Rhine River, North to South or South to North

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#1
65 Posts
Joined Jun 2016
My wife and I would like to take a Viking River cruise on the Rhine next summer and have noticed that the North to South cruises are generally 15% more than South to North cruises. Can someone please offer an explanation for this?
If the N-S is more desirable, then why? We have never been on a river cruise before.

Thanks
#2
New York
8,309 Posts
Joined Aug 2011
I can only speak personally to this. We did this cruise [on AMA] North to South and felt that this was a good direction. You start in Amsterdam, which is a good place to fly in a day early, but since so many cruises start or visit there not a place you need many days on any particular trip. The first part of the sailing is boring [a canal from Amsterdam to the river, which we were spared by a bus tour to the Rembrandt Windmills -- and then the industrial part of the Rhine, when you are exploring the ship and getting to understand the unique features of river cruising] Then the ports start and IMHO just keep getting better and better as you go along. Also you are sailing upstream, so the passage through the 'Rhine Castles' stretch may be a little more leisurely, allowing you to see them before they wiz by. And finally you end in Basel and have the opportunity for a post-cruise extension to Lucerne, Zurich, and/or any parts of Switzerland you prefer. The other direction would be very fine too, and maybe the differences are small enough that a 15% discount is better value!

Welcome to the River Cruising forum. I have created a number of Stickies at the top of this page which may be a good place to begin your research, especially as it seems you haven't booked yet. The Rhine is an excellent first itinerary for river cruising, but there are other choices as well [the Rhone is my favorite -- and a river where sailing North to South, with the current, is highly recommended]. There are also many river cruise lines to choose among, if your inclination to Viking is because it is the only one you know of. As you compare different lines pay attention to what is included before you conclude that one is cheaper than another, and also pay attention to the detailed itinerary descriptions to learn how much you will see in each port stop. Almost all river cruise lines include at least one shore excursion in each port, but they don't all cover the same ground -- and some lines include more than one excursion and more than one choice.
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Email me: [email protected]
Blogs: Jazzbeaux Blogs

I am not an employee of Cruise Critic and I don't speak for Cruise Critic. All opinions are mine alone. Also, I'm only a Host on the various River forums -- everywhere else I'm "just plain Jazz."

Booked:
Crown Princess Classic Canada & New England 10-2017
Azamara Quest Costa Rica 1-2018
AMA Discover Africa 5-2018
Viking Sun British Isles Explorer 8-2018
Celebrity Edge Caribbean B2B / Celebrity Equinox Caribbean B2B 1-2019 [will choose one!]

Completed:
Norwegian Pride of America Hawaii 10-2016; Azamara Quest Norwegian Fjords 8-2016; Celebrity Constellation Greek Isles 5-2016; AmaDagio Provence 9-2015; Celebrity Xpedition Galapagos 5-2015; Celebrity Eclipse Southern Carib 3-2015; Fresco Tours A Kinder Camino walking tour 9-2014; Crystal Serenity Mediterranean 5-2014; Coral Princess Panama Canal 1-2014; AmaCello Rhine 8-2013; Coral Princess Alaska 6-2013; Ireland Fly-Drive 9-2012; Norwegian Dawn Caribbean 3-2013 / Celebrity Summit Caribbean 1-2012 / Oceania Insignia Mediterranean 5-2011 / Fair Dinkum (Erie Canal bareboat) 7-2003 / Costa Italia Caribbean 5-1974
#3
Texas
158 Posts
Joined May 2016
Going south on the Rhine is sailing upstream and requires more fuel. Sailing north is faster and allows more time for docks and/or excursions.
#4
38 Posts
Joined May 2017
I can say in terms of weather, although its never certain, it will be warmer and less rainy the further south you come. I recently did a road trip where we drove back from Trier to Dusseldorf, and it was a little bit of a bummer to go from comfortable and sun to cold and rainy. I actually like the industrial parts of the river, but I work in logistics, so there's no accounting for taste.
#5
McKinney, TX
61 Posts
Joined May 2009
We sailed north to south in early August with another line. I would agree with Jazzbeau that the early part of the trip is the least scenic why not get that out of the way early and then enjoy the rest of the trip and also enjoy the 15% savings. It's a great trip.

Paul
#6
Midwest, USA
1,109 Posts
Joined Aug 2007
Originally posted by Host Jazzbeau
You start in Amsterdam, which is a good place to fly in a day early, but since so many cruises start or visit there not a place you need many days on any particular trip.
+1. The ease of spending a night in Amsterdam to overcome jetlag, with no pressure to do more than light sightseeing, was one reason we chose A->B.

It's also true that the canal from Amsterdam to the Rhine is the least exciting day, and the cruise gets more scenic further south. So if you are flying in on the cruise day and just want to rest, you would miss less scenery if you do the
N->S direction.

May not apply to you, but we also wanted to hike in Switzerland while well rested and not jetlagged.

Originally posted by xmaser
Going south on the Rhine is sailing upstream and requires more fuel. Sailing north is faster and allows more time for docks and/or excursions.
This is true, and it is the answer to the OP's question about the price difference. We never felt rushed going N->S, but if you want to maximize docking time, pick S->N.
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Susan

Next - Windstar Star Pride Gems of the Leeward Islands, 2/18
Viking Alruna Rhine Getaway, 6/17
Celebrity Constellation Italy & Dalmation Coast, 5/15
Celebrity Summit Southern Caribbean, 3/14
Celebrity Constellation Scandinavia & Russia, 7/13
HAL Ryndam Western Caribbean, 3/13
Celebrity Summit Southern Caribbean, 1/11
HAL Noordam Western Mediterranean, 5/09
Celebrity Galaxy Eastern Mediterranean, 5/08
Celebrity Galaxy Southern Caribbean, 1/08
Holland America Caribbean, 3/00 & 3/01 & 5/02
#8
New York
8,309 Posts
Joined Aug 2011
'Stickies' are the threads (currently 7 on River Cruising) identified with a 'push pin' icon to show they are "stuck" at the top of the thread -- e.g. New to RIVER CRUISING??? START HERE!!!
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Email me: [email protected]
Blogs: Jazzbeaux Blogs

I am not an employee of Cruise Critic and I don't speak for Cruise Critic. All opinions are mine alone. Also, I'm only a Host on the various River forums -- everywhere else I'm "just plain Jazz."

Booked:
Crown Princess Classic Canada & New England 10-2017
Azamara Quest Costa Rica 1-2018
AMA Discover Africa 5-2018
Viking Sun British Isles Explorer 8-2018
Celebrity Edge Caribbean B2B / Celebrity Equinox Caribbean B2B 1-2019 [will choose one!]

Completed:
Norwegian Pride of America Hawaii 10-2016; Azamara Quest Norwegian Fjords 8-2016; Celebrity Constellation Greek Isles 5-2016; AmaDagio Provence 9-2015; Celebrity Xpedition Galapagos 5-2015; Celebrity Eclipse Southern Carib 3-2015; Fresco Tours A Kinder Camino walking tour 9-2014; Crystal Serenity Mediterranean 5-2014; Coral Princess Panama Canal 1-2014; AmaCello Rhine 8-2013; Coral Princess Alaska 6-2013; Ireland Fly-Drive 9-2012; Norwegian Dawn Caribbean 3-2013 / Celebrity Summit Caribbean 1-2012 / Oceania Insignia Mediterranean 5-2011 / Fair Dinkum (Erie Canal bareboat) 7-2003 / Costa Italia Caribbean 5-1974
#9
Pennsylvania
273 Posts
Joined Nov 2008
We loved our Rhine river cruise (Romance of the Rhine & Mosel with Grand Circle Travel). We traveled from Basel north to Antwerp. I didn't notice any downside with going from south to north, and I loved how much time we had in the ports. While cruising along the Rhine is lovely, we were very happy that our itinerary included some time on the Mosel. (We had the option of going to Lucerne before cruise or to Bruges, Belgium afterwards. We chose to go to Bruges since we were traveling in November.)

It looks like Viking offers two cruises that include some time cruising along the Mosel but perhaps you wish to concentrate on an itinerary that focuses on the Rhine for your first cruise.

Before booking our first cruise, we looked at the various ports to figure out which itinerary (and cruise line) we wanted to take. It helped to read trip reports posted on Cruise Critic - especially when they included photos.
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2017 Burgundy & Provence to Cote d'Azur (GCT)
2015 Romance of the Rhine & Mosel (GCT) - photo review
2009 Alaska Cruise (Sapphire Princess)

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#11
65 Posts
Joined Jun 2016
Thanks JazzBeau. I did some binge reading over the last few days and got through all of the "stickies" and sub-stickies. So much I didn't know that I didn't know.
If I may expand the subject of this thread a bit, as a result of my stickies reading, I have 2 questions:
1. Do most people eat lunch on the boat or is it more common for folks to find a local cafe in order to spend more time within the local culture?
2. How much daytime cruising-viewing time is there or is most of the boat traveling done at night?

Thanks,
Harold
#12
445 Posts
Joined May 2013
It will depend on your exact itinerary and where you dock as to lunch dining and daylight cruising.

We had a few mornings or afternoons of cruising. We were docked well out of town twice, making getting to/from the ship a little more difficult on your own. And two days we got off in one town then the bus from our excursion brought us to the next town. If you were not with the excursion you could not get off as the ship was "in port" less than an hour before moving on. Twice our port time was late afternoon or evening, limiting a bit what we could do.

Having now done one river cruise, if I do another one, I will first very critically evaluate how much time is spent in port vs sailing, and when.
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#13
New Jersey, the Philly end
7,088 Posts
Joined Jan 2004
Our experience with GCT & Vantage was that most returned to the ship for lunch. Over the course of many cruises, people were more likely to stay in town in Strasbourg and Lyon. Most of the cruise days, staying in town was possible.

Day light cruising for us was on: the UNESCO "castle" portion of the Rhein, the Wachau Valley of the Danube, the Côte d'Or on the Rhone, a scenic stretch from Rouen towards the mouth of the Seine, and a good portion of the Mosel. I want to note that these two cruise lines tend to have longer duration cruises and spend longer in ports than many of the other lines.
#14
Midwest, USA
1,109 Posts
Joined Aug 2007
Hi Harold,

On our Viking Rhine Getaway, we took most opportunities to eat in town. We had lunch and dinner in Cologne, dinner in Rudesheim, lunch in Heidelberg, and lunch in Strasbourg. We could have lunched in Breisach, but passed since we were hungry when our morning tour returned to the ship. Dinner in Strasbourg would also have been possible.

We were not the only ones eating in town. If I had to guess, I would say "most people" probably ate on the boat or on Viking excursions, but there were certainly opportunities to do otherwise.

Other than the first afternoon on the canal from Amsterdam (industrial but interesting), and the scenic castle stretch of the Rhine (gorgeous!), the majority of our cruising was done in the evening or at night. The boat often moved during excursions, so if you wanted more daytime cruising, you could stay on the boat instead of taking some excursions.
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Susan

Next - Windstar Star Pride Gems of the Leeward Islands, 2/18
Viking Alruna Rhine Getaway, 6/17
Celebrity Constellation Italy & Dalmation Coast, 5/15
Celebrity Summit Southern Caribbean, 3/14
Celebrity Constellation Scandinavia & Russia, 7/13
HAL Ryndam Western Caribbean, 3/13
Celebrity Summit Southern Caribbean, 1/11
HAL Noordam Western Mediterranean, 5/09
Celebrity Galaxy Eastern Mediterranean, 5/08
Celebrity Galaxy Southern Caribbean, 1/08
Holland America Caribbean, 3/00 & 3/01 & 5/02
#15
65 Posts
Joined Jun 2016
Thanks Susan, good information. I had not thought of the possibility of the boat moving during the excursions.
At the risk of sounding cheap, I am struggling with the cost of river cruising. It looks like a typical Viking class 7-day cruise is going to cost around $1,000/day per couple. This past May my wife and I took a 7-day trans-Atlantic crossing on the QM2 in Britannia Club (an upgraded balcony class) for around $550/day per couple. Part of the draw of Europe for us has always been eating in the local cafes and restaurants but it might drive me a little crazy knowing that I've already paid for lunch and/or dinner on the Viking boat. Our modes operandi in the past has been to fly into a city, spend 3-4 days there, move on to a second city for 3-4 days then head home. We recently did Madrid/Barcelona that way. While this has worked for us for the last 30+ years, our friends are all anxious to do a river cruise. So are we but I guess I just need to get out of my comfort zone.
Thanks again for your advice.
Harold
#16
Rhine, Germany
2,127 Posts
Joined Oct 2013
River cruising is by nature of its type of travel always more expensive than ocean cruising. However getting out of your comfort zone could also mean looking at other companies unless you have really made up your mind about Viking. Look particularly at what is included as regards excursions and alcoholic drinks. The lines differ. Especially if you include the non-American based ones. they could be Australian, British French or German and all offer the typical Rhine trip Amsterdam - Basel and vice versa. French and German means where the company is based, the language onboard will be bi-lingual or even tri-lingual depending on itinerary date and company (some are offered on the North-American and their own market, some just on their own market). And the prices do differ.

Have fun planning.

notamermaid
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