My friend and I took the Paris & Heart of Normandy Tour departing July 4. I was disappointed with this tour and have already advised at least three people who were considering Viking to go with a different cruise line.
First, my friend and I had a problem getting updates and documentation. One of us lives in NYC and the other in Houston. First, all emails were sent to Texas, even though several of them should have been directed to NYC, then, when documentation was sent, it all went to NYC. Only after calling and having duplicate documentation sent did Texas receive paperwork.
We booked transfers through Viking. My flight arrived, and I found the Viking rep with no problem. However, seven people were supposed to have arrived, but I was the only one. I had to wait for 40 minutes and finally, when the other six had not yet arrived, I said that I was tired of waiting and wanted to go to the ship. Otherwise, I would have still been sitting at the airport. I was tired, having flown from Houston, my friend had arrived in Paris hours earlier, and it wasn't my fault about the other people.
There was little entertainment on board, and I especially regretted that the last afternoon of our cruise, when it took seven hours to float to Paris from Conflans, the only entertainment was how to make a chocolate lava cake. This was the last day of our cruise! On other days, there was also very little in the way of entertainment, and, as I am hard-or-hearing and the TVs were not close-captioned, I couldn't even watch TV.
In each port, local tour guides were used. When we went to Giverny, one of the tour guides didn't show up, so my friend ended up in a group that should have been halved, and the tour guide left several people, including my friend who is handicapped, behind. I could only understand one or two of the guides, even with the audio system provided.
Think you will see Paris? Forget it. We got out of the bus for a view of the Eiffel Tower (which can be seen from the ship), and other than that, all pictures had to be taken out of a moving bus window on a day when it was raining. There was a little free time to go exploring but was on the first day of the tour (the day that I finally arrived at the ship at 3 PM, was tired, and wanted dinner at 7), or the evening before we all left the ship to go home. Since we didn't get into Paris until 7 PM and dinner was at 7:15, that didn't leave much time as my transfer to the airport was at 4:45 AM. Also, my friend uses a walker, and no-one told us that, in Paris, there were about 50 metal steps from the quay to street level. We had to enlist the help of strangers.
We thought there was very little time to shop or explore. For example, when we were in Vernon, it was Sunday, and the few shops there were were closed, except for the pastry shops. After coming home, people have asked how the French people were. I have to say that I honestly don't know since I didn't have much interaction with them.
The food was OK, probably above average but not extraordinary. However, although wine was included at lunch and dinner, all of the white was Chardonnay and all the red was Merlot. These are not my favorite varieties, so by the end of the cruise, I was drinking Diet Coke.
Petty maybe, but the carpets were stained and either needed a good cleaning or to be replaced. It was so chilly and rainy in France, in July, that we didn't get to enjoy the deck at all.
One of the good things was the wonderful server we had in the dining room, Simone. She was attentive, remembered us, and was exceptional. Also, the program director, Karine, did go out of her way to accommodate my friend on the tour of the American Cemetery and Omaha Beach by reserving a front seat for us so that she could easily get on/off/on the bus.
However, having traveled with another line previously, I would not book another cruise with Viking.