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10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
Was it good? No. Was it bad? No. I need to make it clear from the outset that to some extent we were comparing this cruise to our only other river cruise, which was on Scenic. So business class to economy is probably the best explanation I ... Read More
Was it good? No. Was it bad? No. I need to make it clear from the outset that to some extent we were comparing this cruise to our only other river cruise, which was on Scenic. So business class to economy is probably the best explanation I can provide. Similar price differential. Viva departs from St Denis, which is more than 5 miles from the city centre of Paris. It shares a wharf with a cement company. Apparently it's too big a vessel to navigate into the more interesting areas of the city. No mention of this when booking. As we had been to Paris several times before this was not a big loss to us, but if you were expecting to glide past the tower etc .... some grumbling heard. So don't book this cruise if you want to sail through Paris. We spent our first day sitting at St Denis in this middle of nowhere because of a strike somewhere. Nothing the ship could do about that but it did provide some short notice excursions, so credit due (that doesn't mean they were free!). This meant the itinerary for the next few days had to be adjusted and we lost one port. No offer of compensation. Except for Rouen, where we stayed overnight and had much history, we stopped at several small, pretty, but meaningless towns before returning to spend another afternoon and night at St. Denis. Boring. The itinerary aside, what about the boat? The cabin. Ours was on the top deck. Corridor smelt like a sewer. Room small but adequate. No odour problem. No fridge. Aircon struggled when temperatures rose. Sparse but functional shower room. Exceptional cabin attendant Csilla (sorry if I got the spelling wrong). The cabin was value for money. The boat. Apparently there was a spa, gym and hot tub upfront. Never got to any, but that's our fault. Lounge with bar, cafe and restaurant all aft on deck two. Restaurant aircon was poor. Far too warm. So people went early so they could sit in the cafe, which was a cool extension of the restaurant. Most entertainment was in the Lounge; most entertainment was DJ Andy. Who tried hard. The food. Not bad. Not good. This is a German ship that mainly offers German inspired catering. Sometimes a struggle to satisfy an English pallet, but generally good quality. However some translations into English needed to be much improved otherwise people with allergies could be caught-out. The staff. Room attendant great. Bar and wait staff so-so. Sometimes brilliant; next time chatting together and ignoring guests. But generally cheerful. The senior staff. Difficult to comment. Saw the Captain a few times but never spoke. First failure on many cruises. It was only half-way through the cruise I realised the lady who was wearing a flack jacket on even the warmest days was the Hotel Director. She did smile at me once in passing. The drink. Only low quality alcohol free to Premium guests. We bought some wine at prices which were very reasonable compared to ocean cruises ships. The summary. My wife and I have been fortunate enough to have sailed the Suez Canal; the Panama Canal; the Kiel Canal ... even the Amazon. We have hired our own small craft on French rivers and canals. Good fun. But if you want a good river cruise holiday in France I would suggest the Rhone. You choose the cruise line! The security. My final point has to be about the apparent lack of security on this boat. Those who have travelled the oceans will be well aware of the hoops we have to jump-through each time we board a cruise ship. On Viva anybody could walk on-board and as long as they didn't want a drink, which entailed showing your room card, enjoy lunch, maybe try the hot-tub or the gym, then walk-off. Read Less
24 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
I'm not sure why A-rosa is bunked for Americans...in fact, I wondered why more English speaking cruisers weren't on board. The staff all spoke English as well as German (most of the crew were Eastern European) and the service ... Read More
I'm not sure why A-rosa is bunked for Americans...in fact, I wondered why more English speaking cruisers weren't on board. The staff all spoke English as well as German (most of the crew were Eastern European) and the service was excellent. We appreciated the spotless ship; the accommodating service from all the staff (constant attention to detail...fabulous hard working and conscientious). The rooms were the same size as higher end cruise companies and we had 2 upper cabins with french balconies (full balconies are really unnecessary on these cruises as you loose precious cabin space and when you can open your french balcony windows its as if you have an outer balcony anyway). While some purists might say the food wasn't "french enough" and, while I love French food, the quality of the food was excellent, presentation always good and they did make an effort to serve french specialities. All meals were buffet style but never tacky and really fresh and well presented food. The cheeses were good, the seafood was very good and the salads and breads always nice. The bar opened at 10 in the morning (although if asked, I'm sure they would've made a mimosa for breakfast) and the mixed drinks and liqueurs were very good. The wine was okay, but one could always upgrade for small charge (anywhere from 14-25 euro for a bottle...still a deal). We had an all inclusive premium package and I felt sure we were going to be charged for extras at the end...but no!...we even had a small break on spa services. Tipping at cruise end was expected but not forced (not automatically added to your bill)...and frankly the service was so good you wanted to tip them. The only really bad downside was the ship wifi only seemed to function well for about 2 hours a day (generally when in a major port) This makes sense as I think many river cruise companies have issues with wifi when outside of a city. Really unacceptable for us because we were trying to communicate with work back home and could barely do so....be advised that you should probably hire your own "hotspot" if you're coming from the United States. that might function better....there are a number of companies that will rent you a wifi hotspot in France. The other plus, unheard of really...was that our children were free! On premium inclusive cruises children 15 and under were included in the adult rate so our cruise was significantly more affordable than any other river cruise company. There were a few other teens on board and that was nice for our kids. They enjoyed ordering specialty non-alcoholic drinks from the bar freely. The DJ worked hard to include them in the music selections at nights (sometimes the choice of music was "schmaltzy" during the day)...but we warmed up to the DJ and had lots of fun with him. I'm sure in the summer there are more mixed family groups. This river cruise company is pitching itself to families so I think that they tend to have a more diverse group on board than some companies. Port time was limited in some spots, but we didn't feel that we didn't have enough time in any location except Arles (It was Easter and it rained so we didn't get to go to an Easter service because we were leaving in the early afternoon). They gave us port information for the activities of the day in each place in English. In Arles, there was bullfighting on the day we were there and Easter activities and some things had to be cut short because we were leaving for Avignon, but Arles was miserable in the cold rain...so in the end were happy to be back on board. Avignon was beautiful at sunset...not to be missed, so I understand they were trying to reach Avignon at the right time to see the Pont at sunset. We didn't use their excursions because we opted to do most touring on our own and that was fine too. I do think the bike excursions are nice when the weather is good (and the guide would've done them in both english and german). Bikes can only be take with the guide because they had a lot of thefts of bikes rented without the guide. But most towns had "city bikes" which are also accessible if you just wanted to do it yourself (be are velopop in Avignon is a little difficult if you are renting 4 bikes at a time). Another plus was the open pool on the top deck...none of the other cruise companies that we docked next to could brag that feature (Viking, Ama, Avalon, Croisi)...and it was a blast swimming in the heated pool viewing the lights of Lyon. I would go with A-rosa again...super service, good food and really relaxing. Read Less
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