Viking Kara Review

Beautiful Christmas along the Rhine

Review for Europe River Cruise on Viking Kara
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First Time Cruiser • Age 40s

Rating by category

Value for Money
Public Rooms
Fitness & Recreation

Additional details

Sail Date: Dec 2023
Cabin: Veranda Superior
In the lounge on the last night of the cruise.
Breakfast menu
Example lunch menu
Dinner menu with items always available.
One of the regional (rotating) dinner menus.

My wife and I have never been on a cruise before. In 2023 we celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary, and were looking to take a trip. When initial ideas didn't work with our timeframe, we ended up looking at other options that ended up with us finding Viking's Christmas Market cruise along the Rhine. We somewhat impulsively booked it in July of 2023. At the time it accounted for the sixth largest single purchase we'd ever made (after the three different houses we've lived in and two of our vehicles). I was a little concerned about value, to be quite honest, going into the entire experience. We also, to lengthen our stay and increase the number of countries visited, opted to purchase both the pre-cruise extension in Brussels and the post-cruise extension in Basel. Topping off the initial cost layouts were letting Viking handle our airfare and paying for the upgrade to premium economy (as someone with a bad back, transatlantic flights in regular economy are a nightmare), and we also booked the trip insurance because that's a rather hefty investment in this current state of world affairs with conflicts, viruses, and even volcano eruptions that can disrupt air traffic. Prior to the cruise, we also opted to take advantage of Viking's pre-paid gratuity feature, which ensures that the ship staff are tipped and alleviates some of the hassle of ensuring that you tip out at the end of the trip.

There were other options and upgrades available that we chose not to jump on. The main one that wasn't a big sell for us is the Silver Spirits Package. If you drink more than a few drinks in the lounge or want a fancier than the standard house wine or beer, this package is definitely a good value. But we're not huge drinkers and the house wine was plenty fine for us, so we passed on that. Additionally, there are excursions every day that were built in to the itinerary, but there were also available additional or replacement excursions that had varying extra costs. Prior to our booking, we chose to stick with the base level excursions, mainly because some of the optional excursions would replace things we wanted to do, or the ones that looked interesting were already sold out. I would note that us booking in mid-to-late July was kind of close to being considered "last minute," as many of the people on the cruise with us (or new friends, I should say) had booked up to two years in advance.

All of this is before we ever left at this point. I'd want to say that the MyVikingJourney website / portal was super easy to navigate, very helpful and convenient, and they had live chat with representatives who could help with things basically 24/7. Need to let them know that we have a food allergy at 1am local time when it pops into my head? No problem, they're on it. Need to pre-request extra pillows and a top sheet (top sheets from what we could tell are not common in Europe) for the hotel and onboard? Done. The portal also allowed you to handle most of your flight info if Viking handled your flights. But I ran into a few glitches and ended up going direct to the flight carrier's website and dealing with it there, and it pretty quickly updated on the portal as well.

Cabin Review

Veranda Superior

Our cabin was a standard with a veranda, which was a small private seating area. Given that it was mid-to-late December, we didn't use the Veranda much. But it was what was available at the time of booking that allowed us to have a floor to ceiling window in which to watch the sights float by on our journey. The bed was slightly less firm than the hotel we stayed in pre-cruise, but still fairly firm. There were all the amenities one would expect. A small fridge, a safe, plenty of closet and drawer space to unpack and not live out of a suitcase for a week. The hot water got HOT, and the bathroom was small but worked out very well. Shower had decent pressure. The only real complaint (if you could call it that) was a under cabinet light in the bathroom that was on all the time and couldn't be turned off. Even with the bathroom door shut (it was a sliding door), light would still spill out into the main cabin. It could be too much light for some who like total darkness. I'd suggest bringing a sleep mask if you're one of those people, because the light cannot be turned off.

The staff who handled the rooms need a special note. These folks are straight ninjas, I'm pretty certain. We'd leave the room for five minutes and come back to find the bed made and the decorative pillows out (in the morning), or turned down for the evening with the next day's newsletter and tickets already waiting. I don't know how they knew we'd left but man they were quick, efficient, and very friendly if you passed them in the halls. Excellent staff all around!

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