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Is the Viking Grand European Tour for You?

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There's something rather romantic about visiting Europe. No matter whether it is enjoying the panoramic views of imperial Budapest, sampling exclusive wines in the picturesque vineyards of Austria’s Wachau Valley, or climbing into one of Holland’s iconic windmills to watch its gears as they turn. All the better if you can take one of those Grand European Tours and experience a few of these experiences with no effort.

Enjoying a panoramic view of windmills in Kinderdijk

Viking River Cruises invited us to take the Grand European Tour. This 15-day cruise is their most popular itinerary and visits five countries, Hungary, Slovakia, Austria, Germany and Netherlands. They offered us this remarkable opportunity because they noticed that we had already enjoyed their week-long Rhine Getaway cruise and written a lot of stories about it.

In exchange, they asked us to share our cruising experience with our readers here on AWSI as well as on social media. Of course we agreed; we knew that our readers would like to hear about it. (All of you are travel lovers, right? We thought so.)

Besides, Viking's brand-spanking-new “Longships” are state-of-the-art in the river cruise industry and we've been longing to experience them firsthand. With all their muted colors and sleek, modern lines these ships sure do look elegant in the brochures.

Credit: Ralph Grizzle, avidcruiser.com
This is the foyer of our cruise ship the Viking Bragi. Credit: Ralph Grizzle, avidcruiser.com

Let's be honest about cruising here.

The thing is though, that most people have never experienced a river cruise. Because it has only become popular in the last couple of decades, relatively few folks know how it compares to the better-known ocean cruises. (We will cover that in an upcoming article, never fear.)

I'll grant you that Europe can be pricey if you're not couchsurfing and backpacking your way through the continent. If you prefer more luxury and comfort than that, the difference between taking a river cruise and doing it yourself may be minimal. Not only does the fare cover all food, lodging and transportation, but most shore excursions are included in the price as well.

Also, consider the convenience factor of only unpacking once and not losing precious daylight hours (read: sightseeing time) to travel from one place to the next.

Viking veranda stateroom
How do these views look? Credit: Viking River Cruises

But still, it can be hard to justify forking over hard-earned money if you are unsure you will enjoy the experience..

That, friends, is why Viking invited us aboard: they want us to experience a real cruise—as cruisers—on one of their new Longships, and then share it with our readers. They are hoping we will be your “boots on the ground,” so to speak.

So for 15 days you can take a virtual trip with us. Experience a river cruise as we see it, and never spend a dime. How does that sound?

This terrace can be closed off during inclement weather. Credit: Viking Cruises
This terrace can be closed off during inclement weather. Credit: Viking Cruises

How to follow our cruise day by day

If you would like to know what a river cruise really entails, we will be sharing our cruise and activities as we go. Covering this will be fun, we think, though the more in-depth stories will have to wait until we get home. (After all, if we spend all our time slaving over our computers we won't be experiencing the cruise, now, will we?)

 

Amsterdam Houses
Amsterdam is our ship's final destination.

Journaling the Grand European Tour

Just as we did with the Rhine cruise, each port of call on our Viking Grand European Tour will have links to related stories and photo galleries, as well as links to the UNESCO sites we will see. We intend to update this page as we create related posts and as time permits. It will be a useful resource for everyone, we hope.

Fellow travel lover, if you have ever wondered what it would be like to take a Viking river cruise, we are dedicating our trip to you. Viking has promised us the opportunity to hear the legend of the Lorelei, watch the ancient art of glassblowing, listen to the music of Mozart, and more. From Budapest to Amsterdam, as we travel along the Danube, Main and Rhine Rivers we will share what we experience, whether it's savoring the ambiance in a Viennese café or watching the passing scenery.

Maybe our stories will answer your unspoken question: Is this trip for me?

– Dan and Linda

P.S. – We Blog with Integrity. Seriously. You can expect only honesty in this series, including what we really think about their new Viking longships, Viking Cruises and our overall cruise experience. They understand that. Based on our previous cruise experience with Viking however, we don't think they will have anything to worry about.

Note: As is common in the travel industry, Dan and Linda were provided with a complimentary cruise package for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced coverage, AWSI believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see the Disclosure page.

Written by Linda

Linda is multilingual and has been to over 50 countries. Her insatiable love of travel, cuisine, and foreign languages has inspired her to create As We Saw It with her husband Dan, a professional photographer. Her goal is to make travel easier for others and to offer a brief escape to another land.

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10 thoughts on “Is the Viking Grand European Tour for You?

  1. We, too, are from Fort Myers but our Grand European Tour cruise doesn’t start until this November – we start in Amsterdam and are going a few days early, as well. I have a question about footwear. Any recommendations or “no-no’s”? Thanks!

    1. Hi, Robyn, thanks for asking. With footwear, my top tip is to forget about style and go for comfort. I have fussy feet so I switched it up between a pair of Sperry top-siders and a pair of black sandals I’d bought at The Walking Company. I also brought a pair of dressy black flats for the Vienna concert. Dan, on the other hand really liked his Clarks and wore them constantly. (We saw lots of local wearing Nike-type shoes too, by the way, but they weren’t too brightly colored.)

      As for “no-nos,” avoid heels, because you will be walking on uneven surfaces (cobblestones and stairs) on your tours. Other tips are to be sure your shoes are water-resistant and bring warm socks. Europe is cold in November … like Calgary, Alberta!

      Gosh, I hope you have a grand time. What city are you most looking forward to?

      1. Thank you for your prompt response! The city I am most looking forward to is a tie between Amsterdam and Vienna – only because I barely know anything about the other cities on the cruise, other than I what I read in your travel blog. My husband and I visited Paris, London, Rome, and Venice back in 2005 so I do look forward to seeing this area of Europe, although the situation in Budapest right now is a little alarming.
        Thank you for the tips regarding footwear. Being Floridians, we are extremely limited in our cold or cool weather apparel. We need to go shopping before the cruise!

        1. Robyn, one thing you won’t need to worry about is your safety in Budapest. Viking takes very good care of its passengers.

          For added assurance, though, you can check with the Embassy of the United States in Budapest, Hungary before you leave. If there’s anything to worry about you’ll find emergency messages and public announcements for U.S. citizens on their website.

          I hope you are enjoying all our articles. Monday’s article will be about the Kinderdijk stop. Please let me know if you have any other questions.

          1. I read that you and your husband packed lightly for this long cruise. How? Do we really need to bring 20 pairs of underwear? Lol! Does the ship offer laundry facilities? We will be on the Longship Baldur.

          2. You’re right, Robyn, we did pack lightly. You won’t need 20 pairs of underwear, haha! We only brought 8 and hand-washed/spot cleaned everything with the provided l’Occitane body wash. Every stateroom has a retractable laundry line in the shower.

            Viking doesn’t have laundry facilities that passengers can use, but if you want something washed they will do it (for a fee, just as in hotels).

  2. A group of seven of us from Ft. Myers, FL are taking this cruise on 6/24/15. We’ll have 2 days in Amsterdan ahead of time.
    Thanks for your tips and we’ll be reading your posts as you travel!

    1. Hey, Fort Myers is our old stompin’ grounds! Small world, huh?

      Our last cruise ended in Amsterdam. We only had one day but we squeezed a ton of stuff in … so much that our One Day In Amsterdam story has become our most popular post. What a great way to start a cruise. You guys are going to have a blast. Will you also spend a little time in Budapest at the end?

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