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  #1 (permalink)  
Old June 21st, 2003, 02:51 AM
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Default Questions about Viking River Cruises

Just finished reading some of the information about Viking River Cruises. Here's the questions that I have:

--Do you have to stay with your tour group for shore excursions? Is it possible to tell them it's too boring and agree to get back to the ship at a certain time?

--Is it boring? Are the shore excursions interesting with the guide and do they provide interesting information or just some sort of canned presentation?

--Am I too young for these cruises? My BF and I are in our late 30s ...

--Viking is arranging our flights. (It's taking them FOREVER.) Should I lower my expectations about where we will be sitting and flight times? For instance should I expect to be as close to the baggage storage without being in it and taking the most unfavorable flights with 100s of connections?

I spoke with two reservationists at Viking today and they must have taken lessons in "How to Run Off Customers" first thing this morning. So I'm thinking I've made a huge mistake even booking this cruise. (Sorry $2500 is a LOT of money to me for vacation - so I expect to work with "Can Do" people.)
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  #2 (permalink)  
Old June 22nd, 2003, 08:40 PM
dan@deb
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Default Re: Questions about Viking River Cruises

I hope your not too young for this cruise, my wife and I are in our mid 30's and leaving on 7/12 for the st pete to moscow sailing!!!!

Give viking a chance, they worked very hard for us to get us the flights we needed... Next time you call, ask for ext 311... That is the person in charge, and her name is linnea. We found her very helpful.

Good luck, this is our very first river cruise also, and we do not know what to expect either.
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Old July 11th, 2003, 01:50 PM
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Default Re: Questions about Viking River Cruises

Sunnysis;

I agree with dan@deb, give them a chance. Viking is a high quality cruise line. Most cruise lines don't give you the details about your flight until a lot closer to the trip then we would like. There could be a ton of valid reasons why it is taking so long. While we have gone on our Viking cruise yet, I'll answer your questions with what I've been able to learn myself.

You don't have to do the tours at all, if it doesn't sound interesting and you should be able to depart from the tour if you are not finding it enjoyable, but as you said, make sure you tell them.

Are they boring, all depends on what interests you. It's Europe, so it's going to history and the such. I've heard almost all positives about the tours and the guides themselves (only complaint I heard was that someone basically wanted an advanced tour for those who already new about the place). But that's not to say the style will be to your particular liking.

Are you to young? God, I hope not since both DH and I are younger than you. In general the pax will be much older than you, but that doesn't mean they are fun. We are going with my parents. My mom usually stays up drinking later than I do. So age has nothing to do with being fun. And usually, you can go of the boat a night and hit any bars in town.

Remember, river cruising is VERY different from ocean cruising. It is more laid back and focused on your destination. No beer drinking contests or Las Vegas style shows.

Sheila
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Old July 13th, 2003, 04:03 PM
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Default Re: Questions about Viking River Cruises

Dear Sunny--

We just returned from our third Viking cruise last evening, and it was excellent in all aspects: ship, itinerary, service, excursions, dining, fellow passengers. I'd be happy to answer your questions:


--Do you have to stay with your tour group for shore excursions? Is it possible to tell them it's too boring and agree to get back to the ship at a certain time?

No, all excursions are optional. In addition, you can ride into the city center with your group but leave the group whenever you wish and rejoin them in time to return to the ship or make arrangements to get back to the ship on your own. In some cases, though, you get off the ship at one port and reboard at another. Be sure to check carefully about where and when to be back at the ship. Viking often offers alternative tours--that is, a choice between two offerings.

--Is it boring? Are the shore excursions interesting with the guide and do they provide interesting information or just some sort of canned presentation?

I have yet to get stuck with a boring guide on a Viking tour. In all cases, you will be guided by licensed guides, highly educated people who have pride in their country. Our experience has been with guides that are personable, knowledgeable--no canned presentations at all. They handle questions beautifully, too.

--Am I too young for these cruises? My BF and I are in our late 30s ...
On river cruising, as on ocean cruising, the average age is probably in the 50-65 range. However, the age range is from mid 20's to early 90's. However, if you are looking for a party ship, Viking is not the answer. There are no discos, no casinos. Entertainment is low-key. The emphasis is on seeing Europe from a whole new perspective--up close and personal.

--Viking is arranging our flights. (It's taking them FOREVER.) Should I lower my expectations about where we will be sitting and flight times? For instance should I expect to be as close to the baggage storage without being in it and taking the most unfavorable flights with 100s of connections?

While Viking makes the reservations for you, you call the airlines to pick your own seats and special meals, if desired. Our flight from Los Angeles to Vienna involved one connection at Dulles in Washington, DC. When we went to Marseilles for the Provence cruise, we flew from LA to Paris non-stop; then a short flight from Paris to Marseilles. When we started our Viking cruise in Amsterdam, we flew from LA to Frankfurt non-stop and then a short flight from Frankfurt to Amsterdam. Most Viking guests leave the west coast on mid-afternoon flights; they leave the east coast on early evening flights. The return flights for most guests depart from Europe between 9:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. Viking uses only major airlines, such as Lufthansa, SAS, United, American, Delta, Air France, KLM, and their partners.

I spoke with two reservationists at Viking today and they must have taken lessons in "How to Run Off Customers" first thing this morning. So I'm thinking I've made a huge mistake even booking this cruise. (Sorry $2500 is a LOT of money to me for vacation - so I expect to work with "Can Do" people.)

If you find working with the Viking res agents trying, call a travel agent. (In the name of full disclosure, I am a travel agent.) It won't cost you a penny more, and you'll have a "middle person" to smooth over the rough spots!

Sincerely,
Shirley B
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Old July 13th, 2003, 04:07 PM
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Default Re: Re: Questions about Viking River Cruises

Dear Dan--

I've heard nothing but wonderful things about Viking's Waterways of the Czars cruise. Please let me know how you like it, as I am arranging for the Moscow to St. Petersburg sailing next June 30th with a group of 20 cruisers.

I was in St. Petersburg in conjunction with a Renaissance cruise. What a fabulous city! I'm very much looking forward to a return visit in 2004.

Sincerely,
Shirley B
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Old July 13th, 2003, 05:18 PM
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Default Re: Re: Questions about Viking River Cruises

Thanks to you both. I'm feeling more confident now.

I'm now worried about what all I need to pack! Wish I knew how many "treasures" I was gonna buy to bring back with me. ha ha
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Old July 13th, 2003, 07:49 PM
Gary Karschnick
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Default Re: Re: Re: Questions about Viking River Cruises

When we went to Russia with Viking, most of our clothes were from "thrift shops". We left them as an addition to the tip for our cabin stewardess. She was thrilled. And we were able to free up suitcase space to bring home the "goodies". You can read my cruise review on the Viking Kirov on Linda Coffman's site. <www.cruisediva.com>. Have a wonderful time.
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Old July 26th, 2003, 10:52 PM
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Default Re: Re: Re: Questions about Viking River Cruises

We just returned from the Viking Moscow to St. Petersburg cruise. It was magnificent!

If you have questions or concerns, I'd be happy to help.

Viking booked our flights. We were booked on Lufthansa at incredibly convenient times with perfect connections. Once your flights are booked, you phone the airline yourself for seat assignments. This worked out just fine for us.

Highly recommend going to www.russiabyriver.com and ordering the book. A fantastic "companion" for this cruise!
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Old August 24th, 2003, 11:02 PM
Don Williams
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Default Re: Questions about Viking River Cruises

We have taken Viking river cruises before and found them to be very good and the staff to be very accomodating. Many time American tourist expect too much. Every cruise line is going to buy the cheapest airfare, what do you expect, You are paying less than the Apex fare. The food was very good, not as good as many Ocean Cruises, but the stall and passenger load is smaller. We found the tour and guides to be excellent.
They were all locals, knew there tour well, and maybe, gave a canned presentation, but what do you expect, I would do the same if I led a tour every week. We were able to leave the boat, any time and do our own thing, as you will likely be able.
My advise is, your on vacation, not every thing is going to go as you would like, but relax and enjoy.
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Old September 7th, 2003, 10:50 AM
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Default Re: Re: Questions about Viking River Cruises



we are considering taking a Viking River Cruise in China. We have been on many ocean cruises with top cruise lines. My question: clothes, do I pack like ocean cruises all the glitz stuff or is it as you say more laid back. Is casual in all the time? What about dinners onboard and the special dinners on land and in the hotels. Appreciate anything you can tell me

Thanks,
Caroline
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Old September 7th, 2003, 11:26 AM
Shirley B
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Default Re: Re: Re: Questions about Viking River Cruises

Dear Caroline--

Viking River's dress code is "elegant casual"--thus, no glitz, even for special events like the Captain's Dinner. The truth to tell, some women do dress up more than others...I even spotted a few sequins and crystals on our recent Eastern European Odyssey. However, sun dresses, pants suits, capris or slacks or long skirts and coordinating tops are the more usual choices. Men usually wear slacks and golf shirts, although an occasional jacket and tie are spotted.

As far as off-ship dinners and events, you'd have to take along appropriate clothing. if you were to plan to have dinner or tea at one of the fancier hotels in Hong Kong or Singapore or to attend an opera or go to the theater in any of the ports you will visit.

I kept a journal of one of our Viking river cruises, and it gives a fairly good picture of the ambiance, dress code, quality of food, and type of tours you can expect on a Viking sailing. Drop me a line if you'd like a copy.

Bon voyage,
Shirley B
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Old September 7th, 2003, 01:55 PM
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Default Re: Re: Questions about Viking River Cruises

Wow .... I feel scolded for being concerned about spending a lot of money with an unknown company -- didn't realize that was "demanding". My concern was that I was going to be booked on some unknown airline where the passengers could take turns driving the plane.

At any rate - we took the South of France tour and had an absolutely fabulous time. As an interesting side conversation - we took off from NYC the day after the blackout. Our flight was cancelled but Viking handled everything -- the agents were simply great. Now that Viking is not unknown - I can't wait to take another tour. Looks like my biggest problem now is deciding where in the world to go!!! :-)
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Old September 7th, 2003, 09:26 PM
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Default Re: Re: Re: Questions about Viking River Cruises

Caroline,

We took a river and land cruise in China a few years ago. It is casual in China. Lots of pants unless your going to Hong Kong for dinner events. Ask away or e-mail if you wish and I will try to help.
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