Our first river cruise; wife and I, and 2 grown girls wanted to see some of Europe and thought a river cruise was a good way to do it. Booked 1 of 2 suites for ourselves and I standard balcony room for kids. I booked with Viking because told "the best" and seemed to have good overall reviews. Expensive. Booked the airfare with Viking travel; excellent value and flexibility (started with a few days in London).
Arrived in Budapest; Viking reps met us, and took us to ship. Included with the suite was a private car; gave us a van, which was ok since we had girls with us and they then came with us instead of bus. When checking into room, was told the "hotel manager" would take us to room (part of the "suite" deal). Manager was from previous cruise and begrudgingly took us and showed us room, all the time talking about how he was supposed to be on vacation now. Not a good start.
Began with some excursions in Budapest; including a food tasting. That night my wife and I became ill, we assumed from the food, and stayed in the next morning. I attempted a walking tour in Bratislava that afternoon, became ill and passed out/hitting my head. Ended up in ER, but was OK. The guide was able to contact ship and advise my wife; they put her in a taxi to Hospital. We were basically on our own from that point; understand there are no doctors on board unless they are cruising with you! Fortunately there were very nice people on board who helped us out. Made it back to ship, not much from staff other than please fill out an accident report.
Ship itself was clean and pretty nice. It seemed there may have been nicer ships on the river, but Viking seemed to be on the better side. Our suite was roomy and nice, but its in the very rear of ship and is noisy when moving. Cleaning staff excellent and very nice!
Food was usually good; did return a few plates, with food overdone. Everyone eats meals at same time, so I can understand would be hard to serve that much at the same time. You don'd have much privacy at meals, tables seat at least 6. There is an optional spot upstairs however very limited seating as they only have 1 server there, so first come first serve, and was a popular option. Would be nice if they allowed mover service there.
Waiters very nice, however some have limited English- not a big deal however some cruisers had difficulty communicating.
Excursions were OK; we noticed later that many people did self-tour which I would have preferred, as I don't need all the details the guides sometimes over explain; sometimes I feel to fill the time. They want you to book early; however they always had space and were trying to get more people on them, so don't feel pressured to advance book. Towns very picturesque! Enjoyed walking around.
Upon departure, they again supposed to take us in private car to Munich airport. They tried to put us and they people in other suite on 1 large bus by ourselves, because "the bus has to go to the airport anyway, so just go on the bus." The other suite complained enough to get a private car; we at this point didn't care so went on the bus (by ourselves); our kids had already left on another bus. That was unacceptable; we paid a lot for the suite that included the car.
Overall, the managing staff on the ship mediocre at best. The working staff very nice and helpful. I would not do a Viking cruise again; the value not there.
Spacious, nice cabin. Noisy when moving/a lot of vibration, as is at very back of ship