Romantic Danube on Viking Longship Rinda
I was most excited to be taking my first cruise with Viking River Cruises and would be sailing from Budapest to Passau over 4 nights on part of their Romantic Danube itinerary.
I started with a flight from Manchester to Budapest and once I had picked up my luggage, I was met by a very friendly Viking representative and taken to the coach for the transfer to the ship. Viking had branded coaches and once on board we were offered a bottle of water for the 20-30 minute journey (a lovely touch I thought).
We arrived at the ship, Viking Rinda just as lunch was coming to an end and were greeted by our very friendly program director and advised if we went straight to the lounge we would still be able to eat and our luggage would be taken straight to our room. I chose to skip lunch and went straight to my room and unpacked.
My cabin was a Cat D French Balcony grade and although a small cabin at 135sq ft, it was perfectly formed and had everything you could possibly need including wardrobe drawers, fridge, plug sockets and even an iPhone socket for charging your phone or tablet! This came in very handy as I had forgotten my European adaptor plug! There was a flat screen TV with films and music options, perfect for a lazy afternoon.
A quick look around the vessel and I was very pleased with what I found. Rinda was very light, bright and contemporary with a definite Scandinavian touch and I knew for sure I would enjoy my time sailing on her. The dining room was very elegant yet comfortable and had a warm and welcoming atmosphere with the lounge/bar area being a light, bright and comfortable place to relax during the day turning into a cosy piano style bar in the evening.
The evening meals on board were lovely and our waiter Thom was a delight and very entertaining. We chose to sit in the same place every night just so we could have the same waiter! The meal choices were varied from steaks (my favourite) to fish and always a vegetarian option. If you did not like any of the menu options then they were always happy to offer plainer dishes such as chicken and chips or steak and chips and this offer was taken up by one of our group every night!
Every night after dinner we were treated to various forms of entertainment from a night of the traditional Sounds of Hungary with local performers joining us on board to a fun music quiz hosted by our fabulous program director George and live piano music by Ogi. All in all there was something for every taste and everybody on board seemed to love it all.
Viking's included excursion programme enabled you to take in the best of the cities visited along with free time to take in the sights on your own or to relax on board the vessel if you preferred. We had a wonderful morning tour of Buda and Pest with a chance to walk to Fishermen's Bastion, visit the magnificent Matthias Church and learn about its history. There was also free time to enjoy a taste of the local hot chocolate and cakes in a traditional tea room.
We also enjoyed a wonderful city tour of beautiful Vienna both on coach and then by foot with free time to explore this magnificent city. In the afternoon there was the chance to visit Schonbrunn Palace or one of Vienna's Christmas Markets. I chose to pay for an optional excursion to a Viennese Palace to experience my first ever classical music concert featuring music from Mozart and Strauss. A truly unforgettable experience!
My final day on board was spent sailing through the Wachau Valley and even though it was November and a bit grey and wet, I have to say it still looked glorious and no less inspiring. Next we arrived in Melk and ventured up the hill to visit the 900 year old Melk Abbey. As this was still a working Abbey and school, we were taken on a tour of its wonderful museum which is a truly unique experience and well worth a visit. Again we were given free time to walk back down the hill and visit the small town of Melk and back to the ship, or for the less adventurous you could take your Viking coach back to Rinda.
Tonight we were treated to 'A Taste of Austria', a buffet style evening meal in the main dining room. Here you could choose from a vast array of Austrian food and even have the chance to visit the galley and see how the chefs prepared your food every day. This was a true insight into how a small kitchen on a vessel such as this operated. We were also treated to accordion playing musicians singing traditional Austrian songs and a Schnapps or two to accompany the singing. A fantastic last night!
The next morning, I prepared for disembarkation at 11:30 in Passau.
Rinda continued the rest of her journey on to Nuremberg and how I wished I could have stayed on board until then. Our transfer to Munich airport took a couple of hours and my flight back to Manchester went to plan (I had hoped for a cancelled flight and to be taken back to the ship, but no such luck!).
Thank you Viking for a wonderful cruise!
Review by Michelle, Blue Water Holidays