Darlene and Owens Viking River Cruise 2013

December 17, 2013 No Comments by admin

 Well, after 2 years of wanting to go on a river cruise, I finally did it. On Dec. 4th, my sister in law Darlene and I landed in Amsterdam, one day before we boarded the Viking Jarl for a week long Rhine getaway. Since we arrived in the evening, we pretty much had time to get to the hotel, have dinner and get ready for bed. We stayed at the beautiful Hilton in downtown Amsterdam. The next day we got up and headed out to tour the city. We took an hour long river boat taxi/tour. This was actually a great way to see a lot of the city in a short amount of time. (Highly recommended.) We then headed over to take a tour of the Anne Frank House. Now, I will admit, this was not high up on my list of things to do. But Darlene wanted to go so I went along. I am so glad I did. This was a very wonderful and educational tour. While I walked through the house and into the secret passage behind the book case, everything started coming back to me from studying this in school. It really hit me how awful the conditions must have been and gave me a whole new respect for what those poor people had to endure. I see myself heading to the bookstore to read up on this period of history. I highly recommend this tour if you are in Amsterdam. A quick lunch at a sidewalk café and it was time for us to head back to the hotel, grab the bags and take a quick cab ride to the ship. 

As somebody who has been on over 30 ocean cruises, I must admit I was a little concerned on what to expect and had some doubts. When I was told there was no casino, no disco, no midnight buffet, no pool, no rock climbing wall, no Jacuzzi, my first thought was what am I going to do for fun? That concern was quickly put to rest not long after I boarded the ship. Which, by the way was the easiest and quickest embarkation I have ever experienced!  From the minute I stepped out of the taxi at the dock until I was standing at my cabin door was less than 10 minutes. 10 minutes later, our bags were brought to the room. I was quite impressed. When you have less than 150 passengers, things really do move swiftly and smoothly. 

My second concern was when I opened my cabin door and saw the size of the room. I have heard from past river cruisers and our Viking representative that you really don’t spend a lot of time in the cabin. Again, that concern was quickly put to rest. After unpacking and having plenty of room for our clothes, we were out the door to explore the ship. I week later I heard myself telling Darlene that everybody was right and we really didn’t spend a lot of time in the cabin. It seems we were there just to change clothes for dinner and to sleep. After a quick inspection of the ship, I started thinking how easy it was to get around and find everything, as compared to a 5000 passenger cruise ship. I thought this just might be ok. 

In the interest of keeping this article short, I will just say that the next 6 days were absolutely fantastic.

With stops in Kinderdijk, Cologne, Koblenz, Rudesheim, Heidelberg & Speyer, Strasbourg, Breisach & the Black Forrest and ending in Basel, I felt that I had seen and experienced so much history and culture. We were able to see and explore windmills, castles, massive cathedrals, historic cities, Roman ruins, farmers markets, Christmas markets, WWII battle fields and so much more. With Viking including a tour/excursion in each stop and the availability to do optional tours, this was not only a wonderful vacation but an educational experience as well.  A lot of that was due to the exceptional local tour guides that Viking uses. I was very impressed with their professionalism and their passion for sharing their part of the world with us. We also had plenty of time to ourselves in each town to explore on our own. 

As for my overall experience on the ship, I can only say good things. With the Jarl only being 9 months old, it still had that “new ship smell.” The crew was very professional and friendly and always had a polite greeting and a smile. The service was very good and the food was very satisfying. As with the ocean liners, if you needed an extra appetizer or some more soup, all you had to do was ask. In fact, my waiter seemed to figure me out rather quickly as often an extra shrimp or fillet seemed to” fall” onto my plate in the kitchen, before being brought out.  The fact that Viking includes all the beer, wine and soda at lunch and dinner was nice too. Not being a big wine drinker, I was able to sample several different varieties in an attempt to broaden my horizons.

The other thing I enjoyed about the Viking River cruise was meeting and talking to the other people on board. With less than 150 passengers on board it was easy to make new friends as opposed to the 3000-6000 people on a large ocean liner. With one time for dinner and no assigned seating, it was easy to meet new people every night. It turned out there were a few people from Wickenburg, just 2 cabins down from us. Small world! With one lounge and one bar on board, most people gravitated to that area after dinner to listen to the entertainment or the next day port talk. Before long, it was time to head to bed and get ready for the next exciting day. I never missed the casino or disco.

In conclusion, I cannot relay how much I enjoyed or how much I recommend this experience in a short 2 page article. It really does rank near the top of my all time favorite trips. If you would like to find out more about this wonderful option for a vacation and if it would be right for you, contact us and we can talk.  

Viking has added many new ships in the past couple of years and has several more coming out. They are very popular and many ships are booked into 2014 and 2015. So, if you are considering a river cruise, contact Departures Travel today. Whether it is Viking or another river cruise line, Departures Travel can set up a fantastic river cruise vacation tailored to your needs and interests.

Please enjoy a few pictures from our trip. If you would like to see more pictures, please go to our Facebook page at  https://www.facebook.com/DeparturesazTravel?ref=hl


10Kinderdijk (34)  1_Kinderdijk (20)

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