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  #1  
Old April 29th, 2013, 09:32 AM
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OkieCruiser49 OkieCruiser49 is offline
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Default On Board: Viking MS Vienna, Romantic Danube

We left Budapest this morning on the MS Vienna headed for Nuremberg on Viking’ Romantic Danube cruise. The Vienna is a leased ship (formerly the Avalon Tapestry). The Viking Prestige is doing the same itinerary alongside the Vienna.

We booked Viking’s two-day precuise package in Budapest. We stayed in the Hilton on the Castle Hill on the Buda side of the Danube. We arrived on Friday afternoon and had a nice walk around Castle Hill including the Mathias Church, followed by dinner at one of the many cafes on the hill. The Church is beautiful, but it’s being restored, so a lot of work is going on inside. On Saturday we spent the day walking around the city. The highlights for us were St. Stephen’s church, and the Grand Market, but the walking itself was a great experience. We finally returned to Castle Hill via the cog railway at the end of the Chain Bridge.

Viking’s transfer to the Vienna wasn’t scheduled until 4:00 p.m. (checkout time was noon), so we left our luggage at the hotel and walked down to Pest for a morning of sightseeing. We toured the Great Synagogue and relaxed at a sidewalk café before getting on the Vienna around 1:00.

Rooms were not ready until around 3:00, but Viking had a nice buffet lunch set out in the lounge so we were able relax there until the room was ready. Unfortunately, internet i.d.’s weren’t available until 6:00 p.m.

Dinner was served at 7:00. At 9:00 there was a 45 minute program by a small Hungarian band (violin, cello, bass, keyboard) with dancers and a tenor.

We skipped today’s Budapest tour and chose to ride down the river instead. The tour left at 8:00, and the boat left around 8:30. Buses met the boat around 12:30 at Visegrad. This afternoon, we had a safety drill, and a strudel demonstration is getting ready to start.

Some general observations: There are more young people on this cruise that we saw on our Viking cruise last year. There are also more groups travelling together. Internet seems much more spotty than last year. I seem to get kicked off a few minutes after I sign on. Several people are having the same issues. We’re off to a good start. I’ll try to post more later. I’d be glad to answer any questions people might have. Tomorrow we do Vienna.
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  #2  
Old April 29th, 2013, 10:35 PM
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Our 1st river cruise was on the Danube and we loved it! I am going to enjoy reading your review. I hope you have a wonderful time!
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  #3  
Old April 30th, 2013, 06:00 AM
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Thanks for taking the time to post your review. I enjoyed the first installment and look forward to more.
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  #4  
Old April 30th, 2013, 02:21 PM
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Default Taking the same cruise in may

Can't wait to read your reviews. We are taking the same cruise on the Idun May 11 with the two day pre stay at the Hilton. So it should be interesting to hear what you have to say. ( and suggest)
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  #5  
Old May 1st, 2013, 09:50 AM
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Default Vienna to Melk

Yesterday the MS Vienna docked in Vienna at around 8:30 a.m. We went through at least a couple of locks, the first around 10:00 p.m., and the last just before we reached Vienna. These locks are much larger than the locks on the Moselle we went through last year. On both of these locks, the Viking Prestige locked through at the same time we did with plenty of room.

There were lots of options in Vienna. The morning included tour began at 8:45. It consisted of a bus trip around downtown, a walking tour around the Hofburg area, and finally around 45 minutes of free time. There was also the option (at no cost) of a tour that used the subway to get downtown with a walking tour that followed. After these tours, one had the option of either coming back to the boat for lunch or hanging around downtown. We came back to the boat. In the afternoon, we opted for the 49 Euro tour of Schonbrun palace. We boarded a bus at around 2:00 and got to the castle where we did an escorted tour with free time afterwards. There was also an option for a tour of the produce market with the chef (travel by subway).

We ran into a lot of traffic on the way back (probably due to today being May Day and a large Palestinian delegation in Vienna yesterday). So our trip from the palace to the ship took a little over 1½ hour. Those going to the evening concert arrived a little late for their 6:00 dinner seating. Those of us who did not go to the concert had dinner at 7:30. The ship didn’t leave Vienna until around 12:30 a.m. or 1:00 a.m., so those who wanted to do a night on the town had that opportunity.

If we had it to do over again, we would have taken the subway tour in the morning, had lunch downtown, and then headed for Schonbrun on our own via subway. It would have cost less, and we would have had more time at the palace. If you go on your own, you get a audio device that describes the rooms. I also got the impression that you see more rooms on the self-guided tour than you do with a tour group.

Some of our group stayed downtown after the morning tour and went by to see the Lippizaner stallions practice. One couple had bought opera tickets before they left Canada and went to the opera last night.

This morning we’re sailing through the Wachau Valley—the most scenic part of the trip. If you want to pick one morning to wake up early, this is probably it. We got up at around 7:30, and we had already missed some of the villages mentioned in the Viking Daily. The Valley is a busy place this morning. The Viking Idun is just ahead of us, and there are two river cruise ships in sight behind us—neither of which Is the Viking Prestige—which is never too far away.

As far as general observations go, I’m doing better with the Internet connection today. I suspect that the problems I had earlier were mostly due to my inexperience rather than actual issues with the wifi. There is, however no wifi reception on the sun deck, so you won’t be able to surf the net from up top. Another item that’s probably worth mentioning is the coffee station. There are two machines in the reception area that dispense, coffee, expresso, cappuccino, hot chocolate, etc. There are also containers with ice water, sweet, and unsweet iced tea. In the afternoons there are always cookies available alongside the coffee and tea.

If you haven’t bought a camera for your trip, and you’re trying to decide on one, I would strongly suggest looking for a so-called travel zoom with GPS (geotagging). I have a Canon SX260 HS that I bought for our cruise last year. It fits in a pocket, and every picture is “tagged” with latitude and longitude. Many photo editing programs will allow you to bring up a map alongside your photo, and you will know exactly where it was taken—sometimes hard to remember weeks and months later. It sometimes takes a minute or so to get a fix if you’ve moved very far since using it last (more when you first turn it on in Europe—thousands of miles from its last location). A pair of small binoculars is also a useful item to bring along. Be sure to bring a battery charger and one or more spare batteries. An extra memory card may be a good idea if you don’t transfer your photos to a laptop every day.

We docked at Melk around noon and “rafted” beside a Uniworld ship. The Viking Legend was docked ahead of us alongside another ship. The Prestige arrived a little later and docked beside a ship further up the river. People are leaving for the Abbey in two shifts due to limited bus space. Lunch was at 11:30 and the first contingent leaves for the Abbey at 12:45 and the second at 1:00. There were two options for lunch, a sit-down lunch in the dining room and a “Taste of Austria” buffet in the lounge.

I'll describe the Abbey in a later post.
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Old May 2nd, 2013, 08:54 AM
hersheyhughes hersheyhughes is offline
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Can you tell us anything about the MS Vienna. I cannot find anyone that has travled this year & has any info on the ship itself. Hpe you are having a great time. I am on the trip on August 18th, Budapest to Nurenburg.
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  #7  
Old May 2nd, 2013, 10:31 AM
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Thanks for your very informative post.
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  #8  
Old May 2nd, 2013, 11:10 AM
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Thanks for the updates. We have talked about river cruising but have yet to do one so I love reading reviews and live updates to get a feel for the experience.
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  #9  
Old May 2nd, 2013, 11:26 AM
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The MS Vienna used to be the Avalon Tapestry. Viking has leased the ship for this season to meet demand. The ship was built in 2006 or 2007 and is in very good shape. If you go to the Avalon site and look at the Avalon Tranquility, it is pretty much the same ship. It's somewhat unique in that the propulsion system is in the rear of the ship. The hotel portion of the ship is attached to it much like a barge attaches to a tug boat. This is intended to minimize vibration. The crew is all Viking and dedicated to providing a high level of service.

We did have propulsion problems yesterday causing a snag in the itinerary, but Viking handled it well. I'll post more about that later.

Hope this helps.
OkiCruiser49
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  #10  
Old May 4th, 2013, 03:47 AM
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Default Melk, Passau, and Engine Problems

I’ve missed a couple of days of posting, so I’ll try to catch up. Some of the blame can be attributed to continued internet connectivity issues, but most is due to my laziness. The Melk Abbey was spectacular. If you like Baroque churches, you’ll love the Abbey. The library was also very impressive, but no photo were allowed. We spent some time walking around the gardens after the Abbey tour. We got back on the ship, and really didn’t notice that we weren’t keeping up with other ships. The intercom announcement said that the 6:00 briefing was very important, and that there would be changes in the next day’s schedule. At the briefing, the captain informed us that a “propulsion unit” had failed. So instead of sailing to Passau for the next day’s tour, we would stop at Linz, Austria, where there was a shipyard where the ship could be repaired. We spent the night there and were bussed to Passau (1.5 hours) for Thursday’s tour. People weren’t thrilled, but there really wasn’t anything else that Viking could do.

The buses left at 8:30 a.m., arriving around 10:00 in Passau, which is located at the confluence of three rivers, the Danube, the Inn, and the Ilz. It’s a nice old city with another Baroque church. Since we weren’t on the ship, Viking arranged for lunch at the local Ratskellar restaurant. After lunch we had some time on our own before getting back on the buses for our return to Linz.

After arriving at Linz, we sat in port for a while (surprising since we were behind schedule already, and should have left immediately if all was fixed). Anyhow, after a couple of hours, we were finally reassured that the ship was fixed, and we cast off heading toward Regensburg. We learned that we wouldn’t be able to make it to Regensburg, but that we would dock in Deggendorf for another 1 hour bus ride for to Regensburg. We were, however informed that we wouldn’t have to ride back, but that ship would pick us up in Regensburg.

I’ll save Regensburg for the next post.

A few general items. The internet is still flaky. I can generally connect with my iPad, but I’m having zero luck with my laptop. So this may not get posted until I get home. I can connect to Viking’s network, but I can’t sign on with my Viking ID. The food continues to be good, and the service great. The staff is obviously well-trained and capable. The bus transportation has been good. The European drivers do an amazing job of navigating narrow streets, pedestrians, bikes and autos.

The weather has been remarkable. In Budapest, the temperatures reached the low 80’s, and they’ve remained in the 70’s or high 60’s since. The high in Nuremberg may only be in the 50’s. We’ve had a little rain while riding on the buses, but none while actually sightseeing.
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  #11  
Old May 5th, 2013, 12:50 PM
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Default Engine fixed but problems persist

I left off my last post stating that in an effort to get back on schedule, the Vienna planned do disembark people at Deggendorf for a 1 hour bus ride to Regensburg.

We were over an hour late getting to Deggendorf, so our Regensburg tour didn’t start until around 11:30 a.m. We did a 1.5 hour tour before having lunch at another Ratskellar restaurant at 1:00 p.m. We also learned that the boat would be in Regensburg, but in a little town of Bach, 20 km back down the river, so we had another (significantly shorter) bus ride. Since we were waiting for the boat, we had a long afternoon in Regensburg (buses left at 5:15 p.m.).

Regensburg is a beautiful city with a gothic church (a nice break from the baroque churches we’d seen in Melk and Regensburg. The old city wasn’t bombed at all during the war, so everything was original. In our walk around the city, we tried to visit the Keppler house, but it’s only open on Saturday and Sunday. We did manage to do a lot of sightseeing and had coffee and cake at the Princess Café/Konditerei—reputedly the oldest café in Germany.

The ride back to the boat went well, but once we were back everything was off schedule. We were still running late. We were told that we weren't scheduled to arrive in Nuremberg until 2:30 p.m. Saturday, so the WWII tour was cancelled, and the tour that was scheduled to start right after lunch won’t be over until 6:30.

It was a pleasant ride on the Main-Danube canal. We’ve gone through some very deep locks. The boat barely clears the bridges, so the sun deck was closed, although the captain took people up on the deck inside one of the locks.

We ran into traffic at the locks, and soon our arrival time was moved to 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. Of course, we didn't get docked until after 5:00. There was a very quick tour that didn't have time to really seen anything of Nuremberg.

Since we'd done the full tour last year on our Trier to Nuremberg cruise, we just took a cab downtown to visit a shop before it closed at 6:00 (barely made it) and eat at a restaurant we liked there.

Even though we'd already eaten, we went down to dinner, and people were really upset about the tour. For some, seeing Nuremberg had been what they were looking forward to the entire trip. Many were saying that they'd never do Viking again. We didn't intend to be cheerleaders, but we told people about our cruise last year where everything went perfectly.

Looking back, I believe that the cruise staff made a fatal mistake. They repeatedly over-promised and under-delivered. After our engine problems we missed EVERY revised arrival time--not the original times, but the times that were revised to adjust for our already late schedule. This caused increasing tension among the passengers that was easily observed. This morning at the final breakfast we sat with different people and found the same disappointment we'd seen at dinner last night. I think that people realized that Viking couldn't help the engine problems, but they were very frustrated with the way that Viking handled the problem. There wasn't enough communication. People were anxiously waiting for news, and very little was passed on. Also, the inaccuracy of the information they were given caused more anxiety and frustration.

We will probably cruise Viking again, but the line will have to work hard to rewin the trust of most of the passengers on this cruise.
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  #12  
Old May 5th, 2013, 03:37 PM
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Dear OkieCruiser49,

Please accept our apologies for the ways in which your itinerary needed to be altered due to MS Vienna’s technical issues. From your account it sounds like at times schedule alterations were made even more challenging by unfortunate circumstances like traffic. It also sounds as though the crew worked hard to get necessary repairs as quickly as possible and still maintain the itinerary for guests, but were unable to clear every hurdle presented to them. Frustrating and disappointing, for sure, and again, we do sincerely apologize.

Your feedback regarding the communication of schedule changes is very helpful for us to hear. You and your fellow travelers will all be contacted by Customer Relations upon returning home. We very much hope to be able to make amends and as you said, regain the trust of our guests. We know that currently you are traveling back to the U.S., but between arriving home and being contacted by Customer Relations, if you would like to contact us with questions, concerns or additional feedback, we’d welcome hearing from you at TellUs@vikingrivercruises.com.

Thank you for having joined us on our Cities of Light itinerary last year and now Romantic Danube. We hope to see you aboard yet another ship on another river sometime soon.

Kind regards,
Viking River Cruises


Quote:
Originally Posted by OkieCruiser49 View Post
I left off my last post stating that in an effort to get back on schedule, the Vienna planned do disembark people at Deggendorf for a 1 hour bus ride to Regensburg.

We were over an hour late getting to Deggendorf, so our Regensburg tour didn’t start until around 11:30 a.m. We did a 1.5 hour tour before having lunch at another Ratskellar restaurant at 1:00 p.m. We also learned that the boat would be in Regensburg, but in a little town of Bach, 20 km back down the river, so we had another (significantly shorter) bus ride. Since we were waiting for the boat, we had a long afternoon in Regensburg (buses left at 5:15 p.m.).

Regensburg is a beautiful city with a gothic church (a nice break from the baroque churches we’d seen in Melk and Regensburg. The old city wasn’t bombed at all during the war, so everything was original. In our walk around the city, we tried to visit the Keppler house, but it’s only open on Saturday and Sunday. We did manage to do a lot of sightseeing and had coffee and cake at the Princess Café/Konditerei—reputedly the oldest café in Germany.

The ride back to the boat went well, but once we were back everything was off schedule. We were still running late. We were told that we weren't scheduled to arrive in Nuremberg until 2:30 p.m. Saturday, so the WWII tour was cancelled, and the tour that was scheduled to start right after lunch won’t be over until 6:30.

It was a pleasant ride on the Main-Danube canal. We’ve gone through some very deep locks. The boat barely clears the bridges, so the sun deck was closed, although the captain took people up on the deck inside one of the locks.

We ran into traffic at the locks, and soon our arrival time was moved to 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. Of course, we didn't get docked until after 5:00. There was a very quick tour that didn't have time to really seen anything of Nuremberg.

Since we'd done the full tour last year on our Trier to Nuremberg cruise, we just took a cab downtown to visit a shop before it closed at 6:00 (barely made it) and eat at a restaurant we liked there.

Even though we'd already eaten, we went down to dinner, and people were really upset about the tour. For some, seeing Nuremberg had been what they were looking forward to the entire trip. Many were saying that they'd never do Viking again. We didn't intend to be cheerleaders, but we told people about our cruise last year where everything went perfectly.

Looking back, I believe that the cruise staff made a fatal mistake. They repeatedly over-promised and under-delivered. After our engine problems we missed EVERY revised arrival time--not the original times, but the times that were revised to adjust for our already late schedule. This caused increasing tension among the passengers that was easily observed. This morning at the final breakfast we sat with different people and found the same disappointment we'd seen at dinner last night. I think that people realized that Viking couldn't help the engine problems, but they were very frustrated with the way that Viking handled the problem. There wasn't enough communication. People were anxiously waiting for news, and very little was passed on. Also, the inaccuracy of the information they were given caused more anxiety and frustration.

We will probably cruise Viking again, but the line will have to work hard to rewin the trust of most of the passengers on this cruise.
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  #13  
Old May 9th, 2013, 08:59 PM
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Eriksgarden Eriksgarden is offline
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We're growing tired of Caribbean cruises on mega ships and thinking about a river cruise. This Danube cruise and the Mekong are two I'm looking at. Would love to hear more about the experience and ships.
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Old May 11th, 2013, 12:50 PM
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Eriksgarden,

Most of us who have tried it highly recommend river cruising. We enjoyed the Romantic Danube despite the engine problems on the ship. I would also recommend the Cities of Light (Vineyards and Vistas without the Paris and Prague stays on either end). We liked the small towns, and the scenery on the Moselle is great.

George
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Old May 15th, 2013, 03:55 PM
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Default thank you, OkieCruiser49

Thank you for the review of your trip and description of the problems you experienced. I'm taking this trip on the Vienna on May 26 and am keeping my fingers crossed we won't have the problems you experienced. I had some reservations booking this ship instead of one of the Longships (which I traveled on last year), but figured it would be all right because it isn't that old.

Did you have problems with the air conditioning as reported by others, or was that resolved?
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Old May 16th, 2013, 08:01 AM
hersheyhughes hersheyhughes is offline
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Default Aug 18th Budapest to Nurenburg

Is anyone else traveling on MS Vienna on this date. We are doing pre cruise & post cruise extensions. Any word about the condition of the ship?
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Old May 16th, 2013, 01:37 PM
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Thank you for your "live" and follow up reports. We are sailing with Viking later in June and appreciate your insights.
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  #18  
Old May 17th, 2013, 05:23 PM
CaptainG CaptainG is offline
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Default MS Vienna

I was on the April 21 Danube Waltz sailing of this boat. It was in good condition and clean. I suspect it was leased to fill a short term void in their fleet and I'd be surprised if it was still in Viking's fleet next season.

I some ways I felt this ship was kind of a unwanted step child. There wasn't much of a gift store and I couldn't even buy a ball cap, something I always do on a cruise. The cruise director said he might be able to get me one, but that never happened. They passed them out to all of the crew serving on the sun deck during one lunch buffet but he never came through for me and blamed it on inventory problems. One of his assistants suggested that the Prestige that we were docked next to might sell me one for cash.

A minor disappointment but a good cruise anyway.
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Old June 12th, 2013, 06:52 PM
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We are sailing on the Vienna August 18th and also doing the pre and post cruise add-ons. We live North of Boston. This will be our first river cruise.
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