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A Rhine River Adventure with Viking Cruise Line

Author: Tricia Gage


Get ready for a tale of river cruising, ship swaps, and the charm of European cities. Settle in as I recount my Viking Rhine River Cruise from November 15 – 24, 2023.

My journey kicked off at South Bend Airport with Delta Airlines. I had two connections—one in Atlanta and another in Paris—before landing in my final destination of Basel, Switzerland, near the border of France. Upon arrival, I opted for a taxi to my hotel but soon discovered the airport had two taxi locations. One for drivers within France and the other for Switzerland, where I was headed.

Once on the Swiss side, I headed to my pre-cruise hotel, Hotel Victoria. This 4-star delight in the city center of Basel, directly across from the rail/bus station, offered a Classic room with a queen bed and a city view. The included buffet breakfast made the next morning very convenient.

The day of departure brought news from Viking Cruise Line—high river levels. This meant a change in departure port. However, Viking ensured a seamless transition by taxiing me to the airport to meet fellow cruisers and bussing us all to Breisach for our new embarking location. I sailed aboard the Viking Mani, opting for a verandah stateroom, complete with a balcony, table, chairs, and ample storage. The verandah room was well worth the additional cost and enhanced the overall experience.

To start the river cruise, we sailed to Strasbourg, a beautiful city in France. Exploring its cobblestone streets, I marveled at the stunning Notre-Dame Cathedral, also known as Strasbourg Cathedral.

That night, we received news of a ship swap due to high water levels preventing passage under bridges. So, we put our luggage outside the door in the morning, disembarked for a tour of Speyer with our guide, and the staff worked behind the scenes to organize buses, luggage, and guests for our new home—the Viking Eir. While in Speyer, I saw the Imperial Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with Jewish Heritage. We then continued to Koblenz, a traditional German town located along the Rhine and Moselle Rivers. We toured the beautiful city and marveled at Ehrenbreitstein—the fortress of Koblenz. 

As all Viking long-ships are laid out exactly the same, transferring ships in circumstances like these was a breeze, and we were all in our exact same room number as on the previous ship by the day’s end. Since we missed some castles due to the change, the ship went in reverse and sailed back to points along the river that we had missed. It was wonderful to see them in a different way, and I was grateful we didn’t miss anything due to the switch. Viking also refunded any previously booked optional excursions affected by the weather.

The next day, we said Guten Tag (Good Day!) to Cologne. It’s a more modern city but also features a UNESCO World Heritage Site of their 14th-century Gothic artistry cathedral. The next stop was Kinderdijk in the Netherlands. Here I took a walking tour to explore the windmills and learned about the millers - people that lived in and cared for the windmills. One worker and his wife had 13 children!

To enrich our experiences in each destination, every day onboard we received a little newsletter from Viking explaining the next city we were visiting, points of interest, and other fun facts. I really enjoyed this attention to detail and learning more about the cities I was visiting. 

On the final night, we received instructions about what to do in the morning to depart the ship. The Eir sailed to Amsterdam overnight, and guests departed at different designated times, some staying after the cruise with a Viking hotel or their own arrangements. I personally departed home the same day and chose to pay for a one-way Viking transfer from the ship to the airport for $60 - it was well worth it! I had a departure at 12:50 pm from Amsterdam with Delta Airlines. So, I left my luggage outside my door at 8:00 am, got breakfast, and met my luggage on the 9:15 am bus to the airport. There were two Viking Reps on the bus—one for Delta passengers and the other for American Airlines or United Airlines passengers. These guides walked with us to our check-in point in the airport. I really appreciated the attention to detail and getting pointed in the right direction. The airport was very busy and chaotic at Thanksgiving time.

Final Advice:

  • Don’t be afraid to travel alone. Mingle with guests from around the world - I met couples from Australia, Tasmania, Canada, USA, and Japan.

  • Try all the food, including regional specialties and classics.

  • Prepay your gratuities for peace of mind.

  • Enjoy the evening entertainment. From local singers/musicians to trivia and family feud, the included entertainment was fantastic.

  • Go somewhere new at least once a year. You won’t regret it!

I enjoyed this trip even more than anticipated!

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