Viking Kara cruise: Preparing for Rhine getaway river cruise

I’m a list maker, a note taker. In my job as a journalist, I have to be organized. So I can see that Viking River Cruises and I are going to be a great match.

With my cruise on the Viking Kara coming up, I received a good-size box from FedEx. Inside was my personal itinerary, guidebook for the Rhine and its tributaries which I will be traveling, bright red leather luggage tag, two Viking River Cruises paper tags for my suitcases, welcome-to-the-cruise note, Viking sticker to put on my jacket when I arrive at the Basel airport so Viking staff can locate me for transfer to the ship, and a collector’s edition toiletry bag with a photo of Berlin on it.

Whew! Don’t know if I’ve ever been welcomed aboard a cruise like this before.

The Viking Kara river ship
The Viking Kara river ship

The booklet with departure information is quite useful. “One of the most important aspects of travel is anticipation,” Viking Chairman Torstein Hagan wrote in a preface note in the booklet. “Preparing for a trip should be exciting and enjoyable, so we have compiled this guide to help you with getting ready.”

Packing tips include what to wear on the cruise – mostly casual and comfortable – along with the necessity of good walking shoes. No need to pack an umbrella, unless you plan to spend extra time in cities before or after the cruise, because the ship has courtesy umbrellas.

Lots of advance information
Lots of advance information

The booklet also discusses telephone use in the countries we will visit plus area codes, time differences and weather. I’m glad to see that the average temps for my dates of travel are highs in the 40s and lows in the 30s.

A chapter titled “Your Trip from A to Z” details everything from the use of adapters (bring one or two adapter plugs) to language (ship’s crew and tour guides all speak English) and much more.

Check-in time on the ship is very gracious. Early arrival passengers can relax in the ship’s lounge or leave luggage to explore the city. A light lunch buffet is served and passengers can have access to their staterooms at 3 p.m.

3. Viking Kara
Complimentary toiletry bag

Launched in 2014, the Viking Kara has four decks and a capacity of 190 passengers. The Kara has 95 staterooms, all of them outside which is wonderful. No inside staterooms at all. One of my favorite parts of any cruise is watching the ocean and river roll and enjoying the changing scenery outside my cabin. It will be heavenly to have my own private balcony on the Kara.

My seven-night cruise will go from Basel in Switzerland to Amsterdam in the Netherlands. Stops include Strasbourg and Colmar in France; Breisach, the Black Forest, Heidelberg, Rudesheim, Koblenz, and Cologne in Germany; and Kinderdijk in the Netherlands.

The legend behind the name of the Kara is lovely. In Norse mythology, Kara is one of the Valkyries who are also known as swan maidens or wish maidens. Legend says that if you can capture and hold a swan maiden or her feathered cloak, you can extract a wish from her.

Hope you follow along on my journey and we’ll see if we can extract a wish from Kara. I think my wish has already come true by getting to cruise on this magnificent new longship.

Photos of Kara courtesy of Viking River Cruises

Photos of pre-cruise box and toiletry bag by Jackie Sheckler Finch

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