Following last week’s post, What I Learned About Viking River Cruises While Cruising The Rhine, many readers asked about excursions on Viking River Cruises eight-day Rhine Getaway. There are two things you should know. First, there are optional excursions. For those, I’ve listed prices and my advice, based on my experiences and conversations with other guests. There are also included excursions. Let’s begin with a chart of the optional excursions.
Viking's Rhine Getaway Optional ExcursionsUpdated during my May 2017 eight-day Rhine Getaway cruise on Viking Hlin, from Basel to Amsterdam.
|Destination||Optional Tour||Cost per guest||My Take|
|Breisach||World War II: Museum & Memorial||€49||Great tour, a better choice for most than Medieval Village of Colmar|
|Breisach||Medieval Village of Colmar||€49||Good tour but my preference is the World War II tour, even for those who are not history buffs|
|Breisach||Black Forest & Colmar||€149||Don’t bother. You can do the included Black Forest tour, come back to the ship for lunch and do the Colmar tour for €49 (or the World War II tour)|
|Strasbourg||Taste The Best of Alsace||€189||Great tour, always number one rated from guest surveys at the end of each cruise. Maximum 18 guests, but typically has only 10 to 12 who sign up. Do it.|
|Strasbourg||Alsatian Wine Tour & Tasting||€79||Do Taste the Best of Alsace instead of this one|
|Strasbourg||Mercedes Factory Tour||€49||Great tour, but only offered on select sailings. See how the Mercedes CLX is made|
|Rudesheim||Wine Tasting & Dinner at Johannisberg||€149||Beautiful setting, good wine tasting in a beautiful wine cellar but just so-so food (Viking has let the operators know that the food has to be improved so the food situation may change in the coming months)|
|Rudesheim||Rhine Wine Tasting & Dinner at Eberbach||€149||So-so setting with great food and wine. Alternates on itineraries with the Wine Tasting & Dinner at Johannisberg.|
|Rudesheim||Dine in Rudesheim||€79||In a restaurant on the famed Drosselgasse, okay food, okay wine and a few drinking games. A better choice for some, dine on the ship and take a long hike through the vineyards afteward.|
|Koblenz||Ehrenbreitstein Fortress||€49||Two-hour tour that begins with a gondola ride near where the ship docks. Good for those who want nice photos of Koblenz from high above and some history of the fortress and Koblenz.|
|Koblenz||Romans Along The Rhine||€59||Do only if you are really, really interested in the Roman history along the Rhine.|
|Koblenz||Koblenz Walking Tour & Romanticum||€59||Runs on select voyages only.|
|Cologne||Bruhl UNESCO Palaces||€59||Good tour for those who appreciate palaces|
|Cologne||Top of Cologne||€69||Great tour with an informative guide who takes you behind the scenes and up high at the Cologne Cathedral|
|Cologne||Cologne’s Beer Culture Dinner Tour||€89||Great evening tour with German pub food and lots of good beer. Those who did this one raved about it.|
|Kinderdijk||Kinderdijk Windmills & Dutch Cheese Making||€59||Love cheese? Go for it. Otherwise, you’ll see the windmills on the included tour.|
Viking’s program directors tell me that if you sign up for an optional excursion on myvikingjourney.com the tour will run, even if the minimum number required to operate the tour is not met. That is one advantage of using Viking’s online trip planner. Another advantage is that by using the online planner, you won’t have to spend time thinking about the tours once underway on your trip. You can simply sit back and enjoy the ride.
The big surprise tour for me was Top of Cologne. On another cruise back in September, I climbed the 533 steps to a platform on the cathedral’s south tower. The views were stunning, well worth the hike up.
On last week’s cruise, Viking’s Top of Cologne tour took us up the cathedral’s north tower via exterior elevators used by the restoration crew. We still had some climbing to do, a 104-step spiral staircase to climb. What made this tour extra special was the local guide, who also works with the cathedral’s restoration staff. Her knowledge gave us a behind-the-scenes look at the continuing restoration works during our backstage tour. Top of Cologne runs for two hours at a cost of €69 per person. Below is a short video detailing just a few seconds of the tour.
Top of Cologne Tour from Ralph Grizzle.
The number-one rated tour on Viking’s Rhine Getaway itinerary runs seven hours and costs €189 per person. Taste the Best of Alsace, which I’ve yet to do, got rave reviews from guests who I spoke with who participated in the all-day tour.
A local guide took 10 guests on a shopping tour where they met food merchants, a sommelier and chef, and of course, sampled Alsatian specialities such as fine chocolates, pralines, kougelhopf cake and croissants, freshly made baguette bread and pretzels, cheeses and special regional meats or sausages.
The sommelier paired local foods with Alsatian and French wines, and guests toured the romantic and picturesque Petite France, Strasbourg’s canal-laced Old Town lined with half-timbered houses. In the afternoon, guests visited a typical winstub eatery, where the resident chef taught them to make tarte flambée, something like a flatbread pizza with fromage blanc or crème fraîche, thinly sliced onions and lardons. The local Alsatian specialty goes well with with a local beer.
While the optional tours cost, you could, of course, do only the included excursions and have an enjoyable experience, spending nothing extra.
Viking Rhine Getaway Included ExcursionsUpdated during my May 2017 eight-day Rhine Getaway cruise on Viking Hlin, from Basel to Amsterdam.
|Basel||Welcome Walk||Good for shaking off the jetlag. Join a local guide for some fresh air on a leisurely walk through Basel’s city center.
|Breisach||Black Forest Tour||Not great, but free and definitely a scenic ride that takes you to a village where you will visit a local workshop and see a cuckoo clock–making demonstration.|
|Strasbourg||Strasbourg City Tour||Since the ship docks in Kell, Germany, a few miles from Strasbourg’s city center, this is a good way to get into the city and to get an overview.|
|Heidelberg||Heidelberg Excursion||Disembark in the morning for a transfer to Heidelberg, including a tour, and join the ship again in Gernsheim or in Mannheim, depending on the direction of your cruise. Or stay on board if you have visited Heidelberg before. The scenic sailing is gorgeous.|
|Koblenz||Marksburg Castle||Great tour to a beautifully preserved, 700-year-old hilltop fortress where you will have fantastic views.|
|Cologne||Cologne City Tour||Good tour that visits the Old Town, Cathedral and St. Martin’s Church and other attractions.|
|Kinderdijk||Kinderdijk Windmills||Easy two-hour tour to the Kinderdijk Windmills, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.|
Through May 31, 2017, Viking has a special offer on its 2018 Rhine Getaway: 2-for-1 Cruise plus FREE Air from $1,999 per person. Click for more details.
Carol Weaver says
Do you get any time in Colmar if you do the WWII tour? I would love to walk around the city but don’t need all the details that a city tour would do. If one does not do the WWII, did anyone get to Colmar on their own? Seems like that would be a better included excursion since Colmar is so iconic in the region. My hubby is a WWII buff, and it sound so interesting, but I would hate to be in Colmar and have no time to walk around and look at it.
Carol Weaver says
P.S. The gondolas over the Rhine are closed 10 days before we go to Koblenz. Is it worth it to go to the fortress without the gondola ride? We had come in 2014, and I thought it would be so cool to ride those, but it is the wrong season to do it.
Ralph Grizzle says
I walked up – wasn’t bad. And worked off some of the food and drink! Actually, I’d prefer walking up over the gondola.
Carol Weaver says
Thanks! Now it looks like we do not even dock in Koblenz (we did in 2014) so I have to find a taxi to take us from below Marksburg Castle (Brabauch) which is a LOT of money, apparently. I could pay for the tour, but I am not very interested in the tour, I just want the view from up at the fortress.
Ann Rowell says
Hi Carol, we are signed up for tour of marksburg castle,but dont really want to go thru castle. Did you manage to get a taxi up just for the view.
Carol Weaver says
We walked up all the steps of the Cologne Tower in 2014, and we loved it (even with hundreds of school children). I am trying to decide about the Top of Cologne Tower Tour or the All Day Alsace one since we have already been to the Tower (but not on top).
Amazing view from top of Cathedral but could never do it. My asthma and fear of heights would do me in. Having never done a Viking cruise, I was surprised at how few tours are included.
Have to add something totally unrelated. I recently booked our train trip from Basel to Amsterdam. Actually I guess it does relate, because some folks on the Rhine cruise might want to do this.
We stayed extra days in Basel but wanted to fly out of Schipol. Besides, we enjoy train travel. However, I would not have done it as easily if I had not looked at the website Seat 61, which has all the information you could possibly want for any European train travel. You can even look at the cars on the train you are considering. Then Trainline is a great place to book. Very clear, and shows the various prices. Ended up booking 2nd class from BBH and transferring in Koln to get to Amsterdam. Several trains but not all trains offered senior discounts, and so the whole trip cost about $100 for the two Ramblers. We will have some time in Koln, but the main station is right by the Cathedral and has a large shopping area. Since both trips are relatively short, felt we didn’t need first class. Probably should have put us in the quiet zone tho.