Rhine River Cruise aboard the Viking Hlin: Beginning the cruise sailing from Basel

ABOARD THE VIKING HLIN– The past couple of days have flown by. What with some 19 hours  of traveling, getting accustomed to the ship and taking the first set of tours there hasn’t been much time to digest it all.

But today we slowed the pace. This is our first trip on Viking River Cruises and we find the port-a-day pace a tad daunting. So today, while most passengers were touring the castle at Heidelburg, Germany – which we visited last year — we opted to stay on the ship for the morning. This proved to be a wonderful respite and provided some unique opportunities, like having breakfast with the hotel manager. Chatting up the hotel manager, program director, maitre’d and other key staff is a great way to learn about a cruise company.

Typical cafe in Strasbourg, France

So far, events have gone smoothly on this river cruise which focuses on the Rhine River between Basel, Switzerland and Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Our transfer from airport to ship was seamless. We were pleased that all three of our flights – booked through Viking – were on time and that we successfully maneuvered the tight connection in Paris. We had lunch and were able to get into our cabin at about 2 p.m. which enabled us to sleep for a couple of hours.

Awaking refreshed, we plunged into the ship’s routine. Monday morning we awoke to rain…all day rain. Groaning at the early start (8:30 a.m.), we boarded our buses for the included excursion to the Black Forest. The highlight on this trip was the scenery along the way. I must admit that the gray skies and constant misting gave the fields and wood a sinister feeling that matched the name. In the afternoon, quite a few folks went on optional excursions to the town of Colmar.

On Tuesday, we were in for another early start – 8:30 a.m. – to visit the lovely city of Strasbourg, France. Fortunately, the weather was improving. We had never been here before and our guide Anna made the tour thoroughly enjoyable. The cathedral was quite worth a look.

Preparing Rudesheim coffee on the Viking Hlin

So today, faced with another 8:30 a.m. start, we punted and remained aboard after the Viking Hlin dropped off the Heidelberg-bound folks and continued to sail north toward a different pick-up point. There were only about 8 of us still onboard and the quiet sailing was lovely and sunshine stayed with us. The rest of the passengers came back at around 1 p.m. and we continued toward today’s destination, the village of Rudesheim, Germany. During the afternoon, there were several programs – on on future Viking trips, another on how to make “Rudesheim coffee” – but most passengers took advantage of the sunshine and stayed out on deck to enjoy the scenery.

Tonight we are taking part in an optional excursion that involves a traditional dinner and music at a restaurant in the village. We will be joined by a group from the Viking ship docked next to us, the Viking Kara. I am looking forward to this change of pace but Chet isn’t so sure. I will let you know how it goes tomorrow!

May 10, 2017

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