My Rhine Getaway Experience and What to Expect on a Viking River Cruise

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I’m not sure what I expected on my Viking River cruise, or how my Rhine Getaway experience would turn out. I had heard amazing things but nothing really specific beyond a high level of enjoyment. “You will love it” from those that have been lucky enough to go and, “I have heard it’s amazing!” from those that haven’t.

Me too.

After cruising with Viking I thought I would help lift the fog by sharing my Rhine Getaway experience. More specifically, what to expect on a Viking River cruise.

Prepare to Smile…A Lot

The very first thing I noticed with my Rhine Getaway experience was the high level of customer service the crew puts forth. Stepping on board in Amsterdam I was met with warm smiles and a heartfelt greeting. This was instrumental in setting the tone for the rest of my week – one that was friendly, and beyond courteous. This high level of service continued into my state room where I found a modern and comfortable room complete with a welcome note, fresh fruit, and a bottle of bubbly.

Off to a great start.

Prepare to Eat…A Lot

The high-level service on my Rhine Getaway experience flowed from my welcome, to the state room, to the dining hall. Smiles continued with the staff and new friends made at each meal. Viking River Cruises encourages sitting with other guests which made for some fun nights over some incredible meals. It was shocking the quality of food put out on this river cruise ship – even more so after touring the kitchen. Although there was always a set menu to pick from, my Viking Rhine Getaway experience highlights included local dishes pulled from the port towns we visited. Then there was one of the most amazing Thanksgiving dinners I have ever had.

Another thing to note on what to expect on Viking River Cruises is the included wine and beer with your meals. This was something I later found is not common in the cruising world. On top of that, staff in the dining hall does great job keeping you lubricated. My wine glass never went dry at dinner service. “Thank you Linus.”

Prepare to Tour…or Not

Another anomaly on the Rhine Getaway experience is the inclusion of excursions. This added value feature is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing in that Viking River Cruises does an amazing job in keeping you busy and seeing the highlights of each stop. It is a curse in that it can leave you with little downtime to unwind. The excursions, of course, are optional. That said, my FOMO kicked in and had me out every day. The tours are wonderful but definitely not how I am used to traveling as they are very handheld, leaving little time to explore on your own. This is great for first time travelers and the traveling retirees, but not so much for my Rhine getaway experience. I did have a great time though, with plenty of  highlights including a UNESCO World Heritage visit to  the windmills in Kinderdijk, strolling Strasbourg – a French town that thinks it’s German, and a short beer tour in Cologne. Note, the latter was optional and at an additional charge.

Then there was the Castles. SO. MANY. CASTLES. This is a Rhine Getaway experience after all.

And of course, churches. This is Europe. Church highlights on my Rine Getaway experience included the Strasbourg Cathedral and the Cologne Cathedral. The latter being Germany’s most visited landmark.

Then there was eating Black Forest Cake in the Black Forest!

Rhine Getaway Experience

Prepare to Relax

As I mentioned, the excursions on Viking River Cruises are included and optional. If you choose to enjoy a day or two on board the ship you have plenty of time to do just that. Keep in mind, it is a river cruise and not a massive ship with endless entertainment. That said, weather permitting you can enjoy the sundeck or the view from your state room balcony if you have one. Also, in your room there’s a flat screen TV with on-demand movies. There is a small library as well as a 24-hour espresso machine and snacks. I made good use of this and caught up on work while using Viking River Cruises complimentary Wi-Fi – yet another cruise ship anomaly.

Prepare to Party…or Not

One thing I didn’t expect with my Rhine getaway experience was to be out partied by the vacationing seniors on board. After a day of bus tours and walking, I was exhausted. Add an amazing but heavy meal and I wanted nothing more than a movie in my state room. Not my new dinner friends. Each night there is some form of entertainment in the lounge area. From dancing to singing along with musicians, the seniors took full advantage – which somehow made me that much more tired.

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Prepare for the Unexpected

Lastly on my takeaways from my Rhine Getaway experience is to expect the unexpected. Water levels on the Rhine vary drastically which can often mean your Viking River Cruise can only go so far. Note: the water has to be shockingly low as my visit to the bridge made me realize. The average death on the Rhine is only 9 feet. Even more shockingly is the fact that these boats only require inches of water to operate. Inches! For my Rhine getaway experience this meant a ship swap, bypassing the low section of water. Viking made the transition as seamless as possible. We left on a tour one day and instead of returning to our ship we continued on to the next one. Erin’s parents had experienced low waters while on a Danub river cruise weeks before. This cruise line (a competitor) did not swap ships but docked and shuttled guests by bus for the remaining couple days. Again, these conditions are out of the companies control. How they handle it or not. Still, something to keep in mind as we missed out on some riverside Castles along the Rhine, something that other guests we talked to had specifically taken the cruise to see.

Rhine Getaway Experience

Rhine Getaway Experience

Expect More

In the end, my Viking River Cruises Rhine getaway experience is one I can glow about. At the time I had nothing to compare it to but after taking a Caribbean cruise I realized that you can expect more on a Viking River Cruise. 

More specifically:

  • The smaller ships allow for more personalized experiences
  • Alcoholic beverages are included with meals
  • Excursions are included and optional
  • Wi-Fi is included as there is a computer station for all to use
  • You can bring your own beer on board and not be charged an arm and a leg for it
  • Tips are not included!

 Rhine Getaway Experience Good to Know

Cruise Rates: Rates change depending on season. See here for latest rates! 
Includes: All meals, tours, and a ridiculously comfortable room.
Don’t Miss: Strolling Strousboug, Cologn Cathedral, and German beer!
Note: The Rhine Getaway is extremely popular. It is recommended to book well in advance!


What say you?
Thoughts on my Rhine Getaway Experience?
Let’s hear it!

For more reviews from Europe and beyond see HERE.

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Although I was provided a complimentary Rhine Getaway experience thanks to Viking River Cruises, the experience, opinions, and failure to keep up with the seniors is my own.


So how does Viking rank?

10 Comfort
10 Character
9 Execution
10 Value
9.8
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  • Bruce Schinkel Jr.

    Great post, and pictures! I took the same cruise in the opposite direction a few years ago and loved it, despite being one of the youngest on-board.

    • Cheers Bruce! Curious, did you have water level issues?

      • Bruce Schinkel Jr.

        No, we went in late October and had no issues with water levels at all. Unfortunate that you had to miss part of the middle Rhine and castles. You’ve inspired me to make my own blog post on the subject, so thanks for that!

  • Roy Stevenson

    Wow, Shaun. This is an excellent story & images! Nicely done. I recognized several of the places in your photos. I’ll be in touch with you privately with a question about the Viking PR rep. Regards, Roy Stevenson

  • Rosi C

    Wow.Cool pics :-). I love cruising myself so I agree with the food, love it. Cool experience to have. Safe travels.

    • Cheers Rosi! I head out on another Viking Cruise tomorrow. Come along via Snapchat! @lifeintrips

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  • M.

    Hey Shaun,
    Thanks for this summary of your cruise. I’ve only considered going on a cruise once in China and had some good friends tell us great things. I just wasn’t convinced that’s how I wanted to spend my holiday. However, seeing it through your blog, the food, the stops and the service. This may be what I’m needing. Thanks for the nudge on getting on a cruise. Soon enough I’ll be sailing away!
    Cheers,
    Max

    • Thanks Max! Glad I could help sway you! Stay tuned as I have upcoming posts dedicatied to the food onboard and one on the overall experience of the Romantic Danube Cruise.

  • Barbara W

    I have a question about where the boat generally docks and how close is to the towns? Is there transportation there if you decide to go off on your own instead of the Viking tours?

    • Hi Barbara! It really depends on the port. Most are centerally located making it very easy to explore on your own. Pasau is great for this, as is Cologne and Amsterdam. The boats do relocate throughout the day at some stops but generally you can safely explore on your own and the ships staff are always there to assist and arrange transportation if needed.

      If you tour the Danube check out this post I did on walking highlights from the port in Budapest!

      http://www.thislifeintrips.com/budapest-on-foot-viking-cruise-port/

      • Barbara W

        Great that really helps – I may come back with more questions. I am doing this Rhine Getaway cruise in November with pre-cruise stops in Amsterdam and Post-cruise in Lucerne.

  • Joann Gustke

    Thank you! I leave October 23 for this same cruise!

    • No worries! Hope this captured what to expect and hope you have a great trip!