We chose Viking because of the unanimous recommendations of friends, near unanimous 5 star ratings on Internet websites, and shore excursions are included in the cost. We have not been disappointed.
Thus far, we have been impressed with the quality and timeliness of service from the time we arrived in Amsterdam to the present—nothing one can put their finger on, but just the little things, like the captain assisting with initial boarding by carrying luggage, or the “Welcome Home” sign held by several of the staff when we arrived back from a shore excursion.
These little things happen all the time. The crew is well organized, and are as on time as queuing up for and locking through the lock system will allow. Onboard there is a very comfortable lounge where most people read, relax, and visit. There is an open area at the front of the boat for casual dining and enjoying the view. There is a large sundeck on top, but because of low bridge clearances, it has been unavailable a good portion of the time, thus far.
Our room is one of the least expensive ones, and located mostly below the waterline; this has not posed a problem as the boat is extremely quiet and smooth. Otherwise, the room is much like those of other ships we’ve sailed, in both size and amenities, except more technologically advanced; we especially like the 110V electrical outlets. The bed is very comfortable and I have slept better onboard than at home (maybe the free beer and wine with meals). Perhaps next time we will upgrade, though, for a balcony.
The food is good, but not great as some reviewers on internet websites have related. Meals featuring food from the locale visited that particular day or the next are served each night. An unending supply of beer, soda, or wine is available at each meal, including champagne at breakfast, at no extra charge, and is quite good. Coffee, cappuccino, lattes, chocolate, and tea are available 24/7.
The shore excursions started a bit slow, but keep getting better and better. The amount of time allocated for them is about right. The local guides have been very good to exceptional. Perhaps the shore excursions are a bit too large, and many of the folks participating on them have maladies or such that keep the pace painfully slow. And, of course, you have the loudmouths and the two or three folks who jump to the front of the line at each stop. Had we had more information, we may have opted for some of the extended shore excursions at extra expense. However, If anything, we have kept too busy with little time to relax and enjoy the sights along the way.
English is spoken onboard, and is spoken by most locals as it is taught in almost all schools, unlike the single language standard in the US. It seems like the local guides go out of their way to talk positively about America, and most make it a point to explain the German population’s disenfranchisement with the Nazi regime of World War II.
All in all, the voyage with Viking has been very good so far, and we would certainly “sail” with them again, perhaps to China!
The weather has been cool and sometimes rainy. The only days it has been a nuisance were in Cologne with misting rain the entire time, and Bamberg where it drizzled and rained through the last half of the shore excursion, and I was without a rain coat or umbrella. However, the forecast calls for party sunny skies and temperatures in the mid to high-70s.