Last winter, I embarked on an 8-day cruise to four countries – Switzerland, Germany, France and The Netherlands – along the Rhine River with Viking River Cruises and have such fond memories of this trip that I’m excited to share with you! My parents, roommate and three neighbors all left December 26th and returned January 7th, giving us the perfect opportunity to celebrate Christmas and ring in the New Year. Since I don’t want to drag on too much with this post, I’m mainly going to focus on my experience with Viking and follow up at a later time with content geared towards the various destinations.
Firstly, one of the many benefits of traveling on a Viking cruise was that there wasn’t much pre-planning we had to do. Other than booking the flight and purchasing the optional pre & post extensions, giving us two extra days in both Lucerne and Amsterdam, there really wasn’t much on my plate. Viking already had a detailed itinerary laid out with free & paid guided tours – more on that later – and our assigned travel coordinator helped answer any questions we had. I appreciated this so much because unlike my other trips, I was able to take a step back from coordinating, leaving me free to focus on planning my other adventures throughout the year.
Arriving into Zurich, Viking had arranged for transportation to Lucerne where we were greeted with a two-hour walking tour of the city by one of the guides. The next two days were ours so between eating cheese fondue, exploring the highlights of Lucerne & taking a boat ride and subsequent train ride to the top of a mountain, we kept ourselves busy. After Lucerne, Viking arranged for a bus to take us to where the ship was docked in Basel, beginning our journey on the water.
Stepping onto the ship, I was stunned by how beautiful it was. The boat itself wasn’t too large, as there were only about 195 fellow passengers, and it was kept extremely clean. I even loved our room and was especially impressed by the daily room cleanings and turn down services – I truly felt spoiled. From Switzerland, we traveled up the Rhine to Germany, France, back to Germany and ending in The Netherlands.
Typically, the nights were spent traveling to our next destination so in the morning we were docked and ready to explore the city. Note, as someone who has occasional motion sickness, I was really pleased that since we were traveling on a river I could barely feel the ship moving.
Like I mentioned above, each day Viking arranged an inclusive optional tour. They typically ranged from starting in the early morning to early afternoon, allowing us to sleep in some days (thanks Viking!). The tours could be as simple as a guided walking tour or something a little more complex such as arranging a bus to take us through the Black Forrest or taking a tour of the Marksburg Castle.
Each tour was well thought out and truly allowed you to experience the city’s highlights. Plus, the tours included transportation + umbrellas (if needed), water bottles and headsets so you could hear your guide – it seemed like they thought of everything! Our group personally didn’t feel the need to partake in too many of the paid options as the included ones were completely fulfilling. The only one we did was a beer culture & dinner tour in Cologne, Germany which was definitely amazing.
The last main thing I really want to spotlight was the food. Now in the past, I’ve never been a fan of cruise food. On Viking, the food was phenomenal. All your meals are inclusive of your purchase price and each night hosted a different menu where you could select your meal. Not to mention, the alcohol was included in your dinner. Outside of dinner, you are able to either pay for additional drinks or look into a drink package, but we found the dinner pours provided more than enough.
Overall, I would one-thousand percent recommend Viking River Cruises. The passengers definitely skew older, which I was expecting, but I would still encourage my fellow Millennials to go on this trip of a lifetime. To me, one of my favorite things about Viking were the employees – they were all so helpful and accommodating. We fell in love with our server for meals and made sure to sit in her section as she always remembered us and our drink orders. From arranging a fabulous New Years Eve celebration to coordinating a German-themed dinner with the decor, costumes and live music, I truly felt as if they were invested in providing us the best trip as possible. So thank you again to Viking for everything you do, you are at the top of the list for my next adventure!
P.S. For more information on Viking, check out Helene in Between’s review – she’s much more detailed than I and her photos are gorgeous!