It’s December, Christmas is coming along, and I feel like visiting a Christmas market. But which one to choose? The Christmas markets along the Moselle river are regarded as some of the most cosy and beautiful Christmas markets Germany has to offer. So why not visit a few Christmas markets in one trip and what better way to do that than on a river cruise! I am embarking on the MS VIVA ONE from VIVA Cruises for an enchanting river cruise on the Moselle in Germany. Read along to find out what I loved about this particular trip.
To get to Koblenz I took the ICE-train from Brussels-Midi station to Köln Ehrenfeld. From there, a regular train got me to Koblenz, where the MS VIVA ONE awaited me. Pro tip if you’re traveling light (I mean it’s only a 4-night cruise): head out at Koblenz Stadtmitte instead of Koblenz Hbf, because – what’s in a name- the Stadtmitte railway station is conveniently located in the city centre and is only a 10-minute walk to the Peter Altmeier Ufer, where you can find the ship.
Embarkation is a breeze. All I had to do is show my booking confirmation and ID. While the crew takes over your luggage and the lovely ladies at the reception desk are doing their thing, I can wait in the Panorama Lounge sipping on a welcome cocktail. Since the check-in process went so smoothly, there was enough time to head back out and explore a little bit of the city. Christmas Markets are open from 11 AM so daydrinking is more than justified on this occasion! Did you know VIVA has an all-inclusive concept? This means you don’t have to pay extra for the exquisite beverages or mouth-watering meals. It’s all covered by the initial price of your cruise, gratuities for the crew included.
About the MS VIVA ONE
The MS VIVA ONE is an incredibly modern ship. The contemporary design of both the public areas and the cabins made me choose VIVA Cruises. It’s no secret that river cruises are catering towards an older demographic, although among the maximum of 176 passengers on this ship you could find families that constituted of couples with their parents and grandparents. I must say, a river cruise looks like an amazing way to spend some time with the family, especially around Christmas time (or honestly even for the summer when wine tasting season rolls around). The interior of the ship looks like the interior of a luxury city boutique hotel that I would normally choose while traveling. And this boutique hotel is located in the heart of the city centre, no matter which destination you’re in!
On the Diamond Deck of the MS VIVA ONE you have the lobby with the reception desk, a small boutique and the Panorama Lounge. Most of the suites are also located on this deck. From the centrally located main staircase it’s just one floor down to the Ruby Deck where you can find some more cabins and the Riverside Restaurant. On the Emerald Deck, there are budget-friendly cabins without a balcony, and some great facilities such as a proper gym, a wellness area including a sauna and steam bath, and a massage parlor. On this December river cruise, I didn’t really get to use the Sun Deck as much, but I did notice they have a small heated swimming pool on board!
With a crew of 48 for a total of 176 passengers, you’ll be treated like a royal. I found the crew members to be very respectful and genuinely friendly. You’ll probably meet most of them on your cruise and they set the bar high in terms of hospitality.
My Cabin aboard the MS VIVA ONE
I had cabin 318, a Double Cabin on the Diamond Deck. What’s so great about this cabin is that it’s centrally located, just as far to the Panorama Lounge and the Riverside Restaurant as it is to VIVA’s Bistro. Moreover, it’s right next to the staircase which gets up to the Sun Deck.
The elegantly furnished cabin measures 17sqm which is on the larger side, especially comparing to some older ships from VIVA’s competitors. The cabin with it’s french balcony feels nice and roomy. Also the bathroom is larger than average and features exclusive products from Rituals. The mini-bar is restocked daily and there are coffee making facilities available in your room. Free thanks to VIVA All-Inclusive.
The itinerary of my Moselle river cruise
As I mentioned previously, my itinerary started in Koblenz. This is not the most picturesque town but it was nicely decorated for Christmas and they have a beautiful Christmas market. The next stop of my Advent Cruise was Bernkastel. I’d never visited this town before, and what an amazing town it is! It’s only a few streets in total, but the old town is so enchanting it’s like a fairytale. Especially with all the Christmas decoration it made Bernkastel look extra magical. Did you know they have a house on the town square decorated into the largest Advent Calendar?
Next up was Trier, with its 110.000 inhabitants the largest city on my itinerary. I visited once on a school trip and was enchanted by the Roman magic that seems to permeate every corner of the town (Trier is of course best known for the Porta Nigra, a Roman city gate from the year 170 AD!). Combine it with the current Christmas vibes and you’ve got yourself an interesting old meets modern atmosphere.
The next morning, I woke up in Cochem, only to find out the town had been covered in a thin layer of snow overnight! I know I’ve been throwing around the word magical a lot in this post, but how can I not when I just had the best slumber of my life in a plushy bed aboard the MS VIVA ONE and wake up to what could easily be an image that I’ll be featuring on this years’ Christmas cards?! Cochem has it all: a castle stemming from medieval times perched poetically on a hill, a lovely riverside made for strolling (and perhaps drinking a hot chocolate?) and a cute little Christmas market where you’ll have the best lebkuchen of your life. A merry little Christmas indeed!
To book the excursions or not?
The first excursion I did was a guided tour in Trier. The tour starts with a sightseeing bus ride along some Roman sites. Then we headed towards the Porta Nigra from where we took a walk with a guide in the old town. To be fair, guided walks aren’t really my thing. I prefer to look up a bit of history beforehand and head out on my own but this is a great way to get the highlights while not having to weather the… well, the weather.
In Cochem the excursion took us to the Reichsburg. When in Cochem, a visit to the aforementioned fairytale castle is a must-see, although the interior of the Reichsburg can be a bit underwhelming. The views over the city from up there are quite impressive!
For me, however, the excursions are not a must-do. You can easily head out on your own: the ship is always near the city centre so a short walk gets you right to where all the action is happening. If you’re no longer as active, the excursion can be helpful as they drive you around with a bus. What I liked is the fact that the excursions took no longer than 2 hours of your time. So even if you did participate, there’s plenty of time left to head out with your own company. An advantage of the excursions are that they are very reasonably priced, as are all the other extras on the MS VIVA ONE such as a massage or the prices for the goods in the little boutique on board.
Would I do a river cruise again?
Most definitely yes. And I would pick VIVA Cruises in a heartbeat. Their ships are definitely among the most modern one, especially compared to their direct competitors. VIVA Cruises have shown river cruising can be a cool way of traveling for people of any age and activity level.
I noticed for next year that VIVA is doing an advent cruise on the Rhine instead of the Moselle, but with cities such as Strasbourg this will prove to be just as nice! A river cruise during summertime is still on my bucket list (what can I say, I like to daydrink with both glühwein and regular wine! I’m joking…or am I?), perhaps on the Donau river! Check out the entire range of itineraries from VIVA Cruises on their website (Dutch website here) or have a look at this walkthrough video I made on the VIVA ONE.
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