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Cruise Ship Review

Viking Danube - Ship Review provided by Cruise Critic

Built in 1999, the Viking Danube is one of eight deluxe river ships in the Viking fleet that entered service from 1999 to 2001. With its all-inclusive cruise program that includes both airfare and shore excursions, a river cruise on the Viking Danube not only provides a comprehensive cultural and historical experience but is also an exceptionally good value. Most members of the ship's crew are from central and eastern Europe. English is the official onboard language, and all crew speak fluent English as do tour guides escorting shore excursions, and all public address announcements are made only in English. The cruise manager is the main contact person onboard the ship and is on hand to respond to individual passenger questions and requests throughout the cruise, and also organizes shore excursions and introduce guest speakers.

Dining

The 150-seat restaurant located on the middle deck hosts single open seating lunch and dinner as well as a buffet-style breakfast; there also is a light lunch buffet served daily in the lounge. The open seating policy encourages passengers to get to know each other by sitting at different tables throughout the cruise. Tables are arranged with seating configurations of four, six and eight (there are no tables for two). Meals are prepared by Western European chefs and feature a mix of international dishes and local specialties. There are also occasional theme dinners. Lunch in the restaurant includes a salad buffet as well as soup, a single entree, dessert and coffee and tea. Passengers are requested to be seated at a set time every day in the restaurant at 12 or 12:30 p.m. for lunch and at 7 p.m. for dinner, while dining hours for breakfast are more flexible (7:00 a.m. - 9:00 a.m.). There is also early bird coffee, croissants, muffins and fresh fruit available from 6:30 to 7:30 a.m. every morning in the lounge and coffee and cake served every afternoon. Coffee, tea and fruit are also available 24 hours a day.

Public Rooms

While there is far less public space than on the typical ocean cruise ship, the amount of space devoted to public rooms is designed to fit comfortably into the Viking Danube's long, narrow three deck configuration. The stylish lounge, which is the largest public area, features a contemporary Scandinavian design and is well appointed and tastefully furnished. Surrounded by picture windows, the lounge is located in the forward section of the upper deck and serves as the primary gathering place where passengers can read and relax as well as meet and socialize before and after meals. It also plays host to talks and slide presentations by guest lectures as well occasional performances by local entertainers at various ports and also serves as the nightly venue for after-dinner music and dancing.

A sun deck with lounge chairs at the top of the ship provides excellent views of the passing scene. Other public rooms include a well stocked library in the aft section of the upper deck, which is adjacent to the ship's compact fitness room, and a small souvenir shop just outside the lounge.

Cabins

The ship's 71 deluxe cabins are divided into A, B and C categories, with A cabins located on the upper deck, B cabins on the middle deck and C cabins on the main deck. All cabins are outside and measure a spacious 150 square; A and B cabins offer excellent views through picture windows spanning the width of the cabin while C cabins have half-height picture windows. Amenities include hotel-style beds (queen or twin) along with satellite television and telephone, shower/bathroom with hair dryer and individually controlled air conditioning and in-room safe.

The Viking Danube has four sets of adjoining cabins that can be offered individually or combined to make a suite. The cabins are adjoined by a dividing wall that can be pushed back to create a bedroom area and a sitting room, thus a suite. They are cabins: 304-306; 305-307; 308-310; and 309-311.

Entertainment

Most of the entertainment revolves around the daily escorted shore excursions either by motorcoach and/or walking tours to museums, abbeys, and various sights of historical and cultural interest, and may also include activities such as concerts and wine tasting. Well-informed, articulate guides greatly enhance the overall river cruise experience by providing a wealth of information on each port. Passengers are provided with guidebooks, maps and other reading material concerning every port on the itinerary. Onboard entertainment is limited as the Viking Danube has no stage shows, cabarets or casino Guest speakers occasionally come onboard to deliver lectures and there are demonstrations and performances by local artisans. Passengers also entertain themselves by reading and playing cards in the library which also has a good selection of board games. Two movies are screened daily on one of the cabin's TV channels.

Fitness and Recreation

A nondescript fitness room contains a whirlpool, two saunas and three exercise machines (stair stepper, stationery bicycle and rowing machine). There is also a small swimming pool on the sun deck.

Family

There are no children's programs onboard.

Fellow Passengers

Passengers are professional or retired couples age 65+. There are a few forty and fifty-something couples, but this is not a cruise that attracts young couples, honeymooners or families. This is primarily a low-key, "early to bed" crowd seeking to combine relaxation with a learning and cultural experience.

Dress Code

Both onboard and ashore clothing is "casual" with a recommendation that passengers bring comfortable shoes for the shore excursions. Dinner attire is "evening casual" meaning open-neck shirts, slacks, dresses and sport outfits. The Captain's Welcome and Farewell is dressy but not formal, meaning jackets for men and dresses or pantsuits for women.

Gratuity

$5 per day, per person which you deposit in envelopes and place in a box on the reception desk is suggested. Tips are pooled and distributed among the crew. It is also recommended to tip shore excursion guides $1-$2 per person.

Cruise Critic

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