Dear Cindy,

We just wanted to thank you and let you know that we had wonderful time on our Grand European Cruise. The hotels you picked out for us were perfect for our extended trip. A boutique hotel on a quiet street in Amsterdam was modern and close to everything, a grand old world hotel in downtown Budapest was an elegant end to our trip. I would recommend that everyone add some extra days before and after their cruise.
Although the weather tended to cold and damp(it was November), the sun did shine occasionally and we never let a little bad weather stop us. Our cruise started with a warm welcome by the crew on board the Viking Spirit. There were introductions and briefings about the ship and our trip. Everyone on the ship spoke English and were always friendly and helpful. They seemed to think of everything to make our trip a “cruise of a lifetime.” The rooms were spacious with plenty of storage so that we could unpack everything and settle in to life on board the ship. One of the best things about cruising in Europe is that you don’t have to pack and unpack with every new city. The ship engines are quite and you hardly feel like you are moving.

The food was excellent. There were numerous options and we liked being able to choose a light lunch in the lounge or a full luncheon in the dining room. There was a beverage center that was always open with coffee, tea, hot chocolate and water. There was some entertainment at night, a glass blower, a one man oompah band and, our favorite, a German band that was a cross between folk and rock music. The crew also entertained at times during the cruise and gave some lectures on various subjects such as Mozart, the canal system and the German language. There were also some fun times with special drinks and food having to do with the region.
The tours were excellent. On walking tours there was always an easier paced option for those who didn’t want to or couldn’t manage the regular tour. The guides used electronic speakers and we had individual ear phones and receivers so that everyone could hear, even the people in the back. There was a nice balance of guided tours and free time.
Some of our tour highlights were the Wurzburg Residenz palace, the Abbey at Melk, the concert (optional) in Vienna and the “roughing it” tour in Budapest (we walked and took public buses and trams and were able to spend time in the market building.) On one cold, rainy evening, after a long day of touring, we were greeted back on board with a wonderful glass of hot, mulled wine. Perfect! Viking always provided maps for us and made suggestions on what we could shop for and what we might want to eat while at each stop. They also told us how to use the subway in Vienna so that we could have more free time there.

During our free time we were able to spend a fun evening in a Rudesheim restaurant, coffee at a world famous Viennese coffee shop, a traditional Hungarian dinner in Budapest. The Christmas Market was open in Budapest and we enjoyed fair food and all the craft stalls.
This is our second small ship river cruise. We enjoy them because they are not the big, impersonal megaships. You get to know the other passangers and become good friends with at least a few of your
fellow travelers. You even get to know the crew. On one beautiful day in Melk, we walked back to the ship with the maitre ‘d and chatted about his family. On our last night, there was a crepe dessert that
our table decided would be wonderful with ice cream. After the waiter jokingly gave us a hard time, we had our ice cream and it was wonderful!

Thank you Cindy, we had a great time and didn’t have to worry about a
thing. You took care of it all! We look forward to traveling with
USA River Cruises again, soon!

Heidi and Bob Galster

New Hampshire

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