We had a great trip. We arrived at the dock in Vienna to find the Viking Pride docked instead of the Viking Spirit. But the good news is we were able to sail all the way to Nuremburg with only minor changes in port arrival and departure times.
The bad news is the Viking Europe which sailed the exact same itinerary one day earlier than us was not able to make it past Passau and those passengers had to bus to Nuremberg to switch ships. Same with the Nov 29 Nuremberg to Vienna sailing. Those passengers also had to bus between Nuremberg and Passau. And when we left today, they were not sure if the Nov 30 sailing would be able to sail through. So we were just extremely lucky.
It was really a minute by minute, hour by hour decision. The evening that we were to sail to Regensburg they told us that they would try to sail all the way but that there were no guarantees. We did not know until the next morning when we woke up to find the ship docked in Regensburg that we had made it. So some flexibility and patience is required as it was several days of not knowing what would happen.
We did feel throughout the cruise that Viking was trying their best to attempt to sail through. As you have already heard, the low water part is between Regensburg and Passau and they are totally dependent on water releases from the power plants to have enough water to pass.
Some other notes on the cruise... we participated in about half of the included excursions. Sometimes we felt we could see more on our own so that is what we did. In Salzburg we were able to see lots of sights including Hohensalzburg fortress by going off on our own. Some guides were very good while others put us to sleep. Try to get Eva as your guide for your walking tour in Passau. She is really hilarious!
Most docking locations are right in town so you can just walk. A couple of exceptions... in Vienna U-Bahn 1 from Vorgartenstrasse station (only a few minutes walk from the dock) takes you into the city and in Nuremberg you can take a cab (about 12-14 euro) or a combination of bus and U-Bahn (bus 67 to Frankenstrasse U-Bahn station) into the city. It is very quick and easy, the bus stop is right across the bridge from the dock area in Nuremberg, just ask for directions on board.
We found that they were very helpful with directions and using public transport but you have to ask, it is not volunteered. They will also check train schedules, arrange cabs, etc.
That is it for now. Still trying to get used to these German keyboards... we will not be home for another week, but I will write a detailed report when we return.
Good luck and I hope the next few trips turn out as well as ours did.
I was delighted to read your message and glad to hear that your cruise went well. I'm a liitle surprised and very disappointed that you had a few uninspiring tour guides!
Your observations are very interesting. I think that unless you were there to see/hear/experience last-minute changes for yourself, it would be difficult to accept that sailing decisions and possibilities can and do change from minute to minute. It would have been very sad if you had cancelled your cruise based on news of disappointments immediately prior to--and following--your sailing; but I'm sure the thought never entered your mind!
As a fellow Californian, I'm interested in knowing how you are handling the cold weather I associate with Austria and Germany at this time of year. I'd love to know all about the Christmas Markets, too, when you get a chance. Isn' t Vienna wonderful?
Actually it has been quite mild here. Today in Düsseldorf it was in the 50's with bright sunshine, believe it or not! I am told though that this is very unusual for this time of year. We had pretty good weather in general with only 2 days of light rain. I brought all of my silk underwear and have not used any of it.
I will write more on the markets when I return, but they are all somewhat different and you can really tell how some of them are geared more toward tourists and some more toward a mix of tourists and locals by the goods for sale and also the food. We now have 5 glühwein mugs in our collection.
One thing we noticed was that they are really punctual with the tour departure times, sometimes even leaving a few minutes early. So when they say meet at 8:30am, they mean it! Perhaps it was because our cruise director was Austrian. Or maybe all of the Viking tours are run this way. Not a problem for us, it was quite refreshing actually.