The low water levels also meant we couldn't do the "Middle Rhine Sailing" portion on our ship. We had to take a 2 1/2 bus ride to board a smaller boat that would allow us to cruise in the low water levels of the Middle ... Read More
The low water levels also meant we couldn't do the "Middle Rhine Sailing" portion on our ship. We had to take a 2 1/2 bus ride to board a smaller boat that would allow us to cruise in the low water levels of the Middle Rhine. Note, the food on this non-Viking boat was "Horibleeeee" ! (A dry piece of Chicken that was inedible with french fries - I just ate the fries). The Middle Rhine cruise was magnificent, with memorable views of castles & fortresses. This is probably my favorite part of the whole Trip ! After cruising the Middle Rhine, we toured Marksburg Castle.
I read many reviews about the challenges of getting around Marksburg Castle, and was concerned, because I am scared of heights and wasn't sure exactly what people were trying to describe, so I'll do my best to be more descriptive here.
1st, the many steps - When you first arrive at the castle, from where our tour bus was parked, we did have to take about 3 flights of stairs. But the stairs were wide and you had a rail to hold on to, and it wasn't very steep. Our tour guide and a few others walked around up a ramp to avoid the stairs. I didn't think it was a lot of steps to get up to the castle like other reviews mentioned, unless maybe some tours weren't fortunate enough to park where we did and had to take more steps ?
2nd, uneven steps - As you first enter the castle, you will see right away what everyone means about uneven steps. The short steps at the very beginning aren't steep at all, but there are no rails to hold on to. It was wider, maybe 4 or 5 people can walk up the steps at the same time, but you have to watch where you step as the steps are not even (different sizes in width/height). As long as you are wearing the right type of shoes and you're watching where you step you will be ok. On our way down these steps, there was an elderly woman walking with a cane in front of me who was having a hard time walking and I was scared she was going to fall, and so my boyfriend helped her down. The cruise director warned everyone about the situation with the steps/stairs and added that the tour is not suitable for everyone.
3rd, steep steps - I'm scared of heights and there was only one step that I thought was steep. This was about midway during the tour when we went into a very narrow secret passage way where the knights would have to walk through sideways, because it was so narrow. The stairs in turn were narrow and really steep. There were rails to hold on to, except for one part of the stairs where you are transitioning to the next set of steps. Just for that split second, my fear of heights kicked in, but like I said it was just a quick second until I could get my hands on the next set of rails. Again, it wasn't a very long stairwell either.
Overall, the steps/stairs situation wasn't that daunting after all. I have to be honest though, if you are in a wheelchair, walking with a cane, heavy set, etc, this tour may be a challenge.
The short tour of the castle itself was cool, with a lot of rooms, weapons, etc still intact. Worth visiting, but again, my complaint as with the other tours is the very short "free" time you have on your own. I didn't get time to buy souvenirs in the shop as the line to pay was too long by the time my tour was over. I also wanted to buy some hot chocolate and goodies before the 3 1/2 hours trip back to the ship, but I didn't have time. (Note, we were affected by a Ship Swap which meant longer bus rides).
After a few tours, we finally figured out a trick to getting more "free" time.... You don't have to finish the tour if you don't want to, just be sure you know where the meeting point is. Also, If you are placed in a group that had to wait till your group was called to start the tour (such was the case at Marksburg Castle), try and jump in with a group that has an earlier start time. Read Less