Viking Idun Amsterdam to Budapest--July/Aug 2012
My wife and I are somewhat regular cruisers on Regent, Seabourne, Seven Seas, Oceania, Princess and a few other lines, so we have some basis for comparison. Over 90% of our fellow cruisers were new to Viking, and most were from the US, Canada, and UK, a few people from Australia and New Zealand. Bottom line,we will not cruise with Viking again.
Itinerary--we took the cruise to experience the interior of Germany. Every place we stopped was either very good or wonderful, so our criticism is not of the ports of call. By all means add these to your bucket list and find a way to get there.
We were not thrilled with the ship in many ways.
--Food. Usually a highlight of a cruise. Not one meal was memorable in a good way. There was the occasional good bread, or roast beef, or pork roast, but in general appetizers were tasted then discarded, shrimp and lobster were laughable, steaks were not tasty, and desserts were bland or strange. Ice cream became a treat. The current chef needs replaced by someone with real cruise kitchen experience on a major cruise line. People were hoarding cookies. A small staff had a hard time keeping buffet lines stocked. So we would have to go back several times to get everything--even knives and forks, or french fries, or plates. Some staff seem overworked, some not so much. The Filipino staff-new to the ship--were the best servers. Free dinner wine was as good as we needed it to be--all Viking vineyards, we were told. Beers were good. Local cuisine was served some evenings, but it was usually bland. I have had versions of menu items that were tastey. Not here. We did not leave the table hungry but most often we did not leave the table thrilled.
--Seating. We are not fans of sitting with new strangers every night. No tables for 2. If you form a group of 6 you can send someone early to rush in for a table. This got really nasty and irritating. Table placement was bad. No room to maneuver for staff or guests. Tables could be inches smaller and work. Serving tables too large, too long.
--Lounge--too small for all guests. Chairs poorly designed for space and needed vacuuming under many. Not sure what can be done except smaller scale furniture--but maybe smaller scale passengers would be needed then.
--Security was mentioned by another reviewer. We personally saw two young men drinking at the bar who had wandered onboard and up to the lounge. They were confronted by cruise staff and told to leave. The ship has no real security while docked. We actually had Viking ships parked against us that had to go ashore through our reception hall. Another time we had to march across another cruise ship to get to shore--it wasn't a Viking ship. This all seems quite normal to the cruise lines.
--The locks. When you hear you will pass through over 60 locks on the trip. you think "that might be interesting." However when you are nearing a lock, or in a lock, you have no internet service. If you are passing under a bridge or parked under a bridge, no service. Most of the time we had no service. Sometimes I think it was just easier to leave the tower down or someone forgot to put it up again. When you are in a lock, your room is in darkness.
--Leaks. A bad leak developed on one side of the lounge which soaked the carpet in an area for days. Eventually it reached the dance/entertainment floor which swelled in the middle to a pitch of a foot or so. When we disembarked, the floor was being removed. Not sure what mold issues the carpet and lounge will have. People kept tripping over the bulge.
--Daily ship life. The ship is very small. After 2 weeks there were other cruisers we considered throwing overboard. Rude people became like an unavoidable dripping faucet. The only area to go when in a dark lock was the lounge. The upper deck was closed most of the trip because of bridges and locks. We had perfect weather for 2 weeks but could not go uptop but a few days.
--Tours. We were happy with the tours and most of the guides. However, if you arrive late at a city--locks are tied up, the day is shortened. A few stops were so-so, and I would suggest an extra day in Vienna, Wurzberg, or Nuremberg would be better than a few hours in a place that is a speedbump on the Rhine--however scenic.
--Cruise staff. The director was long-winded, said a lot but much was filler. We like a useful daily bulletin and tend to dislike long speeches. Often scheduled times were changed anyway from what she told us. A daily powerpoint on the TV would have sufficed.
--Library. The library was a joke. A few travel books and whatever paperbacks people had finished. Not what we are used to on a ship.
--Balcony or not. Our friends opted for no balcony. We got the balcony with a larger room--chair to sit in, albeit uncomfortable. They were cramped. Even the closet was such that a full size hanger would not fit because of a pipe bumpout. Our balcony was adequate for sitting, but no sliding screen. So no breeze. Flies on one stretch, mosquitoes on another. A screen would have really helped.
--Good news--bathrooms are welldone but small. Cookies were good. Entertainment when we had it was good onboard. Don't miss it.
--Staff in general did not seem concerned that there were legitimate complaints. Yes, they listened, but there was a feeling that nothing would be done. Blaise seems to be the right word.
--I must say some people seemed deliriously happy with the whole cruise--more alcohol than us? Better group of partiers? I suggest they did not have the comparisons we had or the level of expectation for the price paid. For better or worse, we are people who notice things and we were not impressed.
--Spend the money somewhere else folks. See the Rhine and Danube another way.
Cabin with balcony a must. Cabin with no balcony has smaller closet, less drawers, no chair. Balcony doors need a screen. Bathroom is adequate and worked well. No iron. Laundy is wash in sink or send out--expensive. No public laundry to use. Useless little nightstands. Internet barely worked. More interruptions than not. If you go through a canal lock, you are in a dark hole for the length of the lock--no internet.
The city is pretty interesting with a castle area that was bombed in WWII. Contrast with the Communist days is pretty dramatic. It is full of cafes but not a shopping town--malls in the suburbs have taken shopping away--and what we saw was basic, universal.People were friendly and spoke English. Some great bridges. You can walk to most places in the old city. A fenicular takes you up to the castle area from the river edge.
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