We've had done 4 European river cruises over the years - 2 with Viking and 2 with other companies and we wanted to do the 2-week Grand European River Cruise as part of a relaxing October vacation. This trip, however, turned out to be a total disaster from start to finish - anything but relaxing! Viking has yet to offer us adequate compensation for our ruined vacation. and until they make things right, I cannot recommend this once-leading company any more.
On the Grand European River Cruise, buyers need to prepared for itinerary changes, canceled side trips, ship swaps, and many segments of the trip done by bus rather than on the water. There is also high likelihood that even when you do arrive at a city by ship, you will not be docked "in the heart of the city", but out by some oil storage depot where you cannot come and go on foot but need to be bused in and out on a particular schedule. Most of the cruising is done at night when you can't see anything Two of the three Viking river cruises that we've taken have had shortened itineraries and bus trips substituted for river cruising. and the few times that we've docked in or near a city, we've been double- or triple- docked with other boats so our pricey balcony was useless. This latest "cruise" had 65% of the itinerary covered by bus, and 35% by water, and was only a thin piece of what was advertised. . .
Our troubles on this cruise began the day before we were arriving in Budapest to meet the ship. I was emailed to say that the ship wouldn't make it to Budapest due to low water, and that we'd be put up in a hotel for the first night - but the Viking management didn't know which hotel it would be - and then we would be transferred by bus up to to Vienna, skipping the river cruising. Not knowing where to go in Budapest, we stopped by the Sofitel, (which Viking had used in the past), and fortunately we found a rep there who said we should go to the Marriott. We did, but nobody there knew where the Viking people were, and we didn't see a rep until the following morning (the second day of our supposed cruise) when a bus came to pick us up. We spent day 2 of the cruise sitting a bus to Vienna, where we actually did get to board a ship. Despite assurances that our luggage would be in our stateroom when we got there, I found I was missing one critical suitcase with my medications, (which staff eventually found in another stateroom).I
The rest of the cruise followed in the same disorganized vein: cruise a few days, then more busing. Switch ships, cruise a day or so, then more busing. Eventually the ship made it to Mainz which was it's "end-of-the line", and we had to be bused all the way up to Amsterdam where we had another chaotic hotel check-in. On bus days - there were many - we had group lunches at so-so- restaurants, and occasional highway rest stops for which we had dig out our own change to pay for rest rooms (Viking should have passed out Euros to everyone for this!) Most of the pre-paid-for side trips were cancelled, and while we eventually (2 months later) got a refund for ours, it wasn't the full amount we'd paid. By the end of this so-called "cruise", I think most of the crew were demoralized and the passengers were glad to say goodbye.
As I said, this once-noble company has to make this one right before I can recommend them!
Viking cabins are very nice,relative to some river cruise ships. I specifically wanted the upper floor balcony rooms with the thought that we would be doing some daytime cruising where I could use it. Unfortunately, most of the time we were either on a bus during the day, or cruising at night, or docked up against another ship so the veranda was pretty useless.