We took our first Viking Cruise – the Rhine Getaway – up the Rhine to explore the Netherlands, Germany, France, and Switzerland. This being our first experience, we didn’t know what to expect but Viking did not disappoint us. The entire trip was calm and relaxing and the smaller ship size, compared to ocean cruising, made making new friends a snap.
We highly recommend this trip if you enjoy small colorful towns, good food, European history, and making new friends.
Things to know before starting a Rhine Getaway Cruise
|Power voltage and
Viking Longship Experience
Since their launch in 2012, the Viking Longships have received great acclaim for their state-of-the-art engineering, innovative design and outstanding quality.
In a departure from traditional ship layout and design, the Viking Longships offer you a choice in stateroom category and configuration. From spacious Veranda Staterooms and French Balcony Staterooms with a sliding glass door, to the two-room Veranda Suites, each offers casual comfort and excellent river views. Or choose one of two stunning Explorer Suites with a wraparound veranda providing 270° views. Whichever you choose, the elegance and furnishings will provide the most comfortable river cruise experience available.
Food & Drink
Viking’s trained chefs are passionate about food and committed to providing a complete culinary experience. The ship’s dining area was hospitable and inviting; the service friendly, attentive and personalized. Menu selections include regional dishes and contemporary cuisine designed to suit any palate. You have choices for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Not just in food selection, but also in where and how you enjoy them. Greet the morning with a croissant and cappuccino on deck, or begin your day with a sumptuous buffet breakfast. Have a casual lunch or dinner al fresco, or join friends in the restaurant. The open seating allows you to mingle with the same guests every evening or meet someone new each day. And, unlike other cruise lines, wine and beer were included without extra charge.
As with our stateroom, the public areas are designed to make the most of the splendid views. Whether from the sun deck, the Lounge or the restaurant, a river cruise provides uninterrupted sightseeing, from the time the sun rises in the morning its setting setting in the evening. Nights are quiet and restful.
Rhine Getaway Itinerary
Our Viking Rhine Getaway was aboard the “Herja”, which means “Decider of Fates”. In the Prose Edda, the respected 13th-century chronicle of Old Norse mythology, Herja was a mighty valkyrie.
Our trip started in Amsterdam in The Netherlands and we cruised up the Rhine (the Rhine flows from south to north) to Basel, Switzerland. Viking also offers the route in reverse, from Basel to Amsterdam; you can choose either option.
We had a wonderful time and loved how efficient and organized our Viking was, from a 4-day extension in Amsterdam through an extension to Zermatt and Geneva, Switzerland, everything was seamless. And, unlike other cruises, all food and drinks were free and each stop included a free excursion – there were options for non-free excursions, but even those were very inexpensive.
We encourage everyone to take advantage of the option to arrive a couple days early and/or stay a couple days late. If you are thinking of this, and we highly recommend that you allow Viking Cruises to handle your reservation(s).
Here is our itinerary:
Since this was advanced arrival before cruise date, we expected to just check in and relax. As fate would have it, we arrived around 11:00 and were told checkin was not until 15:00; after traveling for almost 20 hours, that was a little disappointing to hear but the Hotel Okura does not like to disappoint - they had us in our room by 12:00. That was a nice surprise!
The efforts of the Hotel Okura staff meant that we were able to make it for our tour of the Anne Frank House, for which we had bought our tickets many months in advance, by 18:00 that same day.
We spent 3 days exploring Amsterdam
|Day 1||Kinderdijk, NL
Home to The Netherland's famous windmills
|Day 2||Cologne, DE
The largest city of Germany's most populous state of North Rhine-Westphalia and the fourth-most populous city and one of the oldest in Germany.
|Day 3||• Marksburg Castle
• Castles along the Rhine
|Day 4||Oberwesel, DE|
|Day 5||Heidelberg, DE|
|Day 6||Strasbourg, FR|
|Day 7||• Breisach, DE
• The Black Forest
We spent 4 days exploring Geneva.
River Cruise vs. Ocean Cruise
Most of our stops were small European villages, so we felt like we were able to see all the top sights without missing anything. The best part was enjoying the comfort of a luxurious ship without worrying about transportation from town to town and only unpacking once.
We took two ocean cruises with Princess and I think most folks are familiar with the large ocean liners.
River cruises offer a very different experience. River cruises are on much smaller ships, typically seating only 150-200 passengers. The Viking Herja, the ship we were on, carries 190 passengers with 50 crew members.
It’s More About Sightseeing and Not About Onboard Entertainment
River cruising is a much more intimate experience, with unreserved seating at meal times so you get to mix and mingle with almost everyone on board by the end.
There’s less on-board entertainment; no nightclubs or casinos on board. But each evening people congregate in the lounge or at the bar with a pianist providing background music.
Rivers tend to be much calmer than the open seas so you won’t have to worry about seasickness.
Easier Embarkation and Disembarkation
Like most folks, I hate long lines. Ocean cruises are notorious for long lines and waiting to getting on or off the ship. When doing excursions, these often long waits impact the time you get to spend on your excursions; longer waits getting on an off the boat means you get much less time having fun.