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Our Viking River Cruise Danube Waltz Highlights – Onboard the Viking Vilhjalm

Our Viking River Cruise Danube Waltz Highlights – Onboard the Viking Vilhjalm

CRUISES, LUXURY TRAVEL

Last fall we went on our first ever river cruise onboard the Viking Vilhjalm.  We had been contemplating going on a a river cruise through Europe for quite some time.  The idea of a river cruise, especially through Europe, seemed like an effortless way to travel. We knew that we wanted to cruise along the Danube, which is one of the most popular rivers to cruise along.  Ultimately, we decided to go on Viking River Cruise’s “Danube Waltz” from Germany to Hungary onboard the Viking Vilhjalm.

Several questions went through my mind before departing.  Is river cruising as good an idea as we think? Will we be bored watching the world go by, especially if we end up with several rainy days? Is there enough space on most ships to move around so we don’t get cabin fever? Are the days on shore very rushed, going from museum to castle and back again? Is 8 days a good amount of time for these cruises?

Nevertheless, we booked our flights to Munich and off we went!  Prague was high on our bucket list, and only a 3 1/2 hour drive from the Munich airport, so we decided to take a 3 day pre-extension there before our cruise started. When were arrived at the airport, I used a service called DayTrip that uses local guides as drivers.  On these journeys, you makes a few side-trips to castles and little towns along the way that we wouldn’t have been able to see otherwise while on our way to Prague.  We used the same service for the return trip to Passau, Germany where our Viking Vilhjalm ship was docked.  It was also the first stop of our Viking River Cruise.  If you enjoy visiting off the beaten path places, then I’d definitely recommend trying out DayTrip.  It was a wonderful experience!

Embarkation

Embarkation was super easy.  Our driver from DayTrip dropped us off right next to the ship which was very convenient.  The crew immediately greeted us and took our suitcases onboard.  We walked right to reception where we were handed our keys and led to our Veranda Suite, which was a flight of stairs above the reception area and just a few feet down the hallway from the ships Library and Media Area.

Accommodations

Our ship was one of six new ships that launched in 2016!  The 190-passenger Vilhjalm has 95 cabins located on three passenger decks. We opted for a Veranda Suite, which measured 275 square feet and included a bedroom, living room, walkout balcony and French balcony.  Many river cruisers opt for a “French balcony” instead of an “outside balcony.” A French balcony is a glass door, or wall-to-wall window, that opens to give you fresh air and the feel of a veranda, minus the outside floor, tables, and chairs.

The Veranda Suite had plenty of storage space in the closets and drawers to properly hold all of our stuff for an 8-day cruise.  Our luggage bags even fit nicely under the bed!

The private bathroom was right off of our bedroom and had a spacious shower, blow-dryer, and premium bath products.

We had a nice complimentary bottle of wine waiting for us upon arrival, along with a bottle of water which was replenished every day.  They also left fresh fruit in our room daily which I enjoyed.

Although we did not spend much time there, our cabin was very comfortable.  It was spacious and gave us the opportunity to relax and enjoy the scenery outside our sliding glass door and balcony.

Similar to ocean liner cruise ships, one of the first things they ask you to do is attend the mandatory safety drill with our life jackets.  The whole drill latest only a few minutes.

Fire drill on the Viking Vilhjalm

Meals

The main restaurant is located on the middle deck. Breakfast and lunch feature a buffet with cooked-to-order items from the menu, and dinner is a served three-course meal with the option to add extra appetizer courses and a cheese plate. We sat at tables with other passengers, some of whom we had just met. During the week we sat with some people regularly and became great friends towards the end!  As for the food, it was consistently top-rate and definitely a highlight.

Photo courtesy of Viking Cruises

On the sun deck, you’ll find their organic herb garden which the chef uses to add fresh herbs to our meals every day.

Each day, there are regional dishes reflecting the destinations on the cruise itinerary, as well as familiar favorites, vegetarian dishes and an “always available” menu of simpler meals such as salmon, steak and Caesar salad.  One evening, we had a German themed night in the restaurant where there was an array of Bavarian cheese, sauerkraut, soft pretzels & mustards, German meats, beer, and local musicians. Plus – all the staff wore lederhosen!  Theme nights are always fun, and if you need some dressy yet comfortable shoes, I’d recommend any of these.

For lighter breakfast and lunch alternatives, you can go to the Aquavit Terrace which is the indoor/outdoor seating area at the front of the ship on the upper deck.  The Aquavit Terrace also serves cocktails, and appetizers every afternoon. It was one of our favorite places to sit with a glass of wine while viewing the beautiful Danube with its quaint villages and extensive vineyards.  The ultimate European happy hour!

The food really is out of this world, and one night, they offer a complimentary tour of the kitchen after dinner so you may see how everything works behind the scenes.

Viking Vilhjalm Kitchen - Viking River Cruise

Caffeine addicts, don’t expect to find an in-room coffee machine in your cabins. The good news is, you don’t need one!  You’ll find a fancy coffee machine mid-ship (either off the lobby or in the observation lounge) that whips up espressos, cappuccinos, macchiatos, as well as hot chocolate, and an assortment of teas.  Luckily, they pair a few snacks such as cookies, muffins, and fruit throughout the day as well.  The complimentary tea and coffee station is available 24/7.

Viking Vilhjalm Coffee Station - Viking River Cruise

Entertainment 

In the evenings, we enjoyed entertainment in the lounge.  There was a husband/wife duo who played live music (piano / guitar / singing etc) – typically playing popular songs.  Other evenings, they brought in small local groups which we really enjoyed. One of the evenings, my husband was selected to join in on the fun and participate in a dancing demonstration!

Viking Vilhjalm Bar - Viking River Cruise

Photo courtesy Viking Cruises
Photo courtesy Viking Cruises

Viking Vilhjalm Entertainment - Viking River Cruise Viking Vilhjalm Entertainment - Viking River Cruise

On-Board Activities

While there is no spa or gym onboard the Viking Vilhjalm, we were still able to exercise.  For instance, we used the walking track normally after a meal to stroll around the ship, take in the scenery, and socialize with some of the other passengers.   My husband enjoyed the mini-golf on the top deck as well.

Viking Vilhjalm Mini-Golf - Viking River Cruise

Other days we could veg out on one of the outside lounge chairs and watch the small towns and castles go by.

Top Deck - Viking Vilhjalm - Viking River Cruise

Viking Vilhjalm - Viking River Cruise

Another highlight for us was going through the different locks, which seemed to be the highlight for many passengers as well.  We would gather on the top deck while waiting as the waters rose, and dropped in the locks which was all really fascinating to witness.

Viking Vilhjalm Locks

Excursions

One of the nice features of our Viking River Cruise was that shore excursions were included.  We had a choice to pick one shore excursion in each port of call.  Some of the activities are walking tours, while others were a combination of walking and riding in a bus. We also appreciated the ability to spend good amounts of time in specific ports, and the freedom to return to the ship whenever we liked.  There is often usually free time to roam the port towns as well.

Viking Vilhjalm Stops - Viking River Cruise

From start to finish, the itinerary was spectacular with a great mix of large cities and small medieval towns. The day trips to Cesky Krumlov, Melk Abbey, Vienna, and sailing into a lit-up Budapest in the evening were definitely the highlights.

We loved our river cruise experience and walked away with so many memories!  It was a completely different experience from ocean cruising and we found it suited our style much more.

 

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About the author

Carmen Edelson is the Founder and Senior Editor of Carmen's Luxury Travel. Carmen has been traveling the world for over a decade. Our travels allows her the opportunity to pursuit her itch to travel to the best luxury destinations, and experience those first class tastes from around the world.

22 Comments

  1. Nancy
    April 11, 2017 at 8:38 pm
    Reply

    Thanks for sharing this experience, Carmen. It looks like a fantastic ship. The Veranda Suite appears to be very spacious, even though it is only 275 sq. ft.
    Nancy recently posted…Stay at MGallery La Residence Hue Hotel and Experience Hue’s Rich HistoryMy Profile

    • Carmen Edelson
      April 15, 2017 at 6:46 am

      You’re very welcome! And for a cruise, it was very spacious. They designed it perfectly.

  2. Jen Joslin
    April 12, 2017 at 12:53 am
    Reply

    This looks like such a fantastic cruise, and a unique way to see Austria, Slovakia and Hungary! It also sounds quite relaxing, and the amenities on the cruise look great. Thanks for sharing about DayTrip too. What an interesting service!

    • Carmen Edelson
      April 15, 2017 at 6:47 am

      It was the perfect mix of relaxation and exploration!

  3. Kavey
    April 15, 2017 at 12:12 pm
    Reply

    The boat looks stunning, love your suite and the whole light and modern interior, looks much more open than many ships I’ve seen. What a lovely home from which to explore the Danube.

    • Carmen Edelson
      April 18, 2017 at 9:46 am

      Definitely more open! It’s a floating boutique hotel 🙂

  4. Danik
    April 15, 2017 at 5:53 pm
    Reply

    I learnt one thing from this post (well, about the Danube anyway), is that the river bends round from Budapest and flows through Austria into Germany. Never actually knew that. But the actual boat looks fantastic and would love to do a trip on this.

    • Carmen Edelson
      April 18, 2017 at 9:46 am

      Yes, it’s a great river to cruise on!

  5. Lois Alter Mark
    April 15, 2017 at 10:13 pm
    Reply

    We’ve been on 2 Viking RIver Cruises, and they are the best! Your photos bring back so many great memories – I remember those pretzels at dinner and am now craving them!

    • Carmen Edelson
      April 18, 2017 at 9:47 am

      I’m craving them too, Lois!

  6. Debra Schroeder
    April 16, 2017 at 11:13 am
    Reply

    Cruising with Viking River Cruises is the way to go. They’ve been on my list for a long time, one day I’ll do a river cruise. And your suite looks fantastic!

    • Carmen Edelson
      April 18, 2017 at 9:41 am

      Absolutely no complaints! I’m sure you’ll have an amazing time.

  7. melody pittman
    April 16, 2017 at 10:06 pm
    Reply

    This looks so familiar I feel likee I was just there myself last week. Oh wait, I was! LOL So nice knowing you got to sail with Thomas and Joe, they were great. This was my second Viking River Cruise and my favorite! 😉 Nice write up and gorgeous photos!

    • Carmen Edelson
      April 18, 2017 at 9:40 am

      Thanks, Melody!! I’m glad you enjoyed yourself 🙂

  8. Megan Jerrard
    April 17, 2017 at 1:46 am
    Reply

    So glad to hear that you had a spectacular time! I’ve been hearing a lot about river cruising recently, and your photos confirm that it’s just as luxurious and stress free as I thought. Hope I can take a similar cruise soon!

    • Carmen Edelson
      April 18, 2017 at 9:39 am

      I hope you can too, Megan! You’ll have a wonderful time I’m sure.

  9. George Jorn
    April 19, 2017 at 1:14 pm
    Reply

    Carmen – Just came across your review…My wife and I were on the ship too! Your review perfectly summarizes the experience. The trip was fantastic and we look forward to our next river cruise with Viking. Viking does an exceptional job of creating many fond memories for their passengers. The crew are true professionals, the shore excursions are well organized and the food is exceptional. Plus the local wines and beer are great too!

    • Carmen Edelson
      April 21, 2017 at 11:03 am

      I’m so glad you enjoyed your cruise just as much as I did! I’ll definitely be back. What about you?

  10. lighting doctor
    May 5, 2017 at 4:58 am
    Reply

    nice post carmen and thanks for sharing such kind of fabulous moment of life……

    • Carmen Edelson
      May 5, 2017 at 9:27 am

      You’re welcome! It was a fabulous experience.

  11. Katie @ Zen Life and Travel
    May 27, 2017 at 7:46 pm
    Reply

    The ship looks fantastic! I have had one of these Viking River Cruises on my “to do” list for a while. As soon as my daughter is old enough to leave for that long I will be booking one. (I sense that they aren’t kid friendly!) I have never done a small ship cruise before and I can’t wait to try one out. Thanks for sharing your experience – it makes me more excited to try it one day!

    • Carmen Edelson
      May 30, 2017 at 4:57 pm

      Definitely treat yourself to one in the future!

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