Viking Helvetia Cruise Review by DoorCounty: Rhine River Cruise on board the Helvetia
Rhine River Cruise on board the Helvetia
We took our Rhine River cruise in mid September 2011. It was my favorite cruise of all the cruising we have done. Both my husband & I are of German descent & I was able to see some of the area where my great-grandparents emigrated from to Wisconsin in the 1850's. There were bi-lingual guides at all our villages. We thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon of castle viewing on a gorgeous, sunny day while having lunch on the sundeck.
Hotel in Amsterdam had American style breakfasts. We stayed 2 days to bounce back from jet lag. I think it was the Radisson Blu Hotel. We toured the Anne Frank Secret Annex one nite before going to dinner so there were no long lines. We walked to ticket window & just went in. Very sobering experience. River level was slightly lower than normal, but not low enough to make us get off & use a bus instead. Staff aboard was very courteous, meals outstanding. We took a tour of the very tiny galley where all meals are prepared from scratch.
I loved More the little town of Stroudsburg, France. So quaint & so French! I celebrated my birthday while on this cruise & we found a small restaurant in Rudesheim. We can't speak German & our waiter didn't know English, but thru pointing & hand signals we did fine. Our favorite part of the trip was at the end. We chose to add on two days in Lucerne, Switzerland. We took the cog railway up to Mt. Pilatus at approximately 7000' elevation. First, we boarded a ferry which took us around Lake Lucerne to little towns to drop off passengers & take on more. Eventually, we reached the base of Mt. Pilatus where our adventure to the top of the mountain began. The cog cars ascend the mountain at 47 degrees. As we went up, we passed cows wearing their cow bells, Swiss chalets, tobaggan runs. It was right out of a scene from "Heidi." At the top, the scenery was spectacular. We booked that excursion on the "Helvetia" & it was pricey, but very worth it. We figured we would never get back to Switzerland & we were going to take advantage of the opportunity. We spent about 90 minutes at the summit. Saw the Swiss men who blow on those huge horns just like in the TV commercial for Ricola cough drops.
I can't wait to take another Viking cruise. Maybe in 2013! Less
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Our cabin was more than adequate. I recall the shower being compact, but not a big deal. We had a cabin that had sliding windows, but not the French balcony. They're not really a balcony so you would be paying for something that is not what it seems. Our sliding window was perfectly fine. Viking advertises FREE internet. Well, there were not enough servers for everyone trying to get online & check in w/family, emails. We would only be able to use internet if we were among the first back on the ship after an excursion & get connected. My husband was sorry he dragged his laptop along on this trip. It is equally bad & expensive on a regular cruise ship. You pay 95 cents a minute (I've heard) & very slow connection due to satallite problems.
Grand European tour
Very good, but not excellent