Rhine & Viking Shores & Fjords (Basel to Bergen)
We planned our three week trip exclusively through Viking Cruises using AAA as our agent, and took the afore mentioned vacation May 29 - June 16.
Our flights were purchased through Viking Air and we flew United out and IcelandAir home.
We booked a pre extension to Lake Como for three days, we stayed at the Lake Como Sheraton hotel. Our Viking host was Lott, he was absolutely fabulous in every possible way and we were treated like family. He took us on an optional tour of the area surrounding the hotel which included his pointing out the local grocery store, coffee shop and several restaurant choices. The regular tours were a great deal of fun and our group of passengers had a lot of fun getting to know one another. The first full day Lott had a welcome party where he served a drink and some snacks, he also walked with us to another town along the water where many of had dinner that evening. The final day we boarded our motor coach for our trip through the alps to Basel, we made several stops including a lunch planned by Viking in Zurich which was wonderful. Lott brought along chocolates and a liquoir for us to share a final drink together and a sweet farewell. I cannot sing his praises enough he was more than a host he was a member of the little family that would enjoy the remaining two weeks together.
We boarded the Viking Hiln in Basel and started the next leg of our journey, the ship was all we expected having cruised on a longship two years ago. We were not as thrilled with this itinerary as our time spent on the Rhône previously but could not fault the ship for that. We found the crew on board to be a little cold and almost felt like a bother if you tried to engage anyone with a question or comment. The food was good but not as many choices as we had just two years ago, plenty to eat as always. We sat with our friends from The Lake Como extension in the back of the dining room at several tables.
We upgraded our cabin for this trip and had a balcony which we really enjoyed, we had plenty of room for our clothing and the bathroom met our needs.
We were supposed to transfer from the Hiln to the Jupiter in Amsterdam and hoped to spend the afternoon touring in the city. A lock was broken so the Hiln put us off in Rotterdam and we were bussed to Amsterdam, the delay did not leave us much time in Amsterdam but we did get a canal ride in before sailaway.
This was our first cruise on Viking Ocean and all I can say is WOW, the ship was beautiful and our cabin was lovely. The food and service were very nice and our evening in Manfredis was spectacular.
We attended the cruise critic party and met the captain and his wife, who were very social. Viking had one of the nicest events I have attended with drinks and hors d’oeuvres with a very small turnout.
The food in the buffet was great and we never struggled to find a table even when we were meeting friends.
The ship had many places you could meet and be the only people there, we never felt crowded except at the shows in the evening when if you did not arrive twenty minutes early you very often would stand. We found the shows to be just okay, entertaining, but the the best show starred our energetic and amazing cruise director, Ship Happens production.
The free spa area was so enjoyable, the heated pool, the sauna, snow room and steam room were enjoyed by all in our party. Don’t miss it...
Our itinerary for this cruise was terrific but our favorite spot was Flam, Norway, we would recommend this trip the fjords were beautiful and different.
We disembarked the Jupiter and Viking took us to the airport in Bergen where we boarded an IcelandAir flight to Reykjavik, Iceland for our three night stay at the Grand Hotel.
Our host here was a huge disappointment after our wonderful experience with Lott in Lake Como, he left when the tour was over and arrived when it was time to get on the bus. He was very informative and funny but just not as invested. Iceland was interesting and we enjoyed learning about this country, the tours were long days on the bus which was necessary to see everything. The hotel was a huge disappointment, we have stayed with Viking in Paris and Lake Como and were surprised at the difference in service, amenities and cleanliness at this hotel. They were changing the carpets in the hallways and had rolls of carpet old and new in the hallways. The lobby was a mess as the hotel always had bus loads of people arriving or departing with their luggage everywhere. The staff that worked there were not a happy crew and complained out loud about the management or lack there of. I would hope that Viking will not continue to use this hotel because it was not up to par with their usual hotels.
We had an amazing vacation and met some wonderful people who we hope to see again, I look forward to cruising both on the river and ocean with Viking again.