Viking Cities of Light Help

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#41
Maryland
11 Posts
Joined Sep 2016
Originally posted by wispackrat
As far as the tours in Paris - Yes, there is an overview tour on a bus on the morning after your arrival. We toured around and only got off the bus at Notre Dame and at the Eiffel Tower. It was Sunday, so there was no tour as such inside Norte Dame as Mass was going on, but we were able to walk around and admire the beautiful cathedral. Then there was a bit of free time, then back to the bus for the rest of the city tour and a 10 minute photo stop a few blocks from the Eiffel Tower but with a great view. Then we went back to the hotel and I am not certain, but we got there somewhere around noon, so the rest of the day is yours.
There are actually quite a few optional tours in Paris:
THE PALACE OF VERSAILLES - this optional tour was given from 2:00-6:00 after the city tour and cost 149 euros per person. We did not take this tour, but those who did said Versailles was quite impressive and ornate and on that weekend day it was very crowded as well as very warm since Paris was experiencing a heatwave.
MONTMARTE HILL - Given from 2:15-5:45, this optional tour costs 49 euros. I did this tour later on in our stay, as we did the Paris extension, but I am sure it is the same. We took a bus to the base of the hill and after walking up the hill a few blocks, we took a finicular to the steps of Sacre-Coeur which we explored. The view of Paris from the top of the hill was incredible as it is the second highest point in the area. Then our guide toured us around the bohemian area where artists and writers frequented cafes and lived. We stopped for a treat of pastry and a drink, before going back down the hill and the bus and more touring of the city. This was a very nice tour and our guide was excellent, but it was not one of my favorites just because there were more interesting tours earlier on in the trip.
PARIS CABARET WITH DINNER - Transfer to the Paradis Latin in the Latin Quarter where you have front row reserved seats. After a Chateaubriand dinner, there is a very complete revue with acrobats,masked dancers, ballets and the can- can. The cost is 219 euros per person and the time is from 7:30-11:30. We did not do this tour, so I have no idea how it was.
These are the tours available for those who did not take the post cruise extension. There were five optional tours given for those who did stay longer.
This is so helpful, thank you! Any other tours along the river that were particularly great?
#42
Michigan
1,204 Posts
Joined Feb 2004
Originally posted by wispackrat
In regard to OBC - be aware that this credit can only be used onboard and not in the originating city for optional excursions. We began our trip in Prague, so (not being onboard yet) we could not use OBC for the optional Prague by Night tour, but paid for it on the shore excursion website. Once on board the Alsvin, however, we could use the OBC for any shore excursion thereafter, even those in Paris.
Viking is very explicit about how OBC can be used: optional excursions made while on the ship, drinks apart from those included with lunch or dinner, laundry and purchases from the very limited gift nook.
Gratuities cannot be paid with OBC.
We are concerned because some of the excursions are already sold out so there is no chance for us to purchase them onboard. Oh well, what can we do! Not much at this point. We leave shortly for the Prague to Paris trip and are very excited. Can you please tell me how long the ride is from Prague to the ship and also how long it is from the ship to Paris. I have heard it is quite a drive but no one has been able to tell me how long. Thanks!
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#43
San Francisco Bay Area
8,468 Posts
Joined Jul 2008
Originally posted by wispackrat
In regard to OBC - be aware that this credit can only be used onboard and not in the originating city for optional excursions. We began our trip in Prague, so (not being onboard yet) we could not use OBC for the optional Prague by Night tour, but paid for it on the shore excursion website. Once on board the Alsvin, however, we could use the OBC for any shore excursion thereafter, even those in Paris.
Viking is very explicit about how OBC can be used: optional excursions made while on the ship, drinks apart from those included with lunch or dinner, laundry and purchases from the very limited gift nook.
Gratuities cannot be paid with OBC.
Thank you – very helpful.
Re: tours in Paris. We arrive in Paris late and do not have a tour on arrival:

Disembark in Trier this morning,then travel to Luxembourg where, at the American Cemetery, you can pay homage tothe thousands of soldiers who lost their lives during the World War II Battle of the Bulge. See the city of Luxembourg on a guided tour, then stop for lunch before continuing on to Paris. When you arrive in Paris, the romantic capital of France, check in to the Le Méridien Étoile (or similar) for a 2-night stay.Your evening is free to explore and dine on your own.

We have an AM tour next morning to Louvre.
#45
Racine, WI
24 Posts
Joined Jul 2015
Rosieo - Do not be concerned about the optional excursions being all filled up. Since you are leaving on your cruise in a short time, Viking has probably closed the excursion applications that can be done online. They do that about 10 days before. Once you arrive at your starting point in Prague, you probably will be able to book the optional excursion, Prague By Night, if you want. However, if you have OBC and want to use it for the optional excursions, you must wait until you board the Alsvin to use it. We found a signup sheet for the excursions in our room. Take the sheet to the desk and you will be signed up

In regard to the bus rides to and from the ship. What can I say. They are bus rides but on rather comfortable buses. The ride from Prague is divided a bit; the first part to Nurnberg is about four hours, but they do stop at a huge rest stop halfway there. The bus driver is required to make a stop and passengers can use the facilities (please note that there is a bathroom on the bus, tiny but useful) and shop for whatever. Once in Nurnberg, we were brought to the city center where we were free to wander, enjoy the market, and to have lunch for about an hour and a half. Then there is a bus tour (just what we wanted, more bus, but at least there are distractions). We did disembark at Hitler's parade grounds for a presentation by our guide. Then it was back to the bus for an hour trip to Bamberg and the Alsvin.
The ride from Trier to Paris - I am not entirely sure about the length of this trip. We did stop partway to visit the impressive American cemetery in Luxembourg. It was just outside the capital where we took a walking tour with a guide which was interesting. We then reboarded the bus for our trip to the Meridien Etoile. This trip seemed shorter, but it was several hours.
#46
Racine, WI
24 Posts
Joined Jul 2015
As far as tours that I would particularly recommend. In Wurzburg there was a choice between the included tour of the Bishop's Residenz with a walking tour of Wurzburg and an optional tour of Rothenberg ob der Tauber ending with the tour of the Bishop's Residenz but no Wurzburg. We opted for the optional tour and it was our favorite. There was a bus ride on the Romantic Road to the fairy tale town of Rothemberg ob der Tauber. We had a walking tour of the town, then free time with some suggestions for activities and then an included lunch at a lovely restaurant. On the way back, we visited the Bishop's Residenz before returning to the ship. From what I heard, the included tour of Wurzburg was also very good. The choice is yours.
The included tour of Heidelberg was excellent also. The castle, though mostly in ruins, is lovely and the tour of the town was very interesting. We had been to Heidelberg on a previous cruise and enjoyed it, but this time lunch with college students in an old hotel was included and added a lot to the experience.
We also enjoyed the Gutenberg Museum and demonstration in the included Mainz tour and we took a cable car ride in Rudesheim which afforded wonderful views of the area. We did this on our own as there was no official tour in Rudesheim and we were there quite a while.
#47
Michigan
1,204 Posts
Joined Feb 2004
wispackrat thank you for all the information. I am getting really excited, only a short time before we leave. I appreciate your information!
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#48
Racine, WI
24 Posts
Joined Jul 2015
I hope you have a wonderful cruise! The one piece of advice I might give you is to do the things that you enjoy, not necessarily the things that you think that you should do. Prague, and especially Paris, have so much to offer and if you try to do everything, you will exhaust yourself. In looking back, I think that we enjoyed the river cruise the most. It was so relaxing and refreshing. After a morning or afternoon having a tour of a new place, it was like coming back home to return to the calmness of the ship. The crew of the Alsvin and especially the Program Director, Bojan Bozic, were above anything that we could have wished for. Enjoy your cruise!
#49
Maryland
11 Posts
Joined Sep 2016
Thank you so much for your reviews, Wispackrat! I had been going back and forth on the Rothenberg ob Tauer excursion for months, and just booked it on your recommendation.
#50
Missouri
59 Posts
Joined Dec 2005
Originally posted by wispackrat
As far as tours that I would particularly recommend. In Wurzburg there was a choice between the included tour of the Bishop's Residenz with a walking tour of Wurzburg and an optional tour of Rothenberg ob der Tauber ending with the tour of the Bishop's Residenz but no Wurzburg. We opted for the optional tour and it was our favorite. There was a bus ride on the Romantic Road to the fairy tale town of Rothemberg ob der Tauber. We had a walking tour of the town, then free time with some suggestions for activities and then an included lunch at a lovely restaurant. On the way back, we visited the Bishop's Residenz before returning to the ship. From what I heard, the included tour of Wurzburg was also very good. The choice is yours.

The included tour of Heidelberg was excellent also. The castle, though mostly in ruins, is lovely and the tour of the town was very interesting. We had been to Heidelberg on a previous cruise and enjoyed it, but this time lunch with college students in an old hotel was included and added a lot to the experience.

We also enjoyed the Gutenberg Museum and demonstration in the included Mainz tour and we took a cable car ride in Rudesheim which afforded wonderful views of the area. We did this on our own as there was no official tour in Rudesheim and we were there quite a while.


I have questions about the Heidelberg day. We went on the Rhine Getaway so toured the castle. Were you given any options on that day other than the included excursion? Wondering if the ship moved during the day or if someone can go into town from the ship to do things on their own. My sister is recovering from knee surgery so we may want to skip the castle since we have seen it to give her knee a rest. Any insight you can give would be appreciated. Also I would love it if you could post the daily sheet that shows the schedule for that day.

Looking forward to any information you can post.

Penny
#51
Racine, WI
24 Posts
Joined Jul 2015
We, too, went on the Rhine Getaway and had visited the castle. However, this time our Heidelberg schedule was different. First of all, the ship does not stop right at Heidelberg but then, it didn't last time either. It was supposed to stop briefly at Wertheim to discharge passengers for a bus ride to Heidelberg, and then go on to Freudenburg to meet the returning passengers. However - the Main River is a very busy river with A LOT of locks (on the Rhine Getaway I never saw the ship go through a lock as they seemed to occur mostly at night, but on the Main there seemed to be a multitude of locks which slowed passage considerably, especially since passenger ships have no preferential treatment as they do on the Rhine). So, our ship was late and we had to disembark at an earlier stop and the buses had to come to meet us for the two hour trip to Heidelberg, while the Alsvin went on to Freudenberg.
As I recall, the castle tour was the first thing we did during the Rhine Getaway. This time we first had a tour of the town of Heidelberg after which we gathered at the restaurant of the Hotel Ritter to have lunch with some students from the University. The student at our table was studying law and it was fascinating to learn of his experiences. Then after lunch there was free time to shop and explore before taking the funicular to the castle and its tour. After the tour we returned to the buses for an hour and a half bus ride to the ship.
I am not sure how much the initial lateness of the Alsvin had an effect on our schedule. I know the two hour trip to Heidelberg would have been shorter had we been able to reach the original port. That being said, we dock no where near Heidelberg so you would not be able to just leave the ship and explore.
You might be able to take the tour of the town, have lunch and just spend the remainder of your time in town as long as you made arrangements with your guide as to where and when to meet for the trip back to the Alsvin. Or you might want just to stay on the ship and enjoy a leisurely day. There were alway some passengers who did this at various ports.
I tried to include a picture of the Viking Daily but failed.
The following schedule all is dependent on the river traffic.
8:30-5:30 Shore Excursion to Heidelberg
9:00 Alsvin casts off for Freudenberg
12:00. Lunch for those on the ship
1:30. Arrival at Freudenberg
5:30. Back on Board from excursion
5:45. Cast off for Mainz
#52
Rhine, Germany
1,986 Posts
Joined Oct 2013
Hello prodoc,

Just chiming in to give an idea of distances of where you will be on your trip. On the Rhine Getaway one is normally closer to Heidelberg. From Mannheim (or Speyer) on the Rhine you drive to Heidelberg on the Neckar. No Viking ship ever sails on the Neckar. I am surprised Viking offers an excursion to Heidelberg from the Main area which is further North and quite a bit to the East. If you take the excursion to Heidelberg it will always be a full day away from the ship and I reckon it is a good opportunity for Viking to sail on while the passengers are out on a trip. The Main is quite windy and has many locks.

It is somewhat a pity in my opinion that they do not offer a trip to Darmstadt instead but that is just my opinion. Heidelberg has of course much more romantic appeal.

Perhaps the google maps figures might help you: Mainz: 50°00'06.5"N 8°16'38.5"E 50.001795, 8.277373

Mannheim: 49°30'29.0"N 8°26'20.1"E
49.508045, 8.438902

Heidelberg: 49°24'46.4"N 8°42'56.4"E
49.412883, 8.715670

Wertheim: 49°45'42.6"N 9°30'56.5"E
49.761822, 9.515682

Freudenberg: 49°45'02.5"N 9°19'22.7"E
49.750695, 9.322976

Anyway, I hope you will have a great time. The scenery I am sure is lovely both on the coach trip to Heidelberg or if you remain on the ship.

notamermaid
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#53
Missouri
59 Posts
Joined Dec 2005
Originally posted by wispackrat
We, too, went on the Rhine Getaway and had visited the castle. However, this time our Heidelberg schedule was different. First of all, the ship does not stop right at Heidelberg but then, it didn't last time either. It was supposed to stop briefly at Wertheim to discharge passengers for a bus ride to Heidelberg, and then go on to Freudenburg to meet the returning passengers. However - the Main River is a very busy river with A LOT of locks (on the Rhine Getaway I never saw the ship go through a lock as they seemed to occur mostly at night, but on the Main there seemed to be a multitude of locks which slowed passage considerably, especially since passenger ships have no preferential treatment as they do on the Rhine). So, our ship was late and we had to disembark at an earlier stop and the buses had to come to meet us for the two hour trip to Heidelberg, while the Alsvin went on to Freudenberg.
As I recall, the castle tour was the first thing we did during the Rhine Getaway. This time we first had a tour of the town of Heidelberg after which we gathered at the restaurant of the Hotel Ritter to have lunch with some students from the University. The student at our table was studying law and it was fascinating to learn of his experiences. Then after lunch there was free time to shop and explore before taking the funicular to the castle and its tour. After the tour we returned to the buses for an hour and a half bus ride to the ship.
I am not sure how much the initial lateness of the Alsvin had an effect on our schedule. I know the two hour trip to Heidelberg would have been shorter had we been able to reach the original port. That being said, we dock no where near Heidelberg so you would not be able to just leave the ship and explore.
You might be able to take the tour of the town, have lunch and just spend the remainder of your time in town as long as you made arrangements with your guide as to where and when to meet for the trip back to the Alsvin. Or you might want just to stay on the ship and enjoy a leisurely day. There were alway some passengers who did this at various ports.
I tried to include a picture of the Viking Daily but failed.
The following schedule all is dependent on the river traffic.
8:30-5:30 Shore Excursion to Heidelberg
9:00 Alsvin casts off for Freudenberg
12:00. Lunch for those on the ship
1:30. Arrival at Freudenberg
5:30. Back on Board from excursion
5:45. Cast off for Mainz
Thank you Wispackrat. This is most helpful. The town is mainly where my group wants to spend their time so it sounds like we should stay signed up for the excursion and then talk with the staff and see what the timing plays out to be. Although the time on the ship does sound inviting to just relax, to miss any time to explore in the towns would be a shame since that is why we are on this trip. This is very encouraging that we may be able to work something out to have more leisure time in Heidelberg. But as you said, it is all about timing on the river. I remember on our Rhine Getaway cruise that several excursions got moved around due to ship timing and docking changes. But that is all part of the adventure so we will be good with whatever happens. I know many get upset about the bus travels but we knew about that when we signed up for the cruise. We have enjoyed relaxing and sightseeing out the windows of the comfortable buses as we are transported from the ship to our excursion destinations. My questions have more to do with knowing options so we can make informed decisions on excursions. Thanks again--and I am sure I will think of more questions for you.

Penny
#54
Missouri
59 Posts
Joined Dec 2005
Originally posted by notamermaid
Hello prodoc,

Just chiming in to give an idea of distances of where you will be on your trip. On the Rhine Getaway one is normally closer to Heidelberg. From Mannheim (or Speyer) on the Rhine you drive to Heidelberg on the Neckar. No Viking ship ever sails on the Neckar. I am surprised Viking offers an excursion to Heidelberg from the Main area which is further North and quite a bit to the East. If you take the excursion to Heidelberg it will always be a full day away from the ship and I reckon it is a good opportunity for Viking to sail on while the passengers are out on a trip. The Main is quite windy and has many locks.

It is somewhat a pity in my opinion that they do not offer a trip to Darmstadt instead but that is just my opinion. Heidelberg has of course much more romantic appeal.

Perhaps the google maps figures might help you: Mainz: 50°00'06.5"N 8°16'38.5"E 50.001795, 8.277373

Mannheim: 49°30'29.0"N 8°26'20.1"E
49.508045, 8.438902

Heidelberg: 49°24'46.4"N 8°42'56.4"E
49.412883, 8.715670

Wertheim: 49°45'42.6"N 9°30'56.5"E
49.761822, 9.515682

Freudenberg: 49°45'02.5"N 9°19'22.7"E
49.750695, 9.322976

Anyway, I hope you will have a great time. The scenery I am sure is lovely both on the coach trip to Heidelberg or if you remain on the ship.

notamermaid
Thank you Notamermaid for your insight and knowledge. You comments on the different threads are always helpful. Maybe we will luck out and get to disembark closer to Heidelberg for the excursion as I do see what you mean about the distance. Maybe one day Viking will take your suggestion and offer a trip to Darmstadt as an option for passengers.

We will stay flexible and see how my sister's knee is doing and maybe she won't even need a break. The cobblestone streets can make walking a little tricky for her but she is normally fine as long as we don't rush. We are looking forward to our cruise--we can never get enough sightseeing.

Penny
#55
Missouri
59 Posts
Joined Dec 2005
Originally posted by wispackrat
I hope you have a wonderful cruise! The one piece of advice I might give you is to do the things that you enjoy, not necessarily the things that you think that you should do. Prague, and especially Paris, have so much to offer and if you try to do everything, you will exhaust yourself. In looking back, I think that we enjoyed the river cruise the most. It was so relaxing and refreshing. After a morning or afternoon having a tour of a new place, it was like coming back home to return to the calmness of the ship. The crew of the Alsvin and especially the Program Director, Bojan Bozic, were above anything that we could have wished for. Enjoy your cruise!
I am glad to hear the Alsvin had a wonderful crew and program director. All the reviews are currently old and I have been waiting to hear how people felt about this ship on the Cities of Light cruise. I agree that we normally don't try to pack our days too heavily. On our Paris days we added the 2 extra post cruise days so we will have 4 days there and our plane does not leave until the afternoon to head home so we should have some good hours in the city. It has been 25 years since I have been to Paris so my return is long overdue.

Penny
#56
Michigan
1,204 Posts
Joined Feb 2004
The day is finally here. We fly out this evening for our Cities if Light river cruise. I am beyond excited, all packed and just waiting for my airport pickup!
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#57
San Francisco Bay Area
8,468 Posts
Joined Jul 2008
Originally posted by Rosieo
The day is finally here. We fly out this evening for our Cities if Light river cruise. I am beyond excited, all packed and just waiting for my airport pickup!
Bon voyage and have a great cruise.
Please let us know afterwards how it went as well as all the pros and cons.
TIA.
#58
Michigan
1,204 Posts
Joined Feb 2004
Originally posted by Paulchili
Bon voyage and have a great cruise.
Please let us know afterwards how it went as well as all the pros and cons.
TIA.
Thank you! As long as I have wifi along the way I will be posting pics and info on my website and blog. I'll post that link later in case anyone is interested.
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#59
Nashville, Tennessee USA
941 Posts
Joined Mar 2014
Originally posted by Rosieo
The day is finally here. We fly out this evening for our Cities if Light river cruise. I am beyond excited, all packed and just waiting for my airport pickup!
Wishing you safe travels and a wonderful cruise!
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