Just returned from our first cruise with Viking. In all, there were amazing and some disappointing parts to the trip. On the positive, the food was close to the best I have ever had on a cruise. This was our first river cruise but we have cruised with Royal Caribbean, Regent Seven Seas, Disney, and Norwegian. The cabins were nice and our cruise director, Jerome, was hilarious and great at what he does. The itinerary was good and if you get the chance to go to Prague, don't miss out. Absolutely fantastic. I took my wife and two teenage sons on the trip and I would say that the first strike against a Viking cruise is the focus on an older age group. My wife and I are in our mid 40's and we were very near the youngest people on the ship and most of the ship board activities and excursions were geared around an older age group. In fact, I heard but never asked, that Viking is not allowing people under 18 to cruise on their ships after this season. Not sure but I do believe they are going to steer the middle age group with families away from their product if they don't address this. I would not recommend this for anyone under the age of 40 unless they are traveling with a group of friends. We enjoyed all the people we met on the ship but there were not many people our age and only one other family with kids near our teenagers age. A second strike against Viking was never having enough time in each port to do things on your own. It seemed that we were always late to pull into a port and when there was free time allotted, it was usually only 30-60 mins at most. EVERY person we spoke to on the ship was disappointed in the lack of time to actually spend shopping and exploring. Each excursion included a lunch but European restaurants are not in a hurry to feed you and we would spend 1.5-2 hours at a meal which took all the free time away. I would strongly encourage them to offer a lunch box option for people who go on excursions and don't want to sit all afternoon for a meal. The worst example was Rothenberg. I was so excited to revisit this town that I remembered going to as a young boy growing up. We were late leaving the ship again, hit traffic, had a 1.5 hour lunch and were left with 45 mins to explore the city. We quit eating with the group and broke free on our own. We also played second fiddle to multiple other Viking cruises that pulled into port on the same day. For example, on our trip to Marksburg Castle, we actually left on time, got to the castle and the first of our groups to tour went into the castle. Then another Viking boat with a 50-60 people arrived late and they moved them ahead of us. This caused the remaining people in our group to have to wait outside in the 90 degree heat for about an hour until the other Viking tour group went through. Then came our final stop in Bamburg where other Viking ships ported before us and we were sent to a shipping yard outside of the city to tie up for the night. Had a beautiful view of metal shipping containers with something rotten in them that smelled awful. We couldn't get off the ship to explore Bamburg at night and didn't want to be on deck because of the smell and view. Not everything was bad but it was not what we were told to expect which was why I gave it a 3* rating.
Excursions that we did.....
1) Panoramic Paris- great overview by bus. Problem was Paris traffic which makes a bus tour strenuous and we were supposed to have 1-1.5 hours on our own at Notre Dame (which reopened to view but not go inside) and St. Chappell. We actually had only 25 mins so we didn't explore
2) Luxembourg and American Cemetery- Amazing experience and the walking tour of the town was nice
3) Trier city tour- part bus and part walking and very nice with time to explore which was great.
4) Bernkastle-krus wine tour- great wine tasting but very little time left to explore the town which would have been amazing.
5) Koblenz Marksberg Castle- fantastic castle but being stuck as mentioned above in the heat because another Viking ship got to the castle late was frustrating for everyone.
6) Heidelberg- neat town but we finally realized that if we want to explore the town, we would have to quit eating the provided lunches so we left the group and toured it ourselves and had a blast. Heard the lunch was good but restaurant was not air conditioned well and very hot.
7) Rothenberg- as mentioned, was really looking forward to this and was very disappointed in the amount of time spent in the city. The boat was an hour late arriving to port so that removed all the time we could have had to see it. The trip to Wurzberg Castle was perfect but very few people on the Rothenberg itinerary went to the Castle and missed it. I thought it was great and would strongly encourage people to go.
8) Versailles- amazing castle but it is VERY crowded. Not Vikings fault but really difficult to enjoy when each room is packed with 80-100 people. Would have liked time to spend in the gardens but only had 30 mins sooooo......
9) Cochem- castle was beautiful and had a bit more time to explore the city which was nice.
10) Nuremberg- bus tour as well as walking tour of city which was nice and we were given a bit of time on our own to explore.
11) Prague- this was truly the highlight of the trip. The hotel was spectacular ( Hilton Prague). The old city is spectacular and the tour to the Palace and downtown was worth the trip. If you get a chance, there is a fantastic 1930's style bar in old ruins under the city called the "Black Angel Bar" which was a real find and worth a stop in.
We did the silver package and think it was worth the purchase but remember that house wines and beer are included with lunch and dinner. Top shelf wines are not and liquor is not included so many people choose not to get it and remember that all people in a cabin must be on the package.
We stayed in a Veranda room but no balcony. The windows are full length and slide open for a nice view. Rooms were larger than most cruise ships with nice full showers and heated floors.
Musical entertainment was a nice married couple that sounded great but all of the music was based around an older crowd as mentioned above.
great room with a nice pull open window for a view. We were in 214 and our kids were in 212 immediately adjacent to us. great location, never heard the engines, and barely felt the boat move. If you get motion sickness, this is the trip for you since you really never feel any motion.