Where to start? I have good and bad experiences on my Rhine Getaway. Even before stating I asked my sales consultant about the water levels and was told that a ship swap was a distant possibility. And if I chose to cancel or rebook I would lose the total amount. SO I proceeded to "enjoy" my Rhine river getaway. First let me say that we did indeed swap ships. This gave us a unique perspective to compare two ships and staff. The first ship the KARA was beautiful and the front desk, waiters, and bartenders, were beautiful in spirit and accommodating our every request. We purchased the silver drink package (150 per person) and I can report to you that it was a bargain, as there are eaters and drinkers and we are definitely drinkers. SO if you enjoy drinks you must purchase this package. OK so we are on the KARA, for two days and then we are told that we will do a ship sway. So here we go packing everything again. And we need to be bussed to the next ship. As a result we had to leave the people with whom we became friends, (the ships staff), and boarded a bus for a long trip to our reduced excursion. I cried when we left that friendly staff. They even got a cab to deliver our lost luggage and deliver it to the next port of call. And did our laundry for free while the bags were lost. AND even members of the crew offered their personal clothing until ours arrived. The KARA crew was EXCELLENT. God how I will miss them. OK so reduced time at our next excursion, back on a bus and then we boarded the HLIN. BIG DIFFERENCE!!!!!! I expected the bartenders and staff to be "same but different". Now I am an outgoing and friendly guy but almost IMMEDIATELY I found the attitude VERY DIFFERENT and cold. This was not just my opinion, but ALL of the fellow passengers with whom I came into conversation with. If it were just me, I could write it off BUT is was unanimous! Even the guests in the SUITE at the rear of the ship (the executive presidential suite), the largest in the ship, with whom we became friends, said that the bartender was downright RUDE. They had planned to go on another Viking cruise and were making plans told me that they will go one Tauk or Crystal instead. They told me that that trip was around 25K and they planned to "vote with their wallets". And eschew any future Viking cruises.
As I said before we were one of the lucky ones who went on the Rhine. Our captain told us the Elbe and Danube were now completely closed to river traffic of large ships. One a positive note I spent MANY hours in the wheelhouse with out captain, Adam, who as an engineer appreciates all the technical details of captaining a longboat. Radar, FLIR, river navigation systems, sonar, and all the logistics were explained to me. As we became closer he showed me pictures of his beautiful Polish wife and handsome son. For me this was the best part of the cruise. The captain on the HLIN made this ship OK for me but the rest forget it. We made friends with a guest who was a professional chef and he had "words" with the HLIN chef about things I dont know about like the temperature of a "sear". I tried the "stew" which consisted of boiled cubes of some kind of meat, cubed potatoes and carrots in a broth. NOT stew in my definition. Almost the same meals every day. Now I am very easy to please BUT if you are looking for above average meals, you wont find it here. I did the poached salmon almost every night. My wife had a "ribeye, which she could not eat. Our table guests looked at the food presented and many had the ceaser salad instead which was actually pretty good.
So would I do it again you are asking. Are you sitting down? IF and this is a big IF Viking makes it worth my while I may consider them again. But after reading the other reviews and what Viking did after they returned home, I think not. Now I know that Viking can not control the water levels, but that is not the issue. The insincerity and holding back of information is what I have an issue with. They got our money and it seems that it was all they wanted. It was MUCH worse for the Danube travelers. All in alI guess I was pretty lucky in the end.
Efficient and clean