Cruise Control: Prague to Paris
A new year is the perfect time to plan adventures to places both near and far. If you’re seeking something off the beaten travel path, we have the vacation for you.
Think iconic rivers, luminous ports, culturally and historically significant cities, legendary Rieslings, and mouthwatering cuisine. Now, connect the dots and imagine seeing all the above with your partner or family for the first time together (or, if you’ve conquered Europe before, seeing them in a completely new way).
While the typical ocean cruise carries thousands of passengers, Viking River Cruises is not your typical seafaring experience. Their European ships have fewer than 200 passengers, making for an intimate, luxurious, all-inclusive journey that begins the moment you step on board.
This particular trip, the 12-day “Cities of Light” voyage, starts in Prague—one of Eastern Europe’s great cities—a young, clean, vibrant metropolis with architecture to spin your head, restaurants that satisfy every foodie, and unforgettable sights and history. A couple days exploring the city while staying at a first-class hotel is the perfect prescription to overcome a little jet lag.
After traveling to the Bavarian city of Nuremberg and touring the ruins of Zeppelin Field, the Nazi parade grounds of the 1930s, and the Palace of Justice, the venerable vestige of the Nuremberg Trials—you’ll take a short bus ride to Bamberg, Germany, where you can enjoy a short walking tour, rich in history. And, yes, a sampling of their rauchbier (smoked beer) that the city is known for.
Next, it’s time to board your boat. Traveling rivers is much like, well, skimming glass. In fact, it’s so smooth a ride that you’ll wonder if you’re moving half the time.
Immediately upon entering the ship, you’ll feel like a queen. Luxury appointments at every turn and a surprising, welcome feel of autonomy. After checking into your stateroom, enjoy a glass of wine on the top deck before your first culinary experience on board.
While typical cruise ship cuisine might best be compared to dining at a quality chain restaurant, midday meals on Viking are more akin to a finer country club (sans the clacking of golf shoes). What’s more, service is impeccable and plentiful, but not overbearing. Dinner is intimate and elegant, and both lunch and dinner offer specially selected wines and beers to pair with your meal. The best part? The aforementioned adult beverages are included in the cruise’s cost. So, go ahead, enjoy a glass of wine with lunch—you’re on vacation!
Like all of Europe, history abounds, and the tours and excursions offered on Viking are plentiful, fun, leisurely, and totally at your discretion. If you’d rather relax onboard one day? Go right ahead. With the ship almost empty for hours, it may be just the R&R that the doctor ordered.
Each day, Viking Daily is available in the lobby—a publication detailing the day’s weather, excursions, things to see and do in the towns you’ll be visiting, and a brief history on them. Once docked, Viking’s local tour guides are knowledgeable and entertaining, though certain days might call for independent exploration at your own pace.
The cruise portion ends after being on board for six nights and visiting the aforementioned cities plus Würzburg, Heidelberg, Mainz, Cochem, Bernkastel, and Trier (all in Germany). Unlike departures from big cruise ships—where the crew works to maintain order and safety—this departure has the air of friends and family saying “goodbye for now.”
After disembarking, travel to Luxembourg where, at the Luxembourg American Cemetery, you can pay homage to the thousands of soldiers who lost their lives during the World War II Battle of the Bulge. A few hours in a luxury motor coach finds you in Paris: the City of Light. Being the last leg of the trip with Viking, they’re there to make the transition from ship to hotel as seamless and relaxing as possible.
Wind down by taking in the sights of this beautiful city. Strolling the streets, enjoying a glass of wine at a street-side café, and discovering the most delicious croque monsieur on the planet (go to Le Petit Cler—you will not regret it!) is simply divine.
As the final morning of your trip arrives, the Viking ground crew—stationed at your hotel—ensure another smooth departure; facilitating each passenger’s travel needs as they head home.
Think beyond the beach this year. A Viking River Cruise is an adventure that’ll make 2019 your best, most adventurous, year yet.
By Terry Carroll
Cruise Name: Cities of Light
Length: 12 days
Countries Visited: Czech Republic, Germany, Luxembourg, and France
What’s Included: One complimentary shore excursion in every port of call; Wi-Fi; visits to UNESCO sites; enrichment lectures and destination performances; beer, wine, and soft drinks with onboard lunch and dinner; 24-hour specialty coffees, teas, and bottled water; port taxes and fees; ground transfers with Viking Air purchase
2019 Departure Dates: April 17, May 1, June 5, June 10, August 14, August 21, September 4, September 25, October 9, and November 13
FOR MORE INFO, VISIT VIKINGRIVERCRUISES.COM.
Prague Photo by © Oleksiy Mark/fotolia.com.
Paris photo by Paris © andreykr - Fotolia.
All other photos courtesy of Viking River Cruises.