"Rhine Getaway" Viking River Cruise Review | 8 Day Travel Itinerary
The Rhine Getaway cruise explores the medieval towns, castles, and cathedrals of the Rhine River. The spectacular scenery of the Rhine is a highlight of the voyage. On the journey you will sail past European villages, vineyards, and turreted fortresses on a Viking Long Ship.
The cruise embarks in Amsterdam, Netherlands and disembarks in Basel, Switzerland. The travel itinerary includes stops at ports in the Netherlands, France, and Germany. This Working Joe Travel cruise review includes all the essential information you will need to decide if this river cruise is right for you.
While there is much to see and do, Joe and I found the cruise to be well-paced. After unpacking, our work for the week was done. Viking expertly coordinated every detail of the daily shore excursions. On this cruise we experienced minimal wait times, comfortable transport, and quality guides.
Overall Impression: As working-joes, we found this travel itinerary to be a great blend of discovery and relaxation. Highly recommended.
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Ship: The 190- passenger long ship never felt crowded. It was beautifully appointed and had ample indoor and outdoor common areas that were designed to take in the landscape. The ship is categorized as a small ship. It often docked within walking distance of port cities or within a short bus ride (there was no tendering into port). Onboard rocking was minimal and there was little-to-no seasickness.
Passengers: The passenger list was primarily made up of working professionals and retirees. There were many people traveling in groups (some large), but also many couples.
Dining: There was one main dining room, The Restaurant, that served three meals a day. Beer and wine were included with lunch and supper. There were set dining hours, but no assigned seating. We found that without assigned seating if you did not arrive early, you were apt to be ‘stuck’ at a table of folks traveling in a group. We quickly found a few other couples to make up a table, and these became our dining companions for the rest of the trip. Other dining options included the Aquavit Terrace that served lighter fare food, and the Lounge which had drinks and snacks available all day. In-room refrigerators were stocked with bottled water daily. The food was excellent.
Veranda Stateroom: Spacious. Comfortable. Many amenities. The stateroom had floor to ceiling sliding glass doors with a full-sized veranda (so busy we hardly used it). We had a mini-fridge and 42” TV with free movie channels, cruise information, and ship board cameras. There was a safe in the room.
Dress: No formal nights – yeah! Dress is casual in the day; dressy-casual at night. Bring comfortable walking shoes. Some excursions include cathedrals. Men and women should have knees and shoulders covered. And, at many sites only small purses and bags are allowed. Check online ahead.
Entertainment: Low key. A highlight of the day is a lecture about the next port of call. There was an on-board historian. In the evening, Viking would bring on local musicians for mini-concerts. There was a lounge, sundeck, and library to mingle. The in-room TV had free movies and we loved the real time onboard video cams.
Excursions: There is one free excursion per port included in the cruise fare. It tends to be a 2-3 hour morning overview of an area, often a walking tour. The tour guides are top quality. Optional shore excursions are also available for an extra charge. We enjoyed exploring on our own in the afternoon. The ports were all walkable, accessible, and interesting.
Service: While onboard, Viking makes you feel like an honored and respected family member. Staff was friendly and attentive. Leaving for excursions, staff gave out water, and umbrellas if needed. While taking in the scenery on the sun deck, staff would bring around hot/cold drinks and warm cookies. Tipping was not allowed; no ‘nickel and diming’ onboard – so nice! Great attention was taken to making transfers to and from the airport go smoothly. Exceptional service.
Day 1 Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Check-in at the ship is 3 pm. If you arrive early lunch is available. Unpack, and head outdoors. The pier is within walking distance of Amsterdam’s historic district. Take a walk along the boardwalk to Amsterdam Centraal Railway Station. Pick up a city map. From here it is a short walk to the historic district and Dam Square. Meander about the area. Then, make your way to a canal boat tour. They are plentiful and easy to locate.
Most canal boat cruises operate with a hop-on, hop-off approach. The boats run different routes around the UNESCO-protected concentric canal rings. This is a wonderful way to see the city. You will float past the tall, narrow facades of Amsterdam’s building, its houseboats, and intricate bridges. The canals are scenic in the day, evening, and in the rain. If time permits visit the Anne Frank House and / or the Red Light District.
Day 2 Kinderdijt
After breakfast, join the shore excursion to the Kinderdijk windmills. You will be bussed a short distance to a ridge of windmills. There, you will tour the interior of a working windmill at this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Spend the afternoon settling into your room, and discovering the ship. In the evening there is a welcome reception and dinner.
Day 3 Cologne, Germany
In the morning, visit the city of Cologne, Germany for a walking tour. The highlight of the tour is the magnificent gothic Cologne Cathedral in the Old City. After the guided walking tour, you can return to the ship for lunch or stay in the city to explore on your own.
Joe and I had reserved a bike tour for the afternoon, but it was cancelled. Instead, we found a German pub for lunch. Then, we walked the city and saw remnants of a medieval wall and Romanesque churches. We also had great fun wandering around a department store, and a bridal shop.
Late in the day, we returned to the ship where it was docked next to a boardwalk and city park. We sat on our veranda and people watched. It was wonderful.
Day 4 Koblenz, Middle Rhine & Rudesheim
This was our favorite day of the cruise.
The ship docked in Koblenz, Germany. The included shore excursion was a trip to Marksburg Castle. The well-preserved castle overlooks the town of Braubach, and the Rhine. The tour took in many areas of the castle including its armament room, music room, cannons, and ramparts. It was fascinating.
After lunch on the ship, we made our way to the sun deck for an afternoon of scenic cruising. On the way to Rudesheim, Germany we floated past villages, vineyards, and castle after castle sitting high on nearby hills. We enjoyed drinks and snacks against the spectacular backdrop. It was a photographer’s dream and a wonderful time to get to know the other cruisers.
That evening we left the ship and trekked into Drosselgasse. The German village’s cobblestone streets were lit up by shops, restaurants, and pubs. Most of the pubs featured live German bands.
Day 5 Heidelberg and Speyer
This morning the included shore excursion is a tour of the 13th century Heidelberg Castle. The neighborhood leading up to the castle is lovely. The castle itself is a complex of buildings; some crumbling, others well-preserved. After touring the complex, there is a short bus ride to charming Heidelberg Town where the tour continues.
Later in the day, you will travel to the town of Speyer, Germany. There is free time to explore the city, and its Imperial Cathedral as well as many ancient Jewish sites, sculptures, and gardens.
Day 6 Strasbourg, France
Today, you will be bussed to the city of Strasbourg, France. After a guided walking tour of the picturesque Tanners District and Strasbourg Cathedral, you will have free time to shop and wander about. We loved the bakeries and Renaissance architecture at this stop.
Day 7 Breisach & Black Forest, Germany
The included shore excursion this morning is a scenic coach ride through Germany’s Black Forest Region. You will motor past quaint villages, farms, and forests on your way up into the mountains.
The tour stops at a compound with an inn and little stores, including a cuckoo clock shop. There is time for a short hike, to grab a bite to eat, and to shop. This was our longest shore excursion. It was a gorgeous ride and region.
Day 8 Basel, Switzerland
Breakfast, disembark, transfer to airport.
Gute Reise (have a good journey)! Laura and Randy
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