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  #1  
Old November 7th, 2011, 08:30 PM
Been There, Planning That Been There, Planning That is online now
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Default Our Viking Sky Cruise

We have just returned from our Viking Sky journey from Budapest to Amsterdam. The boat sailed at less than capacity with the more expensive cabins offered in the initial meeting. Since we’d already unpacked and settled into our compact, but efficient cabin, we didn’t investigate costs. Viking Sky is one of the older boats and it appeared to us that the third deck cabins offered the same window size as our second deck one, and no additional space.

We travelled low season, so ‘enjoyed’ the anticipated damp chilly weather with some days of crisp sunshine. The skies were blue for our pre cruise stay in Prague where Viking provided excellent, ‘hand holding’ service. They provided similar care for our extension in Amsterdam. After years of independent travels we enjoyed this worry free holiday.

At most stops we were most impressed by the knowledge and good humour of our local guides. There was never even the slightest hint that tips were expected. This allowed the parsimonious to escape, while the rest of us chose to offer a genuine tip, rather than a guilt offering, as can be demanded by some guides.

We were surprised that the advertised walking tours in cities often began with a typical bus tour of the more distant local sites. We’d expected LONG hikes especially in Vienna. The ABC walking guide is overly cautious, in my opinion, and passengers with electric chairs appeared to be accommodated easily as long as they could navigate the bus steps.

We chose a few of the optional excursions, but the costs were reasonable averaging about 50 Euros per person.
We were well served by our cabin steward. Because the staff is small the cruise director and front desk staff must multi task. What her daily talks lacked in depth, she made up for in enthusiasm. They brought on board an expert who gave a great overview of European History with an emphasis on the European Union and another expert on Windmills.

We received friendly competent service from each staff member. They’ve been well trained ‘to please the guests’. On our first night Bob couldn’t get connected to the internet. The young girl at the desk patiently worked to solve, what was to her a ‘new challenge’ and to us an ‘insurmountable’ one. We made almost daily use of the free internet.

The director noted upon our arrival that since the officers were of German temperament, things would run efficiently. I found the dining room staff too efficient for my taste, clearing away a course before the final bite was swallowed and arriving post haste with the next one. But each table steward was friendly and available.

We found most of the beautifully presented meals blandly pedestrian, but nothing about which we’d complain. We aren’t fans of sausage, almost a daily offering, but we were travelling thru' 'sausage' countries. The breakfast buffet was a generous one offering a delicious and different kind of local bread or sweet roll each morning. After our first dinner I skipped the decaf Nescafe offered. A machine in the lounge provided a non- stop supply of many types of coffee.

We didn’t sleep particularly well on this trip, never getting used to the noise of going thru’ multiple locks in the early days, and late night departures from time to time. We were on the second deck

This was our first European River Cruise, having done the Yangtze on a Chinese line catering to English speakers and the Nile with Movenpik. These two river cruises were part of longer travels in Asia and the Middle East. We paid Viking in full over a year in advance and feel we received good value for our vacation dollars with their early specials. We’ve sailed on Celebrity, our favourite, HAL and NCL and would equate our Viking experience to our experiences on NCL as far as food, service and overall quality are ranked. But river cruising is an entirely different experience so perhaps any comparison is unfair.

Last edited by Been There, Planning That; November 7th, 2011 at 08:32 PM.
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  #2  
Old November 8th, 2011, 09:07 AM
Caroldoll Caroldoll is offline
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Default I for one truly appreciate your post. We are ocean

cruisers making our first river cruise next year on one of the new ones, Idun. We are anxious to give this a try and every post and tip seems like gold to us. Thank you for your post.
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  #3  
Old November 8th, 2011, 09:29 AM
Been There, Planning That Been There, Planning That is online now
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Default You're welcome

Thanks for your response. Since we've only been on one European River Cruise I have no way of comparing lines. There were one or two Viking repeaters on our boat, and one couple raved about their China cruise with Viking.

We're modest budget travellers but some of the newer boats with their floor to ceiling windows looked spectacular -- but the history and sites remain the same no matter how you get there!

Tipping is completely different. A range of amount was suggested, and the tip could be added to your account on the final morning or put in an envelope for a box at the desk. We chose to give an amount in the centre of the suggested range and paid in cash since we still had Euros and given the state of the European economy we thought it best to use them rather than save them for next year.

For many reasons we've chosen to to the Baltic by ocean liner next summer rather than River Boat, but we'd sure consider another river cruise in the future. It's an easy way to dabble in Europe.

Last edited by Been There, Planning That; November 8th, 2011 at 09:35 AM.
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  #4  
Old November 9th, 2011, 03:58 PM
Going Coastal Going Coastal is offline
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Default

What a great review of your trip, very concise.
We are also on the Idun next fall and really looking forward to it. We will be going Amsterdam-Budapest instead but your info is still very helpful.
We are also Celebrity fans and this is our first river cruise anywhere.
Could you expand a little on the ABC tour system?
Thanks so much,
GC
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  #5  
Old November 9th, 2011, 04:22 PM
Been There, Planning That Been There, Planning That is online now
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Default Levels of Difficulty

I would imagine that each line has different definitions but in general the system is designed to allow for those with mobility challenges.

For each city or town they'd explain the levels depending upon whether or not routes involved cobblestones and steps. One group was set aside for those who preferred a shorter or at least slower walking pace, a couple for regular walkers and from time to time a level C which supposedly was more challenging -- usually involved climbing. I'm no athlete and easily did level C, but I'd say about 1/4 of the guests would choose the easier levels. And for a few stops, there was another group which either paid for extended options or was interested in Jewish history. Before dinner each night the next day's excursions were well explained.

I'd guess that the age range on our boat was from the late 50s to one incredibly active 90+ year old who managed the most challenging tours,with 70 being the average.
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Old November 9th, 2011, 04:29 PM
Going Coastal Going Coastal is offline
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Default

Thanks, that was exactly the the sort of info I was looking for.
It all sounds grand except the food 'equaling NCL' standards part. But it is good to know what to expect and hope for improvement.
Best,
GC
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  #7  
Old March 15th, 2013, 12:38 PM
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Cruisin' from NC Cruisin' from NC is offline
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Default Viking Sky electrical outlets

We are scheduled to sail on the Viking Sky from Amsterdam to Budapest in late May 2013. Can you tell us anything about the electrical connections in the cabins? We are hoping there will be a 115v outlet near the desk. Both the Viking Europe and the Viking Spirit had one. We will be in cabin 214 and are beginning to get excited about the trip. This will be our third trip with the cruise line and both the others were great.
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Old March 15th, 2013, 12:51 PM
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Default Yes

Yes, I'm almost positive it was 115 volt near desk but as we always bring other adaptors with us I can't be 100% certain I didn't have to pull them out.

Viking does go after a North American market so I'm sure they do.

Enjoy a wonderful cruise. We didn't have the best cabin - -mid ship, second deck near the thrusters which awakened me at night when we went thru' multiple locks. Bob got used to them; I didn't. You might consider ear plugs.

Ruth
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Old March 15th, 2013, 05:19 PM
dcruisers dcruisers is offline
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Default

Thanks for the review! We will be doing our first River Cruise and the same itinerary you did....Budapest to Amsterdam and looking forward to it. Did you stay pre-post cruise? We have been checking out hotels in both Budpest and Amsterdam so would love to hear any comments on where to stay in each of those cities.
We will be sailing on one of the new long ships. I have mixed feelings about the new ships from what I have been reading on CC. It seems the older ships cabins are actually a little bigger and the ship better design....?
Again, appreciate your comments and look forward to reporting back after our trip in Sept!
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  #10  
Old March 15th, 2013, 06:38 PM
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Default Viking Hotels

We did both the pre and post cruise extensions with Viking. We could have done it much cheaper on our own but this trip was a lazy 'hold our hand' sort of holiday.

I wondered if our older boat was less well insulated for noise than the newer ones. We didn't hear anything from adjoining cabins but we certainly head those thrusters at night and others in aft cabins complained about the engine noise.

Ruth
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Old March 16th, 2013, 10:01 PM
Orlandocruiser Orlandocruiser is offline
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Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Been There, Planning That View Post
We did both the pre and post cruise extensions with Viking. We could have done it much cheaper on our own but this trip was a lazy 'hold our hand' sort of holiday.

I wondered if our older boat was less well insulated for noise than the newer ones. We didn't hear anything from adjoining cabins but we certainly head those thrusters at night and others in aft cabins complained about the engine noise.

Ruth
Thanks for the great review. We recently booked the Amsterdam to Budapest on the Idi. ( new ship in 2014). As you can see from my signature , Ruth, we will be sailing together this fall and I hope we'll be able to have some time then to hear more about your river cruise. ( you said you sail mostly on Celebrity so if you happen to be "elite" the cocktail hour would be a great time )

Sue ( and Orlando Greybeard Jim)
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  #12  
Old March 17th, 2013, 07:19 AM
Been There, Planning That Been There, Planning That is online now
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Default Not Elite by far

Sue,

We don't even aspire to ever becoming Elite as we're fickle cruisers choosing by destination and price. Why in China we did the Yangtze on a Chinese boat marketed to Americans as part of an independent exploration of Asia. Great fun BUT....

With cabin numbers posted for the Celebrity cruise perhaps we could arrange to meet on a quiet sea day.

Ruth
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  #13  
Old March 17th, 2013, 07:59 AM
Been There, Planning That Been There, Planning That is online now
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Default Notes Home

My husband keeps an extensive diary each trip but we send a condensed version home each day -- after all we want to keep friends and family interested -- I include the comic relief from his historical and political notes.

It might offer a flavour of our experience should anyone be interested. We're 'word' people so there are no pictures.

I could send an attachment if you Email me

ruth douglas at rogers dot com.

Ruth
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  #14  
Old March 30th, 2013, 11:28 AM
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BC Eddie BC Eddie is offline
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Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Been There, Planning That View Post
I wondered if our older boat was less well insulated for noise than the newer ones. We didn't hear anything from adjoining cabins but we certainly head those thrusters at night and others in aft cabins complained about the engine noise.

Ruth
Hi,
On May 1st we will be taking the same cruise as you did on the Sky. We have a 3rd floor cabin at the very back (Starboard) side of the ship and I wondered if you heard if the thruster noise was still an issue on that floor? Appreciate any info.

This will be our first cruise, river or ocean for us and we are really looking forward to it.

Regards,
Ed
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  #15  
Old March 30th, 2013, 01:16 PM
Been There, Planning That Been There, Planning That is online now
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Default Don't know

BC Eddie,

Since ours was the second to last cruise of the season, I seem to recall that the third deck was almost empty. Some at the aft did complain of engine noise but they could have been on the first or second deck.

I should say I'm a light sleeper. I'd just plan to enjoy a fantastic cruise and if necessary sleep for a few days when you get back home. We sure packed each day with everything offered and we've each used up our alloted three score and ten!

It was an absolutely great trip,

Ruth
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  #16  
Old March 30th, 2013, 01:23 PM
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Thanks Ruth for the reply and the comforting words. Everything I have seen and read so far says we will have a great time.
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