My wife and I have been traveling to Europe on land trips with family members for many years, sometimes with as many as 12 people. Of late, we have started to use the ship option, having cruised the Greek Islands, Amalfi Coast, and the ... Read More
My wife and I have been traveling to Europe on land trips with family members for many years, sometimes with as many as 12 people. Of late, we have started to use the ship option, having cruised the Greek Islands, Amalfi Coast, and the Adriatic (Croatia, etc.). This time we decided to try the river based version. I was very pleased. River cruising is much more focused on the exploration of the cities and sights, rather than shipboard activities. If you have never done a river cruise, be aware, it is fundamentally different from ocean based travel, even with respect to the boutique cruises on Azamara or Seabourn. The river boats are smaller (190 passengers in our case) and there are no casinos, circus acts, and a half dozen restaurants. Instead, it is a very comfortable experience; you have the same few wait-staff every day that know your name snd learn you preferences. They start offering you food and drinks often before you ask. Everyone is friendly, and you have the chance to mingle with other guests in the large dining area. The menu consists of some excellent everyday choices and a separate section that has a series of new daily specials. The food is excellent; there are appetizers, main courses and desserts that you can mix and match - no judgement - although we all overindulged a bit.
The excursions and airport transportation are run with precision. We were immediately met by a Viking representative upon arrival at the luggage carousel at the airport who brought us to the Viking bus. The land tours, whether walking or via bus, were all arranged ahead of time - one merely goes to the desk, picks up the day's information and group assignment, and is met by the guide. The boat provides small radios that are synced to your guide - these are very helpful in that you can always hear what's going on without having to be on top of the tour person. On the last day, the crew arrange everything for the return to the airport, including meeting you and helping with luggage, and all the way to the correct counter for your flight.
I have traveled a lot - both for work and fun - and this was a very nice experience. We expect we will do this again, hopefully soon. As a final note - the staff are the best I've encountered - they are what make the trip memorable almost as much as the historical cities. Read Less