Exploring Europe’s ‘Cities of Light’ river cruise from Paris to Prague with Viking

I had never experienced a German river cruise along the Moselle and Rhine before, so it was with a tingling sense of anticipation that I joined the 12 day Viking “Cities of Light” river cruise that takes in both rivers combined with the Main and Necker plus extensions in Paris and Prague.

Paris did not disappoint with a panoramic tour of the city in the morning and various options on offer during the afternoon. Whilst some went to see Monet’s Gardens and other sites, we chose to visit Versailles with its stunning gardens and decorated rooms.

Next morning saw us journeying by coach to Tirier to board Viking Idi, stopping enroute at Rheims to savour the cathedral and take a leisurely lunch in a market square café with new friends then visiting the intensely moving American World War II cemetery in Luxembourg.

On board Viking Idi

The ship lived up to expectations immediately with a warm welcome from the crew and our comfortable Stateroom was a delight. Our Cruise Director Claudia made us feel so welcome and at home, and we quickly bonded with our fellow passengers.

The ship has open plan seating at meals and a large comfortable lounge. You don’t have to eat in the restaurant and sometimes we took our meals on the bow or at the Aquavit Terrace. I have to say I was very impressed with the service of all the staff on board.

The Moselle

One could wax lyrical about the Moselle all day as its wines and scenery were a delight, and I was surprised at how narrow it was which all added to the experience. At Barnkastel we took the evening wine tasting tour a short walk from the boat and then strolled into the town’s picturesque marketplace, whilst at Cochem we had a walking tour and visited Reichsburg Castle towering above.

That in a nutshell is the biggest problem you have with this river cruise as Viking have arranged a series of fascinating and interesting excursions that suit all palates and interests so do take your time and plan carefully before you go.

The Rhine

In many ways it’s the variety of the scenery on both rivers that makes this cruise so memorable. As we travelled down the Rhine Gorge eating our breakfast on the bow it seemed that a castle would come into view literally every five minutes or so as we rounded another bend.

We also had an excellent commentary as we passed by vineyards and towns. Some castles seemed to cling on to the cliffside by their fingernails whilst others rose out from the small towns and villages to welcome us. We visited the Disney like castle at Marksburg which provided us with superb panoramic views of the river valley.

Heidelburg

I would recommend you take the walking Heidelburg excursion not just for discovering Germany’s oldest university town, but you sit down for a traditional local lunch with a student from the university who is keen to improve their English and tells you so much more about life in the town. Ours was a young Spanish girl studying English who was an absolute delight.

It’s also a good idea when in Heidleburg to take the funicular railway which transports you high above the town for superb views of the surrounding district and hills. There is an excursion which allows you to do this but if you wish to explore on your own the station is right in the middle of the town and very easy to find.

Nuremberg

Nuremberg is a lovely old town with brightly decorated fountains, churches and is all that you would expect from a German Medieval city and if you like sausages and beer then it’s restaurants and market stalls are a must to visit!

On our way in we drove past the huge former SS barracks and other monuments of Nazi architecture such as the huge half-finished Colosseum like structure. We visited the grandstand and parade ground where Hitler addressed over 200,000 people at a time, from the still remaining railings on the podium at its centre. Walking around here was fascinating yet at times seemed somehow difficult. 

Prague

Our last two nights were spent in Prague and what a wonderful city it is. I had thought nothing could surpass Vienna but Prague, in my opinion, simply beats it hands down. The Charles IV Bridge gives superb views of the weer and castle up above whilst the Old Town is a pure delight. The astronomical clock in the main square with its rotating figures of the Twelve Apostles and dials that tell the season, phases of the moon and so much more, is very worthwhile turning up to watch for on the striking of the hour.

Summing up

You are going to have to get used to superlatives on the Cities of Lights river cruise, especially the way that as you progress things just seem to keep getting better and better. I found the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles to be amazing but was simply blown away by the opulence of the Mirror Kabinet in the Prince Bishops’ Palace at Wurzburg, one of Germany’s finest baroque palace ensembles built between 1720 and 1744 and containing the largest ceiling fresco on the world.

Everything is so well organised and nothing is too much trouble for the crew.

Next steps

To find out more, plan or book your river cruise holiday, call Silver Travel Advisor on 0800 014 5678.

Fact Box

Cities of Light

  • 12 days / 11 nights 
  • Itinerary includes stops in: Paris, Reims, Trier, Cochem, Koblenz, Heidelberg, Würzburg, Bamberg, Nuremberg, Prague. 
  • Ten guided tours included
  • Return flights from select UK airports, two nights in a premium hotel in Paris, two nights in a premium hotel in Prague, a seven-night voyage in a Standard stateroom, in destination transfers, all on board meals including wine, beer and soft drinks with lunch and dinner (plus no corkage fee), included excursion in each port of call, Wi-Fi (connection speed may vary), gratuities, evening entertainment and enrichment talks.
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Steve Newman

Eco Adventure Cruising writer & photographer

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