Our Rhine River cruise on the Viking Atla was a spectacular way to see the cities and villages of several Europe countries. This is the first in a series of blogs about one of the best vacations I have ever taken. Our journey started out with a Delta nonstop flight from Boston to Amsterdam. The flight was over night so with a movie and a little rest before we knew it we were in the Netherlands. When we arrived at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport it was like stepping off the plane into a huge shopping mall. There was every kind of store you could imagine. So if you have time while you are waiting for your connecting flight there is plenty of shopping to be had. After shopping it was now time to board our flight to Basel, Switzerland. We were on a KLM City Hopper flight. Since the Schiphol airport is so large, you take a bus to the waiting plane and board the plane from the tarmac. The KLM flight was very nice and the flight attendants’ dressed in their sharp robin blue uniforms were very accommodating.
It was a short flight to Basel, Switzerland’s airport which is the Euroairport Basel Mulhouse Freiburg since it is actually located in French territory and is operated by both Switzerland and France. The Basel airport is an extremely easy airport to navigate since it is small. There was no security check point to go through, the only thing you have to be aware if you are departing to Basel you need to be sure you depart through Swiss customs and not through French customs. The baggage claim for all flights is the same for all guests whether or not their destination is France or Switzerland.
It was a very short ride with our driver to the river cruise port in Basel. It is great to have a private driver pick us up from the airport, especially when we were tired from the overnight flight. When we arrived at the port, the Viking crew was there with a nice welcome and happy to take our bags so we could board the Viking Atla ship without carrying them. We were directed to the lounge and Aquavit Terrace for a nice lunch waiting for us.
This Viking ship is name Atla after the Norse Goddess of Water. When you climb the stairs to the upper deck there is a painting of the Goddess. The Viking Atla is one of the newer Viking Long Ships and was commissioned in August 2013. There are 8 different stateroom categories from a standard stateroom, to French Balcony stateroom, Veranda stateroom, Veranda Suites and two Explorer Suites. We stayed in a Veranda stateroom on the Main deck. This stateroom was centrally located and had just enough space to enjoy our trip. We got to use the veranda a few times but we were so busy and the weather was a little cooler it did not get its full use.
In our stateroom each day we received the Viking Daily, this was the daily itinerary of where we were, what the weather was like and everything from when the ship departs and arrives at the next destination to times for lunch, excursions and cocktail hour. Along with the itinerary each Viking Daily gives you all in the information about the port of the day, tips, and a section called “Your Room with a View” which has history and details about the area we were traveling. This Daily guide had a wealth of information that was in an easy to read format.
The Viking Atla is a small intimate ship with room for 190 guests. There are plenty of spaces to mingle with the other guests and to make new friends. When it comes to dining you have the option of the main dining room with open seating. We sat with several new friends throughout our voyage. The meals were always very tasty with several courses to choose from and to try new dishes. You can also have a more casual dining experience in the Aquavit Terrace or in the lounge. When the weather is nice it is great to take your plate up to the sundeck to enjoy the view. There is quaint library with books and DVDs to enjoy throughout your trip. There is also an internet station to keep in touch with family and friends. We found when we were on the river the internet connection was intermittent and sometimes not available but as we were closer to larger cities the reception was better. The sun deck has a great view all around. For the colder days, there is an enclosed area to stay a little warmer. Throughout the ship there are many areas to relax and enjoy the company of new friends.
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