First Eastern European Visit

Viking Jarl Cruise Review to Europe

Cruises: 7+ cruises
Review: 1
Helpful Votes: 37

Overall rating:

4 out of 5
Viking Jarl

10 Night Passage To Eastern Europe Eastbound (Budapest To Bucharest)

Sail date: April 10, 2015

Ship: Viking Jarl

Cabin type: Balcony

Cabin number: 207

Traveled as: Couple

Reviewed: 6 years ago

Review summary

Overall this cruise was very pleasant and well organized. The initial documentation package was concise and provided us with all the information we needed, except to have small local coins or Euros  available in the different countries for access to a majority of the public toilets.

The one thing we did not like was the Airline or our seat selection on the flights arranged for us by Viking. We had prepaid the entire cruise months in advance and it seemed the seats we were assigned were the leftovers that are available at the last minute. We were able to change one flight but on all the rest we had to settle for at least one middle seat even though we paid for premium economy.  The Premium Economy on Air France did not amount to more comfortable seats, though they were slightly wider and offered a few inches of more legroom than standard coach. We had much better experiences with other carriers premium economy in terms of seat comfort.

The Viking Jarl itself is an excellent river cruise boat. The boat is newer, and as expected the rooms are smaller than ocean cruises, but it was perfectly laid out and relatively easy to move around in.  The food on board was very good, as good or better than most recent cruises we have taken. We would have liked to see at least one local dish on the menu each night.  The one "local" night felt like it was a new idea that was not clearly explained to the staff or the passengers. The staff in all positions, were among the friendliest and attentive in any of the 17+ cruises we have taken. We tried moving around at dinner to take advantage of the open seating to get to know more of the other passengers, so getting to know the wait staff at dinner was a little challenging. We were able to find our favorite waiter for breakfast and lunch. Our room steward was among the best we had ever had take care of our cabin. She new our schedules and was in and out so quickly that we seldom saw her. Our room was spotless and looked brand new each day.

The best part of this cruise were the shore excursions arranged by Viking. The 1/2 day city tours in our pre-cruise cities and each major city we visited  were perfect in helping us quickly get the lay of the land and determining what we wanted to investigate in more depth. Viking recommended local restaurants were all spot-on for the nights we had dinner on our own. The selection of the cities and countries on this cruise were the reason we had chosen this as our first river cruise. The history, culture and the fact that our boat docked at most city centers made it an ideal way to get a taste of each city we visited.

 The highlight of the excursions was the planned home visit.  We learned they were licensed B&B's, but still the discussion with our host was candid and no topic from family, religion, politics or employment opportunities was off limit. The refreshments were delicious but not as rewarding as sitting down and just talking with a local. 

Ship experiences

Food and Dining

3 out of 5
Food was as good as or slightly better than other recent cruises we had bee on. The wine/beer included in the package was ordinary.

Onboard Activities

3 out of 5
What we expected for a river boat.


3 out of 5
The nights when they brought local talent aboard was very nice. When it was just a talk about the area, the speakers were ok. The one we liked the least was the discussion on Translyvania. It was 3 minutes about the real area and 20+ minutes about Hollywood's depiction of it.

Children's Programs

3 out of 5
No kids, not applicable.

Service and Staff

5 out of 5

Ship Quality

5 out of 5

Cabin / Stateroom

5 out of 5
We expected a small room, but the way it's design was very efficient.

Ship tip

Make sure you know what room you are booking. Several other passengers thought they were getting rooms with a balcony and were actually on the main floor with only a window barely above the water line. No problem getting a deck chair, no one really "saved" their seat. Plenty of places to sit & chat

Ports of call

Budapest, Hungary

5 out of 5
The Castle area in Pest and walking along the river on the Buda side.

Kalocsa, Hungary

5 out of 5
Did not have much time here, but did enjoy the trip to the ranch and the show of horsemanship.

Vukovar (Osijek), Croatia

5 out of 5
It's a small enough town that we were able to walk around on our own. Had a great time.

Belgrade, Serbia

5 out of 5
The tour of the city was great. Did not have much time to walk around on our own.

Cruise The Iron Gates

5 out of 5
One day on the water was a perfect break from stopping at a different city every day. Scenery is worth getting up to see.

Vidin, Bulgaria

5 out of 5
If you are up for the hike up to the top of this park, about 150 uneven steps, this was an awesome stop in the country. Felt a little like Sedona.

Ruse (Russe, Rousse), Bulgaria

5 out of 5
Another great small city. The old Church was absolutely fascinating.

Giurgiu, Romania

3 out of 5
Did not get to spend as much time as we would have liked in Bucharest. The 0700 departure for our homebound flight the next morning did not leave us a lot of time to walk around on our own. Bucharest Airport at 0500 on a Monday morning was my least favorite part of the destinations we visited.
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