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  #1  
Old January 27th, 2013, 08:53 AM
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JPH814 JPH814 is offline
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Default About to book 2014 cruise - Uniworld vs Viking

Hi:

I am a 58 year old veteran ocean cruiser but first time river cruiser.

We are going with another couple on a river cruise in late September 2014 that will end with our own side trip to the Octoberfest. We have narrowed it down to a couple of itineraries - one Vienna to Nuremburg and the other Prague/Melnik to Berlin.

Variations on both cruises are available on Uniworld and on Viking. I have a couple of questions:

I see that Uniworld has announced an all-inclusive policy for 2014. I assume that Viking is not all inclusive; am I correct?

Usually - on ocean cruises - all inclusive lines are a little more upscale. Would you say that Uniworld is more upscale than Viking?

Does anyone have an opinion of one of these itineraries versus the other?

Does anyone have an opinion on one of these cruiselines versus the other?
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  #2  
Old January 27th, 2013, 12:14 PM
MaxBuck MaxBuck is offline
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Joe, my wife and I have taken only one river cruise (will be taking our second this summer) - Uniworld's Normandy itinerary. Our experience was so good that my wife will not consider any other cruise line. I would likely be happy on other lines, but she talked to some folks on Viking tours who were not quite as pleased, overall, as our fellow Uniworld shipmates were. The multiple-docking phenomenon seems to be more common on Viking than on other cruise lines, from what I can tell. Some people are upset when this happens.

From what we can tell, Uniworld may be a better choice for those who like "Old World" style luxuries and traditional decor, while Viking has more contemporary decor and perhaps a bit less luxe. Personally, I'd pick the cruise line that had the itinerary that most appealed to me, as river cruising in general seems like a pretty high-end vacation with plenty of creature comforts.

One thing to consider - the usual staterooms on Uniworld are quite small. We had a suite (essentially twice the size) on the Normandy cruise and will repeat that on our Danube cruise this year. Don't know that I'd be happy without one.
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  #3  
Old January 27th, 2013, 03:48 PM
pacmom pacmom is offline
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We have been on 6 Uniworld and loved each. We have been on 4 Viking and loved only one--China. Of the other one the Elbe was very good and one the Sky from Antwerp-Basel not good. We never thought a trip could be better than Uniworld, but our 2 AMAwaterways were wonderful.

Unless I've missed something on Uniworld's itineraries, don't think they do the Elbe--your Prague-Berlin. Look at the itineraries closely and then decide. Good luck and be aware that river cruising can be addictive--we leave on our 16th in June--one of the first trips on the Gironde in France with Road Scholar. We are going before crowding starts--next year both Uniworls and Viking join the itinerary. Pat
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Old February 15th, 2013, 01:50 AM
JustinAjax JustinAjax is offline
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Pacmom, in what ways were you not pleased with Viking?
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  #5  
Old February 15th, 2013, 08:47 AM
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Default Uniworld/Viking

We have traveled on Uniworld and Avalon and loved both of them. The main reason we have not tried Viking is they want you to pay for the cruise up front, even though it might be a year away. Both Uniworld and Avalon allow you to pay in increments or wait until a couple of months before you sail. One cruiser was correct about the Elbe itinerary - as far as we have been able to tell - Viking is the only company that does that route because the river is much more shallow than the other rivers and they are the only company that has ships able to navigate that river.
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  #6  
Old February 15th, 2013, 10:58 AM
franski franski is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JPH814 View Post
Hi:

Variations on both cruises are available on Uniworld and on Viking. I have a couple of questions:

I see that Uniworld has announced an all-inclusive policy for 2014. I assume that Viking is not all inclusive; am I correct?
Uniworld is all inclusive for 2014... and no, Viking is not. The only other "all inclusive" (at least at this point in time....) is Scenic. Tauck is also pretty all inclusive - just not sure if the bar is open all day however (as it is on Scenic...)

Quote:
Originally Posted by JPH814 View Post
Usually - on ocean cruises - all inclusive lines are a little more upscale. Would you say that Uniworld is more upscale than Viking?

Does anyone have an opinion on one of these cruiselines versus the other?
We have been on 3 cruises with Uniworld - and quite enjoyed them. We enjoy the "old world" ambiance, but realize that isn't for everyone.

Our 1st Viking cruise is this April - on one of the long-ships. We booked for price/itinerary. There have been a number of people who have posted that they felt the Viking experience was "less" than what they had hoped for (or enjoyed on other lines) - but I do know someone who sailed Viking and said it was "top notch". This person is widely travelled, so value his opinion.

I will be comparing the two - but not sure if you want to wait until that time. There are lots of Early Booking discounts on right now - and if you have a specific itinerary or date in mind, you are best to snap it up early.

Usually, I would say that the Viking policy of paying in full is a detriment, however Uniworld's best prices are also if you pay in full. So the difference here is having to (with Viking) or choosing to (with Uniworld if you want the best price....)

Fran

Last edited by franski; February 15th, 2013 at 11:00 AM.
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  #7  
Old February 15th, 2013, 12:25 PM
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Usually, I would say that the Viking policy of paying in full is a detriment
Have seen this before but not sure why it gets repeated. Viking's payment policy (from their website) is as follows:

A deposit for cruise fare of $500 per person is required to secure a confirmed reservation. Promotions may have different payment terms—please refer to the offer. When more than one cruise is booked, deposit and payment policies apply per cruise. The final balance is due no later than 90 days prior to sailing. All reservations are subject to cancellation if payments are not received by the due date. Air seats are limited; airfares are subject to change and are not guaranteed until full payment of air is received.

Granted, they run a lot of promotions where final payment is due at time of booking or on a given date (a number of current promotions have a February 28th final payment) well in advance of the cruise, and although I'm not familiar with Uniworld, sounds like they have the same policy on promotions. I guess we're so use to always having to pay for air fare at the time of booking, this part doesn't seem to bother us.
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  #8  
Old February 15th, 2013, 02:12 PM
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H2Otstr H2Otstr is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cole View Post
We have traveled on Uniworld and Avalon and loved both of them. The main reason we have not tried Viking is they want you to pay for the cruise up front, even though it might be a year away. Both Uniworld and Avalon allow you to pay in increments or wait until a couple of months before you sail. One cruiser was correct about the Elbe itinerary - as far as we have been able to tell - Viking is the only company that does that route because the river is much more shallow than the other rivers and they are the only company that has ships able to navigate that river.
Cole
Grand Circle does, too. We went on the Elbe with Grand Circle this past May. The river was very low and both Viking and Grand Circle boats got stuck because of the low water.
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SAILED: Viking, Portraits of Southern France. 2006
SAILED: Uniworld, Castles Along the Rhine, 2007
SAILED: Gate 1, Thanksgiving Cruise, 2007
SAILED: AMA Waterways, Portugal on the Douro, 2008
SAILED: Grand Circle: Romance of the Rhine and Mosel, 2010
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: Viking Emerald, China's Cultural Delights. 3/28/2011
SAILED: Grand Circle: Old World Prague and the Blue Danube. September 7, 2011. MS River Adagio
SAILED: Viking Spirit, Paris to Normandy. December 11, 2011.
SAILED: Grand Circle's Essence of the Elbe: Hamburg to Prague on the M/S River Allegro on May 27 to June 11, 2012
SAILED: Grand Circle Russia Revealed with pretrip to Helsinki and Tallinn on August 18, 2012. St. Petersburg to Moscow.
SAILED: Viking Sun, Treasures of the Rhine. Nov 11, 2012.
SAILED: AMACerto, Istanbul to Budapest. May 30, 2013.
SAILED: Uniworld River Queen, Classic Christmas Markets, Nuremberg to Frankfurt. Dec 5, 2013.
SAILED: Vantage Travel, Croatian Odyssey & Venice with Lake Bled, Slovenia pretrip. M/Y Harmony G __________________________________________

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  #9  
Old February 15th, 2013, 06:32 PM
franski franski is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WarEagle76 View Post
Have seen this before but not sure why it gets repeated. Viking's payment policy (from their website) is as follows:

A deposit for cruise fare of $500 per person is required to secure a confirmed reservation. Promotions may have different payment terms—please refer to the offer. When more than one cruise is booked, deposit and payment policies apply per cruise. The final balance is due no later than 90 days prior to sailing. All reservations are subject to cancellation if payments are not received by the due date. Air seats are limited; airfares are subject to change and are not guaranteed until full payment of air is received.

Granted, they run a lot of promotions where final payment is due at time of booking or on a given date (a number of current promotions have a February 28th final payment) well in advance of the cruise, and although I'm not familiar with Uniworld, sounds like they have the same policy on promotions. I guess we're so use to always having to pay for air fare at the time of booking, this part doesn't seem to bother us.
Most of their promotional material is advertising the "2-for-1" sale (that never ends...) If you want the posted 2-for-1 price, you need to pay in full either at time of booking, or within a few weeks. I think the $500 pp booking is for full-price bookings.

Uniworld is somewhat different in that you have 2 options --> the pay in full discount, or a lesser discount if you just place a deposit.

I am not sure about air - as we usually book on our own. Uniworld does offer airport transfers even if you don't do their air - so airport transfers haven't (to date) affected our decision on air.

One area that I would suggest doing air with the company is in Russia... (unless you book Uniworld or Scenic...) as I think it could be very difficult getting to or from the airport on your own.

Fran
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  #10  
Old February 15th, 2013, 07:56 PM
cbb cbb is offline
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My TA says it's all about itinerary and then age of ship. He/she thinks that the ships we should be looking at are 2009 and younger.

So...perhaps looking at age of ships for those itineraries might help you.
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Old February 15th, 2013, 10:26 PM
SOShrink SOShrink is offline
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Nobody is a bigger Uniworld fan than I am, but I will tell you hands down that the most fulfilling, meaningful and memorable trip I ever took was Viking's Elegant Elbe trip (Berlin:Magdeburg to Prague:Melnik) aboard the Clara Schumann many years ago, and I understand she has been recently refurbished. Don't miss it. I agree with those that say the itinerary is more important than the vessel...
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  #12  
Old February 16th, 2013, 10:00 AM
cole cole is offline
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Default Correct!

Quote:
Originally Posted by H2Otstr View Post
Grand Circle does, too. We went on the Elbe with Grand Circle this past May. The river was very low and both Viking and Grand Circle boats got stuck because of the low water.
I stand corrected - Grand Circle does the Elbe - but after seeing photos of the cramped quarters (twin beds that make into couches during the day) and just large windows in each cabin - decided those were too tight quarters for the two of us. But this trip is on our bucket list one day.

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Old February 16th, 2013, 11:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cole View Post
I stand corrected - Grand Circle does the Elbe - but after seeing photos of the cramped quarters (twin beds that make into couches during the day) and just large windows in each cabin - decided those were too tight quarters for the two of us. But this trip is on our bucket list one day.

Cole
Yes, the rooms were small. That doesn't bother us, though. We spend so little time in our room.
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SAILED: Viking, Portraits of Southern France. 2006
SAILED: Uniworld, Castles Along the Rhine, 2007
SAILED: Gate 1, Thanksgiving Cruise, 2007
SAILED: AMA Waterways, Portugal on the Douro, 2008
SAILED: Grand Circle: Romance of the Rhine and Mosel, 2010
SAILED
: Viking Emerald, China's Cultural Delights. 3/28/2011
SAILED: Grand Circle: Old World Prague and the Blue Danube. September 7, 2011. MS River Adagio
SAILED: Viking Spirit, Paris to Normandy. December 11, 2011.
SAILED: Grand Circle's Essence of the Elbe: Hamburg to Prague on the M/S River Allegro on May 27 to June 11, 2012
SAILED: Grand Circle Russia Revealed with pretrip to Helsinki and Tallinn on August 18, 2012. St. Petersburg to Moscow.
SAILED: Viking Sun, Treasures of the Rhine. Nov 11, 2012.
SAILED: AMACerto, Istanbul to Budapest. May 30, 2013.
SAILED: Uniworld River Queen, Classic Christmas Markets, Nuremberg to Frankfurt. Dec 5, 2013.
SAILED: Vantage Travel, Croatian Odyssey & Venice with Lake Bled, Slovenia pretrip. M/Y Harmony G __________________________________________

Grand Circle: Burma & the Irrawaddy River with Phnom Pehn and Angkor Wat pretrip. 11/25 to 12/16 2014. Ship: RV Paukan
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Old February 16th, 2013, 11:51 AM
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Quote:
One area that I would suggest doing air with the company is in Russia... (unless you book Uniworld or Scenic...) as I think it could be very difficult getting to or from the airport on your own.
You can always buy the transfers separately (at least on Viking) if you provide your own air. We've done this several times when using airline miles for the air and/or had earlier arrival or departure plans on one end of the trip which fell outside the normal pre/post departure air criteria. As you mentioned in some cases it definitely is a plus, Passau to Munich comes to mind for us.
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Old February 16th, 2013, 09:17 PM
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OP, just curious if you've considered AMA Waterways?
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Old February 16th, 2013, 10:14 PM
franski franski is offline
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Originally Posted by WarEagle76 View Post
You can always buy the transfers separately (at least on Viking) if you provide your own air. We've done this several times when using airline miles for the air and/or had earlier arrival or departure plans on one end of the trip which fell outside the normal pre/post departure air criteria. As you mentioned in some cases it definitely is a plus, Passau to Munich comes to mind for us.
I have always thought Prague was another transfer that I would like the cruise company to take care of.

We are travelling with Viking this April - and booked our own air... (got a smoking deal on Lufthansa). Just waiting for final confirmation re: hotels - as I believe that the hotels Viking books (1 night in Bucharest at the beginning, 2 in Budapest at the end...) do offer shuttle service - so I can book that before we leave home!!!

Fran
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Old February 18th, 2013, 01:37 PM
dwkucera dwkucera is offline
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Originally Posted by sippican View Post
OP, just curious if you've considered AMA Waterways?
I second this. You absolutely should consider AMA. I will not comment on the other lines mentioned because we have not cruised on them. That being said, my wife and I are very well seasoned travelers with over 15 ocean cruises and numerous land trips under our belt. The Danube cruise we took with AMA last year was without a doubt the most outstanding vacation we have ever had. We are booked with them for a Christmas markets cruise this year.
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Old February 18th, 2013, 03:05 PM
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Thank you for all the advice. We have decided on the Uniworld from Vienna to Nuremburg/Prague.

FYI - We looked at the AMA cruise. Our friends want to spend a couple of days post cruise at Octoberfest. With AMA, it is a 12 day cruise starting in Budapest - a city we really did not care to invest the time. Uniworld and Viking are 10 days packages. We thought the two less days on the Uniworld package starting in Vienna) would give us those two days to use at the Octoberfest.

Sounds like it is difficult to make a bad choice among Viking, AMA and Uniworld
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Old February 19th, 2013, 09:00 PM
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We've done Viking twice -- Amsterdam to Basel and the Tulips/Windmills (Amsterdam round trip). Not done Uniworld so can't compare. We've been VERY pleased with Viking. Ships are nice; crew is great; food is more than decent; tours are wonderful.

Not sure why folks say it's not all-inclusive. Tours are included. Wine/beer is included. Tipping is not required. Not sure what people think is missing.

If the only issue is payment policy -- that's a fair criticism. But that is very different than saying a particular line is better for the overall cruise experience.
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Old February 20th, 2013, 01:08 AM
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Quote:
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We've done Viking twice ....

Not sure why folks say it's not all-inclusive. Tours are included. Wine/beer is included. Tipping is not required. Not sure what people think is missing.
Well, tipping may not be "required" - but it is recommended... Viking is quite clear in their literature that gratuities are not included, and give a suggested amount. No, you don't have to pay, but we have always felt that the suggested amount is more than fair for the type of service we have received. There are many comments here re: tipping - and it is one topic guaranteed to bring out the "passion" in people!!!

All inclusive means airport transfers (even if you book your own air), wine/beer/soft drinks free all day (not just at meal times), gratuities included, no optional excursion to pay for. Viking does not provide any of these things.

Tauck has been all-inclusive for awhile, Scenic is all-inclusive starting this year - and Uniworld next year.

An all-inclusive package isn't for everyone.... and you do pay for these items, but it is up-front, instead of day-to-day (ie: guides) or at the end of the cruise (ie: CD and crew).

Fran
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