Thoughts on Cruising

After leaving Kinderdijk we sailed through the night and arrived in Amsterdam in the early hours of the morning.  Mom and dad were flying home, so I woke up early to see them off.  Bryn and I hung around a bit longer since we would be staying in Amersterdam for a few days.

After a leisurely breakfast, we took a little wander before coming back to collect our suitcases and bid the Alruna farewell.

Our room was the third from the left on the bottom row with balconies.  Mom and dad were right next door.  The view was always pretty good!
I'll be sharing photos from Amsterdam soon, but first I wanted to finish out the cruise with some of my thoughts about the experience.

This is the lounge on the  main deck.  This was where the port talks took place each evening and there was entertainment every night.  Bryn and mom usually went...I usually went up to the top deck for a bit and then to bed!
I had never been on a cruise before, and frankly the idea had never really appealed to me.  My biggest worry was the thought of being told when I am supposed to eat and when I need to be back in a certain spot...basically being told this is your schedule for your vacation.  When I travel, I like the freedom to make my own schedule and the ability to change my mind if and when I want to!  Dad is the same sort of traveller, but he had been on a couple of cruises and promised me it wouldn't be completely programmed.  He was mostly right - of course there was a set dinner time and busses departed a set times for excursions, but for the most part it was not too strict (and no one cared whether you were there or not - not their problem if you missed the bus!)

The self-serve coffee bar was top notch!  There were also pastries available all morning, then cookies throughout the rest of the day.  Great for when you needed a pick-me-up or an afternoon snack!

Overall, I found there were some things I loved, and some things not so much...

I LOVED waking up in a different place each morning.  It was nice to have a moving hotel room, so I didn't have to drag heavy luggage around or deal with getting from point A to point B.  It was exciting to know that each morning would bring a new adventure.

A beautiful sunset as we approached one of the locks on the river.

We started at the top...

Down we go!

Til we were at the bottom.

And sneak under the bridge!

Fascinating stuff!!

I didn't love the lack of time in certain places.  Some of the excursions were fine.  I didn't need a lot more time in Kinderdijk or to explore Marksburg Castle.  But there were other places that I absolutely must visit again because I feel like there is so much more to see.  

The tours, I could do without.  If I could offer Viking one bit of advice, it would be to offer a tour-free option that saves you a bit of money.  Only transportation to the sites would be included, but if you wanted to take part in any tours in particular, you would sign-up and pay for it (so basically no included excursions, all of them are extra.)  I will say that Bryn, Mom and Dad all really enjoyed the tours they went on.  The tour guides are excellent, and if you like to get lots of information and prefer a guide, then you're in luck.

The food was really, really good.  There was a menu that stayed the same and one that changed daily, and each of them had several options.  Each night there was also a selection of dishes from the region which were fun to try.  The kitchen and serving staff were incredibly accommodating and helpful,  and figured out alternatives for me when all of the menu items included cheese.  It was also just really convenient to know you were going to have a good meal each day, that was already paid for.

The crew was outstanding.  Everyone was friendly and helpful.  We tended to stay at the same table for all of our meals, so we had the same waiter the whole trip.  He got to know us and knew many of our preferences after just a couple of meals.  The front desk staff also knew us by name and always had me and dad's boarding cards ready for us when we left for our morning walks.  It was quite possibly the best customer service I have ever experienced.
Overall I was very pleasantly surprised by our cruise, and once I got the hang of cruise life, I really enjoyed myself.  I would quite happily go on another one in the future, and hope that I get the chance!

The interior photos and food photos are courtesy of Bryn!

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