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My wife and I are doing the Viking Grand European Tour on July 3, 2013. I'm curious about time in port. Do you have to be onboard the ship by dinnertime or are you ever able to stay later in town if you desire? I've thought it would be fun to sample some of the night life in the various towns and pubs and thought you could do this on a River cruise but as I thought about it, I'm not sure why I had that idea! So tell me, is it like Ocean cruising and everyone needs to be onboard by 5pm or something like that?
They generally do not publish specific port times as things can change on the river that affects arrival and departure.
I have not cruised with Viking but have been on 5 river cruises. We generally will opt for dinner in port when the opportunity presents itself. And if it is arrival after dinner, we enjoy wandering around and hitting the local pubs in town.
Most passengers do head back to boat for dinners as well as lunches but we are in Europe to soak up as much as we can so we maximize our time in port.
138 cruises since 1964, 9 on the river - AmaSerena Christmas on the Rhine, November 25, 2015
Hi Rockwall99 - You can get a good idea about time in port from the Viking website itinerary for your trip. If you look at your day in Cologne you will see a city tour in the morning and then free time in the afternoon and evening. You can return to the ship for lunch and dinner or spend your time doing what you what. There may be other days that afford the same options.
Make sure you keep the location of the ship and phone numbers on you in case of an emergency and be back at the stated time which is posted on board. The ship will sail at that time.
Hope you have a great trip!
The only thing you have to worry about is being back aboard an hour before they take off. Very often they stay docked until midnight, so you could stay in town after a tour and make it back on your own as long as you get back on time. That being said, you could come back from tour, freshen up and rest, eat dinner on board, then venture out after supper. This is what sets river cruising apart from ocean cruising. It takes 2 seconds to walk off the boat and you are usually ( but not always) docked 5 minutes from the town square!
However, there are those who feel you have paid handsomely for the meals on board, so why should you pay extra to eat in town? The food is not bad on board, but wouldn't you rather be enjoying a crepe in Montmartre or a bratwurst in Nurnberg?
Since you are going on the Grand European, you will no doubt have many ports where you will be able to do lunch and/or dinner. We went in August and had many opportunities to visit restaurants while in port. You will have meetings every evening before dinner when the Program Director will explain the next day's activities (some you will choose to participate in and some you will not). After dinner you will find the next day's itinerary on your pillow in your room. From there you can plan your next day. Enjoy the trip, we did! Viking gave us a FABULOUS tour and service.
rockwall99 ~ I hope you're correct about being able to sample local life in the ports! We sail on Oct. 21st on a Viking Rhone River cruise and will be happy to report back about ability to leave the ship while in port!
SOShrink ~ completely agree with you about enjoying the local food even though we’ve pre-paid for our meals aboard the ship! A discussion my DH and I had before our very first cruise 25 years ago!! No matter how good the ship’s food is – even eating in their different restaurants (large ship) – it’s always a treat to experience the local cuisine! Even on our large ship cruises we usually plan small (8 passenger) excursions that mostly include a local lunch – mussels in Normandy, perogies in St. Petersburg, gravlax in Stockholm, tapas in Vigo.
We just received our travel package from Viking and I’m much impressed. The itinerary booklet goes into a little more detail about daily sailing times and excursions, including the optional ones. While they don’t give specific times – ie after lunch, around midnight – I’m sure once on board, depending on river traffic, etc – they let you know daily about time in port. For example, we spend an overnight in Lyon and are considering lunch or dinner in port that day/evening – which is great since the town is known for its cuisine! So I now have a list of suggested restaurants “just in case”!!
Viking Forseti 10-4-2014 Bordeaux
Viking Rinda 12-7-2013 Christmas Markets
Viking Neptune 10-21-12 Rhone River
Celebrity Constellation 9-7-2011 Amsterdam-Istanbul
Celebrity Constellation 7-3-2010 Baltic
RCCL Voyager of the Seas 2-14-2010 Caribbean
Celebrity Summit 6-16-2008 Mediterranean
SS Rembrant 7-20-2000 St. Lawrence
M/V Atlantic 8-28-1988 Bermuda
Thanks for all the great replies! I'm very happy that we'll have time at some ports to enjoy the night life in town! I know that some places don't really come alive until the evening so it will be fun to explore. I realize all my meals are paid for onboard but that doesn't stop people from paying extra on a large cruise ship to eat in one of the specialty restaurants! (Well, it stops ME but not everyone! LOL)
I'm also a little worried about the noise levels during dinner that I've read about so it may be a nice change of pace to get out among the locals for a dinner meal.