So you want to take a Viking River Cruise ?
Like me, haven’t you always wondered what it was really like to take a Viking River Cruise? I have always been curious and actually never been on any kind of cruise. You may find that surprising, but it has never really been at the top of our travel adventure list. But that list has been re-written!
Recently, I was presented with the opportunity to travel with Viking River Cruises on the Elegant Elbe River Cruise that begins in Berlin, Germany and ends in Prague, Czech Republic. My friend and fellow travel writer Tam Minton of Travels with Tam, took this first (for both of us) river cruise with me as well.
Side note: On the first evening of the cruise, the Cruise Director, the fantastic Benne Bennison, asked for a show of hands who had been on a Viking Cruise before. Every single hand went up except Tam’s and mine. How is that for validation! They keep on coming back for more!
Honestly I had no idea what to expect when I stepped foot on the ship. Happily, every guest was met with welcoming smiles, icy cold wash cloths, (because it was ninety degrees) friendly staff members and we couldn’t wait for our cruise adventure to begin!
Our room was larger than I expected, perfectly appointed with everything we would need which included all of the important USB ports, luxurious bath products, a darling balcony and a gorgeous view of the Elbe. I was impressed by the quality of the fabrics and a comfy bed was a plus! The stateroom was certainly smaller than a hotel room, but I expected that. Viking does a great job utilizing the space with extra drawers and areas that could be dual purpose. Like a desk that doubles as a makeup table!
But, because of the lack of rainfall, the river was too low to sail. I guess Mother Nature had other plans! How can you take a river cruise if you don’t actually cruise? Viking literally thought of everything. We moved via luxury bus between two identical ships with two separate incredible crews and everything was seamless. We were still able to experience living on the ship, with all of the fancy amenities and dine on world-class cuisine. Every single luxury was still in place we just didn’t leave the dock. Surprisingly, I didn’t miss a thing!
Afternoon Tea in the Lounge
My favorite area of the ship was the airy and stylish lounge. Here, to take a non-touring respite, you could kickback, have a cocktail, meet with friends, chill out to live piano music, sip afternoon tea or drink a quiet cup of coffee. I snuck off to sit here whenever we had a spare moment!
We were surprised with gorgeous scones, jam, chocolate cake, berry cake and cookies as part of the German Afternoon Tea. You don’t have to ask me twice! I sat with the view of the river, calming music and a few of my new cruise friends. Absolute heaven.
Where can you tour, learn and immerse yourself in local culture more easily than on a Viking River Cruise? Every detail was handled smoothly, every expert guide painted history so vividly, we were spellbound. I learned more on this cruise about WWII than I ever learned in school. Just imagine walking the streets of Berlin and to see exactly where the wall was erected and pondering the anguish of the German families that were separated for decades.
Our guide was the first East German person I had ever met. While touring she shared personal family stories and showed us old photos of the bombed and crumbling buildings. Fast forward to today where gorgeous cities like Dresden have literally risen from the ashes. The daily Viking tours were moving and educational as well as captivating and inspiring.
We walked through the streets of Wittenberg where Martin Luther lived and taught. Toured Meissen, a charming German town where we toured a porcelain factory. Our stroll through Pottsdam was a delight and it was market day as well! Lucky us!
I adored Dresden and was thrilled to see this historic city that has once again become one of the cultural, educational and political centers of Germany and Europe. Last but not least was our visit to the quaint and historic medieval city of Prague. Hill top castles, historic cathedrals and the most vibrant Old Market Square were just some of the special sights of this extremely popular Eastern European city.
The Charles Bridge, although unbelievably crowded mid-day, looked like something you would see on the backlot of Universal Studios. So charming, it is the second oldest bridge in Prague and one of the most recognizable in Eastern Europe. Prague is a fairytale city with cobblestone streets, vibrant tourist attractions and the views of the river were astonishing. I must have taken a hundred photos of the river from every angle possible.
What I loved the most
This is a tough one as I have many favorites. What first comes to mind is how Viking offers a behind-the-scenes type of itinerary as well as the expected tourist bonanzas. While in the Czech Republic we traveled to a tiny little town of three hundred people where a local company performed authentic folk dancing while we toasted with their traditional liquor and dined on local dishes. The access to personal and immersive travel itineraries is such a welcome gift!
OH, the people you will meet! Come aboard the enormous pristine ship where the Captain and crew could not be more accommodating. Tam and I took a tour of the spotless, stainless steel kitchen, met with the friendly chefs, perused the impressive navigation equipment and walked down below to the immaculate engine room. We were blown away by how clean it was and we half expected to have lunch there it was so clean!
In addition to a top-notch crew, we met wonderful new friends. A Viking River Cruise has something that will please every generation. Surprised? Don’t be. We found every person we met to be well-traveled, engaging and always interested in what we had to say.
Like a magnet, we were drawn to a small group of about ten people that we palled around with and met for dinner each evening. We got to know our friends from Sydney, Steven and Jan, as well as Guy and Diane from New York. Guy even put together a website for all of us to share photos.
Successful multigenerational travel can be found here! Who knew that a sixteen year old young man named Aidan and his grandma, Linda would have such a fabulous adventure together? Additionally Jeff and his captivating 25-year-old daughter Meghan, had a blast hanging out with all ages on the ship. I specifically asked both of the traveling young people if they were having a great time and if they felt out of place. Both enthusiastically shared how much they were enjoying their time with family as well as the entire river cruise experience.
One of the best advantages of this size ship was that it was large enough to give you privacy but small enough to feel friendly and comfortable. There was plenty of space for solitude and more than enough lovely places to meet up with friends and have a great conversation.
I give my first experience on a Viking River Cruise an A+, but I was particularly impressed by the incredible service and the FOOD! As you know, I am particular about my dining experiences and everything was so fresh, locally sourced and the menus were fantastic. The chefs were so accommodating and offered to make us anything we wanted for breakfast even in addition to the extraordinary buffet. Of course I asked for my favorite Eggs Benedict and it might be best the I have ever eaten. Truly.
What comes next!
In future posts I will dive deeper into the spectacular scenery and exquisite excursions. Truthfully I have only just scratched the surface of all the amazing cities and tours we enjoyed. Our Viking River Cruise on the Elbe was stacked with experiences that will impress and delight you. If you are even remotely contemplating a Viking River Cruise, do it! I easily and emphatically recommend this unique travel experience. This river cruising newby is already planning how to get my husband to join me again next year!
Have you been on a Viking River Cruise? Are you thinking about it?
To read about Tam’s experience, click HERE
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33 thoughts on “What is it like to take a Viking River Cruise? Truthfully, it is impressive!”
Sorry, but I didn’t feel the same way as you.
I’ve been on at least 8 European river cruises and was by far more underwhelmed by Viking Cruises than any other cruise with different cruise companies. While the ship we were on (Viking Kadlin) was very beautiful and spotlessly clean, and the staff couldn’t have been more friendly or professional, I was totally unimpressed with their food. And obviously, that’s a big “downer” for me. We were on a Seine River cruise in France and the food was totally forgettable. Sorry to be such a “Debbie Downer” but those are my true feelings and other friends with me were almost as unimpressed as I. Additionaly, friends of mine were on the Viking Longship Gullveig in July (Danube cruise from Nuremberg to Budapest) and they told me they were very unimpressed with their first and only Viking cruise, primarily because (a) they had to travel by bus to most destinations because the river was too shallow after Day 3 to travel by boat (so basically they had a 3-day river cruise followed by hours and hours of bus travel to get to new destinations…..very disappointing!!!), and (b) their food was barely passable…..certainly not gourmet nor particularly appealing. Sorry, but I’ve cruised my first AND LAST Viking Cruise.
Dear Sue: I am sorry that you did not have the same experience as I did. If you read my post, we were not able to cruise either because of the water level and I think that Viking handled it beautifully. Perhaps you should let Viking know your concerns.
Concur with statements regarding the food served on Viking River Cruises. Breakfast and salad bar at lunch are excellent, but entrees at lunch and dinner were barely passable.
Not my experience at all. Loved every single meal.
Viking has no control over the level of the rivers in Europe. Sorry you went for the food and not the cultural experience. My experiences with Americans is that they judge everything by what they put in their mouths. Considering the miniscule kitchens on board these ships and the many dietary needs of the passengers, and several selections offered every meal, I think they do a heroic job. I have been on several different cruise lines, both ocean and river, and conclude that cruise food is cruise food. We don’t travel for the food…if anything, we try to enjoy the local cuisine whenever possible. Taking our fifth Viking cruise in April and can’t wait!
Thanks for your comments. Enjoy your next cruise! The tours and tour guides were so knowledgeable and we learned so much history. Overall we absolutely fantastic cruise and look forward to our next on in December.
Having so much fun reading about your FABULOUS trip!
So glad to hear it! Thanks for reading and for commenting!
Love reading about the trip from YOUR perspective! Isn’t it funny how two people who have so much in common (and were even mistaken for sisters more than once!) had different experiences? I loved it, and let’s do it again!
It is fun to see what each of us liked the best. I have so much more to write about!
We recently returned from Viking River Cruise this year during the first week of July on the Viking Legend. We traveled from Passau Germany through Austria to Budapest ( Danube Waltz) Impressed with service, itinerary, scenery along the river, including excursions. Out major complaint was with the food. Breakfast was fine, dinners were disappointing. Just not inspiring and somewhat bland. We ended up finding a fun Greek restaurant in Linz Austria one night and a Hungarian restaurant overlooking the bridge we were docked by on the Danube. One of the highlights of the cruise was sailing into Budapest late at night, a spectacular site.
Thanks for reading Carol.I was on two Viking Ships and the food was amazing. I am sorry you did not have the same experience. I flew to Budapest from Prague and LOVED it! I know exactly where your ship was! Thanks for reading and for your comments.
Great post! I really enjoyed reading about your experience.I’ve Never been on a cruise. You have me thinking about it.:-)
Thank you Roni!
I was fortunate to take the Elegant Elbe cruise in mid-June on Beyla and loved it! It was my first cruise and I could hardly wait to sign up for another. Viking made it so easy for us to get around and see a lot in the limited time available. I am a picky eater, and I always found plent of delectable choices. I look forward to reading more about your experience.
Margie, thank you for sharing your experienced with us! It sounds like we just missed each other! I appreciate you taking a moment to share your experience as well! Hope to see you on another Viking River Cruise!
Thoroughly enjoyed your blog. I’m busy working on my videos of the trip for myself and copies for my grandson. This was his 2nd Viking cruise (he and I did the Rhine last year) and my 3rd trip with Viking. We enjoyed everything about the trip. Sure, the low water level was an inconvenience but every river cruise company operating on the Elbe or Danube were experiencing the same thing. I thought Viking went over the top to make out trip memorable. The history lessons my grandson has experienced while on the Rhine and the Elbe are invaluable. I’m so looking forward to my next Viking adventure with one of my other 13 grandchildren. Viking has made me a cool grandma to travel with, though I doubt they use the word “cool”. Happy sailing, Linda
Hi Linda! It is so wonderful to hear from you! Your relationship with your grandson truly inspired me! I can’t wait to hear more about your future cruises. If you would ever feel like writing about your travel experiences, especially your multigenerational trips, please let me know! We would love to have you as a Guest Adventurer and write a post for us.
Terrific post and beautiful pics. We sure had a great time and dispite not sailing could not have asked for better. Great food great scenery great tours and above all great people.
Would love to do it all again with the same people…..and a little nore water in the river
Cheers from down under
Steve & Jan
Gidday! So happy to hear from you! Thank you for reading and for leaving a comment. It was the people that made this cruise extra special. Please say hello to Jan!
Enjoyed reading about your Viking Cruise. I really like river cruising. I find the smaller ships and riding on the river more intimate. Will be going to Berlin in a few weeks so it was nice to read about it.
Thanks Judy – I am excited for you about your trip to Berlin. I have not yet had a chance to write about it. I plan on publishing my Berlin Food Tour post on Monday. Thank you for reading and taking time to comment!
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[…] in each city after that. Craig and I left Italy and flew to Mallorca and then I flew to Berlin to take a Viking River Cruise from Berlin to Prague and lastly I stayed in Budapest, Hungary for four more nights. A BIG beautiful summer of travel. […]
[…] evenly (at least I try) and I cover the same destination over a couple of days or weeks. When you take a Viking Cruise for example, there are SO many things to write about. The ship, the excursions, the food etc and so […]
Doesn’t this depend on what your expectations are? Seems like I’d be expecting more to do. It may be luxurious and all if you prefer to hang out in the bought with no activity. But I think I’ll be totally bored. Maybe someday when I’m 80 and I can’t move around as much. I’ve talked to a few people who’ve done and got mixed opinions.
On the cruise, the only time I was on the ship was to eat Breakfast & a few Dinners and to sleep, otherwise it is non stop touring. I can’t imagine doing any more than that. But to each his own.
In April we will take our third Viking River Cruise when we start and end in Amsterdam on the Tulips and Windmills cruise. We LOVE Viking!
If you are looking for another adventure, last summer we took a rocky Mountaineer excursion from Calgary to Vancouver. Very similar level of service and experiences to Viking. Except it was a Train and 4 and 5 Diamond hotels each night!
I am excited for you. I am taking a Viking Cruise in December from Budapest to Nuremberg. Traveling on the Rocky Mountaineer is a bucket list adventure for me. It looks incredible!
If you go on the Rocky Mountaineer, spring for the Gold level! First class all the way!
YES! I have heard that suggestion. I have dear friends that just returned this week! #jealous
On Viking, we always choose a standard room on the lover level. Same size room that you will most likely only sleep, shower and change clothes in. When you are docked in port you are often double or tripled stacked with other Viking ships. When you look out of your room you are looking at another stateroom! Also you often cruise at night. If you cruise during the day you can go up top and enjoy the view there. A great bonus is you can save a lot of money that you can spend on other things!
Thank you for all of your tips and for your enthusiasm!