We boarded our river cruise on our actual wedding anniversary, October 25th. The cruise started in Budapest, Hungry and finished in Nuremberg, Germany seven nights later. This was our first (and probably only) river cruise. We were on the cruise with a group of 28 (including us) and there are only 190 passengers on the entire ship so we had a large % of the guests.
We were supposed to be on the Viking Tor, but due to the river being low in parts that ship couldn’t make it to Budapest and instead we were given the Viking Var. The ships are virtually identical and the crew we had on the Var was fantastic. They gave us great service, and not only remembered our names but also made sure our every need was met to the best of their ability. There were both good and bad on the trip and I will cover both briefly.
The good: As I said the crew was great. We had a very nice suite on the aft-starboard corner of the ship. Laundry service (much needed) was included in our room charge. The food was very good, especially the soups they made each evening. Travelling along the river provided great views although not much daylight sailing took place. We went through many locks in our journey up the river and it was fascinating each time. We also enjoyed at least a few of the excursions, which I will cover later.
The bad: The real joy of a river cruise comes more from the shore excursions as there isn’t much to do on the ship itself except eat and drink (both of which occurred in large volumes in our group). Leslie and I really enjoy the music, food and entertainment options on ocean cruises and missed that on the river. The ship only docked in easy walking distance of a city twice and even those required buses to get us places, so no advantage over ocean cruises there. Twice we actually got on a bus for an excursion and the ship moved to a different port while we were gone. We started on the Var but the ship couldn’t make it upriver due to low water conditions and we were bused onto our originally scheduled ship, the Tor after 4 nights. Although some members of the crew were great overall they were not nearly as good for us as the prior Var crew. Diner was very crowded and very loud with limited options. We moved after the first night to the bar area upstairs for dinner and that was better but still caused very long drawn out meals.
Overall we had a good time and saw many things that will stay with us. We also really enjoyed most of the people we were travelling with, and it was probably the people more than the ship that liked. Given everything though I doubt we will river cruise again, preferring both ocean cruises and train travel to the river cruise.