Strasbourg, France, was one of the stops on the author’s Rhine River cruise

The world of culinary travel has exploded in the last few years and travelers are embracing the trend with open palates. Is there any better way to connect with a destination than through their local food and drink?

As passengers with Viking River Cruises on a Rhine River cruise, my husband and I sampled the regional specialties of four different countries; best of all, we only had to unpack once!

Embarking in Basel, Switzerland, and passing through eight additional cities on our journey to Amsterdam, the itinerary offered a taste of iconic castles, captivating villages and classic ports on our seven-day cruise.

mannele pastry

In Strasbourg, the author sampled mannele, small buns shaped like a little man

Food on Rhine River cruises

Guests on the Viking Eir (on which we sailed) have the option of taking meals in the formal dining room with a three-course menu or at the more casual Aquavit restaurant. The latter is nice if you’d like a table for two and a bit less socializing while enjoying the views. Hot teas and specialty coffees are available anytime.

House wines, beers and soft drinks are included with onboard lunches and dinners.

Viking also offers a Silver Spirits package with premium offerings and an open bar for a flat fee. If you like your cocktails, we’d recommend it.

Reflecting the company’s Nordic heritage, a wide variety of smoked fish was offered as an appetizer nightly. In addition, our journey began with a toast of Aquavit, Scandinavia’s water of life, encouraging the spirit of adventure and discovery with a loud cheer of SKOAL!

Regional specialties

Viking is well known for their destination-centric programs. We had the opportunity to delight in regional specialties from a team of talented chefs.

The Alsace/German night brought out the checked tablecloths and lederhosen.

Dining room ambiance was transformed into a brauhaus, with local culinary tastes of sausages, schnitzel, sauerkraut, pretzels and of course Kölsch (a German beer), while we were serenaded by accordions and fräuleins.

food on rhine river cruises - bratwurst

Bratwurst anyone?

Excursions in every port introduced exceptional experiences with local vineyards, artisan cheese and small-batch food makers. There was a good balance of organized activities, combined with plenty of extra time to wander the charming cobblestone streets for a warming cup of glühwein (mulled wine) and freshly baked pastries.

From the first Skoal! to the final Proost!, this was a seamless journey that connected authentic food and culture in a way that pleased the taste buds in every port.

From black forest cake and protected cheese to specialty wines and liquor, we sampled many of the flavors of Switzerland, France, Germany and the Netherlands. Our cruise was truly a European feast for the senses!

Sweet! Shops in Cologne sell delectable treats (Credit: Viking River Cruises)

What’s appealing to the over-50 luxury traveler?

  • More often than not, you’ll be traveling with like-minded people who enjoy taking in the history and culture of a destination.
  • Multiple included tour offerings are available in each port. A slower paced group is available to accommodate all fitness levels and those who like to take a lot of photos.
  • Baby boomers are the demographic so you’ll feel right at home.
  • Tours are broken into smaller groups, giving a very personalized feel to each experience.
  • Unlike an ocean cruise, you’ll have no problems with seasickness. The ride on the river is incredibly smooth and at times, you don’t even know you are moving except for the landscapes sailing by.

Take note

  • Viking is very accommodating to dietary needs; send an email ahead of the trip outlining your requirements.
  • Check with the head chef your first night on the ship if you have a serious allergy with any of the food on Rhine River cruises. If you sit in the same area every night, you’ll have the same server; they’ll quickly remember your likes and dislikes.
  • There’s no spa or fitness center onboard the Viking Eir (and most of Viking’s riverships) but you can stay fit with these exercise and diet tips.
  • Cobbled streets in many of Europe’s old towns can be difficult to walk or navigate if you have serious mobility issues.

Seen on this Rhine cruise: The UNESCO windmills of Kinderdijk, Netherlands

Be sure to get the whole scoop on this Viking Rhine River cruise on Green with Renvy!

Tasting Europe on a Viking River Cruise                                        


The author’s cruise on the Rhine River was complimentary, courtesy of Viking River Cruises.


About other European river cruises on GettingOnTravel:

*All photo credits (except lead photo and where noted): Alison Abbott

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food on Rhine River cruises