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Shirley B May 30th, 2004 10:59 AM

Viking River Cruises Grand European on the Pride
We just returned from a wonderful river cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest. Viking's Pride had an outstanding crew...the weather was perfect, with sunshine during the day, yet a few rainy nights to keep the rivers at proper levels...the rivers were 100% right...the cruisers were a delightful group.

I can't say enough about the crew! Rocky, the maitre d', greeted everyone by name by the third night aboard; he visited each table in the dining room at each meal. The cabin stewards were excellent, diligent. I'm certain we had the best one--she kept us very organized, though she managed to do that without our ever seeing her except when she introduced herself when we first arrived. The hotel manager, the reception staff, maintenance crew (always, always cleaning and painting and touching up the river boat)--again, I can't say enough about them.

And the ports and sights were amazing! Melk Abbey was as awesome as anyone can imagine, with the Prince-Bishop palace amazing, as well. The riverboat ride along the Rhine was breathtaking...Casey was our excellent cruise director; her narration was delightful and enlightening. And our entry into Budapest at 11:00 p.m. was overwhelmingly magnificent. Other highlights of a highlight-filled cruise: the tour of the State Opera House in Vienna* and the tour of Parliament Buildings in Budapest*; hot chocolate at Demel's in Vienna*, the Ann Frank House* and van Gogh Museum* in Amsterdam (*we did those on our own). Those who got to Keukenhof Gardens called that the absolute piece de resistance...unfortunately Viking did not offer the gardens even as an optional tour!

Lunches and dinners aboard the ship were always excellent; however, a couple of dinners were not up to Viking's usual standards (we like meats medium rare, and they usually arrived well done). But the Captain's Farewell Dinner was worthy of a 5-star restaurant! And our waiter was the best: Attila...from Hungary.

We had one glitch: a major lock on the Rhine was out of commission for three days, but the crew handled matters so well...and we didn't miss a beat! Viking adjusted the itinerary, taking us to Regensburg and Nuremberg by motor coach. We were treated to a couple of lovely regional lunches in those ports (instead of returning to the boat for lunch). And Viking gave us free tickets to what is usually an optional concert in Vienna. The concert was delightful, with string and percussion quintet, ballet, and opera arias. Our 28-year old captain was superb! When he first got word of the malfunctioning lock, he sailed at "full speed ahead" in order to get the Pride to the broken lock ahead of all the other leisure and commercial vessels, so that we would be the first boat through once repaired.

If anyone has any questions, please write to me.

Bon voyage,
Shirley B

Faunstine Louie June 7th, 2004 08:52 AM

Re: Viking River Cruises Grand European on the Pride
We will be taking the same cruise. Sounds great! Want to know if bathrobes were provided and the electrical outlet compatible with US applicances.


Shirley B June 15th, 2004 11:50 PM

Re: Re: Viking River Cruises Grand European on the Pride
Sorry to take so long to respond to your question about electrical outlets and bathrobes. I was at a great leisure travel conference at Disneyland Convention Center in Anaheim. Loved it!

Viking does not provide bathrobes; but there are electrical outlets compatible with US appliances...but you will need an adaptor (as opposed to a converter). Viking also provides electric hair dryers and outlets for electric shavers.

Have a great cruise!

Shirley B

johnt June 16th, 2004 12:24 AM

Re: Re: Re: Viking River Cruises Grand European on the Pride
We were on the Viking Primadonna in April/May. Ask the front desk for a bathrobe and it will be provided.

stacee December 16th, 2004 10:00 PM

Re: Viking River Cruises Grand European on the Pride
Hi Shirley,

Thks for writing your review of Viking cruiselines. I want to take my mother on a cruise to Budapest (she is Hungarian but has never visited) for her 70th birthday. I am in my early 30s.

Can you give me some more info? For example, are most people older? Any children? Would you recommend this line? Have you been on other river cruises? Other cruises (i.e. ocean)?

Any advice/info you can give would be greatly appreciated. Our family has cruised many times (ocean- caribbean, mexico, new england, etc) and have always enjoyed. But river cruising is very new to us.

Many thanks

Shirley B December 25th, 2004 10:30 AM

Re: Re: Viking River Cruises Grand European on the Pride
Dear Stacee~~

Sorry for the delay in responding to your much happening in December that I haven't gotten to the message boards for over a week!

What a wonderful gift to your mother! She will love Budapest! It is a fabulous city! Just this year, we took my mom on Viking's Amsterdam to Budapest sailing in late April to celebrate her birthday, and she still mentions it nearly every time I speak to her.

To answer each of your questions:

The average age of the passengers is probably about 58-68, depending on the sailing. There are no children under the age of 12; but there are often couples in their 30's and 40's, mothers and daughters travelling together, etc. And there are ususally several in their 70's and 80's as well.

Although I've sailed on dozens of ocean cruises (including sailings on Oceania, Renaissance, Holland America, Royal Caribbean, Princess, Costa, Norwegian, Orient, Carnival, Regent, Empress, etc.), Viking is the only river cruiseline I've been on--and I've sailed on 7 or 8 Viking cruises--including Amsterdam to Budapest twice!

River cruising is very different from ocean cruising. River boats usually accommodate only between 100 and 200 passengers, while cruise ships rarely accommodate less than 300 passengers, and the new megaships accommodate as many as 3100. That difference alone accounts for the following:

In addition to the larger cities that oceanliners can visit, riverboats visit quaint towns and villages that are not accessible by larger vessels. Riverboat piers are often walking distance to the middle of the town--and no tenders are ever necessary.

On a riverboat, you get to know everyone aboard, including the captain and the cruise director and the other passengers.

Most oceanliners offer great entertainment, casinos, multiple dining choices, gyms, pools, spas, jacuzzis, lots of onboard activities--even rock climbing walls and miniature golf on some. Riverboats offer charming old-world folkloric entertainment, no casinos that I know of, usually one dining room, sometimes a small gym and/or spa and/or pool or jacuzzi. While many ocean cruises are geared to shipboard activity, river cruises are destination oriented.

Breakfasts and lunches on riverboats are often mainly buffets, though often cooked-to-order items are available as well; dinners are usually 5-course meals served by waiters. Waiter service and buffets are usually offered on ships for all three meals. There are usually more choices available on the menus of oceanliners, while on riverboats there are usually no more than 3-5 choices of main courses, two appetizers, two soups, two desserts on any given evening. While large ships often have early and late dining choices, everyone dines at the same time on river cruises.

Many cruiselines have dresscodes that include formal and semi-formal evenings; riverboats usually have "country-club casual" dress codes--no tuxes, no gowns; in fact men are not even required to wear jackets and ties at dinner on riverboats, but they may if they'd like to do so.

Ocean liners usually do not include shore excursions--although they are offered at anywhere from $39 per person per excursion to $800.00 per person; most river cruises include daily shore excursions--often two or more in one day--at no extra cost.

You may have lots of other questions, and I'd be happy to answer them. Please write to me directly: If you wish, send me your telephone number, and I'll call you.

Happy holidays...have a happy, peaceful, healthy, cruise-filled 2005!

Shirley B

Erin L February 15th, 2005 03:41 PM

Re: Viking River Cruises Grand European on the Pride
Hi Shirley,

My husband and I are thinking of booking one of the Viking River cruises in Germany in October or November 2005. Are water levels still a problem or has the drought in Europe ended?


Shirley B February 18th, 2005 10:26 AM

Re: Re: Viking River Cruises Grand European on the Pride
Dear Erin~~

Water levels, like snow levels--and even heatwaves, cold spells, hurricanes, blizzards, floods, tsunamis, earthquakes and forest fires--vary from year to year. It's all up to mother nature. There is no way that a river cruise line or you or I can wish away water levels that are too high or too low to make a cruise possible. There are many more great sailings than those that are marred by water levels!

Shirley B

sghealy March 21st, 2005 03:04 PM

Re: Viking River Cruises Grand European on the Pride
Shirley - thank you for the very informative review of your cruise last year on the Viking Pride. We are booked for the one THIS year (2005) departing May 1 - Amsterdam to Budapest. Since it sounds like you were touring during this time last year - could you give me an idea of what we might expect in the way of weather? I'm thinking probably high 50's to mid 60's during the day - is that about right? Did you find you needed a heavier coat/jacket in the evenings?

Shirley B March 24th, 2005 11:23 PM

Re: Re: Viking River Cruises Grand European on the Pride
You've got it right! I think it may have gotten into the 70's from time to time. I don't remember any rain...could that be? It can be a little chilly at night, so be sure to take along a jacket or a heavy cardigan.

I am so glad that you are sailing from Amsterdam to Budapest. You won't believe how spectacular it is to arrive in Budapest after dark--you'll never forget it!

Shirley B

SoCalGal March 29th, 2005 12:28 PM

Re: Viking River Cruises Grand European on the Pride
Hi Shirley,

We are interested in doing the Amsterdam to Budapest on Viking or Uniworld in 2006. We would like to spend an extra couple of days in either Amsterdam or Budapest. Which city would be the most interesting to spend those extra days?



Jim & Joanne April 4th, 2005 04:42 PM

Re: Re: Viking River Cruises Grand European on the Pride
We are booked on the Budapest to Amsterdam leaving Budapest on May 29th.
Would appreciate you comments upon return. Thanks

Shirley B April 22nd, 2005 09:25 AM

Re: Re: Viking River Cruises Grand European - Amsterdam vs.
Dear Patty--

Besides posting on CruiseMates, I am answering you privately because you asked the question regarding Amsterdam vs. Budapest so long ago, and I fear you may have given up on getting an answer at CruiseMates.

Your question is something like asking which is better, chocolate fudge ice cream or butter pecan! It depends on what makes a city (or ice cream!) special for you. Both Amsterdam and Budapest are wonderful! I do think there is more to see in Budapest though. You might consider one extra night in each city, or perhaps one in Amsterdam and two in Budapest.

Regarding Amsterdam: It would be a shame to leave Amsterdam without seeing Ann Frank House, van Gogh Museum, the garden markets, and--yes--the Red Light District at night. Other "must" highlights (such as Rjik Museum, Keukenhof Gardens) are included in Viking's tours.

Regarding Budapest: It would be a shame to leave without doing a guided tour of the Parliament Buildings and the Opera House, and having a Turkish bath at Gellert Hotel. The city tour provided by Viking covers Castle Hill and Heroes Square and other city highlights--but your time at each site is so limited. It would be nice to visit the Castle Hill area for an evening tour and perhaps have dinner there. Another "must" would be an evening boatride along the river through the center of Budapest. What a magnificent sight! If you are starting your river cruise in Amsterdam and ending it in Budapest, you will probably enter the city late at light, making the small-boat cruise unnecessary.

I, too, live in Southern California. Feel free to write to me directly at I have lots of information I can send you as an attachment to an email, detailing what to see, what to do--and even what to avoid--throughout the whole itinerary!

Bon voyage,

Shirley B

cruiser kathy May 1st, 2005 10:25 AM

Re: Re: Re: Viking River Cruises Grand European on the Pride
Jim and Joanne,
Are you crusing on Viking or Uniworld?

Jim & Joanne May 21st, 2005 06:44 PM

Re: Re: Re: Re: Viking River Cruises Grand European on the P
Sorry for the delay - just got back to the board! Flying from LA to Portland to join friends and then on to Budapest via Franfurt. Arrive Budapest on Saturday the 28th of May. Using Viking. Really looking forward to it!

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