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When I went to China with a friend we booked the air with Viking as then the transfers were included. We were picked up at the airport and taken to our hotel.
It was easier to be picked up in a country where we didn't speak the language.
When we went to Holland we went early to stay in Belgium so we booked our own flights and I am going again in March and have booked my own flights again as I am going early to stay in a hotel.
I used VIking air once and never used cruise air pkgs again
its MUCH easier and better for me to get own air and take a taxi when I arrive.No waiting,no bus,and I get to chose times,seats,schedule,price that fits ME.
Do check out Cruise Air thread below for many comments about this.
Its usually cheaper too.No problem with taxi in BUdapest,they ALL speak English,it seems.Just did it in June,no hassle.
We have done two cruises with Viking using their basic air offering, not the custom air. Both times we have been absolutely pleased--no flights that I would have changed. We fly from Texas. To Budapest they routed us to Dulles, then to Frankfort, then to Budapest. For our France cruise they routed us through Chicago to Paris. I will say that as soon as I received the itinerary from Viking I went on-line to the actual airlines and selected seats rather than settle for the ones they had randomly assigned. It was easy and we had the best seats one can get in economy. Depending on the plane configuration we like to get either two on the side or one of the two-seat rows in the back, rather than share a row.
By the way, we loved our Danube Waltz trip; I hope you will too.
A couple of things that I forgot to add in my earlier post above: You'll have up 'til 90 days before departure to make other arrangements so I did watch the airfares on-line, but never was able to see lower fares than what Viking had quoted. Also, we do not have any "miles" to use nor do we have loyalty to a particular airline. As for multiple stops, we fly from Austin which means for international flights (other than Mexico) we have to make connections at a larger U. S. airport, so that extra U. S. stop is not Viking's fault.
I've used custom air from Viking last year. It costs $50 per passenger. I wanted to be able to pick my airline and seats. Since I'm an American Airlines frequent flyer, my status allowed me to reserve exit row seats, which make a significant difference on an overseas flight. It was also nice to be able to pick airports. I fly out of Nashville, so no direct flights to Europe. I chose to fly through DFW rather than ORD. I've generally found passport control/customs to be significantly less painful in DFW compared to ORD.
I always recommend booking the custom air option when working with Viking. This allows you to have a say in the routing/airline and provides your air schedule well in advance of the the other guests on the same sailing. We are also able to select your seats at this time as well - making sure you get good seats. The non custom air itineraries are assigned 75 days prior and custom air can be added as early as 10 months prior.
Viking Idun 8/12| RCCL Liberty of the Seas 12/3/12| Celebrity Reflection 12/1/13| Oceania Marina 4/12/12 | HAL Noordam 1/13/12 | Viking Prestige 08/18/11| RCCL Allure of the Seas 6/19/11 | RCCL Allure of the Seas 1/23/11 | RCCL Allure of the Seas Pre-Inaugural 11/26/10 | RCCL Allure of the Seas Pre-Inaugural 11/26/10 | Celebrity Eclipse 11/13/10 | HAL Eurodam 10/6/10 | NCL EPIC Inaugural 7/8/10 | NCL PRIDE OF AMERICA 6/12/10 | Celebrity Eclipse Conveyance 3/19/10 | DISNEY MAGIC 2/20/10 | HAL WESTERDAM 12/6/09| CARIBBEAN PRINCESS 9/5/09 | NCLA PRIDE OF AMERICA 4/18/09 | CELEBRITY SOLSTICE 1/25/09 | HAL EURODAM 11/22/08 | CELEBRITY SOLSTICE Pre-Inaugural 11/10/08 | CCL SPLENDOR 11/15/08 | HAL EURODAM 10/15/08 | CRYSTAL SYMPHONY (8220) 8/21/08 | NCL DAWN 5/11/08 | CELEBRITY CENTURY 2/14/08 | GOLDEN PRINCESS 01/19/08 | DISNEY WONDER 12/06/07 | HAL WESTERDAM 11/18/07 | CROWN PRINCESS 09/27/07 | LIBERTY OF THE SEAS Inaugural May 2007 | CROWN PRINCESS 4/21/07 | CRYSTAL SERENITY 01/05/07 | QUEEN MARY 2 12/02/06 | CELEBRITY CENTURY Inauguaral 11/11/06 | JEWEL OF THE SEAS (Canada/NE) 9/30/06 | DISNEY WONDER 08/10/06 | CARIBBEAN PRINCESS 07/01/06 | FREEDOM OF THE SEAS Inaugural 05/31/06 | DIAMOND PRINCESS 5/20/06 | NCL JEWEL 12/11/05 | NCL JEWEL Inaugural from NYC 9/15/05 | CARIBBEAN PRINCESS 08/20/05 | HAL ZUIDERDAM 4/9/05 | MSC OPERA 2/26/05 | MARINER OF THE SEAS 6/26/04 | DISNEY WONDER 11/16/03 | DISNEY WONDER 05/20/02 and more.....
I pay the $100 just to avoid pre-dawn trips to the airport (especially on the last day of my vacation). On both of our cruises, people were leaving the ship/hotel before dawn to get to the airport--and many of these were people who had air arrangements through Viking.