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Joining a cruise ship in Basel - make sure you know where the ship is docked

There are three possible places a cruise ship can dock in Basel: St Johann, Klybeck and Dreiländerecke.
St Johann is the original location, by the city gate of the same name.
Klybeck and Dreiländerecke are in the docks, further downstream and on the opposite side of the river.

I was walking along the riverside footpath yesterday, past St Johann. There were 4 ships tied up. Only two landing stages, the other two were "double parked".
About 5 minutes later I came across a couple on the path, with 2 suitcases, a big 4-wheeler and a smaller 2-wheeler. rolling these cases with difficulty along the path away from the ships. One case had a large "Viking Cruises" label on it. I had to ask what they were doing.

They said they were looking for their cruise ship. I said they were behind them (still in sight). They showed me an e-mail. It said "Viking Hlin" then the addresses of the three locations, "St Johann", "Klybeck" and "Dreiländerecke". St Johann was immediately after the ships name, sort of implying that was the correct one, but not specifically stating it. They said they looked at the 4 ships, and guessed (wrong) there were more further down the river. I hadn't noticed the names of the 4 ships.
I told them there definitely weren't any ships in the direction they were heading, if it wasn't one of the 4 at St Johann, it was on the other side of the river, and there was no bridge in the direction they were walking. They turned round and went back to check.
Some time later I saw the Viking Hlin (plus another ship) across the river at Klybeck. Either it had to change berths at short notice, or the e-mail was wrong. There were also two ships docked at Dreiländerecke. Total Eight ships docked in Basel that day.

I hope those two found their ship OK.

Posted by
1783 posts

Very good advice from Chris.

We embarked on our first Viking River cruise from Basel in October 2017. I called Viking before we left the US but didn't really have a clear understanding of where to board. The e-mail said there were three possible docking locations and indicated that it would be probably be xxx dock.

We spent a week on our own in the Berner Oberland then took the train to Basel. We arrived in Basel a day early and wandered around the waterfront looking for the ship. There were several Viking ships but not ours. We walked on to one of the ships. They couldn't give us any info but they did give us the direct phone number for our ship (Viking Vidar). I called from a pay phone and the person who answered said they were on their way to Basel and told me where they were planning to dock. We took a taxi from the hotel to the dock the next day. No problem.

I don't know if the Viking office has or will give you the direct phone number for your ship but it's worth asking them.

By the way, we had a great time on the river cruise and we're signed up for a Viking Ocean cruise this year!

Posted by
531 posts

Always check your cruise voucher, it will have the planned docking location. We were in Basel about a month ago and boarded the AmaPrima per the voucher at St. Johann Park, rather than it's normal berth at Dreiländereck.

Posted by
4395 posts

We also took a Viking cruise from Basel. It did leave at St. Johann and that is where we met the boat. I had been told by both my travel agent and Viking that in Amsterdam it docks very close to the main train station. I knew that the main train station was very central and close to my hotel. The last few days of the cruise, we ignored the cruise director when she was telling people to make arrangements, because ours was "easy" and taken care of. Just by chance I doubled checked the Amsterdam dock the night before and it turned out it was docking well away from downtown Amsterdam and another surprised passenger and I coordinated for a taxi pick up. Slightly irritating, but easily dealt with. I would always double check.

Hopefully, they did find their ship OK. They could have gone to one of the other Viking ships and asked for assistance. My husband and I did our own air arrangements to allow us extra time on both ends of our trip. I got the impression that most Viking customers just do the air and transfers with Viking so they don't deal with us "rebels" frequently. And even more rare, is people like my husband and me who use public transportation. And BTW, we loved our Viking Cruise and plan to do more sometime down the line.

Posted by
1848 posts

For any who may have found this and are cruising on Viking for the first time, be aware that if you signed up for Viking's air travel, Viking picks you up at the airport and delivers you directly to your ship. I'm thinking the couple that was observed didn't realize there would be several ships docked at Basel, which is the southern terminus of the Rhine cruise for not only Viking but other cruise ships.

We were invited by another couple to join them on the Basel to Amsterdam VRC. We have never been on a cruise since passive activities like cruises and theme parks aren't our cup of tea. We determined on this trip that cruising isn't a good fit for us. Viking did a good job, the ship was well run, but you get average food. Since you pay for three meals, the sightseeing schedule revolves around them. Days are rushed so you can make it back for lunch or dinner. Sometimes you can choose to stay in town, but you have to make your own arrangements to get back to the ship.

If you haven't been on a river cruise and are thinking about it, carefully consider what kind of traveler you are. If you are resourceful and independent, you may find yourself frustrated. Also, this trip costs us three times as much as our self planned trip to Tuscany that lasted the same amount of time.

Posted by
255 posts

Thanks for the comments and candor, DougMac. My husband and I travel independently to Europe twice/year, but see the river cruise commercials and think we should try that one day when the knees start going. I don't think it would be for us. Your comments are helpful.

Posted by
1848 posts

TXtwinmama, we watch a lot of PBS, especially Masterpiece Theater and I know how enticing Viking commercials are. They do a great job selling the fantasy.

The fantasy is no more than two to three couples visit site like a winery. The reality is one to three huge buses filled with a hundred or so of your closest cruising friends. We paid $100 extra for a Moselle winery tour. It was advertised as “three tastings”. Based on my experience in California and Washington, I took that to mean a tasting at three wineries. Nope, it meant three sips of different wines at one showroom, not a winery. To top it off, we we hustled to the sales area to make room for a tour that followed on our heels.

On the offered tours at each stop, there were 20 to 30 for each guide. They spent as much time herding as they did describing. Six months before we had taken three Walks of Italy tours, two in Florence and one in Rome. The biggest group was 10, with one group I. The Uffizi of just 6. Marco didn’t even use the headsets.

Since the VRC, we have been to London and Paris on our own. There was a dramatic difference in the tone and enjoyment. On those trips, we actually had the kinds of experiences you see on those slick VRC commercials. Again, we were all in on our trip for about $4k for both compared to nearly $12k for the VRC.

Posted by
531 posts

After reading all of the comments and having completed our cruise of the Rhine River on AMA Waterways in early April, we compared it with being on a regimented tour bus. No real time to stop, rest and think. And don't be late for lunch or dinner.

Posted by
8020 posts

So sad to read the reality of what river cruises have become. When we went on them, we docked at a town, had a walking tour but mostly independent time. A floaring hotel. Always ate lunch in the town on our own. Howevwr, Viking was even rather pedestrian back then. Our favorite was AMAWaterways Mekong River in Cambodia and Vietnam, no bus tours from the ship except for a ride up a hill to a nearby Buddhist monastery and temple..