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Hop aboard a Rhine River Cruise By Marguerite Cleveland
I was recently invited on a Press Trip to experience the Viking Egdir, one of the company’s newest longships launched earlier this year, on the Rhine Getaway itinerary. The eight-day cruise began in Basel, Switzerland, with stops in France, Germany and The Netherlands along the Rhine River. Each day brought exciting new discoveries as the ship passed charming villages plucked right from a storybook, vineyards crawling up hillsides, Gothic cathedrals, and even Dutch windmills. The highlight of the trip was the 40-mile stretch of the Rhine River between Koblenz and Bingen, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Egdir cruised past more than 20 medieval castles dating back to 966 and the delightful small towns surrounding them. It was such a magical experience.
Pro Tip: Book your airfare through Viking and pay the extra $100 to $150 for Viking Air Plus, which allows you more options in selecting your flights and seats. With the current pilot shortage and frequent airline delays, you will have peace of mind as Viking provides a 24-hour hotline to use during your journey. The representatives work with the airlines and Viking to get you to your cruise. On my trip they even delayed our departure so a guest could make the cruise. VikingRiverCruises.com
Stay My accommodation on the Viking Egdir was their Veranda Stateroom. One of the things I like about Viking is the brand consistency. Each Viking Longship is the same, so you know what to expect. I recommend the Veranda Stateroom, as it gives you extra space with the private veranda. The views are spectacular with a floor-to-ceiling sliding glass door. versus one that pulls open. so you can enjoy fresh air in your cabin if you like. A nice feature is all the 110/220-volt outlets and USB ports. The Scandinavian design is thoughtfully engineered with plenty of storage space and a very comfortable bed with luxury linens.
River cruising provides a more intimate experience with only 190 guests and 50 crew. You won’t find the spas and multiple dining options that are on Ocean cruise ships, but I didn’t miss it. I enjoyed spending time on the Sun Deck with its 360-degree views of the Rhine River and a beautiful organic herb garden. There is plenty of comfortable seating in the lounge, which serves as the main common area as well as tucked around the ship.
Eat I truly enjoyed the culinary experiences on board the Viking Egdir. You have the option of dining in the Restaurant, the main dining venue, or the Aquavit Terrace that offers both indoor and outdoor seating depending on the weather. The same menu is offered at both locations. Each day there are classics that are always available, specials of the day and at dinner a regional menu based on where the ship is. Ingredients are locally sourced, and the chef accents meals from the onboard herb garden. I lost count of how many croissants I ate.
Make sure to read the Viking Daily each day. The four-page newsletter has a detailed section of culinary information about the food specialties for your next destination. Viking provides so many opportunities to experience local favorites. I was able to enjoy a slice of Black Forest Cake at a restaurant in the Black Forest region. In the evenings there are optional excursions to local restaurants, pubs or wineries. I took a culinary walking tour of Strasbourg, France, and had the opportunity to eat and drink from local vendors and restaurants across the city. Onboard the ship some of the cultural enrichment events were culinary with a food demonstration and the opportunity to taste a local delicacy.
Do Viking provides one complimentary shore excursion for every port of call except for departure day. On arrival day there was an opportunity to take a Welcome Walk with a local guide through Basel. Each day the included excursion is either a bus tour or a walking tour. I was very impressed with the quality of the tours and the guides. Most days you can take the included tour in the morning and an optional one in the afternoon or evening. Guest services and the program director were flexible and able to arrange seats for a sold-out pub crawl when more guests wanted to go.
Take advantage of the fact your ship docks right next to town. I was able to walk right off the ship and into Cologne, Germany, and a few other towns to explore. In Koblenz, Germany, I was able to enjoy a currywurst at a local imbiss (fast food hut) right next to the ship before walking over to catch the gondola high up a hill to the mighty fortress of Ehrenbreitstein. Make sure to pack comfortable walking shoes. This was truly a memorable trip.