Skip to Content

This article contains affiliate links. We may receive compensation if you make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

Viking Rhine River Cruise | Amsterdam To Basel

Cruising the Rhine River with Viking River Cruises is a popular option for exploring Europe in style. See what we thought about our scenic 12-day Viking Rhine River Cruise from Amsterdam to Basel.

Rhine Cruise with Viking River Cruises

In the grand scheme of things, people can be separated into two categories – cruise people and everyone else. We always placed ourselves in the latter category.

We eschewed cruises as being nice for people who prefer more structure on their vacations and prefer the safety of guided trips with strict itineraries. We prefer immersive experiences that bring us into the heart of a country’s culture.

That being said, we were thrilled when we received an unexpected offer from Viking River Cruise. Needless to say, it was an offer that we couldn’t refuse. This was our chance to try a certain ease of travel and to see what it’s like to experience a trip with guides and planned meals.

Pro Tip
Don’t cruise without travel insurance!

Viking Eir - Rhine Cruise with Viking River Cruises
The Viking Eir was our temporary home during our Rhine Cruise.

As part of Viking’s generous offer, we were able to select a European riverboat cruise that appealed to us. After pouring over the many options for cruises in Europe outlined on the Viking website and studying the photos and videos, we ended up selecting the Rhineland Discovery cruise.

This 12-day Amsterdam to Basel river cruise starts with two city destinations (Bruges and Amsterdam) before cruising up the Rhine with stops in Rhine River cities like Kinderdijk, Cologne, Koblenz, Rüdesheim, Heidelberg, Strasbourg, Breisach and finally Basel.

Sure, Viking is reputed to have some of the world’s best river cruises and the Viking Rhine river cruise sounds wonderful. But what did we really think? We share our thoughts in the following Viking River Cruise review.

What We Loved About Our Viking Rhine River Cruise

Let’s be real. It’s hard to not enjoy a luxury cruise on the Viking Eir, a longboat with 95 staterooms and four decks. Food is plentiful and cooked to order, and the German beer onboard is some of the best in the world. Coffee flows all day long on a Viking river cruise ship, and the crew’s main mission is to make everybody happy.

Visiting Five Countries Without Lugging Our Bags

Rhineland Discovery - Rhine Cruise with Viking River Cruises
We chose the Rhineland Discovery cruise for its castle-filled route.

As independent travelers, we lug around our bags – a lot. As a result, we sometimes suffer from tired backs and sore feet.

What a treat it was to not have to worry about luggage for twelve straight days! This may not seem like a big deal, but it was a game-changer for us.

As an extra bonus, we loved unpacking our bags and feeling ‘at home’ during the length of the Viking Rhine River cruise. Since we use packing cubes when we travel, it only took us a few minutes to settle into the room and start enjoying the cruise.

Room With A View And Amenities

Comfortable Room - Rhine Cruise with Viking River Cruises
Our comfortable room had lots of amenities, but the view from the bed is what we loved the most.

We weren’t sure what to expect from the room even though we had looked at various YouTube videos for a sneak preview. Our room turned out to be downright spacious with a comfortable bed, a full range of movies available on-demand and wonderful bathroom products that got replenished on a daily basis. We were pleasantly surprised by the room’s private balcony with a table and chairs for two, which made it feel even more spacious.

True confession – we didn’t use the balcony much once we discovered that the best view in our room was from the bed. It turns out that there’s not much better in life than lying in bed and watching the Rhine current stream gently next to the trees and hills of Western Europe.

Awesome Crew

Awesome Crew with Beer - Rhine Cruise with Viking River Cruises
Cheers to Marlon! He always had a smile on his face and beers in his hand.

We consider ourselves to be low maintenance travelers who don’t need a lot of assistance, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t appreciate excellent service. And that’s exactly what we got from the international crew while cruising the Rhine with Viking.

Empty beer stein? Not for long. Fresh fruit in our cabin? You betcha.

This crew was highly attentive without being intrusive, and it was our pleasure to tip them at the end of the cruise.

Great Food

Food on a Rhine Cruise with Viking River Cruises
Not surprisingly, there was plenty of food on our Viking River cruise. We especially enjoyed the local meats and cheeses served to match each destination’s cuisine.

Food on our Viking Rhine River Cruise was varied and plentiful.

We appreciated the fancy, multi-course dinners and the big, hearty lunches served in the dining room, though we mostly opted for the simpler, more casual meals available on the Aquavit Terrace. However, we liked breakfast best of all.

The range of breakfast foods ran the gamut from healthy fruit and yogurt to more decadent options. Passing on the menu items, we stuck to the breakfast buffet where we enjoyed cheeses, meats and other regional delicacies.

The one and only thing missing was Nutella, but not for long. The attentive staff was kind enough to share their private Nutella stash with us once they realized we were true fans of the chocolate hazelnut spread.

Fun Excursions

Viking offers many excursions on its Rhineland Discovery cruise, many of which are at no additional cost for participants. The free Viking tours are good – mostly slow-paced walking/bus tours with lots of information and minimal pressure.

However, the optional excursions are the ones that truly wowed us with their passionate guides and small group format. These tours really offer travelers an intimate chance to experience many of the cultural delights that Europe has to offer.

It may seem like a hardship to spend the extra cash after already plunking down a bunch of dough for the cruise itself, but these are sincere, honest excursions that will detour you from the more touristic itineraries. These were our three favorite excursions:

Cologne’s Beer Culture Dinner Tour

Cologne Beer Crawl Excursion - Rhine Cruise with Viking River Cruises
Hitting the streets of Cologne for an evening pub crawl was a fun excursion in the German city.

As we learned over dinner at a brauhaus that dates back to 1858, Cologne locals never eat while drinking. They only drink while eating.

Living like locals was not a problem for us during this excursion where we drank an endless number of small glasses of chilled Kölsch beer at no less than four different family-owned pubs each oozing with Köln culture. We even learned how to toast like a local during this fun pub crawl.

We now like to clink the bottom of our glasses and say ‘Prost!’ even though we’re no longer in Cologne. In addition to drinking beer, we also enjoyed soaking up Cologne’s history through this walking tour of the town’s narrow, lively, rebuilt North German streets.

Taste Of The Best Of Alsace

Strasbourg Food Tour Excursion - Rhine Cruise with Viking River Cruises
This picnic-style lunch was the highlight of our Strasbourg food tour excursion.

We were pleased to get our first taste of Strasbourg during this full-day excursion which served as an introduction for our future stay in the fairytale Alsatian city in France.

The informative tour guide from Food and City Tours Strasbourg introduced us to a variety of local fare starting with kugelhopf and continuing with chocolate, cheese, baguettes, wine, flamenkuche and finally pain d’epices, a local pastry similar to what Americans call gingerbread.

Highlight of this excursion? For us, it was the picnic-style lunch at Oenosphère where we sampled excellent local wines from nearby vineyards along with an assortment of amazing French cheeses and charcuterie.

Black Forest Hike & Farm Visit

Black Forest Excursion - Rhine Cruise with Viking River Cruises
Lunch with a View of the Black Forest

We pinched ourselves as we ate tasty German food and drank local beer with a view of the Black Forest. Was this real life or a dream?

Viking’s local tour guide took us on a winding journey where we visited old and new farms, hiked up forest trails and drank schnapps in addition to enjoying lunch with a view at a local eating hall. We saw so much that we felt like we were on a Black Forest road trip, if only for the day.

This excursion took us away from the standard cuckoo clock shops and allowed us to see the magnificent, lush, green Schwarzwald hills along with a glimpse into the day-to-day struggles of old German culture. We also enjoyed visiting a modern German farm complete with its on-site schnapps distillery not to mention adorable goats and cows.

The Rhine Itself

Castle View - Rhine Cruise with Viking River Cruises
One of many gorgeous castles we passed during our Rhine cruise with Viking River Cruises

We mainly chose the Rhineland Discovery cruise for the opportunity to cruise the Rhine and see Rhine River castles sprinkled along its verdant shore. Despite some cloudy and rainy weather, the view did not disappoint.

Seriously, the castles just kept coming as we lounged on the wide-open sundeck of our longship.

We toasted and drank hearty, dark Kostrizer beers as we sailed along the Middle Rhine River streaming by the famous Lorelei rock and oh-so-many castles. We were so inspired by the fabulous views and tasty beers that we plan to return and spend one week in the Rhine Valley so that we can explore the area more fully.

What We Didn’t Love So Much

Feeling Rushed

As full-time travelers and influencers, we usually travel slowly with a week or even a month in each location. Though it was great to hit five countries in twelve days, it wasn’t so great to have to leave each one so quickly.

Sometimes, when traveling in Europe, we just like to slow down, plant ourselves at an outdoor cafe and soak in the atmosphere. Some people like this quicker style of travel, but it’s not our preferred approach.

Spotty Internet

As internet junkies, it was a bit stressful to have spotty internet during our Viking Rhine getaway. Though out of the ship’s control and likely common on river cruises on the Rhine, the internet (or lack thereof) was a bit of a bummer.

Final Thoughts on Our Viking Rhine River Cruise

Kitchen Staff - Rhine Cruise with Viking River Cruises
Friendly Faces in the Kitchen on the Viking Eir

Clearly, we loved a lot more about the Rhine cruise than we didn’t love. Does this mean that we’ve crossed over to being cruise people? Well, we wouldn’t go that far, but we’re very open to taking another cruise to help us with that transition.

Hungry For More Cruises?

European Waterways Barge
Deck on the Costa Smeralda Cruise Ship
Holland America Norway Cruise Social IMG
Heymondo Offer with City View

Get a discounted quote for travel insurance to protect your trip from things like injuries, theft and cancelations. We never travel without protection!

About The Authors

About The Authors

Daryl & Mindi Hirsch

Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on their website 2foodtrippers. Since launching the site in 2012, they’ve traveled to over 40 countries in their quest to bring readers a unique taste of the world.

Subscribe to our newsletter unless you’d rather follow us on Facebook, Instagram and/or Pinterest.


Article Updates
We update our articles regularly. Some updates are major while others are minor link changes and spelling corrections. Let us know if you see anything that needs to be updated in this article.

We thank Viking River Cruises for hosting us on the Rhineland Discovery cruise to facilitate this article.

Original Publication Date: October 6, 2016


Wednesday 25th of May 2022

Hello! My mother and I are venturing on the 7 day Rhine River cruise with Viking beginning June 2nd. Were you Covid tested daily? By the way, we’re signed up to take park in the Cologne beer experience. Can’t wait!

Daryl and Mindi Hirsch

Monday 30th of May 2022

COVID rules continue to change. It's best to check with Viking for the latest and greatest news. Stay safe and have fun!


Wednesday 23rd of March 2022

We are going on this cruise April 8th 2022. Thanks for all the insightful tips and useful information.

Therese Bruning

Friday 18th of November 2016

We've often wondered about taking a river cruise. Like you, we sometimes like to be able to stay put a little longer, relax, sightsee and take in the vibe of a town or city. However, I think it would be a nice treat to do one day , relaxing on board watching the beautiful views go by, Another one for my "to do" list.

Daryl and Mindi Hirsch

Sunday 27th of November 2016

You should check out Viking Cruises when you're ready to try a river cruise. They really do a nice job with all the details and the overall experience.

Mariah Grimwood

Tuesday 11th of October 2016

Wow, your trip looked amazing! I agree with everyone here about not being a super cruise-y person because I put a high value on my independence, but I went on a narrow boat trip in England when I was younger and really loved it, so I'm definitely interested in going on another river cruise in the future. I came across this tour site a while back that lets you compare different river cruise companies and trips and it's super cool- ever since I have been toying with the idea of booking a cruise and I think you guys just sold me on it haha!

Vicky and Buddy

Monday 10th of October 2016

This cruise looks amazing and I think you picked a good one (I lived in Germany for 3 years and loved it). I'd be freaking out about the internet too, but I'd just go eat some of that yummy food to take my mind off of it lol!