I have just read the review by Tvrajan and couldn't agree more. We were on the same ill-fated cruise. I will not rehash the details of his well written review but will add that as a health professional I was stunned by the lack of ... Read More
I have just read the review by Tvrajan and couldn't agree more. We were on the same ill-fated cruise. I will not rehash the details of his well written review but will add that as a health professional I was stunned by the lack of training of the staff in handling such a situation. We were told by several including staff that the Pride had been infected with the noro virus on at least 8 of their recent cruises. Obviously, whatever they were doing wasn't effective in decontaminating the boat. It would seem prudent to cancel or delay sailing long enough to thoroughly clean the boat by professionals and not put a largely elderly group of passengers in harm's way week after week.
Once onboard, the staff were working so hard to care for us all but were woefully unprepared. For example, we came back one morning to find our neighbor sitting on a chair in the hall - obviously very ill - while they cleaned her room. Her soiled linens were on the hallway carpet while full but unsealed red hazardous waste bags were beside them. On our return an hour or so later, the unsealed bag had been joined by several others in the hall. While we were not allowed to serve ourselves (appropriately) they left bread baskets, butter, cream, etc. on the tables for all to share - even moving partially used bread baskets from table to table. I could go on and on.
I didn't become ill until Saturday and we were scheduled to leave the next morning. I couldn't keep anything down and was bedridden. My fiancé went to the Program Director to inquire about a hotel for the night and changing our flight to the following day in order that I would be better able to travel. He was told that in-spite of our travel insurance and Viking air, the flight would be around 2K pp and wasn't likely to be covered. He then said that while I might be weak and dizzy, it wouldn't "hurt" me to fly.
Long story short, in spite of 4 previous positive Viking experiences, their indifference to basic preventive measures, lack of customer service in assuring I was able to fly the 14 hours home, and ultimately their paltry $250 toward a future trip by way of compensation for our "disappointment" (as they put it), our future river cruise dollars will be spent elsewhere. Read Less
My wife and I have never been on a river cruise before, even though we have taken a number of ocean cruises. Going to Giverny and seeing Monet’s garden has always been on my wife's bucket list, and after much discussion, we booked ... Read More
My wife and I have never been on a river cruise before, even though we have taken a number of ocean cruises. Going to Giverny and seeing Monet’s garden has always been on my wife's bucket list, and after much discussion, we booked trips on a Viking cruise entitled “Paris and the heart of Normandy”. We flew Icelandic air and arrived at Charles de Gaulle airport, where we were promptly, efficiently and courteously picked up by a Viking representative and brought to the ship, which was anchored close to the Eiffel Tower. We arrived in Paris a little later than anticipated, so we thought we would be taken directly to the ship. Instead we were taking the Novotel hotel, where we were offered pastries and tea. We didn’t know anything about normal Viking procedures and so did not think that this was out of the ordinary. It was only later that we learned that the reason for the delay in allowing us to board the ship was that there had been an outbreak of Norovirus related gastrointestinal disease during the previous cruise.
Things seemed to be going very well the first day. The next day, the hotel manager told us that she was the bearer of bad news and that a few passengers had come down with gastrointestinal illness. During the remainder of the trip, as we continued to enjoy the trip, more and more passengers and crew members began to fall ill, at the rate of about 10 every day. The ship begin do resemble a hospital ward rather than a carefree vacation environment!
On Wednesday, we began to hear alarming rumors - that a passenger had died and that another had been taken to the hospital after having had a fall. We received very little information from Viking, other than that the outbreak was not contained and more passengers were falling ill. Over the next few days, we learned that both rumors were true. One of the passengers, a spritely, vivacious 70-year-old, who had been perfectly fit had fallen ill on Tuesday and died later. The rumor about the hospitalization was also true, except that it understated the problem rather than exaggerating it. As far as we know, at least 4 passengers had needed urgent care. One of them had become so dehydrated that he fell in the bathroom and had to be rushed to the hospital. Parenthetically, and to our surprise, at least two of the passengers were charged $1240 a piece for that urgent care.
While the land arrangements were overall extremely well done (the trips were well thought out and the guides were uniformly informative and well trained), it is also fair to say that a pall hung over the entire ship. We were all constantly wondering when the boom was going to lower on us and when we too would fall sick. By our estimate, of the 180 people on board (about 140 passengers and 40 crew members), about 100-120 people fell ill through the 8 day voyage.
What surprises us about this is that there have been Norovirus outbreaks on Viking Pride at least since September 2015 (see the review posted on 9/15 by “Happy Traveler Duo”). Despite this, Viking has continued to use the ship on cruises without a break and without a serious attempt at decontamination. News of the passenger’s death was not made public and we only heard about it through friends of the dead passenger’s roommate.
Overall, the trip could have been an outstanding experience. The cabin was adequate, the food outstanding. Both my wife and I are vegetarians, and had been concerned that our dietary needs might not be met within a small ship. On the contrary, the chef and the maître d’ went out of their way to make sure that we were adequately fed, with excellent and creative vegetarian alternatives. The land trips were well organized, well thought out and expertly guided. The visits to Giverny and Monet’s garden were totally enjoyable, as were the visits to the Normandy beaches. Despite all of this, we have to rate the overall experience poorly due to the serious health problems and the emotional toll on those of us who survived through it without falling sick (at least till now!) We know of at least one passenger who has fallen ill after reaching the States. I suspect the experience was even worse for those who did fall ill. We cannot recommend a trip on the Viking pride to anyone who is contemplating one. Read Less
We were so excited to sail on this river cruise line, as we had heard so much about it. Unfortunately we and others on the ship soon became ill. Our embarking time was delayed on the first day so they could clean the ship, as so many on ... Read More
We were so excited to sail on this river cruise line, as we had heard so much about it. Unfortunately we and others on the ship soon became ill. Our embarking time was delayed on the first day so they could clean the ship, as so many on the cruise the prior week had come down with a gastrointestinal illness. In fact, several days before arriving, we were sent an email stating that our arrival would be delayed several hours so they could clean/disinfect the ship to address the illness passengers on the week of September 12 experienced. It was described by staff as one person getting ill, then others getting sick all week long. This is exactly what happened to us. On our first day, instead of being able to have lunch on board, we were directed to a hotel conference room where we were given water and coffee/tea, but no food (it was all gone by the time we arrived but was only croissants anyway). We soon set off on our own and saw some sights and found a great cafe to have lunch right by the Eiffel Tower. We also purchased the extension in Paris post-cruise, and my husband was very ill the day after we left the boat, as were several others in the group of 24 who stayed on in Paris. We had to call in a doctor during our Paris stay. All of the illness cast a shadow over the cruise, as we were worried that we would get sick, which eventually did happen. They stressed that everyone should use the anti-germ agent they provided outside of the restaurant, but that still didn't prevent the spread of disease.
Aside from the significant problem of illness, the cruise was OK. We spent too much time in Vernon, where there is little to see, and not enough in other areas. There were some beautiful cities along the Seine that we couldn't visit, and we usually had to make choices between two very good tours in other areas, so we felt we missed a lot. There was a lot of time during two days where we "cruised". The staff was perky and helpful, and the rooms were kept clean. The cabins were small but functional. When we saw other ships on other lines as they passed us on the Seine, we realized that ours was not a great ship. The food was good, with lots of choices. However, after the first few illness cases early on, I did not take any fresh food, only cooked or sealed items, so I think I missed out on a lot of good food experiences. The crew redirected the next batch of cruisers on September 27 to the same hotel where we waited to board on our first day, so I just hope they did a better job of cleaning the ship before they let the m board.
This was not an all-inclusive tour, and we felt that tips were clearly expected. Our pot-trip was about $1800.00, and the hotel would have cost about $900.00 or so if we booked on line, so we were disappointed that the Viking staff stressed how much she should have gotten for her tips. The one tour that was included was very good, but the support was not worth the extra $900.00 we paid (this did include transfers to the hotel and then the airport, but this was still a lot of extra money).
We will probably take another cruise, but will book with another line. Read Less
This was our second river cruise, having used Uniworld previously. We wanted to try Viking to see how they compare, other than knowing that they are slightly less expensive than Uniworld. Initial impression of the ship was that it was ... Read More
This was our second river cruise, having used Uniworld previously. We wanted to try Viking to see how they compare, other than knowing that they are slightly less expensive than Uniworld. Initial impression of the ship was that it was very worn and needed updating. Now I know that it is being replaced next year. Our cabin was, however, very nice and the steward, Helena, kept it immaculately clean.
It became apparent by the third night of dining that the dinner offerings were not to our liking and the ingredients were "low budget." First night, beef bourgogne (stewed tough meat on egg noodles)...Second night, coq au vin (stewed chicken)..Third night, stewed lamb shank. There is also a fish and a vegetarian option, and the fish was good one time and not overdone, but the mahi-mahi tasted frozen and was dry. Also, there are standard offerings that can be ordered any night--salmon, steak, I forget what else...I had the rib eye steak one night and it was tough and grisly...not the rib eye we are used to in the US, but a different cut of meat. One night I had the scallops and it was 3 small scallops the size of a quarter on rice for a main entree. And here is the real kicker: The same red wine was served every night! Why not change it up a bit, even if you spend the same amount per bottle?? We are in France and want to try different local wines...don't have to be expensive, but a variety. Same thing at lunch...same white wine every day...I don't get it. Breakfast was the best meal of the day, lunches were okay, and dinner was disappointing. I think Viking has a set menu they follow and the chef has her/his hands tied and must follow the menu. I say this because we did the following week on the Viking Buri (this cruise was week 1 of a 2 week cruise) and the menu repeated! Very disappointed. To be fair, the service was excellent, but the dining room felt crowded and it was very loud in there...dinners seemed "busy" and a bit frenzied, not relaxing and elegant. We felt that the dining room was understaffed and they needed at least 2 more servers. Some of the desserts were good and so were the french fries at lunch, as well as the ice cream, but offerings were very limited and the variety was poor...many repetitions of food items or recycling of items, which is to be expected on any cruise, but this time it was painfully obvious. All in all, the dining was disappointing.
The excursions were interesting, and the guides were good with the exception of one who was far too detailed on the history of certain things...20 minutes in one spot just listening, but we enjoyed all the excursions and added several optional ones as well. The only downside to the excursions was the bus rides. The bus seats were very tight and close together and my knees were squished into the seat in front of me on every trip except one. I am 6 feet tall and the other tall passengers has similar problems and complaints. Viking should lease buses that have more space between the seats for their guests' comfort. I expected to be comfortable on excursions, but I was not.
I have to say the service onboard for us was excellent. I think that my reasons for not being totally happy with this cruise have to do with Viking corporate and that they seem to be trying to maximize profit over comfort and quality...won't use Viking again. Did I mention on the supposed best dinner night we had surf and turf, but instead of a lobster tail you received 1 prawn on your steak?? That's what I'm talking about... Read Less
This was our first Viking cruise "Paris and the Heart of Normandy". Our room was larger than expected with 2 twin beds with ample storage, the activities director "Clare" was a delight, outstanding food and all ... Read More
This was our first Viking cruise "Paris and the Heart of Normandy". Our room was larger than expected with 2 twin beds with ample storage, the activities director "Clare" was a delight, outstanding food and all walking tours interesting and informative and on our return we were greeted by the staff with a refreshing drink. At all time the staff was friendly and their service exceptional. We enjoyed on board wine tasting, cheese tasting and a visit to the kitchen with the Chef. I highly recommend a river cruise, it's more relaxing, the scenery is up close and the ship is smaller with 150 passengers. Having open meal seating gave us the opportunity to meet our fellow travelers, a definite plus. A member of the Viking team met us at the airport, transported us to our hotel (we stayed 3 days in Paris prior to the cruise), transported us to the ship and at the end transported us to the airport. The entire trip was worry free. I can't thank Viking enough for the "Perfect Cruise" and we hope there is another Viking cruise in our future. Read Less
Leisurely cruise down the Seine. Our program director was amazing. She arranged to have us switch from British to American tour of D-Day beaches in the middle so we could view the Bayeux tapestry and the American Cemetery, and arranged ... Read More
Leisurely cruise down the Seine. Our program director was amazing. She arranged to have us switch from British to American tour of D-Day beaches in the middle so we could view the Bayeux tapestry and the American Cemetery, and arranged for a wheelchair when my knee gave out so I could to Versailles. She was bright, funny, and accommodating. Our chef was great, too. I have several food allergies and each day the Maitre'd would bring me the menu for the day so I could choose my meals and the chef would prepare them for me in a separate space in the kitchen using separate utensils. Chef was very charming and made me feel that accommodating my requests was nothing special, just his job. I appreciated having most of the tours included. Sometimes, the cost of tours can cost almost as much as the cruise. Tours were well organized. The ship itself was small and in need of updating, but since it is being replaced next year there is no point. It was lovely to see the river flow by, very relaxing. Overall, a good cruise, I would recommend Viking Cruises, and would take another cruise with them. Read Less
This is my second cruise with Viking because I was so pleased with my first experience. My sister and her husband joined us when I talked about our first experience. The entire staff did everything to make our cruise the best experience ... Read More
This is my second cruise with Viking because I was so pleased with my first experience. My sister and her husband joined us when I talked about our first experience. The entire staff did everything to make our cruise the best experience we ever had and they succeeded. The food was excellent with good selections every night. Our tours were well planned and very well done. The tour guides were well informed and were very entertaining. We were given good tips on highlights in the cities we stayed. The organization was excellent so that we made the most of our stay in each of the ports.
I highly recommend Viking cruises. The caring staff met our every need. Read Less
Last year I took my adult daughter on a Viking Cruise to China and we were very pleased with the total experience so I decided to book a second cruise this year with my wife, son and his wife. We decided to take the Paris & Heart of ... Read More
Last year I took my adult daughter on a Viking Cruise to China and we were very pleased with the total experience so I decided to book a second cruise this year with my wife, son and his wife. We decided to take the Paris & Heart of Normandy cruise with a Pre-Cruise stay in Paris and a Post-Cruise extension to Oxford & Highclere Castle. Again we couldn't have been more pleased.
Viking does a great job with their cruises but in my opinion they do even better with their excursions. We loved the city walk through Le Marais in Paris, visiting Claude Monet's home, Gardens and Lily Ponds in Giverny. The special ceremony they arranged at the American Military Cemetery in Normandy was moving and the high speed train transfer from Paris to London was a nice experience. We really enjoyed our stay in a great hotel in Oxford along with all the side excursions and tours from there. Viking also did a great job with our transfers to and from the airports, hotels and cruise ship.
We have five adult children so needless to say we are already planning another two or three trips with Viking. It looks like Russia may be on the list. Read Less
This is the best way to travel, bar none! It has all the advantage of an ocean cruise without the crowds of people, taking buses to points of interest and waits to get off and on the shop. Great food and ease in getting around the ship.
... Read More
This is the best way to travel, bar none! It has all the advantage of an ocean cruise without the crowds of people, taking buses to points of interest and waits to get off and on the shop. Great food and ease in getting around the ship.
Looking forward to our next River Cruise. I enjoyed watching the countryside as we cruised. The entertainment was OK but that's not important to us. I liked the ship because it was small and we got to know the other guests. I would only be interested in ships accommadating 100 to 150 guests. It's like having our private ship!
Service was outstanding. Read Less
This was our first Viking cruise. We were pleased with the ease of transfers to the hotel for our 3 days in Paris pre-cruise, to the ship and then from the ship to our Eurostar train trip to England and finally from our Oxford hotel to ... Read More
This was our first Viking cruise. We were pleased with the ease of transfers to the hotel for our 3 days in Paris pre-cruise, to the ship and then from the ship to our Eurostar train trip to England and finally from our Oxford hotel to Heathrow. All went smoothly and was worry free for us. The Hotel Rochester 3 day stay pre-cruise was very convenient being just a block off the Champs Elysees in the 8th Ar. and close to the metro. The staff spoke English and were very friendly and efficient. The beds were good and the breakfast was excellent. Our morning Marais walk with Christine was very informative and enjoyable. The transfer to the ship on Sunday was worry free but seemed to use up almost the whole of one of our Paris days. Between the check in , meetings and lunch there was little time left before we had to be back on board for dinner and sailing. (However, I will not complain after reading the review of the April 2015 - ship out of commission, etc.) Our Montmartre walking tour was lovely and gave us time to enjoy this quaint area. Our cabin was spacious, the bed comfortable, and quiet. We never heard engine noises and only felt minimal movement going through locks. The food was like eating at a 5 star restaurant every day. The staff was unfailingly courteous, friendly, and English speaking. Loved our magic lemonade following shore excursions. The Monet/Giverny tour was a highlight! A 20 minute bus ride to paradise - the gardens were wonderful and quite extensive while the house was just as it was when Monet lived there. The tiny village was scenic and we had time to go to the gift shop, some tiny boutiques in the village, and a peek at an art museum down the road. The Vernon walking tour was interesting and we had free time to walk across the bridge to see the mill and Tourelles Castle on the other side of the Siene. The Rouen tour was like Vernon x 10 in area and history. Our guide provided so much information - even the rain could not dampen our spirits. There was plenty of free time at the end of this tour which was nice to stop at a wine bar and do a little shopping. We enjoyed the all day bus tour to the Normandy beaches and D-day sights which were a highlight for my husband. They are pretty far from Rouen so it is a 1-1/2 hr bus ride but the countryside is pretty. We had a driveby at Juno beach and a stop at Arromanches for the small D-day museum there and lunch in a nice restaurant before heading to the American Cemetery. They performed a small memorial service for our group at the cemetery - very moving. The last stop was Omaha Beach and D-day monuments there. It's a little surreal that it is a resort area now. It was a long, full day but well orchestrated by the Viking personnel. Les Andelys was charming. Very tiny and quaint with about 6 shops and galleries, a medieval church and the highlight - Richard the Lionheart's Chateau Gaillard which is a short hike uphill to a prominence overlooking the river. We chose to go on the optional Versailles tour and are glad we did. The palace and grounds were exceptional and over the top in opulence. We only had an hour following the palace tour to see the gardens. I believe that you could spend a few days there and not see it all. It was beautiful! Back in Paris, we had another trouble free transfer to our Eurostar train to England where we were met by our Viking guides and given a short bus tour of London. We missed seeing some things like Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey due to a marathon being run through the streets of London that morning - such is life! But we did see the Tower of London and Tower Bridge and caught a glimpse of Big Ben and Parliament and Harrod's. We arrived at The Old Bank Hotel in Oxford for our post-cruise days. It was charming with comfortable beds, a nice breakfast and wonderful central location. We had an interesting and history filled morning walk around Oxford viewing the colleges and architecture. We then were treated to a surprise lunch at a cute pub out in the country before visiting Highclere Castle. Also a surprise was a visit to an English couple for an English tea in their home prior to Highclere. That turned out to be the highlight of the entire trip for us! The Dormers of Bowdown House welcomed our group into their beautiful, antique filled, country manor house for tea and history! The Dormers regaled us with amazing stories of their family through the ages and of the current property's importance in WWII. ( No spoilers here.) This is a new cultural experience Viking was trying out and we certainly enjoyed it. I hope that it continues. (We also met Karine Hagen, VP of Viking, and her dog Finse. She was overseeing the visit) Highclere Castle is Downton Abbey and those of us who are fans loved it! We had a private, after hours, champagne reception in "the hall" followed by a tour of the house and Egyptian museum in the basement. Everything is as you see it in the series down to the silver in the dining room. A truly lovely,long and wonderful day! We had free time in Oxford the next morning followed by a bus trip to Blenheim Palace and the Costwolds in the afternoon. Blenheim is fabulous opulence English style! Really wonderful to see the second largest palace in Britian and grounds cared for so well. Another trouble free transfer to Heathrow and off we flew back to reality. We loved our Viking trip and were impressed by how smoothly everything ran. On board, dress is business casual. At the Captain's dinner, my husband was one of only a handful who wore a sport coat. Most ladies wore dresses for that dinner but nice slacks/skirt and a slightly dressy top or casual dress was fine for all others. Both the hotels and the ship have umbrellas and you should bring a light weight rain jacket. Good walking shoes are essential! Read Less
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