October 19, 2018—We are sitting at Speyer, Germany, having never left port due to low Rhine levels... no departure from Speyer is anticipated for the duration. Thus, every day includes long bus rides to the sites on the itinerary... this should have been called the "Rhine bus tour." While the ship is beautiful and the food fine, we have been extremely frustrated with the vague and untimely communication. We understand the Rhine issues but feel that Viking should have been forthcoming at all times rather than pretending all would be well. Cruise should have been cancelled as conditions were known well ahead of time. Ship’s staff has done its best— Viking management, that arranges the scheduling, seems to care more about its bottom line than customer experience. The email we received just before departure from the states greatly downplayed the severity of Rhine status and its impact on the cruise. We’ve cruised the Rhine before so are only mildly disappointed—for those for whom this is their first European experience, it’s been devastating. WiFi is slower than slow—why is WiFi better on cruise ships in the middle of the ocean? The Hild itself is beautiful and well appointed -- it feels new and well thought through. The food is traditional river cruise fare and well executed, though it would be nice to have some food options available in the late afternoons as 7pm dinner is late for some. Cookies and nuts are available but that gets old on a week-long itinerary. Piano player/vocalist is terrific and we are enjoying time in the lounge with his music that is suited to boomer+ audiences. As we are experienced travelers, we are opting to do our own thing rather than ride a bus for hours every day, with rushed tours given reduced time in each city due. Europe's fine public transportation affords options for those willing to venture out. The Technical Museum in Speyer is fantastic! We paid the extra for a veranda but are staring into a river bank for the duration -- not a pleasant place for enjoying scenery. All in all, we are making the best of it and having a good week -- just not the week we'd anticipated. Again, we understand the realities of the historic low water levels -- the issue is with Viking, who knew well in advance (this issue has been dogging the Rhine since August) they could not provide the river cruise advertised.
Well appointed, very functional, lots of storage--first class!
Speyer was a good place to be stuck. The town was a 10 minute walk from the boat and it was a lovely and charming community. Cathedral and churches were beautiful, authentic German lunches and beer were delightful, ice cream was plentiful. Tour guide gave a helpful overview. We spent a morning at the Technical Museum -- a must see that was not included but well worth the visit.