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Sail Date: March 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: November 2018
This was my 1st river cruise. I would do it again with Viking. The staff and crew were all great. We were able to finish our cruise on the Rhone River without a problem. We met a couple that had spent the same week on the Danube. They ... Read More
This was my 1st river cruise. I would do it again with Viking. The staff and crew were all great. We were able to finish our cruise on the Rhone River without a problem. We met a couple that had spent the same week on the Danube. They had low water levels and their river cruise turned into a bus trip. I enjoyed all of the included shore excursions and went on 2 extra excursions that were exceptional. The Secrets of the Chateau de Flecheres was amazing. One of the owners had a question/answer time in his living room at the end of the tour. He offered us bubbling wine, orange juice and water plus a piece of praline tart that was delicious. When we came back to the ship after an excursion or shopping, we were met with something to drink that got alcohol added to it (you could opt out of the addition to your drink). There were often warm moist towels also. They were welcome with the cold weather we had in late November. All of the cities and towns we visited were great. The things they offered to tourist were amazing. The ancient Roman ruins were incredible. Embarkation and debarkation went very smoothly. The staff makes sure you know exactly where to go. We were met near baggage claim when we arrived and a staff member walked us through the airport to the correct area after debarkation. The food on the ship was always good and a variety of choices were offered. I was part of a group of 10. We had dinner at a large table in the back of the dining room by the kitchen. It was quite noisy there so I would opt to sit near the front of the dining room if a large table is not required. The servers always had a smile. One of my favorite on board events was the program director's talk on the French culture. She made it funny but very educational. The boat seemed to do most of its traveling when we were off the boat on excursions, while we were sleeping or during meals. Suddenly you would realize you were in a lock but you're in the middle of lunch or dinner. We cut lunch short one day to go outside and watch the process of going through the lock. I have been on many ocean cruises and enjoy the sea days. I will be trying my 1st Viking ocean cruise in 2020. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2018
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
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
Our second cruise with Viking was as excellent as our first. It started the day before we left with the wonderful surprise that instead of the standard stateroom we had booked, we'd been moved to a French balcony on the third level. ... Read More
Our second cruise with Viking was as excellent as our first. It started the day before we left with the wonderful surprise that instead of the standard stateroom we had booked, we'd been moved to a French balcony on the third level. The transfer from the Marseilles airport was easy, even though our flight was delayed over an hour, and Viking took us directly to the Delling. As we arrived late, lunch was over, and yet the bartender was able to find us a sandwich and a cool glass of wine to settle in. Our (upgraded) cabin was smaller in square feet than we had a few years ago on the Viking Sun but was designed nicely so there was plenty of room to store our clothes and toiletries and tuck the suitcases under the bed. We never felt cramped during the cruise, even though the only place to sit was on the bed. We really appreciated the ability to open the slider during the cruise and breathe the fresh air of Southern France or peek out at the locks we went through. The crew and staff on the Delling were fantastic. Our cruise director, Michael, was funny at the right times and serious when he needed to be. We had hoped to go the limestone caves outside of Arles and Michael did everything he could to try to arrange it, but as the late November sailing was after the "season", it was impossible. Still, we appreciated the effort. The food was fantastic with excellent chef's choices every day and plenty to choose from besides. My husband described the duck at the Flavors of Provence dinner as the best he'd ever had and I loved the varying selection of cheeses every day at breakfast. Since most of our meals were on board, we really appreciated all the regional specialties that were part of the menus. We had everything from escargot to Chateaubriand and each meal seemed to be better than the last. We chose to purchase the Silver Spirits package and that meant that we were able to enjoy a different bottle of wine each night. There was a nice selection of regional wines, which we mostly stuck to, and also selections from other wine areas. Our waiters were always quick to bring us the wine menu and keep our glasses full. For those without the package there was a generous supply of wine each lunch an dinner and many treats throughout the cruise. One thing I really like about Viking is how they will always welcome you back to the ship after a day of touring with some regional drink. Since it was November, ours were always warm and so toasty! The best entertainment was Les Gitans, a gypsy group that was fantastic. We also enjoyed the lecture on the French resistance. We learned so much! Viking's service is without parallel. They did their best not to disrupt any of the tours despite the French strike which closed down or slowed down many of the roundabouts. They were able to reroute or adjust so that everyone got to do everything they wanted and more! I think the only disappointment on this cruise was that there is actually very little cruising and it mostly happens during dinner. Also be aware that disembarkation is very early, in our case 3:30 a.m. That said, the cruise was fantastic and I can't wait to go with Viking again. Avignon: The gothic cathedral in Avignon is amazing and so well preserved. We also enjoyed walking along the river to the Pont and up to the gardens next to the Palace. We happened to be in town for a wine festival and so enjoyed some wine tasting at Les Halles that wasn't expected. Chateauneuf du Pape Wine Tasting: This was a fun little tour where we learned what makes Chateauneuf du Pape wines so delicious and also had a chance to do a tasting. Arles: We walked in the footsteps of Van Gogh and the ancient Romans. After the tour there was enough time to try Du Bar a l'Huitre where we had a nice fish stew on the terrace and watched the people walk by. Viviers: This ancient village was a lovely surprise, complete with cobblestone alleyways and a cathedral. Our guide, like all the guides, was so knowledgeable and really brought this little town to life. It's so fun to explore a place you've never heard of before and learn so much. Rhone Valley Vineyard Hike: This hike took us up the slopes near the Hermitage wine region of the Rhone where we learned what makes Hermitage special and how the wines nearby are made. It also felt good to stretch our legs on a beautiful day. The wine tasting here was also very delicious but because we had to reroute our walk to catch the bus (the strike interfered) we didn't have time to make purchases. Beaujolais Wine Country: This cruise is a wine lover's delight. More information on viniculture made our day so enjoyable. Lyon: We had two chances to eat off the ship in Lyon, one at Merle in Les Halles (oysters!) and another at a Bouchon. These meals were memorable and worth skipping the also delicious meals on the ship. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2018
We wanted to see the south of France. It was amazing and beautiful. We were very surprised by the amount of Roman ruins. We loved seeing those structures. The Aqueduct was huge and so well preserved. I had no idea that silk was made in ... Read More
We wanted to see the south of France. It was amazing and beautiful. We were very surprised by the amount of Roman ruins. We loved seeing those structures. The Aqueduct was huge and so well preserved. I had no idea that silk was made in France for many years. That is something we learned on the cruise. Each time we travel with Viking we learn so much. The guides on each tour really know a lot and pass it along well. Of course we always amazed at the good food we get on the cruise. We enjoy exploring the world through Viking. I came home a lot smarter about France than before I left. The bonus of the trip was extending our stay in Nice through Viking. It has to be the most beautiful city I have ever visited. It was the first time we had extended through Viking, but it won't be our last. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 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
Exceeded all my expectations of a river cruise. Very relaxing and educational trip. This being my first river cruise, I felt spoiled the overall experience of the laid-back atmosphere and all that it included. Food and wine ... Read More
Exceeded all my expectations of a river cruise. Very relaxing and educational trip. This being my first river cruise, I felt spoiled the overall experience of the laid-back atmosphere and all that it included. Food and wine selections were over the top and the service was excellent. Every port of call was interesting and we were able to spend time without rushing to see everything and still have time for leisure. The tour guides were very knowledgeable at each location without being boring. Everyone seemed to see to our every need and sometimes without asking. Very attentive staff. I really liked the open seating in the dining room and was able to meet some very interesting people. This way of travel was so relaxing that it spoiled me of the mega liners I have been on before with all the thousands of people. I will certainly look forward to another river cruise. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
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
5 Helpful Votes
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
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