I have always wanted to take a Viking River Cruise, so I was thrilled when my blogger friend, Suzanne Stavert of Adventures of Empty Nesters, and I were invited to sail! I chose the ship and itinerary, Elegant Elbe, and prepared for an exciting and fun trip! I was not disappointed! And best of all, I learned so much along the way, and for me, that is one of the best things about travel.
The Elbe River is not as famous as the Rhine or the Danube, but I loved the itinerary which took us from Berlin, Germany to Prague, Czech Republic. I hadn’t been to Europe for 10 years, and it was so wonderful to experience places I had never been before. Our exploration of the cities of Germany and Czech Republic, all behind the Iron Curtain of the Cold War, was nothing short of a revelation. It was my first real look at how people lived in places controlled by the Soviet Union. Of course, the trip was full of beauty and wonder, too, incredible countryside, castles, palaces, vineyards and ancient town squares. However, a funny thing happened on this trip, we didn’t sail at all.
Yes, I know, it’s a river cruise, but the drought in Europe had lowered the Elbe River to a point where we could not sail. There was much disappointment, but Viking handled the situation with seamless hospitality. After staying a couple of nights in Berlin, we went to the Viking ship, the Beyla, docked in Wittenberg, Germany. I was bowled over by the elegance of the streamlined luxury ship. It was truly, truly a beautiful ship. Suzanne and I were fortunate to have tours of the bridge and the kitchens, and they were so clean, so perfectly appointed, it was amazing. Our stateroom had a balcony and was absolutely gorgeous! The dining room, lounges and bar were spotless and very luxurious. The food was delicious. We met so many new people, most of whom were dedicated Viking passengers, having sailed with Viking at least once, and most had gone on more than one trip. That is certainly a testimonial to the excellence of Viking Cruises.
After two nights on the Beyla, we switched to her sister ship, in Dresden, the Astrild. Actually, it wasn’t like changing boats at all, the ships were exactly the same, and Viking handled everything smoothly. The crew was different of course, but both crews were absolutely fantastic. Our program director, Benne Bennison, remained for the entire trip, and she was absolutely professional and very enjoyable to travel with. She did an amazing job with ninety people who were disappointed not to sail! After three nights on the Astrild, we went to Prague and a hotel there.
Comfortable Viking coaches took us to all the sights that had been originally planned, and so we had a fantastic time on our non-cruise cruise! I do hope to take a Viking Cruise that actually sails at some point, but hats off to Viking Cruises for making this trip absolutely wonderful! I cannot think of a single thing that wasn’t perfect. Every passenger enjoyed the trip, and planned to take another Viking Cruise. Thank you, thank you Viking River Cruises, for a marvelous experience! Take a Viking Cruise, y’all, and #traveltamstyle!
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