Here’s the story…

I have never imagined myself on a cruise of any type. But that was before January.

January was when my mom—an exceptionally active, social and fun 80-year-old—told me she was investigating European river cruises. She enthusiastically shared the itinerary on Viking’s 15-day “Grand European Tour” and, golly, I had to admit it did sound pretty nifty.

I went online, researched Viking, discovered the River Cruising forums on Cruise Critic (they even have a sub-forum for ports) as well as RiverCruise Advisor.

Mom figured this is probably the “only” time she’ll ever do this type of thing, so she told me she wanted an upper room, with a veranda. Okay, I get it—Mom is under five foot tall and a bit claustrophobic so those cheaper, “aquarium-class” rooms weren’t going to work for her.

The more I kept researching (ostensibly to make sure she wasn’t getting “taken advantage of”), the more interesting the whole trip sounded to me. My husband, Mark, and I own a business so me being gone and unable to do meaningful “work” for close to three weeks would be a challenge (especially for Mark!).

But how many chances do you have to do this in life? I knew Mom and I “travel well” together from previous, one-week adventures. So, after long discussions with Mark, I pulled out the credit card and paid (and just think of all those frequent flyer miles for using the card!).

We leave Los Angeles International Airport on Aug. 1, arriving (bleary-eyed, I’m sure) in Amsterdam on Aug. 2. The three-day pre-trip (also arranged through Viking) takes us to an Aug. 5 boarding of the Viking Atla. The cruise ends in Budapest on Aug. 19 but we’re hanging around there for a few more days before heading home on Aug. 22.


37 thoughts on “Here’s the story…

  1. Kathleen

    My DH AND I are taking this very same itinerary on Avalon in Sept 2015. Can’t wait to hear all about your adventure. Safe journey!


  2. Ellen

    We’ll be on AMA on August 2, 2014.


  3. So many folks are heading on this itinerary–it *does* look like a good one, doesn’t it? Let’s cross our fingers for good water levels and fine journeys for all.


  4. Sally

    We will wave at you as we pass each other toward the end of your cruise. We sail from Budapest on Tauck Treasures on August 17. It is our first river cruise also although we enjoy frequent cruising. Have a great river cruise!


    • This whole cruising thing is brand new to me, as well as Mom. Folks sure seem friendly, though! I’m looking forward to meeting people who will become new friends.


    • Ellen

      We will be on AMA Waterway September 2 from Prague to Budapest. I thought the weather was going to be cooler. Should I be taking light weight clothing? This will be our first river cruise. However, have been to Spain on Tauck Tour and China on Cathy Pacific and have always taken jeans and worn new Balance tennis shoes. Please tell me what to take.


  5. Hmmm, Ellen. I’ve put the cities of Amsterdam, Cologne and Budapest on my iPhone’s weather app and have been eyeing them all carefully. It seems about low 70s when raining in Amsterdam (ooh, indicates it’ll be pretty rainy while we’re there early next week), with upper 70s to very low 80s in Budapest and Cologne. I’m betting being “on the river” will be a little cooler–being on water usually is, isn’t it? Plus you’ll be there a month later–and closer to the start of fall–than we will. I’ll have a jacket (my ScottETravelVest one with the zip-off sleeves). And don’t you love New Balance athletic shoes–they fit so well and are uber comfy.


  6. Kathy

    My daughter and I are taking the same trip on the Ve next July. We both can’t wait to read this blog.


  7. Maxine Bassett

    My bags are packed, I am on “All systems go count down” and excited about it all.


  8. And I’ve started packing mine, Mom! What an adventure we have in store for us!


  9. Karen Enlow

    I was hoping to talk to your Mom before you guys left but I never seemed to catch her at home:) I am not going to say have a fantastic trip because I know you two are going to have an awesome trip. Can’t wait to hear all about your adventures and tips you have for packing, internet service, etc. We are going to Italy in October (no tour, booking everything on our own) might say we are doing Italy with a backpack:) Need to find those perfect travel clothes and figure out phone service. Anyway, enjoy yourselves and we will be following your blog. Hugs! XOXOXO


    • No tips yet, other than simply don’t plan on sleeping while in flight. That way you won’t be disappointed ; )


  10. Cheryl

    Can’t wait to read your blog. We are doing same trip in sept 2015 for my retirement trip.


  11. okay, I’m looking for a beautiful wordy update on your sights so far! is it AMAZING? what is the moment that stands out the most right now? or moments?! I’m thinking of you both and wishing I could sit on your shoulders and share the journey! hugs and LOVE!


  12. Alice Coyl

    We took the Viking Kvasir from Amsterdam to Budapest on July 1, 2014. I’m enjoying your blog but the days from Amsterdam to your August 9 post don’t show up. Will you be adding those later?


    • I hope your trip was as enjoyable as ours is, Alice.

      To find all the posts, go to the top of any page on the website and click on “Diary Entries.” All of the posts, from the very first one, will show up in one long page (let it load completely so all the photos will be placed in there). The newest entry is at the top, oldest at the bottom.

      Did that work for you?


      • Alice Coyl

        The way it shows up on my computer is your trip preparation in July and then Cologne on August 8. Amsterdam and Kinderdijk which were our days 1 & 2 do not appear in your blog. Day 3 for us was Cologne which shows as day 8 for you. I do not see your days 1 thru 7. Am I missing something? I was trying to find days 1 thru 7 but they don’t come up. I am really enjoying your trip along with you.


      • Hmmmm…so you know, I post every day’s activities but I also add in some posts about other topics (e.g. footwear, an in-depth description of the stateroom, traversing locks) so I have *more* posts than the 15 days of this itinerary. All the posts are in order but the “day” of the post may not match the “day” of the itinerary since I have those additional articles in there (one day I did three different ones). Currently, the first page of the diary entries (the “newest” ones) starts with “What do those optional tours cost,” and then goes on down to the bottom post for that page, the castles post. Click “Older posts” and *that* page, going downward, begins with the stateroom description and ends, down at the bottom with the 10-hour flight to Europe post. Click on the “older posts” at the bottom of that second page to get to the earliest posts).

        As I add posts, though, the oldest item (at the bottom of the page) bumps backward to the next page of “older posts” and everything bumps down. Geesh, hard to describe with words–‘wish I could just show it to you Alice! Currently you can find Amsterdam and Kinderdijk on that second “older posts” page. Link:


      • Alice Coyl

        Thank you for answering my question. I am sitting here with my iPad and my PC and I can see your Amsterdam post on both. Thanks for the clarification. Enjoy the rest of your trip. We took the additional two days in Budapest and stayed at the Hilton Castle Hotel where I slipped and fractured my wrist on one of the ancient steps. Be very careful and don’t fall like I did.

        Sent from my iPad



      • Alice Coyl

        I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog. May I ask what program or app are you using on your iPad for your blog. I am trying to find one that I can use for future trips. Thanks…Alice


  13. Gina

    Thanx for this blog Tonya. We hear the health and excitement in your voice and
    wish you and your Mom some fine adventures


  14. Indiana Js

    As much as my husband and I enjoyed your blog, we read at least 3 on this cruise (Amsterdam to Budapest), we appreciate it even more as we go back to it now that we are actually here enjoying this excellent cruise. Your writing is delightful and you did such an excellent job of explaining so many things that new River cruisers want to know. Thanks for taking the time to share your experiences.


    • Aw, thanks [blushing]. I still have more to post but, golly, work gets in the way of “fun” writing.

      So, where are you at this point? Have you had good weather, great water levels and fun adventures?


  15. Patricia

    This has been a fabulous ride along with you and your Mom!
    I hope you will be updating this blog before you take off on another cruise or trip: I would be heartbroken to miss any of your adventures!!

    Thanks a lot for the time and efforts you have put into this exceptional blog!


  16. Found this blog following your post on Cruisecritic, (from your username ‘UK A Lady’ I assumed you were British :) )

    Love the blog and the way you write

    When are you going on your next river tour? Looking forward to reading about it.

    Pontac on Cruisecritic


    • Oh, Peter–that’s funny about the name; I never thought about it that way. I play the ukulele so that’s the genesis of it (and my license plate says the same thing). Thanks for the compliment–I don’t have a river cruise planned for 2015 (I’m trying to convince hubby to go along next time–heck, I had such fun on last year’s that I’d do the exact same cruise again and know I’d see it with fresh eyes) but….Mom and I are booked on the new Viking Oceans’ ship, the Viking Star. Evidently the Viking river cruise was my entry drug😉

      We leave May 30 (this year–as in less than two months from now, just imagine!) and embark (‘like all those new nautical terms creeping into my vocabulary?) in Stockholm for the 15-day “Viking Homelands” cruise (think the Baltic plus Norwegian fjords). I’ll be blogging that trip, too. I’ll put a post out on this blog about where to “find” me blogging online when I get it started.


  17. Toby Mason

    See you on board Star in two weeks!


  18. Did i recently miss something you posted? I know you talked about another trip but there was nothing new that came across pn your post.
    Don’t want yo miss out.


    • Getting the new site ready, Ellen! I don’t leave for two weeks so I have *plenty* of time left–ha! I’ll post when I get the new one up.


  19. We’ll be with Viking Oceans on its maiden season; we’re taking the “Viking Homelands” itinerary and we’ll be flying to Stockholm two weeks from today. Egads!

    And, yes, it’s “just me and Mom”–and she’s plenty of fun!


    • Jennifer Niles

      So looking forward to enjoying the trip with you!!


    • Toby Mason

      I am happily overwhelmed with excitement and anticipation of this dream journey!


  20. Toby Mason

    Gregory-son and I Loved meeting you and your Mom on Viking Star! I would love to do a Viking River Cruise one day. Hoping Prague would be on the itinerary.


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