Hi all! I have been back for about a week, sadly, from my Viking River Cruise from Basel to Amsterdam with a two day stay post-trip in Amsterdam.
This site was such a help for me in advance, so I wanted to briefly share my experience. To preface this review, I am a bit younger than the average Viking traveler. My husband and I are both in our late twenties.
First and foremost, the crew. If it weren't for the crew on the Viking Var ship, the cruise would not have been the same. They are on-point every single time, and I have yet to experience the caliber of service I received at every meal on a Var ship at one meal in DC. They also keep everything on time and organized. I am a meeting planner, so the bar is set pretty high for me in terms of being impressed by a flawless time schedule execution, and Viking did. If they're leaving at 8:30, you'll be leaving at 8:30. If your bus is set to arrive back to the boat at 1:00, it will (even with traffic...). The staff makes you feel like family in less than a week! Angelito and Mikey did a great job as our servers most nights, Jelena at the front desk was so helpful, Mishko did a fantastic job as a maitre'd, Dominique was a fabulous program director, the chefs were awesome,and Dragos and the housekeeping crew were impeccable.
The rooms: I had a stateroom on the bottom floor. I expected it might be darker and noisier. This was not the case. The room was well-lit and despite the small size, they organized it very well to make it seem it bigger. The window also allowed for natural light.
Excursions: We skipped the Black Forest tour, per the advice of others, and we don't regret it after talking to others. Instead, we spent this time in Breisach, and then took the Colmar excursion in the afternoon. This is the only excursion that I think I heard completely good reviews on. It's also the only excursion we did. The stop in Rudesheim was strange. Everyone on the ship seemed to want more time in Heidelberg, but we had to be back to the boat to sail to Rudesheim. When we arrived in Rudesheim, only two restaurants and one souvenir shop were open in the entire area of the "lively" Drosselgasse. I guess, because it was the week before the Christmas Markets opened, nothing was open. Those who did the dinner said they couldn't see on the train, because it was dark, but the dinner did have good entertainment. It is a pricey excursion, though.
Weather: The weather was rainy almost the entire time, but it was in the 50s, thankfully. I got away with wearing a light coat and hat most days.
Food: There is so much food. I am still in detox after my trip. It is all delicious. I am a vegetarian, and they were able to accommodate at every meal. Most menus feature a vegetarian option, except for the Farewell Dinner, but they still whipped me up a delicious meal. If you see a vegetarian meal with a coconut curry sauce on it, get it! The Flying Stroopwaffel or pistachio ice cream - get it! The German food station night was also fun!
I read this site and other reviews intensively before going, and a few things I think may be helpful for others:
Strasbourg/Kehl: The boat docks in Kehl. There's a small town about five minues away that you can walk to with a shopping center.
Amsterdam Post-Trip Departure from Ship: Buses will pick you up at the the boat to take you to the hotel where you'll check in before departing for your walking tour.
Umbrellas: The Viking umbrellas are a very nice convenience. However, they are rather large and bulky, and they do make you stick out like a tourist with their bright red color emblazoned with the Viking logo (potential green light for a pickpocket). I'd recommend carrying a small purse size umbrella. Also, wearing a Viking sticker on you post-airport arrival on the following days is another way to stick out to potential pickpockets.
Cruise misses: Some of the tour guides weren't so great, but they do ask for our reviews on them. Rudesheim (I'd recommend that Viking skip that if it's off season and spend more time in Heidelberg).
Cruise loves: Crew, meals, guided tours, Strasbourg, Colmar, Amsterdam, Breisach, learning sessions (cheese and jenever tasting; Rudesheimer demo; wheelhouse tour; etc.); staterooms (they were so well-lit, organized, and clean!); the ease of having your travel planned for you with guides and also ending up a new city without having to pack and unpack your luggage.
Overall: I can't wait for my next Viking trip! I am already looking at the Danube or Elbe cruises.
You can view a more intensive review of my trip, along with photos, here: http://offthebeatenpathdc.wordpress.com/
If you have any questions, let me know!