We did the Rhine Getaway tour from Basil to Amsterdam with prestay in Lucerne and poststay in Amsterdam this July. This is my second trip with Viking, the first being the fabulous Waterways of the Czars in 2003.
Another great experience. The food was terrific and they had a regular veggie menu that my veggie wife loved. The stateroom was plenty roomy and the super staff went out of their way to help out. Almost everything was included and they didn't try to do all the tacky add-ons that some cruise lines do.
You need to understand that a river cruise is different from a cruise ship big boat. Our trip was full at 188 guests. No Vegas shows or midnight chocolate binges. Basically your boat is an all inclusive floating hotel that you check into it goes from place to place. Generally you dock up to the city or town you will explore in the morning and leave in the evening. You are transported to the points of interest and hook up with a dedicated guide for the day.
We saved a few hundred dollars by taking a Cat. D stateroom. It was a bit noisy as we were partially below water level and could hear the water engines and passing boats. On the plus side, one day we were docked and opened the blinds and there were a flock of swans at our window. Since you only really sleep in the room we didn't miss the higher priced upper rooms.
When we got to Koblenz Germany it turned out they were hosting the world's largest garden show. The city had built a cable car over the Rhine just to link the two parts of the show. Our boat docked in the middle of the show and Viking threw in tickets for the show and cable car at no extra charge. What a nice suprise!
We added on Lucerne (airport to hotel transfer included) on the front end and it turned out to be a highlight of our trip. If you go in late spring or summer take the "Golden Round Trip" which is a cruise of beautiful Lake Lucerne to the world's steepest cog railroad, up the side of 8,000 foot Mt. Pilatus, hiking or other fun stuff at the top with a view to die for and then a cable car down the other-side back to town. This was not included in the Viking deal but something we did on our own that is highly recommended.
We also stayed over in Amsterdam afterward as part of the Viking trip. I thought that was a little expensive (even though hotel transfers are included) and would book my own hotel next time. But it is Amsterdam after all and what a town!
From Amsterdam you can (we did) take the hourly high speed train to Paris (three hours) or London (two more hours) for next to nothing so you can make the cruise a great part of a major European trip.
Viking will set up air transport to match your itinerary for a little extra and it was well worth it.
I recommend Viking River Cruises for a totally stress free vacation at a great value. We intend to do another Viking trip in the future.
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