Our flight to Amsterdam via Toronto went great. We left on time and arrived in Amsterdam 30 minutes ahead of schedule.
We arrived at 9:30 AM. Clearing customs
is a breeze, you present your passport, and they stamp it and never ask you any
We found our way to the train, which departs every 10 min from the Airport to Central Station at a cost of
We took a cab from Central Station that costs
We took the shuttle and then walked to Anne Frank’s house. It costs
We then returned to the ship and were able to enter our room (#225). We unpacked and settled in for our 12-night cruise.
We had supper with our email friends Edna & Bill along with Phil & Ursula. We were all very tired and we had an early morning rise for the next day, so we turned in for a well-deserved night rest.
Our day started early, as we had to
board the bus for the Floriade by 7:45AM. When we checked in, we were all
assigned a bus number for the duration of this cruise. So we were on bus #3.
On our way to the Floriade’s we were given a tour of Amsterdam. The Floriade are past the airport. We arrived at the Floriade’s about 9:30AM. Our guide then took us to the meeting point, explained the map then took us to the little train that goes from the blue section to the yellow section. There was about a 10 min wait to get the train then about a 15 min ride to the yellow section. There was so much to see in such a short time. You would need a full day to be able to see most of it. So we concentrated on the yellow section, which was an indoor/outdoor exhibition.
We boarded the bus at 12PM for our ride back to Amsterdam to visit the Rijksmuseum. Viking had prepared boxed lunches for all and was quite good.
At the Rijksmuseum, our guide took us up the 2nd floor. He pointed out many paintings and gave us a detailed description of them. We saw paintings from Johannes Vermeer, Frans Hals, Rembrandt.
Today we are sailing the Rhine to
to arrive at 1:30PM. This morning we had a
Galley Tour. They have such
a small kitchen to prepare such wonderful meals. At mealtime, they are 18 in
the kitchen to serve. All the food is prepared fresh just before the meals.
All meats are bought outside of Europe and frozen. They have a special unit
that defrost the meat just like if it was fresh. All deserts are made in its
entirety on this ship.
Next we visited the Wheelhouse. The Captain (Gerard Wehrmeijer from Holland) was replacing our regular Captain. He showed and explained all the instruments. Once we hit the Mainz River towards the Danube, we will no longer be permitted on the top deck but we will be able to be on the Deck near the wheelhouse. We have 68 docks to cross during this cruise. Some of the bridges that we pass will be very low. The wheelhouse is on hydraulics that will be lowered during this time. It can be lowered that it disappears into the deck. The Captain can still navigate with his instruments and looking out a sliding roof.
Koblenz we had a walking tour where we got the history of this town. We saw the Deutsches Eck and just around it there was a monument with 3 pieces of the Berlin wall, pass through the Ludwig Museaum mit Blumenhof. We were given the history on the Basilika St. Kastor. Then we walked to the Görresplatz Square with Historiensäule.
Our ship sailed at 3:30PM to cruise the Romantic Rhine. Our Cruise Director Gaby gave us commentaries along the way. We were also given a booklet with the route information, which has the explanations with markings along the way.
We arrived in Rüdesheim around 8PM. At 9PM, the Cruise Director, Gaby and her assistances Taly and Emma took us to the Drosselgasse which the most famous narrow street. There we joined Edna, Bill, Ursula and Phil for a glass a beer in one of the beer gardens. There were two musicians playing mostly American music.
We took a taxi back (cost of
The weather is great (15 to 20 Celsius)
sunny. This morning we are taking a mini-train to the
Mechanical-Music-Museum this museum houses all kinds of
mechanical instruments from the early beginning showing the start of the
gramophone, the player piano and lost more. The guide played some of the
mechanical instruments and sang along with them.
We then went to a beer garden to sample some wonderful coffee or wine.
We are now sailing to Frankfurt on the Mainz River.
We arrived in Frankfurt where we had a guided bus tour of the city then a walking tour. After the walking tour we met our ship around 7PM.
That night we had the Aschaffenburger Hand Bell Ensemble entertain us on board.
We had a guided walking tour of
Miltenberg. Then we went on to Wertheim where we could go to
see a Glassblowing demonstration. We opted for the free time to visit a coffee
house and have some of the German pastries.
We then waited for our ship to join us around 1:30PM. We had a late lunch, and then we went on the top deck while we were cruising the Mainz (pronounced Mine) River. We have 34 locks while on the Main River. Some of the bridges are also very low and the bridge must be lowered. You will notice in one of the photos that the people sitting on the lower deck are higher than the wheelhouse. This was a very relaxing afternoon watching the scenery go by and talking with our fellow cruisers.
We had a bus ride to Würzburg where we
visited the Residenz, which is a baroque palace with mural fresco painting.
We went by bus along the Romantic Road watching the scenery, rolling fields, small villages along the way to Rothenburg .
We had lunch in Gasthof Glocke Restaurant. After lunch we had a walking tour of this Medieval Town Rothenburg. We had plenty of time for shopping, and then another bus ride for approx. 1:30 min on the Romantic Road to again join our ship in Wippfeld. The Viking Europe just pulled up along side of the shore for us to embark and we are off again on Main River.
Tonight we had a special buffet dessert.
This morning we had a typical
Bavarian Frühschoppen with traditional sausages, pretzels and draft beer.
Taly and our chef were dressed in traditional German clothing.
After lunch we had a bus transfer to Bamberg were we had a guided tour of the Bamberg Cathedral, Old Court and New Residence along with the Rosegarten as a part of the New Residence. We then walked down to the town to see some of the breweries, antique stores to the Old Town Hall where there is a bridge built in the 11th century. The town hall was build in the middle of the 14th century and rebuilt by the Bamberg citizens in 1440, after a fire disaster . Michael Küchel converted it into Baroque and Rococo style from 1744-1756.
In the evening we had a traditional Bavarian Folklore Music with yodeling.
Today we are having a guided bus
excursion of Nürnberg. We visited the
Zeppelin Grandstand from which Adolf
Hitler reviewed parades of his SS troops and Nazi Rally Grounds. We then saw
the Court House, windows room 600, where the Nuremberg Trials of the Nazi criminals took
We then went to the Castle. 90% of the city was destroyed in WWII. Sinwell Tower this is the original. The city was restored after the war.
Walk down to the centre square to see the beautiful fountain.
In the afternoon we cruised the beautiful Mainz to the Danube Canal.
We left the ship at 8:45AM for a guided
bus tour of Kelheim to the Abbey of Weltenburg. We were taken
into the Abbey and given the history of this abbey. We then boarded a tour
guide boat that took us down the Danube Gorge. Our ship is too
big to pass through this Gorge. We met up with our ship and sailed to
Regensburg. It was a rainy day so we decided to rest the balance of the day.
In the evening we enjoyed the musical talents of the acapella singers Regensburger Dom Spartzen see photo in Passau album.
It was the first day that we had some
rain. We dock in Passau along side the Viking Danube. We
would have to walk through it to get to the dock .
We went up to St. Stephen’s Cathedral to enjoy a concert by the world’s largest Church organ. We then came back to the ship to have lunch. After lunch we walked in the shopping area to look around.
This is another day with mild rain. We
visited the Abbey of Melk. This is the most impressive Abbey we
have seen and the Church is full of gold. The rain stopped when we came to the
balcony terrace overlooking Melk. You can see Melk below along with the Danube
We cruised along the Danube River to Dürnstein. We then took a walking tour of Dürnstein
We had a bus tour of Vienna and free time at the Stephandom Plaza to explore. We returned to the ship for lunch and packing as we disembark in the morning. During the evening, Viking offered an optional Concert of the Vienna Residence Orchestra in period costumes. It is a 9 piece Orchestra with 2 opera signers and 2 ballet dancers. They played music from Mozart and Strauss.
Disembarking is a breeze compared to
ocean cruises. Since we are staying on in Vienna until Friday, we booked a taxi
for 9:30AM. We were able to have a good night sleep, have breakfast with our
friends before leaving the ship. When you pay your bill you get your passport
back. Since people are leaving at different hours starting at 4:30AM, there was
no overcrowding anywhere. We did not hear any people leaving at that hour.
We checked into our Pension Andreas around 10AM. Our room was ready by 10:30AM so we left our luggage in our room before setting out for the day. We bought our Vienna Card directly from the Pension. This Vienna card (
We set out on our first U-Bahn transportation (this is their subway system). It is very easy to get around on it. We went to the Schönbrunn Palace where we toured with an audio hand set. We took the 40 rooms tour. Once finished this tour, we took a tram that took us to the Gloriettes where I was able to take a picture of the Palace with Vienna in the background. During the tour of the Palace, no photos are allowed.
Today we took the tram 44 and went for a ride to the end. This brought us all the way to district 17. When we got back, we did the ring tour on tram 1 and 2. This tours around the district 1 where most of the tourists go. We got off at the Stephansdom Plaza and walked the plaza looking at all the stores that are definitely for the rich. We stopped at a café and had a coffee and apple strudel. This is located just opposite the Opera House Staatsoper.
We headed out in the late morning towards the center of town. We visited the Jüdisches Museum. We walked around the centre and visited the Hofburg Palace. We met with Edna and Bill for supper. We had a great time.
We have a direct flight from Vienna to Montreal on Austrian Air. The flight was to be 9hrs but it turned out to be 8.5 hrs. Every passenger had their own monitor. After the news, we were able to choose between 5 movies to watch. We were able to watch almost 3 movies which made the time pass by quickly. We were served 2 meals also.
Let me tell you about the ship. The
embarkation was effortless, just like registration at a hotel.
You will see photos of the ship and the formal night with Norman’s birthday
The rooms are very nice with lots of storage space, a big desk, sliding window (Cat. B & C only) we were in room 225 (Cat. B), the room is done twice a day and is kept spotless by the cleaning staff. Our room steward was Hajni. She really works very hard.
The dinning room is open sitting thought most kept the same tables and waiter as we did for most evening meal. Our waiter was Dussan who was efficient, always serving us with a smile. Most evenings, we dined with Edna/Bill, Ursula/Phil (our new Internet friends). Our chef Reiner and his staff were great. We did tour the galley, what a small and very efficient galley when you see the meals that where prepared for us. All the meals were great, breakfast was a buffet but you could also order from a menu; lunch there was a salad buffet and always a meal from the menu with two choices for the main course; diner was always a menu with two choices of soup, main meal and dessert. The presentations were outstanding.
We would go to the lounge prior to dinner, as Gaby, Excursion Director, would give us our port talk for the next day. She would explain in detail what was to be expected and the thing that we appreciated the most was the technical factors for that port excursion (how much walking to expect), if there was a shuttle for those who had mobility concerns. All excursions, if by bus or walking tours, were given to us in great detail. There were always 3 busses for the bus excursions with Gaby in bus 1, Taly in bus 2 and Emma in bus 3.
The excursion staffs were very helpful and always waited for us as when walking to a given point.
Gaby is from Sweden, Taly from Arizona USA and Emma from Austria. They were the greatest and made our touring very enjoyable.
For all excursions, there was a local guide to explain the area. Lots of excursions began in the morning by boarding a bus while our ship would sail to the next port. We would meet the ship later in the afternoon, sometimes in very unusual places.
We went through 68 locks and under over 350 bridges. The Captain Gerrard was very informative. We could ask him any question and he would take the time to answer us.
While on the Mainz River, the top deck was closed, as the bridges are very low. We could go on the deck where the wheelhouse is located and sit on the chairs. The wheelhouse would have to be lowered under some of the bridges where only the Captains head would appear out of an opening.
Entertainment was not every night but did have some local groups performing in some towns. Also the staff put on a very funny show.
We did not make all of the entertainment as when you do two excursions most days you need your rest to get going the next day.
Weather was great most days. We had rain for one excursion and the afternoon I did not go on the walking tour, as it was very damp and still raining. The rest of the time has been either sunny or cloudy but no rain. The temperature varied from 10C to 20C.
Disembarkation was a breeze, they are so organize it is really painless.
I would highly recommend this river cruise. We are thinking of doing another one next year. We enjoyed very much the Viking experience.
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