Just returned Viking Freya Budapest to Amsterdam...thoughts and tips

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#1
Indian River, Michigan
1,030 Posts
Joined Oct 2004
We just returned from the June 17-July 1 Viking Freya trip from Budapest to Amsterdam. I want to share some of our thoughts on the trip and possibly some tips and things I wish I would have known ahead of time. I'm going to try and cover a different topic in separate posts within this thread rather than trying to write everything in one post. If anyone has any questions, feel free.

First, let me start by saying that we had an awesome trip and we can't say enough good about Viking. Their staff is what made our trip so much fun. We would definitely book with them again. I may have a few negative comments to make but it should in no way discourage you from booking a cruise through them. They were minor in our opinion compared to the overall experience. Some of the issues I'm not even going to deal with here as people will blow it all out of proportion and Viking is aware and working on them. I think all new ships have a few bugs to work out and they will.

I'll start this post with the cabin. Yes, they are small but it was certainly big enough for us. The only time it felt too small was when we were both trying to unpack at the same time. We never felt crowded or cramped. The bed is super comfortable. I heard people complaining that the pillows were too soft but that's the way I like them and we slept very well.

The closet has enough hanging space but only 10 wooden hangars. We brought 10 wire hangars and it was perfect. There are plenty of shelves in the closet as well as a safe that worked well and was roomy. There were also 4 drawers and a counter that ran from the wall to the closet. Not real wide but it worked. There was a bedside "table" on each side of the bed but instead of putting a small drawer in them they put a shelf that pulled out. Never used it. Lighting in the cabin was perfect.

The bathroom was nice and the bottles of shampoo, conditioner, shower gel and lotion were lovely. There was also a shower cap and q-tips and make up remover pads in little packages. The problem we feel needs to be addressed is the lack of a clothesline. Be sure to bring one. We strung together our lanyards and tied them up in the shower. We had brought along clothespins.

The bathroom floor is heated which we thought was a nice touch and there's a control to turn it off if you wish. We found that we could wash items in the sink (difficult because it was small) and then lay them on the floor in the shower to dry. The heated floor worked well for that.

The shower has a button that you can push that makes the shower wall change from frosted to clear. Not sure whose bright idea that was because at the typical age of people on board, who really wants to show off your body in the shower??? They would have been better off putting in a clothesline! I th ink the object was that you could look outside while you were showering but I would be afraid that someone would be looking back in especially if you went into locks.

There were plenty of outlets (both kinds) and a hair dryer. The hair dryer doesn't work in the bathroom but there are plenty of mirrors in the cabin so that wasn't an issue. They do suggest that you bring a converter if you have something with a heating element. I did bring one for my curling iron.

I would really stress getting at least a French Balcony. We would have been unhappy with a window. I talked to someone my size and she said she had to stand on her tiptoes to look out. We loved our French Balcony. I would suggest getting a room on the port (left) side on this itinerary as most ships past by on that side and there's almost always something to look at. We alternated sides of the river to dock so sometimes we looked at the river and sometimes at the shore. A couple of times we opened the curtains to find another ship so close that we could reach out and touch it. They have to tie up that way occasionally because of dock space but I think it only happened 3 times. We would not have used the balcony enough to pay the difference. The first week it was too hot and we were in port much of time anyways. We did open our French door and it was just as nice as being able to step 3 more steps to the outside.

When I do my next post I'll address the check-in, check out process.
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#2
Green Bay, WI
164 Posts
Joined Aug 2000
Hi Lauren:

Thank you for your report. We are doing Viking Prestige Nov 4th in the reverse order of your cruise. I am sure we will pick up more good tips from your future posts.

Mary
#3
SW Florida
25 Posts
Joined May 2009
Thank you Lauren for your very helpful information. We are taking the same trip in 2 weeks on the Viking Njord. We will definitely bring a clothesline as we are packing very light.

Did you have any issues with insects? I have insect repellent wipes but I'm not sure how many to bring.

Thanks, Ann K.
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Upcoming Cruises 2018:
Crown Princess - Caribbean, Royal Princess - Transatlantic, Royal Princess - British Isles
Previous Cruises:
Princess - 3, Holland America - 6, Carnival - 2, Radisson - 2
Celebrity - 2, Royal Caribbean - 1, Viking -1, Celestyal - 1
#4
Canada
9 Posts
Joined Jun 2012
Thanks for this review, is going to be very helpful. Looking forward to your other's.
What was your cabin number?

Thanks again.
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#6
Indian River, Michigan
1,030 Posts
Joined Oct 2004
Thanks for the encouragement to keep on posting! I'm happy to help others as I felt there was so much I didn't know before we left.

We were in cabin 226 which was on the middle deck about 3/4 of the way down the hall. We didn't have a lot of choices when we booked but it would have been nice to have had it a little closer to the beginning of the hallway. We were happy with the middle deck. That is where the dining room is so it was handy. Maybe the views would have been a little bit better on the top deck but not much difference I would think.

Check-in and Check-out:

We received a nice little package with all of our documents about 2 and a half weeks before we left. It had to go through the travel agent first so it probably would come a little sooner if it came directly from Viking. In it will be 2 very nice guidebooks about the rivers with beautiful colored pictures. Great to take to follow along as you're going down the river. Nice touch, Viking. Also you will get two lanyards (which we used as a clothesline), identification cards with your name and where you are from, boarding tickets, 2 nice large bright red leather luggage tags with Viking written on them and your paper luggage tags. It all came in a document holder that you could wear around your neck if you wish. The id card would have been nice to get to know people's names but I only saw 2 people wear them on the first day and none after that.

When you arrive you can board pretty much anytime. Lunch buffet was available but you can't get into your room until 3:00 p.m. You can leave your luggage and get back off. The whole check in process took about 5 minutes. They really have it organized and we felt welcome from the minute we stepped onboard.

Check-out was also a breeze. The night before they will give you a print out of your onboard charges so you can see if it is correct. The day you leave you go to the desk and it takes about another 5 minutes to check out. You can pay cash or credit cards but no traveler's checks. You can also pay part cash/part credit card if you have some Euros you need to get rid of.

We were staying an extra day in Amsterdam on our own and they stored our luggage in a secure area for us and had a taxi ready to meet us at our chosen time (5:30). You can set up your taxi times the night before and they call and arrange it for you. They told us we could eat lunch onboard our last day if we wanted to. We came back to the ship about an hour early and just sat up on the deck until time for our taxi. Anything is "no problem" with them.

Taxi charge from where the ship docks in Amsterdam to the airport was 51 Euros. If there are others that want to go at the same time you would be able to split the cost. When your taxi arrives they call you by cabin number over the speaker system. Nothing could be easier.

Next up: What to pack
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#7
Indian River, Michigan
1,030 Posts
Joined Oct 2004
Originally posted by kiahuna
Thank you Lauren for your very helpful information. We are taking the same trip in 2 weeks on the Viking Njord. We will definitely bring a clothesline as we are packing very light.

Did you have any issues with insects? I have insect repellent wipes but I'm not sure how many to bring.

Thanks, Ann K.
We did have a little problem with bugs in our room as the first couple of nights we foolishly had our sliding door open with the lights on. So we had several bugs living on our ceiling for a few hours. Nothing bit and it was our fault they were there. No bugs while we were on shore. I wouldn't have used wipes if we would have brought them.
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#8
Indian River, Michigan
1,030 Posts
Joined Oct 2004
Originally posted by kiahuna
We are taking the same trip in 2 weeks on the Viking Njord.

Thanks, Ann K.
Ann, you are so lucky to be on that ship as our Program Director, Lucia, is going to be on your ship. She was only on our ship because she was filling in for someone. She was going on vacation for 2 weeks and then going on the Njord. You will absolutely love her. She made our trip extra special. Everyone loved her.
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#9
usa
92 Posts
Joined Jun 2012
Lauren,
Thank you so much for this VERY valuable info. My wife & I are taking this cruise, same ship in Oct 2012. Your insights will help us prepare for a wonderful trip.
Other than additional hangars, any recommendations on stuff to include or avoid?
Again, thank you for your posts.
Regards,
Thom
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Theremin: An instrument you play by not touching it (see one here: Celia Sheen on Theremin)

Upcoming Cruises
Holland America Triple Denali (Noordam) (5 Jun 2018)
Viking Hild (5 Nov 2018) - Paris to the Swiss Alps

Previous
Viking Star (2017) - Into the Midnight Sun (London-Bergen)
Viking Buri (2015) - Portraits of Southern France (Paris sequel)
Viking Aegir (2014) - Bucharest to Budapest (Romania prequel)
Viking Freya (2012) - Budapest to Amsterdam (Prague prequel)
Oberoi Philae (2010) - Luxor to Aswan (via ISRAM)
#10
Indian River, Michigan
1,030 Posts
Joined Oct 2004
Originally posted by theremin
Lauren,
Thank you so much for this VERY valuable info. My wife & I are taking this cruise, same ship in Oct 2012. Your insights will help us prepare for a wonderful trip.
Other than additional hangars, any recommendations on stuff to include or avoid?
Again, thank you for your posts.
Regards,
Thom
These are the things I would suggest you bring:
clothesline and clothespins
laundry detergent...I got several travel packets of Tide at Bed, Bath and
Beyond
small umbrella-- Viking has umbrellas but they are large and kind of heavy
converter if you have heated items like a curling iron
small baggies - We would pick up a couple of cookies or muffins to have
in the room for a late night snack. Food is not available 24/7
lots of memory cards for your camera. You'll take way too many pics
good walking shoes for uneven ground
hangars
travel clock (with an alarm if you wish) There was no clock by the bed.
your own laptop or ipad. There were 2 computers available but much
easier to have your own. Internet worked great.

I may think of more later. I strongly suggest the laundry items. You can have it done on the ship but it is expensive (Undies are $2.50 USD each)
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#11
SW Florida
25 Posts
Joined May 2009
Lauren, thanks again for all your great information!!!!

And very happy to hear we'll have a wonderful cruise director on the Njord in 2 weeks.

I am going to try to make a clotheslines out of rubber bands this afternoon. Saw instructions for this on the net. You can tuck your clothes into the loops so there supposedly is no need for clothespins. We'll see...

Also, was there a bottle opener and corkscrew in the cabins? I am thinking of bringing these items. My husband and I enjoy sampling local beers & wine.
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Upcoming Cruises 2018:
Crown Princess - Caribbean, Royal Princess - Transatlantic, Royal Princess - British Isles
Previous Cruises:
Princess - 3, Holland America - 6, Carnival - 2, Radisson - 2
Celebrity - 2, Royal Caribbean - 1, Viking -1, Celestyal - 1
#12
Michigan
22 Posts
Joined Dec 2001
Let me also add our thanks for the information, Lauren. We are on the July 15th Grand European on the Embla from Amsterdam to Budapest. Sounds like we will be coming home, like you, with many fond memories.


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#13
Pawleys Island, S.C.
318 Posts
Joined Dec 2005
Hi Lauren:

We have friends that just returned from a Prague to Budapest Viking cruise. They thoroughly enjoyed their trip, but indicated that the "complimentary" wine and beer with meals was limited to just one glass. Can you comment on your experience?

Thanks for the "trip report". willbrook
#14
Green Bay, WI
164 Posts
Joined Aug 2000
Originally posted by Lauren
These are the things I would suggest you bring:
clothesline and clothespins
laundry detergent...I got several travel packets of Tide at Bed, Bath and
Beyond
small umbrella-- Viking has umbrellas but they are large and kind of heavy
converter if you have heated items like a curling iron
small baggies - We would pick up a couple of cookies or muffins to have
in the room for a late night snack. Food is not available 24/7
lots of memory cards for your camera. You'll take way too many pics
good walking shoes for uneven ground
hangars
travel clock (with an alarm if you wish) There was no clock by the bed.
your own laptop or ipad. There were 2 computers available but much
easier to have your own. Internet worked great.

I may think of more later. I strongly suggest the laundry items. You can have it done on the ship but it is expensive (Undies are $2.50 USD each)
Lauren:

I thought I had read that the ships had American type power outlets. What kind of converter did you use for your heated / hair appliances? I thought I didn't need one. Thanks for the heads-up.

Mary
#15
Indian River, Michigan
1,030 Posts
Joined Oct 2004
There were no bottle openers or corkscrews in the room so bring one if you wish. You could buy bottle openers everywhere. Wine was cheap and good. We bought 2 bottles and one was $2.25 USD and the other was $5.00. And they were good! We bought beer also but bought cans.

There were 3 or 4 American Power Outlets in the room. My hairdresser had told me to take a converter because sometimes the curling irons will overheat and they also told us during their first onboard talk that it was a good idea to use them for heated hair appliances. It might be o.k. without them but I wasn't taking a chance.

Be sure to get a converter, not an adapter. We bought ours in the airport for $35.00 at Brookstone and figured we would also use it for future trips. I also needed it in the hotels we stayed in as they didn't have American outlets.

The wine with lunch and dinner is unlimited. They come along constantly and fill your glass. You could have ten glasses if you wished but you might have to crawl back to the room! We usually got our glasses filled towards the end of dinner and then took what was left up on the deck to finish it. Viking will let you bring your own wine and beer onboard and they don't care where you drink it. You can just go to the bar and ask for glasses. I thought that was a very nice touch and we appreciated it.
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#16
Indian River, Michigan
1,030 Posts
Joined Oct 2004
Dress code (or lack thereof):

I hate to get into this controversial subject but it would have helped me to know what to pack. I would say that 70-80% of the men wore khaki type pants and collared shirts to dinner. Women wore capris with a nice top or pants. I'm not sure I ever saw a dress. There is only one dress up night on the Grand European, at least on the boat we were on. It was the Captain's dinner towards the end of the cruise. Even then people were not dressed up. I think I saw about 5 sportcoats and about 4 ties. Nothing fancy on the women either and most people dressed the same as every other night.

Unfortunately there were some that (in my opinion) were not dressed appropriately for dinner. I don't think that the his and hers matching t-shirts that were worn all day on the tours were good attire for the evening dinner. The weather was so hot that I don't know how anyone could have toured all day and not showered and changed but there were several people that just appeared in the dining room in their touring sweaty t-shirts. One younger person had the same t-shirt and gym shorts for the entire cruise. You can imagine what those looked like by the end.

Some men wore shorts to dinner and if they were nice shorts they did not look out of place. Honestly, when they say "casual" that's exactly what it is. No need to bring bling and fancy clothes because you will stand out and not necessarily in a good way. Middle of the road is perfect. Also perfectly acceptable to wear something to dinner more than once. High heels would have been out of place also.

Many of the men also wore collared shirts and shorts to tour but t-shirts were certainly acceptable and that's what my husband usually wore during the day.

I'm hoping this post is helpful and would not like to see it turn into a big controversy like I've seen happen on the ocean cruising threads. Take it for what it is and wear what you want.
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#17
Minnesota
26 Posts
Joined Apr 2012
I am surpised the longships do not have a clothesline. I was just on the Viking Prestige last month and there was a clothesline in the shower. I used it almost every day and was really happy it was there, even though I had brought my travel clothesline (which I never used).
#18
california
1,505 Posts
Joined Mar 2011
Lauren thankyou and I am running out to get a convertor! We are leaving on the 15th on the Embla. You have no idea how helpful you have been!
I have the clothesline and the sink will be my money saver.
.........now where is my corkscrew......
#19
Indian River, Michigan
1,030 Posts
Joined Oct 2004
Packing:

There were a couple of things that I took that I forgot to mention earlier. I took a shower pouf to use with the shower gel and I was glad that I did. I threw it away at the end. We also took a nylon bag for shopping. One of the kind that folds and then rolls into a small bundle that you can stick in a purse or a pocket of men's cargo shorts. It came in handy when shopping. So glad we had that.

Also, if you have any allergies or reactions to perfume, you might want to know that the soaps and products on the boat have a strong smell. If that is a problem for you, stick in some of your own.

I strongly recommend that you only go with your suitcase half full. This is the least I have packed for any trip. Since you don't have to dress up you don't need as many clothes. You will be glad for the room to put all your souvenirs. There were people buying extra suitcases along the way.

The shopping was fun and hard to resist but maybe it's because it was our first trip to Europe. We only bought things we would actually use when we got home and we were happy with what we got. Sometimes when we return from trips we would say "why on earth did I buy that??" We were glad for the extra room in our suitcases.
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#20
Indian River, Michigan
1,030 Posts
Joined Oct 2004
Mobility on the boat/excursions

I can speak for this firsthand because right before the trip I tore the meniscus in my knee so I was on crutches the whole trip. I was in good physical shape so it didn't slow me down too much and I went on all the tours. But, it did make me realize that river cruising would not be for people who have difficulty getting around.

If you have trouble with stairs don't book the bottom floor. The dining room is on the main floor and the lounge and terrace are on the top floor. There is an elevator to that floor. The sun deck is only accessible by stairs. There was at least one stop where we had to go to that level to get off the boat. Sometimes the gangplank was pretty steep depending on where we were docked.

The tours themselves are usually on uneven ground with cobblestones and about 1/3 of the time are also up and down hills. There were people on our cruise with canes (used mostly for balance I think) and they did ok but I don't know if they went on all the tours. We had one person in a mobility scooter but he wasn't able to go very many places and the staff had to carry that heavy scooter off the boat.

Viking did offer a leisurely tour each day that you could choose that went at a slower pace. Supposedly they covered the same places but we never went on one to see as I was getting along o.k. on the regular tours.

There was no bar in the bathroom for balance which was something that I thought was needed for some people.

All in all, it's a very active vacation.
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