We had heard about river cruises from friends who had really enjoyed a Danube cruise with Viking. We decided to try the Rhine river itinerary and summer is always a good time for us to get out of Phoenix. We extended our trip with a 3 day pre-stay in Amsterdam (I could write another review on Amsterdam by itself! Loved it), which the cruise line organized for us. We wish we had done a post-stay in Switzerland. The cruiseline booked our trip through their main phone line. The rep was very knowledgeable, friendly and patient. He gave us the perfect amount of details on our cabin. We booked a balcony room and it didn't disappoint. Viking offers included shore excursions for every day, and we enjoyed their choices. Our favorites were Cologne city, Heidelberg castle and the Marksburg Castle. We also did the Beer Tasting/Pub Crawl in Cologne which was one of the highlights for us. Our guide (Rocco) was hilarious! There are so many good things to say about a river cruise. The small size of the ship (we had 185 passengers onboard) made for great conversations every night after for cocktails/dinner. I feel like we got to know many people onboard and there was some great folks sailing with us! The food was wonderful. We were spoiled by the floor to ceiling windows and wonderful views as we ate each of our meals. The captain and staff were outstanding and also engaging with the passengers. We had an issue with the ship's engine on the day we were supposed to cruise the middle Rhine (numerous castles), but the ship's crew did everything they could to find a Plan B. The day was disappointing, but we still plan to go on another Viking cruise very soon. I've been on quite a few other ocean cruises. This was by far, my FAV cruise experience.
The room was much nicer and roomier than I expected. The bed was super comfortable. Plenty of closet and desk space. The bathroom had a heated floor, which we didn't need in summer. But we loved the "night light" under cabinet lighting in the bath. They provide you with listening devices for daily shore excursions which you plug in each night. There was a nice sized flat screen TV, although we didn't watch it much. They provided water every day. There is wifi onboard but it can be sketchy when you are sailing. The service was also amazing. Our room was always made up while we went to breakfast. And the balcony was a real treat. Such a great way to watch the world go by. We were located on the 2nd floor (same as the lobby area) and just a quick walk down the hall. Quiet and great location.
We spent 3 days here and it was well worth it. We visited Anne Frank house the first day in the afternoon. Make sure you buy your passes online within 60 days of travel. Avoid the line. We also booked our own excursion to see Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh museum. It included lunch and a canal cruise. We had a small group of 16 people which was amazing and our tour guide (Peter) was the bomb! It was a great day. We also enjoyed walking around town and/or using the trams (light rail). It's easy to buy a pass at the Central station for a couple of hours/days. Watch out for the bikes! They are fearless.
Our favorite excursion. We started for dinner and went to 4 different kolsch brewhauses. Our guide had a story for every place we went to. There were only about 15 people on our tour, and the small groups really make it enjoyable. We thought it would be too much food or beer, but it was just right. You just have to learn how to put your hand or your coaster on top of your kolsch glass to be able to time your tastings.View All 25 Paffgen Kolsch brewery Reviews
It rained that day but we still enjoyed it. Our guide had a great sense of humor and the Roman roots of the city and people who live in Cologne. The cathedral is amazing. There are a lot of people around but we moved quickly and the 2 hours we spent on the walking tour went quickly.View All 148 Walking Tour Reviews
Heidelberg castle is beautiful and the views of the town from there are wonderful. I wish we had more time in the town to shop that day before we had to head back to the ship.