Viking River Cruises - The Surprise of a Lifetime
While the majority of travelers envision an ocean-going cruise ship if you mention the idea of a cruise, the concept of river cruising has been gaining popularity in recent years. For cruise aficionados this is not a ground-breaking statement, but we are surprised when we come across people who are not familiar with river cruising, and we're happy to educate them.
We thought we would offer you the perspective of someone we know who recently took a river cruise. This person has been on many cruises before – yes, even river cruises – but reading from their point of view is so enjoyable we just had to pass it along!
Here is their story:
Like so many folks, I had the daunting task of finding the perfect 50th birthday surprise for my wife. Although she loves to cruise, finding something special was a challenge!
After much deliberation, I decided on Viking River Cruises’ 15-day Grand European Tour aboard the Viking Europe. Even after all the cruises we've taken, this was easily one of our best!
You may think the highlight was cruising the "highway” of the Romans, which has also been the lifeline for centuries of commerce through Hungary, Slovakia, Austria, Germany and Holland, but surprisingly it was the staff on board and our wonderful fellow passengers that turned my wife’s birthday into one of our greatest cruises yet!
The staff on all Viking ships are from the local areas so they were more than familiar with each of the towns we visited. They considered it a privilege to share their knowledge with us, which made it so easy to ask any question.
Given the ship capacity of just 143 guests and an open dining policy, the camaraderie that developed between guests of many nationalities was more than I've ever experienced, even aboard other small vessels. We met interesting people from Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States, China and Sri Lanka. We had the opportunity to dine with almost everyone, and some new friends more than once.
We enjoyed the entertaining and interesting local tour guides that Viking employed at each of our 14 stops along the Danube and Rhine. Simply put, these were some of the most knowledgeable and educated guides we have ever encountered.
It's difficult in a short summary like this to describe the truly remarkable destinations we visited the "Blue Danube,” the "Romantic Rhine” and the 67-plus locks we passed through.
But for us the true standouts were Budapest – if you ever get the chance to visit, don’t miss the naturally formed caves and tunnels that have existed under the city for thousands of years; and Vienna – steeped in rich music history including Mozart and Strauss – don’t miss a chance to take in a performance of the Viennese Orchestra at the Concert Hall, and savor a cup at one of Vienna’s famous coffee shops. I also guarantee if you ever get to Regensburg it will become one of your favorite cities.
If you have not had a chance to experience a river cruise or to visit this part of Europe, I urge you to definitely add it to your "bucket list”!