I had the opportunity to experience a river cruise from Budapest to Nuremburg in Europe this fall on the new Viking Odin longship which debuted in early 2012.
ITINERARY & PORTS:
We sailed from Budapest to Vienna, Passau, Melk, Regensburg and ended in Nuremburg. I really enjoyed all of the cities and we were lucky to experience some of the Christmas Markets which had opened in Budapest and Vienna. Viking had preferred docking at almost every single port, and we never had to cross over another ship to get on or off. Budapest was the most beautiful location, followed by Passau and Regensburg- you walked right off the ship and were in town. In Melk, buses were provided to and from the Abbey (up a hill) but you could also choose a short 15 minute walk. Vienna and Nuremberg were not within walking distance, but more so due to the lack of canal access into main parts of the city. In Vienna, you had the option to take the metro into town & do a walking tour of Vienna, which was a great way to experience the city and then know how to get back if you stayed in town after the tour.
My only issue with the itinerary was that some of the port visits were fairly quick and at inconvenient times. For example, we arrived at 9 a.m. in Melk, Regensburg and Passu and only had three hours in Melk and Regensburg, and six hours in Passau. Most of the shops and restaurants did not open until around noon, so you spent your morning walking around but were not able to do too much. I would have preferred to cut out one city to spend more time at another. My favorite ports were Vienna and Budapest, where we had overnight stays and really had the chance to explore the city.
The Odin has a sleek, modern design, and refreshing color scheme. My cabin was near the back of the ship but I barely heard any engine noise- it was very quiet. Almost every common area on the ship has floor to ceiling glass windows so you have a wonderful view no matter where you are. The Aquavit Terrace is beautiful- there is an outdoor area with seating and a clear screen to protect passengers from the wind. Breakfast and lunch is served inside, and there is a few tables to eat at as well as comfortable couch seating along the side with floor to ceiling glass windows.
We stayed in French Balcony (Category C). The cabin was fairly small but we were rarely in there. When we were, it was still enough space for us to get ready, relax or have a glass of wine and watch the changing scenery out of the balcony. The flat screen TV was a good size and nice way to look at the week’s itinerary and daily activities. Our cabin stewardess was wonderful – she noticed we drank a lot of water so every morning and evening she gave us three extra bottles of water.
The Aquavit Terrace was my favorite place to relax with a book and glass of wine while sailing. It is absolutely beautiful! We spent almost all of our time onboard the ship in the Aquavit Terrace. The rest of the time was spent in the Viking Lounge, or on the roof of the ship. We were extremely lucky with the weather- it was mid 40s-50s the entire week and only rained once, during the night. The roof of the Odin had a life-sized chess set, shuffleboard, mini-golf and lots of chairs for relaxing and scenic viewing. At night, the “night captain” was on the roof and would gladly chat with you about local scenery, upcoming locks and bridges we would be passing through. At certain points, we would be sent back inside as we would pass under a “dangerously low” bridge.
Each evening in the Viking Lounge there was a lecture or activity, followed by cocktail hour and the daily briefing. On our cruise, we had a pretzel making demonstration, Viennese Coffee lecture, German language lesson, History of WW2, History of the Danube & Holiday decorating. During one of the long mornings sailing, there was an Austrian celebration with Austrian music, pastries, beer & lunch served in the Lounge and Aquavit Terrace. This was extremely popular, and I wish they would have had another one for Germany! The Viking Lounge filled up to capacity during the Daily Briefing, where the Cruise Director discussed the next port of call, tour options and activity suggestions. The complimentary shipwide wireless internet was a huge bonus. I could download new books on my kindle, upload pictures to Facebook, email with friends and family and research upcoming ports.
We were impressed with the overall menu onboard which changed daily between seafood, American comfort, Austrian AND German specialties, pasta, soups and salad. We usually preferred to eat breakfast and lunch in the Aquavit Terrace, and in the dining room for dinner. There were tables for 6-14, and you could sit with whoever you like. We sat at different tables every night, which was a wonderful way to meet other travelers.
I had one issue with the dining. Meal times were very strict and if you missed one, there was nothing offered until the next one. We ran into this problem when my mom and I arrived about 10 minutes after lunch ended after taking the wrong metro train on our way back from Vienna. Fortunately, our favorite bar server was able to find us a few cold pasta lunch plates which we appreciated. For the price and quality of the Viking experience, I would expect some alternative dining options in the event of a missed meal. This was especially important in Vienna and Nuremberg where you are far from town.
Overall, I had a great experience on the Viking Odin and would recommend this trip to my clients!