Our writer is just back from a Viking River Cruises® Rhine river cruise aboard Viking Longship Eir.
Enjoy all the amenities of a fine hotel on Viking Rhine river cruise ships
Photo Credit: Courtesy Viking River Cruises
If slow and steady wins the race, Viking River Cruises® earns the gold. The pace of a river cruise is, by definition, slow. Viking offers river itineraries around the globe, and its ships sail through locks en route to charming ports where larger ships can’t dock and where there’s plenty to explore on land.
Author Marcia Raffel Levin is just back from a Viking Rhine river cruise
Photo Credit: Courtesy Marcia Raffel Levin
I flew to Amsterdam, where red-shirted staffers picked up some 10 or so travelers at Schiphol Airport and transported us to the docks to board the beautiful Viking Longship Eir. The ship was our home for the next seven nights as we journeyed down Holland’s Waal river to the Rhine, which took us to Basel, Switzerland.
The vessel features light woods throughout and it’s upholstered in the same light hues, with a lot of glass, some stunning marble and a skylight offering amazing natural light.
Most of my fellow passengers on this Viking Rhine river cruise—181 passengers were aboard, almost at maximum capacity—were American, but there were also English-speakers from the U.K., Australia, New Zealand and Canada.
A complimentary shore excursion is offered in each port, as are optional tours. In three ports, an organized evening out, complete with dinner and drinks, is escorted by ship personnel.
Our first port of call was Dordrecht in the Netherlands, where guests departed early for a visit to Kinderdijk and its UNESCO World Heritage site windmills, which date back to the 1730s. The optional tour visited a family cheese-making farm and its hundreds of Holstein Friesian cows. (I fell in love with an hours-old calf.)
Half-timbered houses decorated with bright baskets of flowers line the canal in Strasbourg, France, a favorite port on a Viking Rhine river cruise
Photo Credit: iStock
A magnificent afternoon spent sailing the Middle Rhine—which featured marvelous narration from guides on the Eir—was topped only by visits to two cities: Heidelberg, a charming German university town with castle ruins that include the world’s largest wine barrel, which once held 50,000 gallons of wine; and France’s beautiful Strasbourg, just over the German border in Alsace. River towns offer a time-honored charm, and Viking’s complimentary tours provide a mix of walking and coach explorations, with free time factored in.
Cuisine on board the Viking Rhine river cruise reflects the region: There’s always a beef or fish entrée, and it’s always accompanied by outstanding wine. (Wine and beer are complimentary at meal time.) Meals are served in an open-seating manner in the sprawling dining room, and a lighter menu on the Aquavit Terrace offers open-air seating. Tables are numerous, so there’s no rush to dinner.
Entertainment included two musicians from the Cologne Symphony Orchestra, music and dancing, a reproduction of the game show Liar’s Club and a musical quiz. Wunderbar!