On the Viking Ve in Amsterdam

The arrival in Amsterdam went pretty smoothly. Our luggage beat us to the carousel and a Viking representative was there to meet just us. We were driven in a limo to the ship, which is tied up next to another Viking ship. We’re pretty tired because neither of us slept on the flight, but I’m a bit anxious to see some of the city.

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In Portland, Preparing to Leave

Jackie and I are in Portland today. We have an early afternoon flight to Amsterdam. I guess that we’ll be missing the other celebrity visiting Portland today. According to the paper, Air Force One won’t arrive until mid to late afternoon. Maybe we’ll pass them in the air.

Arrived in Portland late yesterday afternoon, stopping on the way up for lunch at Tomasellis in Elkton. It seems like a good place for lunch if the timing’s right. I wish I had gotten a sandwich, because the bread was great.

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1-Amsterdam-Friday, May 8


Arrival in Amsterdam. If Viking River Cruises arranged your transfer, you will be met at the airport and transferred to your river cruise ship. While the crew is preparing staterooms for arriving guests, you can relax in the ship’s lounge or explore Amsterdam on your own. You will be given access to your stateroom     in      the      midafternoon,      at      approximately 3 p.m. If you arrive during lunchtime, a light lunch buffet will be available in the lounge.


Amsterdam at Leisure. Consider taking a stroll through this charming town to admire the distinctive gabled architecture and many canals and connecting bridges that crisscross the city. You might visit P.C. Hooftstraat, the popular upscale shopping street often referred to as “Amsterdam’s Rodeo Drive.” You might also want to visit the Anne Frank House, which is open late most nights, where Anne wrote her famous diary chronicling her experiences while hiding from the Nazis. Your Concierge can help you with information and suggestions about how to spend your time in Amsterdam, including providing assistance with your visit to the Anne Frank House.


Your ship remains docked until late this evening so you might choose to visit one of the town squares where you can find many of the city’s popular pubs, known as brown cafés. Or visit the famous Red Light District, where you can see firsthand the “live and let live” attitude for which the Dutch are famous.

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2-Kinderdijk-Saturday, May 9


Included Windmills Visit -‚. After breakfast aboard, disembark for an excursion in the picturesque Dutch countryside of the historic Kinderdijk area. Built in the mid-18th century, the collection of 19 windmills that you will visit here is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. They provide an intriguing glimpse into Holland’s past. You will tour the interior of one of the working windmills. Families that live in these mills are required to keep them in working order. As you cross the dike from your ship to the windmills, you will notice that these are in fact at a lower elevation that the vessel: much of this part of the Netherlands is below sea level. Return to your ship and begin sailing towards Cologne.

Welcome Reception & Dinner. Gather this evening to get acquainted with your Program Director and traveling companions at a Welcome Reception before the Welcome Dinner aboard. Your ship sails through the night.

Included Meals: Breakfast (Frühstück), Lunch(Mittagessen), Dinner (Abendessen)

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3-Cologne-Sunday May 10


Included Cologne Tour ‚. The ship docks in Cologne this morning. After breakfast, disembark for a guided walking tour including Cologne’s magnificent Gothic cathedral and Old City. Construction of the cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, began in 1248 and continued in several stages over seven centuries. Finally completed in 1880, it largely escaped damage that ravaged the city and the rest of Germany during World War
II. The largest Gothic cathedral in northern Europe, it is a magnificent church with two soaring spires that symbolize the city, and beautiful stained glass windows.
Please note: On rare occasions, a guided visit inside the cathedral may not be possible. In that case, you will be able to tour on your own after an introductory explanation by your guide.

Cologne Leisure Time. The balance of your day is at leisure for you to explore this lovely city on your own. Cologne was once a Roman settlement called Colonia Agrippina. You can still see fragments of Roman ruins in some parts of the city, and the Roman Tower near the cathedral was once part of the medieval town walls. The city also boasts Romanesque churches, a Renaissance city hall and the remnants of an ancient Jewish mikvah (ritual bathhouse). There are many popular museums in Cologne including Museum Ludwig, devoted to modern art, which displays one of the largest collections of works by Pablo Picasso. Here you will also find museums catering to many interests including the Fragrance Museum Farina House, which claims to be the birthplace of Eau de Cologne, and the Schokoladenmuseum, dedicated to chocolate-making. The ship remains docked here until late in the evening, so you may want to disembark for dinner or a romantic evening stroll.

Museum Directory
National Socialism Documentation Center
Paffgen Brauhaus

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4-Koblenz-Monday, May 11


Koblenz & Middle Rhine
Included Marksburg Castle Tour ƒ. Arrive in Koblenz and begin your tour of Marksburg Castle. Set high above the hill overlooking the town of Braubach, the castle is the best preserved on the Rhine. Built with remarkable fortification, it was never besieged by enemies and therefore appears much the same as it did when it was built approximately 700 years ago. Your tour will last approximately two-and-a-half hours and will conclude back at your ship in the late morning.
Please note: Because there are steep steps and narrow walkways throughout this tour, it is not recommended for guests with mobility restrictions. Please discuss concerns with your Program Director.

Marksburg Castle

Scenic Cruising. Meet your ship in Braubach, where it has sailed during your excursion. Set sail during lunchtime. Your Program Director will point out the little towns, castles, ruins and other sights along the river, from the famous Katz and Maus Castles to Pfalzgrafenstein fortress that sits on a rock in the middle of the river. You will learn about the famous robber baron from Katzenelnbogen, which intriguingly means “cat elbows.” Enjoy scenic cruising as this is one of the most beautiful stretches of the Rhine. You will also pass the Lorelei, a legendary rock formation rising 440 feet above the river.

Just after dinner tonight, your ship will leave the Rhine River and begin its journey up the Main River, a tributary which flows into the Rhine at Mainz. Sail through the night to Miltenberg.

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5-Miltenberg-Tuesday, May 12


Scenic Cruising. Spend a relaxing morning aboard enjoying the passing scenery as the ship sails along the meandering Main River.

Included Miltenberg Tour & Leisure Time . Dock in Miltenberg after lunch and disembark for a guided walking tour of this charming town. Its town square, lined with half-timbered façades, is one of the most picturesque in all of Germany. Close by is the ancient hotel Zum Riesen (“the Inn at the Giant”), which is generally believed to be the Germany’s oldest inn. During your tour you also see the town gates and catch a glimpse of the castle, perched high over the roofs of Miltenberg.

During free time, visit a local wine shop to peruse the local Franconian vintages or stop at a bakery for a Bavarian pretzel. In the old town, many businesses operate in much the same way as they have for generations. Meet your ship in Wertheim, where it has sailed during your excursion.

Set sail during dinner to Würzburg.

Included Meals: Breakfast (Frühstück), Lunch(Mittagessen), Dinner (Abendessen)

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6-Wurzburg-Wednesday, May 13


Included Residenz Palace Excursion . Arrive this morning, and after breakfast disembark for your half-day excursion to Würzburg and a tour of its impressive baroque Bishops’ Residenz, one of Germany’s largest and most ornate palaces and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This former residence of the Würzburg prince- bishop was designed by architect Balthasar Neumann and built over a 70-year period, beginning in 1720. Both the massive reception staircase and overhead ceiling are considered masterpieces of design, made even more impressive by the Venetian artist Giambattista Tiepolo’s stunning “Four Continents” ceiling fresco. You will see several of the building’s ornate rooms, each representing a different style and highlighted by the Mirror Cabinet, painstakingly reconstructed after falling victim to massive bombing during World War II.

Afternoon at Leisure or Optional Excursion to Rothenburg ƒ. Enjoy the balance of your day at leisure exploring Würzburg on your own. This Bavarian city holds a wealth of sights; explore and see some of the countless churches built in a range of architectural styles, or visit the municipal art museum that exhibits fantastic regional paintings and sculptures from 22 different European countries.


Alternatively, you can extend your morning with an optional excursion to Rothenburg. In this case, you will begin your day with a visit to that city and enjoy Würzburg and the Residenz Palace in the afternoon. Enjoy a scenic motorcoach ride along the “Romantic Road” through Franconia, passing idyllic towns and peaceful landscapes on your way to Rothenburg. After a walking tour admiring the medieval town’s charming half- timbered houses and some free time, you will have a traditional German lunch in a local restaurant. Afterward, you will travel to Würzburg to continue your day of sightseeing in Franconia.(cost of the optional tour is 64 euros, which includes motorcoach transportation, a traditional lunch and a guide). Enjoy dinner aboard and cruise through the night.

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Rothenburg Video

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7-Bamberg-Thursday, May 14


Scenic Cruising & Included Bamberg City Tour ƒ. This morning, sail through the 106-mile Main-Danube Canal, an engineering marvel stretching from Bamberg on the Main River to Kelheim on the Danube and comprising 16 locks. Originally envisioned by Charlemagne in the 8th century, this waterway was finally completed and opened in 1992, creating a continuous waterway from the North Sea to the Black Sea. Arrive in Hassfurt around lunch and disembark for a tour of Bamberg, with its medieval city center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Your walking tour includes a visit to the magnificent 11th- century cathedral, reworked in late-Romanesque style in the 13th century; this is where both Emperor Henry II and Pope Clement II are buried. You also see the very picturesque city hall built on a tiny island in the middle of the Regnitz River near its confluence with the Main. Take some free time to enjoy Bamberg and sample some of the town’s distinctive smoke- flavored beer before rejoining your ship in Bamberg in time for dinner aboard as we depart.
Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

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8-Nuremberg-Friday, May 15


Main-Danube Canal & Nuremberg
Main-Danube Canal Cruising. Spend the early morning cruising through the Main-Danube Canal. This engineering marvel stretches 106 miles from Bamberg on the Main River to Kelheim on the Danube. Begun as Charlemagne’s dream in 793, it was completed in 1992 with 16 locks that raise the water to 1,332 feet. Connecting the Main and Danube Rivers, today it enables continuous river travel from the North Sea to the Black Sea.

Included Nuremberg Tour or Optional World War II Historical Tour ‚. After breakfast, disembark for a tour of this medieval city surrounded by 13th-century walls. Today Nuremberg evokes the notorious post-World War II war trials, but throughout its history, the city was known for its handicrafts, particularly toys and fancy metalwork. You will stop at the grounds where Nazi rallies were staged. Admire the Imperial Palace and the city’s half-timbered houses and stroll through the Market Square. After visiting the medieval town center, you have some time for exploring on your own.
Palace today

Palace after WWII
Palace after WWII
You may choose instead to join us on the optional World War II historical tour including a visit to the Documentation Center, located on what were once the Nazi Party rally grounds. The center houses detailed documentation of the history of party rallies, exposing the manipulative nature of the Nazi propaganda machine. The upper level of the center houses a new permanent exhibit titled, “Fascination and Terror,” which deals with the causes, relationships and consequences of National Socialist tyranny. Your tour includes an extended photo and explanation stop at the Palace of Justice. We depart for Regensburg just before dinner (cost of the optional tour is 39 euros, which includes motorcoach transportation, entrance fees and guided tour). Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Nuremberg Palace
Nuremberg Documentation Center

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9-Regensburg-Saturday, May 16


Scenic Cruising. Have breakfast aboard and spend a relaxing morning cruising along the Danube.

Included Regensburg Tour ‚. Around lunch your ship docks in Regensburg. After lunch, meet your guide for a walking tour through one of Germany’s best-preserved medieval cities and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. See the gleaming spires of Gothic St. Peter’s Cathedral with its stained glass, the Old Town Hall and the 12th-century Old Stone Bridge, Germany’s oldest bridge.

Regensburg Leisure Time. Your ship remains docked until later in the evening, so you have time to take a stroll through town, admiring the many notable buildings, churches, and 13th- to 15th-century homes. Perhaps visit Schloss Thurn and Taxis, the residence of the Thurn and Taxis family that was once known as St. Emmeram’s Abbey, a Benedictine monastery founded in 739. You might also choose to sample Regensburg’s signature dish, sausage and a roll with sweet mustard, at the 800-year-old Alte Wurstküche (Old Sausage Kitchen), Germany’s oldest restaurant. Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Lunch menu for Alte Wurstküche

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10-Passau-Sunday, May 17


Included Passau Tour ‚. Your ship docks in Passau this morning. After breakfast, you take a tour of this elegant town, called the Dreiflüssestadt (“City on Three Rivers”), which is situated at the confluence of the Danube, Ilz and Inn Rivers. You will see the impressive Bishop’s Residenz, 14th-century Town Hall, and the town’s magnificent 17th-century St. Stephan’s Cathedral, containing Europe’s largest pipe organ. After touring the cathedral, you will be treated to an organ concert.

Please note: Organ concerts are not held on Sundays or during the months of April or November.

Passau Leisure Time. Return to your ship for lunch. You can then enjoy the balance of your afternoon at leisure, perhaps exploring the narrow streets and quaint shops in Old Town.

Things to do in Passau

Tonight, enjoy dinner aboard and cruise through the night.

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

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11a-Melk-Monday, May 18 (Morning)


Scenic Cruising. This morning, the ship sails through a beautiful untouched stretch of the Danube called the Strudengau.

Included Melk Abbey Tour ‚. Dock in Melk in the morning and disembark for an excursion to the dramatic 900-year-old baroque Melk Abbey, perched on sheer cliffs high above the Danube. Rebuilt during the 18th century after the original building was destroyed by fire, its stunning library is now home to a wide range of medieval manuscripts. The interior of the abbey’s church is a kaleidoscope of red, orange and gold, with a magnificent carved pulpit and shimmering ceiling frescoes. You will also see the imperial rooms, which are now home to a museum chronicling the Abbey’s history from its inception to modern times.

Scenic Cruising. Return to your ship in the early afternoon and sail through the Wachau Valley, heart of Austria’s wine country. This area is filled with cultural and historic importance, and is of such unsurpassed beauty that it has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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11b-Krems-Monday, May 18 (Afternoon)


Krems at Leisure or Optional Wine Tasting ‚. Dock in Krems in the afternoon. Your ship remains docked here until about midnight, so you are free to explore this charming town on your own. Or, you may choose to join us for an optional wine tour and tasting. Erhard Mörwald, Viking’s own vintner, will guide you through his cellar and vineyard and walk you through a tasting of his wine. (cost of the optional tour is 44 euros, which includes motorcoach transportation, guide services, and a wine tasting). Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

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12-Vienna-Tuesday, May 19

christmas fair in vienna

Included Vienna Tour . Your ship docks early this morning. After breakfast aboard, set off on your half-day tour of one of Europe’s most elegant and romantic cities. Your coach and walking tour features the remarkable Ringstrasse, lined with imposing palaces and grand residences, encircling the medieval Innere Stadt (“Inner City”). See the magnificent Hofburg Palace, glorious St. Stephan’s Cathedral with its gleaming spire and the beautiful State Opera House.

Vienna Leisure Time & Optional Schönbrunn Palace Tour ‚. Return to your ship for lunch, and enjoy an afternoon exploring on your own. Take a ride on a traditional horse-drawn fiaker, sample some mouthwatering Viennese pastry (try the famous Sachertorte or a Topfenstrudel, a sweet pastry made with fresh cheese) in a sidewalk café or visit the spectacular Art History Museum. You may choose to join us for an optional tour to Maria Theresa’s wonderful baroque Schönbrunn Palace, designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. See the palace’s opulent rooms and collection of period furniture, and admire the beautiful formal gardens (cost of the optional tour is 49 euros, which includes motorcoach transportation, entry fees and a guide).


Optional Concert -‚. After dinner, you can attend an optional concert. Held in one of the city’s historic venues, the concert features compositions by Mozart and Strauss performed by a Viennese orchestra (cost of the optional tour is 64 euros, which includes motorcoach transportation and the concert). Your ship remains docked until early morning.

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

What to do in Vienna (from NYT, December 2014)

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13-Bratislava-Wednesday, May 20


Included Bratislava Tour or Optional Home Hosted Visit . Your ship docks in Bratislava before breakfast time. After breakfast, disembark for a bus and walking tour of Slovakia’s capital. Set picturesquely at the foot of the Little Carpathian Mountains, Bratislava is dominated by its massive square castle. On your tour you visit the Old Town, where you see beautiful St. Martin’s Cathedral, Michael’s Gate with its 15th-century tower, the Main Square, aristocratic palaces, the baroque Jesuit Church, Rolland Fountain representing Knight Rolland and the National Theater. Return to your ship for lunch as you sail to Budapest.

Optional Home Hosted Visit

Enjoy a short bus tour through Bratislava and see the most important sites of the city. Afterwards, head to the outskirts and back-country of Bratislava to get to know “real” Slovakian families and experience what life is like in Slovakia. The guides will explain what everyday family life is like, as well as translate between guests and families. During the home visit, coffee, tea and cake will be offered. (cost of the optional tour is 49 euros, which includes motorcoach transportation and a guide)

Captain’s Farewell Reception & Dinner. Gather this evening to toast your memories and say farewell to your new found friends during the Captain’s Reception and enjoy the Captain’s Farewell Dinner. Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


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14-Budapest-Thursday, May 21


Port Location. The ship docks between the Elizabeth Bridge and the Chain Bridge on the Pest side of the city.
Included Budapest Tour ‚. Disembark after breakfast for a tour of Hungary’s lovely capital. The Danube cuts through the heart of the city, separating the Buda Hills and the Old City from the elegant boulevards of modern Pest. Start in “Pest” with a ride along the Andrássy Út where you will see the National Opera House and Heroes’ Square. See other landmarks, including the Parliament, before crossing the river to the more traditional “Buda” side of the city. Here your tour highlights the massive hilltop castle complex with its turreted Fishermen’s Bastion and Matthias Church. You also see the famous Chain Bridge and Elizabeth Bridge, two of many that connect the two halves of this vibrant city.
Budapest Leisure Time or Optional Tours -‚. Return to your ship for lunch and then enjoy your afternoon at leisure. Perhaps take a stroll along Váci Utca where you will find excellent Herend porcelain (produced in Hungary since 1839), the country’s renowned peasant embroidery, and other souvenirs of Hungary.
Alternatively, this afternoon you may take an optional tour and discover the heritage of the legendary Hungarian “cowboys.” At the outskirts of Budapest, near the edge of the Puszta region where the cowboys herd their sheep and cattle on horseback, you will be greeted by these fearless horsemen and enjoy traditional Hungarian Pálinka (brandy) and Pogácsa (biscuits). Then you are treated to a horsemanship exhibition where young riders control their horses with only bridles and the cracking of six-foot whips. They use no saddles or stirrups—the horse and rider are as one in a display based on trust between the two. After the show, you can visit the stables or try a carriage ride (cost of the optional tour is 49 euros, which includes motorcoach transportation, horsemanship show, snacks and a guide).

Or, you may join an optional tour highlighting Budapest’s colorful Jewish past and present. The city’s 19th-century Moorish-style Dohány Street synagogue, known as the Great Synagogue, is the largest in Europe and one of the largest in the world. It was severely damaged and used as a stable during World War II, but in the 1990s—after the fall of Communism— it was restored. In addition to being a synagogue, the building also houses the Hungarian Jewish Museum. Visit the Emmanuel Memorial, a moving tribute to the 400,000 Hungarian Jews who perished in the Holocaust. See the Hungarian Jewish World War II Memorial, a poignant scattering of empty shoes along the Danube (cost of the optional tour is 44 euros, which includes transportation, entrance to Dohány complex, and a walking tour of the Jewish Quarter) Please note: this tour is not offered on Saturday.
Return to your ship for dinner aboard this evening. After dinner, you may want to disembark for a romantic evening stroll.
Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

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