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  #1  
Old July 23rd, 2013, 09:29 AM
tulok tulok is offline
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Default Back from Viking Forseti- Rhine Getaway

THIS IS MY OPINION. I will try not to make this so long it gets boring.

A little background - my DH and myself are 48 and my sister and her DH are 54. We were on the younger end of the age line. There was a few teenagers and 14 was the youngest on board. I was a travel agent in college when we could get 25/day for ocean cruises best cabins available. I have stayed in top cabins and lower $ cabins. I am not a "stay in the cabin" person, so cabins usually matter on the schedule. I was raised by depression parents so I am frugal as I was taught to work hard, save long and spend wisely. So anywhere I can find a savings, I will. Food is not a priority. With 2 daughters in college and most time at home, a meal that I dont have to cook or clean after is a good meal. I went with no great expectations except to have a good time.

I am going to write this as a pros and cons. If you have specific questions let me know as I could write a book. I am a journal writer.

About Viking: some on this board state that Viking is on the low end of river cruise companies. I don't know. I didn't get back on this board until after I booked the cruise and havent had another river cruise to compare. From prices it was about the same as others. As we still work, date and locations were our most important factor choosing a cruise. As many looked the same from first researched and talking to those we knew that went on river cruises before. I can tell you there were 2 couples on board with famous names. One in fiance and one an author. So Viking can't be that low-end.

Pros- we were in cabins 111 and 110. From the schedule I didn't think we would be in our cabin very often. My sister stated to think we should upgrade as she didn't want to be in the bottom of the boat. I called but they were sold-out and we went with it. I am glad we didn't change. It was fine. I laughed as we looked out our water-level window for the first time stating that I am going to wake up with a swan looking in my window. The first morning I woke up, opened the blinds and there were many swans looking in my window. It made my morning. We were only in our cabins to sleep and change for dinner. There are plenty of 110 outlets so you do not need a converter. There is a refrig in the cabin and a fresh bottle of water each morning. It had plenty of room for our 3 full size suitcases. We did have to ask for more hangers as there were only 8. We got them immediately.

The staff made the trip - they had wonderful attitudes, friendly and we wanted for nothing (except once as I will write in my cons). Alvin was our shopper expert. He would tell us at breakfast or dinner the night before a stop where to shop. We always sat at his tables when possible to get the scoop. Cristi never let my wine glass at dinner go empty, or beer at lunch. Aurel had the funniest personality on board. He was a joker and very hard worker. He was all over the boat making sure you didn't need anything. If you see him make sure you compliment his grandmother on her cookies. According to him, his grandmother keeps the herb garden, bakes the cookies and anything else he can think of at the time.

The ports - we enjoyed all the stops. The only tour we didn't enjoy was the Marksburg castle. We only saw the courtyard and there were tons of groups there so we couldn't even walk around good. Most of the guides were college students. Our guide was a math major, another group had a history major. We switched our radios to his channel as he gave much better information. Remember that you can turn you channel to another guide if you do not like yours. We leave at the same time so you wouldn't miss anything.
That is the only time we didn't like our tours or guides. We enjoyed all the complimentary tours that are in the morning. Usually 9-12ish. The optional tours are in the afternoon after lunch. We didn't use any optional tours as we usually wanted to see the towns and have a beer in the sidewalk cafes. We would have loved more time in Strasbourg as we loved this city. We stayed in town after the tour and had lunch there, and took the last shuttle back to the boat. There is a great liquor store off the dock in Kiel (where you dock). Just go behind the water feature and after the steps. The only line of shops by the steps. A little women runs it and even took us to the back room to help us get different biers for the trip. She told us about the local liquors and let us try all of them. Good thing the ship was near.
We took the hike through the Black Forest and that was beautiful. Walk far enough to see the water fall. If you are not able to walk distances, please do not try to be in the lead. The only problem with this hike was that they told us it is a hard hike as you have to go up hills and over rocks. It wasn't horrible, but we had a couple that used canes everyday and they were in front. Most of the hike is single lane so we had to wait and this took many of us from hiking as far with the time restraint.

Cons-
Sun deck could have been more fun. The weather was perfect. We didn't have one day of rain. I only used my windbreaker one time in the early morning. In the evening we would sit up there with many others and played cards or talk. (We brought the cards) Once we asked if they would bring the lounge snacks upstairs. The waiter stated no that they had to stay in the lounge. So we walked off the boat in Cologne, walked about 1/2block to the first kiosk and bought beer, peanuts, pretzels, cookies, etc. Walked back and continues with our new friends. If they were smart, and we wrote this on our survey, they would provide snacks on the top as they lost a lot of beer sales that evening. We probably asked the wrong person also as some of the staff is brand new with the ship and still on probation. This is the only time they denied a request we had. We also needed music on top. We used our IPODS and had many couples come upstairs and made it our own lounge. Let me tell you Aussies are fun people! They know how to have a good time. Find the Aussies and you will not be in your cabin in the evenings. Might have a hard time getting up in the morning. AROSA boat was tied to us (the only time a boat was tied to us and they had to walk across our boat to deport) They had music on their top deck and we were singing and dancing to their music that night. We enjoyed their company and we talked with them, and exchanged opinions of the trip. They thought it was about the same as our trip.

Lounge entertainment - most were in their cabins by 930p. We stayed up (with the Aussies), and about 7 other couples so maybe 30-40 people and turned the lounge into a karaoke bar. The boat is set up perfect for low noise. All staterooms are on one-side, and gathering rooms are on the other. We didn't keep anyone up but we had to make our own entertainment. And it wasn't an age thing. We had an 86 year young couple with us each night. They also thought the entertainment lacked youth as they stated. By the way, this was that finance person that you would know. They were a hoot and knew how to have a good time.

The passengers that were critics the entire time- we heard many that seem to complain about everything. Why are you on vacation? You are making yourself not have a good time and the rest of us really don't want to hear you. If you think it makes you seem more important, it doesn't. They seemed to want to find the crowd to do the most complaining. We didn't care that your beer wasn't cold enough, or cheese wasn't melted enough, or the wi-fi wasn't fast enough.


Information -
Dress - because it was so hot in the day, many didn't not care to dress in long sleeves in the evening. Most wore shorts, short skirts in day and long pants and polos in the evening. There were some in shorts in the dining room as many came from walking in port to dinner. All were dressed nice and no one seemed to judge. We were enjoying each others company then worrying about what others were wearing. The dining room had tables for 6. Plenty of room as some would eat in the towns. We had a window table most nights even though we were never waiting for the doors to open, and there was 4 of us. You can sit where you want. We find a waiter we loved and always tried to sit at his tables. The captains dinner was the one evening that everyone was dressed but not formal. More like long-sleeved shirts, and dresses. Remember it was still hot at 7p so there were only a handful of jackets and ties.
Food - food is food and I can get a great meal even in Tulsa. My opinion of the food is probably not very helpful as I stated earlier, if I am not cooking it or cleaning it, its a good meal. The choices were okay. I am not a seafood eater so that limited my choice. They had a different fish every night. The sirloin that they offer everyday was so tender. It was one of the best steaks I have had. The soups were good. Breakfast did include the same thing for the most part, but there was enough variety that I had a different breakfast each morning. I am not a big breakfast eater anyway. The french toast was very good. They made omelets to order, lots of breads, oatmeal, cereals, fruit, yogurt, sausages, potatoes, eggs, and some order items. I usually did the buffet except the french toast which was an order item. The potatoes were great. Lunch is lunch. They usually had a sandwich choice, one day they had hamburgers, it was a menu that you could chose from. Just remember it is not USA so their grilled cheese may not be your grilled cheese. Don't complain, just try it. It was very good as all their cheese selection was very good. I did fall in love with the cheeses on this trip.
The captain is 25, yes 25. Very friendly, cute, and answered any questions you had. You must be up deck when you go through a lock. From Basel your first lock will be in the dinning room your first night. It is a bit of surprising as everything starts turning dark outside. But after dinner you go through another lock and it is amazing to see. After you just a little wet from the lock gate as you go under but it was fun and everyone laughed and the crew got a good laugh also. It is just drops nothing major.
Internet - is slow. some ports you get a fast connection and some you do not. Sometimes you get internet in your room, sometimes you do not. If you are going for the internet, stay in the third level. This level is where the public computers are located. Someone complained that there were only 2 public computers. They stated in the opening briefing that they had laptops to borrow if anyone wanted one from the reception desk. My Ipad and Iphone worked enough to keep up with emails, facebook and Imessage. I don't go on vacation to worry about the internet so I am probably no help here either. When it is time to print your boarding passes to go home have the concierge desk do this for you.

Boarding and Deboarding-
You can board around noon. We boarded at 1245p. My sisters room was ready and they took their luggage immediately to the room. They radioed for my room to be next and took our luggage. We went upstairs to the buffet for lunch. We were served drinks with everyone else still on board. We went up to the Sun desk to watch people board after lunch. We met quite a few that were done with the trip and waiting to leave. The couple from Norway didn't have a transfer to the airport until 330p. So leaving if not a rush if you want to stay. When we went down to our room, the luggage was in there and it was ready. It was about 2p.
Disembarking is about as easy. They ask for you to be out of your room by 9ish so they can start cleaning rooms. They give you tags for your luggage and ask for them to be outside your door an hour before you depart. Not the night before! They will arrange a taxi for you and our taxi was waiting right on time. We did not purchase transfers through Viking. We did have to carry our own luggage off the boat as it was the Program Director that was moving the bags in the morning and they had a 545 transfer bus taking a bunch to the airport (purchased transferred). Cristi saw us and took our bags for us. I am not sure where the miscommunication happened that there were not crew to help but that was the only hiccup we saw. I hope that got fixed right away. They really need luggage carts as there has to be a better way then taking 2 bags at a time.

Leave your Ocean cruise experience behind. Some said on CC that they would not like the long boats has it had to many people. There was plenty of crew to passenger ratio. I met so many wonderful people and we knew almost everyone by time the trip was over. We have places to stay in the UK, parts of US and Australia anytime we want. These as well as the beautiful places we saw are the memories I wanted to take back with me.
Would I go back on another Viking, sure. Would I try another line, sure. Would I do another river cruise, yes!
(if there are grammar or spelling errors, I apologize now. Still a little jet lagged)

Last edited by tulok; July 23rd, 2013 at 09:43 AM.
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  #2  
Old July 23rd, 2013, 11:58 AM
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Very nicely written report - thanks so much for sharing your experience.

I agree that some people seem to enjoy complaining about any little thing they can find that doesn't live up to their expectations. And someone should explain to them that most of the time beer in Europe is not served at the same temps as in the US
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Old July 23rd, 2013, 12:14 PM
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What a great trip report! You sound like my kind of traveler. I will be one of four women (my two sisters and a girlfriend ages 45-60) that will be going on our first river cruise on Viking next June (Paris to Prague). We figured we would be considered the “younger” passengers but we don’t care. We are there to meet new people, see new places and experience different cultures. I can picture us doing the same as you did – IPOD music, drinks and snacks on the sun deck and making our own entertainment in the lounge!! If those were the only “cons” on your trip then I would say you had a pretty darn close to perfect vacation!! Thanks for sharing your “OPINIONS”.
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Old July 23rd, 2013, 12:44 PM
Talisker92 Talisker92 is offline
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An excellent balanced report. Thank you for taking the time to post it. We loved the sun deck on our river cruises.
My wife sets up her "day camp", and I have a great picture of her in a lounge with her Nook, little rechargeable speakers(played softly), and a glass of wine!
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Old July 23rd, 2013, 04:19 PM
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tulok ~ great review!!! You travel like we do - ready to have a good time and not complain but honest enough to admit that sometimes things could be improved - like the Sun Deck and snacks!! We'll be on the Forseti in 2014 - hope they have a different policy by then!!

Glad to hear the staff was SO good! Ours on our RC also "made" our trip and I hope the staff next year will be as wonderful!

DR - were there larger tables than for 6??? Just wondering - we'll be 4 but our group always seems to grow!!!

Strasbourg ~ you say you stayed in town for lunch - do you remember where?? Always on the look out for suggestions!!

Thanks much!!!
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Old July 23rd, 2013, 08:48 PM
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tulok - Thanks for this great review. We are on this cruise net year, taking my 87 year old mom with us. She is over the moon excited. We had such a great time on our recent Viking Douro cruise we decided to reserve for next year. Agree, Viking did a bang up job!

We, like you, see travel as an adventure, going with an open mind. There's just no pleasing some, though.
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Old July 23rd, 2013, 09:06 PM
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Tulok,
Thanks for the wonderful review of your Rhine Getaway. We are doing this itinerary next May from Basel.

I do have a couple of questions for you. Our initial plan was to spend several days in Zurich prior to the cruise. Did you find Basel worthy of an overnight pre-cruise?

What time did the ship depart the first night? Do you know the latest passengers could board the ship?

In any of the towns visited, did you happen to notice any bike rentals? Typically, what time did the ship depart from the stops?

What is the nationality of the crew members?

I gather from your comments that the dress code was fairly casual?

thanks in advance for your answers. This will be our first river boat cruise, and I'm sure, the first of many.
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Old July 23rd, 2013, 09:13 PM
mathladyca mathladyca is offline
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Tulok- thanks for a great report. I am on the Forseti, same route in October.
Interesting that they have improved the Black Forest trip.
Did you do the wine tour to Colmar and did you have any time in Kolbenz or Heidelberg? Also how much time where you docked in Cologne?
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Old July 23rd, 2013, 10:32 PM
dcruisers dcruisers is offline
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Awesome review! We would love to travel with you. I so agree about the food- if I'm not cooking and cleaning up - it's a great meal!! We always go with the thought of enjoying ourselves...and are grateful to see new things and to the staff that works so hard to make it memorable.
We will be going on a Viking river cruise in September - Budapest to Amsterdam. Your review has made me more excited! I do have a question about shoes....,, I am not a sneaker person. Would real comfy sandals-like sketchers - be ok for most walking tours?
Again, thanks . You are my kind of traveling companion!
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Old July 23rd, 2013, 10:48 PM
jiminyC_fan jiminyC_fan is offline
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A+ report. Thanks so much!
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Old July 24th, 2013, 07:21 AM
tulok tulok is offline
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DR - were there larger tables than for 6??? Just wondering - we'll be 4 but our group always seems to grow!!!

Strasbourg ~ you say you stayed in town for lunch - do you remember where?? Always on the look out for suggestions!!

Thanks much!!![/quote]

I do not think there were tables larger than 6. If there were it wasn't many and in the middle. There is not a bad seat in the room. The room is small enough that you could see out the windows if needed. There are middle tables right next to each other so you could sit a very close 12.

I am glad you asked about Strasbourg because I forgot to include more information on this city. It was one of my favorite stops but unless you stay in town from the city tour you will only have a few hours in town as the shuttle starts at 2p from ship and ends at 6p. The city tour starts at 8:30-12ish.
MAKE SURE YOU KNOW WHERE THE SHUTTLE STOP IS IF YOU ARE STAYING!
The bus drops you off at one location for the city tour but the shuttle is at a different location. We knew that, but our guide told us the street to walk down and said its about a 10-15min walk down the street. It was not that easy. The street has a bunch of Y's in it and the stop is by a park, but we pass another park first. We were able to ask a person on another line and they had it marked on their map. Another thing that would be good for Viking to include. We then found other passengers on our boat, but we were worried for a time as we were taking the last shuttle back.

To answer your question, there are lots of places to eat that have sidewalk seating. We finally got tired of walking and looking at all the places and just stopped. The funny thing was it was a Turkish deli type rest. But it was very good. I had a pizza with lots of fresh veggies.
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Old July 24th, 2013, 07:39 AM
tulok tulok is offline
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[quote=KaraokeQueen;39252205]Tulok,

I do have a couple of questions for you. Our initial plan was to spend several days in Zurich prior to the cruise. Did you find Basel worthy of an overnight pre-cruise?

What time did the ship depart the first night? Do you know the latest passengers could board the ship?

In any of the towns visited, did you happen to notice any bike rentals? Typically, what time did the ship depart from the stops?

What is the nationality of the crew members?

I gather from your comments that the dress code was fairly casual?


I loved Basel and would love to go back. We did not stay in Zurich so I can not compare but I would like Basel is good for at least one night. I can't remember the Swiss name but locals do know it as the Red Sandstone Cathedral along the Rhine. Not only is the church one of my favorite on the trip, the location is beautiful and not as many tourist.

The boat leaves Basel at 7pm. It is so low key that you probably could get there at 630p and get on, but I would say 6pm to be safe. When we leave the ports they ask us to be there 30mins before we depart. Which sounds so crazy.

The only bike rentals I saw as in Holland at Kinderdijk. I have been told that they have 2 ports in this area. I didn't like this port very much as there is not a town near by to explore. You dock right across the street from the windmill park which is nice. There is a souvenir shop and a sidewalk cafe across the street. Go down 1/4 mile and the town has a bakery and 2 sidewalk cafes. That is all. No ATM or bank and this is the last stop before Amsterdam. You can rent the bikes at the first souvenir shop for 2.50E an hour and many did.
People drive their bikes crazy in Europe and I would be scared to rent one anywhere else. But this town would have been perfect. Usually the ship is close enough to see everything by walking.

The ship departs at different times. But usually late evening or some were middle of the night. One stop (Mannheim) after the tour you are taken back to the boat and they leave and go to another port.

Most crew members were European and they loved working on the boat as they are close to family. Many worked on cruise lines. They really make you feel like family if you open up to them. I saw many children photos and one was going home after our cruise and was showing us what he bought in town for his daughter. Much more one-on-one than ocean cruise.

Dress was very casual. With the time schedules as many came in from walking the town to dinner and with the heat. No one was overly dressed. Capris at night, or causal skirt is perfect. Men usually wore pants but some had nice shorts and lots of golf style shirts.
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Old July 24th, 2013, 07:39 AM
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Tulok ~ thanks much for the "heads-up" about the Strasbourg shuttle! And that leads to another question - at the ship's reception desk did they have maps available for all ports? (On the Rhone River cruise they did and it was SO helpful!!)

And thanks for the timing in port! We're interested since because the Christmas Markets will take time to see!!!

Your help is fabulous!!
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Old July 24th, 2013, 07:53 AM
acruise4me acruise4me is online now
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I'm on the Forseti right now, Amsterdam to Budapest. The ship is lovely. We will arrive in Miltenberg in about 30 minutes. Yes they do provide maps of the city for each port.
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Old July 24th, 2013, 07:54 AM
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dcruisers ~ I'll let tulok answer your question about sneakers but I'll add my thoughts and experience. I do not like regular sneakers at all - not even for working out! What I wear is sketcher-like shoes from Payless - usually about $19.99 - the kind with 2 straps across the front.

I also travel with a good pair of sketchers for places that need that extra firm sole - cobblestones, rough ground, etc. So I have my light colored sketchers and my black cheap ones!

Before our Med trip in June, 2008, I read "horror" stories about the difficulty of walking around the Acropolis - slippery stones, etc. Because of the hot weather I bought a really good pair of sandals with a really, really good sole and good support - thick criss-crossed in the front. They worked fine! (Except for the time I was showering, no glasses on, and couldn't get the dirt off my toes only to find out that they were really suntanned!!!) Seriously, at the Acropolis we did pass one woman, on the ground waiting for medical attention! She was surrounded by a crowd so I dn't know exactky what happened!!

I've found walking in the old European town, especially on stones, solid shoes with support are important - its just easier to say "sneakers" since most people have them and wear them - just not us!!!!
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Old July 24th, 2013, 07:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mathladyca View Post
Tulok- thanks for a great report. I am on the Forseti, same route in October.
Interesting that they have improved the Black Forest trip.
Did you do the wine tour to Colmar and did you have any time in Kolbenz or Heidelberg? Also how much time where you docked in Cologne?

I am not sure if they improved the tour as were they stop is a tourist trap, but they did have a hiking guide and when ever would I hike through the Black Forest again. It was a beautiful hike and took much of the time as it is not a long stop. Do go into the rest. for the Black Forest Cake. My sister stayed in the village and watched the cuckoo clock maker as she wanted to take one home. There were so many tour buses in at the same time that she couldnt get one. She was glad as she found them much cheaper and still made in the Black Forest at every stop along the way.

We didnt do any option tours as we wanted our free time. Heidelberg is from 830-1245. This was my least favorite tour. The town is great but the Marksburg castle is not worth the trip. You only see the inner portion and not any rooms. It doesn't take long then they bus you down to the town for either a city tour or walking on your own. We walked on our own. You have about 3 or so hours. I would have liked a couple more hours as the shops are very quaint but a lot of tourist. The next port was Rudesheim and it was one of my favorite. They do an option tour of the German rest. and many enjoyed this tour. By walking around we came upon the rest. as they were leaving and stopped in for a couple of beers. They had a German band and we ended up staying 3hours there. And purchased salt/pepper shakers from them. You leave late night from this stop. After 11p, at least.

You get into Cologne late morning. The tour is a walk tour with the Cathedral. You dock right next to the Lindt chocolate museum. You can go in without paying for the museum if you want to buy and see lots of chocolate. They will even make your own bar with your choices of mixes. You have to give them plenty of time to do this as it takes a while. You leave Cologne late night.
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Old July 24th, 2013, 07:57 AM
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acruise4me ~ Thanks SO much!!! I'm jealous of you - but happy I still have our trip to look forward to!!!!

When you get back - PLEASE tell us all about the ship and your cruise - its wonderful to get all the information we can!!!!

Have a GREAT rest of your cruise!!!!
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Old July 24th, 2013, 08:00 AM
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Thanks for your great review, my husband and I are on the Forseti in October, Amsterdam to Basel. One question, do they exchange US dollars on the ship? We were on Viking a few years ago and they did and I think I may have seen somewhere on these boards, that they do not any longer. We were fortunate to take advantage of a great deal and the only cabins left were in the bottom of the boat, which was not a huge concern, but now look forward to a swan sighting! It is great to read some positive feedback.....
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  #19  
Old July 24th, 2013, 08:01 AM
tulok tulok is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Oklahoma
Posts: 44
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We will be going on a Viking river cruise in September - Budapest to Amsterdam. Your review has made me more excited! I do have a question about shoes....,, I am not a sneaker person. Would real comfy sandals-like sketchers - be ok for most walking tours?
Again, thanks . You are my kind of traveling companion![/quote]


I took a pair of Clark backless sandals and they were fine. My sister took Sketchers and they were fine. My shoe advice is to take a couple of comfortable pairs. We must have walked miles and miles each day. Most streets are cobbled stoned and uneven. I took extra insoles if I needed to add extra comfort. Shoes just need a lot of cushion and not necessary sneakers. If the stones are wet they will be very slippery so think of the treads as well.
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  #20  
Old July 24th, 2013, 08:05 AM
tulok tulok is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Oklahoma
Posts: 44
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Sorry I have made a mistake. I have been calling the Heidelberg castle the Marksburg castle. It is the Heidelberg castle that I didn't enjoy. I loved the Marksburg castle as you get to see the inside with all the furniture. It is all starting to run together so glad I remembered to pack the Viking Daily with each days schedule.
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