These are just a few of our generic cruise observations for those of you who haven’t been on one. and might be curious.
Our cruise began August 20 in Switzerland and continued down the Rhine River through France, Germany and the Netherlands, ending in the City of Amsterdam. We did pre and post-cruise extensions and were accompanied by Jerry’s son, Grant, and his wife Barb who allowed us to experience a parallel trip vicariously through observing their youthful, more energetic exploits.
Part of the reason Jerry selected this tour was that Viking recently commissioned a record number of brand new river cruise boats on the Rhine and ours was one of the new boats, the Viking Jarl.
My only prior experience with small-ship travel was in Alaska years ago. On that trip I found the cabins with unopenable portholes a bit claustrophobic so I was determined that we would have at least a small balcony on which to relax and to afford us a place to view the passing world.
Our designated cabin was very comfortable and on reflection I think a further upgrade to a suite with a separate sitting area would probably not prove worth the expense given we didn’t spend much time in the room other than for resting.
The ship had spacious lounging areas, a library and computer center and its own herb garden on deck. Its staff was a mixture of very friendly to aloof persons, many from the Eastern European nations (primarily Romania and Bulgaria) and the Philippines. All spoke English at varying levels of proficiency.
Days on the cruise were presented as a rather tightly scheduled combination of included tours, optional tours and free time. Each day we had a new port to explore either on the included tour or on our own. We found the included locally guided tours were very informative and good for orientation. Generally cruise time occurred at night.
Unlike the huge cruise ships, there was one seating for meals and the food, although plentiful, was not ever-present as it is on the big ships. There is one meal service and minor coffee service 24 hours a day, no room service, no midnight banquets. We found the food to be quite well presented but not always as tasty as it was photogenic.
A Few of Our Observations:
The ship provided detailed local maps each day for touring, no need to bring your own.
Often at ports ships anchor side by side, meaning your view is into someone’s stateroom rather than onto the river, but usually this was for a limited time overnight and not terribly troublesome.
Watching lock walls inches from your window at night as the boat is lowered may make you feel you are being prematurely lowered into the netherworld.