We chose this cruise because of advice from our Travel Agent and of hearing good things concerning Viking Cruises from past passengers. The Captain, all crew members, the balcony room, the ports of call, and cleanliness of the ship were all excellent. Our main gripe was the poor quality of the food served on board. As an example, after a very early start on our departure date, we were told on the coach taking us from the airport in Amsterdam to the ship, that a lunch would be ready upon our arrival on board. We were quite hungry by this time, so was looking forward to a good lunch which we expected to be served in the dining room. Instead it was served in a self-service bar at the rear of the ship. It consisted of Soup, Cheese and Tomato or Ham and Tomato baguettes, breaded chicken wings and cold chips and a cake for the sweet. There was also free wine or beer available.
We found the main evening meals to be of poor quality. Again as an example "Halibut" on the menu. Yes it was halibut but of the very cheap variety called "Greenland Halibut or Mock Halibut". (How do I know this, because I suspected as such and confirmed it with the head chef). I ordered a shrimp cocktail one evening, only to be served with the poorest quality tasteless shrimps I have ever had, served on a very hard piece of rye bread. I would make a guess that these were cheap Asian shrimps, which are usually served as a cooking shrimp. I tried the Salmon one evening, and although the quality seemed very good, it was ruined by over-cooking and therefore very dry. I also found that the English breakfast bacon was also very over-cooked, and I could have used it as a table tennis bat it was that hard. We had a "Serve yourself" German meal one evening. It was chaos. Imagine over 100 patrons all trying to get served at the same time around a small servery. It was impossible to see what was on offer before the "stampede" I ended up with some breaded meat, which was so grisly, I was unable to eat it. Again poor quality produce.
We enjoyed the "free excursions" ( I say "free" because no doubt the cost was included in our original cost of the cruise.) We found them to be most interesting and the guides very good. However, one day we decided not to go on the "free" and take an evening excursion in Rudeheim. We were informed that we would be taken to a typical German restaurant with free wine tasting, entertainment by a typical German band, together with a sumtuous meal. To get to the restaurant we would be taken by a miniature train. This turned out to be Seaside Tractor Train, which left us quite a long way away from our restaurant. We were given a red wine and a white wine which was not our choice with a take it or leave it attitude. The band consisted of a keyboard player, a violin, and lady singer. (Where was the "slap my side" German band ?) The food was very poor, and I had to send my main meal course back because it was cold. It was put in the micro-wave and returned to me. There was no other entertainment except what we, the customers, provided for ourselves. The cost of this trip was 79 Euro each!. I complained to Ivan, the cruise director, concerning what poor value for money this was, given that we had already paid for an evening meal and complimentary wine on board ship. He said he would report my remarks. Haven't hear a thing from Viking. Would we go again - No. This cruise cost us £2600 each (my wife and I) which works out at £742 per day for us both. We enjoyed the camaraderie of meeting lots of nice people. The cruise director (Ivan) was very good, and also the pianist (GeGe ?) Would we go again? Not too sure. It would have to be at a very reduced price.
My wife and I are seasoned cruisers, and have completed in the region of about 60 ocean cruises with various lines, and so well experienced in cruise quality. This was our first experience of a river cruise. I am probably being a little unfair with my criticism of the food, as our previous cruise to this one, had been on the Ociania Cruise Ship "Riviera" where, if you really want to know what good food is like, then try this line,