife and I booked what we thought would be the vacation of a lifetime. On the Viking ship Odin, we booked a two room suite with small balcony looking forward to amazing views and luxury service. The entire trip was good - but not great. The pros: Nice ship, wonderful service by the Viking employees, good food, Paris and Prague were amazing. Loved the scenery along the Moselle and Rhine. The optional excursion to the charming town of "Rothenburg ob de Tauber" was the best of the cities/towns on the cruise portion. The cons: Way too much use of busses along the river cruise portion, the top "sundeck" was closed for the entire back half of the trip because of low bridges (that's the place you want to be with a glass of wine and taking in the scenery), some of the docking areas were is industrial areas far from the cities/towns centers (ergo the overuse of busses). Viking needs to be more honest with their advertising...this is not a "river cruise", it is a "river and land vacation" (and I'm not talking about the Paris to Trier and the Bamberg to Prague portions)...they use busses at nearly every cruise stop and some of the bus trips are hours long. What my wife and I dreamed would be a vacation of a lifetime turned into a bit of a disappointment...good, but certainly not great. If we wanted to to spend hours and hours on busses, we wouldn't have booked a Viking Cruise. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
This was our first river cruise and my first time in Europe. We sailed on the longship Odin and was extremely pleased. This was nothing like a large cruise ship (which I have sailed on many many times - NCL, Carnival, Royal Caribbean). At ... Read More
This was our first river cruise and my first time in Europe. We sailed on the longship Odin and was extremely pleased. This was nothing like a large cruise ship (which I have sailed on many many times - NCL, Carnival, Royal Caribbean). At first I was a little leery thinking there wouldn't be anything to do on the ship. Well...I am VERY thankful there wasn't big time shows, casinos, pools, etc. This was a beautiful journey where the destination is the prize. We spent so much time sightseeing at so many different ports that we were always tired by the time we got back to the ship. Because there were only 165 people on board, it was very intimate and we got to know so many of the other passengers. The meals on the ship were very tasty and plentiful. I had a nice glass of wine with dinner at no extra charge, which was very nice. The crew went above and beyond for every single passenger, and I noticed how they all help each other out. They seemed to be like a large traveling family themselves. We had a cabin with a veranda, which was very nice, but as it turned out, we didn't really need a veranda because we would go to the top deck to be with all our "new" friends and watch the scenery go by as we travelled to the next port. The shore excursions were perfect and very informative with the Audio Vox that everyone used to hear the tour guides. I can't think of a single thing that I didn't like and I would highly recommend a Viking River Cruise - well worth the money. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
Everything on this cruise was fantastic. The logistics were on the mark 100%; Viking has their act together. From the time they greet you to when you leave at the airport they are there to help you with everything. We extended our stay ... Read More
Everything on this cruise was fantastic. The logistics were on the mark 100%; Viking has their act together. From the time they greet you to when you leave at the airport they are there to help you with everything. We extended our stay in Paris and when they dropped us off at the airport we were greeted by a Viking rep who helped us get to the check in area and the security area. Everything was on time, smooth and no problems. You use the same bus, have the same driver the entire cruise, great setup. They make sure everything goes as planned and you always know where you are supposed to be and when you are supposed to be there. I almost felt like we were on a private yacht with the excellent service; they make sure you get off the ship ok, and always greet you with a treat when you get back on board. The food was great and the cabins are nice. I have told everyone they need to go on a river cruise and to use Viking. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
we read a lot of reviews and also have friends that have gone on Viking cruises and we have never heard of anything negative. Their website does a great job of showing you the rooms and the whole ship in and out. They also show all the ... Read More
we read a lot of reviews and also have friends that have gone on Viking cruises and we have never heard of anything negative. Their website does a great job of showing you the rooms and the whole ship in and out. They also show all the ports you will visit and what to expect. Everything when you are on the ship meets all expectations. The food and service is fantastic. You are greeted every day by the crew with a smile. In the restaurant where you have no time expectations is well presented and the chef will accommodate any dietary needs. The rooms are kept beyond clean and serviced twice a day. Coffee is ready on all floors in the morning to take to your room before breakfast. At breakfast there is a chef to make your personal omelette and eggs, bacon and cheese. Lunch and dinner include wine and beer Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
We took the cruise to The City of Lights- Paris to Prague. This was a wonderful experience for us, so much so that we are booked on another Viking river cruise this May. The people that worked in the ship were wonderfull, the service was ... Read More
We took the cruise to The City of Lights- Paris to Prague. This was a wonderful experience for us, so much so that we are booked on another Viking river cruise this May. The people that worked in the ship were wonderfull, the service was excellent and the food was exceptional. Our cruise director was incredibly attentive to our needs and always making sure that we were comfortable on the tours. The Viking River Cruise was beyond our expectations. We flew from Miami to Paris where a driver from the Viking staff was waiting for us at the airport to take us to our hotel. The hotel in Paris was at least a four star hotel. The next day we were treated to a very nice buffet breakfast prior to being taken, by private coach, to a mini tour of Paris which included the Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower. Late afternoon we returned to the hotel and had free time to explore on our own. A Viking staff member was always available to assist us. The following day we were picked up by luxury coach buses to take us to Luxembourg where we boarded the majestic Viking ship. Cruising through the River along the Moselle, Rhine and Main Rivers while seating on a comfortable couch in front of the huge glass windows sipping a cup of hot chocolate, was amazing! It was as if I was in a fairy tail, the once my mother use to read to me when I was a little girl. I have to say that the Heidelberg Castle in Germany was definitely a dream come true. To complete my fairy tale was the glow of Prague at Night. Taking this cruise in December truly brought the Christmas spirit to life. Each quaint small towns in between had Christmas markets all through the center of town making this trip even more magical. I will be taking this tour again this Crhistmas but this time, I will include my siblings. I suggest you do too. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
This was our first River Cruise. I am so thankful we picked Viking Odin. They were wonderful, from the pickup at the airport, checking into the Paris hotel, transportation to Trier for the River Cruise, checking into the hotel in Prague ... Read More
This was our first River Cruise. I am so thankful we picked Viking Odin. They were wonderful, from the pickup at the airport, checking into the Paris hotel, transportation to Trier for the River Cruise, checking into the hotel in Prague and then finally dropping us off at the airport. The Viking crew were wonderful. We could not say enough about the staff and how much they seemed to care that we were enjoying ourselves. Our cabin was spotless, Nicoletta was lovely and always made sure we were comfortable. Radim the Program Director was amazing. That guy never stopped - he really knows how to keep everything running smoothly and obviously loves his job. The dining was always spot on, everyone worked so well together and they all did a great job of bringing you things before you even thought you needed it. We were very happy with the food choices at each meal. The wines changed as we went through each region, the beers were excellent also. Unless you are really into a certain drink, the spirit package is really not necessary. I think the excursions were handled very well, we had three different groups most of the time, leisure and two faster but not so fast you couldn't take the photos you would like. There was always some free time at each of the ports we stopped at. We are in our 50's and had a great time - we look forward to another trip on Viking River Cruises. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
Cities of Light Viking Cruise on Main-Danube Canal, Rhine, & Moselle Rivers November 2015 ~~~ Prague, Czech Republic – Friday, November 20 ~~~ Today has been our second day here in Prague, Czech Republic, the starting point ... Read More
Cities of Light Viking Cruise on Main-Danube Canal, Rhine, & Moselle Rivers November 2015 ~~~ Prague, Czech Republic – Friday, November 20 ~~~ Today has been our second day here in Prague, Czech Republic, the starting point for our “Cities of Light” Viking River Cruise. Tomorrow (Saturday) we will journey by bus to Nürnberg, Germany, for our day’s tour there, and then on to Bamberg, Germany, where our riverboat, the Viking Odin, is docked on the River Main. The weather today was COLD with a slight wind and light rain, making our city tour of Prague a real challenge. We went by bus from the Hilton Hotel to the Prague Castle complex where we departed the bus for a walking tour of the Castle grounds. Passing through the Castle’s entrance, guarded by two diligent formal guards in their guard houses, our first stop was in a gigantic court yard, ringed with portions of the Castle now used for government offices. Then it was through another passageway to the St. Vitus Cathedral, an enormous Gothic structure, soaring into the sky; it dates back to the early 1400s. We were able to enter the Cathedral and observe the lofty, vaulted ceiling and admire the beautiful stained glass windows. It is hard to imagine the size of this magnificent church. Then we passed through yet another archway into another courtyard to the side of St. Vitus Cathedral with government buildings on the other sides; it is here that on one of the balconies the new president of the Czech Republic appeared when inaugurated. As I mentioned, the weather was quite cold, making my wearing of a hooded sweatshirt beneath a leather jacket very appropriate, especially having the hood over my head and ears. Back to the bus, we then proceeded through New Town, down to the Charles Bridge, an ancient structure spanning the River Vltava. Our walk to the base of the Bridge and our stroll across this historic structure was most interesting as well as crowded with the surprisingly many tourists. Across the bridge, we entered the Old Town and proceeded to the Square where is located the famous Astronomical Clock housed in its ancient tower. The hourly performances of the Clock are well viewed by the hundreds of tourists crowding into the Square. It was here that Jim and I decided to depart our tour and stop at the same restaurant at which we had dined twice on our previous visit to Prague in July. The tour continued through the Jewish Quarter before coming to an end at around 1 PM. Due to the cold weather we sat at an inside table this time and enjoyed goulash - Prague style, along with a glass of red wine for me, of course. After some difficulty in locating an available taxi, we returned to the Hilton Hotel and enjoyed another afternoon at leisure, napping and trying to make up for the lost sleep in transit from Los Angeles on Thursday and Friday. Once again we flew KLM from LAX to Amsterdam, experiencing some moderately rough air over the Labrador Sea between Canada and Greenland. Again, I thought KLM’s service was excellent and the flight turned out to be enjoyable, despite my failure to achieve much sleep during the 9+ hour flight. The flight was an hour late leaving LAX, making our 2 hour layover in Amsterdam before our flight on to Prague all that much shorter. However, the 1-hour Prague flight went well and clouded skies and brisk temperatures greeted our arrival. Viking personnel greeted us upon exiting baggage claim and soon we were bused on to the Hilton Hotel, arriving around 3 o'clock local time. Hotel check in was speedy and efficient, thanks to Viking, and we were soon in our room 1074 that overlooks the interior atrium in this modern hotel. Then it was time for sleep! Later Friday evening we again walked across from the Hilton to the nearby restaurant where we had twice dined in July. This time the Dvur Restaurant was quite full, although being a rather small place, and the ONE waiter was quite busy. Our meals were quite good, as usual, and afterwards we fought the slight sprinkles returning to the Hilton. It was good to be back in our warm room and continue with our sleep. Of course, with the difference in time zones, we awoke several times during the night. Perhaps after tonight’s rest we will be back to normal with the 11-hour time change. Tonight we again plan on returning to the Dvur Restaurant for dinner; perhaps it won’t be as crowded as last night. ~~~ Nürnberg, Germany – Saturday, November 21 ~~~ The bus ride from Prague to Nürnberg took over 4 hours along nice expressways in the Czech Republic and the autobahn, of course, in Germany. Our only stop was a rest stop just short of the Czech/Germany border where we were given the opportunity to use the bathrooms and grab a quick coffee – AND to spend the rest of the Czech money we were carrying; it is not acceptable anywhere out of the Czech Republic. Our arrival in Nürnberg was just before lunch so we sought out the recommended restaurant by our tour guide to enjoy the wonderful “Nürnberg Sausages”; the standard order was 6 sausages along with sauerkraut but I increased my order to 8, and thoroughly enjoyed every single one of them. For those of you not familiar with the Nürnberg sausages, they are smaller, finger-size sausages, grilled before serving, and DELICIOUS! Of course, a couple of pints of lager accompanied my lunch. Our first stop was at the Zeppelin Parade Grounds where Hitler staged all of his colossal events, and crowds in excess of 250,000 attended one such event. All that remains now are the stands and the podium; the columns forming the background behind the stands which were destroyed by the Nürnbergers in their attempt at “de-Nazi-fication”. The large stone swastika behind the podium was blown up by American troops immediately following their capture of Nürnberg. Also the ringing podiums along the sides and rear of the field are still there; these were used as toilets for the masses attending Hitler’s events. Aboard the bus, we next drove INTO the center of the Congress Hall – still unfinished; it was designed to hold 50,000 under a dome but its completion was delayed by the beginning of World War II, due to shortage of funds. Also as part of this gigantic hall is a permanent museum displaying much of the Nazi era documents and photos, called the “Document Center.” We did not have the time to tour this museum although I had done so on a tour during my previous visit to Nürnberg in 2007. Then it was a drive by of the famous courthouse where the Allies held the Nürnberg Trials of Nazi war criminals; we did not have the time to enter the courthouse; this I had also visited in 2007. With this abbreviated tour of Nürnberg finished, we next headed toward the town of Bamberg where our riverboat, the Viking Odin, was docked. By then it was getting dark as we boarded our home for the next 7 nights. With the terrorism events in Paris, there had been many cancelations of our cruise and I had inquired about the possibility of an upgrade in cabin to a Veranda Suite. Long story short, we WERE so upgraded and are happily enjoying the spaciousness of Veranda Suite 328. This suite is roughly twice the size of a regular Veranda Stateroom, has three separate rooms – living room, bedroom and a big bath, and has two large flat screen TVs. A bottle of champagne greeted our entrance to the room as well as fresh flowers and live orchid plants. There is a standard veranda off the living room as well as a French balcony off the bedroom. We were similarly upgraded to one of these Veranda Suites on our “Pathway to Eastern Europe” river cruise back in 2014, that time without solicitation. So we are understandably happy with our accommodation. After boarding the riverboat in Bamberg and settling into our room, we later enjoyed our first dinner aboard before falling into bed – exhausted; it had been a busy day. ~~~ Bamberg, Germany – Sunday, November 22 ~~~ Our riverboat, the Viking Odin, remained docked in Bamberg overnight and our first evening aboard was highlighted by a special “Welcome Aboard” reception and dinner, hosted by the Captain and his staff. My menu choice was a cut of Chateaux Briand, served medium rare: delicious! Then it was off to bed in our luxurious Veranda Suite. Breakfast aboard is always a delight on Viking cruises; there is an “egg station” in the center of the dining room where custom-made omelets are prepared – my choice, along with a selection of bacon, sausages, potatoes, and grilled mushrooms. Breads consist of the standard toasts as well as delicious pastries, croissants, etc. Fresh fruit – honeydew, cantaloupe, pineapple, and watermelon - is also offered. It one can’t fill up on breakfast, then there is something wrong! At 8:45 AM we loaded aboard buses for the short trip into downtown Bamberg for our city tour that lasted until 11:45 PM. As mentioned before, the temperature was COLD and we dressed accordingly, with earmuffs, scarves, and gloves. Off the bus, we were then led on a walking tour of some of the city’s highlights, including the old Town Hall built in the center of a river, and the cathedral and palace high on a hill overlooking the town. It was with no regret that our time outside soon ended when we re-boarded our bus for transfer back to the warmth of our riverboat. Once back on board, there was a mandatory Safety Drill in the Lounge, requiring each passenger to don his/her life jacket, and be identified; that was it! I was expecting a bit more. Lunch aboard is most enjoyable, as wine and beer are complimentary for both lunch and dinner. The dining room is ringed with large floor-to-ceiling windows that provide a panoramic view of the river. This is a beautiful boat! During the afternoon I attended a lecture in the Lounge on the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal that was most interesting in explaining its long-term plans and eventual completion in the late 90’s. Charlemagne first envisioned such a canal way back in history, which would provide a waterway connecting the North Sea with the Black Sea. Two of our river cruises have completed such a transit; Budapest to Amsterdam back in 2007, and then Budapest to Bucharest in 2014. Dinner that evening was as usual, enjoyable and delicious. Tomorrow we are at dock in Würzburg. ~~~ Würzburg, Germany – Monday, November 23 ~~~ Cruising overnight down the Main River, our riverboat arrived early in the morning of Monday, November 23, at Würzburg, Germany, where we were scheduled for a full-day tour to the nearby town of Rothenburg, starting at 9:15 AM. So, after our usual big breakfast onboard starting at 7 AM, we loaded on buses for the hour-long ride to this historic, ancient walled city of Rothenburg. Arriving in Rothenburg, we exited our buses required to park just outside the city’s walls; our entrance into the city was through gates in the wall. It was another walking tour and our route lead us up one of the main streets to the Green Market Square. We then observed the old Town Hall, prominent on the Square as well as many of the classically designed old buildings. Reminiscent of buildings in Amsterdam, there was a hoist located at the very top center of the building, used to hoist up furniture, etc., into the interior rooms, necessary due to the very narrow staircases inside. Lunch was included on this “optional” tour and we soon proceeded down another main street to a very nice restaurant where our group was seated in a separate dining room. Soup was the first course, followed by a generous serving of bratwurst, sauerkraut, and mashed potatoes. Desert was a cheesecake drizzled with a berry sauce. Wine or beer was also included; my choice, of course, was the nice dry white wine of the region. Free time was then given for shopping – NOT me! I found a convenient coffee shop near our meeting spot and grabbed a window seat from which I could observe the comings and goings of the many tourists. After two glasses of Müller Thurgau white wine, a local offering, I was ready to rejoin our group for the continuation of our tour. Next on our agenda was a visit to the Bishop’s Residenz Palace in downtown Würzburg. Having visited this magnificent “palace” on our previous trip in 2007, I knew what to expect, but even at that; I was still amazed at the splendor of this place. The first attraction is the grand staircase winding up to the upper level, beneath spectacular painted ceilings. The immensity of this ceiling and the task of painting the murals there is really mind-blowing! Then we entered the main reception hall, equally resplendent with statue-decorated walls and ceiling. The next room was a “waiting room” for guests to see the Bishop, and was splendidly decorated as well. Each additional room seemed to outdo the previous one, leading to the most ornate of the rooms; the “mirror room”. Covered with mirrors edged in gold with engraved “paintings”, this room was ablaze with reflections from the ceilings and walls. A truly spectacular scene. With the sun now down, our group finally exited the Bishop’s Residenz and reboarded our buses for the short drive back to our riverboat. It had been a very full and interesting day. ~~~ Wertheim (Heidelberg) - Tuesday, November 24 ~~~ The stop in Wertheim was primarily to disembark and embark buses for our full-day tour to Heidelberg, a journey of about one hour and forty-five minutes. The weather was again COLD with evidence of snow flurries on the fields and in the trees. It was rather beautiful to observe – from the warmth of our bus! Arriving in Heidelberg, our first site of interest was the old Castle, high on the hill above the city, which we reached by a steep street with many switchbacks. Disembarking the bus, we had a walk from the parking lot to the entrance of the Castle, already crowded with tour groups such as ours. It amazes me how the local guides succeed in keeping their groups together. Our guide was a middle-aged redheaded woman named Katja and she turned out to be an excellent, albeit humorous, guide. She must have had some theatrical background to perform for us the way she did. Her favorite color was obviously red because of her attire with a blazing red coat. Very easy to find in a crowd! We paused at a gate near the entrance while Katja told the story of it, a present to a princess by some king. Then it was into the Castle itself, passing over a dry moat and through the gated entrance, equipped with large wooden doors. Above could be seen an apparatus to dump boiling oil on unwelcome entrants. Inside the courtyard of the Castle, we were informed about each of the separate buildings ringing it, some partially in ruins, others in good condition. The Castle was built in many stages that could be observed due to the differences in design, construction and condition. Through an archway we found ourselves on a large terrace overlooking the city of Heidelberg and the River Neckar with the famous bridge crossing it. From this bridge is an excellent view of the Castle, looming just above. Back in the courtyard we were then led down into a room containing a gigantic wine barrel, and we are talking BIG! We were told that when full, it could contain somewhere around 50,000 gallons of wine! We climbed a stairway to the top of this barrel, walked over its top and down another stairway to the bottom. It was B I G! Thus completing our Castle tour, we walked back to the bus for transit on down into the city for our included lunch. After getting off the bus we had a fair walk down the main street, now crowded with preparations for their “Christmas Market”, and everywhere you looked there were signs of Christmas: lights, wreaths, trees, ornaments, etc. Passing the cathedral, marking the city center, we soon came to our lunch spot, the Hotel zum Ritter. Inside we were ushered through several dining rooms until reaching the one assigned to our group. Seated at tables for 6, we were joined by students from Heidelberg University, an idea from Viking that turned out to be quite a success. Drinks were included so I had a glass of good white wine (and also that of Jim who doesn’t drink.) A very nice salad started lunch followed by a delicious entrée of a rolled pork loin served with wonderful gravy, accompanied by vegetables. Dessert was an ice cream cookie drenched with a berry sauce. Needless to say, it was a most enjoyable lunch! Our conversations with the two girl students seated at our table proved to be a good experience. We chatted about their studies, their progress, their background, and many other items. They in turn inquired as to our own travels and lives, families, etc. Their names were Marie (23) and Becky (22); really fine young women. After lunch we were given “free time” with which to traverse the rest of this very busy pedestrian street, lined with shops, restaurants and coffee shops, a shopping “Mecca”. Instead, I found a nice coffee shop, planted myself at the window where I could observe the comings and goings along the street, and enjoyed two glasses of a local white wine. Then it was time to return to our bus and travel back to the riverboat. It had been another full day. ~~~ Mainz and Rüdesheim, Germany - Wednesday, November 25 ~~~ Today we made our first stop on the Rhine River at Mainz, Germany, near the confluence with the Main River, and our riverboat docked just adjacent to the modern city hall which is located right on the River. We then just walked off the riverboat for our short walking tour of the city, our first stop being at the Gutenberg Museum. Having been here before, we still enjoyed seeing the ancient copies of the Bible, first printed by Gutenberg and stored in a vault. We then viewed an informative demonstration of Gutenberg’s printing process including a discussion of the type sets and page construction; very rudimentary but revolutionary at the time. Then it was over to the big cathedral of the city; we entered the very dark chambers and were surprised at the austerity of this cathedral. At one time, there were NO windows in this cathedral, so it must have been like a dungeon! Interesting never the less, and with it the conclusion of our short tour of Mainz. We then walked back to our riverboat, just in time for lunch aboard, as we departed Mainz going down the River Main towards our next stop, Rüdesheim. Docking in Rüdesheim for the night, I chose to take an optional wine tasting tour in the late afternoon that turned out to be a sensational experience. Our small group of around 20 departed from the dock in a bus, going up, up and up the hill to the Schloss Johannesburg that housed the winery. Located high above the city of Rüdesheim, we first ventured to a lookout point from which we viewed the City below and surrounding vineyards in the fading light. Back in a courtyard of this classic castle (“schloss”) we were given our first wine to taste, a nice dry Riesling. It turns out that ALL wines made in this winery were from the Riesling grape. We were told to hang on to our glasses as we entered and made our way down old, worn stairs into the wine cellar below the Schloss. A true wine “cellar,” the floors were covered in a small gravel, the walls and domed ceiling were of stone, and the lighting was by means of hundreds of candles. Very romantic! We then received our second wine sample, also another Riesling, and VERY good! Proceeding through the wine cellar until reaching its end, we were given yet another wine sample. But we were not yet to the end of this wine cellar for we entered and descended yet another set of worn stairs in candlelight, down to the very bottom where we enjoyed yet another wine sample. Inside a caged room in this deepest of the wine cellar we observed bottles of wine dating back hundreds and hundreds of years. The oldest bottle was once desired for purchase of a rich Russian who offered $1 million, but was refused. Back up from the deepest cellar, we gathered around in the main cellar where two more wine samples were offered – all very good. Then it was time to go; back up the stairs to the courtyard and then back to our waiting bus. By then it was dark and the spectacular sunset we had observed earlier had gone. Our bus trip down the mountain, back to the dock and our riverboat, was in total darkness even though it was only a little after 6 PM. I had relinquished and purchased a bottle of wine before leaving the winery; for 7.20 Euros, it was one of the least expensive. It was the absolute best wine tasting I have ever experienced in all of my travels. ~~~ Cochem, Germany - Thursday, November 26 ~~~ After remaining at dock overnight in Rüdesheim, this morning we continued cruising down the Rhine River viewing the most scenic portion filled with ancient castles high on the hills overlooking the River along with hillsides covered in vineyards. From the Lounge I observed the beauty of the passing scenery through the floor-to-ceiling windows. Diana, the Program Director, gave a running narrative from the bridge. We passed by the Lorelei Rock, famous in myth for luring sailors to their watery death in this narrowest part of the Rhine where the water is over 80 feet deep. The “Middle Rhine” is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As we departed the most scenic part of our cruise and entered the city of Koblenz, it was time for lunch in the dining room, just below the Lounge. Soon the riverboat made a sharp turn to the left, past an impressive monument the “German Corner”, and entered the Moselle River. After only a short time, we entered the first of many locks, this time lifting the boat UP several meters, as we would be cruising UP the Moselle River as far as Trier. At the village of Alken, the Viking Odin briefly docked long enough for us to disembark and load aboard buses for the drive on to Cochem and our included tour of this lovely town, dominated by the Reichsburg Castle on a hill overlooking the town. Originally built nearly 1,000 years ago, with its mighty rectangular keep and many small towers, it has been destroyed and rebuilt several times, the last being in the 19th century. Today it is owned by the town of Cochem and maintained as a tourist attraction. Following a brief walking tour through the narrow, cobblestoned streets of Cochem, we loaded onto smaller minivans for the ride up to the Castle where we enjoyed a surprisingly lengthy and complete tour, visiting many of the recently restored rooms, loaded with antique furnishings. From the outside balcony of one such room, the view down to the Moselle River and the town of Cochem was absolutely breath taking. Our return by minivan back down the hill into the town dropped us into the Market Square where the Christmas Markets are in full swing. We then had to cross the nearby bridge and walk a fair distance to reach the location where our riverboat had docked. The many locks on the Moselle River are quite time-consuming and were the reason for our earlier disembarkation and bus ride up TO the town of Cochem while our riverboat transited the river and locks. In fact, the riverboat was 30 minutes late in arriving in Cochem for our 6:00 PM embarkation; knowing this lead us to seek out a warm café for hot chocolate while waiting for the arrival of the Viking Odin. Back aboard our riverboat, there was only a short time to dress for the Captain’s Reception at 7:00 PM and Farewell Dinner at 7:30 PM, preceded by the usual pre-dinner talk by the Program Director, Diana. I had brought along my blazer and tie for this special dinner - our Thanksgiving Dinner, complete with roast turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie for dessert! Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! It was the end of a most enjoyable, interesting and FULL day aboard the Viking Odin. ~~~ Bernkasel and Trier, Germany - Friday, November 27 ~~~ After enjoying our full breakfast aboard the Viking Odin, complete with custom-made omelet, crispy bacon, sautéed mushrooms, fresh-squeezed orange juice, croissant, fresh-brewed coffee and fresh fruit bowl, we departed our boat docked at Bernkasel and began our optional walking tour of the city, also including a wine-tasting stop. We strolled along the narrow cobble-stoned streets lined with half-timbered houses in this 700-year-old town, coming into the market square with the renaissance town hall and splendid town gate. As we have seen in other German towns, the Christmas Markets are already in full operation, with their many shops and cafes. Then we crossed a bridge to reach the Vinothek in Kues that was the location of our wine tasting. Very different from any other wine-tastings I have experienced, we were lead into a hall and given glasses and directed downstairs to a lower room with a series of chilled barrels each containing a dozen or so numbered bottles which corresponded to detailed descriptions along the walls. We were told to select a bottle of our choice and pour our own sample, and to repeat this process as many times and with as many different bottles as we wanted. Long story short, I sampled only one wine, a dry white Riesling, which I found to be quite good; at this time of the late morning, getting wasted on wine was not something I desired. Then it was back to the riverboat in time for our lunch aboard. Departing the dock during lunchtime, the Viking Odin cruised farther up the Moselle River, through this exquisite valley whose hillsides are covered with countless vineyards. This was my first time on the Moselle River and it was lovely. Again because of the time-consuming passage through the many locks, we docked briefly in early afternoon at Wintrich to disembark onto buses for the further drive on up to the city of Trier; we would later reboard our riverboat in Trier after our tour. Trier is Germany’s oldest city with much Roman influence: a gigantic Roman amphitheater and the massive Roman baths. There are also the wonderfully preserved Roman city gates called Porta Nigra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Also of note are the Trier Cathedral and the Church of Our Lady. Then we were given free time for shopping; the Christmas Markets were in full operation. I chose to find a nice WARM café in which to sit and enjoy a glass or two of wine. Back on the bus, it was time to return to our riverboat that turned out not to be so easy, because of delays it had encountered transiting the many locks on the River. In fact, we journeyed back DOWN the River to a rendezvous location where our riverboat was at dock, waiting on us. By now it was dark and we all had to walk from the buses along the riverbanks some 300 yards - in the dark - to the riverboat! Fortunately, our way was lit with flashlights held by crew members, every few feet along the way, wishing us welcome back aboard; a VERY thoughtful thing to happen! With everyone back aboard, the Viking Odin then cruised on up the river to its dock for the night in Trier. Of course, once back onboard in our nice WARM riverboat, it was soon time for our Captain’s Final Dinner, preceded as usual by the Program Director’s talk at 6:45 PM in which Diana told us of the planned happenings for the following day when we would be disembarking for the last time and traveling on to Luxembourg. The most unpleasant task of the entire cruise was now at hand: packing! We were to have our luggage in the hallway by 7 AM with our departure scheduled for 8 AM. Breakfast would begin earlier at 6:30 AM so it would be one last time for a fabulous omelet! ~~~ Luxembourg - Saturday, November 28 ~~~ The dining room was more crowded than usual, opening at 6:30 AM, as all passengers had to have their luggage placed in the hallway by 7 AM and many wanted one last big breakfast onboard before the long day ahead. Of course, I had my usual custom omelet along with crisp bacon, sautéed mushrooms, and grapefruit juice and coffee. It was with some regret that we would be saying goodbye to the wonderful crew who had served us so well for the past week; Mihai and Ivan were two of our favorite servers. Gratuities for the crew collectively is suggested at 12 Euros per day per passenger, but as usual we chose to increase our tip by $20 to our room steward, Lubka, and to the two servers mentioned above. The Program Director, Diana, received 2 Euros per day per passenger for each of the 12 days of the cruise; we each gave her $30 – she was excellent, one of the best we have had. (For reference, the Euro is now valued at slightly more than the dollar.) By the time we had finished our breakfast and returned to our room to retrieve our carry-ons for the 1 hour, 45 minute bus ride on to Luxembourg, all the luggage had been collected from the hallway and Lubka, our room steward, had already changed our twin beds back into a king bed, with new linens, in preparation for the new passengers who would be embarking later in the day. This crew had worked incredibly hard and at the same time was always pleasant and friendly. Viking does a good job with their training and crew selection. All 143 passengers had been separated into 4 colors: red, orange, green and blue, with approximately a quarter of the passengers in each group - about 35, each color corresponded to a bus to which we were assigned. Our color was green, and we departed the Viking Odin for the last time promptly at 8:15 AM. Earlier it had been raining but at that time it had thankfully ceased. We were soon speeding along an autobahn on our way to Luxembourg. Our first stop was at the American Cemetery in Luxembourg to pay homage to the many Americans who lost their lives during the Battle of the Bulge in World War II. Each of our buses had a local guide and ours was very good and informative. Inside the gate are large monuments displaying maps showing details about the Battle of the Bulge, overlooking the sea of white marble crosses amid lush green grass, a most amazing and moving sight. Most of the crosses were inscribed with the name of the fallen soldier while several were left unmarked for the unknown. The most prominent cross belonged to George C. Patton who, surprisingly, was NOT killed during the Battle but later in an accident involving a motorcycle. His stated desire had been to be buried at this location. Then it was back on our bus for the short drive on into Luxembourg City for a city tour and lunch. Again with the same guide, we started out on our walking tour along the cobble-stoned narrow streets, many dating back to Roman days when the City was a crossroads. Today the City has both an upper part and a lower part along a river; our walk lead us to an overlook from which the lower City was laid out below. Then it was back along other streets lined with ancient buildings, leading to the main square all decked out for the Christmas Markets, as had been the case in so many previous cities. Although the skies were clear it was still very COLD and our choice for a lunch spot was on the Square, near the point where we were to meet following our free time. Seated comfortably at a window table, I started out with a glass of Riesling wine – of course! - while Jim went back out shopping. By the time he had returned, I was on my second glass of wine, and we ordered lunch, my menu choice being a Kitsch Lorraine which turned out to be VERY good! Regrettably we had to depart this warm café and join up with our group now beginning the long walk back to where our buses were located. By this time, walking had become a real effort for my tired, sore legs. Once back on our “green” bus we prepared for the long 4-hour drive on to Paris. Even on the modern super highways, this would be a lengthy ride with only one rest stop halfway along the way. The weather was clear and the scenery was hard to resist to our sleep tendency. We soon crossed the border into France with no fanfare or border check complications. The rest stop was at an immense truck stop for 30 minutes, time for the restrooms and a quick coffee or hot chocolate, then back on the bus. As we approached Paris, the scenery gave way to industrial buildings and the traffic became increasingly heavy. By the time we entered the City the traffic had deteriorated into a slow crawl, continuing all the way along the Champs-Élysées, past the Place de la Concorde and past the Arc de Triomphe, as far as to the Place de la Porte Maillot where we turned off to our hotel, Le Méridien Étoile. Contrary to previous expectations due to the Friday the 13th terrorism in Paris, the Champs-Élysées was brightly lit with Christmas lights and was VERY crowded with revelers on this early Saturday evening. Christmas Markets persisted all along our route. Finally at the hotel, parking was a problem but we were finally disembarked near the hotels entrance, our luggage to be collected and delivered direct to our rooms. Our room in the “modern” hotel, Le Méridien Étoile, was nice although not as nice as had been our room at the Hilton Prague; no coffee maker, for one thing. After a brief rest and collecting our luggage, we ventured out to find a place to have dinner, deciding on the Chez Clement at the corner near the Porte Maillot metro station entrance. Sitting by the window we got a good view of passers-by and enjoyed our steak dinner – very good but on the expensive side. Then it was back to our room for a well-anticipated night’s rest. Our room did face the street, which was good, although we got a lot of street noise during the night, which was NOT good. Tomorrow would be a busy day with our City tour. ~~~ Paris, France – Sunday, November 29 ~~~ As usual, a breakfast buffet is included with our hotel stay at Le Méridien Étoile but what was offered was far from what we had come to expect. Compared with that offered by the Hilton Hotel in Prague, and especially the breakfast offered aboard the Viking Odin, our Paris hotel’s breakfast was just “adequate.” Since this morning would be our only opportunity to enjoy breakfast here, tomorrow’s departure being very early – before the restaurant’s opening, we had to be satisfied with what we got. At least the croissants were good. Our half-day city tour departed at 9 AM, with the red, orange, green and blue groups each with their own bus and tour guide. It was again quite cold outside so we were dressed accordingly with sweaters, coats and earmuffs. The two main attractions on our tour were a visit to Notre Dame and a photo stop at the Eiffel Tower, but the bus tour covered quite a distance with views of other famous Paris sights. We again drove down the Champs-Élysées, around the Arc de Triomphe, and past the Place de la Concorde where a large Ferris wheel had been erected, and eventually we disembarked from our bus within an easy walk of Notre Dame. A lengthy line of tourists was already waiting entrance but we joined the line that did move rather rapidly. Being Sunday, mass was in progress inside Notre Dame, which added greatly to our visit. We were permitted to walk along the sides of this gigantic cathedral, right up to and past the transept. Photos were allowed but only without flash. To be inside this famed church and be privy to the mass being conducted was a rare treat for me. After a while inside, we exited and were given some free time that I used to seek out a nearby café for hot chocolate while Jim went shopping. His return was just in time for our return to where our bus was parked, and we then continued our drive. We drove past and through the Louvre, viewing the glass pyramid in the center, and then crossed the Seine River to the left bank where we passed by several institutions of learning, the Sorbonne for one. Then it was on to the Eiffel Tower where the bus parked for several minutes for us to get off and take photos from a prime viewing location. Contrary to our previous visit in 2010 when the base of the Tower was crowded with masses of tourists, the few people present on this day was remarkable, due to the Friday 13th terrorism events in Paris. Afterwards our bus proceeded around the Tower and crossed the bridge over the Seine River to the Place du Trocadéro with an impressive monument fronted by gardens and magnificent fountains. From there we finally returned to our hotel, just in time for lunch. Again we chose the Chez Clement to eat lunch, our menu choice being large bowls of French Onion Soup; we were not disappointed. It was still rather cool outside and the hot soup sure hit the spot. Then we returned back to our warm hotel room for a rest and a nap, deciding that we had seen enough of Paris. As it turned out, our decision was a good one because of the riots that broke out in the afternoon near the Place de la Concorde by groups urging actions by the 150 countries attending the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference - “COP 21” on global warming. Such protests had been forbidden after Friday 13th but these groups decided otherwise. Over 100 were arrested as a result. President Obama was one of the COP 21 attendees and speakers. Had we been out further sightseeing, we might have been right in the middle of the fracas. Later in the evening we again returned to Chez Clement one more time for our final dinner in Paris. Being a small comfortable restaurant, this place had become our favorite and our dinner this night was again very good and delicious. We then fought the chilling wind during the short walk back to the hotel where our final packing had to be done in preparation for the next day’s early departure for home. ~~~ Departure from Paris – Monday, November 30 ~~~ Our Air France flight 66 was scheduled at 10:50 AM from the Charles De Gaulle Airport that meant that our departure from the hotel would be around 6:30 AM. Being before the restaurant opened, Viking passengers were given a special room for a quickie breakfast consisting of coffee, juice and croissants. Our luggage was to be placed in the hallway in front of our door by 6 AM for collection by hotel staff, but when we were called to board our bus, first identifying our luggage, our luggage was not present; quickly Diana went back into the hotel to investigate and very soon our luggage appeared at bus side. Another of my many complaints about this hotel, Le Méridien Étoile. With all of us onboard, including our luggage, our bus departed for the Airport, a journey of about 45 minutes. Unlike our departure from Prague back in July, no Viking personnel assisted us at the Airport, and at first it was total confusion of where to go, as we were disembarked from the bus on the Arrival Level – NOT the Departure Level. Soon we discovered the elevator up to the Departure Level at Terminal 2L and, with the help of an Air France agent, finally found where we were to check in. The line for check in was still rather short and finally we were all checked in on our nonstop Air France flight to Los Angeles aboard their AirBus 380, the double-decker. Our seats were 31 L & K, the ones I had selected months earlier. Air France turned out to be disappointing in service as well as food quality for meals. With an all male crew and announcements made first in French and in broken English second, there was certainly a difference from the superb service experienced on our KLM flight. We were given a treat of an ice cream bar about halfway through the 11-hour flight, however. Breakfast service was only an hour before arrival in Los Angeles, and I never did get my requested coffee. At one point, Jim actually took our used breakfast trays back to the galley, tiring of the wait for them to be collected. Not a good flight! The 1:40 PM landing at LAX was exceptionally smooth with this gigantic airplane seemingly floating in for touch down. The wait to disembark the aircraft wasn’t too bad and soon all 500 of the passengers were streaming down the long, LONG walkway towards Passport Control in Bradley Terminal, where thousands of other passengers from other flights were packed, awaiting attention. We luckily found one of the shorter lines and were soon through this trying ordeal and on to baggage claim where our 2 pieces were quickly retrieved. Then it was through the exit to the outside and a short walk down to the SuperShuttle dispatcher. Shortly afterwards we were on our shuttle bound for Orange County and Corona del Mar – HOME! - finally arriving around 6 PM. The first order of business was to turn on the heater and then to bed! It had been a long, LONG day! Ron Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
We went cruising to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. Some of the things we experienced are: Very good food with the chef giving some demonstrations of special treats Very social environment. We were encouraged to meet with ... Read More
We went cruising to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. Some of the things we experienced are: Very good food with the chef giving some demonstrations of special treats Very social environment. We were encouraged to meet with other cruisers Great tours. We signed up for every extra tours. This meant that we were up at 6 am every day, eating breakfast at 7 and touring at 8 or 9. For our anniversary, we were given 2 bottles of sparkling wine. We arrived in Prague and stayed at the Prague Hilton. The hotel was decent. Walking tours were provided that evening and the next day. The third day we spent a long time on the bus touring Nuremberg and then arrived in Bamburg where we embarked. A lot of time was spent on buses. Buses can move between towns faster than the boat. Many days we were bused to a town farther down river and then met the boat. The German cities were great. Beautiful, informative, and fun. We were not impressed by the city Luxembourg but the visit to the WWII cemetery was moving. Then came the 5 hour bus ride to Paris. We stayed at the Le Meridian Etois. It is located near the Arc de Triumph. Debarkation was not as organized as it should have been. Our bus had to be changed in Luxembourg due to a mechanical problem. It took hours to get our luggage in the hotel. Some people didn't get their luggage until 2 am. The Paris tour the next day was fair. It was mostly by bus with a tour of the Notre Dame cathedral. We stopped for 15 minutes near the Eiffel Tower. Normally, you would leave the day after that. We extended our trip 2 days but not through Viking. I highly recommend that. Paris is a city that would take weeks to see. We were able to see more of Paris and do some shopping. We will return to Paris and now know what we would like to see. The computers were down at the hotel when we wanted to checkout. Since we paid for our extensions ourselves, that meant we gave them our credit card and had to let them apply charges later. They emailed the receipt. I didn't like that but there was nothing that could be done. One final thought about the cruise. The majority of the passengers are over 60 (as are we). Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
The cruise was spectacular. The entire staff was perfect. The tours were all interesting and really very well planned. We had time to see the points of interest and hear all the discussions about the history and local flavor. Weather ... Read More
The cruise was spectacular. The entire staff was perfect. The tours were all interesting and really very well planned. We had time to see the points of interest and hear all the discussions about the history and local flavor. Weather was a little bit of an issue and it means packing clothes that will work under a variety of situations. Make sure your shoes are comfortable and broken in since walking is a big part of the trip. We travelled with friends but certainly during the trip met many people that we interacted with on a daily basis. This was certainly part of the fun. Every evening there was an activity/event in the ballroom and always worth going. Our favorite was the glass blowing. Our room had a television but we didn't turn it on until the last day! The internet connection was the only downside of the entire trip. Slow and hard to access. This was not a big issue for us but there was certainly grumbling about it. The food was all excellent. The open dining worked well and you meet people along the way and certainly eat with friends old and new. Unlike some cruises the food is not non-stop. That actually worked well and kept the calories and eating in general in a more normal scope. You are certainly never hungry. We bought the bar special for the trip and really enjoyed the crowd that routinely went there in the evening. As a beer drinker I would have liked more options but it was more than adequate. Service was 5 star in all ways. We plan to go again and try a new route. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
My husband and I had been on previous cruises with Viking and had wonderful experiences and fond memories, so we were confident that it would be enjoyable on this one. Our cabin and steward were excellent and the food served was delicious! ... Read More
My husband and I had been on previous cruises with Viking and had wonderful experiences and fond memories, so we were confident that it would be enjoyable on this one. Our cabin and steward were excellent and the food served was delicious! The excursions were impressive! I was awestruck when we visited the cemetery in Luxumberg and realized the many brave men who sacrificed their life during World War II. The many sights we visited in Germany were enjoyable even though we had visited a few of them on a prior Viking River Cruise in Germany. Viking had all the fine details planned for everyone's enjoyment during our voyage. Everything went like clockwork thanks to the expertise of the Viking crew! They recommended restaurants to visit on our free time and the hotel stays were excellent! Any question we had they were available to answer it. They were very people oriented! We also looked forward to ending up in Paris for a few days for additional sightseeing. Unfortunately, my younger sister died unexpectedly when we arrived in Paris, and necessitated our return home. Viking personnel were so very, very helpful and kind to me and were fantastic arranging my early return home! I will be forever greatful for all their help and concern for me in my time of grief and sorrow. They worked with my husband to arrange everything for our flight home which was a Godsend. They took such good care of us!! I highly recommend them to take the best of care of their passengers. I would give them an A+ for the whole experience. Even though our cruise ended on an extremely sad note, I have fond memories of the trip, all thanks to Viking! They are truly the very best!!! Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
We started poorly. The hotel in Paris was not able to have our rooms ready by the 3 p.m. deadline. Instead, we were not allowed into our room until well after 5 p.m. Our wake-up call did not materialize and thus we missed our assigned ... Read More
We started poorly. The hotel in Paris was not able to have our rooms ready by the 3 p.m. deadline. Instead, we were not allowed into our room until well after 5 p.m. Our wake-up call did not materialize and thus we missed our assigned bus ride to our port of embarkation, Trier. Our cruise should have lasted 6 nights. Instead, the Odin broke down and we were stranded at a small German town - Ashafenburg - if my spelling is correct, for three of those nights. Our river cruise turned into a bus tour - not what I signed up for! There was sporadic electric service, toilets did not flush, a/c was non-existent and the kitchen staff ultimately ran out of the food they had intended to serve. However, when the kitchen was running at full tilt, the food was very good. Tour guides tried their best and the staff in the dining room and the cabin crew did their best. The officers not so much. The captain did not speak English - this on a boat with 189 Americans aboard - and the Hotel Manager who translated for him, did not give us the captain's full explanation. I don't speak much German but I do know the word propeller. That was never mentioned in the translation. The entertainment on board was mediocre, the wine tasting, at an additional expense, was disappointing although the tour of Prague was well done. The final straw was that the plane, the flight arranged by Viking, from Prague to Heathrow was late in leaving Prague causing us to miss our connection back to the states. When we finally boarded the following day, we sat on the tarmac for 21/2 hours before departing. Altogether, the trip from _ _ _ _ !! Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
This cruise was a gift to me from my husband, to revisit my roots. I was born in Basel, Switzerland and left from Le Harvre, France to immigrate to the United States of America as a child. My desire was to replicate the pictures I had from ... Read More
This cruise was a gift to me from my husband, to revisit my roots. I was born in Basel, Switzerland and left from Le Harvre, France to immigrate to the United States of America as a child. My desire was to replicate the pictures I had from Basel, so this was to be an enjoyable cruise for my husband and I, but I was also a woman on a mission– to see and photograph my roots. Anyway– we were on the Viking 'Odin' which afforded us luxury and a perfect home-away-from-home. Our stateroom was always kept immaculate by our 'housekeeper' Eloisa, and our meals were always 5-star delicious treats, served by friendly and efficient servers. The size of the number of guests on board- under 190, made it personable. We enjoyed the excursions offered to us by our Ship's Director- Dianna and made the most of them. The cruise ended in Trier, where we all boarded buses to our next destination: PARIS! That city was unique! We stayed at Le Meridien Etoile, with a Paris extension. Our room was clean, but we had problems with our room keys the entire time. I still am not sure what the problem was. The city tour along with our own touring using the Metro was simple and painless. I am so very glad that I had gone online three weeks prior our leaving the states and reserved tickets for the Eiffel Tower. The final day of our 'cruise' ended far too quickly, but it was indeed a delight! Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
The hotel in Paris was very good, not great. It was very close to the Champs Elysees so touring around before the start of the planned tour was very easy and good. The Tour in Paris, like the other cities, was excellent. Using tour ... Read More
The hotel in Paris was very good, not great. It was very close to the Champs Elysees so touring around before the start of the planned tour was very easy and good. The Tour in Paris, like the other cities, was excellent. Using tour guides from the places you are visiting is great. You get good information from locals, not what is printed by somebody for another talking head to repeat. The use of head sets and a dedicated wireless channel was a great idea. You don't get 'duelling tour guides' yelling over each other or not being able to hear what is being said. There was enough free time in most ports to be able to walk around on your own to experience the local area. This was of particular interest to us as we are both Geocachers and were interested in finding geocaches where we stopped. The ship was fantastic with excellent service, crew, and food. The crew members are approachable and willing to chat. We had an excellent talk with one of the officers during an evening cruise. I recommend this cruise to all my friends. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
My daughter & I just got back from the Cities of Light cruise. We added two nights in Prague & then cruised the Main, Rhine, & Moselle & eventually ended up in Paris. It was a wonderful trip & worth every penny. The ... Read More
My daughter & I just got back from the Cities of Light cruise. We added two nights in Prague & then cruised the Main, Rhine, & Moselle & eventually ended up in Paris. It was a wonderful trip & worth every penny. The ship is immaculate & all the staff people are exceptional -- friendly, helpful, & gracious. The food was outstanding. Viking organized everything, including luggage, transfers, guided tours, & several on-board activities. Diana, our program director, was 100% on top of everything. We will definitely consider Viking again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
The actual port of embarkation was Trier, Germany. My wife and I took the Cities of Light trip along with another couple from Paris to Prague. The crew were super friendly and very helpful. The program director (Claudia) was fantastic ... Read More
The actual port of embarkation was Trier, Germany. My wife and I took the Cities of Light trip along with another couple from Paris to Prague. The crew were super friendly and very helpful. The program director (Claudia) was fantastic and very knowledgeable of the areas that we traveled. We found that the captain of the ship was very approachable and friendly. We were allowed to spend time in the wheelhouse and see how he navigates the ship. Entertainment was quite limited on this trip but is to be expected on river cruises. The crew was quite good about keeping everyone informed about the upcoming plans for both that day and the next. Breakfast each day was exactly the same and did not vary one bit. Being in Germany, one would think that we would be blessed with abundant German food. That was not the case at all. One day for lunch, we stopped at the restaurant entrance to read the menu. It looked wonderful. It listed snitzel, purple cabbage, and other German delights. When we arrived for lunch a half an hour later.....Lunch had been changed to some sort of sandwiches. Thursday night was "German" night. Viking turned the sit down dining room into a huge buffet. This was a complete disaster. There were people on top of people. Very long lines......The kitchen struggling to keep up. In general it was a very unpleasant experience. Getting on and off the ship each day was easy and very efficient. The included tours were informative and nice. We may or may not travel with Viking. My wife and I may want to try another company to see how they size up. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
The following is my review of my recent “Romantic Danube/Christmas Markets” river cruise on the Viking Odin. A little background; I am 53, DH is 57 and while we have 20+ cruises under our belt, this was only our second river cruise ... Read More
The following is my review of my recent “Romantic Danube/Christmas Markets” river cruise on the Viking Odin. A little background; I am 53, DH is 57 and while we have 20+ cruises under our belt, this was only our second river cruise (The first was on the American Queen-Mississippi River), and our first European river cruise, and our second time to Europe. I like to think of myself as a “Glass Half Full” kind of person, but I must admit I was beginning to worry that this trip would not come anywhere near my expectations after reading several reviews that were full of doom & gloom with all that could go wrong; River levels too high or too low making a river cruise into a bus trip, strikes by the lock workers on the rivers, strikes by the Lufthansa pilots, broken locks, bad weather, etc. It just seemed that with a river cruise more could, and often did, go wrong. I am happy to report that my fears were unfounded. I won’t bore you with our flight details, sufficient to say that 7-hours from Philadelphia to Frankfurt, a 5-hour layover in Frankfurt, and another 1.5 hour flight to Budapest made for a rather long day plus. After arriving at the Budapest airport we gather out luggage, were waived through passport control, and we met by at least eight representatives of Viking to ensure we got on the right bus for our transfer to our boat. Apparently there were four Viking cruises starting in Budapest that day; two were doing Romantic Danube, and two others were doing the Danube Waltz itinerary. A very cheerful man gathered his weary flock of travelers, and got us settled on the bus, where they passed out bottles of water, and away we went. Embarkation-Fastest ever! Once we go to Budapest, and to where the boats dock along the Danube we were met by a chaotic scene of multiple tours buses of all kinds that were discharging or picking up passengers. However, it was all quickly sorted out, and soon we were on our way to boarding. We were met by a smiling Viking employee who handed us a warm, moist wash cloth that we could use to wipe our face and hands of the stain of travel, got in line to receive our key card (Took 3 minutes tops), then we were handed off to another employee that escorted us to our cabin. Within another 5-minutes our luggage had been delivered. Cabin-We had booked a window (Known as an aquarium class) cabin, and found it quite comfortable. The layout was efficient, and plenty of storage for hanging clothes such as coats, shelves for folded items, and 4 drawers for underwear and socks. The bathroom was tiny, but I loved the heated floor, and the fact we had a glass shower door, rather than a curtain. There were shelves here too for all of our toiletries. Every day our cabin was serviced twice a day by our marvelous room steward. The only drawback was I found the two pillows per person to be too thin for my liking, but we asked for, and quickly got an additional pillow each. There was a flat screen TV, and a selection of movies, and all the episodes of Downton Abbey available on demand. There was also a limited selection of TV stations available (Mostly news), and music too. Dining-There is one main dining room that is used for all meals. Normally breakfast was served between 7am-9am, but the hours were slightly adjusted depending on what time we were docking for the day’s tour. I think once it opened as early as 6:30, and on the morning we arrived in Nuremberg they served breakfast as late as 10am. Lunch was normally served between 12-2pm, and dinner most nights was at 7pm, but one evening they didn’t start serving until 7:30 (Night of the Captain’s Dinner). I thought the food was excellent. There were usually 2/3 starters to choose from as well as a soup and three entrees to choose from as well. For dessert there was a featured dessert, as well as several ice cream flavors to choose from. All seating was open so you may sit where and with whom you choose. Most of the tables seated 4 or 6. There were a few 8 tops. I didn’t notice any tables for two. There was a more casual alternative for those that wished on the Upper Deck called the Aquavit Terrace. A Continental Breakfast was served in the mornings, available about half an hour earlier then when the dining room would open, and at night you could get a lighter meal. Items served included; Cheeseburger, Chef Salad, Caesar Salad with Steak or Chicken, Chicken Quesadilla, and a Jacket Potato (Think loaded baked potato with bacon wrapped around it). We ate there two nights; the first night on board when we were so tired we only wanted a quick bite and be off to bed, and the last night when nothing on the menu appealed to me. Entertainment-They had something scheduled every night, starting around 9pm. We missed most of the entertainment as we normally turn into pumpkins around 9, but one night was a Christmas Sing-a-Long, another night was Hungarian Folk dancers. Ports: We had 6 ports on this itinerary; Budapest, Hungary, Vienna, Austria, Melk Abbey, Austria, Passau, Germany, Regensburg, Germany, and Nuremberg, Germany. Budapest-We arrived in Budapest around 4:00 in the afternoon on Saturday. After dropping off our luggage in our cabin we decided to go the Christmas Market on our own. The Program Director gave us easy to follow directions (Within walking distance) and we quickly found the market. However, being a Saturday afternoon/evening it was very crowded. By crowded I mean could not move forwards or backwards at one point. That proved to be too much for me, and we made our way to the Danube River, where we admired the Buda side of the river illuminated beautifully. We found a street vendor selling hot spiced wine who accepted euros, drank our wine and admired the view. We tried to find a boat ride that would have taken us up and down the Danube so we could see the Pest side of the river as well, but the only one we could locate was a dinner cruise for 40 euro each that took 2-hours. I wish Viking had taken the opportunity to give their guests a little scenic cruising that first night. The next morning we were up early for the bus portion of our included tour that drove past various points of interest including a cathedral, the opera house, several parks, the zoo, spas, and Hero’s Square. While our guide was very good, and was very knowledgeable about Hungarian history, it seemed that everything she pointed out was on the left side of the bus. Naturally, we were sitting on the right. Things improved when we go to the Buda side of the river, the Castle District, where we had the walking portion of the tour. After our guide was done we had about an hour of free time to explore the area, which included some shopping, and great views of the Pest side of the Danube. Then it was off by bus to meet the boat. Vienna-Vienna was our longest day. We arrived around 7am, and our bus tour left at 8 or 8:30. We started with a bus drive on the Ringstrauss and saw many impressive buildings, and then it was time for the walking tour. We had signed up for the leisure paced tour after being assured we would see everything everyone else did, and we would have plenty of free time. Our tour guide was excellent, and she did point out a number of interesting sites. We did go past the Famous Spanish Riding School, but it being Monday, the horses were having their day of rest so we saw no more than a horse or two poking its head out a stable door. What was disappointing to me was we ended up with only 35-minutes of free time, while other groups had at least an hour. I had wanted to go to Café Central, and managed to get to it in our free time allotted, but there was no time to actually have a cup of coffee. All too soon it was back on the bus to go to back to the boat for lunch. After lunch they had two shuttles for those that wished to go to the Christmas Market. One left at 2:00, the other at 2:30. There was also an optional tour to Schonbrunn Palace that had a cost of approximately 40 euro. We opted for the 2:00 shuttle to the Christmas Market. When we arrived at the Christmas Market we were told there were two return shuttles; one at 3:45, the other at 4:45. I had thought we would stay until the 4:45 shuttle, but we ended up returning on the 3:45 shuttle as we found the Christmas Market in Vienna disappointing. While large, most of the stalls were filled with mass produced items. I don’t think I was the only one disappointed as it appeared everyone was trying to get back on the 3:45 shuttle. There were two sittings that night for dinner; one at 6pm for those that had chosen to go to the optional Mozart/Strauss concert that evening (Cost was 63 euro pp) and another at 7:30. As we were going to the concert, as was about half the boat we ate at 6:00. The concert was excellent and appeared to be enjoyed by all. When we got back around 10:15 they were serving a light supper in the lounge of Hungarian Goulash Soup (Excellent). Scenic Cruising through the Wachau Valley & Melk Abbey-Day four found us sailing through the Wachau Valley, which I found to be as beautiful as advertised. Have your camera ready, especially around 8 in the morning as that’s when we passed Krems on the right, which is postcard pretty. It was one charming storybook town, church and castle after another. In the afternoon we docked at Melk Abbey. For those that were feeling fit, you could walk up, for the rest of us there were buses. One group left at 1:00, and the other group left at 1:30. Melk Abbey was very impressive, and once again we had an excellent guide. The Basilica of the abbey is jaw-dropping beautiful, and even my husband, who normally doesn’t get that excited about churches, was impressed. Passau, Germany-Passau is a charming, very walkable town, with narrow, twisting cobblestone streets. Unfortunately for the town they do have an issue with flooding. We had yet another great guide. There were a couple of options for the end of the walking tour. You could choose to end at a bakery for a demonstration in gingerbread baking, or end at St. Stephen’s Cathedral for an organ concert (The organ at St. Stephen’s is the largest in Europe). Because I love torturing my husband we went to the organ concert. There was no additional charge for the concert, which lasted about half an hour. The inside of St. Stephen’s is very impressive. After the concert we went to the Christmas Market which was just outside the Cathedral. This was a nice market, which a nice selection of booths, and great food. My husband enjoyed a bratwurst kabob, while I loved my steak sandwich slathered with sour cream and topped with raw onion. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. Yum! The boat was leaving right after lunch, but for those that wished, you could stay in town and take a bus at 5 that would bring you back to the boat up river. We opted to stay in town, exploring and shopping. We found a charming store, where my DH finally got his longed for cuckoo clock. Regensburg, Germany-Here we had another walking tour. However, I personally didn’t enjoy it as much as the one the day before in Passau. Part of the problem was the town was over flowing with tourist from river cruises. Not just Viking, but other lines as well, and unlike in Passau where the tour guides would take different routes to avoid congestion, it seemed like every guide wanted to go to the same place at the same time. We also didn’t have a very good guide. He walked very fast, and kept leaving members of our group far behind. I kept running up to him, to no avail. He seemed to think it was the group’s responsibility to keep up to his pace, rather than for him to adjust to the group’s pace. He also used some crude language that I found off-putting. We finally gave up on him, and with another couple bailed on the tour when we came upon the Christmas Market in town. After perusing the stalls, and drinking a glass of a hot, eggnog punch (I was getting tired of gluhwein) that was delicious we went into St. Peter’s Cathedral, an impressive Gothic Cathedral, before making our way back to the boat. That afternoon we took the optional tour to the Thurn & Taxis palace in Regansburg. The palace was very beautiful , and once again we were blessed with an knowledgeable tour guide. After the tour we then went to the Christmas Market on the palace grounds, and this was my very favorite market as there were a number of vendors with beautiful hand-crafted items. Nuremberg, Germany-Our final stop. We didn’t get to Nuremberg until a little after noon on Friday. There were two tours to choose from, one that focused on the WWII history, and one that didn’t. We picked the one that didn’t, but still got quite a bit of WWII history before we went to the “Old” part of the city (Nuremberg was nearly destroyed in WWII and what appears to be medieval buildings are actually rebuilt since the late 1940’s). There you could continue with a walking tour, or go straight to the Christmas Market. About half of the bus went on the walking tour, while the rest of us opted to go straight to the Market. This was another great market as I felt it had something for everyone. There were stalls with hand crafted items, and stall with less expensive mass produced items, and enough food choices for any palate. It’s very large and in the 2+ hours we were there I don’t think we saw everything. So, to sum it all up. I loved this trip. I thought the food, service, accommodations, and tours offered by Viking were top-notched, and would sail with them again in a heartbeat. I also loved the Christmas Markets, the towns we visited, and the people we met.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Viking Odin Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.5 4.5
Dining 3.5 4.6
Entertainment 3.0 3.8
Public Rooms 4.0 4.5
Fitness Recreation 1.0 3.0
Family 1.0 3.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 4.5
Enrichment 3.5 4.2
Service 5.0 4.8
Value For Money 4.0 4.3
Rates 4.0 3.6

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