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Discovering the Rhine with VIVA Cruises. All-inclusive has never felt so good.

04/07/2024 by .
Discovering the Rhine with VIVA Cruises

Andy Mossack reports back after discovering the Rhine with VIVA Cruises All-Inclusive sailing from Dusseldorf.

I was up in the wheelhouse of VIVA One and Captain Plamen Veselinov could hardly contain his excitement. He was about to have a new part fitted to his digital bridge controls that will bring a major upgrade to his system navigation. Considering VIVA One is just two years old, this was a very big deal.

He probably felt like I did when I first had broadband installed.

Discovering the Rhine with VIVA Cruises

Skipper Plamen is a very affable gentleman, always engaging and never short of a quick joke or two with his guests. It’s a trait I noticed running through the entire VIVA  Cruises onboard team, something of a rarity I would say, but one that runs through the VIVA Cruises DNA. Small wonder this relatively young company has made such an impact in the European river cruise sector.

It’s also a policy that was severely tested when the cruise had to be rerouted overnight due to severe flooding in the southern Rhine. Doing an about-turn sailing north instead of south and managing to secure all the required docking approvals and new excursions in a matter of hours was to be applauded.

Discovering the Rhine with VIVA Cruises

I first set eyes on VIVA One as she sat serenely on her Rhine mooring, a stone’s throw from Dusseldorf’s arty NRW-Forum Gallery, patiently awaiting her new guests. But a quick look at how high and fast Germany’s longest river was running was evidence of how lucky we were this cruise was still going ahead while other ships were stranded higher upriver.

We were a little early for our 3 pm embarkation but nevertheless, after a quick passport check we were invited onboard to relax with a drink in the main lounge until our cabin was officially ready. Now that’s a very civilized way to join a cruise.

About VIVA One

Just a short while later (halfway through a delightful G&T) a personal escort led us to our Diamond Deck double cabin. A generous and contemporary air-conditioned space with free WIFI, floor to ceiling sliding French windows (the two suites have balconies), a king bed with luxurious satiny sheets, large flat screen TV, small sitting area and a tidy workspace and sideboard with a Nespresso and a free-to-use daily restocked mini bar.

Discovering the Rhine with VIVA Cruises Discovering the Rhine with VIVA Cruises

Two free audio receivers for guided excursions sat charging on a stand, while the soft diamond-patterned carpet was a nice finishing touch. The bathroom had an excellent rainforest walk-in push button electric shower and luxury Rituals toiletries.

VIVA One is VIVA Cruises’ first new build, with three decks (from top down – Diamond, Ruby and Emerald) and 88 cabins hosting up to 176 guests. It is a fully inclusive concept including selected wines and spirits any time of the day and night. There are two restaurants onboard; Riverside (the clue is in the name, literally skimming along the top of the river), is the main silver service restaurant for breakfast, lunch and dinner, while right at the stern VIVA’s Bistro offers a lighter dinner alternative and soft drinks and snacks all day.

The spacious Panoramic Lounge is the beating heart of VIVA One, lots of comfy seating and window space for schmoozing, lounging and enjoying hot snacks and a drink or three. It’s where the delightful Andrea and Matt, our entertainment duo, reigned and certainly knew a thing or two about working a crowd. And cruise director Alex made his daily announcements from here. VIVA Cruises policy is to limit any in-cabin announcements to only urgent ones, so Alex’s pre-dinner briefings about our next destination were always popular.

Discovering the Rhine with VIVA Cruises Discovering the Rhine with VIVA Cruises

A spa, steam room and sauna are tucked away below the main deck as is the small but well stocked gym.

Up top on the sun deck there’s plenty of loungers and deckchairs with waiter service and a hot whirlpool for anyone fancying a relaxing dip. Captain Plamen’s wheelhouse is also open to anyone keen to understand more about the ship’s technology and navigation.

Life aboard VIVA One

Alex’s first pre-dinner briefing included a heartfelt welcome from Captain Plamen and information on the new itinerary. Our initial cruise was to travel south up the Rhine to Strasbourg before returning to Dusseldorf, including stops at Boppard, Mainz, Mannheim, Speyer, Rüdesheim and Coblenz. Instead, we were now travelling downriver taking in Amsterdam, Hoorn, Rotterdam, Brussels, Antwerp and Nijmegen before returning to Dusseldorf and new excursions had been planned for anyone wanting to book them.

Speaking of dinner, the open seating policy in the Riverside restaurant lets you join with other shipmates or just elect to dine alone, and our five-course first night dinner was an absolute triumph. Waiter Nuno and I made an instant connection, and from then on nothing was too much trouble. A sensational goat’s cheese souffle starter and a memorable roasted pork loin main were the highlights. I was initially undecided on my starter.  “Why don’t I just bring you both” said Nuno sensing my food angst.

Discovering the Rhine with VIVA Cruises

Discovering the Rhine with VIVA Cruises

He brought both anyway even though I chose the souffle. Mrs M gave me a knowing look as if to say well you’ve struck gold on this cruise haven’t you. Each menu always included a full vegetarian option while a Caesar salad and grilled chicken breast or salmon were always daily staples.

VIVA’s Bistro was a much more bijou affair and because of its limited capacity you must reserve a table in advance. Just 30 covers and an open kitchen, the Bistro offered the same three course set menu each night, mainly seafood and steak and a vegetarian option. That said, I found the service discreet and very relaxed, and on the warm evenings it was lovely to be able to pop outside between courses.

After dinner we retreated to the Panorama Lounge and picked a small table by the window to watch the late evening sunset and enjoy a sundowner, while Andrea and Matt sang an enjoyable acoustic session of pop and folk favourites. With the wines and spirits flowing freely it didn’t take long for everyone to make new friends.

Discovering the Rhine with VIVA Cruises

By now Andrea and Matt had switched their mellow acoustic session for some funky Europop DJ mashups, and the dancefloor was up and running. By the time Dancing Queen kicked off we called it a night, leaving a once international group of strangers now best buddies, doing various versions of crazy dance moves you might only see in silent discos.

Other nights with Andrea and Matt were equally memorable, including line dancing lessons to ‘music request night,’ a glimpse perhaps of a real-life Eurovision song contest!

Ports of Call

For me the delight of river cruising has always been the access it offers when arriving at ports of call. You are often right in the heart of towns and cities. I’ve always found Amsterdam, Brussels and Antwerp firm favourites for visitors, with plenty of places to wander around and discover. And this time around didn’t disappoint.

My first taste of Hoorn however was a totally unexpected delight. A small port city with a very rich history flourishing in the 17th century during the Dutch Golden Age when its port was much more important than Amsterdam. So important, that Cape Horn was named after it. The wonderful historic centre and harbour are festooned with trappings adorning the once wealthy merchant houses, artisan workshops and ancient towers, all discoverable by a self-guided hour-long circular walk.

Discovering the Rhine with VIVA Cruises

One memorable onboard nautical highlight was sailing along the immense 72-kilometre-long Amsterdam-Rhine canal, the world’s most frequented artificial waterway, and tackling the numerous locks, no mean feat for a ship 135 metres long.

Captain Plamen ultimately delivered us safely back to Dusseldorf following an epic gala night where the chefs were let loose to create a very fitting finale banquet following an equally epic afternoon high tea; a bounteous buffet of cakes, sandwiches and scones that had to be seen to be believed.

Value for Money

VIVA Cruises is a division of Scylla AG, a notable Swiss shipping company which also owns Tauck, a celebrated high-end cruise operator. Small wonder VIVA Cruises has style, sophistication and attention to the smallest detail built into its very fabric. The difference is the price. For what is on offer, VIVA Cruises offers extraordinary value for money and run by CEO Andrea Kruse whose personality and drive is evident throughout her fleet. The company’s motto is enjoy the moment.

Well, I enjoyed every moment.

Tell me more about Discovering the Rhine with VIVA Cruises

The original Discover the Rhine with VIVA Cruises on VIVA One option is below,

Discovery trip to Düsseldorf | River cruise | VIVA ONE | VIVA Cruises (

Prices per person (in a double occupancy cabin) start at £1,495 – excluding flights.

All VIVA Cruises itineraries include VIVA Cruises’ signature VIVA All-Inclusive product, which includes high tea, full board, high-quality alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, minibar, beauty products from cosmetic brand, Rituals, Wi-Fi and all tips and gratuities.

Click here for details on all VIVA Cruises  or call 0330 818 7271.

For information on what to do pre or post cruise in Dusseldorf, please visit  Visit Dusseldorf Tourism

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