Welcome to the Viking Tor, named for the Norse God of Thunder. But unlike its stormy namesake, our cruise was smooth sailing.
Mark and I arrived in the Basel airport at 2:33 p.m.; were met by Viking cruise staff; and were whisked away on a Viking bus to the port where the Viking Tor docked, just in time to gain access to our stateroom at 3:00. This transfer was handled with ease and we found ourselves and our luggage in our new home for the upcoming week without much effort or ado. For Mark and I, who had flown out of Cincinnati on Friday at 5:40 p.m. and spent five hours of the early morning in the hard chairs of a Paris airport, it felt more like 9:00 p.m. after a sleepless night. (Which it actually was for us.)
Although the trip brochures consider this Day 1 and a visit to Basel Switzerland, by the time Mark and I saw our bed in the stateroom, all we wanted to do was lie down, pull up the covers, and close our eyes. We didn’t succumb to the temptation to sleep, however. We knew we would adjust better to the six-hour time change if we could stay awake until a reasonable bedtime. Lacking the energy to spend the next couple of hours walking around Basel, we decided to settle in, acquaint ourselves with the Viking Tor, read the helpful cruise materials left in our cabin, and relax during the scheduled happy hour at 5:30 p.m.
If I were a real travel photo-journalist, I would have gotten a good picture of the Viking Tor—just the first in a long line of omissions.You can see a better picture and read more about the Viking Tor here.
The ship had four levels. (It’s possible the ship had more than one level below water, but I never ventured down there.) We entered on the second floor, at water level, which housed the reception desk, dining room, and staterooms. The first level below also held smaller staterooms.
In the center lobby on the third floor, a coffee station provided hot beverages, water, and donuts or cookies around the clock. Then, towards the bow, you entered the lounge with comfortable seating. At the far end of the lounge, you walked out to the Aquavit Terrace with indoor/outdoor seating for casual meals.
The large floor to ceiling windows you see in the above picture, on the side, near the front of the ship, are the lounge and dining room which both had generous windows with terrific views. The back half of the ship housed the cabins which also had large windows on the second and third levels.
(You can see more pictures and diagrams of the rooms here. Mark and I had a Veranda stateroom on the third level.)
Several times during the week, Mark and I took advantage of the casual, buffet-style lunch out on the Aquavit. In this photo, our table is located at the front, or bow, of the ship. Those waffle fries were delicious. So was the wine.
Each day on the cruise, the housekeeping staff left the “Viking Daily” for us in our room after dinner. This four-page daily newsletter contained the next day’s agenda, information of interest about the location and other fun facts. For example, on the day of our arrival the Viking Daily gave us the “Tip for Today” — “One of the most delightful experiences in Basel is a ride on one of the three motorless ferries across the Rhine, that run on a cable and use nothing but the current to get them from one side to the other. Ferries like these have been operating here for hundreds of years.” Mark and I were going to have to take their word for it.
At 6:30 the Viking Tor management team met us in the lounge, introduced themselves, and gave us a brief talk. Then, and each subsequent day at 6:45 p.m., Sharon, the program director, went over the next day’s schedule and excursions with us.
Following the introductory talk, we filed into the dining room where tables of 6 to 10 people were set, ready and waiting. Some people came with friends or groups. Mark and I found an empty spot at a table. Throughout the week we would share a meal with many interesting fellow passengers from around the world.
As we sat down to dinner at 7:00 p.m., the Viking Tor cast off for Breisach, Germany.
According to the day’s itinerary, there would be music and dancing in the Lounge at 9:00, but Mark and I opted to read on our balcony after dinner,and watch the Viking Tor navigate one of the many locks we would traverse over the course of the trip.Then we finally, and gratefully, called it a night. Our Viking Daily for Sunday had arrived. Breakfast started at 7:00 a.m. and we were scheduled to leave bright and early at 8:30 for our excursion into the Black Forest tomorrow.