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.