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I recently took the Viking Rhine Getaway Riverboat Cruise, sailing Oct 20-27 2018. Thought I’d share my impressions and experience on this cruise. Some background information. I am a 52 year old married gay man. I offer this because it was a non-issue, on Viking. We happened to celebrate an anniversary, and were treated just the same as the many other people who had birthdays and anniversaries. This was the third Viking riverboat cruise we’ve taken, although the first on the ‘Long Ships’. My overall impressions of Viking, and this cruise in particular, are extremely positive. So much so that we came home and immediately started considering a Viking Ocean Alaska cruise. That said, I thought I’d be honest about how things went, and where we did, and did not, enjoy things. That way everyone would receive my honest opinion of the cruise. We cruised from Amsterdam to Basel. We arrived in Amsterdam 5 days before the cruise, and visited Amsterdam on our own. It’s a beautiful city, so I advise taking the time to visit it. Viking sent out multiple emails about problems with the low water on the Rhine. We were forewarned that we would have to do a ‘Boat Swap’. A ‘boat swap’ is when you pack up and are taken to another boat, and continue sailing on the new boat. The two boats are mirror images of each other. One of the emails was a mistake, but it was quickly corrected. On the day of embarkation we very easily found our boat, without help from Viking. The stops: Our first stop was Kinderdijk- a historic group of 18th century working windmills. We also added the optional ‘Cheese Making’ excursion. The cheese making excursion was great, and we still were able to get the full free excursion of the windmills. Guide was great and it was not a lot of bus traveling. Day three was Cologne. We took the standard Tour of the city, with some extra time. I have to say I was a bit disappointed with Cologne. The cathedral is beautiful, but we only had 15 minutes inside, and the guides were not allowed in with us. That was not enough time. The rest of the tour was primarily talking about current events, and the fact that most of cologne has been rebuilt, or replaced with modern features. I wish we could have had a guided tour of the cathedral, and less time wandering. We had some free time, and took a later bus back to the boat. That worked out ok for us. We also did the optional Kolsch Dinner excursion. This was a lot of fun. Lots of beer and great, silly, young guys as guide. Really got the feeling of what it was like to go out on a beer crawl. I have to say I thought the price was very expensive, especially since we were giving up a paid for dinner, on board. Otherwise I really enjoyed this. We did have a bus problem – the bus was late. This was cleverly mediated by the guides using their power to secure some additional Kolsch to drink on the streets until the bus arrived – really felt like a German, after a football game!!! Thanks, guys. Day four was supposed to be Koblenz. Here’s where the low water of the Rhine made it necessary to do a ‘boat swap’. This mean much longer bus rides (like 5 plus hours total), BUT, Viking was able to mostly salvage the day. Yes we did have to pack and leave the boat very early, but we still visited Marksburg Castle and do our scenic cruising through the Rhine Gorge (lots of castles). What we could not do was any optional excursions and we did not stop in either Koblenz or Rudesheim. We did not choose any of these optional excursions, so we were ok. Others may not have been so happy. We were bused to Marksburg Castle, and then to a day boat, for Rhine Gorge cruising. There were two upsides to this: 1. The Rhine Gorge was virtually free of traffic, so the speed of travel, and the views were pristine. 2. We ended up in Strasbourg for an extra day (more later). The down side was that it was an exhausting day (5 plus hours of bus rides), started far too early, and the lunch and quality of the day boat was nowhere near up to Viking’s standards. That said…we did get our scenic Rhine cruise! Good for Viking. Day 5 was Heidelberg. We opted out. We did this for two reasons. The bus ride to get there was increased by an hour because we were not docked in Strasbourg. Also, Strasbourg was the number one reason we booked the cruise, so an extra day in Strasbourg was a very big PLUS, to us. We also don’t always like to follow, so a day on our own was exactly what was called for. Viking did a good job at accommodating buses to and from Strasbourg, since we were not that close to the historic portion of the city. Boy did we have a good day. We were primed with information, and the crew was very helpful with providing a few choice shopping and eating recommendation. It was a great day!! For our particular needs and desires, this change in plans worked in our favor. Day 6 was our planned day in Strasbourg, and we did the full day, optional, food tour. This was a very good tour. We tasted our way through gingerbread, kougelhoph, macarons, cheese, bread, pretzels, tarte flambé, wine and pastries. It was fun. There was some free time, and a tour of La Petite France, and the Cathedral. Our guide was very good. When we returned to our boat, it had moved, and was far enough from the bus that they had provided taxi’s to get us the rest of the way. Nice touch. Day 7 was Breisach, Germany. In the morning we took an optional tour of the town of Colmar, France. This was well organized and timed. I was disappointed with Colmar which is not as charming as the brochures would want you to think. La Petite France, in Strasbourg was more charming. Not Viking’s fault, just my opinion. In the afternoon, the tour was a bus trip to the Black Forrest, and to an inn, where you watched demonstrations of Cuckoo Clocks, Glass, or Cake making. It seemed a bit too commercial, and at this point we had had enough of the bus trips. So we stayed on the boat and walked up the big hill to Breisach. This is a charming town, with great views, a small gothic church, and a lovely sense of how real people live. It was a nice option to the standard tour. The last day we arrived in Basel Switzerland, and were taxied to a hotel, where we spent 4 days on our own. Some comments on the Viking: The staff and crew are really well prepared and excellent at their job. Our Cruise Director, Morgan, worked like mad to make everything as smooth as possible. He really helped steer the group past the few bumps really well, and should be commended. There was some sense of detachment to the crew, because we switched boats. Morgan came with us, but we otherwise had two crews. Usually, Viking is amazing at getting to know the guests. Here we had two crews, so we didn’t have the usual bonding. The food is generally quite good. Better than I remember from previous cruises. My only complaint is there are only large tables in the restaurant, and the guest are forced to all eat at once, at appointed times. We opted for many meals in the Aquavit Lounge, where a few small tables were available. IMHO, it is a much better option to the raucous atmosphere of the main dining room. I acknowledge that my opinion might not be the norm. Judging from the number of people that wanted to eat in the quieter lounge, there should be a bit more space for that. The rooms: We had a Veranda Stateroom, with a balcony, on the third floor. The room is small, but sufficient. The balcony would have been nicer if we had not had to switch ships, but we liked it a lot. What boarders on unacceptable is the bathroom. While decently appointed, it is WAY TOO SMALL. The shower especially. Nothing you can do, I suspect – it will always be a problem. Just be aware that this is the trade off if you want to do a river cruise. The low water did cause some issues. The ship swapping meant a very long day, and having to pack and unpack an extra time. This, of course, negates that best reason for riverboat cursing- not have to pack/repack in between each stop. It was out of Vikings control, and they did the best they could. Also, the docking locations were VERY industrial, and in one case we were docked where Viking leaves their ships, over the winter. There were some really precarious stairs to navigate. My guess is that the disruption, due to the low water levels, made it difficult to secure the best, and closest docking locations. I was glad we got to where we needed to go, but there were some lousy docking locations. Regarding the optional excursions, they were excellent, however, I did feel they were overly expensive. We did a number of them, and generally really like them. I would always recommend that a guest do as many as they can afford and interest them. I suspect the high costs causes some people to not book them. Finally, we met a number of people that seemed annoyed at the amount of activity, and the early starts for some of the excursions. The Viking Longboats are beautiful, but the purpose of a riverboat cruse is to get out and do. Sometimes there is a slight feeling of a forced march, but that’s what riverboat cruising is all about, I think. So buyer beware! So to recap, we had a trip interruption, due to water levels, which Viking handled about as well as they could. It caused a tiring day, and some excursions and stops were not possible. That said, I think the overall trip was really great. Looking forward to our next Viking cruise – maybe a switch to try the ocean ships- maybe Alaska?

Rhine Cruise with Low Water 'Boat Swap'

Viking Tialfi Cruise Review by stewartclow3

6 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: October 2018
  • Destination: Europe River
  • Cabin Type: Veranda Stateroom
I recently took the Viking Rhine Getaway Riverboat Cruise, sailing Oct 20-27 2018. Thought I’d share my impressions and experience on this cruise.

Some background information. I am a 52 year old married gay man. I offer this because it was a non-issue, on Viking. We happened to celebrate an anniversary, and were treated just the same as the many other people who had birthdays and anniversaries.

This was the third Viking riverboat cruise we’ve taken, although the first on the ‘Long Ships’. My overall impressions of Viking, and this cruise in particular, are extremely positive. So much so that we came home and immediately started considering a Viking Ocean Alaska cruise. That said, I thought I’d be honest about how things went, and where we did, and did not, enjoy things. That way everyone would receive my honest opinion of the cruise.

We cruised from Amsterdam to Basel. We arrived in Amsterdam 5 days before the cruise, and visited Amsterdam on our own. It’s a beautiful city, so I advise taking the time to visit it. Viking sent out multiple emails about problems with the low water on the Rhine. We were forewarned that we would have to do a ‘Boat Swap’. A ‘boat swap’ is when you pack up and are taken to another boat, and continue sailing on the new boat. The two boats are mirror images of each other. One of the emails was a mistake, but it was quickly corrected. On the day of embarkation we very easily found our boat, without help from Viking.

The stops:

Our first stop was Kinderdijk- a historic group of 18th century working windmills. We also added the optional ‘Cheese Making’ excursion. The cheese making excursion was great, and we still were able to get the full free excursion of the windmills. Guide was great and it was not a lot of bus traveling.

Day three was Cologne. We took the standard Tour of the city, with some extra time. I have to say I was a bit disappointed with Cologne. The cathedral is beautiful, but we only had 15 minutes inside, and the guides were not allowed in with us. That was not enough time. The rest of the tour was primarily talking about current events, and the fact that most of cologne has been rebuilt, or replaced with modern features. I wish we could have had a guided tour of the cathedral, and less time wandering. We had some free time, and took a later bus back to the boat. That worked out ok for us.

We also did the optional Kolsch Dinner excursion. This was a lot of fun. Lots of beer and great, silly, young guys as guide. Really got the feeling of what it was like to go out on a beer crawl. I have to say I thought the price was very expensive, especially since we were giving up a paid for dinner, on board. Otherwise I really enjoyed this. We did have a bus problem – the bus was late. This was cleverly mediated by the guides using their power to secure some additional Kolsch to drink on the streets until the bus arrived – really felt like a German, after a football game!!! Thanks, guys.

Day four was supposed to be Koblenz. Here’s where the low water of the Rhine made it necessary to do a ‘boat swap’. This mean much longer bus rides (like 5 plus hours total), BUT, Viking was able to mostly salvage the day. Yes we did have to pack and leave the boat very early, but we still visited Marksburg Castle and do our scenic cruising through the Rhine Gorge (lots of castles). What we could not do was any optional excursions and we did not stop in either Koblenz or Rudesheim. We did not choose any of these optional excursions, so we were ok. Others may not have been so happy.

We were bused to Marksburg Castle, and then to a day boat, for Rhine Gorge cruising. There were two upsides to this: 1. The Rhine Gorge was virtually free of traffic, so the speed of travel, and the views were pristine. 2. We ended up in Strasbourg for an extra day (more later). The down side was that it was an exhausting day (5 plus hours of bus rides), started far too early, and the lunch and quality of the day boat was nowhere near up to Viking’s standards. That said…we did get our scenic Rhine cruise! Good for Viking.

Day 5 was Heidelberg. We opted out. We did this for two reasons. The bus ride to get there was increased by an hour because we were not docked in Strasbourg. Also, Strasbourg was the number one reason we booked the cruise, so an extra day in Strasbourg was a very big PLUS, to us. We also don’t always like to follow, so a day on our own was exactly what was called for.

Viking did a good job at accommodating buses to and from Strasbourg, since we were not that close to the historic portion of the city. Boy did we have a good day. We were primed with information, and the crew was very helpful with providing a few choice shopping and eating recommendation. It was a great day!! For our particular needs and desires, this change in plans worked in our favor.

Day 6 was our planned day in Strasbourg, and we did the full day, optional, food tour. This was a very good tour. We tasted our way through gingerbread, kougelhoph, macarons, cheese, bread, pretzels, tarte flambé, wine and pastries. It was fun. There was some free time, and a tour of La Petite France, and the Cathedral. Our guide was very good. When we returned to our boat, it had moved, and was far enough from the bus that they had provided taxi’s to get us the rest of the way. Nice touch.

Day 7 was Breisach, Germany. In the morning we took an optional tour of the town of Colmar, France. This was well organized and timed. I was disappointed with Colmar which is not as charming as the brochures would want you to think. La Petite France, in Strasbourg was more charming. Not Viking’s fault, just my opinion.

In the afternoon, the tour was a bus trip to the Black Forrest, and to an inn, where you watched demonstrations of Cuckoo Clocks, Glass, or Cake making. It seemed a bit too commercial, and at this point we had had enough of the bus trips. So we stayed on the boat and walked up the big hill to Breisach. This is a charming town, with great views, a small gothic church, and a lovely sense of how real people live. It was a nice option to the standard tour.

The last day we arrived in Basel Switzerland, and were taxied to a hotel, where we spent 4 days on our own.

Some comments on the Viking:

The staff and crew are really well prepared and excellent at their job. Our Cruise Director, Morgan, worked like mad to make everything as smooth as possible. He really helped steer the group past the few bumps really well, and should be commended. There was some sense of detachment to the crew, because we switched boats. Morgan came with us, but we otherwise had two crews. Usually, Viking is amazing at getting to know the guests. Here we had two crews, so we didn’t have the usual bonding.

The food is generally quite good. Better than I remember from previous cruises. My only complaint is there are only large tables in the restaurant, and the guest are forced to all eat at once, at appointed times. We opted for many meals in the Aquavit Lounge, where a few small tables were available. IMHO, it is a much better option to the raucous atmosphere of the main dining room. I acknowledge that my opinion might not be the norm. Judging from the number of people that wanted to eat in the quieter lounge, there should be a bit more space for that.

The rooms: We had a Veranda Stateroom, with a balcony, on the third floor. The room is small, but sufficient. The balcony would have been nicer if we had not had to switch ships, but we liked it a lot. What boarders on unacceptable is the bathroom. While decently appointed, it is WAY TOO SMALL. The shower especially. Nothing you can do, I suspect – it will always be a problem. Just be aware that this is the trade off if you want to do a river cruise.

The low water did cause some issues. The ship swapping meant a very long day, and having to pack and unpack an extra time. This, of course, negates that best reason for riverboat cursing- not have to pack/repack in between each stop. It was out of Vikings control, and they did the best they could. Also, the docking locations were VERY industrial, and in one case we were docked where Viking leaves their ships, over the winter. There were some really precarious stairs to navigate. My guess is that the disruption, due to the low water levels, made it difficult to secure the best, and closest docking locations. I was glad we got to where we needed to go, but there were some lousy docking locations.

Regarding the optional excursions, they were excellent, however, I did feel they were overly expensive. We did a number of them, and generally really like them. I would always recommend that a guest do as many as they can afford and interest them. I suspect the high costs causes some people to not book them.

Finally, we met a number of people that seemed annoyed at the amount of activity, and the early starts for some of the excursions. The Viking Longboats are beautiful, but the purpose of a riverboat cruse is to get out and do. Sometimes there is a slight feeling of a forced march, but that’s what riverboat cruising is all about, I think. So buyer beware!

So to recap, we had a trip interruption, due to water levels, which Viking handled about as well as they could. It caused a tiring day, and some excursions and stops were not possible. That said, I think the overall trip was really great. Looking forward to our next Viking cruise – maybe a switch to try the ocean ships- maybe Alaska?
stewartclow3’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Veranda Stateroom
Cabin B 317
The rooms: We had a Veranda Stateroom, with a balcony, on the third floor. The room is small, but sufficient. The balcony would have been nicer if we had not had to switch ships, but we liked it a lot. What boarders on unacceptable is the bathroom. While decently appointed, it is WAY TOO SMALL. The shower especially. Nothing you can do, I suspect – it will always be a problem. Just be aware that this is the trade off if you want to do a river cruise.
Middle Deck Balcony Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Amsterdam
    We cruised from Amsterdam to Basel. We arrived in Amsterdam 5 days before the cruise, and visited Amsterdam on our own. It’s a beautiful city, so I advise taking the time to visit it
    View All 780 Amsterdam Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Amsterdam Cruise Port Review
  • City Tour
    Day three was Cologne. We took the standard Tour of the city, with some extra time. I have to say I was a bit disappointed with Cologne. The cathedral is beautiful, but we only had 15 minutes inside, and the guides were not allowed in with us. That was not enough time. The rest of the tour was primarily talking about current events, and the fact that most of cologne has been rebuilt, or replaced with modern features. I wish we could have had a guided tour of the cathedral, and less time wandering. We had some free time, and took a later bus back to the boat. That worked out ok for us.
    View All 113 City Tour Reviews
  • Strasbourg
    Day 5 was Heidelberg. We opted out. We did this for two reasons. The bus ride to get there was increased by an hour because we were not docked in Strasbourg. Also, Strasbourg was the number one reason we booked the cruise, so an extra day in Strasbourg was a very big PLUS, to us. We also don’t always like to follow, so a day on our own was exactly what was called for.
    Viking did a good job at accommodating busses to and from Strasbourg, since we were not that close to the historic portion of the city. Boy did we have a good day. We were primed with information, and the crew was very helpful with providing a few choice shopping and eating recommendation. It was a great day!! For our particular needs and desires, this change in plans worked in our favor.
    Day 6 was our planned day in Strasbourg, and we did the full day, optional, food tour. This was a very good tour. We tasted our way through gingerbread, kougelhoph, macarons, cheese, bread, pretzels, tarte flambé, wine and pastries. It was fun. There was some free time, and a tour of La Petite France, and the Cathedral. Our guide was very good. When we returned to our boat, it had moved, and was far enough from the bus that they had provided taxi’s to get us the rest of the way. Nice touch.
    View All 12,810 Strasbourg Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Strasbourg Cruise Port Review