If you don’t fly, then every trip to Europe becomes a project. A transatlantic crossing on both sides of your trip can add from 14 to 21 days and even longer to your time away. The way I figure it, as long as getting there and back are , it makes sense to spend as much time in Europe as possible. And cover as much territory as your energy, time and wallet will allow.
When I’m in Europe, I try to cram as much into a month or so, as possible. Between a river cruise, an ocean cruise around Europe and time on land to get to know a city, the less time spent on and off trains from point A to B to C, the better.
That’s why I was excited to learn that Viking understands people like me. Of course, they’re in an extremely unique position as both an ocean cruise line and river cruise line. Which is why it’s so cool that they’ve managed to put together a back-to-back cruise experience that takes guests on both an ocean and rivers.
Viking has named them Ocean & River Cruise Voyages. In 2018, there are two separate itineraries to choose and both offer a seamless way to cover a whole lot of Europe.
Since most people actually fly to Europe rather than take a slow boat, these new 18-day voyages are very convenient and well-timed to maximize vacation days. With a Saturday night departure from Basel, you can take a Friday night flight over to Basel, Switzerland and still work a full week before your cruise. Easy peasy.
Rhine and Amsterdam to Barcelona via Paris
The first cruise departs from Basel, Switzerland on a Rhine river cruise to Amsterdam. Leaving on Sept 29, 2018 aboard a Viking Longship. The itinerary follows a typical Rhine river cruise with port stops at Breisach, Strasbourg, Heidelberg, Rüdesheim, Koblenz, Cologne, Kinderijk (the Dutch town with all the working windmills!) and Amsterdam.
After you depart your river ship, you’ll be transferred over to Viking Oceans where you’ll spend the night in Amsterdam before setting out on your ocean voyage the next day.
First up is Paris, via the port city of Le Havre. En route to Barcelona after a day in Paris, you’ll cross the Channel to Portsmouth, England. From there, it’s onto Spain with the ports of Vigo, Granada, Murcia and then Barcelona, where you’ll overnight onboard the ship.
Read about my Viking River cruise from Budapest to Amsterdam.
Pre- and post-cruise options
If you’re lucky enough to have both the time and funds, Viking offers two choices for both a pre- and post-cruise extension. Most river cruise lines only offer one packaged option.
From Basel, you can choose either three-night package in Lake Como, Italy or two nights in Lucerne. Post-cruise you can choose from either two nights in Barcelona (off-ship) or three nights in Madrid.
All cruise extensions include most meals, a Viking host and tour guide, hotel, transfers etc. In total, it’s an 18-day cruise that visits six countries & 15 ports plus 12 included tours and two overnights in port.
Rhine and Viking Shores and Fjords
Departing from Basel on June 30, 2018, this Rhine river cruise is identical to the previous one. Same river, same itinerary. It’s when you arrive into Amsterdam that the scenery will take a drastic change. After a day in Skagen, Denmark, it’s all Norwegian after that. Ports include Oslo, Kristiansand, Stavanger, Flåm and Bergen, Norway.
This trip, from Basel to Bergen includes a 15-day cruise that visits six countries & 15 ports and includes 11 tours.
Pre- and post-cruise options
The pre-cruise options for this Ocean & River Voyages cruise are the same as above; two nights in Lucerne or three nights up at Lake Como.
Alternatively, if you opted for a post-cruise extension, you could choose from two nights in Oslo; two night in Oslo and Bergen train; or fly over to Iceland for three nights and four days. As always, your Viking host is there to make sure all goes as planned, in addition to hotel, meals and tours.
Read more: What you can expect on a river cruise vacation
If a return transatlantic sounds exciting or like me, is simply a necessity, a westbound transatlantic from Barcelona in the fall is a lot easier to plan than the two or three trains and a ferry it takes to go from Bergen to either England or continental Europe. Catching a westbound ride in mid-summer isn’t easy unless you choose Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 from Southampton to New York.
Prices for either river & ocean voyage begin just over $6,200 per person. Don’t wait too long to book one of these cruises. They’re a great way to explore town and cities on a great river and seamlessly transition to an ocean cruise and all the excitement the second itinerary has to offer.
For more information visit: Viking River & Ocean Voyages