April 2010-From the time our flight landed at the quirky half France and half Switzerland airport and we boarded the Viking Sun in Basel, my husband and I had thoroughly enjoyable experiences during the entire Treasures of the Rhine Cruise. Viking River Cruises had mailed us booklets which contained details of the itinerary as well as brief histories of the places we were to visit. We read the booklets and did additional research on subjects that interested us. We have discovered that the more we know in advance of the city tours and shore excursions, the more we see, appreciate, and enjoy.
The Viking Sun is a relatively new ship and comfortable ship. Our room was conveniently located on the middle deck. We were close to the exit exterior doors, the restaurant, the ice machine, and the stairways to the observation lounge and sun deck. The picture window opened which was great to take a quick snapshot without glare and throw a bread scrap to the swans outside when we docked. The room was compact but well designed to incorporate a desk, storage areas, and two chairs with a table between them. The beds were comfortable. Everything in the room seemed new and fresh. Upon entering our room the only odor was the smell of chocolate from the Easter basket, a delightful surprise gift from Viking. Amenities such as free wireless internet were very useful for us. Of course each room has, a TV, phone safe, and individually controlled thermostat. The room was also quiet.
We thought the ship had an excellent layout with the restaurant front middle deck for nice views while dining. The reception desk is positioned midship as well as public restrooms which were very convenient for us when going to and coming back from excursions. I personally loved the coffee, hot chocolate, and hot water machine at the top of the stairs of the upper deck. It was free and open all the time. There were pitchers of ice water, ice tea, and Granny Smith apples available there too. Very civilized! The ship was kept immaculately clean.
The chef was an energetic young man who met with diners to discover how well the dishes he prepared pleased their palates. My husband and I enjoyed the meals which were very beautifully presented. Considering the size of the staff and kitchen, it was totally amazing the variety and quality of gourmet meals we were served. If a diner did not like the selection of dinners served that evening, a steak, chicken, or Caesar salad could be substituted. The wait staff really hustled and amazingly learned our preferences and names. Lunches and breakfast were a bountiful buffet style. Thankfully, there are no assigned seats so dining companions are a choice. The Aussies and Brits we met and dined with were great fun.
On several of the excursions we visited the "old towns". Many of them survived the numerous wars or have been rebuilt or repaired. The art and architecture was beautiful and different from medieval times, to modern especially the magnificent cathedrals. The itineraries included places to taste wine, shop, explore the real surviving medieval Marksburg castle, visit the ruins of Heidelberg castle (beautiful), circle and stare at the huge statue of King William, visit a WWII cemetery and museum at Arnhem, take a canal tour of Amsterdam, stroll through the Keukenhof Gardens with millions of spring tulips, sample Gouda cheese at a farm, marvel at Kinderdijk with working windmills, admire picturesque Brugge and the chocolate shops, listen to beautiful singing in old cathedrals, and enjoy the local markets. There was something new and wonderful each day.
The Viking staff on this ship was very knowledgeable, helpful, professional, and efficient. We were extremely impressed by the way the emergency situation with the volcano eruption was handled by the staff. On the day we were to be taken to the airport, the flights were canceled. All passengers on the ship were told that they would be taken care of by Viking. Several of us were scheduled to fly Lufthansa from Brussels. Viking bused us to the airport were we rescheduled our flights and were given hotel rooms in hotels in the airport area as per EU procedure. The other passengers stayed onboard the ship and were taken care of by Viking. The tour guides worked very hard at this time to get everyone on their flight home. This was an emergency they handled well. We are going on our fifth Viking River Cruise tour this summer.