Honeymoon Discussions

Rhine River Cruise

FI and I are going on a Viking Rhine river cruise for our honeymoon. It is booked and we are really excited. We've never been river cruising but feel like it will be a fun way to see parts of Europe that we might not see otherwise.

I'm looking for expertise on the excursions. I've been reading lots of blogs/Cruise Critic forum posts and general internet search information about them, but I really can't seem to determine if it is worth it or not to do the extra excursions.

Re: Rhine River Cruise

  • CMGragainCMGragain member
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 25 Answers
    edited March 2016
    Most river cruises include excursions, though there might be some extra ones that they want to sell you.  I have never sailed with Viking, but I have friends who have, and they love it.  I sailed the Rhine, Main, and Danube about 12 years ago with Uniworld, which is similar.
    Be sure and buy some Asbach Uralt chocolates with brandy in Rudesheim!  Wow!  We enjoyed the mechanical musical museum there.  We did not continue on the Rhine, but turned east to Vienna and Budapest.  The wines are wonderful!  Does Viking include them?
    If they offer you an optional excursion to Rothemburg on der Tauber, do go.  Rick Steeves books tell you a lot about the area.
    httpiimgurcomTCCjW0wjpg
    ernursej
  • Thanks @CMGragain. Some of the excursions are included and others are extra. Will note your tips and add them to my research pile. Very excited! Viking includes basic red and white choices with lunch and dinner, but allows you to bring alcohol on board with you. We will probably do some shopping before boarding and then when we stop to get bottles of wine that we really like.
  • The best place to shop is in a local grocery store.  I bought a bottle of great Rhine wine for about 3 euros.  Would have cost me $12 back home!
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    ernursej
  • I've traveled on Uniworld with my parents, and they've done AMA as well. Typically, the 'optional' excursions are geared towards people who have already been to a city- so we'd done a Uniworld cruise that went through Budapest, did the included tour the first time. A few months later, we did a different section of the Danube, but hit Budapest again, so did the optional Parliament tour, for a cost, as we'd already done the city overview tour previously. 

    I'm not sure how old you are, but I do want to mention that my parents have noted they are usually one of the younger couples on the cruises- and they're 63&70 now (started doing river cruises in the last 6-8 years). The cruise we did at Christmas did have many younger couples, and the cruise we did on the Mekong had more people in the late 50/early 60s age group. Whereas one of the Danube cruises I joined them on, I was the only person under 55, and the average age was so old that the cruise line had to bring a doctor on board for the entire cruise! 
  • @KnickerGold, we are much younger than the usual demographic of the ship (in our early 30's) but knew that going in. We are not party people and prefer something lower key with good food and great destinations. My Grandfather took me on his "Silver Adventure" (designed for those 65 years and older) trip when his wife died, and it was one of my favourite trips. People actually had conversations with others and I came home relaxed and well rested.

    It will be a bit different, but something great to try out!

    SP29
  • climbingsingleclimbingsingle NYC 'burbs member
    10000 Comments Seventh Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    ernursej said:

    @KnickerGold, we are much younger than the usual demographic of the ship (in our early 30's) but knew that going in. We are not party people and prefer something lower key with good food and great destinations. My Grandfather took me on his "Silver Adventure" (designed for those 65 years and older) trip when his wife died, and it was one of my favourite trips. People actually had conversations with others and I came home relaxed and well rested.

    It will be a bit different, but something great to try out!

    My H and I (then boyfriend) sailed on the QE2 for a Mediterranean cruise. We were the youngest couple on the ship by far, and we had a great time. We're not huge party people, and honestly, quite a few older couples out-drank us and out-partied us. Either way, we had an amazing time. I don't need to be surrounded by people my own age to enjoy a vacation. 

    For some of the stops, we used Tours by Locals. I can't recommend them enough. They're really fantastic if you want to go a different route than the ship excursions.  

    SP29ernursej
  • SP29SP29 member
    Sixth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    You'll have to let us know how it went after you're back, and which excursions you did, if any.

    DH and I were eyeing the Viking cruises. I'd like to go to Europe before we have kids and see a few places, so DH suggested a cruise as an easy way to figure out the transportation part and have a trip planned for us with the "highlights" since we can't take a long vacation.
    ernursej
  • @climbingwife - thanks! I'll look into the company.

    @SP29 - WIll do. In the thick of planning it right now. Doing a few days in Brussels and Amsterdam prior to the cruise and then Zurich after.

  • Where are you staying in Brussels?  We were there last year.
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  • Haven't decided yet. We always stay city centre, at least 4 stars and if possible at a hotel at offers FI points (like a Hilton or Sofitel). Where did you stay @CMGragain?
  • CMGragainCMGragain member
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 25 Answers
    edited March 2016
    We were on a budget, and we stayed at the Hotel a la Grande Cloche, which was south of the Grand Place in a Muslim neighborhood.  It was a short walk to the tourist area, but I would only recommend this hotel to people on a strict budget.  No in room air-conditioning and tiny, claustrophobic halls.  Clean, quiet and safe, though.
    Next time I would book at the Ibis or the Novotel, near the Gare Central.  Super location but reasonable.
    If you haven't been to Bruges, do schedule a day trip there!
    httpiimgurcomTCCjW0wjpg
    ernursej
  • @CMGragain - I think Bruges will end up on the list. Just depends on how much time we want to allow for each place.
  • JoanE2012JoanE2012 Exit 21 (Jersey!) member
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 5 Answers
    @ernursej - We did a river cruise a few years back (Christmas Markets on the Danube) and loved it!  We're doing another in a couple weeks (Tulip Time in Netherlands/Belgium).  We are cruising AMA (and did so last time) - all excursions are included, but most days you have to pick between 2 or 3.  Sometimes it's hard!  We just pick whatever sounds most interesting to us.
    ernursej
  • @JoanE2012 I think the majority of excursions are included but there are a few that are extra with Viking. Most people that I've talked to (including a few people our age) have loved their river cruise experience getting excited and it is still far away!
  • JoanE2012JoanE2012 Exit 21 (Jersey!) member
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 5 Answers
    ernursej said:
    @JoanE2012 I think the majority of excursions are included but there are a few that are extra with Viking. Most people that I've talked to (including a few people our age) have loved their river cruise experience getting excited and it is still far away!
    It's amazing!  And you've done the research to know what to expect (ie not a party atmosphere), so I know you'll love it.  We'd travel like this more often if it weren't for the cost.
    ernursej
  • It's a matter of what you like to do in your free time & doing research on the side trips. My parents are doing that cruise this summer. Some of the side trips they are just passing over because they are from Germany & several of the stops through Germany they have already been to. So if they have to pay for those trips, they will skip them & maybe venture on their own.
  • CMGragainCMGragain member
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 25 Answers
    edited April 2016
    The one extra excursion we did was the bus trip to Rothenburg.  Well worth the money!
    httpiimgurcomTCCjW0wjpg
  • Thanks @Erikan73 and @CMGragain. Based on the advice I got, I did some more reading and we booked only a few of the extra excursions. We booked at beginning of April and got everything we wanted. Now to start getting excited!
    SP29[Deleted User]
  • JoanE2012JoanE2012 Exit 21 (Jersey!) member
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 5 Answers
    Where are your stops?  We just got back from ours and enjoyed it.  Bruges is my new favorite European city.  
  • We stop in Amsterdam (starting location), Kinderdijk, Cologne, Koblenz, Heidelberg, Strasbourg, Breisach, and Basel (finishing location). We are doing a week pre and post to hit Bruges, Brussels, Lucerne, Zurich and Geneva. Should be exciting! 
    thisismynickname2JoanE2012
  • The best part of the cruise for DH was sitting on the top deck and taking photos of the castles on the Rhine.   He is a photography junkie.
    httpiimgurcomTCCjW0wjpg
    ernursej
  • thisismynickname2thisismynickname2 City By The Lake member
    5000 Comments Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    ernursej said:
    We stop in Amsterdam (starting location), Kinderdijk, Cologne, Koblenz, Heidelberg, Strasbourg, Breisach, and Basel (finishing location). We are doing a week pre and post to hit Bruges, Brussels, Lucerne, Zurich and Geneva. Should be exciting! 
    I'm so jealous right now!
    I'm also a big fan of Brussels. Very impressed with that city. 
    But public service announcement- I would strongly avoid Ibis unless you truly are on a very strict budget. My DH and I are very much in the camp of "hotel doesn't matter as long as it's clean as we're only sleeping there," but my gosh, I hated the Ibis hotels we stayed in in Yorkshire, England. They're barely a step up from a youth hostel so I shudder to think what their budget version is like. And I have pretty low standards.  
    On the other hand, I've stayed at a number of Best Westerns in Europe and very much like those. Those are pretty budget friendly and American corporate types may have employee discounts there. 
    ________________________________


  • @thisismynickname, we usually stay in Fairmonts/Four Seasons/Hiltons/Sofitels/Radissons/Westins on vacation. FI is in charge of logistics and he won't stay in anything below 4 stars or where he can't get loyalty points. We used to have (when we were 22/23) a "as long as it is clean policy" and learned our lesson. We are willing to pay extra for location and upgrades.
    thisismynickname2
  • We stayed at Ibis in Warsaw and it was perfectly fine, pretty much what you would expect from any run of the mill hotel.  FI learned the hard way what horse radish was at the breakfast buffet, and I learned that horse radish apparently isn't a universally known spread.  FI had me smell it, I said, "oh, it's horse radish."  Then, unbeknownst to me, he proceeded to pile it on his bread like he would do with hummus.

    I also stayed at the Ibis Economy in Graz, and apart from having my own bathroom, it was pretty much a hostel.  

    What are you planning for Amsterdam?  There's lots to do, but it really depends on your tastes.  If you like sweets then I'd recommend stroop wafels -- you can find food trucks that make them fresh, much better than what you pick up in the shops.  FI (who is Dutch and takes his cheese very seriously) would tell you to stay out of tourist cheese shops if you want to bring home cheese as a souvenir.  Local shops can package it up for you and give you accurate information about bringing it through customs.
    ernursej
  • @Spoonsey, we will be visiting with friends in Brussels and Amsterdam. We love checking out local food/drink but don't usually bring anything home. Cheese is definitely on the list of things to do though!
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