We did our first Viking River cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest on Viking Sky in 2011 and could not fault anything. The food, cabin, cleanliness, staff, excursions and the boat was all very good, so I shall be basing this report on Viking Rurik against the Viking Sky cruise.
To start with the over 2 hour coach trip from Moscow airport to Viking Rurik's berth was very tiresome especially after a 18 hours of travelling from West Australia. The EX cabin which was the largest on the Main deck, but we latter found out when we cast off was also one of the noisiest because of what I suspect are the side thrusters used to berth the boat & position it in Locks. This usually happens in the middle of the night (I even rang Viking, before we booked this cabin to find out any down side to this cabin and none was mentioned).
Other areas which I thought was not too good:-
a)there is only one public toilet that we found at the rear of the boat near the main restaurant entry.
b)the only outside shady area at the rear of the boat was small & noisy.
These were the only negative comments about the boat. All in all it was very clean well kept & run boat, which is to the credit of the staff in all areas (this includes the restaurant, tour guides, and counter staff).
I was not impressed with having to do at least 1 hour each way travel into Moscow to do 1/2 day tours, it would have been better to use hotels for a couple of days, and then transfer to the boat. That would have meant 1 hour less travelling from the airport, gaining at least 2 hours a day, and being more central to things in the evenings. If that is not an option why not bus from the boat to the tube station and then catch the tube in as this fairly quick. Moscow's roads always seem packed.
Now with the complaints out of the way we found the cruise was very relaxing and the stops at all the towns were most interesting, and the guides were all very good. The food was excellent, plenty of choice and the serving sizes are excellent. The service given by the restaurant staff was also excellent and if you wanted anything that was not on the menu they was always willing to offer you something else.
The Cabin was always kept clean as was the rest of the boat, and there were always people going round wiping down surfaces, vacuuming the carpet. We purchased this cruise from Australia, with the pre paid gratuities, and we always felt mean, when we got off the tours with most of the American & Europeans tipping the guides, which our voucher stated was included in our price of the tour.
Apart from a few small niggling problems we found this a good river cruise, although not as good as the Amsterdam to Budapest cruise. But would we do another Viking cruise? YES WE WOULD.
Functional, tidy, always clean, good layout, but a bit noisy