This was our first river cruise and I hope it won't be the last. We booked this 2 for 1 cruise back in August and we also got a great airfare at $400/person from Portland, Or to Basel, Switzerland.
After getting our luggage we were greeted by the Basel Viking River Cruise greeter and led to our bus for the short 20 minute ride to our ship, the Viking Forseti which is one of the newer ships in the fleet at just 8 months old. Checking in was a breeze and we were led to our stateroom and our luggage was delivered in minutes.
They had a lunch buffet up in the lounge and we partook of that as well as our first glass of wine. Wine and beer are served free of charge at lunch and dinner. After that we headed back to the stateroom to try and take a nap as we were exhausted from our 23 hours of travel.
We had a tour, which is included in the booking, at each stop and each one of our tour guides was local and very knowledgeable about their city or area. The tours started early, 8:30 am on most days. We gathered a good deal of information about each city that I found interesting as I have a fondness for history. Our stops included Breisach, Germany and a tour of the Black Forest which included a working cuckoo clock factory. At this stop we also saw a demonstration on the art of making a Black Forest cake. In the afternoon we visited the historic medieval city of Colmar which is in the Alsace province of France.
The next day found us in Strasbourg, France with another guided tour through the old city and then time for shopping and sightseeing on our own. On our third day we visited the historic ruins of the castle in Heidelberg and stopped by a local brewery to sample their wares. That night we docked in Wiesbaden and were treated to the locals firing off their fireworks along side the dock at midnight.
Coblenz was the next stop on our journey and as it was New Year's Day not much was going on. This is where the Moselle joins the Rhine. Coblenz means "confluence".
The highlight of the trip was as we sailed along the middle Rhine with its historic castles and then stopped in Braubach and hiked up to Marksburg castle, the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Germany.
On to Cologne with the Dom (cathedral) awaiting, and it didn't disappoint. We hit our first rain of the trip and it put a little damper on our touring on our own, but it soon dissipated and the evening was spent in brauhaus hopping, sampling the kolsch biers of four establishments. Luckily they were all close by to where we were docked.
Our final stop before disembarking in Amsterdam was the Kinderdjik where we learned about the windmills of the Netherlands and the part they played in keeping the water out.
The meals were excellent and our dinning partners were always very nice as well.
This was our 8th cruise and the stateroom was on the smallish size, but as we weren't in there except for sleeping it was ok. My wife didn't like the fact that it didn't have an exercise room, but our tours gave us plenty of walking.
We were used to more entertainment on our previous cruises, but in thinking back on the whole experience this cruise was more about the scenery and the tours to local historical spots and I am satisfied with that.
It was a great time and the crew of the Forseti made us feel welcomed and pampered.