The Passage to Eastern Europe Is A Pleasant Surprise

Sailing the famous Iron Gates of the Danube aboard Viking River Cruises' Viking Embla. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Sailing the famous Iron Gates of the Danube aboard Viking River Cruises’ Viking Embla. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Aaron Saunders, River Cruise Advisor

If you ever want to appreciate the value of a cruise, take a long-haul flight in economy class. I have two inches between my knees and the seat in front of me, and even less between my elbow and my seatmates’ elbow, which keeps encroaching on my personal space. I’m dining on a luscious meal of “chicken”, with the alternative being, “pasta.” To wash that down, I’m kicking back some very adequate Merlot. And, on my personal five-inch-by-five-inch inset seatback screen, I’m watching William H. Macy bumble his way through a botched kidnapping in Fargo.

My journey aboard Viking River CruisesPassage to Eastern Europe voyage aboard the stellar, 190-guest Viking Longship Embla came to a close on Saturday. That afternoon, I flew back to Canada, which – after 10 days in Eastern Europe – seems a lot like a glorified Disneyland.

Viking Embla docked in Vidin on Saturday, July 9, 2016. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Viking Embla docked in Vidin on Saturday, July 9, 2016. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

I find I miss Eastern Europe. I miss the sights, the sounds, the visible scars of long-fought battles against the injustice and tyranny that affected this region so badly, and so frequently.

I also miss Viking Embla. Viking has done it again, delivering a river cruise product that continues to grow and mature along with its ever-expanding fleet. I was interested to sail aboard Viking Embla, which celebrates her fourth birthday this year. I was worried she might look tired or run-down. Instead, she sparkles – just like when I stepped aboard her when she was just weeks old, back in 2012.

Welcome aboard Viking River Cruises' Viking Longship Embla on the eve of our Passage to Eastern Europe river cruise! Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Now four years old, Viking Longship Embla still sparkles like new. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

The groundbreaking Aquavit Terrace was a first for the river cruise industry. It is now often-copied but never imitated. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

The groundbreaking Aquavit Terrace was a first for the river cruise industry. It is now often-copied but never imitated. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

This has been a most unexpected voyage through a part of the world that’s full of surprises. And one of the best surprises is that, when it comes to Viking’s river cruise product, it seems to always be getting better with age.

Our full Voyage Report:

After spending 10 days on this fantastic voyage, I’ve come to the conclusion that this isn’t the trip you take as your first river cruise; that should be Viking’s Romantic Danube or something of the like. Instead, this is a great river cruise to complete on your second, third, or fourth voyage.

Inside the National Theatre, Belgrade, as part of our optional tour with Viking River Cruises. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Inside the National Theatre, Belgrade, as part of our optional tour with Viking River Cruises. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Click here to continue reading!

Our Voyage Report from onboard Viking River Cruises’ Viking Embla in Eastern Europe has sadly come to a close, but we’ve always got more exciting river journeys in the works. Be sure to follow along on twitter @deckchairblog or using the hashtag #LiveVoyageReport.

 

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