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123 Avignon to Europe - River Cruise Reviews

This review endorses that of BJ149 regarding his July 2019 cruise on this ship and should be read in tandem. (We only wish we had read it before booking!). We have enjoyed nearly sixty ocean cruises and three river cruises (this being ... Read More
This review endorses that of BJ149 regarding his July 2019 cruise on this ship and should be read in tandem. (We only wish we had read it before booking!). We have enjoyed nearly sixty ocean cruises and three river cruises (this being our first with Riviera) and never before have we experienced such inefficiency, poor administration, lack of courtesy, mediocre food, poor service and overall non-professionalism. It started when we arrived at Marseille airport as three unfortunate passengers, also bound for Lord Byron, became stuck in the aircraft lift and no-one had any idea when they could or would be released. The courier who met us was adamant that we remaining thirty-seven passengers would have to wait for their release before we could be coached to the ship, one hour forty-five minutes away. After waiting in the airport for well over an hour, we suggested to the courier that we all be taken to the ship and the three others be taxied later, but he said he had no authority to do this, nor was there any way he could obtain it. After some persuasion, he permitted us to board the coach so that we could at least sit down while we waited. All of us now were becoming quite irate as some passengers had already been travelling for nearly ten hours, so with the agreement of all, one of us rang Riviera in England, explained the situation and asked for someone to authorise the courier to let us be taken to the ship and have the three missing passengers taxied when they were released as who knew when that would be? It was Sophie who took the call and promised to ring back - but that never happened at all. This set the scene for the rest of the cruise: When we eventually got to the ship, in view of the late hour we were unceremoniously herded into the dining room for a buffet dinner but, just like BJ149, instead of being greeted with cheerful smiles and sympathy for our delay, we were rushed into placing drinks orders with surly waiters, many of whom were lacking in courtesy or professionalism, and indeed did not appear to have been trained properly. Despite being told there would be a few tables for two at the time of our booking, there were none. We booked one of the four top suites on the ship which seemed to offer no privileges at all except the extra space, and one could reasonably expect that we be given a table for two as advised at the time of our booking. Our food that first evening - and thereafter - was of mediocre quality, with very, very little choice. All breakfasts, lunches and part of some dinners were buffets and as the size of the dining room does not accommodate the space needed, invariably there was a scrum, particularly at breakfast time. Alarmingly, there was no policing or management of the serving tongs which people would regularly leave on top of the food, thus spreading germs to all as was self-evident by an increasing number of passengers contracting a cold during the course of the cruise, including many of the staff. Our cabin was clean but on trying out our bed for comfort, we discovered the mattresses were just slabs of foam - not even memory foam! Our cabin stewardess brought duvets to put on top of the mattresses which made them slightly softer, and confirmed that they had already had many complaints about the hardness of the beds. The so-called complimentary WiFi on board was almost non-existent as confirmed by the Hotel Manager who agreed that it was a very basic receiving system. We passengers were actively encouraged to use our own data allowance rather than rely on the ship's WiFi. We know that a ship's satellite connection is always slower than on land, but this was appalling, even with full signal! It took ninety minutes to only part-download a newspaper which would take just ten minutes on any other ship! We were obliged to buy our own soft toilet paper from a local supermarket as on board it was thick, hard, rough and most unpleasant. Its texture and thickness were extremely surprising considering the ship's vacuum system. We were advised that the water from the bathroom taps was of drinking quality but it tasted earthy so, again, we were obliged to purchase our own. There was a distinct lack of entertainment on board other than the resident pianist/singer each evening. A "treat" promised to us after dinner one evening turned out to be just a quiz which was repeated a couple of evenings later. Some members of the crew put on their own show which was amateurish and embarrassing. Television was very limited, with only one channel showing films in English, just two per day at 3 pm and 9.30 pm, which had to be started manually by someone in Reception and was often forgotten altogether. The DVD/film system is very basic, much like the WiFi. Blank looks met our request that the films be played continuously throughout the day . The excursions were very much as commented upon by BJ149 in his review, so nothing has changed there then! We have to agree with BJ149's concluding paragraph - and we will not be choosing Riviera ever again. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
This was my first river cruise but not my last! Viking is a first class operation and the HEIMDAL is the best! The crew is more than helpful not to mention funny, the food excellent and plenty, excursions were fabulous and the ... Read More
This was my first river cruise but not my last! Viking is a first class operation and the HEIMDAL is the best! The crew is more than helpful not to mention funny, the food excellent and plenty, excursions were fabulous and the excursion guides were incredibly knowledgeable, friendly and humorous. The Captain was always smiling and made himself available everyday to greet the guests. How he maneuvers that huge ship through the Locks is amazing! The friend I traveled with chose this itinerary and I wasn't sure it would be wonderful....silly me... it was FABULOUS! Each port of call was different and amazing and as I said earlier the guides were excellent... not boring as some can be. Whoever trains them does a first class job! I loved the excursions but I also loved getting back to the boat, taking a refreshing shower then sitting outside looking at the fabulous views while sipping on a cocktail and being very thankful that I was here. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
This was our second Viking river cruise....plan to go on another in the next year or two. Overall we enjoyed the many ports and efficiently organized and informative shore excursions. Tour guides were all very knowledgeable. Winery ... Read More
This was our second Viking river cruise....plan to go on another in the next year or two. Overall we enjoyed the many ports and efficiently organized and informative shore excursions. Tour guides were all very knowledgeable. Winery tours were excellent. Country side beautiful. Meals were on board very good and varied. Always fresh and many options to choose from, but if you have an ample appetite suggest asking for larger portions. Wine pairings included with cruise meals were selected from the region visiting and had we no complaints there. Enjoyed them all! On ship entertainment and activities are low key in comparison to large ocean cruises. At some ports Local entertainers were brought on board to perform in the lounge. Other nights we enjoyed a fun game of trivia and the on ship piano player. Many an afternoon there were enrichment lectures and unique demonstrations. All activities, tours and entertainment are outlined in detail in the Viking daily schedule delivered daily to your cabin. Ship has 24 hour coffee station and pastries. Great for the early riser! The post Paris extension was great. Covered a lot in a short time. The viking rep,(Emma) at the Hotel Ampere was a delight and very helpful. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
We were looking for a cruise to fit in a small window of time. Our travel agent had been a Viking employee, so he booked us on a cruise of the Rhône in southern France. We thoroughly enjoyed the cruise! The accommodations were ... Read More
We were looking for a cruise to fit in a small window of time. Our travel agent had been a Viking employee, so he booked us on a cruise of the Rhône in southern France. We thoroughly enjoyed the cruise! The accommodations were comfortable, the food plentiful and delicious, and the ‘free’ wine and beer with lunch and dinner and mimosas with breakfast were generously served. The daily included excursions were excellent and the offerings of additional excursions plentiful and also excellent. Beginning the cruise in ancient Arles, where Van Gogh painted, cut off his ear and was hospitalized, was an impressive place to start. Throughout the week we walked many cobblestone streets, heard interesting historical and cultural facts from well-trained English speaking guides, most of whom had a great sense of humor and enjoyed marvelous views. The tour ended in Lyon, with a mixture of old and impressive modern structures. This was our first Viking cruise. We were so impressed, we’ve already booked a Mediterranean Ocean cruise for November. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
Interesting excursions, spectacular venue and the ship and staff are first class. The food was fantastic the staff was prompt and efficient. Everyone was accommodating and helpful. The ship was modern, clean and comfortable. I loved the ... Read More
Interesting excursions, spectacular venue and the ship and staff are first class. The food was fantastic the staff was prompt and efficient. Everyone was accommodating and helpful. The ship was modern, clean and comfortable. I loved the fact that they had electrical outlets to accommodate US and European currency in the cabins. What a wonderful way to experience the French culture! The fact that there were a limited number of passengers allowed you to get to know people on a more personal level. I met people from all over the world. Because the passengers were older, what wonderful stories they had to tell. They all had interesting lives and what a pleasure to get to know them. The food was so exceptional, I went home and dove into my Julia Child cookbook to perfect the French cuisine. I have already experienced two cruises and have scheduled yet another one foe 2021. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
Our friends invited us on this cruise to celebrate their wedding anniversary. We've been on the big cruise ships prior, but this was our first trip with Viking. The staff on this ship are absolutely amazing. The level of service ... Read More
Our friends invited us on this cruise to celebrate their wedding anniversary. We've been on the big cruise ships prior, but this was our first trip with Viking. The staff on this ship are absolutely amazing. The level of service was the best we've ever experienced. The itinerary is great, with a good amount of down time to relax. The 'surprise' treats that happened on a few of the included excursions were delightful. The age of the average passenger was old enough that we (all being 50~ish give or take) were referred to as the 'young ones'. This means that the excursions were catered to a less active crowd than we may have chosen otherwise. Due to the small size of the ship getting on and off the ship at any time is always quick and easy but especially when embarking and disembarking. I loved being able to create more personal relationships with the staff throughout the journey. The biggest downside is what others might see as a benefit. Although the staff were from all over Europe, the language spoken on board was English. That makes things very easy and comfortable however I feel as though it was too easy to miss one of the best parts of France, the culture. I was happy that we had booked time following the cruise to travel in more of the country so that we could get a better experience of the French culture. I would definitely travel with Viking again, and loved this cruise though I would likely choose a different itinerary next time. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed a small ship. I thought I might get bored because there are fewer activities than on the big cruises, but found that the lack of activities gave me 'permission' to relax more and do nothing if I so chose. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
This was a beautiful trip up the Rhone river from Avignon to Lyon, France. First, the flight from the USA to France. If possible upgrade your seats and connections. We upgraded our seats to United’s economy plus, which was fairly ... Read More
This was a beautiful trip up the Rhone river from Avignon to Lyon, France. First, the flight from the USA to France. If possible upgrade your seats and connections. We upgraded our seats to United’s economy plus, which was fairly comfortable. Wish we had upgraded our connections for a more direct flight both ways. Learned in Brussels that the common practice in Europe seemed to be to post the next connection about twenty minutes prior to the plane door closing. Once in Marseille we were met at baggage claim by Viking staff, and shepherded to the bus for the forty minute ride to the riverboat. Unless you’re a very experienced European traveler, use the Viking transfer service at both ends of your cruise. Another suggestion, especially at the start of your trip, do the trip extension to help with the jet lag. Viking river does not post departure times or arrival times on their website as other ocean cruise lines do. I suspect they must stay as flexible as the rivers are. Check your daily planner each night for the next days timing for everything. For our stop in Arles we moored in Tarascon, and were bussed a half hour south. The light is amazingly special there. No wonder van Gogh painted there. The Roman amphitheater was amazing. Got back to the riverboat in time for lunch. The garlic soup was wonderful! All the food was top notch cruise quality. Each day Chef Alex had a regional recommendation, using local ingredients, and herbs grown on the top deck! One of my standards is a smoked salmon benedict. So good I had it twice. As with most cruise ships, they offered some standards available every day. They even made a hotdog for my wife that looked awesome. On Friday for Lent, They made us her favorite, a peanut butter, lettuce, and mayo sandwich. I was glad we had the first day in Avignon to rest from the trip over the ocean. When we returned Tuesday, we had the first of many long walks in our ports. Spoiler alert, the palace of the popes was neat to see, but had most statuary and church decor removed. Don’t be too concerned about the 200 step warning as there are plenty of stops on the walk to rest. Back for a late lunch, including another standard of mine, bouillabaisse, and it was great. We wanted to walk out onto the Pont d’Avignon bridge, just north of our mooring. Not easy to do. When you get close, you need to go through the city wall, and follow the signs to the left. You’ll see the ticket office eventually. It costs four euros to get in, after a wand search. Yes it is worth it. You’ll see a chapel and have a unique view of your riverboat. My favorite food of the cruise, crepes suzette. It doesn’t get more french, or delicious than chef Alex’s version. Our next stop, Viviers, was the most classic town we visited. It rained hard at times, but was still neat. At the tour end we stayed in town and visited the pottery shop. The couple that owns the shop signs their art before firing it. My wife’s bowl made it home , my cup is being glued. Each evening we were well entertained in the lounge by a great piano player. Big note here, every town had cobblestone streets, as I learned shortly into our first walk in Arles. Be sure to watch your step so you don’t twist your ankle! The included tour in Tournon was a steam train ride that was fun. As we got further north on our trip the weather got cooler. We were ready with layers. The next day we spent most of doing scenic cruising, which we enjoyed. We made an unscheduled stop due to a fallen tree, and arrived late in Vienne. Our next two days we spent in Lyon. The included tour on Friday was a great bus tour of the city with a stop at the Basilica of Notre Dame. (there are several Notre dame cathedrals in France). Our last day was one of our highlights, with a trip to the countryside to visit a Beaujolais vineyard. Wine was great, but the dog stole the show! Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We chose this cruise because of country/route/itinerary, size of ship, Viking's reputation, and the excellent price of the cruise and airfare. My husband and I have traveled extensively but had never been on a cruise before. Based on ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of country/route/itinerary, size of ship, Viking's reputation, and the excellent price of the cruise and airfare. My husband and I have traveled extensively but had never been on a cruise before. Based on Viking reviews, our expectations were very high and we weren't disappointed in any respect. The food was outstanding, plentiful, aesthetically presented, characteristic of local French cuisine, and the service was excellent. The ship, common rooms, and cabins were well-equipped. The cabin was clean and had all the amenities we needed. The daily excursions were excellent -- all the tour guides were knowledgeable, helpful, and spoke excellent English. The staff was friendly and accommodating. We enjoyed meeting the diverse staff, many of whom were from Eastern European countries. Without exception, staff members did their best to accommodate individual needs and requests. We also met many passengers that we enjoyed, many of whom we have kept in touch with. We have already booked our next Viking cruise and will continue to go on as many cruises as our health and finances allow. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
We, husband (75) and wife (62), have completed three Viking River cruises; Bordeaux (16), Rhine (17) and lastly Rhone (18). Our latest Viking cruise was up the Rhone River in France, from Avignon to Lyon, 28 October - December 4, 2018. ... Read More
We, husband (75) and wife (62), have completed three Viking River cruises; Bordeaux (16), Rhine (17) and lastly Rhone (18). Our latest Viking cruise was up the Rhone River in France, from Avignon to Lyon, 28 October - December 4, 2018. Our ship was the Buri, and as far as we could tell, it was virtually identical to our previous ships, the Forseti and the Hlin; all relatively new, extremely nice ships. In 2016 and again this year, we had one of the cheapest, if not the cheapest, cabins on the lowest level, with the small, elevated windows because the cabins were half-underwater. Last year we had a cabin on the top deck with a balcony, but since we almost did not use the balcony, and primarily only used our cabin for sleeping, we think our Category E, 150 square feet cabin was sufficient. Our cabin number was #150, the most forward of the cabins. This was an advantage, since it was close to the dining room and lounge, and everything else, and we did not have to walk down a long hall to get to our cabin. Unless we get some super deal on a "better" cabin in the future, I will book a Standard cabin as far forward as possible. We extended three days in Dijon; a wonderful city. Last year we did a pre-extension in Amsterdam. The year before in Bordeaux, we did not extend; and we regretted it. I highly recommend one extends (always three days I think) pre or post cruise, if not both. Why not extend to enjoy some interesting city/town once you have flown all the way to your destination, and then take a relatively short seven-day cruise? If at the end of a cruise, you will otherwise be rushed off the ship to a bus after arriving, and will be directly transferred to the airport for your flight home without giving you the chance of visiting your departure port. At the initial departure port, you will usually have the opportunity to see something of your departure city. Adding a pre or post extension adds three days to your seven-day cruise, so your vacation will last at least ten days if not 13 days for both. Another suggestion is to sign up for at least one, if not two, excursions every day. Viking usually offers included (aka free) walking tours at every docking site. We usually take these excursions except when they conflict with a more interesting Optional (aka expensive) excursion. Yes, the Optional tours can be expensive, but they are usually great experiences. Not once have we regretted paying for Optional tours. In fact, our best memories, and most spoken experiences to others have been these Optional excursions. Most of the Optional excursions include nice bus rides in very nice buses to get you to desired sites. On our last trip, they always had a "Leisure" walking group, among the 2-3 total groups for the Included excursion, which I took because of my age/arthritis. My younger, healthier wife always went with the other walking groups that walked faster, and climbed more stairs. We still had breakfast and lunch together; it just meant that for two hours we were separated in different walking groups. We really enjoyed all the towns/cities we visited. My favorite was the very pretty, interesting, completely walled medieval city of Perouges. We also liked Avignon, Lyon and especially Dijon, and actually all points between. On the negative side, I would suggest not going in late October as we did, even though the cruise/cabins are cheaper at that time (that is why we did it). It rained at least half the time, but was not too cold. The ship has enough large umbrellas for all. We took umbrellas with us on the bus, as well as our walking tours, and if not needed simply left them on the bus when we were out of the bus. To add to the sometimes bad or marginal weather, there is the famous "Mistral" wind. Look it up on the internet. In southern France, it blows 120-160 days a year, from 54 mph to 90 mph, averaging 65 mph. I can attest that it can be a challenge walking in the rain when the Mistral is blowing. However, we survived, and were not significantly bummed-out by the weather during our trip. Some passengers sometimes stayed on-board rather than brave the bad weather, but they missed a lot. In conclusion, we once-again enjoyed our cruise + extension, and hope to book another cruise in 2019, this time on Portugal's Douro River with extension in Lisbon or possibly Spain if we can find a real sale (it always 2 for 1, so that is not a sale) price that includes free air from the West Coast. If you have not already figured it out, probably every other River cruise company is cheaper, and many have very high ratings. We will wait a couple of months for Viking to offer a good deal on the internet on a Portugal cruise, and if not forthcoming, will start investigating with Tauck, AmaWaterways, Crystal, Uniworld, and Scenic River Cruises as well as Overseas Adventure Travel and Grand Circle travel. These all provide quality River cruises, and likely at more reasonable prices than Viking. I really like Viking so I just hope I can find a Portugal trip that I can afford. There is only thing about Viking that I do not like. It is their automated flight scheduling computer program. When you book with Viking, and get the discounted or free flights, unless you pay $100 extra for each passenger for Viking's Air Plus, their computer will do all the scheduling, and it could be horrible! This is what happened to us this year. As I have written, we paid for the three-day Dijon extension. This required a two-hour bus/car transfer from Lyon to Dijon and then three days later back to Lyon where the airport is. Their computer system booked us on an early morning flight out of Lyon, so in order to make that flight; we would have had to get up in the middle of the night (actually very early morning!) in our Dijon hotel to take a bus/car to Lyon airport in time to make our flight. This was ridiculous. We paid for a three-night extension in Dijon, not a 2-1/2 night extension. I complained loudly, received no relief, paid the $200 for the Air Plus, got my flight schedules revised to be reasonable, wrote some negative reviews on line, and ended up with Viking reimbursing me for the Air Plus charges; thank you Viking. There were 14 of us from the cruise that booked the Dijon extension. Everyone but us had the same or similar problem, but had not complained and got it corrected. Therefore, 12 of them had to leave our nice Dijon 5-star hotel in the middle of the night to get to Lyon in time for their flights. I will definitely gladly pay the $100/passenger for Air Plus next time to either initially get a reasonable schedule, or perhaps only pay if they screw it up again. I guess I know what to expect now; and so should you. Well, I hope you have a good cruise. I hope Viking will allow us to make a fourth cruise with them, next year to Portugal. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
We had taken a Viking River Cruise on the Rhone River last year, and we thoroughly enjoyed that river cruise. Service on this Viking Rhone River Cruise in France (Avignon to Lyon) was excellent. The staff members we encountered were ... Read More
We had taken a Viking River Cruise on the Rhone River last year, and we thoroughly enjoyed that river cruise. Service on this Viking Rhone River Cruise in France (Avignon to Lyon) was excellent. The staff members we encountered were always cheerful, courteous and helpful. Our room was kept neat and clean. The lobby and other common areas were always in tip-tip shape. Shore excursions were well planned, and were led by knowledgeable guides. The shore excursion venues that were selected by Viking were thoughtfully chosen. We would had like to have had some additional 'free time' during our trip to explore on our own. Meals on board were always excellent! The preparation and presentation were top notch! Evening entertainment was good. We traveled with my brother and sister-in law, but we also met many interesting people on the boat. The scenery was beautiful. We highly recommend this river cruise. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
A wonderful itinerary through beautiful Provence, highlighting both well-known and not-so-well known spots along the Rhône. Activities director Feliz amazing and the entire crew so welcoming and professional. Food, excursions, and ... Read More
A wonderful itinerary through beautiful Provence, highlighting both well-known and not-so-well known spots along the Rhône. Activities director Feliz amazing and the entire crew so welcoming and professional. Food, excursions, and on-board events all excellent and fun. We loved the ship’s atmosphere which always felt relaxing yet energized and focused on providing us with the finest river cruise experience possible. Excursions were always well-explained the evening before and meticulously organized to be on-time and give us the promised experience. Tour guides on the whole were expert and spoke fluent English. Dining on the ship was such a pleasure and so delicious! Evening dining was always fabulous. It is such a treat to be graciously served a wonderful meal in courses ( plenty of menu choices available). I can’t say enough about the dining room staff— they were amazing! Actually, all the staff and crew were great: they worked hard but made it feel as though they enjoyed helping you! The outdoor dining area on the ship was really nice for lunch and continental breakfast. Nothing like a great coffee and breakfast pastry while sailing serenely past the lovely wine country of Provence, sunlight and shadow on the ancient hills. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
We chose this particular cruise for the time of year (less crowds), climate conditions (temperatures) at that time of year, the historical aspects of the region, as well as the availability of cabins on board. With respect to these reasons ... Read More
We chose this particular cruise for the time of year (less crowds), climate conditions (temperatures) at that time of year, the historical aspects of the region, as well as the availability of cabins on board. With respect to these reasons everything turned out to be above our expectations. Our cabin was comfortable, spotless and cabin service five star! The entire ship from topside viewing, bow lounge area, dining areas was comfortable and accommodating and made relaxation a great experience. On board entertainment was enjoyed by all and made additional time to meet and interact with fellow passengers from all over and to share experiences - great time! Dining at tables of six to eight created an opportunity to again meet new people and share experiences - we met some fantastic fellow passengers. we partook of several shore excursions every day and they were extremely interesting and informative - not to be missed are the city of Avignon and the points of interest on the tour, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, winery tours, city of Arles, L'Ardeche and its Vallon-Pont-d'Arc, city of Vienne and many other towns. This is an area well worth returning to - a river cruise is definitely the way to go! Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
First, we tried to take advantage of their low airfares. However, they charged us extra to come in early and stay later since we didn’t want to use their overpriced extensions. Also, their travel group was Very difficult to deal with. ... Read More
First, we tried to take advantage of their low airfares. However, they charged us extra to come in early and stay later since we didn’t want to use their overpriced extensions. Also, their travel group was Very difficult to deal with. The good: The staff was, by far, the highlight of the trip. They are extremely well trained, friendly and quick to help. The French balcony room was very well designed and made excellent use of space. We liked the bed and the design of the shower. The bad: The “included tours” were too large (38-42 people). In hindsight, we would have preferred no included tours, at a lower price and booked our own. In addition, some tours were not that great, even with if it had been a small group. Viviers, in particular, was a sad little forgotten town with not much to see. You had to pay a premium to get a smaller group. One such “optional” tour was 120 euros per person and the group size was 22 people. The food was so so. We expected excellent food and got mediocre. The pre-cruise information talked of three venues, but in reality, there were two with basically the same menu. Tandem docking, ships docked side by side, was the norm at each port, taking away the view from our French balcony on a regular basis. There were only four ports on an 8 day cruise and very little daytime cruising. The sundeck was closed 90% of the cruise. The overall experience: We paid a premium to take a Viking river cruise and didn’t receive a premium experience. How anyone can give this cruis 5 stars is absurd. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
For my sister's 65th birthday, we decided to cruise southern France with Viking. She & her husband started with the pre-cruise stay in Nice (which they loved), and my cousin and I joined them on the ship at Avignon for the cruise ... Read More
For my sister's 65th birthday, we decided to cruise southern France with Viking. She & her husband started with the pre-cruise stay in Nice (which they loved), and my cousin and I joined them on the ship at Avignon for the cruise to Lyon. I have been on several river and a couple of ocean cruises with Viking, so it was no surprise that the week was delightful. The staff catered to us & made us happy every day. The cruise director was personable & perky; it was always a joy to have her company. This was southern France, so I wasn't sure if the food could live up to expectations, but no problem pleasing us & reminding us that we were in France. The young chef did not disappoint. Good food, good cheese, good wine. Happiness. Three excursions exceeded my expectations: Flavors of Provence in Avignon, the included tour in Lyon with Christian, and the all day Lyon tour Truffles and Beaujolais. In Avignon, Maison de Fogasses with Chef Luigi Baptiste was the best of the best! I think he enjoyed us as much as we enjoyed him & his lunch! Christian took us into "secret" passageways & shared his Lyon. And the truffle dog Chinook was as delightful as the truffle inspired dishes served to us on the truffle farm! No disappointment on this trip; the only problem is that I want to repeat the experience. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
Did the Rhine and now wanted to see France. Exceptional arrangements made by viking to stay in Nice for three days prior to departure. Flights could have been scheduled better. Long waits.The service was unbelievable. Everyone was so very ... Read More
Did the Rhine and now wanted to see France. Exceptional arrangements made by viking to stay in Nice for three days prior to departure. Flights could have been scheduled better. Long waits.The service was unbelievable. Everyone was so very friendly,helpful, especially our cabin cleaner. She must love her job because she was always there with a big smile. Thank you. We met so many wonderful people and certainly hope we get the chance to see them again on another viking river cruise. We have shared our experiences with many people about what to expect from viking. We told them that they would not be disappointed if they chose viking river cruises. We have no complaints, only compliments. Oh yes there is one concern, VERY EASY TO GAIN WEIGHT. The food is outstanding and always available. Very difficult to resist. I wish there would be a workout room. Yes one could walk the upper deck for exercise but this does not work well when it is raining. Thank you VIKING RIVER CRUISES. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
This was our third Uniworld Cruise and we can’t imagine using another river cruise line. The ship is beautiful and modern. Our suite even had tvs in the mirrors in the bedroom and bathroom. Our suite was 300 square feet of luxury with ... Read More
This was our third Uniworld Cruise and we can’t imagine using another river cruise line. The ship is beautiful and modern. Our suite even had tvs in the mirrors in the bedroom and bathroom. Our suite was 300 square feet of luxury with fabric covered walls and drapes. There was lots of closet space and the king bed faced the river, unlike many other ships. We had an open bar in crystal decanters as well as a fully stocked fridge with juices, water and mixers all replenished daily. Our butler, Tibor greeted us in our room and took care of every request, right down to the brands of alcohol we requested. He anticipated many before we ever even asked. Our room attendant, Peter was always prompt attentive and pleasant. The food on board was wonderful with so many selections it was hard to choose. Our main waiter, Miguel was a dream...friendly, attentive, funny and fluent in English, as was the entire crew. At dinner, if you can’t choose between two entrees, Miguel would just bring both, no problem. The menu also had selections for those with dietary requirements. Nothing was ever a problem. The somolier, Laura was knowledgeable and attentive and had recommendations for us every evening. The bar was open and bright and Frederico and Fredrica were ever present, quickly learning our preferences and bringing them almostvas soon as we sat down. Want a particular brand?? No problem, just ask. There were so many wonderful staffers..Nedko, Sandu, Richard, and too may others to name, but everyone working onboard always had a smile and a desire to please. From the chef to the spa attendant, these people were on a quest to make us happy. I don’t want to knock other cruiselines, but for river cruises, we’ll never look elsewhere. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
This was our third river cruise on Uniworld. The service was impeccable, the food out of this world. This particular cruise was so enjoyable. We did the all the optional masterpiece excursions, which was well worth the money. The staff ... Read More
This was our third river cruise on Uniworld. The service was impeccable, the food out of this world. This particular cruise was so enjoyable. We did the all the optional masterpiece excursions, which was well worth the money. The staff aboard was so attentive and friendly. I would like to name those responsible for our wonderful trip. First, our butler, Tibor. I was sick one day and he brought hot tea and a water bottle to me! Over and above! Our room keeper, Peter, met every need we had.The chef, Florian... outstanding cuisine and even better personality. Our servers Frederico, Federica, Jonaz, Sandu. Again, over and above spectacular service. Our waiter and sommelier, Miguel and Laura.. led our culinary journey every evening. The excursions were wonderful. We went to an olive farm, 2 chateaus, and a culinary school in Lyon, the culinary capital of the world! Absolutely wonderful experience. What a great way to see the Rhone valley! Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
We booked our Viking cruise to celebate our 30th weddng anniverrsary, and our joint 70th birthdays. From our first encounter with your Viking rep in Amsterdam we were pleasantly surprised. Embarkation was a total pleasure and ... Read More
We booked our Viking cruise to celebate our 30th weddng anniverrsary, and our joint 70th birthdays. From our first encounter with your Viking rep in Amsterdam we were pleasantly surprised. Embarkation was a total pleasure and definitely set the tone for the begiinning of our trip. Luggage was completely handled and promptly delivered to our cabin. Check in at reception was quick, and efficient. Upon being escorted to our cabin our steward was polite, and very helpful in answwering our questions. Ah the cabin. We thought the space was very well appointed and although small in size was quite efficient. Big disappointment discoverintg we were below water level! Truly feel the pics of this cabin do not represent what it actually is. I had several discusions with reps about choosintg this cabin and was never told this was the case. We would not book this particular level again. Major part of a cruise is enjoying the scenery not staring at a water line. That being said the cabin was fine in itself. Kept spoltlessly clean, and worked fine. Bathroom again small but very nice, On that note please think about SOFTER towels.We felt like we were using cardboard they were so rough. Dining was lovely,we loved the different areas of the ship were one could dine for lunch, or dinner. We would rate the food as consistently good, but not gourmet. Choices were good so there was something for every palate. As two people travelling alone we noticed there were many group parties. From the first evening people could not have been friendlier in inviting us to join them at any given time at any part of the ship. Wonderful friendly group. Entertainment was fabulous. I wondered without the usual shows aboard a cruise how we would be entertained for 7 days.. Christine our cruise director was fabulous, from Flamenco dancing to the Beatles we had it all. Our piano player was so talented and could play just about anything he was asked. Christine also did a fantastic job getting all of us to interact. Very pleased with other activities offered such as some lectures, and my favorite a cooking class. The ship itself was an absolute delight very peaceful, and serene. Loved the different small areas where one could read a book or sip a glass of wine. Staff excellent always there to answer quesions or supply service. Very satisfied with our excursion choices, great guides and again run efficiently, and on time. We extended our trip with your Paris package. Once again disembarkation was extemely efficient.. Our hotel in Paris very nice, and excursions there well run. One extemely big disappointment was our last booked excursion. It was to see Paris at night. Somehow the van that was ordered could not accomodate the number of people there. They did attempt to get a larger van which proved fruitless. Needless to say this ruined our last night in that beautiful city because they took so much time it was to late to do anything else. We received your refund but quite honestly some kind of good will gesture would have been nice. Even a voucher for another cruise, losing our last night was a bummer. Last but not least would we go again. Yes with pleasure it was overall a wonderful experience. We hope our review has been helpful. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
Viking charged a 400% greater airfare upgrade than what was available from the airline directly. Charges to upgrade from Economy to Premium Economy Air France website = $378 pp Viking = $1495 pp. We booked ... Read More
Viking charged a 400% greater airfare upgrade than what was available from the airline directly. Charges to upgrade from Economy to Premium Economy Air France website = $378 pp Viking = $1495 pp. We booked our river cruise 7 months before sailing at 50% off list price plus $445 per person for international airfare (supposed to be savings). We were charged $445 pp for round trip airfare + $50 pp for "Air Plus" to allow changes to our itinerary as we wanted to spend a few extra days in France at the end of our trip. We were booked by Viking Air Department on Air France approximately 12 weeks before our trip. We immediately requested a change to Premium Economy (slightly larger economy seat - NOT business class or first class). For this we were charged AN ADDITIONAL $1495 per person which was broken out as follows: (1) Premium Economy upgrade: +$1195 round trip per person (Houston - Marseille). On Air France Website the cost to upgrade from Economy to Premium Economy at the time of booking was $378.45 pp round trip including insurance for the same flights. This is $800+ pp above Air France's rate. (2) Charge to extend 3 days: +$100 per person - even though we had had already paid $50 pp to have the option to change our flights so we were surprised that we were paying again. (3) Insurance charge for upgrade: +$200 per person (At time of booking, Air France offered insurance for $95.75 per person for same flights with Premium Economy seats). We had already paid Viking $419 pp for travel insurance for cruise and original flights. Thus, Viking charged $619 pp for travel insurance! Please note that Viking does not assign airfare until approximately 90 days before the cruise. Thus, it is difficult to effectively comparison shop at the time of booking (which often is a year before the cruise). We could have booked flights with miles or larger savings had we booked ourselves directly 7 months before the cruise when we booked the cruise. We would hope that a company reliant on repeat travelers would handle upgrades in a competitive manner. Our experience has proved otherwise - upgrade at 4x the airline's quoted website fees. Additional Tours. We paid for the additional tour - Timeless Town of Perouges. We thought it was quaint, but in hindsight we could have passed on that tour and would have enjoyed spending some more time in Lyon. We had not been to Lyon before, and had the morning included bus tour / walking tour which was very informational and we really enjoyed. Lyon is a very large beautiful city. We wish we had the afternoon to go back to Lyon and explore. We paid for the additional tour - Walking Tour of Vienne. There was a Renaissance Festival going on at the time of our tour and the town was very crowded. Our tour guide was quite dull and we aborted the tour mid-way through and just walked around ourselves. We paid for the additional tour Chateaneuf-Du-Pape. We loved the tour and the wine tasting at the Perrin Family Vineyards. Highly recommend this tour. We paid for the Beaujolais & Truffles tour. We loved this tour and highly recommend. We had a wine tasting, a goat cheese making tour and lunch and truffle hunting! Very long day, but we felt like we truly got to experience the French countryside. All of our hosts were lovey and very interesting. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
We had never been to France and this was a special trip. Our 40th Anniversary. Viking was the right choice in every respect. We added two extensions, both through Viking. The French Riviera (Nice, Monaco, Cannes & Paris as a Grand ... Read More
We had never been to France and this was a special trip. Our 40th Anniversary. Viking was the right choice in every respect. We added two extensions, both through Viking. The French Riviera (Nice, Monaco, Cannes & Paris as a Grand Finale). Accommodations, Hosting, Dining and Transportation were outstanding. The ship was well appointed and modern. The staff extremely courteous and professional in every respect. The river, villages and sites were pristine, historical and stunning. If you choose to go out on your own and explore, you can do so and the staff will offer pointers. If you choose to remain in a your group and gain insight from the host tour director then that is also a fine way to enjoy the history and various sites. The option is entirely yours. From meeting you at the airport to recommending fine dining on shore, the list is endless of the assistance that Viking offers each passenger. We will most definitely be traveling with Viking again in the future and highly recommend to the traveler wishing to encorporate quality, comfort, convenience, information, fine dining, luxury and value. Viking, in our opinion is simply one of the very best if not the very best all around cruise experiences in the industry. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
We picked this cruise because it was the first part of the France's Finest double cruise. The ship was immaculate and the crew was fantastic. The pre-dinner meeting was an entertainment in itself. The program director was witty ... Read More
We picked this cruise because it was the first part of the France's Finest double cruise. The ship was immaculate and the crew was fantastic. The pre-dinner meeting was an entertainment in itself. The program director was witty along with the chef and the maitre d' . They made a fantastic show. The meals were very well presented and tasted even better. The cabin was very clean and well supplied. The shore excursion were varied and they did take into account leisurely walkers. The towns that we visited we steeped in history whether it was Roman or Medieval, Interesting to find both in the same city. Don't forget to visit the Roman Aquaduct It is amazing that it is standing after 2000 years. Take time to roam the streets of the towns. You will find them quaint and very historic.. My husband and I would strongly recommend the France's Finest cruise. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
All in all, this was a wonderful cruise. We were impressed especially with the superlative service from the crew members. They all seemed to love their jobs and were pleased to offer extra help — even to the point of sewing up a tear in ... Read More
All in all, this was a wonderful cruise. We were impressed especially with the superlative service from the crew members. They all seemed to love their jobs and were pleased to offer extra help — even to the point of sewing up a tear in a hat! The accommodations were fine with amenities we didn't expect, like Champagne in the room when we arrived and free laundry service. (Unbeknownst to us, this was part of the package we booked. Not available for all bookings.) The food was very good and the choices were broad, altho we were hoping that more of it was local. For example, the lamb was from New Zealand, not France. There were numerous side trips offered, some included in the price, others optional at an extra cost. As a wine lover, I particularly enjoyed the trip up the hill of Hermitage, where I could see and walk thru these noble vines. At the end of the walk we visited the Cave de Tain l'Hermitage, a coop that produces much of the wine from the winegrowers of the area. One of the great enjoyments was meeting fellow food and wine lovers onboard from other parts of the U.S. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
After being bombarded by a plethora of river cruise advertisements, a leisurely cruise down the River Rhone stopping at mediaeval villages visiting vineyards sounded a good option. This cruise on Riviera Travel’s Lord Byron from Lyon ... Read More
After being bombarded by a plethora of river cruise advertisements, a leisurely cruise down the River Rhone stopping at mediaeval villages visiting vineyards sounded a good option. This cruise on Riviera Travel’s Lord Byron from Lyon to Avignon (or in our case the reverse) proved to be a huge disappointment. After a four hour exhausting motorway drive in the rush hour from Lyon Airport we arrived at the Lord Byron berthed in Avignon at about 8.30pm, some fourteen hours after we set off, only just in time for a late dinner. It was interesting that some of the passengers were flown to Marseilles, a lot closer to Avignon but then had to be coached back at the end. We did think it would have made more sense to fly us all out to Marseilles and fly home from Lyon, but I suppose that would be too complicated. Our first impression of the cabins were that they were quite small with only enough room to get round the bed, no sofa of course, and no long hanging space in the tiny wardrobes. Saying this, they were kept incredibly clean. Our first confrontation with the waiting staff did not make a good impression. A menu was thrust into our hands and “Order drinks!!” barked out before I could get my feet under the table. Unsure about what epicurean delights we were about to consume I begged humbly for a few minutes to get our bearings, without success. With a lot of demanding and eye rolling on his part he stomped off to re-appear a few seconds later like Manuel in Fawlty Towers bellowing “Drinks!!” again and again, only satisfied when we gave him a random order to shut him up. Unfortunately this set the tone for the remainder of the cruise. The idea of good customer service seemed to sit uncomfortably on the shoulders of the mainly Bulgarian waiting staff. On one occasion I received a cocktail with no spirit in it and the bar manager refused to believe me, and another time when waiting to be served coffee at breakfast I was told off in no uncertain terms when I told the waiter we had been there for twenty minutes. I have been on 25+ ocean cruises from rock bottom standard to 6 stars and have never encountered service as bad as this, and, coupled with mediocre food we found it hard to believe that this was advertised as 5 star luxury. It was interesting to note that both the food and the surly expressions on the waiters faces transformed on the last night. This couldn’t have anything to do with gratuities being due could it? Heaven forbid. The actual itinery of the cruise was not what I expected. The only wine tasting that was organised was in a cellar in the middle of the town of Beaune which seemed odd as we could have stopped at the numerous wonderful vineyards that we passed through later on and only viewed from the coach. Avignon and Arles were interesting places to visit but, in general, coach trips were the order of the day and on two occasions in the week the boat moved on while you were on the coach and you rejoined the boat at a different place. Erm…forgive me, I thought this was a cruising holiday not a coach tour. Opting to miss one of the trips so we could experience the actual river cruising, the realisation of the geography of the Rhone was brought home to us. There are massive locks about every 20 minutes which meant that we had to stop and wait, once for over an hour, then enter these huge concrete tombs and sit for another half hour. As the French rely on these for part of their electricity supply the locks are huge blots on the landscape surrounded by ugly concrete buildings and electricity pylons. There was no shade on deck as the sunshades were taken down for low bridges.(Although I did see one river boat with better designed sun shades that they could leave up all the time)The Saone was totally different but unfortunately we only cruised a short time on this lovely river. We arrived at Viennes and Beaune in the heat of the afternoon when only “mad dogs”etc were around and on two occasions we were told that the museums, shops etc were closed on that particular day. Our impression was that the passengers had to fit around the itinery that was easier for the company rather than the other way round. There was no entertainment on the ship apart from a pianist who played quietly (thank goodness) each night to a bizarre selection of odd, poor quality backing tracks including “A Child is born” by Johnny Mathis virtually every night. In July?.... Weird. A staff show was performed on one evening which was amateurish and embarrassing. If you like coach trips, mediocre food, hard seating, rude, or at best, indifferent service, this might just be the holiday for you or…..you might like a respite week at the local care home. Take your pick. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
We thoroughly enjoyed our Avignon to Lyon cruise on the Uniworld S.S. Catherine. We picked this itinerary first and then selected the cruise line our TA thought would offer the best experience. There were more hits than misses on ... Read More
We thoroughly enjoyed our Avignon to Lyon cruise on the Uniworld S.S. Catherine. We picked this itinerary first and then selected the cruise line our TA thought would offer the best experience. There were more hits than misses on this cruise. Overall the cruise was well managed by Uniworld with the total ship experience, itinerary, food, excursions and crew at the top of the experience with many of the ocean cruises that we have enjoyed. We encountered a couple on this cruise from the very first day to the end who complained about everything on this cruise from the ship to the crew. Except for one issue, we believe their concerns were way overblown and not representative of our Uniworld experience, which was our first. The big highlight here was this charming, historic itinerary. We booked most of the optional tours and they proved to be an excellent choice. I recommend the tours of the olive oil farm, the truffle farm, the wine chateau in Burgundy as particular standouts. Arles with its charm and bullfighting history and Beaune were particularly appealing. We found the crew attentive with the cruise director and the female wine steward adding a lot of their expertise and charm to the whole experience. We would consider booking Uniworld again given the appeal of another unique cruise opportunity that charms us like the last one. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
I wanted to see more of the French countryside and this provided an opportunity to explore the southern portion. Excursions covered a nice variety of expierences from ancient Roman sites to modern wine making. Not as much of actual river ... Read More
I wanted to see more of the French countryside and this provided an opportunity to explore the southern portion. Excursions covered a nice variety of expierences from ancient Roman sites to modern wine making. Not as much of actual river cruising as others but it offered extra time to go out and explore different towns at your leisure. The dining room offerings were excellent and offered a nice variety to suit all tastes and the service offered by the the staff was superb as was to be expected. Several various local talents offered a nice diversion on many pleasant evenings in the lounge. I can not even begin to extoll the excellence of the expierence. From the beginning where they pick you up at the airport, through the entire voyage to the end, the professionalism exhibited by all members of the Viking staff was always on display. We are already planning our next trip. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018

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