Sail Date: October 2014
My husband and I are seasoned travelers and have done several cruises, Carribbean, Yantze, Mediterranean ... And have come to love the smaller boats. Because of the truly pervasive advertising On TV, we thought we'd try a Viking ... Read More
My husband and I are seasoned travelers and have done several cruises, Carribbean, Yantze, Mediterranean ... And have come to love the smaller boats. Because of the truly pervasive advertising On TV, we thought we'd try a Viking River Cruise. Our possible dates were limited by our Schedule and our friend' schedules, all of us executives, so the only possible sailing was Nuremburg to Budapest in October. I have to write and tell you it was the finest vacation ever! Fantastic food, brand new River ship, fantastic staff (okay the room cleaner was a bit testy at times), great ports, lovely, lovely trip. Only complaint would be not enough time in each port, but that's the schedule! We couldn't get the Internet in our rooms, and it was dial up speed even on the public desktops, Would be nice if they said that up front, we would have brought CDs. The Program Host was a rock star, he was so great and so funny all the time and kept us up for everything even when the morning tours left early-early! Did I say the food was fantastic? Not mass market cruise fare, but personal chef type quality. Always available coffee, tea, cappuccino and hot chocolate, filtered water, both still and bubbly. Easy embarkation, room ready way before promised -- easy debarkation...and so sad to have it come to an end. My husband figured out the costs based on the room and level of service,and it turned out to be a good value, too. Note: best shopping in Budapest and Nuremberg -- take the Nuremberg extension for nuremburg or you'll only wave at the window of the trial courtroom, and miss the toy manufacturers' plants. Try to get to see the Passau motor works, and while there, GO to the restaurant high overlooking the river -- you can pass on the organ concert in Passau! Next year in France, I hope!! Viking River Cruises all the way! Thanks for a wonderful, wonderful trip!!! Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2015
Both my friend and I are seasoned international travelers for both business and pleasure. We have taken many cruises from ports like Tahiti and the Galapagos. We were both very displeased with our experience on the Rinda. The cruise ... Read More
Both my friend and I are seasoned international travelers for both business and pleasure. We have taken many cruises from ports like Tahiti and the Galapagos. We were both very displeased with our experience on the Rinda. The cruise was advertised as a Paris cruise and all the literature we received touted it as a Paris cruise. It was not! The boat docked an hour's bus ride away from Paris. We were never informed that would be the case. When we were picked up at the airport we taken to a little town of no interest called Le Peq. If we had known we would have elected to go from the airport into the city. When we arrived at the boat, we were given the option to go back to the city an hour away after we had flown for 10 hours. We would not have taken this cruise had we known that the longships are not permitted in Paris. It was dishonest of Viking not to have informed of this fact which they knew of in advance. All the locations we visited were bus rides away. Normandy was 2 hours each way by bus. Breakfast and lunch were fine and the service at dinner was good but the food and wine were very average. In fact, meals were sent back from our tables several times. Giverny was only a 1/2 day trip. It would have been good to have spent the day there as this was one of the highlights. There were no fun cultural experiences in the shore excursions like ballet, concerts, food experiences, as you see in their ads. We filled out evaluation forms expressing our concerns and also sent an email upon our return. We received no response. When I finally called customer service after two weeks, there was merely defensiveness saying the government wouldn't permit the ships in Paris. Well, they should have told us that as the main reason we book the cruise was to be in Paris. Overall, we were extremely disappointed in the experience and would not recommend Viking to anyone and we certainly won't be taking another cruise with them. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2015
No advance notice, thought Viking knew of this, moored 52 km's upriver instead of in Paris, bused not boated, no refund except voucher for another cruise within 12 months, food from central store/very average as was the wine. DO NOT ... Read More
No advance notice, thought Viking knew of this, moored 52 km's upriver instead of in Paris, bused not boated, no refund except voucher for another cruise within 12 months, food from central store/very average as was the wine. DO NOT RECOMMEND! Lost the promised and paid for 3 nights moored at Paris, reduced to a bus tour of one hour in and back, no evenings. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2018
Viking misrepresented the Lumination Bus Tour - as our bus was pulling away we were told that it was too early for the lights to be on in Paris and we were driven by all the buildings that should have been lit but were not until we got to ... Read More
Viking misrepresented the Lumination Bus Tour - as our bus was pulling away we were told that it was too early for the lights to be on in Paris and we were driven by all the buildings that should have been lit but were not until we got to the Eiffel Tower. We paid $90 to see Paris Lit by Night and we were not told until we were on the bus and it was pulling away. Also when booking the tour with Viking, we were continually given wrong information. They put us on an international flight next to the bathrooms and our seats didn't recline. We paid extra for this service! We also had to pay extra to book a side trip on our own for a side trip that was advertised and was not offered. Now that I am home and have since been on a wonderful river cruise with Avalon, I have advised Viking that I do not want their mailings. I was told it would take 8 weeks for the mailings to stop. It has been over 8 weeks and I am still getting 2 or 3 mailings from them a week. I have emailed them again but the mailings still have not stopped. They have had no respect for my request and today's mailing is what made me decide to write this review. this is beginning to feel like harassment. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2015
I just have to say it - we had an amazing time on the Rinda. All the staff worked hard to please the passengers. The food was excellent, the rooms were fine. Service over all was a 4 or 5. However, as wonderful as the experience on ... Read More
I just have to say it - we had an amazing time on the Rinda. All the staff worked hard to please the passengers. The food was excellent, the rooms were fine. Service over all was a 4 or 5. However, as wonderful as the experience on the ship was, it was overshadowed by the terrible customer service provided by Viking's customer service. You already know (if you've read other reviews) that the advertisements for Paris & the Heart of Normandy Tour did not really dock in Paris as expected by the advertising. They actually send you a letter after you book informing you that they were denied a docking permit. News flash: unless you take their airport transfers their answer on how to get to the ship is to spend approx. 50 Euros to take a cab from Paris (more if directly from the airport). Our experience is that we were flying in a few days early, and declined paying for Viking's Paris extension. We were delighted to see on the website a few days before we left that there was now a shuttle bus provided to take ship passengers to Paris, and back to the ship so a day of shopping could be enjoyed. We called Viking to confirm that we would be accepted on the shuttle, and after three phone calls had confirmed the time and location (which turned out to be incorrect). On the proper day, we were at the site, however no bus. Three more phone calls to Viking (now at international minutes on our cell phone) netted three hangups, even though we provided our cell phone number on the third call. We finally took a cab to the ship. While on the way to the ship I turned on the data on my cell phone, and discovered that someone had written me back (not called - did they care that I was standing in the cold?) to tell me that there was no shuttle from a hotel (that's not what I asked for), and that I should take a cab. Once at the ship, they were distressed to learn that I was given the incorrect location, and that they saw no reason why we couldn't be included on the shuttle. They also reimbursed our cab fare. I actually spoke to the customer service rep that emailed me after that cruise was over, strictly by chance when I called Viking to complain. His position was that the shuttle would not have let me on anyway, since I hadn't paid for a transfer, and that the prior customer service reps that I spoke to before the trip had no right to give me that information. My position is that if a company provides false advertising as to the location of their ship, they should provide transportation from where the ship should have been located to where it really was. And if the folks at Viking send you an email with times and locations, you need to back it up. Also, even if you book your air through Viking air, you will never hear from them if the airline changes the itinerary (and they did for many of us). Viking clearly states it in their booklet, so keep checking the airline website regarding your reservation. Moral of the story: If you're going to go with Viking, do it all with Viking. The folks who did had fewer complaints. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2015
We had a wonderful time on our trip to London and Paris. Our glass is always half full. However there is something you need to know about the Viking Cruise ship Rinda. Viking advertised (and continues to advertise) "Paris to ... Read More
We had a wonderful time on our trip to London and Paris. Our glass is always half full. However there is something you need to know about the Viking Cruise ship Rinda. Viking advertised (and continues to advertise) "Paris to Normandy". We received an e-mail advising us of a dock change 3 days before sailing. The explanation for the change in the docking location was that a permit from the French government for the Rinda to use the Paris docking location had not yet been received. Later in the week we were told by the Program Director, this Viking Ship cannot dock in Paris because it is too big to pass under the bridges in Paris. Viking Cruise line knew this at least as far back as March 2015, (As posted by Tipsy Girl) but continues to sell "PARIS to Normandy". Instead we dock about an hour's bus ride away from Paris in a town called La Pecq. I guess La Pecq wouldn't market as well. This was a huge disappointment because we had planned our trip around the time we would have with three full days docked in Paris, to explore the city and return to the ship to eat or rest between visits. Our itinerary was considerably modified due to the new docking location and the optional tours of the Louvre and Versailles were both scheduled for our last cruise day, These tours were originally scheduled for different days, exhausting having both tours in one day. According to Typsy Girl, a similar situation in April 2014 took place on the Viking Forseti in Bordeaux. The ship had not yet received a permit from the French government to go under a specific bridge on the cruise route, so their itinerary was modified. We were also scheduled to dock at Con Flans but instead we had to bus from La Pecq to get there as well. There were other River Cruise ships docked at Con Flans, but for some reason Viking decided not to dock there. Viking reserves the right to change ports without notification. A change is one thing, but Viking never intended to dock in Paris in the first place. This was very deceitful and I would not recommend Viking for any future cruises. As for the rest of the cruise...Yes, the entire staff were terrific, the food was good and seeing Normandy was very emotional. In spite of it all....We had a wonderful time! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2015
There were many disappointments on this highly touted river cruise to Normandy and back. First we did not dock in Paris as advertised and promised, but rather an hour from downtown and did not tell us until we boarded. This was the prime ... Read More
There were many disappointments on this highly touted river cruise to Normandy and back. First we did not dock in Paris as advertised and promised, but rather an hour from downtown and did not tell us until we boarded. This was the prime reason for the booking and no alternative dates were offered. Second, Internet service was the poorest of any cruise in the past 10 years. Third, there were many poor decisions made during this cruise to the detriment of passengers. No church service on Easter Sunday was arranged until the last minute. Food was mediocre at best with small portions and limited daily options. There was no room service food and lines were as long or longer than on most of the large ships we have been on. If you are used to top quality entertainment, shopping, activities on board, forget it on this ship. There was no money exchange service, Discover card not accepted, and no pre-recorded information about upcoming ports as on other ships. We were taken to the airport four hours before our flight and had to place luggage in the hall at 5:15 AM on disembarkation day, nearly six hours before flight time. What we thought would be our best cruise experience turned out to be the worst. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2014
Good Points for nice cabins, House Keeping, Reception Staff on Boat, Program Director. about Meals- Two Thumbs and ten toes down. 1. For vegetarians hardly one items in menu (some times none). Even Salad at dinner time has anchovies. 2. ... Read More
Good Points for nice cabins, House Keeping, Reception Staff on Boat, Program Director. about Meals- Two Thumbs and ten toes down. 1. For vegetarians hardly one items in menu (some times none). Even Salad at dinner time has anchovies. 2. Vegetarian meals if any, have no equity in nourishment or in Dollar value with multiple choices available to Non-vegs. 3. Reason given that Menu is decided in the Home Office, no room for flexibility! 4. Chefs can not even cook Vegetable lasagna ! 5. Even French fries were cold, soggy and tasteless. Excuse was that they use 'frozen French fries". So does McDonalds 6. At breakfast, except for fried eggs and omelette , everything was cold. No common sense to use steam bath or Sterno burners prior to serving breakfast. . Even 60 minutes after opening the breakfast, all items were cold. 7. Before embarkation, at least two full days in Budapest. Breakfast provided by the hotel but not a single lunch or dinner by Viking. Cheap, cheap. 8. During the city tour of Budapest, not even water bottle provide ! 9. Staff in the dining room very overbearing and condescending, perhaps fishing for tips. 10. my 4th ( ,may be last) cruise with viking, each one disappointing about their meals, despite promises of good and nourishing choices for vegetarians 11. Viking very good in marketing ( TV ads in USA, Europe, Asia and multiple glossy brochures by mails) that hooks the unwary. after all who is paying for this blitz of marketing?,. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2014
I recently returned from the Viking River Cruise, “Passage to Eastern Europe.” The cruise was generally good, with very good service, better food than we expected, and excellent tour guides. The destinations were often not particularly ... Read More
I recently returned from the Viking River Cruise, “Passage to Eastern Europe.” The cruise was generally good, with very good service, better food than we expected, and excellent tour guides. The destinations were often not particularly great, but we knew that before booking. Unfortunately the few problems we encountered were upsetting enough that, in the future, I am likely to try the competition and very unlikely to return to Viking. First and foremost is their poorly thought out policy of not allowing shipboard credit to be used towards gratuities, as every other cruise line we’ve been on allows. That meant we would have to take an optional excursion, which were few, far between, and of no interest to us. We could also use it towards drinks, but we are not big drinkers and the wine and beer served at lunch and dinner were more than sufficient. Our final option was to buy limited, overpriced, and mostly unneeded items from the small gift shop. Their “suggested” gratuities are higher than other cruise lines we’ve been on, and I have never before been asked to tip the Program Director. I firmly believe that at his level, I should not be asked to pay part of his salary. The cabin is, to say the least, small. Dinner (and, to a lesser extent, lunch) was only one seating, and the noise level could make it difficult to have a conversation. Although both the suggested gratuities and the limited use of shipboard credit are mentioned, they are clearly not meant to be very obvious and visible. Although minor, this significantly customer unfriendly attitude is why I would prefer, in the future, not to deal with a company such as Viking.   Read Less
21 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2016
We chose Viking's The Heart of Normandy in the fall in order to see Paris without the heavy tourist population of warmer weather and also to travel in Normandy. First of all, the ship's crew and the cruise director were all ... Read More
We chose Viking's The Heart of Normandy in the fall in order to see Paris without the heavy tourist population of warmer weather and also to travel in Normandy. First of all, the ship's crew and the cruise director were all faultlessly polite and efficient. They performed flawlessly and were superb. The issue is that this is the cruise that wants to be a cruise but isn't. This was our 3rd Viking cruise. We previously sailed on the Danube and the Rhine with Viking. On those cruises there was local, highly talented local entertainment brought on board each night. Where those 2 ships docked was right in the town or city we were visiting. Bus rides were 30 minutes at the most, if even that, IF we had to take a bus. On those cruises we typically walked out of the ship right up to our guides and we took off on our walking tours. However, The Heart of Normandy offered the best guides of all 3 cruises. The guides were passionate and well informed and spoke English perfectly. There were no university students as guides, as on other Viking cruises. The guide narrations on The Heart of Normandy were the best in my Viking experiences. The down sides of The Heart of Normandy are: 1. You dock in Le Pecq, where there is nothing and no metro station to get into Paris. Le Pecq was an hour minimum by bus from Paris in the late evening and much, much longer by day due to city traffic. 2. We spent so much time in buses on this cruise. The time spent on location sightseeing was disportionate to the amount of time spent on buses. 3. The trip to the Normandy Beaches was 1.5 hours one way. We had only 15 minutes in the cemetery before the ceremony where over 11,000 souls are buried or recorded on the wall. There was no time to go into the museum there. The remembrance ceremony was nice. For being a highlight of the tour, we had scant time at the cemetery. The 2 stops to see German pillboxes and bunkers along Omaha Beach were well worth it but again we saw little compared to what all there is to see. We simply had so little time overall for the WW2 Normandy aspect of the cruise. 4. Monet's Giverny was closed for the season and Vernon was substituted. We saw actually nothing of Van Gogh and his work except his grave. We were in his town, yes, but it was hardly an art experience. 5. Les Andelys was a rugged upward walk for the older passengers, and many could not do it. Once up to the castle ruins, the view of the Seine and village is pretty, but the ruins of the castle bear such little resemblance to the paintings and drawings the guides show you that you cannot make any connection between the ruins and what the castle supposedly looked like originally. There is not enough of the castle left for this to be a full day on the cruise. 6. Les Andelys was the only opportunity for any shopping. There were 3 or 4 little shops in this village. If you did not want tablecloths or homemade jewelry, you were out of luck. There is not enough in this village to substantiate time there. 7. The paid excursions were basically stay-on-the-bus-the-whole-time tours. The Night Tour of Paris was just that except for 10 minutes at the Eiffel Tower. The Highlights of Paris Tour was on-the-bus-the-whole-time, save Notre Dame. The Louvre Tour, while good for showing you the major art pieces and with an excellent guide, pushed you to the bus afterwards with nary a minute for a Louvre gift shop. 8. We had entertainment as in performers coming onboard only one night of the cruise. The other nights the Viking piano player played games with us. 9. Our Viking booking agent booked us with a "guaranteed upgrade" for our room. Every time we called her to ask about our room, she'd say, "Oh, don't worry, you will get the upgrade and you won't get a small veranda room." We did not get the upgrade. We had a tiny room with 3 drawers for 2 people's things and a tiny closet. We had no chair to sit on in the room and no desk area. The room was very small and we received no upgrade. Beware, consumers, of this booking angle. However, the room and bathroom were maintained flawlessly to be clean. Again, I want to stress that the Viking crew and program director--who I imagine were given this route, this dock at Le Peqc, the schedule and the route with no input from them--did the best that they could. However, the cruise was very sparse on entertainment and even sparser on cultural lectures or a simple lecture about life in France--because there were no such lectures. In closing, the Seine is too far from Normandy for Viking to feature the WW2 beaches as a vital part of this cruise, and Paris is too far from Le Pecq and Paris traffic is too congested for Viking to emphasize the Paris aspect of the trip. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
I have been on two river cruises in Europe with two different companies and can't help but compare. While we enjoyed our cruise with Viking, I felt Uniworld was a better experience. First, as others have noted, docking in Le Pecq ... Read More
I have been on two river cruises in Europe with two different companies and can't help but compare. While we enjoyed our cruise with Viking, I felt Uniworld was a better experience. First, as others have noted, docking in Le Pecq instead of Paris is very inconvenient. Their smaller ships can dock in Paris, so why not ditch the longship and dock in Paris? The shuttle Viking provides to/from Paris were often at inconvenient times, and not frequent enough. On the last day, we went into Paris on the shuttle at 9 am, and returned via taxi at about 3, and it cost us 50 euros and took 50 minutes. If you went back during rush hour, it would cost a lot more since in Paris the meter runs when you're stuck in traffic. They don't provide enough information in advance of the cruise about the shuttle and the fact that there is a briefing at 6:15 pm followed by dinner at 7 pm on the first day. I had to write to the ship's concierge to find out how late we could get to the ship from Paris, where we were spending the day, and to find out that the Viking shuttles would leave Paris at 5 and 9 pm on boarding day. Too late in our opinion, so we arranged for a van to take the four of us and our bags to the ship, which cost us 90 euros. Decor: I find the Scandinavian wood-laden decor a bit stark and blah. Uniworld's ships are more opulent, and each cabin is decorated differently. While the Uniworld ship I was on was a bit over-the-top in the decor category in my opinion, it still gave a more luxurious feel. Crew: Both crews were very nice, friendly, and efficient. But there was a certain something about Uniworld's crew that beats Viking. They have a butler in a tuxedo who greets you for dinner every night. They introduce the dining room crew and chefs on the first night in a humorous and fun "show." The captain made himself visible at dinners on Uniworld, whereas the captain on Viking was invisible except for briefly on the last night. I felt more taken care of on Uniworld, for instance water glasses were always kept full. But to be fair, we had some great waiters on Viking and made a point of sitting in their section every time. The Viking cleaning crew did a great job and always greeted us in the hallway, but on Uniworld they greeted us with our names. Small things like that add up. Dining: The food on Uniworld is gourmet all the way -- I never had anything that wasn't OUTSTANDING. On Viking, I would say the food is good, but usually nothing to write home about. On the Uniworld cruise, the chefs -- they have their own pastry chef too -- were French and really spectacular. There is one more course on Uniworld too -- salad/soup. Many times on Uniworld at lunch the pastry chef created something special, like homemade ice cream, and served it herself. Itinerary: One good thing about the Viking itinerary is that they give you an extra day in Paris at the end. Previously, they spent the last day in Conflans. Hmmm, Conflans versus Paris -- Paris wins, hands down! I think they made this change to help make up for the docking in Le Pecq situation. They also gave a night tour of Paris, which helped make up for it too. At the D-Day beaches stop, Viking gave us each a rose to leave on a grave of our choice, and they organized a really nice ceremony at the American cemetery. We sang the National Anthem, had a moment of silence, and a French woman from the cemetery said a few words of thanks to the American people. They called up the veterans on the cruise to the front and said a few words of thanks to them. It was all very moving. The Giverny stop is a must-see, and I highly recommend going after April 1 when it's open. Overall, we had a good time on the Viking Rinda. Good, not great. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2016
The adverts looked very appealing...and the time fit in with a visit to Italy. We were disappointed that the boat was NO WHERE NEAR PARIS...and their offered tour of Paris was more or less a drive by view from a bus. Being a fairly ... Read More
The adverts looked very appealing...and the time fit in with a visit to Italy. We were disappointed that the boat was NO WHERE NEAR PARIS...and their offered tour of Paris was more or less a drive by view from a bus. Being a fairly seasoned traveler, I was forearmed and our group was able to schedule our own time pre-cruise in Paris thereby enabling us to spend more quality time at must see sites. The ship tours were ok, but Monet's garden was not yet open (the beginning of season)...which is great in other respects, i.e. smaller crowds at sites. ...so a compromise in that respect. At least we avoided the torrential rains! All in all, I would give Viking another chance, preferably in nicer weather so we could more full enjoy the amenities such as the outdoor dining, and such. The staff and crew could not have been more enjoyable. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2015
1. Summary: After reading & watching the Viking advertisements and paying top dollar, we were disappointed; we paid for gold, but the Vikings delivered only bronze. We did see a lot of Paris and we did see a lot of other parts of ... Read More
1. Summary: After reading & watching the Viking advertisements and paying top dollar, we were disappointed; we paid for gold, but the Vikings delivered only bronze. We did see a lot of Paris and we did see a lot of other parts of northern France. However, the itinerary could have easily been adjusted to give more time in Paris, Versailles, and Normandy and less time in little villages/towns that were carbon copies of the other little villages/towns that we saw on the previous day. The food was mostly "ho-hum" average, with a few really great meals and a few total epicurean disasters. They filled our glasses with wine at every opportunity during lunch and dinner, and champagne was available at breakfast if we felt the need. On a scale of 1 (Poor) to 10 (Fabulous) we rated the trip at "6" and most of the other passengers that we talked with on the cruise were in agreement. The overall issue that drove us crazy was the schizophrenic nature of the cruise: one night we would get a truly great meal at dinner, but the next night was just awful; one day we would enjoy a very interesting and well planned guided tour but the next day we were left to wander a small town with yet another gothic church and not much else. If you're a zealous history buff, you may find everything to be exceptionally interesting, but how many gothic churches and former palaces can you visit in one week? France is littered with them. We would have preferred to have had more time at Normandy, the Louvre, and Versailles. Recommendations: Bring comfortable walking shoes and a hat, you will need them. If you plan to take this trip, please remember to put the camera or iPhone down once in a while and actually LOOK at the scenery, paintings, sculptures and other attractions with your own eyes. It's very easy to only see France through the 2-inch screen on the back of your camera and miss out on actually BEING there. We saw countless tourists solidly glued to their cameras throughout the tours, desperately trying to get the perfect picture of something or other, or hell-bent on getting a selfie with the Mona Lisa. I confess that I fell into that "give me photo or give me death" category more than once. Also, consider skipping lunch to spend more time in the venues; you can grab some quick ice cream or chocolate crepes or even eat at a cafe without having to take the bus back to the boat. Disclaimer: This was our first trip to Paris and/or France and our first vacation on a Viking River Cruise or any river cruise for that matter. We have previously taken two European vacations to Italy (Rome, Florence, Capri, Pompeii, Venice, Sorrento, and Assisi). We have been on 4 or 5 Royal Caribbean cruises (to the Caribbean) over the last 20 years, plus a Royal Caribbean cruise to Alaska and a cruise around the Hawaiian Islands. Also note that this trip took place in August; that's the month where most people in France head to the beaches and a whole lot of businesses are closed, especially the smaller "mom and pop" stores. Note: the French get at least 5 weeks of vacation each year, and they love to use it. The good news was that the traffic was dramatically reduced because everybody was out of town, and since we spent a lot of time sitting on buses, that time really added up. Also note that we were booked on the "Rinda", the larger boat that can't dock in downtown Paris, so they docked Rinda in Le Pecq which is a small town about 15 miles west of Paris. The Viking people like to refer to Le Pecq as "a suburb of Paris" but that's like calling Baltimore a suburb of Washington DC. They constantly told us that it only took 20 minutes to drive from Le Pecq to Paris, but the helicopter must have been in the shop while we were there since the trip was consistently 55 to 60 minutes one way every time we got on the bus; the red lights and construction zones didn't go on holiday. 2. Airlines - Getting There: They won't make your flight reservations when you sign up for the cruise and pay in full, so you have no idea of what arrangements are going to be made on your behalf until 30 days prior to the cruise. We flew out of Washington DC (Dulles) and they put us on an Iceland Air flight to Iceland (5.5 hours), and then another Iceland Air flight to Paris (3.5 hours). We had about one hour between flights in Keflavik (Reykjavik) where it was 40 degrees (F) at noon on the 3rd of August! Be prepared to be seated on the least expensive flights to and from Paris and for many this means hours of additional travel time; so when some passengers arrive on the ship they may not be in the best of spirits! It seemed that everybody we talked with ended up going through a different stop on the way to Paris. Some went through Iceland, some went through Heathrow/London, some through Munich, some through Stockholm. One couple was flying back home to Baltimore from Paris through Chicago with a 4 hour wait in Chicago. It was interesting that when we switched planes in Iceland, the authorities checked our passports, but when we landed in Paris, there was no immigration or customs; we went from the baggage carousel directly to the public areas of the airport where our Viking representative greeted us and herded all of the passengers into one area prior to getting on the bus for Le Pecq. 3. Does Le Pecq equal Paris? When we booked our vacation back in December, the other Viking River Boats were sold out so the Rinda was our only choice for the first week in August. The advertisements say "Paris, Paris, and Paris" but the Rinda is docked in Le Pecq (sometimes referred to by the Viking folks as the "Port of Paris"). It's a 1-hour Viking-provided bus ride to downtown Paris (Louvre, Notre Dame) one-way, so we felt cheated out of valuable time that could have been better spent in the city. The La Pecq issue has become an 800 pound gorilla in the room; we got a special letter prior to departure that explained and defended Viking's use of Le Pecq and the Cruise Director tried to explain away the issue while we were onboard. One good thing about Le Pecq, they have a Monoprix store there (like a Walmart - just a few steps from the dock) where we bought several bottles of wine and some chocolate to enjoy while sitting on our veranda watching the shoreline of the Seine go by. There is a small refrigerator in the cabin and you can stuff 4 or 5 bottles of wine into it; there is a corkscrew in every room. During meals, the waiters will be happy to open a bottle of wine that you provide if you want to go that route. 4. Das Boat & Das Staff: We were in Cabin 335, an "A" Stateroom with the veranda. We had a king size bed with one chair, 2 end tables, a bureau for the clothes, a closet, a digital safe, a small refrigerator, and a flat screen TV. There was just enough room to walk around the bed. The bathrooms are small and the shower measured about 4 feet wide and 24 inches in depth at one end and 18 inches in depth at the other end. The larger staterooms include a sitting area and larger bathrooms and showers. The veranda was just wide enough for two chairs and a small table. We used the veranda during 3 days and 1 night for sipping wine and taking photos of the quaint villages/towns and scenery as we sailed down the Seine. The veranda became our favorite spot for private relaxation during travel time. If you don't get a veranda, the sundeck is always an option. The TV comes in handy; you can get CNN and BBC news, sports, Viking documentaries, maps of the cruise, movies and TV shows if you wish, but you can also listen to the Cruise Director's lectures in the room if you don't want to go up to the lounge before dinner. They also have a camera on the bow of the ship and you can watch the view on the TV 24/7. They provide a variety of music channels, and I found it amusing that what they call "Pop" music was mostly rock and roll from the 50s and 60s; I would have called that "Golden Oldies." The suitcases fit under the bed for storage, and a 220-volt hair dryer came with the room. You'll find three or four 110-volt outlets in the room along with three or four 220-volt outlets. They provided life jackets under the bed and a safety exercise was conducted the first afternoon, but they like to joke that if the ship goes down, they will be serving cocktails on the sun deck; the Seine is only about 9 or 10 feet deep in most places and the ship draws 6 feet of water so the boat doesn't have very far to go before hitting bottom and lifeboats are not required. Amazingly, the Seine is only about 100 yards wide in most places so you're never more than 40 or 50 yards from shore during the entire cruise. When it is necessary to turn the boat around, they have to cruise to a wide spot in the river, make the U turn and then cruise back to the ultimate destination. The Seine has 6 locks between Paris and Normandy (think "miniature Panama Canal") and it was very interesting every time we entered a lock and the boat went up or down about 12 feet in about 15 minutes. Tours of the wheelhouse are available over several days if you're interested in the technology; the boat has bow thrusters to help make turns or to dock, and they use radar even though the river is very narrow. 5. Where are the toilets? One of the first things that the Cruise Director (Michael B.) covered during the early daily briefings was the astonishing lack of public toilets all over France. We were warned to use any available rest rooms early and often because you would never know when and if you were going to find another one or how long the lines would be waiting to get into one. As a last resort, you might need to duck into a cafe, buy a glass of wine, and go stand in line at their unisex single-use restroom. "Depend" under garments might be a consideration for you! Unfortunately, because of the lack of facilities and the huge crowds at the venues, our group tours (typically 20 to 50 people) were delayed by 20 or 25 minutes every time we stopped for a potty break. At Versailles, the Louvre, Giverny, and Normandy, it wasn't unusual to see 10+ women waiting to get into the public ladies' rooms while there was no waiting at the men's room. Occasionally, we found rest rooms at a snack shop where they wanted 70 cents (cheaper than a glass of wine) to use the facilities when you can find them. 6. Paris: If you really want to "see Paris", you should consider booking a few days on the front end of the trip or the back end. We saw Notre Dame, the Louvre, and the Eiffel Tower (on the Viking excursions) and we walked mile after mile of Paris streets to visit some museums, stores and cafes on our own. We ended up spending 1 full day in Paris at the beginning of the trip and another full day (including a half day in Versailles) at the end of the trip. We do feel that by adjusting the schedule and reducing/ eliminating the time spent in Les Andeles, we would have enjoyed more time in Paris 7. Itinerary: As our first priority, we wanted to see Paris, Notre Dame, the Louvre, Versailles and Normandy. The other stops on the trip were expected to be icing on the cake. We soon realized that Paris requires a lot more time than previously planned, and we were not prepared for the long bus rides and having to wait in lines for everything including restrooms. And, since some of the less-interesting stops ate up more time on the schedule, we felt cheated out of time that we could have spent on our primary objectives. (See the "Excursions" paragraph below.) So Bottom Line: It was an "OK" itinerary, but it could have been much better. 8. Other Guests: The Rinda holds about 200 passengers. About 70 percent of the passengers appeared to be over 65. Maybe 10 percent of the passengers were under 30 with just a few under 18. The remaining 20 percent appeared to be between 30 and 65 years old. A few people were in wheel chairs or used a cane to get around. There are no tables for two on the Rinda, so unless you're travelling with a group, you'll be meeting lots of new people at every meal. So that you can prepare your answers in advance, here are the questions that are universally asked upon meeting unknown passengers: What is your name? Where are you from? Is this your first Viking Cruise? Where else have you traveled with Viking and around the world? What did you do before you retired? Where did you live before you retired? Are your children as deliriously happy, exceptionally smart, amazingly good looking, extraordinarily well educated, and hugely successful as our children? Note: If you intend to get creative with your answers, please coordinate with your travel partner(s) so that you all consistently tell the same fantasies during the cruise! Having said that, please note that we did meet five or six "very down to earth" couples who provided very pleasant dinner conversations and travel tips during the week. 9. Meals, Wines, and Lines: Our previous experiences on cruise ships always included excellent meals. The Vikings provided a few excellent meals, a few disasters, and mostly mundane fare. On top of that, the portions usually tended to be small with a few exceptions. I thought we had paid for "excellent" and "bountiful," but I guess I was mistaken. We learned a lot on the cruise. We discovered that by adding mushrooms and wine to chicken, you become a Coq au Vin chef, and adding a little cheese to cauliflower makes it "French Cauliflower." If you really want to impress your family, run your mashed potatoes through a pastry decorating bag, and then use a blowtorch to brown the top of the swirl; finally, jam a finger-sized piece of toast into the top of the swirl and you're ready for the kitchen on Rinda (smile). Spinach is "French spinach" when it is served in a pastry shell. If you buy wine, they will be happy to pull the cork for you - no problem, no charge. Dinners: The Split Pea soup was very good as was the French Onion soup and the Lobster/Shrimp Bisque (brown, not pink). The pork tenderloin was great. The Beef Wellington was very tasty but the meat was a little on the tough side, and the cheeseburger with fries was excellent; just like at the Outback Steak House. I had a prime rib dinner one night that was very good, but they served it with a little container full of BBQ sauce on the side. How strange; A1 steak sauce would have been much more welcomed. The Coq au Vin consisted of a leg and a thigh with some mushrooms and some kind of wine sauce; it was OK but the portion was on the small side. The plain chicken breast was a safe alternative but totally uninspiring. We tried to avoid ordering things that we didn't recognize on the menu. I ordered the penne pasta with shrimp one night and I got a large bowl of pasta with a plain tomato sauce that reminded me of SpaghettiOs eaten during my childhood, along with three (3) shrimp. Yes, I said three (3) medium sized shrimp. I was insulted and I should have sent it back but I didn't. Later in the week they served a shrimp cocktail appetizer that had 2 large shrimp, thus confirming my conclusion that three medium shrimp does not a meal make. That shrimp cocktail appetizer featured two large raw shrimp that were only partially deveined so I had to finish off the deveining task myself. I was tempted to cook the shrimp over the candle on the table, but I didn't want to make a scene on the Seine. One of our tablemates ordered the scallops one night and got four (4) golf ball-size scallops; the presentation was very nice but the portion size was "skimpy." The night after having the excellent cheeseburger, I decided to give the "Pulled Pork Sandwich with Cole slaw and fries" a try, and I ended up getting a Kaiser roll with a compressed pork patty that looked like a 3-inch pancake. The slaw came in a small cup with a few fries alongside. Has this chef ever been to Texas? What was he thinking? At the very least, he could have done some research on the Internet. Salads are not typically served with dinner on Rinda, but if you ask, you can get a Caesar salad added to your order. The house wine flowed like water; the waiters refilled our glasses every 10 minutes like clockwork. We received some interesting appetizers; one was a teaspoon filled with some kind of fish chutney; somebody suggested that it was raw tuna but we never managed to verify that guess. I got the steak tartar one night - very thinly sliced raw beef with a tasty sauce. The thought of eating anything raw scares the heck out of me, but when in France, do as the French, right? Lunch: We skipped a lot of lunches to stay at the venue du jour and avoid spending time on the bus and sitting for an hour or more on the boat for lunch. Our Viking-provided lunch at a restaurant in Normandy consisted of wine, a salad, Coq au Vin, scalloped potatoes, some zucchini, cans of soda, and a chocolate dessert. Unfortunately, it took 1.5 hours to get through lunch; that time would have been better spent at the museum. One day on Rinda, we stood in a line 10 deep (20 minutes) to get some French-sounding spaghetti thing for lunch. They put some olive oil in a skillet, added spaghetti, threw in some bland tomato sauce, and sprinkled some herbs on top. After simmering that for 4 or 5 minutes it was ready to eat. Again, the taste reminded me of childhood SpaghettiOs. If I ever go on another Viking cruise, I'll bring a jar of Ragu. The French are very big on having salads for lunch, and one day we did the Rinda lunch buffet which included salad, egg salad, pasta salad, some other salads, sausages, pickled herring, and cauliflower covered in cheese. Thankfully, the dessert table was exceptional and my willpower caved in as I sampled a large variety of cakes, pies, cookies, and candy. Hats off to the pastry chef; he never disappointed. If you're going to France for the wine and pastry you will be in heaven. Breakfast: Rinda serves a great breakfast. They make omelets to order at the buffet line but you might have to stand in line for 15 minutes to get one. Recommendation: Order an omelet from the waiter and you'll get in 3 or 4 minutes from the kitchen. You can also order pancakes, French toast (very dry), eggs, juices, eggs Benedict, and other items from the menu. The buffet selections were endless: champagne, omelets, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, oatmeal, granola, cereals, yogurts, pastries, bagels, toasted bread, croissants, smoked salmon, fresh fruits, hot stuff that I didn't recognize, some kind of crackers that I didn't recognize, muffins, you name it and it was there. We had absolutely no complaints when it came to breakfast, except that they could have cooked more than one omelet at a time at the buffet table to speed things up. 10. Airport & Driver Issues: Our bus drivers were pleasant, competent and punctual for almost all of the trips with the exception of our return trip to the airport on the last day. That particular driver was late arriving, texted and talked on her cell phone, and even started to read off the list of terminals that each passenger was headed to, all while driving at 60 mph on the highway. I was going to yell "put down that phone" while she was changing lanes with one hand, but I didn't know how to say that in French, and she didn't speak English! Also, the Viking representative at the airport took us to the wrong part of the terminal for our Iceland Air flight back to the US, and we would still be there if it wasn't for another passenger finding the ticket counter on his own and leading the way for the rest of us to the right part of the terminal. I think the Vikings are more worried about the arriving passengers than the departing passengers. 11. Excursions: Excursions are good. One major issue when you're exploring on your own is having to wait in line for an hour or more when trying to get into a museum (usually a former palace) or other venue; that's not a problem when you're on a Viking excursion since they have group tour tickets with timed entry. Also, having a tour guide is really great since they know where the important stuff is located (it would have been very easy to get lost in the Louvre), they can give you the historical background, and they know where to find the restrooms. Unfortunately, after the (mostly) 2+ hour tours were over, we only got about 30-45 minutes of "free time" which is just enough time to visit the gift shop and hit the restroom before getting back on the bus; not enough time to really go off and explore. We tried to get around that problem in Paris by skipping the trip back to the boat for a lunch; that way we could spend more "free time" in Paris and catch the last bus back to the boat later that afternoon. We were lucky; the weather was perfect throughout the week except for a little light rain while we were inside the Louvre, but we didn't need the Viking-provided umbrellas at all. The Viking folks provide bottles of water every time you leave the ship - take a few - you'll need them. They also provide little radio receivers (about the size of a cell phone) with earpieces so you can hear the tour guide speaking even if you're 100 feet away; that worked out great since the museums are loud and packed solid with people and we didn't have to stand next to the guide in order to hear her/him. Day 1 - Le Pecq & St. Germain: You can tour the town of St. Germain with a guide in the afternoon to see churches and a former palace, and you can buy wine or other essentials at the Monoprix store in Le Pecq, just a few steps from Rinda's pier. There is a pretty good view of Paris in the distance across the Seine from the Palace in St. Germain. We found an ice cream shop just across the street from the Palace where we sat and enjoyed a break from the walking as we watched the locals for a while. If you arrive from the airport early enough, you can take a Viking bus to Paris, and skip St. Germain, but we arrived at 3 p.m. after the last bus to Paris had already left. St. Germain was interesting since it was our first stop in France; plus we were sleep-deprived from the flight so I'm not sure we could have survived an intense afternoon in Paris. Bottom line: St. Germain was an "OK" stop on the itinerary, but not very special when compared to Paris, Rouen, Versailles and Normandy. Day 2 - Notre Dame & Paris: We took the Viking tour of the Notre Dame Cathedral in the morning, but our group had to stand in line for about an hour waiting to get in; no timed tickets there. Then we spent the rest of the day exploring Paris on our own: walking to the Latin Quarter, and walking past the Louvre, walking through the shopping districts and walking around a lot of monuments. We had lunch in a small cafe in the Latin Quarter - Pizza and wine no less. Then we walked up the Champs-Elysses to the Petite Palace to catch the bus back to the ship at 5 p.m. So, except for lunch, we walked the entire day. Bring comfortable shoes. The Eiffel tower was plainly visible off in the distance, but it was too late in the day to visit it, and we were booked on the night tour of Paris on the last day when you get to visit the tower when it is all lit up. Bottom line: The first day in Paris was "good." If you can't read a map, and/or you can't walk long distances, you should plan on bringing money for a taxi or a bicycle rickshaw so that you can get around Paris and make it to the return bus on time. Day 3 - Vernon, Giverny & Monet: If you're into art, this is like dying and going to heaven. We took the Viking tour (including express tickets to enter the property and a guide to provide the walking tour) to visit the vast gardens and ponds (complete with lily pads) that Monet used for inspiration when he painted. It was kind of like actually walking through some of his paintings. Then we took a tour of Monet's house (after waiting in line for 40 minutes) including his personal art collection. The gift shop there has a wide variety of unique items, all geared toward Monet of course. There are a few museums and cafes there in the small town of Giverny, but we didn't have time to visit any of them. Day 4 - Rouen - Joanie on the Pony: Rouen was where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake, not exactly Disneyworld, but if you appreciate the religious and historical perspective, you'll probably enjoy the trip. The town is fascinating because a lot of the original medieval structures are still standing and the narrow cobblestone streets wind through the city - it's "Old France". Rouen offered endless shops, cafes, and fast food opportunities (think: chocolate-filled crepes, ice cream, chocolate/ candy and McDonalds) along with small art galleries and clothing stores. There's a modern church in the square where Joan met her maker; it's just across from the restaurant where Julia Child became interested in French cooking. Rouen was one of the better venues on the itinerary. Day 5 - Normandy Beaches: The first thing we found out on this tour was that the landing beaches at Normandy cover over 50 miles; that's more than the distance from Atlantic City to Cape May, NJ. It was a 2-hour bus ride from the Seine to the coast. Along the way, our guide provided a large amount of background information along with personal stories about her grandparents' dealings with the occupying Germans during the war. The trip focused on the American cemetery and the beaches where the "Mulberry" artificial harbors were used to offload men and supplies after the initial invasion. Unfortunately, we simply drove slowly past many other beaches that contained dozens of relics and several museums on our way to Arromanches where we saw dozens of the concrete breakwaters still sitting on the flats at low tide more than 1/4 mile out from the shoreline. We lost about 20 minutes after arriving due to the long lines at the restrooms. The museum there was packed with people and we had time to watch a 30-minute film that documented the preparations and landings, but we didn't have much time to walk through the extensive museum because the Viking tour focused on feeding everyone lunch at a local restaurant - an hour and a half of valuable time that we would have skipped if we had known how long lunch was going to take. (A crepe or an ice cream on the street would have been sufficient; you might want to consider skipping the sit-down lunch if you go.) It's a shame that we spent more time in the restaurant than we did in the museum or on the beach. After the stop at the Arromanches beach, we headed for the American Cemetery where we walked through the sea of marble crosses and Stars of David that marked the graves of more than 9,800 servicemen and women. We witnessed a memorial service there which was quite moving. The visitor's center/museum was excellent; we spent about an hour there. Then we headed to Omaha Beach at Saint Laurent Sur Mer to see a memorial and the beach where the Americans landed. Day 7 - Les Andeles: They could have skipped Les Andeles all together. When we arrived, a carnival had taken over the docking area so the reality of the surroundings didn't look at all like the Viking Cruise commercials that we saw on TV. There's a partially-destroyed castle on the top of a high hill near the town, and it's a long uphill (steep) climb to get there - maybe a half mile or more. The cruise director previously warned us that the castle tour was not for everyone. We had to stop several times along the way to let everyone catch their breath and wait for stragglers. The view of the Seine and surrounding areas from the castle was beautiful. The Cruise Director acted as our guide and he provided an incredible amount of information about Richard the Lionheart and the history of the castle. There was a quaint restaurant at the bottom of the hill and the nearby town provided yet another gothic church, one or two cafes, and a shop or two, but spending an entire day there walking the cobblestones felt like a waste of time since we had already been to Giverny and Le Pecq. We actually resorted to playing miniature golf on Rinda's sun deck for a lack of things to do that afternoon. Les Andeles was one of the most disappointing venues on the itinerary. Day 8 - Louvre: We paid 69 Euros each for the Viking-provided Louvre tour. We arrived with our tour guide at a few minutes before 9 a.m. just before the doors opened. We were the second group in line at the "Group" entrance so we got in very quickly. The Louvre is enormous and 10 million tourists visit it each year. Our guide walked us through several sections over 2 hours which included the "must see" Venus de Milo, the Mona Lisa, and the winged goddess of Victory statue. You can take pictures as long as you don't use flash. By the time we got to the Mona Lisa, the room was crammed with several hundred visitors, each of whom were determined to get a "selfie" with the smiling lady. As you can imagine, the pushing and shoving got pretty intense (we were warned about this prior to the tour) not unlike trying to get into the Sistine Chapel on Easter Sunday or trying to get near the Trevi fountain at noon in Rome. They also warned us to be careful to protect ourselves against pickpockets. We had some free time after the tour ended (hello gift shop), and we decided to skip the bus trip back to the boat for lunch and head out on our own to explore Paris. We had "brunch" at a great little cafe just a few blocks north of the Louvre; it was called Le Pain Quotidien Saint-Honore (address: 18 place du Marche, they also have a web page!). Our selections included: wine, salad, a baguette, and Quiche Lorraine - all for 37 Euros (for two). Very picturesque, very relaxing, great food, good portions, and they had a one-at-a-time unisex restroom! They even had an English menu and the waiters spoke enough English to take our order. After wandering through Paris for another hour or so after brunch, we were able to get the Viking bus at 2 p.m. that took us from the Petite Palace to Versailles for the afternoon Versailles Palace tour. Day 8 - Versailles: We paid 79 Euros each for the Viking-provided Versailles tour. We arrived on the Viking bus around 2:45 p.m. The Palace at Versailles was huge, and the crowds were even bigger. They told us that the gardens covered 750 acres - that's big. This place was the king's hunting lodge! The reflecting pool was a mile long - that's big. The first thing you notice is gold; gold on the gates, gold on the roof, gold on the statues, and that's before you even get into the building. Once inside past the metal detectors, there is gold on all the walls, gold on all the furniture, golden clocks, golden sculptures, golden lamps, gold on the chandeliers, gold on the ceilings, gold woven into the fabrics, and the place is littered with priceless paintings and other sculptures. No wonder the starving masses staged the French Revolution. We had timed tickets for 3 p.m. and our guide got us in the door a few minutes before 3 so we were just a little ahead of schedule. Once inside, we (again) lost 20 minutes for a potty break. Then we became part of a traveling beehive of humanity that swept us along the halls and rooms like a huge mass of logs heading down a river toward a sawmill. The camera on my battery died after 300+ pictures that day, just before we got into the Hall of Mirrors, so I had to switch to my iPhone for the remainder of the day. Our tour guide described the incredibly staggering opulence enjoyed by the king, queen and several thousand of their closest friends at Versailles while we viewed the endless rooms, chambers, halls, and a chapel that looked like a small version of the Sistine Chapel. After our guided tour ended, it was "hello gift shop", and then we had an hour or so to visit the gardens (they required a separate Viking-provided ticket). The fountains, sculptures and reflecting ponds were endless and literally breathtaking. We noticed two soldiers carrying assault rifles while we were there; the first time for that. In Paris you will see police with pistols, some on rollerblades, some on motorcycles, most in cars, but Versailles was the only place we saw assault rifles. Day 8 - Night Tour & Eiffel Tower: The Viking bus drove us around Paris on our last night to see the Seine, and all the significant monuments, bridges, palaces and shopping districts. Then we stopped at the Eiffel Tower to disembark and watch them put on the 10-minute light show at 10 p.m. It was quite spectacular - definitely worth the trip, especially since we didn't visit the tower on our previous treks across Paris. The grounds around the tower were packed; similar to (but not as large as) people watching fireworks on the 4th of July at the Washington Monument in DC. It was a great way to end our trip before heading back to the ship to pack our suitcases. Bottom line: Day 8 in Paris/Versailles was "very good." We finally got to see the Louvre, Versailles and the Eiffel Tower and we got to sit in a little cafe for a very nice meal and some wine. It was a very long day, but it was worth it. Too bad everything had to be crammed into one day. Day 8 was a Sunday in August, so lots of stores and cafes were closed, but enough were open to meet our needs. 12. Viewing the Seine from our Private Balcony: The boat usually travels at 15 to 20 MPH with plenty of quaint villages/towns along the way. Chalk colored cliffs lined the Seine for about 25% of the trip. Occasionally we would see rail yards and industrial areas with graffiti on the walls and bridges. We passed lots of barges and a few powerboats. We enjoyed our private time on the balcony with wine and chocolate; if you don't book a room with the veranda, the sun deck is the best option. 13. Language Issues: I confess, all I really know about the French language I learned from Pepe Le Pew cartoons as a child (smile). 95% of the time English was spoken fluently. Everyone on Rinda spoke fluent English. Most people that we met on the tours (waiters, shop keepers, cashiers, and museum staff) spoke English. Of course, the tour guides spoke fluent English. In one chocolate shop in Rouen the staff didn't speak English or they refused to but we still managed to get some samples and purchase "Tears of Joan of Arc" chocolate drops. Please note that although just about everyone speaks English, they typically have thick accents and they may not speak "American English" so you might have to ask for clarifications from time to time. We bought one of those "Learn French Fast" CD courses at Costco for $39.95 a couple of months prior to our trip, but we never got much past "Hello, goodbye, thank you very much, please, where is the toilet," and counting from one to 10; and as it turned out, we really didn't need to speak French although it was fun trying. 14. Money: Bring Euros with you; except for the airport gift shop in Iceland and gratuities on Rinda at the end of the cruise, dollars are not accepted anywhere, although credit cards seemed to work anywhere. 15. Conclusion: Now it's back to work, back to a low carb diet, and I have to download 1,000+ photos and videos from my camera and iPhone and create a DVD Slideshow for posterity. I can't wait to read your assessment of Rinda after you get back from your trip. We are not planning to book another Viking River Cruise. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2015
This trip was to start and end in Paris. Join the boat on Monday, stay in Paris Tuesday and return for a full day at the dock in Paris on Sunday to disembark on Monday. The dock was pictured on the Seine not far from the Eiffel Tower. The ... Read More
This trip was to start and end in Paris. Join the boat on Monday, stay in Paris Tuesday and return for a full day at the dock in Paris on Sunday to disembark on Monday. The dock was pictured on the Seine not far from the Eiffel Tower. The booklet from Viking showed the dock (p. 29) near the Pont de Grenelle. The online docking information showed it at Quai Maurice Berteaux, Le Pecq. The map said PARIS in the corner. LePecq ? A different section of Paris? Not sure what to tell our cab I called Viking before leaving and was told go to Pont de Grennelle. On arriving near Pont de Grennelle, the Rinda was not to be seen. I called Viking and was told the river was high and they could not dock there. Go to the Pont de Grennelle and a shuttle would take you to the ship. It turned out to be a 45 minute ride to the boat. It was out beyond the suburbs - beyond the Metro. Not the easy stroll to see the sights we had pictured. No relaxing on the deck in view of the lights of Paris. Two and a half days of Paris only reached by long bus rides. The rest of the itinerary was very nice, but a quarter of the trip was to be docked in Paris. We later learned that the water was not "high", but that they had not gotten a permit to dock in Paris - perhaps because this new boat is bigger than the older Viking boats. No matter the reason, I felt deceived. I would not have gone on this cruise. Most likely, I would have done another Viking trip. This was our third Viking River boat trip. As with the others, the service was wonderful, the crew was the best, the food was great. But not being in Paris was too much to overcome. This was surely our last Viking trip. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2015
We returned from our Paris- Normandy cruise on May 25th. We were on the Rinda. It is one of their newer ships- so we were obviously looking forward to that. Unfortunately, the fact that it was newer- and longer than their other ships- ... Read More
We returned from our Paris- Normandy cruise on May 25th. We were on the Rinda. It is one of their newer ships- so we were obviously looking forward to that. Unfortunately, the fact that it was newer- and longer than their other ships- had a negative impact on the cruise. If you are taking this river cruise (Paris – Normandy), you will not be staying in Paris. You will be a minimum of 40 minutes away and it could be as much as an hour- depending on traffic, time of day etc. The other Viking ships are a block or less from the Eiffel tower. The shuttle service to Paris was sporadic which limited access. Some people did not wish to spend 10 hours in Paris waiting for the first shuttle home. We lost the ability to meander in Paris, visit café’s….go out to dinner because we did not have easy access. This was a big disappointment to us- Here is what they did really well and good- Really Well/Good: • If you arranged your transfers with them, their airport teams were excellent. Going home, the representative walked us thru the entire process and when he could go no further, provided a map with comments to ensure we had no issues- well done! • The staff on the ship was excellent. The Dining staff and house cleaning staff- were excellent • The Reception staff and Program Director were excellent and unfortunately they had to address the people on the cruise that were disappointed because of location. • The excursions were excellent- especially at Normandy. Very moving and very well done. My only issue here was it was a 2 ½ hour bus ride EACH way and there was no bathroom on board the bus and they made no stops. They told us this in advance, which scared some people from making the long trip. • The food was good (not exceptional) - very French. We were limited in options. It was dining room or casual dining. • The scenery from the boat was beautiful- this you do not get on an Ocean cruise. • Tours and most drinks included in the overall price- we didn’t have to spend a fortune on board Not Well Done: • If you did not do the transfers with them, you wound up at the Eiffel tower looking for the Rinda. It was not communicated in advance that we would not be there. It should have been clearly communicated. We had transfers with Viking so we weren’t impacted but others had to get a cab to take them out to where the Rinda was. • If communicated in advance, the majority of the people would have at least set their expectation- this was not done. Read Less
Viking Rinda Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 0.0
Dining 4.0 0.0
Entertainment 3.0 0.0
Public Rooms 5.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 1.0 0.0
Family 1.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 0.0
Enrichment 4.0 0.0
Service 4.0 0.0
Value For Money 3.0 0.0
Rates 4.0 N/A

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