this was my fourth viking cruise and it did not disappoint. The crew is what makes these ships. The crew is amazing. They are professional and always eager to serve. The accommodations are tight but well planned. The public areas of the ship are always spotless and very comfortable. I highly recommend Viking.
I was lucky enough to find a deal where Viking reduced their single supplement to something reasonable. Sadly, the opportunities are few and far between. That said, the cruise provided a very good value. I enjoyed all stops including a full day included tour to Cesky Krumlov (CR). Tours tend to be slow paced though walking subgroups are usually available Optional tours are better priced that ocean cruises but can often be replaced by DIY. The Viking ships are very nice and the food good though too meaty. Service was excellent. A highlight was a sail in to Budapest at 10pm which provided a spectacular light show.
We had done almost this exact itinerary during the summer and, having enjoyed our Christmas Market tour on the Rhine last year, we decided to try the Danube again. Despite worries about possible terrorists, possible low rivers meaning buses, and a potential Lufthansa strike, we decided that we would do the tour anyway. And we are glad we did. The staff were very friendly and polite, the food was great and there was a nice atmosphere of friendliness on the boat. The only disappointment was that we didn't have much time in Budapest as the boat sailed first thing in the morning when others went on their tour. As we had done the tour last time, we had hoped to be able to visit the Christmas Markets that morning, however, we enjoyed our near-empty boat and the trip down the Danube to the bus pick-up spot. All-in-all, I would recommend this tour to anyone - the Christmas markets in Nuremberg were very pretty and the whole trip got us into the holiday mode.
My wife and I decided to splurge and celebrate our 45th wedding anniversary cruising down the Rhine. We followed the good advice of this website and many others and did our homework before putting our money down. My wife has a diagnosed medical condition aggravated by 2nd hand smoke, so we went with Viking because of their advertised smoking policy (sun deck only) and 100% service guarantee . Viking states on its website that they are the only river cruise line that operates their own ships and can manage every aspect of our travel. Great! Viking not only states their smoking policy but they also 100% guarantee that they can manage the ship accordingly. We booked our cruise based on this research and with the Viking travel agent double checking the policy. The agent was most understanding of my wife's health condition to the point were he noted on the ship's passenger log that smoking be further limited to the aft section of the sun deck in consideration of her needs. We also asked for the policy in writing -- just in case; that came in the form of our ticket contract ( a binding document I thought). The contract stated smoking is allowed on parts of the sun deck and nowhere else.
With contract in hand we boarded the Viking river ship, TOR, on the 25th of October, 2014. Great expectations dashed immediately. Each of the four public verandas, below the sun deck, had large metal ashtrays positioned on them inviting people to smoke there,.and smoke they did! Customers and crew hands smoked there and why not - they were invited to. I reported this situation to the appropriate ship management. I showed them my contract, I explained my wife's medical condition and I invoked the 100% service guarantee. The ship's acting captain stated that every Viking ship he was on identified those areas as designated for smoking and he wasn't about to change that for any reason.
I next contacted Viking Customer Relations in Woodland Hills California by phone. The agent totally agreed with me and said she would direct the ship to be compliant. Still no change. I called the agent again in the presence of the concierge. Again I was told to be patient and a second communication would be sent to the ship - this time the Company Vice President was involved and this time it worked. On the sixth day the ship came into compliance. Great, my wife could now enjoy all of the ship's services including the computer room, library, concierge desk and hotel desk (these areas are just feet from the public verandas and are only separated by an automatic door that opens when anyone passes).
Our euphoria was short lived. On the morning of the 7th day the ash trays were back and the smoke was back The ship's regular captain was now aboard. I reviewed all that had happened. He simply declared that my contract was wrong, the Vice President was wrong and that international law governed his ship and international law guaranteed smokers the right to smoke on those public verandas. For the last time I called Customer Relations and was told they were still working on the problem. They told me to relax and have a drink on Viking. We left the ship on the next and final day of the cruise thoroughly annoyed. Viking had jeopardized my wife's health, and the health of other passengers, and they had violated our contract.
After returning from the cruise we were told that Viking is still working on the policy. A Customer Relations agent went so far as to suggest that we should have left the cruise and "abandoned the ship" as soon as we saw the ashtrays -- I guess he has no faith in the company's integrity as well. Most recently Viking responded to an inquiry from the AAA by stating that the smoking policy varies from ship to ship according to the captain's discretion. This is not what was guaranteed to us in our contract and this is not what Viking travel agents tell potential customers. Buyer beware! Viking needs to either enforce the policy they advertise or be honest with the public that they can't enforce the policy. The cruise was excellent in every other way and we would have given it 5 stars, but Viking was dishonest and deceitful as far as I'm concerned and they neglected my wife's health and safety. I cannot recommend Viking Cruises.
Professionalism\, humor\, knowledge. The ship was very cleanly and organized for efficiency. On board entertainment was regional when we were in port. The excursions off the ship were on board a new clean Viking bus with regional guides with great knowledge and humor about their area. We looked forward to our onboard meals as the serving staff was so much fun and couldn't do enough for you. The food was terrific and so many choices. Our room was always cleaned and replenished with amenities.
*Cruiseline.com is not a booking agent or travel agency, and does not charge any service fees to users of our site. Our partners (travel agencies and cruise lines) provide prices, which we list for our users' convenience. Cruiseline.com does not guarantee any specific rates or prices. While prices are updated daily, please check with the booking site for the exact amount. Cruiseline.com is not responsible for content on external web sites.
Every Wednesday you'll receive the latest articles, deals, and news from the Cruiseline.com team, plus tips and photos submitted by our vibrant community of diehard cruisers. You'll also get a free gift — a downloadable, printable PDF of our guide to cruising!
Sign up for weekly cruise deals.
Join other subscribers and get the best cruise deals of the week in your inbox every Thursday.