I am willing to pay for a true luxury experience and that is what I thought I would get with Viking River but this is definitely not luxury, maybe 4 star for accommodations and 3.5 for food. Using an analogy to hotels, let's say Four Seasons/Mandarin Oriental/Conrad/Montage, etc. are at a top level 5 (which Viking River most certainly is not), Viking River is akin to a good Hilton. I splurged, I really wanted the luxury experience. So I paid extra for the verandah suite. Accommodations were nice especially for a "cruise". Spacious, clean and modern facilities (including a walk in shower with heated floors, an appreciated touch during the cold German nights).
HOWEVER the food and service is definitely not luxury. Breakfast/lunch/dinner items are extremely generic and usually bland (to accommodate the tastes of the elderly who frequent these cruises). I ended up skipping dinner altogether most times and just having a protein drink in my room. For fitness buffs like myself, there is no gym by the way on these small river cruise ships which was a complete bummer.
Similarly, the SERVICE was not luxury. The wait-staff are salt of the earth nice people who do a good job, but the level of deference and "invisible" service that you get at true luxury properties are not found here. Instead it seems the staff, particularly in the restaurant, are instructed to be outgoing and garrulous which is tiresome for me on a trip that is supposed to be relaxing.
What really pissed me off is that I spent an extra thousand - on top of the premium price - on "optional" excursions which were a COMPLETE RIPOFF. For example, the Optional day trip to Munich, costing me an extra $279 PER PERSON, was just an hour and half drive on the bus, a pit stop at the FREE BMW headquarters, a walk around town (not even going inside to any of the multitude of museums), a pre-set rather cheap meal and then a ride back to the ship. THAT WAS AN EXTRA $300. Complete rip-off, it was literally a $40 car ride with a mediocre guide.
All in all, if you love to go on cruises, this is probably one of the better ones but if you want true luxury - which I really really need for my VACATIONS - I will not be going on Viking again.
OOOOHHHH how can I forget? The sleep issue. There was a constant clanging in the walls in what I was later told by the engineer as emanating from the hot water pipes. This clanging was LOUD, traveled all around the walls of my suite and CONSTANT. As in every 20 seconds 24/7. The captain came in, acknowledged the problem and offered ear-plugs. He said that this was just a built-in problem with the ship and the rooms...the hot water pipes are behind the walls of the small cruise ship and that when you cruise, you have to expect noises from the ship.
I think that is UNACCEPTABLE for an experience labeled as "luxury" by the company. Getting good sleep is fundamental to a vacation and I did not get it here. AT THE VERY LEAST, the company should disclose this issue UP FRONT IN ITS ADVERTISING. Of course it does not.
All in all, I am not impressed by the company and its lack of transparency and its cost-cutting measures that really do not make this a true luxury experience (for example, the coffee machines SUCK, do NOT offer decaf and the teas are just teabags that tasted gross...we're in Europe for crying out loud, premium teas are cheap and plentiful.
By the way, WIFI is spotty and slow, you cannot stream movies which is UNACCEPTABLE these days especially if you don't offer other things to do on the ship like a gym, etc.
DO NOT GO PAY FOR OPTIONAL EXCURSIONS. My huge mistake they are a complete ripoff and the guides are extremely hit or miss. Not worth it in the slightest. I paid $279 for a trip to Munich, it was literally just a drive there and back, a walk around town and a gross pre-set lunch already pre-negotiated with a restaurant specializing in mass tourists.