What a wonderful experience on our second Viking river cruise. We were scheduled to travel from Basel to Amsterdam for 7 nights. We booked our air travel through Viking and spent a long day with a couple of transfers to get from Denver ... Read More
What a wonderful experience on our second Viking river cruise. We were scheduled to travel from Basel to Amsterdam for 7 nights. We booked our air travel through Viking and spent a long day with a couple of transfers to get from Denver to Basel. Upon arrival in Basel we were met by Viking personnel who informed us that, due to high water levels on the Rhine, the ship was unable to get to Basel. We were bussed about 1-1/2 hours north to Breisach where the ship was docked. Breisach was actually the port where we were supposed to be docked the first night, so we only missed a walking tour of Basel, for which we would have arrived too late anyway.
Our room was a French balcony on the 3rd level, and it was small (135 square feet). We had a queen-size bed that was very comfortable. I didn't like the comforter and had trouble sleeping the first night - too hot, throw off the comforter, then too cold, etc. The next morning we requested a top sheet and our lovely housekeeper Svetla added one right away - no more trouble sleeping. The bathroom was also small but functional - excellent shower and L'Occitane soap, shampoo, etc. The room has adequate storage - nice closet, a few drawers and shelves, and a small refrigerator, nice for keeping cold water and other beverages. Housekeeping was excellent - they were always leaving fresh towels and straightening up the room when we were out.
Dining was good - I didn't think the food was as good as our cruise last year (Paris to Normandy) but there were plenty of choices and we never went hungry. Breakfast was a buffet with omelet station, or we could order eggs, eggs benedict, French toast etc. from a menu. Loved the croissants and the different types of jam made on board, much better than the jams in jars on the table. Lunch was either sit-down in the dining room or a small buffet in the lounge. We didn't eat much lunch, but it looked good. Dinner was always lots of choices - appetizers, main courses, desserts, cheese plate. One night I didn't want any of the main courses and had one appetizer and another appetizer as my main course - they brought me extra to make up a main course with no problem. The only night that was not good was the German night. They set up a buffet of typical German food and it was very disorganized and hectic. We bought the Silver Spirits package so we could choose a different bottle of wine every night, better than the house wine. We enjoyed working with Seta each night to choose the right wine, and had some very good wines, along with beer during the day and after-dinner drinks in the evening. We definitely got our money's worth. Our wait staff was Martina and Edison and we enjoyed sitting in their section every night.
Excursions were all very good. We enjoyed them all - my favorite was the optional winery tour, very well done and excellent wines. Also loved cruising the Middle Rhine and seeing all the castles perched on the hilltops, was amazed at Heidelberg Castle, and learned a lot at Kinderdijk. All tour guides were outstanding - from Felicity (Black Forest) who told us about living in East Germany under the Communists to Peter (Colmar) who played French folk songs on his accordion during the bus ride back to the ship. We also visited Strasbourg and Cologne before arriving in Amsterdam.
Staff - absolutely the best. They went above and beyond to make sure we had a great cruise. At one time, the Rhine was closed to traffic due to high water levels. The staff had to juggle schedules, docking ports, excursion timing, pretty much the whole cruise to make sure we didn't miss anything. At one time, it looked like we would be cruising the Middle Rhine (castles) at night......ugh. The staff managed to rearrange things so we saw all the castles - it started very early in the morning, but definitely worth getting up for! The only things we missed were the German dinner in Rudesheim (optional tour that we had not signed up for) and extra time in Cologne. I was so impressed at how hard everyone worked to re-schedule things. For example, we had to spend extra time in Heidelberg (not bad) - with less than 12 hours notice, the staff arranged a sit-down lunch for 150 people at a restaurant in the old part of the city. Impressive! Kudos to Program Director Roos, Hotel Manager Claudia, Captain Istvan and all the crew for their hard work to ensure that we all had a memorable cruise.
We booked the post-cruise excursion in Amsterdam with Viking. We liked the Moevenpick Hotel. It was not in the center of the city, but we purchased the IAmsterdam cards and could take the nearby tram to anywhere in the city, very easy and convenient.
All in all, a wonderful cruise. We met some wonderful people (staff and fellow passengers), saw impressive things and learned a lot of new information, ate and drank and danced and laughed. An excellent experience.....we are already thinking about next year's cruise. The only thing we would do differently is pay for a larger cabin. Read Less