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Old 08-10-2015   #1 (permalink)
aņejo
 
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Viking River Cruise on the Danube, 2015

Ok, so here we go!! A little introduction to this trip: I imagine that MANY of you get the Viking River Cruise brochures in the mail....sometimes it seems like you get them every single day. I know a few people who took some of these cruises and just loved them, so we were talking about it for a long time. As a matter of fact, we had decided to "save up" to take one in 2016, for our 40th anniversary.

Then, one Saturday morning in April, I actually OPENED one of the brochures instead of immediately pitching it. I opened it because it was thinner than the others and the cover said...."Sale prices and free air". So I figured...why not take a look.

Well....this was 8am or so - and by noon, we were booked on the cruise, along with my sister and brother-in-law. They were offering amazing last minute prices (they consider booking in April for July as last minute) - and yes, they advertise "free air", but of course, you're paying for it one way or another....

Had to pay, IN FULL, that day, to get this deal. I was on the phone for over an hour between being on hold and working out the dates, rooms, etc...

We booked a suite, even...a small sitting room attached to the bedroom. This was a great idea. Bedroom had floor to ceiling windows that they call a "french balcony" and the sitting room had a full veranda with 2 chairs and a table. Since we were traveling with my sister and BIL, the sitting area was great. They had a regular veranda room across the hall.

If anyone wants to know what we paid for this trip, which included the air, 7 night cruise, and 3 days in Prague - all inclusive except for lunches and dinner in Prague, and any optional tours we chose - PM me and I'll let you know. You'll be astonished, I think, if you watch those cruise prices at all.

Of course I couldn't take a photo of the whole ship, here's a stock photo:
This wasn't our ship, actually, but they are all identical, as we found out, and I can explain that later.

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Old 08-10-2015   #2 (permalink)
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So...when you have the cruise line book your air, you get what they give you. We flew out on Delta on Friday evening, July 24. Overnight flight to Amsterdam - landed at around 7am...then we had a 10:30am flight to Budapest, the start of the trip. We had coach seats which we were able to upgrade to "economy comfort" because my husband's firm had credit cards that get you all these platinum statuses on airlines. I would have upgraded to First, for money, just to have those beds for the overnight flight, but we couldn't. Consequently I think I slept about 2.5 hours overnight, which is 6 hours shorter than normal to begin with. We were all pretty dizzy on Saturday morning.

2 hour flight to Budapest, the Viking people greet you at the airport and bus you to the ship. Of course they take care of your luggage, and you never see it again until you get to your stateroom. Good stuff.

One really interesting thing - when we arrived in Amsterdam, we went through immigration really quickly. They stamped our passports, and I think maybe we walked through a room with our luggage that seemed to be customs, but there were no agents there, nothing. Sailed through. So we were thinking, ugh, this is going to be awful in Budapest. WELL....nothing at all, there. No immigration, no customs, nothing. It was really kind of odd, but we found out why later on the trip - some agreement or other in Europe between many countries that you don't even have to show ID to cross the border.

We arrived at the ship, had lunch, unpacked, took a nap, and rallied for dinner that night. After dinner, the ship cruised around the Danube in Budapest, and what a spectacular light show....







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Old 08-10-2015   #3 (permalink)
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Just a word about food before I go on to the next day. It's a cruise, of course, so there is plenty of food. Breakfast was a buffet or order from a few things off the menu, there is no way they didn't have something you would want. There also was continental breakfast in the bar area.

Lunch -I'm not even sure what lunch in the dining room was like, because we never ate there. Either we stayed ashore for local lunch, or we ate in the bar area - a much more casual, lighter lunch. Personally, I had no interest in sitting down in a dining room 3x a day. Breakfast and dinner was enough for me.

Dinners were VERY good!! They served local cuisine wherever we were - so for example, on the first night in Budapest, goulash was on the menu! There were always at least 4 items of local choice, and 3 standard items every night - salmon, chicken, or strip steak. I don't think there was one night when I felt like there was nothing I wanted to choose.

Here's a REALLY important tidbit: In the brochures for the cruise, they tell you that beer and wine are included at mealtimes. This is absolutely true, and they kept the wine coming, from what we could see. HOWEVER, they offered a "Silver Premium" alcohol package - which was for open bar, ALL the time, ALL day, every day, including premium wines, beers, and high end alcohol. It was $30 per day, per person - so for 2 of us, $420 total. Well, I SNAPPED THAT ONE UP immediately, because man, we could beat $30 a day on ONE bottle of wine, and we are happy hour cocktail people. The whole cruise I kept feeling sorry for the people signing their chits for cocktails every night, while I'm having my Stoli martinis without a thought. And we had GREAT wines, we could pick anything from their wine list - the free stuff was one red, one white, that's it. Low end stuff. No brainer, really.

Sunday morning we were up and out early for the 1/2 day tour of Budapest. We boarded a bus first for the ride through the Pest side of town....not too many pictures because you just can't take good ones through a window. We rode down a beautiful street with high-end shops and 19th and 20th century houses, the Opera House, etc. We stopped and got off the bus at Heroe's Square.

Here they showcase their history with statues of the heroes.







The Opera House



Then we got back on the bus to go over the river to Buda.



Buda was beautiful. Very midieval, and nicely restored. My BIL said it well, when he called Pest a "fixer-upper". It will be fantastic once more restoration is complete, more like Prague.....but that's later

Pretty street in Buda



St. Matthias Church - it was Sunday, we couldn't go in...but we certainly got our fill of churches on this trip...



Fisherman's Bastion



View of Pest from the Bastion in Buda



Vendor on the Bastion



Beautiful old building - kind of half restored

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Old 08-10-2015   #4 (permalink)
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Beautiful pictures, It was Sunday and you were not allowed to enter the church to worship?
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Old 08-10-2015   #5 (permalink)
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Aaah, back on the ship for lunch



Then up on the sundeck as we cruise for Vienna





Beautiful castles, ruins, scenery along the way



Tomorrow - VIENNA!!!
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Old 08-10-2015   #6 (permalink)
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Awesome! Been waiting for this!
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Old 08-10-2015   #7 (permalink)
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Beautiful pictures, It was Sunday and you were not allowed to enter the church to worship?
Well, mass was in session, and there were a lot of tourists wanting to go in, and they weren't allowing people to just go in to see. I suppose if we had said we wanted to attend mass, we could have, but we didn't have time for that anyway.
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Old 08-11-2015   #8 (permalink)
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Wow!! I am so excited about this TR, can't wait for more and many thanks for sharing!!!
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Old 08-11-2015   #9 (permalink)
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Day 2- Vienna: One thing about cruising is that you just get a little taste of the places you stop - one day isn't enough to really get to know a place. I fell in LOVE with Vienna and we will go back - a driving trip in Austria and Germany, I think. Gotta get on planning that one. Vienna was..PRISTEEN like Disneyworld, RICH in history dating from the Holy Roman Empire to the Austro Hungarian empire, MODERN in gorgeous shopping promenades, FASCINATING in architecture... you name it. Wonderful day.

Pulling into port: a newer church on the river


Prater Ferris Wheel on the way into the city - one of the oldest in Europe, you can even book a dinner in one of the gondolas. 213 feet high.


Parliament


City hall....who would have thought


Hofburg Palace - 2200 rooms




Maria Theresa - ruler of the Habsburg House for 40 years - 16 children, one of whom married Marie Antoinette


You can catch a ride outside the palace


Roman ruins in Vienna!!


Beautiful streets - Opera House in the distance


This statue is a memorial to those who died in the plague. The detail was amazing...and gory.


street art


Saint Stephan's cathedral in various stages of restoration


Viennese pastries!!


Pretty courtyard




carriages in wait by the church


We visited Mozart's house, where he wrote The Marriage of Figaro and The Magic Flute. Wonderful museum inside.





rainbow over the Danube!!
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Old 08-11-2015   #10 (permalink)
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Cruising between Vienna and Melk, in Austria, we are in the section of Austria called the Wachau Valley. The countryside is just beautiful here. Little towns, tons of vineyards, old castles, roman ruins.

Tomorrow - Melk, Austria















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Old 08-11-2015   #11 (permalink)
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Wonderful!!

Have always wondered about doing one of those Viking cruises. Sounds quite nice, great way to get a taste of places to see where you would like to explore more of.


Thanks so much for taking the time to do this report.
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Old 08-11-2015   #12 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Rissask View Post
Wonderful!!

Have always wondered about doing one of those Viking cruises. Sounds quite nice, great way to get a taste of places to see where you would like to explore more of.


Thanks so much for taking the time to do this report.
You know, it's really helping me edit and organize the zillions of photos I took, and also to remind me of everything we did! And I know that those of you who are my friends on FB are seeing them twice, sorry...
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Old 08-11-2015   #13 (permalink)
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Great TR and photo's
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Old 08-11-2015   #14 (permalink)
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What a trip! And thanks for the info, maybe I can convince hubby to do a river cruise!!!
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Old 08-11-2015   #15 (permalink)
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Thank you for posting this. I think this is something that my husband would be willing to do. Looking forward to the rest!
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