Come Along With Me!
Come along with me on a Viking Longship as we traverse three rivers, the Danube, Main and Rhine. Together we will learn about and experience local culture, food, history and beauty while winding our way through 14 cities and four countries across Europe.
There were many “firsts” for us on this adventure; first trip to Europe, first river cruise, first small ship experience, and first booking with Viking Cruise Lines.
Why did we choose Viking? I wish I could say that we made this decision after careful, exhaustive, comparative research and analysis of all companies….But that wouldn’t be true…. We chose Viking because their sale prices were the cheapest by far of all cruises of this kind, and their offer of free round-trip airfare sealed the deal for us. But also, we knew we weren’t taking risks with them either. Reviews for this trip in general were great. Viking did receive some negative reviews in the past years due to low river water levels, but we will discuss that later.
We Made It to Budapest!!
We landed early afternoon in warm, sunny Budapest, not overly tired from the overseas flight. From the airport we were taken by coach to our awaiting ship, docked on the Danube River. Our ship was the Viking Longship Gefjon, which I expected to be large and impressive, standing alone in port majestically awaiting our arrival. The Gefjon was there, all right, but was one of many, many ships on the Danube River that day. My first impression was that it was really long, and narrow! The Gefjon was “double parked”, that is, tied to another Viking ship for access of the riverbank. Not only that, there were many of these similar flat, long ships either gliding by or docked. I realized then of just how many cruise ships there were on the Danube and what a huge industry travel must be in Europe.
We navigated the stairs down to the bank, walked across the ramp, stepped onto the first ship, walked through its lobby, then through the second ship to finally access the lobby of the Gefjon. I noticed that tying ships together side by side like this was common practice on rivers packed with cruise ship traffic. Docking locations were obviously in high demand here. Sometimes even different cruise lines, apparently with cooperation across companies, tied their ships together in order to access the docks. Amusing to me, the crews of the “pass thru” ships happily waved to us as we walked through their lobbies.
The Viking Gefjon is a 190-passenger ship, with 49 crew members. Having only sailed on Carnival Cruise Lines before and being one of several thousands of passengers onboard, the feel of this smaller ship was completely different. Our ship was named after the Norse goddess “Gefjon” (pronounced jeff-yon), credited with the creation of the Danish island of Zealand. Its décor draws from its Scandinavian influence, with all blonde woods, light fabrics, and large windows for an overall airy feel. There’s an herb garden on top near the walking path, and an open library with shelves of coffee table books about our ports of call.
What this ship does not have is 24/7 food service, though food is plentiful, nor is there a casino or theater. Live music consists of usually two people singing while playing keyboard and guitar before and after the meals. I would estimate from a quick visual survey of the passengers on this voyage that the average age is 65. This is definitely not a Carnival Cruise.
Our Duck View Room
Driven by economy, we booked a room with no balcony or outside access of any kind. Instead it was a “standard” room below deck. See the row of small windows on the bottom of the Gefjon in the photo above? That’s is where our room was situated. Some called it a “duck view” room because it had two high windows, with basically the same level and view of the river as that of a duck swimming by. (The picture below is a view from our window with an actual duck swimming by.) The 150 square foot room allowed for about a foot clearance between the bed and the rest of our room, with a small bathroom and storage closet near the entry door.
Up next: Our First Night On the Viking Gefjon in Budapest
Find out more about me at About Shine!!