We have cruised the Rhine earlier with Viking and were quite pleased by the tours and also the ability to get on and off the ship without taking forever and being run through security constantly, like the large cruise ships. Pulling into ... Read More
We have cruised the Rhine earlier with Viking and were quite pleased by the tours and also the ability to get on and off the ship without taking forever and being run through security constantly, like the large cruise ships. Pulling into small towns and villages and walking a path to the old section is just our style. Yes, there are some coach tours and they are well worth it. On the Rhine, the tour to Colmar cannot be missed, and is close. On the Danube tour, they changed the coach tour from Salzburg (one of our favorite small cities in Europe) to Chesky Krumlov (which we fell totally in love with). It is a long drive from Linz but a beautiful drive through the countryside, and one of the best days of our Danube tour.
Starting in Budapest gave us a chance to explore the city by arriving a few days earlier and enjoying the families and restaurants during the Christmas season. Extending a few days in Prague was the same experience, where you have the time to just stroll and get the real feel of a place. Ending the tour in central Europe gives you a further chance to extend somewhere else as well, for an inexpensive plane ride. For us, it was Rome for another 6 days.
The portages on the Danube Cruise, including Budapest, Vienna (climbed St. Stephens tower for the view and to burn off calories), and the incomparable towns of Melk and Durnstein are the true Europe still left. We also loved visiting Bratislava, with very eclectic art and a truly friendly people, and of course Passau was marvelous. Having the chance to climb up to forts and castles as we went, because we didn't need to run or miss the ship, made it all the more wonderful for us. We are active and like to add climbing up church towers or hills for views (or a beer) to our daily activity.
My only concern, and I've shared it with Viking, was in Vienna, which of course is a large city. After the daily tour they had the option of a night tour to the Opera House which many people took. The coaches picked them up from the ship which was docked quite a way away from anything else. For the many of us who just wanted to go back to town, check out the Christmas lights at night, hear some Jazz, they had no shuttles. The walk from the ship to the metro was quite long and it was dark and at this time of year, chilly. We had no problems, but for many this made it impossible to leave the ship at all, or an expensive cab ride both ways. Suggest they have optional shuttles to at least take passengers to the metro terminal, quite a ways a way, or better yet at a drop off point near the center. And back. It would make Vienna much more accessible for everyone, and what a fantastic city it is.
The Ve is one of the newer Viking ships and we had a French Balcony room which is our favorite. We don't usually book balconies as we don't use them, but the French balcony gives you a wall of views and the ability to open one half of it and enjoy the fresh Danube air (and ice, as was the case in December, but we loved it). The cabins are nicely appointed, the bathrooms quite roomy compared to the older ships, and the crew was marvelous as always. They cleaned the room at least twice a day, I think our cabin steward spent more time in my room then I did, but I missed him when we left. The Oktoberfest themed dinner was one of the best I have ever seen in all my years of cruising, the food amazing and beautifully presented, and a terrific oompah band went table to table. Each evening there was a piano player and a themed game or contest. Best bartenders in the business on these ships, and a very nice liquor selection as well.
All in all, this cruise totally outdid itself!! We will be back, and will try a Viking Ocean voyage next. Read Less