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David Thrower

Age: 44

Occupation:Cruise Counselor

Number of Cruises: 6

Cruise Line: Viking River

Ship: Venezia

Sailing Date: October 19th, 2001

Itinerary: Po River, Italy

This was my first river cruise and is in a different category than an ocean cruise. It is more like a tour where your hotel is the ship and instead of coaching from one city to the next, you cruise to each.

The Ms Venezia is a beautiful river boat and only runs from April through October as the rainy season starts near the end of October. During this time the river rises to high for the ships to pass under some of the bridges. This ship only had 87 passengers and can accommodate up to 104 (51 Outside Cabins).

We flew into Milan and was greeted by a Viking River Cruise Rep. and was escorted to a motorcoach for our 1-1/2 hour trip to Cremona where we boarded the ship. Once on ship we checked in and was escorted to our cabin.

The cabins were small with pull down beds that were comfortable. Cabin amenities included refrigerator with mini bar, private bathroom with shower, hair dryer, safe, A/C and TV. The voltage is 220V so remember to bring an international power adapter with you.

All of the city tours are and all meals (aboard ship) are included. The Daily Itinerary follows:

Day 1: Transatlantic Flight to Milan.

Day 2: Transfer to ship in Cremona for welcome cocktail and dinner.

Day 3: Morning board motorcoach for walking tour of Cremona visiting violin makers and the tallest bell tower in Italy. The ship departs Cremona in the early afternoon for Boretto. Afternoon board motorcoach for walking tour of Parma (home of Parma Ham and Parmesan Cheese) which has a wonderful Palace and 12th century cathedral. Return to the ship for dinner.

Day 4: Morning ship leaves for Foce Mincio. Afternoon board motorcoach for excursion to Mantua for a tour of the Church of Sant' Andrea and the Palazzo del Te. City tour of Mantua then board motorcoach to meet the ship in Revere for dinner.

Day 5: Morning ship leaves for Ferrara and board motorcoach for a walking tour of the city. Return to the ship for dinner.

Day 6: Morning ship leaves in which we go through the Po Delta and up the coast on the Adriatic Sea to Chioggia. AM on your own in Chioggia and return to ship for lunch. Afternoon board motorcoach to Padua for a walking tour of this beautiful city. This evening we were to stay overnight in Chioggia, but the ship moved on to Venice where we met up with it at the shipping piers. After dinner the ship leaves to dock on the Grande Canal. On our own for the evening exploring Venice.

Day 7: Morning on our own. Afternoon walking tour of Saint Mark's Square, the Byzantine Cathedral and Palazzo Ducale. For dinner we opted to have dinner with 2 couples we met on the ship at a wonderful restaurant behind Saint Mark's Square.

Day 8: Morning cruise the lagoon and visit the islands of Torcello and Borano. For lunch we opted to have a Pizza at a cafe on the Grande Canal and then do some shopping and more sightseeing before returning to the ship for the Formal Captain's Farewell Dinner.

Day 9: Transfer to the Venice airport for our trip home.

Meals on board:

Each morning there is a nice breakfast buffet with eggs (scrambled or hard boiled), bacon, ham, sausage, cereals, fruit, breads and many different sliced cheeses and cold cuts.

Lunch and Dinner were more formal in service, though dress is casual except for the Captains Farewell Dinner. The meals all had a choice of appetizer, soup and a meat or seafood choice (mostly salmon) for main dishes and desert.

Lounge:

Every evening there was local entertainment in the ship's lounge.

Although we don't drink much, the people we talked with were amazed how reasonable the drink prices were.

All of the ship's personnel were helpful and friendly. The tours were well organized with a local English speaking tour guide on every tour.

I highly recommend this cruise and is a great value especially with the tours included. I would not hesitate in selling one of these river cruises now.

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