WE are a retired couple that loves to travel. When we were offered a chance to visit the Amazon with Viking, we immediately booked our cruise. This was our first cruise on a Viking ocean going vessel. Having been on three river cruises, ... Read More
WE are a retired couple that loves to travel. When we were offered a chance to visit the Amazon with Viking, we immediately booked our cruise. This was our first cruise on a Viking ocean going vessel. Having been on three river cruises, we expected the best, but were surprised to find it even surpassed our expectations! I can tell you now, that we can't wait to book another ocean cruise with Viking. We have been on many other ocean going cruises with a variety of companies... but this was the BEST! The entire crew from room attendants up to officers ingratiated themselves being so helpful, happy, while also very professional. The numerous restaurants had not only quality food, but choices beyond our belief!! Even with a 22 day sail, we could not experience all they offered. We enjoyed the he excellent guest lecturers- all had very interesting programs. Entertainment aboard was varied and very much appreciated. There was always a variety of choices, and all very professional. Read Less
I will begin this by saying, this trip was booked for the sole purpose of visiting the Christmas Markets. My mother had been to Germany several times, and I was anxious to see the wonderful sights she had seen while visiting the Christmas ... Read More
I will begin this by saying, this trip was booked for the sole purpose of visiting the Christmas Markets. My mother had been to Germany several times, and I was anxious to see the wonderful sights she had seen while visiting the Christmas Markets previously. We have traveled on several cruises together through the years, but always pn ocean liners. We researched the trip. We researched the destinations. We definitely did our homework.
That being said, I will refer to a particular evening when our Cruise Director was going over the following day's itinerary. I heard a passenger lament that we were going to "Another Christmas Market" with a groan and eyeroll as she said it. I turned to my mother and said, "How could she be upset about that? This was advertised as a Christmas Market Cruise!" I heard many of these rumblings throughout the trip. I was somewhat offended, because I will cherish the trip, the memories and the people we met for the rest of my life. I had an awesome trip, so I found it a little hard to stomach the ones that were saying such rude things.
I found the ship and crew warm and welcoming. The staff bent over backward to make us feel at home. Many of the crew members filled multiple roles. They did so with efficiency and kindness. As I said previously, we had been on several cruises. They were ocean cruises. This was the first river cruise I'd been on. I knew that the grandeur of a ocean cruise ship would not be found on a river cruise. I knew there would be no casino, no nightclub, no nightly shows. I knew there would be no midnight buffets with ice sculptures. I don't care about those things. We booked this trip to add to a lifetime of memories that my mom and I have been making together. We were not disappointed.
I found the ship to provide for every necessity we had, and provide well. The ship was well kept, it was lovely and when I compared it to other ships we saw cruising the Rhine I was pleasantly pleased that our ship was amongst the nicest.
Dining. I heard quite a few people complaining about the fare. I heard some rather needless and unkind things being said. So here is my assessment of the food and dining experience. I found the food to be good, plentiful and very tailored to the passenger pool. If we were to take a walking trip around the meal bar you would find: fresh cheeses, sliced meats, salad options, fruits, bread, desserts, hot and cold cereals, soups, rice, fish, sandwiches, hot veggies, meat choices, usually a pasta choice, omelettes to order at breakfast and the list goes on. If you want a lighter fare you can visit the lounge and enjoy a pancake, french toast, soup, pasta or sandwich at breakfast or lunch. At dinner the menu also plentiful. Typically there were 2 choices of appetizer, a soup, a featured item as main course and a dessert. If you did not care of the featured main course there was a choice of chicken, steak, fish or Ceasar Salad every night, as well. No, you will not find the vast array of food you'd find on an ocean cruise. That being said, if you find fault in the food on this cruise then I would say you should have booked a Cuisine Cruise instead. I found the food to be delicious, and I thought the Chef was wonderful.
Entertainment and Activities were not a huge priority to us. We did not book this cruise to be entertained and party. We were on this trip to enjoy time spent with each other and any new friends we would meet, and we did meet some wonderful people. We thoroughly enjoyed the glassblower, the cookie making, the musical entertainment, the movie nights, disco night and trivia. They were wonderfully presented and fun to attend.
Service. The ENTIRE staff bent over backwards to help us. If I were going to say anything on the downside, it would be that my mother and I are not alcohol drinkers. I found it a bit difficult at first to get a soft drink. The wait staff have to go to a different location to get a soft drink so it throws off their service rhythm. Which I totally understand. Dining on a smaller scale ship is like a well thought out ballet. Everything has it's place because of limited space. They are super organized and efficient. I felt I was inconveniencing them to ask for a soft drink. They are pronto with the alcohol, but soft drinks not so much. I worked it out by mid cruise, I began ordering my soft drinks two at a time so that I wouldn't have to ask for a refill later in the meal. Ironically, the majority of the ladies we sat with began doing the same so we became known as the soda drinkers. We also made sure to sit in the areas of the dining room that we knew the waiters were a bit more flexible. From the Captain on down to the room stewards, everyone was wonderful.
Ports, docking and excursions. Ports were wonderful. Transportation from the ship to our destinations was quick and efficient. I enjoyed the all the places we visited. I absolutely LOVED Rothenberg, which in our package was an excursion. It was my absolute favorite. If we had thought it through more, we would have gotten an earlier flight to Nuremberg and visited the Market there before boarding the ship. We enjoyed a diverse choice of stops with the commonality of the Christmas Markets, which we loved. If I was going to find a downside, I would have to say the arrival times to the Market locations. I had anticipated this experience for so long. After researching the destinations and seeing pictures of the marketplaces at each, I had a very clear vision in my head. I was mildly disappointed that the majority of the markets we visited weren't even open when we arrived, because we arrived in the mornings. I was excited to experience the markets in the evening when they were lit up to get the full effect of Christmas time festivities. I was grateful to get to see them, but would have loved to see them all at night. I understand we were at the mercy of our port time and sail schedule, but that would be the only thing I would say was disappointing.
Overall, this was the trip of a lifetime and I enjoyed it thoroughly. I would do it again and again, and I would sail with Emerald again to do it. It was a great way to "sample" some locations to possibly revisit so that I can spend more time in the places that truly stood out to me.
In an nutshell: I loved the entire trip. What I didn't love was the bashing being done by some of the other passengers. Read Less
After several longer river cruises (i.e., Budapest to Amsterdam) we thought that we might like what would be a much shorter trip (Douro river is only what, 125 miles long?) and kind of quirky itinerary; small towns and wineries with time ... Read More
After several longer river cruises (i.e., Budapest to Amsterdam) we thought that we might like what would be a much shorter trip (Douro river is only what, 125 miles long?) and kind of quirky itinerary; small towns and wineries with time to walk and explore.
Wow did we like it! Beautiful countryside in Fall colors, visits to often tiny towns, and so on. Castelo Rodrigo, for example, is a hilltop hamlet with about 48 residents. We had time on our own in some very small towns to just wander. Very restful, actually Quite different from say, Vienna!
I don't recommend this for one's "first cruise". Take a longer one, or several, with Viking and then try The Douro. Doing that really helped us notice the differences and fully appreciate the laid back leisurely nature of this trip. It is very well thought out and complete. I think you'll find it wonderful.
As always with Viking there are little extras; to be met back at the ship with a Port wine toast, local foods acquired almost every day, and some unique entertainments. Portuguese Fado music. for instance.
I HIGHLY recommend the post-river add-on trip to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain. The shrine of Saint James is not only the ending point of "The Way" pilgrimages, but also a UNESCO Heritage center. We loved the city and its foods. Tapas three times a day! Read Less
We did the pre-cruise Lisbon two days and that added to the two days that Viking puts you in a hotel for two days in Lisbon gave us 4 days. Our mistake was not taking one of those days to go to Fatima. We paid to have tours from Lisbon ... Read More
We did the pre-cruise Lisbon two days and that added to the two days that Viking puts you in a hotel for two days in Lisbon gave us 4 days. Our mistake was not taking one of those days to go to Fatima. We paid to have tours from Lisbon to Porto (bus) and Fatima was one of the stops - what we didn't realize was that we would have approximately 45 minutes total in Fatima - not near enough. So my suggestion is to skip paying Viking for the extra stops on a bus ride you are going to be making anyway, take the free Viking transfer, and spend a day in Fatima on your own or pay for a private tour. Meals is Lisbon will cost you at least 40 euros per couple - not fancy places. Once on the boat in Porto we sat and rode buses for two days. Finally moving on the boat but each day is buses. Very little "cruising". Meals were so-so. Cabin seemed smaller than on our other Viking trips (this was our 5th trip). Could not see out the "porthole" because on this ship they have it covered with frosted plexiglass. Entertainment - how do you have a trip to Portugal and Spain and not have Fado? You do have a lecture on cork and a chance to buy cork products and a lecture on olive oil and a chance to buy olive oil but no Fado. Like I said this was our 5th so we are big fans of Viking - this trip was our most expensive but I rate it as 4th best. English is absolutely no problem in Portugal and since the cruising part of the trip is minimal one may be better off doing a land trip on their own. We also did the the two day post in Santiago and enjoyed the Cathedral and other sights; but once again English is no problem so one may consider doing it on your own. Meals in Santiago will run you at least 40 euros per couple. Airline - direct flight to Lisbon from Miami on TAP - seat arm rest was broken - very minimal English entertainment - food was horrible. Return flight - up at 5:30 to put luggage out and then to Vigo to catch flight to Madrid with only one hour to make next flight - we made it but they were getting ready to shut the door to the aircraft - this could have been avoided as there was a flight from Vigo to Madrid one hour earlier and as we had to sit in the Vigo airport for two hours waiting for our flight we could have been booked on the earlier flight. We had to literally run to make our flight connection in Madrid - no fun. Walking - get heavy duty comfortable shoes that are anti-slip (sidewalks can be a bit slippery when wet). So in summary - a good trip and glad we did it. We are booked on one of their ocean ships in March and looking forward to that. Read Less
Paris is always a draw but we were particularly focused on seeing Normandy. This cruise did all of this and more. The time spent in Paris was fun and well spent. We were quickly caught up on France's great history. The Louvre and Notre ... Read More
Paris is always a draw but we were particularly focused on seeing Normandy. This cruise did all of this and more. The time spent in Paris was fun and well spent. We were quickly caught up on France's great history. The Louvre and Notre Dame were great. Traveling on the river to Normandy presented great excursions. Visiting the farm in Rouen was a particular highlight and Monet's gardens and home were a real treat. Normandy was a very special experience, especially the visit to Omaha Beach. Looking at the geography of the beach, one has to wonder how our great soldiers were able to overcome the odds by making it up that wide expanse of a beach and then up the hills beyond. This has to be seen to understand how difficult a time they must of had. The ceremony at the Memorial and the walk through the cemetery fulfilled our purpose for taking this cruise. As always, the food was wonderfully prepared and served. Our servers quickly became our friends and their entertaining capability made each meal more than just a food experience. The ease of coming and going throughout the whole trip is much appreciated. Read Less
We had never tried river cruising before, and it seemed to have some possibilities, so we gave it a shot. At first, with such a small boat (relative to our Previous 38 ocean cruises) it seemed small. But that was exactly the point for ... Read More
We had never tried river cruising before, and it seemed to have some possibilities, so we gave it a shot. At first, with such a small boat (relative to our Previous 38 ocean cruises) it seemed small. But that was exactly the point for Viking. You get to MEET and dine and take excursions with the same people and get to know them, and vice versa. We have forged some friendships with people from all over. As a result of the "coziness" these ships offer we will be going salmon fishing in Alaska this summer with fellow ship mates.
But back to the cruise: the meals were a notch up from other cruises we have taken. Everything was done to perfection. The daily excursions are (mostly) included. And we had evening entertainment that was up close and personal. It's not everyday that you get to witness a virtuoso violinist from one of Europes most prestigious Philhormonic orchestras play a 350 year old fiddle. She didn't need any backups. And on another night we were treated to an Oom Pas Pas German group.
Overall, the Viking Mani, her wonderful crew from Captain Helmut to George our cruise director, the meals, excursions and unequalled show of cruise customers' interests were why we have already signed up for another Viking River Cruise. I give Viking a double thumbs up, a standing ovation, and a hearty BRAVO.! Job well done Read Less
Hild and capt johann were awesome. would repeat again. cruise program director emma was awesome. staff was great. food was great.
Viking did a magnificent job on the river cruise. 5 stars or more.
My "rub" was with the ... Read More
Hild and capt johann were awesome. would repeat again. cruise program director emma was awesome. staff was great. food was great.
Viking did a magnificent job on the river cruise. 5 stars or more.
My "rub" was with the hotels before and after the cruise. in zurich, the renaissance was located away from the city center and we were forced to wait in the lobby for three hours after we arrived before we could enter our room. so, a 12 hour flight experience to get to zurich and a 3 hour wait in a hotel lobby. come on viking!!!
Our hotel in paris, the pullman, was past its prime. yes it is next to the eiffel tower, but the room was more 2 star than anything else.
Note to viking; the passengers filled out the cruise survey without any feedback on the last two days in parish after disembarking. there is a gap there and if viking really wants feedback then figure out this gap.
We are big viking fans and have already booked our next cruise. Read Less
WE went on this river cruise because it's something I always wanted to do after a dozen big ships it certainly was different,we had a ball the crew were fantastic the food was great the cabin could do with some updating, the ensuite had ... Read More
WE went on this river cruise because it's something I always wanted to do after a dozen big ships it certainly was different,we had a ball the crew were fantastic the food was great the cabin could do with some updating, the ensuite had mould around the shower and the towels needed to be replaced getting a bit on the thin side. We went with Gate1 travel after friends recommended it and we weren't disappointed. The cruise director was excellent in arranging all the tours seeing the castle's on the Rhine Danube and Maine rivers was fascinating the towns we visited so much history amazing. There is a big difference between river cruising and ocean cruising that is on the ocean cruise you get a lot more time to relax where as on the river cruise you seem to be on the go all the time there's a lot of walking involved which we enjoy anyway but but at the end of each day we were certainly tired. Read Less
Very pleased with overall performance . The included shore excursions were well planned & executed . The most outstanding comment each day was HOW HARD & DILIGENT the program director was. I saw him from morning to evening at ... Read More
Very pleased with overall performance . The included shore excursions were well planned & executed . The most outstanding comment each day was HOW HARD & DILIGENT the program director was. I saw him from morning to evening at every event - observing, directing & controlling the entire program. His onboard & general knowledge of the entire trip was a amazing. ( without any notes). I only know of him as JOE. He is certainly an asset to this company. I would like to know of any other Viking cruises he is on , as i would definitely consider booking it.
Everyone i talked with were completely satisfied with all aspects of the cruise.
I will definitely consider another Viking cruise.
River cruising has a distinct advantage over ocean cruising in the ability to view more of the country side as you are underway and very important -- the lack of "sea sick "movement of the ship. Read Less
We chose Emerald because of recommendations on line. They were offering good on board credit and other discounts. The Radiance is a beautiful ship and the staterooms are stunning. The lounge is good but the bar is too big leaving only room ... Read More
We chose Emerald because of recommendations on line. They were offering good on board credit and other discounts. The Radiance is a beautiful ship and the staterooms are stunning. The lounge is good but the bar is too big leaving only room for sitting. There was no space if anyone wanted to dance. The bar is the wrong place. The Entertainment could have been better . There was the resident pianist and one evening a local group played. Having travelled with other river cruise companies this was poor compared with them. The crew however were amazing and made the trip very enjoyable. It is a full on trip with a very busy programme during the day. The weather was amazing which greatly enhanced our enjoyment. The food was very good but it is necessary to enjoy meat. Servings of meat were huge although vegetables were in short supply at the evening dinner. Fish was available as an alternative.
We purchased a drinks package which meant drinks were available all day. Other than this we spent very little, which meant while the trip might have appeared expensive everything was included for us.
We spent 3 extra days in Lisbon which was great and wished we had stayed longer in Porto as it is quite beautiful. Transfers between Cities, hotels and the ship went very smoothly.
I would recommend the Douro as the countryside was some of the most stunning we had seen. Not too many locks and all praise for the Captain as the river in some areas was very narrow and navigation must have been difficult. Read Less
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