Today in my “Wedding Wednesday” series I’m discussing our honeymoon! I want to document parts of our wedding planning process without turning this into a full blown wedding blog, so I’ll just be picking a few Wednesdays throughout the year to share our progress.
Plus, it’s my one year blogiversary and I’m giving something away! Check out the bottom of the post for more details.
If you’ve spent any time on this blog you know that Jay and I travel any chance we get. Thus, we probably anticipated planning the honeymoon more than any of the other wedding details! I even devoted a small series of posts to our top choices (Africa, a Mediterranean cruise, and a river cruise).
Ultimately, we picked a Viking River Cruises on the Danube River in Europe! The planning process was slightly different for us since we couldn’t use points / miles for the main portion of the vacation. I’ll cover the highlights of each step below.
We knew this would not be one of our typically cheap vacations, but we still were able to snag a good deal through research. After a few months of observing Viking’s regular prices and sales, we jumped on a great opportunity when it arose. Normally, Viking offers some sort of 2 for 1 pricing which cuts the brochure price in half. I doubt anyone actually pays that absurd brochure price, but we were hoping to find a deal slightly better than just 2 for 1. The reason – at that rate, a June cruise would cost approximately $3,000 each for the basic cabin.
Earlier this month, Viking sent an email about a limited time special discount on 2017 sailings for the Danube Waltz cruise. I called right away since this was one of the cruises we had our eye on! The Viking representative I spoke with was astonishingly helpful! He answered my whole list of questions and provided additional tips for a better experience and to save us money.
To start, he suggested beginning the cruise in Budapest rather than Passau since that route gives you an extra day in Budapest – a city with more to see. He also mentioned the referral program which saved us $100 per person just for knowing someone who previously went on a Viking cruise. Finally, he set up our entire itinerary and placed it on hold for three days. This allowed us to book the cheapest cabin without needing to make a rash decision.
One additional tip I discovered – Viking accepts credit cards but offers a small discount if you pay by check/e-check. This will save us an additional $100 on the trip!
Overall, Viking’s customer service and their booking experience was terrific. They continue to impress by sending emails with cultural facts or book suggestions to build excitement for the trip. Based on this first impression, I’m looking forward to the actual cruise even more.
Since our exceptional Viking deal didn’t include airfare, we turned to our airline miles to book our flights. Normally availability for award flights doesn’t open until a few months before the flight date. However, Austrian Airlines recently opened up a few award flights much sooner than expected! Since United partners with Austrian, we are able to use our United miles and book on United’s website.
We originally planned to fly Newark to Vienna to Budapest, but United wasn’t letting us book two tickets on that flight. Jay worked his magic and discovered the issue was extremely limited availability on the Vienna to Budapest flight.
To solve that problem, we booked the flight from Newark to Vienna only. Since we were already planning to arrive a day early, we now get to sight see in Vienna and then take a train to Budapest on the day of the cruise! I am thrilled that we get to ride a train through Europe again : )
For the flight home, I’ll use my United miles to get us from Munich to Frankfurt (on Lufthansa) to Newark (on United).
Since we decided to arrive a day early, we are using my Starwood points to book a hotel in Vienna.
We are also planning to sight see in Munich for two days after the cruise, so I’ll use my remaining Starwood points for a hotel in Munich for two nights.
Once all our plans are finalized, I’ll post a trip itinerary with full details about the price of our cruise, which cities we’ll see, and our flight and hotel bookings. Stay tuned!
Have you or do you know anyone who’s taken a Viking Cruise? What should we do / see in Vienna and Munich?
P.S. Click here to enter the giveaway for one of my favorite books from the past year – A Man Called Ove!