We chose this cruise because the itinerary looked very interesting, and we got to start in Paris and end in Prague. We traveled with another couple. We're all between 50-60 years old and are very active. My husband and I traveled with Avalon a few years ago for the Romantic Rhine cruise and based on that experience, we told our friends we would almost never be on the ship because we would be docked right outside the towns we were visiting and anticipated spending a lot of time checking out the sites. Well, I don't know if it's Viking or just this itinerary, but we spent very little time in any charming cities. Viking relied very heavily on bus transportation. Also, two nights, we docked at charming little towns, but we arrived after 6:00 p.m., and nothing was open unless you just wanted to eat and drink. One of our stops was supposed to be Koblenz, but we never stepped foot in Koblenz. We docked a few miles away in Winningen. Also, at our last stop, Bamberg, we were at an industrial dock several miles outside of the city, with nothing within walking distance. I have to believe Viking either has too many ships and not enough docks, or they are selling their dock space to other cruise lines and docking at cheaper locations.
The good: Transfers to and from the airport were flawless. The scenery while cruising was beautiful. The food was delicious, and the service and staff were great. The tours were well-organized with excellent guides.
The bad: Too much time on the ship sailing. There just isn't enough to do on board for that much sailing, plus the upper deck is closed the entire time on the Main due to low bridges, so shuffleboard and putt-putt aren't even available. The stops were very rushed, and we never had any time in the towns to explore. Finally the docking locations were terrible, resulting in too much reliance on bus transportation.
Below is a synopsis of our stops:
Our trip started in Paris, and the transfer from the airport was flawless. We stayed at the La Meridian Etoile. I've read other reviews that didn't like the hotel, but we all thought it was fine. It was a 10 minute walk to the Arc de Triomphe and Champs-Elysees. The provided city tour was very good. The guide was excellent. Traffic was pretty bad, so we didn't have much time at any stops. The last stop was the Eiffel Tower, so we left the group and walked back to the hotel (about a 30 minute walk). We also did an evening boat tour we booked through the concierge and really enjoyed that.
On our way to Trier, we stopped at Luxembourg. The city tour was very nice, but we had trouble hearing our guide. It's a beautiful city. We also stopped at the American Cemetery and Memorial, which was excellent. Being retired military, we were grateful to be able to tour it.
Embarkation in Trier was very smooth. The ship was clean, and our room, although very small, was comfortable. We had a stateroom with the French balcony. The bathroom was very nice. Even though it was hot, I enjoyed the heated floor and the anti-fog mirrors.
The city tour of Trier was excellent, and we had a little time to roam on our own prior to sailing.
Our next stop was Bernkastel-Kues. We arrived a little late, so everything was closed by the time we left the ship to walk around. It is a beautiful little town, but there really wasn't anything to do, so we just walked around and took some pictures.
Next was Cochem. The walking tour of the town and the tour of the Reichsburg Castle was excellent. We maybe had an hour to tour around on our own, but all-in-all, this was a very nice stop.
Our next stop was supposed to be Koblenz, but we ended up docking at Winningen instead around 6:00 p.m. Again, this was a quaint, pretty little town, but there was nothing to do after 6:00 p.m. except eat or drink. We walked around a bit just to get a little exercise. The next morning we caught a bus to Marksburg Castle. Our ship actually arrived on time, but another Viking ship's tour arrived late, so they went ahead of us, so we waited around outside in 90 degree heat for over an hour. When Viking's tour groups are interfering with each other, I do believe this is another indicator that Viking has overextended themselves. The tour itself was excellent, and I really enjoyed seeing the collection of armor and the torture chamber.
We took a long bus drive to get to our next stop, Heidelberg. The city tour was very interesting, and we enjoyed eating lunch with one of the University students, but we tried to cut that a little short, so we could have at least a little time to shop and look around. After about 1/2 hour of free time, we toured the Castle. Our tour guide, Charles, was quite interesting and an excellent guide.
Amazingly, we actually docked in Wurzburg and didn't have to take a long bus ride to get anywhere. The Bishop's Residenz was amazing....do not miss it! Some people on our tour said they thought it was more beautiful than Versailles. It was worth seeing in spite of the extreme heat. The tour of the town was excellent as well, but again, we only had less than an hour to look around before having to return to the ship.
For Bamberg, we docked at a grain elevator and took a bus into town. The town was beautiful, and the tour guide was excellent. After very little free time, we took a bus back to the ship, docked by a rock quarry outside of town.
On our bus ride to Prague, we stopped at Nuremberg. This was part bus tour and part walking tour. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and extremely entertaining. We had just enough free time to eat lunch and buy a ginger cookie before boarding the bus for Prague.
Our arrival at the Hilton in Prague was flawless. Viking has definitely figured out how to handle large groups arriving all at once. The hotel was excellent and within walking distance of downtown. The walking tour the next day was also excellent. The city is beautiful. The architecture is amazing! We did the optional Lobkowicz Palace tour, and we all really enjoyed it.
The cabin's location was excellent.