I highly recommend the Viking cruise. The crew on board including the program director were very nice and helpful. The food was great. The ship was very clean.
I look forward to an another cruise.
The excursions were first class. The ship was cozy. The history and culture of the areas travelled were highlighted perfectly. The staff on the ship were delightful.
This cruise was made exceptional by Viking. Their staff is very well trained, experienced and very personable. The staff appears to be enjoying their jobs, which, in my opinion, is a sign of a well managed organization. Everything under their control went smoothly, however when something not within their control (delays at the locks) the staff went out of their way to be sure the passengers were impacted as little as possible. We really felt we were important and and appreciated as passengers. We have already booked a Viking Ocean Cruise because of this experience.
Seeing the world through a new lens - - Sailing Eastbound on the Danube River with ports of call in Germany, Austria and Hungary is enchanting enough, right? However, the real enchantment and excitement stems from the first class accommodations and services rendered on our Viking Cruise journey. Vikings' choice of stops - particularly, Nuremburg, Vienna and Budapest allow for a unique experience in each historical place. Amazing views from the river; topped by excursions and exploration of these beautifully rich, cultural cities of Europe. It's an understatement to say this was a 'once in a life time' experience. Intending on continuing our Viking River Cruising, heading the other way on the Danube!! Thank you Viking!!
After all of the ads and beautiful pictures on TV and in every magazine we picked up I talked my wife into going on the Romantic Danube Cruise. The trip exceeded our expectations in every aspect. The crew was attentive and personable. Our cabin (a french balcony) was small but comfortable and very livable. We enjoyed every meal and always had something that satisfied our appetites and our desire to try local cuisines. The tours were not too challenging physically but were very informative and interesting. Each stop was, for us, a new adventure and each gave us reasons to return in the future. We found all of the tour guides to be informed, informative and well spoken. Each tour was well organized and went off without a hitch. Viking demonstrated their ability to adapt to changing situations without subjecting their passengers to undue stress. Embarkation and disembarkation both went smoothly. The other passengers that we encountered were all outgoing and a pleasure to interact with. We loved the Christmas Markets and only wished that there were more hours in the day to maximize our time ashore. As I said this cruise exceeded our expectations.
The cruise was extremely well organized, no glitches. Excursions were more than we expected. The program director and crew were friendly and helpful. The passengers were all high class and interesting, we made some new friends. I would give the food four out of five stars.
This was our first cruise which we were really looking forward to and was to be a family reunion. We are not fussy, difficult people, except when we feel we are being mistreated.
Our experience was tainted by the absolute lack of problem solving by Viking, caused by their limited customer service agents.
Viking accepts NO responsibility for their mistakes, even when called, asked a question and their people give wrong or non-answers.
DO NOT book directly with Viking. They get the discounted airfares but will not help with any travel problems, like a travel agent will. Even knowing where lost baggage is can be a problem for them. There are NO refunds for any cancelled travel. There are NO refunds for delayed travel due to airline mechanical problems. Miss your boat? Too bad.
DO NOT buy their travel insurance. Not only were we overcharged for the insurance, which they received a commission for selling, but it is a limited policy which protects the cruiseline, not you the customer.
If there are any problems or disputes, they consult their employees and will not permit you, the customer, to see what was said so their employees may alter the facts to protect their jobs.
And they are very good at non-apologies. Mr. Hagen and his daughter have no idea since letters sent directly to them are never read by them and other people intercept them. If they do read them, then it does not say much for the Hagens.
We just returned from a Viking "Tulips and Windmills" cruise (ended April 1) on the recently built Elf. We are unlikely to sail with them again. Many passengers had previously sailed with Viking and loved it.
- Our profile: 70s, fit and energetic, retired educators, self-styled intellectuals. - This was the Lif's maiden voyage. Given space constraints, the company seemed to do an excellent job of designing our small room for maximum efficient use. The whole boat was kept quite clean. - Our cabin had a so-called French window, which gave us plenty of light so long as we weren't alongside a high dock or other boat. - Service and food were generally excellent. - The "visible" crew seemed almost entirely eastern European--not sure why; their English was fine (much better than my efforts in other languages) and their manner almost always affable and helpful though sometimes perhaps obsequious. "Invisible" crew (visible when schlepping luggage, rarely otherwise) seemed to be from Asia. All that made us wonder about Viking employment practices. - Concierge on our particular boat was gregarious and laughed a lot the way people do to avoid unpleasantness but seemed to know little and to pass the buck (or manufacture a not-always-convincing explanation) when he couldn't solve a problem. - Program director worked hard but was not to our taste--too much a cheerleader, extravagantly upbeat about everything; she also made sexist comments that she (and somewhat to our surprise, much of the clientele) thought were cute. But she did know what she was doing and how to get things done. - Pianist was very good, and late evening dancing was often possible, though on a very small floor (we happen to take ballroom dance lessons and so were especially handicapped). - Tour guides were occasionally very good but on the whole spoke to a lowest common denominator with little context or exploration of the significance of what they told us--as in, "on your left is x, on your right is y, there's the 3rd largest widget manufacturer in the county..." Like the boat's program director, many of them displayed antique cultural attitudes, as in, "OK, Ladies, shopping is over there..."; "Gentlemen, please don't ask me technical questions..." (voiced more than once by female guides). - We took a side trip (aka paid-for-separately) together to a tulip farm (fascinating production line, and the guide here--co-owner of the farm--was very good) and windmill setting, and my wife went to Delft. - When pricing your trip, remember that you are expected to tip on all guided tours in addition to major tips at end of cruise for boat staff (totaling hundreds of Euros if you follow recommended guidelines). Some sense was encouraged (I guess by the program director) of handing out little tips for crew folk as the cruise goes along. It was sometimes hard to tell when a waitperson, for example, was being genuinely chummy or sucking up. - As a maiden voyage, the trip was partly a shakeout cruise at the expense of us paying passengers. Wifi was terrible, even where signal was strong--verrrrry slow. In our cabin we almost never had any signal. TV movies tended to stop halfway through and start again. TV programs would go in and out. Router was set up so we couldn't use our VPN connection (which allows us to seem to be in the US and so watch material, like Netflix, only available when home). Late in the trip door keys suddenly didn't work and lots of people had to get replacements. - In an unscientific survey, the dominant demographics seemed to be: retired, politically conservative-to-right-wing, church-going, with narrow, banal conversation topics (by our hoity-toity standards...). All white passengers except for a couple of Asian-looking folk. As Jewish-atheist, politically left intellectuals we always had an undercurrent (I more than my wife, who is more easily sociable) of being marginalized (which you can see reflected in some other comments here), which greatly undermined our ability to relax and enjoy. Obviously, most people seemed to groove on each other. - We are adamant about eating chocolate that is (as clearly as possible) not sourced from West African farms that use child slave labor (see http://thecnnfreedomproject.blogs.cnn.com/category/chocolates-child-slaves/ for a mainstream account of these appalling practices; fair trade in general and South American chocolate sources are largely ok). The boat had many chocolate dishes, but when we asked about the sourcing, no one among the food preparation crew had heard of this (a sad fact), though the program director had and responded: no, we don't pay attention to this issue--but be sure to put it in our end-of-cruise questionnaires. We had expected better in a country like Holland and a boat that supposedly was planned to include energy efficiency and at least some organic food products. So we missed out on many of what looked like scrumptious desserts.
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