We had a great time on our brief cruise of the Rhine for the Christmas in Alsace tour. To save money and time, we booked our own flights and we ended up adding a night before and after the cruise on our own. I'm glad we did because we had the opportunity to tour the Christmas markets of Zurich and Frankfurt as an extra bonus. The Visionary ship was nicely appointed and the crew was very available and helpful. The room was nice, the bathroom large and there was plenty of space for storage. We enjoyed most of the cruise line's excursions but we made a few deviations that really made our trip. In Strasbourg, we did not return to the ship with the last bus so we could get to see the Christmas markets after dark, which was truly magical. It was a little bit of a challenge finding a cab but so worth the extra effort and mild anxiety. We also hung back after the Heidelberg tour. Our well-meaning castle tour guide took far too long talking about all the intricacies of the castle -- so much so that we didn't even get to enter the actual castle. We were then late getting to the the old town and had less than one hour to take it all in. Once again, we did not return with the group and found our own way back to the ship, thus getting an opportunity to enjoy Heidelberg at a comfortable pace. Since this was our first river cruise, a few things surprised me, both positive and negative. On the positive end, you really feel like a VIP since the ship is so small. You get to know people better and the staff seems extra helpful. Another good surprise, I didn't feel like the ship was moving at all, ever. We floated quietly and smoothly. This wasn't a bad thing, but it did surprise me that all travel happened in the dark. In commercials, you see river ships floating past cute villages, hilltop castles and hillside vineyards in the daylight. We didn't see any of that because we cruised at night. When we could see anything, it was largely industrial ports and locks. A native Floridian, my husband was fascinated by the locks so I did enjoy watching him marvel at how they worked. Not surprisingly, the weather was cold, so we were always happy to return to our floating home and snuggle at night. I don't recall any of the nighttime entertainment, but that wasn't really my thing. We did attend all port talks before dinner, which was helpful. I would recommend this cruise up, down and sideways for the following reasons: if you want to get a sample of the Christmas markets of Europe and/or if you've never cruised -- or never cruised on a river and want to see if it's for you. If you go though, please don't miss Strasbourg after dark, Zurich's train station Christmas market with the Swarovski tree or Frankfurt's main Christmas market with the cutest booths of any of the Christmas markets. Also, make sure to get a ceramic mug from each market you visit; they make great souvenirs of your visit. Of course, you'll have to suck down some gluhwein or cocoa in order to get them but you'll need it to shake off the cold. Have a wonderful time! We did!
Cabin was conveniently located to the aft lounge with a 24-hour coffee bar and light snacks. We took a few trips there in socks after a cold day in port. Room was small but plenty of storage space, including under bed. We did not feel cramped or anything. Bathroom was a generous size for a river cruise. Bed faces sliding-glass floor to ceiling windows. One night, we cruised with curtains open to watch passing shores.
We traveled from this port to Heidelberg so I cannot comment on Speyer itself. Heidelberg was lovely, though.
Very picturesque. Don't miss it!
Don't miss the Christmas market downtown. The cutest stalls of all.
The people weren't too friendly but the old town is easy to navigate and picturesque. Don't miss the Christmas market in the Central Train Station and the huge Swarovski crystal Christmas tree there.
We didn't do anything in Basel but get on the ship so nothing to comment here.