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  #1  
Old November 5th, 2013, 01:38 PM
Bill'sBride Bill'sBride is offline
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Smile Viking Presige - Cities of Light Review - Long

We returned from our trip last week, and I still can't think of one bad thing about this trip or Viking. When we arrived in Prague, the Viking rep was super easy to find as we exited baggage claim (no immigration or customs to go through) and were taken to nice, small buses within 15 minutes. Arrival at the Hilton Prague and check in was a very smooth process. Our two days in Prague were great and I wish we had extended on that end as well. The hotel was nice and clean and about a 20 minute walk to Old Town Square. The tours were well organized and very good, and the transfer to the ship went off without a hitch. The ship was very clean, and the entire staff was helpful and friendly. I was surprised at how little time we actually had as down time cruising during the day, on morning and one afternoon, as we went on all excursions we could. The towns were all so beautiful and interesting. The local guides all spoke perfect English and were very informative. The QuietVox system is wonderful, it allowed me to hear the guide and not have to be in the middle of a crowd trying to hear. The local restaurants we visited with tours were all very good, and they provided the beer and wine as it would have been served on the boat. I felt that the meals were well prepared, and with sufficient variety that we were never bored, or felt that there was nothing we wanted on the menu. The waiters were always available during the meal to top off drinks and get whatever you needed. Portions at seated meals were not huge, but we were never hungry! The lunches in the lounge were very nice, and serve yourself style with beverage service at your tables. If you are considering this trip, take the extra trip to Rothenburg, the drive through the countryside is worth it alone! Another great thing to do, in Rudesheim take the cable car up the hill over the vineyards to the statue and admire the view. Pay the extra 6 euro for the split of sparkling wine and 2 glasses to keep, it really made it fun. We were there during what seemed to be the peak color for foliage. The miles of vineyards along the river, and the trees, were all in various fall shades of color and the beauty of it was overwhelming. We extended our stay in Paris for the 4 nights, and were so glad we did. Our Program Director, Julian, was an amazing guy. Helpful, full of great tips for things to do and places to eat, and he really made an effort to interface with all the passengers. I wish I could have him on every vacation! Things I would pass along as tips - almost nobody dresses for dinner, a nice sweater and shirt with slacks was the standard outfit. Even jeans with a nice top was fine. Some brought dresses and jackets for Capt farewell dinner. All the hotel reviews for Prague Hilton tell you about the market across the way (food, booze, drugstore) but not the same about the mall across from the hotel in Paris (Meridien Etoile) they too had a great shop and I did not notice until day 3 but still was happy to get a nice bottle of gin. From Prague I brought some cokes and a bottle of Vodka I bought while in the hotel onto the boat and Viking does not care that you bring your own. There is an in room mini fridge which was great, and convenient ice machine. Once we were settled in the cabin at night we did not always want to go down the hall to the lounge for a fresh cocktail and it was nice to have that option. Take a french balcony room, or full balcony if the ship has one - that view is one in a million! This was my first river cruise - Viking or otherwise - and they have earned a loyal customer in me. Viking handled everything perfectly from my booking til I left for the airport to go home. It was 19 months from booking to sailing and I was so afraid it would not live up the ads on TV, or what I was expecting. They exceeded it. No, I am not a paid advertiser or first time traveler - I have been all around the world on many vacations by land and a few ocean cruises, and River Cruising was a new way of travelling that I wanted to check out. If you are considering this cruise, take it !
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  #2  
Old November 5th, 2013, 02:09 PM
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nana541 nana541 is online now
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How wonderful to hear your happy review! Thanks so much for taking the time to share your impressions about Viking....
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  #3  
Old November 5th, 2013, 07:42 PM
OnWeGo OnWeGo is offline
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Finally a review from the Cities of Lights trip! I was happy to read how much you enjoyed your trip. We are doing same cruise (Paris to Prague) next June. I do have a few questions...how did you like your hotel in Paris? Was it pretty centrally located? During your cruise did you have any stops where you had the opportunity to take a walk in town after dinner? If so which ports? Did you do any other optional tours other than Rothenburg?


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NCL Pride of America - Hawaiian Islands, 2004
RCL Splendour of the Seas- Greek Isles & Turkey, June 2010
Princess Coral - Alaska, June 2011
RCL Serenade of the Seas - Southern Caribbean, Nov. 2011
RCL - Liberty of the Seas - Western Mediterranean, June 2012
Viking Odin, Cities of Light, June 2014
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  #4  
Old November 6th, 2013, 08:20 AM
Bill'sBride Bill'sBride is offline
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Hi OnWeGo-
The hotel in Paris was nice. A business hotel but very clean, and our room was very modern. The bed was very comfortable, the closet was a good size and that bath was updated and nice. One couple complained about the room they had, a very small room with almost no closet and was outdated, and they were moved to another room promptly. The rooms had the normal amenities of shampoo/conditioner/body wash/lotion and soap. There is also a hair dryer (there were dryers in each hotel and in our cabin). There is an ice machine near the elevator with large Styrofoam cups so easy to grab a bunch of ice on the way to the room. The dining room for breakfast is a good size, and the food is good but the menu does not change at all. One morning I was surprised by the line to get in, but we were seated in under 5 minutes. Just remember to bring your breakfast ticket with you when you go down - it will be in your room key package. If you want to go the Louvre, get your tickets from the concierge desk, and he will tell you which entrance to use so you don't have to stand in the long lines. We walked right in and it was great. Tip if you do this - keep your ticket very handy you will need to show it to go into the different sections. The concierge at the hotel was super helpful. The hotel is on the same block as the Metro and the RER train line. We used the RER to go to Eiffel Tower (direct shot just 4 stops and no changing trains like the Metro) and to Versailles which was one train change at Eiffel Tower and took about 40 minutes total to get there. The people at the stations were very helpful. We got on the bus for the Viking tour of the city, but did not get back on after the stop at Notre Dame. We just told them we were heading out on our own - so we could spend a few more minutes there, and then walked to the Louvre. About a 15 minute walk but really nice, then we walked back past Notre Dame to hit up some left bank cafes for drinks and dinner. In the Palais of Congress across from the hotel you will find stores, a fabulous grocery/wine/liquor store and ATMs. The Prague hotel has an ATM in the lobby, but not Paris. There are many restaurants around the hotel, go left or right out of the lobby and you will easily find them. The hotel is about a 15 minute walk to Arc de Triomphe - if you walk down past the RER station you have a great view of it. I found the Metro the best way to get places at a distance, and still have the energy for lots of walking. The only extra excursions we did on the cruise were the ones to Rothenburg and Lobkowicz Palace. If you do the Palace lunch you will get back to the hotel between 4 & 5, it is a long day as the city tour leaves around 8:30 I think. The Palace lunch/concert was fun and being the first full day of our trip that is where we met other passengers. We did not do any wine tasting tours (I took that time to taste it on my own!) but others said they were nice. In most towns, we were not walking distance from the boat, you are bussed for short rides. You are able to walk into Cochem and Rudesheim. Rudesheim is the best opportunity to have an evening ashore. We found nice places to have drinks and ended up eating at an Italian restaurant suggested by the Program Director. In each town there was about 90 minutes free time after tours to grab drinks and shop. We had about 2 hrs in Trier and really had fun grabbing a bite to eat and having drinks. I am not sure if you have done these kinds of trips before, this was my first, but they get you up and out early most days to start the tours. I loved them - and it only took a few days for my ankles to get used to walking on the wobbly cobblestones. Hope I answered your questions, feel free to ask me more as they come up - I am sure you will love this trip!
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  #5  
Old November 6th, 2013, 09:57 AM
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orchestrapal orchestrapal is offline
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Thanks for reviewing but PLEASE create paragraphs so that your hard work can be read!
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  #6  
Old November 6th, 2013, 11:42 PM
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Viking Cruises Viking Cruises is offline
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Dear Bill’sBride,

Welcome home from your cruise! We’re thrilled that you decided to take your first river cruise with us and that it exceeded your expectations. Many thanks for the kind recommendation at the end of your post and for sharing your feedback. We’re interested to learn more about your experience and hope you will contact us directly at TellUs@vikingcruises.com to share your thoughts. Until then, thank you for sailing with us. We look forward to welcoming you onboard again soon!

Sincerely,
Viking Cruises


Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill'sBride View Post
We returned from our trip last week, and I still can't think of one bad thing about this trip or Viking. When we arrived in Prague, the Viking rep was super easy to find as we exited baggage claim (no immigration or customs to go through) and were taken to nice, small buses within 15 minutes. Arrival at the Hilton Prague and check in was a very smooth process. Our two days in Prague were great and I wish we had extended on that end as well. The hotel was nice and clean and about a 20 minute walk to Old Town Square. The tours were well organized and very good, and the transfer to the ship went off without a hitch. The ship was very clean, and the entire staff was helpful and friendly. I was surprised at how little time we actually had as down time cruising during the day, on morning and one afternoon, as we went on all excursions we could. The towns were all so beautiful and interesting. The local guides all spoke perfect English and were very informative. The QuietVox system is wonderful, it allowed me to hear the guide and not have to be in the middle of a crowd trying to hear. The local restaurants we visited with tours were all very good, and they provided the beer and wine as it would have been served on the boat. I felt that the meals were well prepared, and with sufficient variety that we were never bored, or felt that there was nothing we wanted on the menu. The waiters were always available during the meal to top off drinks and get whatever you needed. Portions at seated meals were not huge, but we were never hungry! The lunches in the lounge were very nice, and serve yourself style with beverage service at your tables. If you are considering this trip, take the extra trip to Rothenburg, the drive through the countryside is worth it alone! Another great thing to do, in Rudesheim take the cable car up the hill over the vineyards to the statue and admire the view. Pay the extra 6 euro for the split of sparkling wine and 2 glasses to keep, it really made it fun. We were there during what seemed to be the peak color for foliage. The miles of vineyards along the river, and the trees, were all in various fall shades of color and the beauty of it was overwhelming. We extended our stay in Paris for the 4 nights, and were so glad we did. Our Program Director, Julian, was an amazing guy. Helpful, full of great tips for things to do and places to eat, and he really made an effort to interface with all the passengers. I wish I could have him on every vacation! Things I would pass along as tips - almost nobody dresses for dinner, a nice sweater and shirt with slacks was the standard outfit. Even jeans with a nice top was fine. Some brought dresses and jackets for Capt farewell dinner. All the hotel reviews for Prague Hilton tell you about the market across the way (food, booze, drugstore) but not the same about the mall across from the hotel in Paris (Meridien Etoile) they too had a great shop and I did not notice until day 3 but still was happy to get a nice bottle of gin. From Prague I brought some cokes and a bottle of Vodka I bought while in the hotel onto the boat and Viking does not care that you bring your own. There is an in room mini fridge which was great, and convenient ice machine. Once we were settled in the cabin at night we did not always want to go down the hall to the lounge for a fresh cocktail and it was nice to have that option. Take a french balcony room, or full balcony if the ship has one - that view is one in a million! This was my first river cruise - Viking or otherwise - and they have earned a loyal customer in me. Viking handled everything perfectly from my booking til I left for the airport to go home. It was 19 months from booking to sailing and I was so afraid it would not live up the ads on TV, or what I was expecting. They exceeded it. No, I am not a paid advertiser or first time traveler - I have been all around the world on many vacations by land and a few ocean cruises, and River Cruising was a new way of travelling that I wanted to check out. If you are considering this cruise, take it !
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  #7  
Old November 7th, 2013, 08:40 AM
OnWeGo OnWeGo is offline
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Bill’s Bride,
Of course I have more questions!
This will be our (four “youngish” ladies – 3 sisters and a girlfriend ) first river cruise and the first visit to all our stops we are so looking forward to it!
We had a choice of extending our Paris or Prague time by one day (unfortunately we are all still working and have limited time off) and we chose Prague. Right or wrong our thought being we are more likely to return to Paris than Prague. With limited time in Paris we were wondering if we were going to do the city tour offered by Viking or to head out on our own to explore. But you gave us a very good idea to take the offered tour and go as far as Notre Dame. I have been checking out the various walking tours as we have done them in other places we have visited and have loved them. We want to see some of the major sites but also experience the city – strolling through the Latin Quarter or Les Halles or the Tuileries and as you did find neat café’s to have a glass of wine. With so little time we will only see the “tip of the iceberg”.

Thanks for the information on walking distance from boat to town. For some reason I thought each stop was walking distance into town. Did Viking offer any shuttle service into town? But then as you said, we will likely be exhausted most evenings from our days of touring!

Speaking of tours, I’ve read on this forum that some cruise lines will split groups up and provide a group for more active walkers and groups for the less active walkers. Was that the case with your cruise?

Nice to hear that we have a little time in each stop to wander, have a glass of wine or do a little shopping. What were your favorite places for souvenir shopping?

How was the evening entertainment? I’ve read they will have people come on board and there is also a piano bar??

What optional tours were offered in Prague? How long was the bus ride from the dock to Prague? Any tips on exploring, eating or drinking in Prague?
Thanks for sharing your insights!
__________________
NCL Pride of America - Hawaiian Islands, 2004
RCL Splendour of the Seas- Greek Isles & Turkey, June 2010
Princess Coral - Alaska, June 2011
RCL Serenade of the Seas - Southern Caribbean, Nov. 2011
RCL - Liberty of the Seas - Western Mediterranean, June 2012
Viking Odin, Cities of Light, June 2014
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  #8  
Old November 11th, 2013, 11:41 AM
Bill'sBride Bill'sBride is offline
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Hi OnWe Go-

I think the Prague extension is a good call. I am 47 (on the younger end of the boat's age for my trip) and loved Prague. It is really a neat place, and the Old Town Square area is so much fun, lots of restaurants and cafes, stores, etc. The main square and all surrounding areas have so many options for food and drink, so whatever interests you than they should have it. If you like ham, they have a place in the center of the square that spins ham over a wood fire and it is sooo yummy! Makes a great snack - but tell them if you want just a little or you get a big plate and pay by the weight. I wish we had extended there. We did the Paris extension, and loved it, but as you said we will probably go there again.

In Prague you will get the city tour, and you can add the Lokowicz Palace tour and they will take up the entire day. The Palace tour is nice because they take you on the town tour first and the streets are very quiet at that time of day and it is very peaceful. There were more things I wanted to do on my own, stroll the Charles Bridge and spend more time looking at all the art/vendors, peek into more little shops and alleys. In the evenings the performers on the square are really fun, and while we were there they were having a city-wide light show at night but I understand they regularly do neat things like that in town. We were 2 couples and never felt uneasy walking home to the hotel at night, although on the edges of Old Town Square there are plenty of cabs. They also have great antique car tours around town that look like a blast. I would do that the next time. We did a ghost tour (McGee tours) that takes you under the old town hall where the clock is - you take lanterns and see where there used to be homes, turned torture chambers, but they used to be street level years ago. Great English speaking guides and really fun. I think the tour was like 8-9 pm, and it was a fun thing to do. Then time for more drinks!

There was only one night that we were docked overnight in an area that was not walking distance to the town. Viking should be able to call a car for you if you want. But most evenings you are cruising once you get in from the day touring. I too thought most towns were walking distance. Sometimes you will get off the boat, and while they bus you to the tour area, the boat moves up the river to a pick up point. That appears to be necessary to make it through the locks on time.

On the tours, they do have leisurely walking option which is not as brisk and skips the big hills. But most of these passengers had no problem keeping up at all. I was really impressed at the fitness level of these older passengers. Bring sturdy walking shoes, the majority of the time you are on cobblestones and my ankles took a small beating. They never hurt, but would swell at night from trying to balance all day. Here is my tip for that, I packed a refillable ice bag (ice machines in the hallway!) and an ace bandage. I found that if I wrapped my ankles a bit for a couple hours when I first went to sleep, they were good in the AM.

For shopping - Prague has great places. I also think that the little shops in Rothenberg, Heidelberg and Chochem were really good. Nice stores, but like normal shopping in Trier. Most stores are closed on Sunday, so those towns you hit on a Sunday will have limited shopping.

In the lounge, they had a few acts come on in the evening, and they had an on-board piano player who was really good. I missed it, but heard one night the staff was singing with the piano player and it was really fun. They have a normal bar to sit at and lots of comfy chairs with cocktail tables and you can enjoy the view as you go along and see the lights of the towns.

Let me know if you have more questions, I am always happy to help!

Lisa
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