For France's Finest Part 1 review go to Viking Spirit cruse reviews.
After completing the first half of this VRC cruise we finished breakfast and said farewell to friends we had made during week one on the Viking Spirit. Each of them would have enjoyed week two on Viking Neptune.
We were on the road around 9am and our bus stopped in Dijon for lunch (on our own). We opted to leave the herd of passengers with our guide and set out to find a quieter place and were not disappointed. We shared a salad, pizza, and a nice white wine at a small outdoor bistro-restaurant. Our bus left Dijon at least 30 minutes late when two fellow passengers didn't listen to the guide when she set the meeting place and time and then got lost while out on their own alone roaming around the town. This was not cool.
Embarkation on Viking Neptune went well at the tie-up point in Chalon-sur-Soane around 4:30 with luggage getting to our cabin in a very reasonable amount of time.
Cabins: Identical to Viking Spirit. Spacious, well equipped.
Crew: The cruise director and her staff and our cabin attendant were all wonderful and friendly. We found the wait staff on one side of the ship to be better than the other so we tried to seat ourselves on the side with Gyorgy and Julio as often as we could. The hotel manager was fine but not nearly as friendly as Jochen (aka Joe) on the Viking Spirit. we were a bit disappointed with the Captain as he had a tough act to fellow from the Spirit. The Captain on Neptune was nowhere near as outgoing and perhaps the language issue had something to do with that. We rarely saw him outside of his obligatory appearances at functions.
Dining: Chef Margele is incredibly talented and what a joy to see her passion for her work and enjoy the fruits of her labor. The dinners were a couple of steps above what we enjoyed on Viking Spirit. Each evening Chef Margele introduced her menu and that led to great expectations and we were not disappointed. Her soups and sauces were fantastic and once again each meal was presented in a beautiful manner. The "Provence local lunch" was magnificent!
Itinerary: Once again we were very lucky with the weather and it was pleasant every day. The scenery along the rivers and in the towns was magnificent (except for the ever present "dog mines", "dog flowers", and "dog traps" where we needed to be extra careful during our walkabouts). We stopped at Beaune, Lyon, Vienne, Tournon, Viviers, Arles, and Avignon. Visits to two wine tastings and the Valdhrona chocolate shop were enjoyed immensely but our favorite spot had to be Avignon with its walled city, Palace of the Pope's, and the scenic (especially at night) "Broken Bridge". What a lovely town! Toward the end of our second week of vacation with VRC we felt as if we had been firehosed with medieval facts and architecture but it was still a fantstic experience. We would recommend this two week itinerary to anyone.