Passage to Eastern Europe

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#2
Texas
560 Posts
Joined Jun 2009
We just returned last night from this trip/cruise, Bucharest to Budapest. We didn't do pre or post trips, just the 11 night trip.
There were 2 optional tours while we were in Budapest at the end if the cruise, as we'd been there last year we didn't do them. This was our third trip with Viking and it was very nice. We enjoyed the Viking Embla, were in cabin 202, the cabins are very small but once the suitcases were stored under the bed it was doable. Nice compact cabin and bathroom, plenty of hangers in the closet, nice bath products, excellent meals tho we'd have enjoyed a choice of sliced meats and cheese a lunch, all in all it was great. The staff on the Embla did an outstanding job. If I had to state a drawback it would be the bus rides each day and the local guides, some we're excellent - some horrible. For the most part the towns we docked in along the river were not very scenic and each day we had bus rides to the larger cities. Personally we prefer to dock in a large town/city and do independent visits but this was a little different and we knew about it before we left.

Our weather was nearly perfect, cool mornings and you could wear a light jacket some days but we had super weather, lots of sun and amazing fall colors, especially the closer we got to Budapest.

If you have any specific questions, give me a shout.
Enjoy your trip,
Susan


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5.2011 Viking Emerald/China
2.2011 Carnival Triumph/Mexico
9.2009 Uniworld River Ambassador/Rhine
12.2008 Grand Circle Provence/Saone
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#3
Connecticut
1,202 Posts
Joined Feb 2005
Originally posted by suspaul
We just returned last night from this trip/cruise, Bucharest to Budapest. We didn't do pre or post trips, just the 11 night trip.
There were 2 optional tours while we were in Budapest at the end if the cruise, as we'd been there last year we didn't do them. This was our third trip with Viking and it was very nice. We enjoyed the Viking Embla, were in cabin 202, the cabins are very small but once the suitcases were stored under the bed it was doable. Nice compact cabin and bathroom, plenty of hangers in the closet, nice bath products, excellent meals tho we'd have enjoyed a choice of sliced meats and cheese a lunch, all in all it was great. The staff on the Embla did an outstanding job. If I had to state a drawback it would be the bus rides each day and the local guides, some we're excellent - some horrible. For the most part the towns we docked in along the river were not very scenic and each day we had bus rides to the larger cities. Personally we prefer to dock in a large town/city and do independent visits but this was a little different and we knew about it before we left.

Our weather was nearly perfect, cool mornings and you could wear a light jacket some days but we had super weather, lots of sun and amazing fall colors, especially the closer we got to Budapest.

If you have any specific questions, give me a shout.
Enjoy your trip,
Susan


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I asked about the optional tours because we have a $200.00 OBC and not sure how to spend it. Previous posts say you can not use it for gratuities

Were the long bus rides more than an hour each way? We were hoping to be able to spend time in town in the evening.

If you skip the bus tour, is it possible to do anything on your own?
#4
Texas
560 Posts
Joined Jun 2009
Just pulled some info and it looks like the optional tours are

Belgrade Kovacica Art Colony &
Violin maker 2:00-5:30 34€ per person

Budapest Szentendre & the
Margit Kovacs Museum 8:30-1:00 44€ per person

Budapest. Godollo Palace &
Gardens 2:30-6:00 44€ per person

Don't know if the same optional excursions would be available given the time of year you're traveling.

As to your question about doing things on your own, like I said, we started in Bucharest, stayed one night at Radisson Blu then checked out the next morning and had most of the day on a bus tour of Bucharest, it was very interesting and I guess you did have to so it as we were taken directly to the ship that afternoon.

Next we docked in Russe and had another all day excursion to Veliko Trnovo and Arbanasi, 9-5:30, a long day but enjoyable enough. The ship picked us up in Svistov
Sorry but I don't recall Russe as we pretty much got off the ship and directly onto a bus. By the time we picked up in Svistov it was late enough that we went to our cabin to change and clean up for dinner

Next, Vidin, we docked in this town and had a shire excursion to visit the Belogradshick rocks and fortress, 9:00-1:00. Returned to the ship for lunch and stayed docked in Vidin until 7 pm so there was plenty of time to walk the town and visit the fortress, not a hugely impressive town but it was interesting and felt good to take off on our own for a few hours.

The following day was a sail day thru the Iron Gates, quite scenic and after having been on multiple bus rides the previous days it was a welcome change.

On to Belgrade where we had a Belgrade city tour, via bus and a little on foot. 8:30-12:30
After lunch, if you chose to return to ship, Viking did provide r/t shuttles into the city that afternoon. We did take the shuttle in and walked back after a nice visit to the park again. My Viking Daily shows we had to be back on the ship by 10 pm so you could easily have dinner in the city too.

Next, Vukovar, we did dock in/near town but we had an excursion to Vukovar and Osijek 1:30-5:30. Vukovar looked like a nice small town and we'd have enjoyed having time to visit it on our own but again,

Friday morning we enter Hungary and we're told the night before we may have a face check to passports by authorities around 5 am in Mohacs. This did happen but at 10:00 or so, as a result we didn't dock in Kalocsa until 2:15 rather than 12:30 so our tour was rushed, a visit to Kalosca and to see a horse show. We're not big horse people and thought the horse show was a waste, but this is only our opinion, many people thoroughly enjoyed it. Kalosca looked nice but unless you arranged private transportation to and from a visit on your own was not an option. Dinner was delayed tonight due to lateness in returning to the ship.

Saturday, arrived in Budapest and were taken in a bus tour thru Budapest with several stops, 9-3:00 then taken to the hotel for 2 nights.

So, hope this helps,
S






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5.2011 Viking Emerald/China
2.2011 Carnival Triumph/Mexico
9.2009 Uniworld River Ambassador/Rhine
12.2008 Grand Circle Provence/Saone
12.2006 Grand Circle River Rhapsody/Danube
10.2005 Louis Hellenic Perla/Greece & Turkey
12.2003 M/S World/Egypt
#5
372 Posts
Joined Jul 2010
Originally posted by roberts2005
we have a $200.00 OBC and not sure how to spend it.
You can buy future cruise vouchers onboard using OBC. Unlike ocean cruise companies Viking allows using OBC to pay for a future cruise with an open date.
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AT SEA: 16 cruises
RIVER:
2011 -- Viking Sun 'Rhine Getaway'
2012 -- Viking Primadonna 'Passage to Eastern Europe'
2013 -- Viking Odin 'Tulips & Windmills'
2013 -- Viking Lomonosov 'Footsteps of the Cossacks'
2013 -- Viking Spirit 'Paris & the Heart of Normandy'
2014 -- Viking Schumann 'Elegant Elbe'
2014 -- AMA Waterways 'Melodies of the Danube'
2014 -- Viking Hemming 'Portugal's River of Gold'
2015 -- American Eagle 'Lower Mississippi'
2016 -- Viking Forseti 'Chateaux, Rivers & Wine'
2016 -- Mekong Navigator 'Mekong River Cruise with Saigon & Siem Reap'
------- Next Up -----

------- Email me here: [email protected]
#6
Connecticut
1,202 Posts
Joined Feb 2005
Originally posted by suspaul
Just pulled some info and it looks like the optional tours are

Belgrade Kovacica Art Colony &
Violin maker 2:00-5:30 34€ per person

Budapest Szentendre & the
Margit Kovacs Museum 8:30-1:00 44€ per person

Budapest. Godollo Palace &
Gardens 2:30-6:00 44€ per person

Don't know if the same optional excursions would be available given the time of year you're traveling.

As to your question about doing things on your own, like I said, we started in Bucharest, stayed one night at Radisson Blu then checked out the next morning and had most of the day on a bus tour of Bucharest, it was very interesting and I guess you did have to so it as we were taken directly to the ship that afternoon.

Next we docked in Russe and had another all day excursion to Veliko Trnovo and Arbanasi, 9-5:30, a long day but enjoyable enough. The ship picked us up in Svistov
Sorry but I don't recall Russe as we pretty much got off the ship and directly onto a bus. By the time we picked up in Svistov it was late enough that we went to our cabin to change and clean up for dinner

Next, Vidin, we docked in this town and had a shire excursion to visit the Belogradshick rocks and fortress, 9:00-1:00. Returned to the ship for lunch and stayed docked in Vidin until 7 pm so there was plenty of time to walk the town and visit the fortress, not a hugely impressive town but it was interesting and felt good to take off on our own for a few hours.

The following day was a sail day thru the Iron Gates, quite scenic and after having been on multiple bus rides the previous days it was a welcome change.

On to Belgrade where we had a Belgrade city tour, via bus and a little on foot. 8:30-12:30
After lunch, if you chose to return to ship, Viking did provide r/t shuttles into the city that afternoon. We did take the shuttle in and walked back after a nice visit to the park again. My Viking Daily shows we had to be back on the ship by 10 pm so you could easily have dinner in the city too.

Next, Vukovar, we did dock in/near town but we had an excursion to Vukovar and Osijek 1:30-5:30. Vukovar looked like a nice small town and we'd have enjoyed having time to visit it on our own but again,

Friday morning we enter Hungary and we're told the night before we may have a face check to passports by authorities around 5 am in Mohacs. This did happen but at 10:00 or so, as a result we didn't dock in Kalocsa until 2:15 rather than 12:30 so our tour was rushed, a visit to Kalosca and to see a horse show. We're not big horse people and thought the horse show was a waste, but this is only our opinion, many people thoroughly enjoyed it. Kalosca looked nice but unless you arranged private transportation to and from a visit on your own was not an option. Dinner was delayed tonight due to lateness in returning to the ship.

Saturday, arrived in Budapest and were taken in a bus tour thru Budapest with several stops, 9-3:00 then taken to the hotel for 2 nights.

So, hope this helps,
S






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Thank you for all the details. Even with all the bus time, it sounds like a good trip.
#8
Knoxville, TN
170 Posts
Joined Jun 2011
Originally posted by suspaul
Just pulled some info and it looks like the optional tours are

Belgrade Kovacica Art Colony &
Violin maker 2:00-5:30 34€ per person

Budapest Szentendre & the
Margit Kovacs Museum 8:30-1:00 44€ per person

Budapest. Godollo Palace &
Gardens 2:30-6:00 44€ per person

Don't know if the same optional excursions would be available given the time of year you're traveling.

As to your question about doing things on your own, like I said, we started in Bucharest, stayed one night at Radisson Blu then checked out the next morning and had most of the day on a bus tour of Bucharest, it was very interesting and I guess you did have to so it as we were taken directly to the ship that afternoon.

Next we docked in Russe and had another all day excursion to Veliko Trnovo and Arbanasi, 9-5:30, a long day but enjoyable enough. The ship picked us up in Svistov
Sorry but I don't recall Russe as we pretty much got off the ship and directly onto a bus. By the time we picked up in Svistov it was late enough that we went to our cabin to change and clean up for dinner

Next, Vidin, we docked in this town and had a shire excursion to visit the Belogradshick rocks and fortress, 9:00-1:00. Returned to the ship for lunch and stayed docked in Vidin until 7 pm so there was plenty of time to walk the town and visit the fortress, not a hugely impressive town but it was interesting and felt good to take off on our own for a few hours.

The following day was a sail day thru the Iron Gates, quite scenic and after having been on multiple bus rides the previous days it was a welcome change.

On to Belgrade where we had a Belgrade city tour, via bus and a little on foot. 8:30-12:30
After lunch, if you chose to return to ship, Viking did provide r/t shuttles into the city that afternoon. We did take the shuttle in and walked back after a nice visit to the park again. My Viking Daily shows we had to be back on the ship by 10 pm so you could easily have dinner in the city too.

Next, Vukovar, we did dock in/near town but we had an excursion to Vukovar and Osijek 1:30-5:30. Vukovar looked like a nice small town and we'd have enjoyed having time to visit it on our own but again,

Friday morning we enter Hungary and we're told the night before we may have a face check to passports by authorities around 5 am in Mohacs. This did happen but at 10:00 or so, as a result we didn't dock in Kalocsa until 2:15 rather than 12:30 so our tour was rushed, a visit to Kalosca and to see a horse show. We're not big horse people and thought the horse show was a waste, but this is only our opinion, many people thoroughly enjoyed it. Kalosca looked nice but unless you arranged private transportation to and from a visit on your own was not an option. Dinner was delayed tonight due to lateness in returning to the ship.

Saturday, arrived in Budapest and were taken in a bus tour thru Budapest with several stops, 9-3:00 then taken to the hotel for 2 nights.

So, hope this helps,
S






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Thanks for the info!! Doing this trip next March and looking forward to it.

Tim
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#9
Vancouver Island, Canada
639 Posts
Joined Nov 2006
Originally posted by roberts2005
I asked about the optional tours because we have a $200.00 OBC and not sure how to spend it. Previous posts say you can not use it for gratuities

Were the long bus rides more than an hour each way? We were hoping to be able to spend time in town in the evening.

If you skip the bus tour, is it possible to do anything on your own?
The bus rides depend on where you are going. You can skip the tours and go off on your own, just remember to ask what time the ship will be sailing so you can be back in time...
#10
Texas
560 Posts
Joined Jun 2009
Belgrade, yes I'm sure you could easily get a taxi back to the ship as you'd be right in the middle of the downtown area. We walked back, an easy downhill walk but the shortcut was walking down some 60+ stairs, just a heads up for those with mobility problems. Viking did offer shuttle returns but I think the last one back was at 5:30 pm.


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9.2009 Uniworld River Ambassador/Rhine
12.2008 Grand Circle Provence/Saone
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#11
Connecticut
1,202 Posts
Joined Feb 2005
Originally posted by suspaul
Belgrade, yes I'm sure you could easily get a taxi back to the ship as you'd be right in the middle of the downtown area. We walked back, an easy downhill walk but the shortcut was walking down some 60+ stairs, just a heads up for those with mobility problems. Viking did offer shuttle returns but I think the last one back was at 5:30 pm.


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My main concern, as it will be late November, and that it gets I dark early. Afraid we might get lost
#12
Texas
560 Posts
Joined Jun 2009
I can understand totally. Our guide earlier in the day gave us directions and showed us the route, I think it may have been 20 minutes walking, that said, I don't know about the lighting on the stairs and if you do stay in Belgrade after the last shuttle back to the ship it would be a wise choice to hail a taxi. You might ask the Program Director on board about the taxis, where to catch, etc.

Also, I'm not sure if the actual times in the docking towns/cities will be different due to the time of year.




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5.2011 Viking Emerald/China
2.2011 Carnival Triumph/Mexico
9.2009 Uniworld River Ambassador/Rhine
12.2008 Grand Circle Provence/Saone
12.2006 Grand Circle River Rhapsody/Danube
10.2005 Louis Hellenic Perla/Greece & Turkey
12.2003 M/S World/Egypt
#13
Murfreesboro, TN USA
936 Posts
Joined Aug 2000
Originally posted by roberts2005
I asked about the optional tours because we have a $200.00 OBC and not sure how to spend it. Previous posts say you can not use it for gratuities

Were the long bus rides more than an hour each way? We were hoping to be able to spend time in town in the evening.

If you skip the bus tour, is it possible to do anything on your own?
I can vouch for not being able to use it for gratuities. Had the same amount for OBC. Here's what you can spend it on:

Optional tours
Drinks other than wine (and beer? Is it included?)
Clothing - t shirts, jackets, sweatshirts and I think baseball caps
Soap products - milk baths, bubble bath, shower gels, bar soap
Jewelry - not much of a variety, but nice nonetheless
Binoculars
Converter or adapter (I get those confused)
A book
A map

And that's it. I loved having the "problem" of having to spend $200 and not having enough.

And of course, I spent more than the $200.

Now onto the excursions. You are asking about the time, but did you mean the included excursions or the optional ones? I didn't take any optional ones so can speak only for the included ones.

Most lasted from 830a-1230p, although the excursion in Ruse, Bulgaria was a full day. In Kalocsa, there's nothing to do where the ship docks. You're almost a "prisoner" of the excursion....although it's quite delightful and you'll probably enjoy that day. You can't venture off on your own there and then meet up with them to get back to the ship.

As a matter of fact, the only 2 places I can recall being able to have free time for shopping and exploring on your own were in Vukovar, Croatia and Belgrade, Serbia.

It takes 45 mins or so to get from Vukovar, Croatia to Osijek.

Now I went from Budapest to Bucharest, so I don't know if you'll have time in Budapest if you're going the opposite direction. I did have time in Bucharest.

Hope I answered your questions.
Felicia
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