ABOARD VIKING KARA – It seems to be an unpleasant trend. Airlines are cutting services and adding new charges. Resorts are sneaking in hidden charges. Even my cable TV service at home has found new ways to boost the price. So it is surprisingly wonderful to see all the complimentary extras on my Viking Kara cruise.
I’ve only been on the ship one day and already I am noticing little pluses that mean so much to travelers. I’m going to list some of them below – in no particular order – just to show what no-charge bonuses are offered on the Kara. I know there will probably be some that I haven’t discovered yet but I’ll let you know about them later this week.
1. Free ship-wide WiFi that works surprisingly well in cabins in some locations on the Rhine River. The ship also has a small business office with two computers that passengers can use free of charge. It irks me that so many hotels, airports and cruise ships charge outrageous sums for WiFi. Good for you, Viking River Cruises.
2. Complimentary beer, wine and soft drinks are included with every lunch and dinner. I’m not much of a drinker but I do like a cola with my meal and it seems stupid to pay what many cruise lines charge for soft drinks. It’s like a blast from the past to have big glass bottle of Coke served on the Kara. Always seem to taste better from a glass bottle.
3. Shore excursions included in the cruise price. Some cruise lines charge $100 per person or more for a shore excursion. On the Kara, we usually have the choice of several excursions each day. My weeklong Rhine River cruise will visit Basel, Breisach, Strasbourg, Speyer, Rudesheim, Koblenz, Cologne and Amsterdam with interesting tours every day. Several days also have optional charged tours but the prices aren’t bad, 39 Euros or about $43 for the World War II tour on our first full day. That tour lasted four hours and included a large comfortable bus plus a tour guide extraordinaire.
4. All outside cabins so every passenger has a beautiful view as we cruise. I’ve never booked one but some of the large cruise ships have small inside cabins with no windows at all. Sounds so claustrophobic.
5. A refrigerator in my cabin. It is nicely hidden behind a wood cover and I’ve already heard passengers say it is a very welcome plus.
6. l’Occitane toiletries in our bathrooms. Love the clean verbena scent. We have more-than-one-use bottles of lotion, shampoo, body wash, conditioner and big bars of soap, plus a small vanity pack with Q-tips and cotton balls, along with a shower cap. The bottles are replaced if we use them up.
7. Bathrobe available in our cabins. I travel with carry-on luggage so not having to pack a bathrobe sure saves some suitcase room.
8. Umbrellas near the ship entry for passenger use. Again, umbrellas can come in handy but I sure don’t like to have to pack one in my suitcase.
There you have it – so far.
Photos and video by Jackie Sheckler Finch