This was my second Viking cruise. The crew of the Ingvi didn't disappoint. The crew did a great job of anticipating our needs, providing a good variety of food options, shore excursions, and personal attention when we needed a few non-standard items. The ship always docked in the center of town making it easy to walk off the ship into the historic district of the cities/towns we visited.
The chef was also very attentive and helped me avoid problems with two nut allergies. I was surprised how many items on the ship contained nuts or nut oils. In all cases, I was offered very tasty alternatives.
The Vikings guides for the shore excursions were all excellent starting with our guides in Amsterdam and Kinderdyk. All had wonderful stories, and provided us with background on the country, culture, and things to do after our guided tours. Our guides in Cologne, and Heidelberg provided us with wonderful lunch alternatives to the standard tourist locations favored by most cruise guests. The places we visited didn't speak English, but our high school French and a German phrase book was able to see us through wonderful meals.
When visiting a smaller town, don't be afraid to step off the standard tourist trail. Many churches are open in the afternoon, and often contain unexpected surprises. We walked into one church where the organist was practicing, and were treated to a free impromptu Bach concert with only a dozen or so people in attendance.
We were lucky enough to get the $300 round trip air fare from Boston. We worked with Viking and our AAA rep to select our flights. We paid Viking an extra $100 to alter our return to allow us to take a self-guided hiking tour through the Zermatt area. Viking scheduled our return flight through Zurich a week after we completed our cruise. We used Swiss Rail to travel from Basel to Zermatt, and from Zermatt to Zurich.
Bring a camera, and plenty of memory cards. The Rhine is a very scenic area. If you plan to take pictures inside the cathedrals adjust your ISO to the highest point where you can still get clear pictures, use an image stabilization lens, and have fun (tripods are not allowed). I was using a Nikon 7500, and shot at ISO 3200 using a Nikon 18-140 mm lens post processing RAW files in On1 Photo RAW 2018. The pictures are amazing.
Our cabin was good sized, and included a balcony that we used several times at night while we were cruising through some of the industrial areas. The small towns and factories are often well lit, providing great night time scenery. We were pleased to discover that there were no bugs on our veranda as long as the boat was moving.
The room itself was very comfortable. The bathroom was small but well laid out with everything we needed for our trip. The heated floors were a nice touch.
Our cabin steward was excellent, and did a wonderful job keeping things in order, and responding to special requests. He even found and returned an item that accidentally landed up in a pile of towels.
Storage in the closet, drawers, and under the bed was excellent. My only complaint is that it would have been nice to have one more US 110 outlet. Most of our electronics were 110/220 compatible so simple converters worked properly.
We took the self-guided tour of the Cathedral and enjoyed an impromptu organ recital. The stain glass in this church was amazing. We also opted to climb the 330 steps to the top of the cathedral for an amazing view. Don't attempt this climb if you are afraid of heights. The stairs going down area open with only metal bars to keep you in the spiral staircase providing an extremely wide view (which to me was amazing).View All 95 Notre Dame Cathedral Reviews
We took the tour of Heidelberg Castle provided by the tour company. The bus ride to the castle was scenic, and the guide provided excellent commentary. The castle tour itself was nice, but we went on a very busy day so it was hard to stay with our group. The guide did his best to keep everyone together, but our headphones stopped working twice during the tour due to limited range.
After the castle tour our guide took us to the historic center for a tour that included several interesting locations. There was small festival going on that day that included many old fire engines, and a local band. Our guide pointed out a street with tourist restaurants. When we asked where locals eat, he pointed to a different street. We ate with the locals who only spoke German. The food was wonderful and available at a more reasonable price.View All 180 Heidelberg Castle Reviews