Cruising with Viking Cruises is incredibly impressive due to the cultural immersions I experienced while traveling on the Viking Odin. The common assumption about cruises is that you don’t get enough time in the ports. This is not the case for Viking. As we cruised the Rhine River from Switzerland through Germany and ending in Paris, Viking gave us the wonderful opportunity to explore, learn, taste and experience each destination.
The Viking Odin is beautifully designed with a minimalist, modern and chic feel to the rooms and overall space. The ship is impeccably clean and well taken care of to the point where it felt brand new!
The Aquavit Terrace is dreamy and is the ideal place to sight see while cruising through the river. We passed vineyards cascading down into the river, historic castles, ruins and charming towns on the Rhine.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served in the ship’s dining room but for a more casual meal, you can head up to the lounge where you will find many of the options on the restaurant menu available in a buffet style layout. Dining is open style seating and serving times are on a set schedule. Room service is not available.
If you book a Verdana Suite, you can enjoy the incredibly beautiful views from the comfort of your own French balcony. Staterooms are stocked with complimentary fruits and water around the clock. You’ll also find both 110v and 220v outlets throughout the stateroom. I hardly used my power adapter!
The cruise industry has made it a priority to keep passengers connected by improving satellite connections so that Wi-Fi can be more reliable. Luckily, on Viking, the Wi-Fi is free! Connections may be stronger in some areas than others.
The excursions go beyond just sightseeing. Viking curates daily itineraries that allow you go into local life to better understand each place beyond the surface.
You’ll travel to places that might otherwise be hard to get to like the little towns along the river. Viking provides many included excursions that transfer you comfortably via coach bus to the castles, towns, museums, etc.
Optional excursions are also available for a fee. Some are solely walking tours and others are a combination of walking and transfer by motor coach.
Additionally, some ports of call are so small that you’re free to roam around without needing transportation to get to the center.
We spent 10 days cruising along the Rhine, Main and Moselle Rivers taking us into towns like Trier, Rüdesheim and Cochem, and through the Rhine Valley, famous for its many riverside castles. In addition to the charming German towns, we experienced cities such as Strasbourg in France, Luxembourg city and the timeless city of Paris.
We flew into the city of Basel where the Viking ship departed and due to limited time, we did not have the opportunity to tour Basel since we opted for the Highlights of the Alps tour. Tip: If you want to spend more time in the embarking destination, it’s wise to fly in a day early and book a pre-extension so you don’t miss out on it.
Situated near the Jura Mountains and the Black Forest, day trips can easily be made to the nearby Zurich, Lucerne, and Alsace region of France from Basel.
Highlights of the Alps: Optional Tour
We drove through alpine villages to get to the scenic town of Brienz where a wood carving school is located.
Our next stop was Grindewald where we boarded a cogwheel train the Kleine Scheidegg boasting amazing views from 11,000 feet above sea level.
Our last stop was the popular town of Interlaken. Save your Euros because this is the place to go for shopping and chic restaurants.
The largest port on the Upper Rhine, Strasbourg is ideally located on the border of France and Germany offering a mix of cultures. The old town is easy to explore by foot and the cobblestone streets are lined with wooden charming houses and canals.
Café culture is essential, grab a café and sit amongst the half timbered houses.
Things to do:
Visit the Cathedrale Notre Dame
You can climb 330 steps to the base of the spire to take in views of the city.
View of the intricately detailed and Gothic Strasbourg Cathedral.
Its 465 foot tall spires make it the tallest medieval building in Europe.
Three bridges distinguished by their four stone towers, were once covered with wooden shelters. They span the river as it spills into canals.
Petite France area is the former Tanner’s District surrounded by the small III River and crisscrossed by charming canals. Half timber houses and gorgeous architecture span along the canals.
Wander up and down the tiny streets that connect Rue du Bain-aux-Plantes and Rue des Dentelles to Grand-Rue and stroll the waterfront.
Batorama Canal Boats:
A 70 minute city tour, you will glide past the must see sites from this glass boat.
Stretching from the city of Trier to the town of Koblenz, the vineyards cover approximately 22,240 miles of steep terraced hillsides. Wines made in the Moselle region are mostly white wines. Many of the vines grow on steep slate and very steep inclines. It was fascinating to cruise right by them.
One of Germany’s oldest and prettiest cities, famous for its university and the historic Heidelberg Castle. We started off admiring the ruins and the view from the top of the castle and ventured down to the Old Town on a walking tour.
The partly ruined fairytale castle overlooks the city which was abandoned over 300 years ago. Red sandstone ruin perched 330 feet above the river.
It’s been said that Heidelberg’s cityscape is so beautiful and admired that American forces deliberately chose to avoid bombing it during WWII.
The castle is also home to the world’s largest wine barrel, 250 years old.
Market Square: holds outdoor markets every Wednesday and Saturday
Old Bridge: provide stunning views of the river and castle from below.
Located in the heart of Germany’s Rheingau region, it’s the area’s center of winemaking.
Things to do
Drosselgasse, a cobblestone street lined with taverns and shops.
This is the highlight of any visit to Rüdesheim. Views of the old town, vineyards and river are awe-inspiring. The station at the base can be found in the area of Oberstrasse street.
Try Rudesheim traditional Coffee
An alcoholic coffee drink, it is incredibly fascinating to watch the preparation of this genius creation. The brandy is flambéed and stirred for a minute before coffee is mixed in. I won’t give away too much so you can try it for yourself!
Often called the Romantic Rhine, the Rhine River flows through one of Germany’s most scenic areas. It is indeed the most picturesque stretch of castles, homes, vineyards and smooth river. All of which I was able to take in from the comfort of my room on the Viking river boat.
The Middle Rhine is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Braubach & Koblenz
Located in the town of Braubach, the 700 year old hilltop fortress known as Marksburg Castle sits just a short drive from the Koblenz port and is the best preserved castle on the Rhine.
Fact: one of the only castles that has never been destroyed mainly since the castle was built with such strong fortifications.
The castle towers 500 feet over the town of Braubach with views of the Rhine and the surrounding countryside.
The town of Koblenz has tons of shops, restaurants and parks to enjoy as well.
Cochem was hands down my favorite town we visited. It is located in the heart of the Moselle Valley and is surrounded by lush vineyards, castles, and views of the stunning landscape.
We took a scenic drive up to the 11th century old Reichsburg Castle that is perfectly positioned on a hilltop overlooking the town with stunning landscapes and a dramatic bend in the river.
Back in the town, there are tons of shops, hiking paths, sightseeing and restaurants.
Tip: For drinks, grab a seat at one of the charming wine taverns with gorgeous views of the river. Tip: try “green wine” which is a very young wine.
Cochem chairlift: take a chair lift that soars over 800 feet for a birds eye view of Cochem
Where to eat
Ratskeller: for traditional German food, this underground cozy restaurant and wine bar is the perfect spot.
Castello Ristorante: in the middle of the Old Town on the way to Cochem Castle, Castello is owned and operated by an Italian family, serving specialties from their homeland.
Germany’s oldest city is treasured for its rich history and was founded by a Roman emperor. Trier is home to the oldest Roman ruins outside of Rome and the ruins are available for touring such as the beautifully preserved city gates, Porta Nigra.
Evangelical Lutheran Church
I absolutely loved the simplicity of this church. There was something so calming about staring up at the altar and gazing at the natural light hitting the cross. In Europe, we’re so used to entering elaborate churches and that’s usually what you expect to see but it was refreshing to walk into such a minimalist space.
Hauptmarkt: The farmer’s market dates back to the 10th century and is continued to this day.
Luxembourg City, Luxembourg
We took a walking tour of the city of Luxembourg, the EU’s smallest capital city. It is quaint and very beautiful, reminded me a bit of Paris.
Fun fact: The country of Luxembourg is about the size of Rhode Island (just to give you some perspective on how tiny it is!).
Built on a ravine, every route is the scenic route. It’s no wonder why they call it the balcony of Europe.
Please look out for my Guide to Paris to learn all bout the things to do, see and eat in the magical city!
To book a river cruise with Viking, please visit www.vikingcruises.com
All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site.
I was hosted by Viking Cruises. As always, all opinions are my own.