Danube River Cruise with Viking

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Dec 29th, 2017, 01:50 PM
  #1
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Danube River Cruise with Viking

My wife and I are taking an 8 day Viking River Cruise on the Danube River departing from Budapest (1.5 days here before departure) and traveling on the Danube with a stop in the Slovak Republic, 3 stops in Austria (Vienna, Melk, and Linz) , and a final destination of Passua Germany. We travel in 2018 starting on May 29th flying out of Boston on Lufthansa. My wife and I are both retired and this will be our first trip to Europe and our first river cruise (actually our first aboard ship cruise). In the past, we have traveled frequently to Bermuda, the Caribbean, and Florida.

There are shore excursions at each stop and we have signed up for most of those available. We do have about a 1/2 day of free time in Budapest and we're looking for suggestions on what to see/do for that 1/2 day. We are wondering if others have taken this particular cruise and what your experience was like...both aboard ship (food, staff, accommodations, etc.), the land excursions (likes, dislikes and why), and reports of any issues with transfers. And certainly we would appreciate any other comments and suggestions about your experience with Viking and this particular cruise.

Thank you in advance to all who may respond.
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Dec 30th, 2017, 08:43 AM
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We took this Viking cruise years ago. Interesring stops along the river. There were no bus excursions, only walking tours of the cities and towns where we docked were included. We liked that style. You could walk to the ship at any time during the day if you wished as the ship was tied up next to town center except in Vienna. There was a metro station near the Vienna port so it was convenient to get around. The towns all had enough to see and do and we enjoyed having our lunches there independently in small local places.. Passau was especially nice. Study the itinerary closely before taking a bus trip away from the river. Several of our friends and family members took this cruise (separately) from our recommendation and all of them disliked the river cruise due to the constant bus trips. We had no idea they had added bus trips. If you know in advance that there will be bus trips, it will different than our experience but something you expect and hopefully will enjoy. I wonder why they changed an enjoyable itinerary.
We have taken other river cruises too, our favorite was the Mekong through Cambodia and Vietnam with AMAWaterways. Also enjoyed Russia with Viking too, no bus trips there either when we went.
On our cruise no toiletries were provided by Viking but I understand they now provide them. We were all running around the towns buying shampoo with German labels..
In Budapest, go up to the Buda side to visit St. Stephen’s Basilica and the Fishetman’s Bastion. Beautiful views of the city from this high perch. There was a wonderful bakery nearby where we bought amazing poppyseed and apricot pastries.
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Dec 31st, 2017, 09:25 AM
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HappyTrvlr...Thank you very much for your response, comments, and advice. We will check the itinerarys very closely as you suggested. We too, don't want to spend a lot of time traveling on buses to get to a destination. Great tip.
And also, thank you for the suggestion regarding the side trip in Budapest.
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Jan 9th, 2018, 07:08 PM
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NH..We are scheduled to take this Viking cruise in reverse in April 2019...please report back after your cruise. I love that the day trips are included in the cost, and that beer and wine are also included in the cost. Looking very forward to this particular trip.
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Jan 14th, 2018, 03:42 PM
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You will be spoiled by the small size of the river ship, not a bad thing. We did the same itinerary, but with Vantage, in December 2017 for the Christmas Markets. Happy Trvlr is right on with the Buda suggestion. At the port, we walked over The Széchenyi Chain Bridge and stopped into the Gellert thermal bathhouse. There was an organized trip to St. Stephen's and the Fisherman's Bastion, gorgeous views of Budapest. Vienna had tour buses available at the port to get into the city, but a few intrepid travelers used city buslines to get around and ventured beyond the city proper. The buses were available to return to the ship for lunch/dinner, but we found enjoying local establishments more enjoyable. Vantage had optional trips to sign up for in Vienna, watching the Lippizaner stallions warm up, an evening concert at Kursalon Music Hall. At Linz, we had an option to take a longer bus tour into Salzburg, which we thoroughly enjoyed, a daytrip. Most of the other stops were easily explored on foot. Passau is charming, make sure to stop in for a cuckoo clock making demonstration. I looked online ahead of time at our destination stops and made notes of 3-4 places of interest, which helped. A mix of independent exploring and guided tours was perfect for us. The tourguides provide individual "whisper boxes" (receivers w earpiece) to communicate, which made it easy to take in the history and sights at the same time, no need to be scampering after a guide to get the story. Honestly, you'll just enjoy the strolling on cobblestones and soaking up the beautiful ambiance of each port.
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Jan 26th, 2018, 02:46 PM
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I took a similar cruise on AmaWaterways this past November from Vilshofen (near Munich) to Budapest. We booked an extra day in Budapest and had a late afternoon bus excursion and overnight on the ship. So it looks like you will have about the same amount of time as we did. The ship's bus excursion took us to the Buda side to see the Fishermen's Bastion and St. Matias Church. The sun set early in early December (about 4:00!), so the rest of the time on the Pest side was at dusk. There we went quickly through the main part of the town and walked around Heroes' Square. We hired a driver and guide for the following half day so that we could see as much as possible in the short time that we had. Our stops were at the Parliament Building, Shoes along the Danube monument, the Parliament Building, Dohany Synagogue and the Holocaust Memorial, Freedom Square, St. Stephen's Cathedral, the New York Cafe. I don't think we could have done all of these places on our own in a half day. It was the efficiency and resourcefulness of the driver that got us place and parking.
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Jan 27th, 2018, 12:46 AM
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We also visited the Central Market with our guide, which was very interesting.
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Apr 25th, 2018, 11:57 PM
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We went from Budapest to Nuremberg on Viking in 2014 to see the Christmas markets, and had a wonderful time. I seem to remember that we had both bus and walking tours of Budapest and Vienna, then were bussed back into Vienna in the evening for an optional concert.
Enjoy your trip!
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May 2nd, 2018, 12:08 PM
  #9
ira
 
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Hi NH,

> have about a 1/2 day of free time in Budapest and we're looking for suggestions on what to see/do for that 1/2 day.

Will you have had a view of Budapest the other 1/2 day?

If so, what is the itinerary?

Ira
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Sep 4th, 2018, 01:02 PM
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Joining the chorus of others who are complaining about Viking Cruises handling of the drought in Europe. I am writing regarding the August 18th “Romantic Danube River Boat Cruise” on the Egil. We are very dissatisfied with the overall ‘cruise’ experience and the compensation offered by Viking to make up for the changes in our anticipated vacation.

Our group of three couples was aware of the low water situation a week prior to the scheduled sailing. We contacted Customer Relations and spoke to Megan Miulli on the Monday, August 13th requesting an opportunity to cancel our trip and plan our own itinerary since we were all committed to non-refundable airfare. Customer Relations refused to allow us a full refund prior to the trip and requested that we travel to Europe, embark the ship, and then file a complaint within 24 hours if we were still dissatisfied.

We were officially notified by Viking Tuesday, August 14th at 6:16 p.m. that water levels were low and that the itinerary had been changed. We again reached out to Megan and left a voice message that we were interested a refund and scheduling our own trip. We did not hear back from her before it was time for us to travel.

We flew to Europe and took the train to Nuremberg. Fortunately we took an early train or we would have missed the bus to the ship. We quickly realized how disorganized, stressful and disappointing the trip was going to be. The refreshments at the Le Méridien Grand Hotel Nürnberg were second-rate and were depleted when we arrived. We received mixed instructions from the Viking representatives on hand, an apparent foreshadowing of the days ahead of us. The bus left earlier than we were earlier told, we had no time to explore Nürnberg. After a 2 hour bus ride, with no comfort stop, we arrived in Passau and embarked the Egil on August 18, 2018.

Upon arrival we discovered our cabin’s view was blocked by another ship. We did however have a great view of the other ship’s guests dirty socks drying on their deck chair. Eventually the ship moved and we had a view, sadly our friends who were on the other side of the ship now had a blocked view.

The night of the 18th the onboard crew relayed to us the itinerary changes for the next day. They said they were unable to tell us about the rest of the cruise days because conditions downstream were volatile and changing. We were told that the excursions the next day would be leaving at 8:00 a.m. by motor coach. Unlike most of our fellow passengers we are not retirees. We are employed individuals who came on vacation to relax and get away from the stresses of our busy work lives. We anticipated relaxing evenings on board, cocktails in hand, long restful nights of sleep, awakening leisurely in port before excursions in the adjacent port. Getting up at 6:30 a.m. was not any of our ideas of a good time. None of us wanted to get on a bus first thing in the morning. We therefore skipped the excursions on the 19th and filed an official complaint, as the Viking brochures instruct passengers to do, within the first 24 hours of embarking. Hotel Manager Davis Thomas relayed our complaint to Customer Relations via email that day.

On Sunday, August 19th, Mr. Thomas relayed to us that because the water levels were out of the control of Viking Cruises, no refund of our expenses would be given.

We were very disappointed and frustrated with the lack of refund or financial compensation offered. Viking’s offer of 25 percent off a future cruise was completely a slap in the face. We wanted to get off of the boat, not think about planning a return cruise! We wanted to get off and derive our own itinerary. We are very capable of doing so and it would have allowed us to have the relaxing, stress-free vacation we anticipated. While we realize that the water levels are out of control of Viking, what was in Viking's control was the forthcoming communication of information and/or the opportunity to offer financial compensation that would have helped to make us feel less trapped and less taken advantage of. It was very difficult to have our itinerary communicated to us piecemeal by the crew and we feel strongly that this was done intentionally. When we arrived in Budapest we saw a Viking ship that we were told had been stuck there for a month! So, Viking was aware of the water conditions downstream and was not forthcoming with that information.

Our trip was not relaxing. We spent many hours on motor coaches. We spent only 1˝ days cruising. We were deprived of hours of relaxation on board that we had looked forward to for over a year. We came home stressed, frustrated and feeling that we had been taken advantage of by Viking Cruises.

Viking initially offered all passengers 25% off of a future cruise, then when we got home we were all offered 50% off of a future cruise. When my husband and I reached out directly to Viking we were offered $500 if we signed a non-disclosure statement. Obviously, we have declined that offer in lieu of notifying as many other people as we can of the poor customer service that Viking has offered. We feel cheated and will never take another Viking Cruise and we will share our story for years to come. Viking has shown such poor judgement as a business. If they had offered all passengers a decent discount on the trip taken, everyone would have understood and would have enjoyed the vacation instead of feeling disappointed and cheated.
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