Way too much bus riding, average age is 70 on this ship!

Viking Hemming Cruise Review to River Cruises - Europe

Cruises: 7+ cruises
Review: 1
Helpful Votes: 45

Overall rating:

3.4 out of 5
Viking Hemming

9 Night Portugal's River Of Gold (Lisbon To Porto)

Sail date: June 02, 2017

Ship: Viking Hemming

Cabin type: Suite

Cabin number: 316

Traveled as: Couple

Reviewed: 4 years ago

Review summary

Viking ship: Know this, other than a young blind woman and her guide, we were the only people under the age of 60. The average age is around 70, with many close to or over 80 on this cruise. What this means is that (among other issues this creates) the tours are geared at people that cannot handle much. A 15 minute walk is advertised highly, to encourage all to attend and know it is not too much. What this means is that tours tend to be dry and boring. The pace of walking is more than sluggish and the amount you see is minimum outside of the coach. The guides are not at all interesting and, being an extensive traveler, I have never been so bored in my lifetime. Each day means 2-4 hours on the bus, as there is nothing close by. You MUST go on their tours and deal with extremely uncomfortable long bus rides. There is literally nothing to do on this ship, so staying back behind is not a option and there are no towns at the “ports”. The “pool” is about 10 feet long and 2-3 feet deep. There are 3 steps to get to the bottom of it, if it tells you anything. What a total waste. There is no gym (Viking does tell you this) and, further, you may not run along the top, as the people can hear you in their rooms. You must concede to no exercise at all on their cruise and you won’t make it up in walking, as you see much of what you do from the bus. The scenery you sail is very beautiful, but there really is not much to do except visit wineries. If you do not like port, which is a very sweet wine, that makes for a very boring vacation. Your ship moves as your bus does, so you get little of the sailing time through the valley since you are on the bus much of the time the boat is sailing. TV: Warning, you lose satellite quite often during the trip. Since there is nothing to do on the ship, this is problematic. Their list of movies is garbage, which was also a bummer. We also had some issues with our TV, as it would sometimes not work and they were constantly trying to fix it. They had the opportunity to at least have some current features, which were not available, to pass the time when you are trapped on ship with nothing else to do. This also goes to wireless availability and cellular service. They all drop off for long periods during the sailing. Do not book extra excursions prior to boarding. They have plenty of places and cannot do a refund on the ship, which causes issues. They told us to get a refund on line and the on line system didn’t allow it either. We will now need to fight with Viking upon our return to the states. Staff: Many are wonderful. Our guide (bus 1C from the June 4th sailing in 2017, however, seemed impatient and with attitude. The reception staff were requested of things and would just force us to follow up over and over again, never following through on their own. The program director said she would try and set up somethings for my husband and I , tired of the bus. We heard nothing from her again. The matra de was wonderful and the wait staff was very accommodating. The chef was very friendly and with a sense of humor Food: . I was told by many that had been on other Viking cruises that this cruise did not match the normal Viking river dining experience, which was a bummer for us. Mediocre at best. Good fruits like berries are not present and they make their own yogurt, which is watery and gross. Not sure why they don’t just buy local yogurt like most do. Night one, we had steak as the special, but it was slightly overcooked. The dessert special was amazing. We were told the steak would come medium rare and it did not. Night two was the lamb chops. They were OK, but not great and there was little to the dish. Dessert was a marscapone and it was terrible. Night 3 was a peppered chicken. It had way too much in pepper on the skins and it was not pleasant to eat. The waiter also did not understand the dish, as I asked about the potatoes served with it and he said a thick piece of potato and it was actually more like a hash brown. I am not certain how they cannot know what is being served. Dessert that night was a banana split, which was a banana cut in half with one scoop of vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce, whipped cream and almonds on it. It was OK, but certainly not worth the calories. The next night was a pork tenderloin special, which was not good. The dessert was a sort of custard advertised with berries. It came with 2 small blueberries and when we all asked for more, we were told they ran out. How can you have a dessert based on blueberries and run out? Breakfast too, was mediocre. They have the waiters making eggs and they tried twice to get me eggs over lightly and both times they broke them. Even the chef made eggs one morning and needed 2 hands to crack them (awkwardly) and broke one! Salmanaca night the menu was horrible and almost 100% of our table ordered the rib eye instead. The mashed potatoes came out ice cold (not warm, truly cold). The dessert again was subpar. They seem to do a lot of custard type desserts and not one was good, so they need to figure something out. The next night’s menu was good and I ordered the filet mignon, which was cooked perfectly. Dessert, again, we a disappointment. Lunches have been a struggle for most of the cruisers. They just don’t have the basic menu they need and try to be too fancy…..and cannot seem to handle that either. I would recommend they come up with a basic menu for lunch that is always available, full of “normal” eating, which they lack right now. They did have Gluten free pasta and options, which was nice. I will give the chef kudos for the last night’s meal, a veal dish. It, along with the starters, were excellent the last day. Had the food been this good throughout, we would have been more than satisfied!


4 out of 5
Fine, nothing special, nothing bad.

Ship experiences

Food and Dining

3 out of 5
The food is just average and did not measure up to Viking's reputation.

Onboard Activities

3 out of 5
There is virtually nothing to do on this ship.


3 out of 5
They made an effort, but there is no theatre or anything, so little entertainment was available.

Service and Staff

3 out of 5
Dining staff tried very hard, but some were inexperienced. Front desk staff was not good, forcing us to ask for the same thing to be fixed multiple times. Program director never even followed up on requests.

Ship Quality

4 out of 5
The ship was clean and newer. There is little on this ship though. The pool is only 2' deep and 10' long, so it is worthless. There is no fitness center.

Cabin / Stateroom

4 out of 5
The layout was wonderful and storage was good, with even a closet. The main issue is that what they charge for this is not worth the money. Additionally, there were issues with the TV which took days to fix and the bathroom smelled like sewage for a couple of days and we had to nag them to fix it.

Ship tip

Only sail if you have limited mobility and are elder. There are many cruise itineraries that are far superior to this one.

Ports of call

Lisbon, Portugal

4 out of 5
We did a private excursion to Sinstra and it was the highlight of our trip. The LIsbon tour with Viking was just OK. Our guide was just not that friendly and did not have the great stories good tour guides do, though the sites were good. Thee was not enough on your own time either.


3 out of 5
The tour was just OK. Not enough on your own time.

Regua, Portugal

3 out of 5
Mateus Palace and Gardens Tour. There was a 45 minute ride to a “palace”. The tour was done by a university student with terrible English. Many could barely understand him and when you could, his information was dry and boring. What a shame, as this seemed like an interesting place. Then we went to another Sandelman’s winery. The tour was interesting, but frankly a repeat of the other day’s tour at Sandelmans in Porto and the “tasting” was of a mixed drink with port in it.

Pinhao, Portugal

3 out of 5
Pinhao: Another hour ride to Castelo Rodrigo. It is a cute, ancient town, but you only spend an hour or so there, as there really is not much to see and do. The tour was a total of 10-15 minutes. There is a very cute church there, but the guide didn’t even go over the interesting things about that church, which was the usual way of these very boring guides. You have around an hour on your own. The guides told us to wait to by cork at this stop and there were literally 3 shops, with very little in them. While the price of cork was better than other places, there was little to choose from. As with other days, we were in the bus for 2 hours for just over an hour spent at the destination. PS, there is someone that comes onto the ship with good cork prices and handmade items (purses, wallets and jewelry mostly) on the last night that is worth the visit and her presentation on cork was good too.

Barca D'Alva, Portugal

4 out of 5
Favios: This town has very little to offer….not even a shop! It was interesting to see how she made the bread and it was hot and tasty. Then we were off to the bread and wine museum, which seems to have been created for these Douro river tours. There is not much of interest, but they have done their best to create something that goes with the cruise. We then had a tour of a Muscaret winery and a tasting. Again, way too sweet for us. We then went for a long traditional Portuguese lunch at a winery and this was done very well. The owner is funny and interesting to listen to. The food was good and dessert very

Vega De Terron (Salamanca), Spain

4 out of 5
Salmanaca: 2 hours each way by bus. There is around a 45 minute tour, done by Spanish guides, who were far better than our Portuguese ones and then 3 ½ hours on your own. Salmanaca was a very interesting stop, with a lot to see and enjoyable shopping and food. Finally, we had a day where we spent a good deal of time away from the boat. This was a long bus ride, but definitely worth it.


4 out of 5
Fine, nothing major on the positive or negative.
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