74 Viking River Viking Heimdal Cruise Reviews

We had visited northern France before, but never southern France. Friends had told us great praises about the Avignon area and we had relatives living on the southern coast of France, so we wanted to combine the great experience of a ... Read More
We had visited northern France before, but never southern France. Friends had told us great praises about the Avignon area and we had relatives living on the southern coast of France, so we wanted to combine the great experience of a river cruise ( we had a great previous two-week cruise experience with Viking) with a visit to a part of France that we had never previously experienced. This cruise exceeded our expectations in almost every regard. River cruise boats have less than 200 passengers, so this is small by cruise standards, but this is just right for river cruising. The staff is very friendly and you get to know the cruise (program) director and many of the other staff personally. The executive chef on this cruise was outstanding. His selection of local specialties was great and the preparations were outstanding. Every evening meal was outstanding. The breakfasts and lunches were also very good. Embarkation was easy and disembarkation was very smooth and organized. Viking includes at least one free shore excursion at every stop. The tours we liked best were the Beaujolais Wine tour, the Lyon city tour, the Tournon steam train, and the Avignon Walk and Popes Palace. We also paid for optional tours of Pont du Gard Aqueduct (outstanding!) and Arles in Van Gogh's Footsteps (also outstanding!) . Although Viking carefully advises which tours require walking and some physical effort, and on most tours, Viking offers a "less demanding" option, some passengers overestimate their physical ability and they don't take the more leisurely tour, this they tend to hold back some groups on these tours. On this cruise we paid for, but were very disappointed in only one tour - to the timeless town of Perouges. There are numerous scenic old walled mountain towns/cities in France, and this is not among the best! Skip this one! Every Viking ship had its piano player who entertains nightly, and we have enjoyed the piano player and his music on this and previous cruises. Viking also brings on board entertainment one to three times a week, and these small entertainment groups are usually very good. The 4 person vocal group on this cruise was very entertaining one evening. Our experiences with Viking River Cruises have been great and we are already planning another river cruise for next year. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
This was the second cruise my wife and I have taken with Viking, the first one being the Danube 4 years ago and this one certainly matched, if not bettered the first. From the moment you step on board the service from the staff is first ... Read More
This was the second cruise my wife and I have taken with Viking, the first one being the Danube 4 years ago and this one certainly matched, if not bettered the first. From the moment you step on board the service from the staff is first class and that standard never slipped throughout the week. One of my major concerns was how I would be treated in respect of my gluten free diet. I need not have worried. After introducing myself to the female maître di and waiters at the first dinner, they recognized me at each meal time and were excellent at providing gluten free bread, specially prepared breakfasts such as French toast and pancakes and overall were just so knowledgeable and keen to get things just right. If you are coeliac you will understand how important it is to have that peace of mind on holiday. The only part of cruising which we couldn't undertake was the first short trip on the Saone river to Macon as the water levels were too high. As it turned out we went by coach to the vineyard travelling through amazing countryside and was probably more scenic than being on the boat. It also meant we spent a little bit longer in Lyon which is a beautiful historic city to explore on foot. The entertainment manager Christine was on top of her game - a real people person with a wicked sense of humour and all the other staff were extremely friendly and efficient. There are a lot of optional excursions on this cruise so you will never be without something to do or you can remain on the boat and chill out as we often did. The only downside of our trip was due to a late flight home, still being on board ship when the next lucky passengers arrived to start their week, we did think about trying to stowaway! All in all I would highly recommend this cruise, obviously try and pick the time of year when the rivers are less likely to be too high (or even too low) which can be difficult but if you are lucky as we were it is a very enjoyable experience. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
This was my first river cruise, and my travel companion had previously enjoyed a Viking cruise. Our Viking Travel Agent helped us find the best deal that would fit the sort of journey we were looking for. Everything on board fully met my ... Read More
This was my first river cruise, and my travel companion had previously enjoyed a Viking cruise. Our Viking Travel Agent helped us find the best deal that would fit the sort of journey we were looking for. Everything on board fully met my best expectations - indeed, I was very pleasantly surprised to discover my (very comfortable and well appointed) stateroom received attention no less than 3 times per day. The Viking newsletter, daily briefings and announcements assured that being on time for all excursions was effortless. I particularly enjoyed the Silver Spirits package and highly recommend it. We experienced a variety of included and optional shore excursions and was very happy with how everything was geared to making the experience as enjoyable and informative as possible. And the food! Yay for Chef Max! Rarely did I vary from the chef's recommendations, as they were always a delight. At first I was concerned that my travel buddy and I would feel a bit strange at a table with folks we didn't know, but we very quickly made some lovely acquaintances and by the third day were seeking each other out for a lively, completely enjoyable evening - we were, I believe, the last to leave the dining room on more than one occasion. Our regular server, Zuzan, I think is how it was spelled, was so informative and helpful that I fully belive that my enjoyment of my meals and accompanying wine choices were largely due to her advice. My cruise was before the unfortunate accident in September, but having spent time on the sun deck, walking laps or snapping pics of the Heimdal's passage through the locks, I had ample opportunity to observe first hand the undivided attention the captain and crew gave to each lock and bridge. I always felt my safety, and that of all passengers, was in good hands with our Viking crew. My only complaint has nothing to do with the cruise itself. When in the planning stages, I asked about flight booking possibilities for the additional leg I needed (from Bangor, ME to Philadelphia) as I don't live near a hub. I opted to book it myself since the estimated range of price given was more than what I could do myself directly with American. However, and this is a BIG however, because I booked the Bangor - Philadelphia round trip leg myself, it was a SEPERATE itinerary, which meant that I could NOT check my bag through from Bangor to Lyon (and back)...which meant I had to pay $25 for each leg ($50 total) to check my bag since Bangor to Philadelphia round trip is domestic....which ALSO meant I had to retrieve it from baggage claim in Philadelphia, actually LEAVE the airport building, walk 30 minutes to the furthest terminal from where I had landed (landed at terminal F, British Airways was terminal A East), check my bag and hope to get to my gate on time. It was not fun, especially since I had injured my left foot 2 days before departure and American Airlines told me I could expect NO assistance getting my bag from Terminal F to A East because that was outside security AND my flight from Bangor was nearly 2 hours late in arriving in Philadelphia. I would much rather have paid a bit extra for that part of the trip and been able to have it all on the same itinerary Next time (we are working on a possible 2 cruises in 2017) I will know better about how to handle flight booking, but it would have been SO helpful AND anxiety reducing if the booking agent had given me that VERY important bit of information. Bottom line, well done! Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
Our cruise party consisted of myself, my oldest daughter, my youngest sister and her oldest daughter. It started out being an opportunity to get together to go over genealogy information for our family. We did actually discuss genealogy, ... Read More
Our cruise party consisted of myself, my oldest daughter, my youngest sister and her oldest daughter. It started out being an opportunity to get together to go over genealogy information for our family. We did actually discuss genealogy, but the cruise had so much going on that it became secondary. We did have some excitement on this cruise--my daughter accidently got off the HEIMDAHL as it was leaving port--she went upstairs to watch the departure on the first night. There was a German ship tied closely to the HEIMDAHL and when she went up the steps, she was on the German ship. She had her glass of wine and no identification on her. None of us knew she was missing because the rest of our party went to bed. Fortunately, the ship administration eventually got her back by taxi in the middle of the night. Thanks to them for taking care of her. Later, she had the opportunity to repay with her nursing skills when another passage collapsed on the dance floor. This cruise took me to places where I have always wanted to visit, but only dreamed about previously. The weather in southern France was a bit too hot for me at that time of the year. Next time, I'd choose a different month. The dining was superb, service was outstanding. The ports and shore excursions were just the best ever. Our cabin was larger than I thought it would be. Ship entertainment was just that, "entertaining." I would love to go again. This was a trip to remember! Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
The level of service and personal attention (without being intrusive) on this cruise was wonderful! In a very short time the crew members have learned your preferences and make every effort to anticipate your needs. I was very impressed ... Read More
The level of service and personal attention (without being intrusive) on this cruise was wonderful! In a very short time the crew members have learned your preferences and make every effort to anticipate your needs. I was very impressed with the excellent way they handled an unexpected situation. There was a small but annoying problem with our stateroom. As soon as I told someone they were very responsive, sending people to try to fix the situation. After a couple of tries it seemed like this could not be quickly corrected. Several members of the crew collaborated and came up with a wonderful suggestion that positively delighted us. We are very grateful to Desi, Bea and the several other members of the crew behind the scenes who were quickly able to make this happen. They have made me a very loyal Viking Cruise fan. They really do sweat the details. The programs are put together very thoughtfully, yet our Program Manager, Nicholas, also encouraged us to go out on our own, and helped with recommendations. The food and special events were fun and often delicious. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
This was our fourth Viking cruise (supposed to be fifth but low water forced an unexpected cancelation previous year). All of our Viking cruises have been superb, this particular cruise exceeded that. Crew was incredible, condition of ... Read More
This was our fourth Viking cruise (supposed to be fifth but low water forced an unexpected cancelation previous year). All of our Viking cruises have been superb, this particular cruise exceeded that. Crew was incredible, condition of vessel couldn't have been better, food out of this world and the sites spectacular. Viking takes unbelievable care of it's guests without micromanaging them. The bang for the buck, even coming from the U.S. is excellent. My wife an I are both still in the active workforce, yet we already have two more Vikings on the books already. We also did an add on in Paris pre cruise and post cruise in Nice. We were well taken care of in both of these locations as well, touring both on our own and with Viking leadership. We always had a Viking representative close by that had a wealth of local knowledge. Our Nice representative even assisted us in getting a luggage repair from the hotel maintenance crew. We are very much fans of Viking. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
This was our first cruise (of any kind), and our expectations were mixed. We utilized Viking air service on both ends of the trip and the embarkation and disembarkation were flawless. We arrived at the ship just in time to get settled and ... Read More
This was our first cruise (of any kind), and our expectations were mixed. We utilized Viking air service on both ends of the trip and the embarkation and disembarkation were flawless. We arrived at the ship just in time to get settled and ready for dinner. The ship was marvelous. Our stateroom with balcony was well appointed and contained all of the necessities. It was not overly spacious -- but then we didn't spend a lot to time there. The lounge was comfortable and the staff friendly and welcoming. We particularly liked the open seating at meals, as that gave us the opportunity to meet and get to know a number of other couples. Some we enjoyed several meals with, others only one -- but all were enjoyable. We learned a lot form these experiences. Shipboard entertainment was limited, and that suited us just fine. The piano bar in the lounge was fun and entertaining. The service on board ship was excellent. From the Captain, to the Program Director, Concierge, to the wait staff and the housekeepers -- all were friendly and extremely helpful. One evening, in celebration of Viking's Travel and Leisure #1 ranking we had an opportunity to celebrate with the "whole" crew, including kitchen staff that we seldom saw. That was a particularly memorable evening. The ports of call, Arles, Avignon, Viviers, Tournon, Vienne, and Lyon were delightful. Having the opportunity to "drop out" and explore on our own was great. Several cities we visited were in the midst of festivals that added excitement -- but also crowds. Local shopping opportunities were a fun past time. My wife and I look forward to traveling with Viking again! Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
Traveling with Viking has always been a pleasure. This was our 3rd cruise with Viking. Our Cruise Director was incredible! He greeted us at the entrance to the boat and learned our names immediately. We suspect he knew everyone's name ... Read More
Traveling with Viking has always been a pleasure. This was our 3rd cruise with Viking. Our Cruise Director was incredible! He greeted us at the entrance to the boat and learned our names immediately. We suspect he knew everyone's name on the ship. We were most impressed with this young man. All of the staff were exemplary and went out of their way to see that we had a good time and that our needs were met. Our Chef was from Austria and prepared some very good dishes and you could always see him about the ship talking and getting feedback from passengers. Excursions were really well done with knowledgeable and friendly guides. Excursions are the highlight of our travel with Viking as well as the dining! We arrived in Marseille two days early on our own and had a local guide show us Aix en Provence. Delightful day and money well spent. We had paid for a transfer from Marseille to Avignon and that went fairly smoothly. The most frustrating portion of the transfer was pre-arrival when trying to get the logistics down with Viking customer service. That portion could have been more expedient without having to call numerous times to determine the transfer location and time. Once the transfer was in progress all went well and arrival at the ship was timely and we had a comfortable mini-van. We are Viking lovers and have four more cruises on the books over the next two years. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
Our first cruise ever! It was a very enjoyable river cruise. The ship is modern and comfortable. The crew was exceptional-- cheerful, friendly and extremely helpful. We particularly enjoyed our daily excursions, which were included. We ... Read More
Our first cruise ever! It was a very enjoyable river cruise. The ship is modern and comfortable. The crew was exceptional-- cheerful, friendly and extremely helpful. We particularly enjoyed our daily excursions, which were included. We also signed up for a couple of optional excursions and they were well worth the reasonable additional cost. The local guides were excellent without exception. Each person shared insights, history and local culture that we would never have known if we were traveling by ourselves! They all had interesting personalities and a sense of humor about what we were seeing or about French culture in general. The food on board was good to excellent. There is open seating at dinner so we didn't have to sit at the same table every day. Dinner was always well presented and the chef's recommendations were usually excellent. The "house" wines served with dinners were generally just "ok". We are from California so we value good wines. We did have a couple of glitches that required the crew to make adjustments in the schedule (high water and engine problems) but we felt that the changes were reasonable and did not really lessen our overall experience. The joy of a river cruise is that you can leave the ship everyday, see the sights etc and then come back home and not have to worry about repacking or driving to the next stop. It's all taken care of for you. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
Heard so many rave comments we chose Viking. Also Viking allowed some free time but not too much compared to other companies and that appealed to us. Very knowledgeable staff from Program Director to the person making up our bed in the ... Read More
Heard so many rave comments we chose Viking. Also Viking allowed some free time but not too much compared to other companies and that appealed to us. Very knowledgeable staff from Program Director to the person making up our bed in the cabin, Viking representatives met and transported us everywhere and the food was great. We thoroughly enjoyed learning about France, particularly walking around on our own and exploring. We immediately booked another trip for next year to different countries. We met wonderful people from other countries that made the learning experience so much more. We suggest Americans not be clique-ish and hang around with the same people/relatives/friends they grew up with and mix in more. Liked the idea of reading the menu a couple of hours before going into the dining area. We always ordered from the left side of the menu, the one with the very regional foods! Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
My husband and I are seasoned travelers to Europe and booked this excursion after a positive review from one of our trusted friends. The trip exceeded our expectations. The ship and cabin were very clean and comfortable, the crew most ... Read More
My husband and I are seasoned travelers to Europe and booked this excursion after a positive review from one of our trusted friends. The trip exceeded our expectations. The ship and cabin were very clean and comfortable, the crew most congenial and accommodating. Dining was superb with fresh ingredients prepared by a talented chef and kitchen. We ended up eating all of our meals on the ship because we knew that, even in Lyon, we would not find a more exquisitely prepared or tasty dinner. Several people who did venture into Lyon for dinner at one of the famous restaurants there came back to the ship disappointed. We love fine red wines and found that the options available in the "Silver Package" were quite good. The Beaujolais wines of this region of France are unique and were served for lunch and dinner. The ports and shore excursions along the Rhone River were interesting and conducted by local experts. Viking divided up the ship into smaller groups so that the excursions were very manageable. You always had the option of staying with the group or exploring on your own. We are very interested in history so the guides made the excursions all the more interesting with their expertise. Overall we were quite pleased with Viking and this method of experiencing Europe in a way that exceeded what you could do on your own. Viking made everything quite easy with gathering you up at the airport to seeing you off for your flight at trip's end. We will definitely schedule another river cruise on Viking! Bravo Viking!! Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
For context we are a couple in our mid forties who have taken many ocean cruises. We took the "France's Finest" trip which is two 1 week itineraries combined. This is a review of Portraits of Southern France on the Viking ... Read More
For context we are a couple in our mid forties who have taken many ocean cruises. We took the "France's Finest" trip which is two 1 week itineraries combined. This is a review of Portraits of Southern France on the Viking Heimdal. Viking handled the transfer between Paris and Chalone sur Saone to get us from the Viking Neptune to the Heimdal. It was handled very smoothly. The lunch stop in Dijon included a brief city tour by foot and a small amount of time for shopping. It is a long journey on the bus but it isn't too bad. Upon arrival at the Heimdal we were shown straight to our cabin. Our stateroom was a good size. It seemed smaller than our room on the Neptune but the ship is obviously fairly new and everything was in very good shape. The bathroom was large and modern and had heated floor and glass door shower. There was ample hot water and good water pressure. We had ample storage space. We were happy we hadn't paid for a balcony because the way the ship docked most days (right up against the pier or tethered to another ship) there would have been few opportunities to comfortably use it. We did have a french balcony and it was nice to be able to open the door for fresh air. The cabin had many outlets, both north american and european as well as a USB port. The bed was large and comfortable. There was a mini fridge in the room. The supplied toiletries had a very strong citrus scent. They provide a hair dryer and face cloths. The room did not have black out curtains. The ship was very stable and there was little noise in the room. The staff are very friendly. We appreciated the availability of a concierge to assist with land arrangements. Program director was not very engaging and could not read or control a crowd. Twice daily housekeeping was well done and we never saw our room steward, they were very efficient and discreet. We found the ship was very well organized, everything ran much more smoothly than a standard ocean cruise. Less paperwork, less lining up and waiting, less bureaucracy. We were celebrating our anniversary while onboard and we got special cake one night at dinner. The itinerary was well paced and included one morning and one afternoon (on different days) of sailing which was very relaxing. Also there was never a requirement to participate in any of the included tours so you could spend the entire week relaxing on board if you so chose. There were many tours included in the price plus some optionals at extra cost. We did not do most of the provided city tours because the pace was much too slow for us. They did offer "leisurely tours" for those who were of limited mobility which kept the pace of the other tours up a bit. I think the average age on this cruise was 65. The ship provides a detailed map of each port and the ship generally docks in the center of town so you can easily walk to all of the sights if you prefer to explore independently. The night walk in Viviers was wonderful. The tour of Avignon was very interesting. We were unable to dock in Tarascon as outlined on the itinerary so we spent an extra night docked in Avignon. Viking ensured that the excursions went on as planned and they also sailed up the river to the famous bridge after dinner one of those nights for a photo op. The optional excursion to Pont du Gard was very good, well worth seeing. There is an included possible tour in Vienne of the Gallo Roman museum...DO NOT DO IT! The amount of time spent at the museum is not worth the trouble of going. The museum itself is nice but the best part is the yard which is full of actual ruins. The tour does not include time to explore the yard however and you are told this upfront. We decided to leave the group and tour the yard ourselves while the others were inside. Also, be aware that this tour does not include a visit to the roman amphitheatre but you will see the temple of Augustus and Livia in town. The food was okay but nothing spectacular. Our largest complaint about the entire cruise was the dinners in the dining room. Each evening was a 2 hour ordeal. We enjoy a nice dinner out but sometimes you just want to eat and then relax. The cruise is meant to be social with one seating for dinner and no assigned seats. You sit with different people each night and socialize. It becomes tiring night after night. Thankfully they do offer an alternative to the long dinner, you can dine on the terrace. There is a set menu of 5 or 6 items that does not change during the week and the nightly dessert is available. There is limited seating but it is casual and faster than the dining room. Tips do not automatically go on the bill but you can charge them to your room when you settle your account. There were cool towels on arrival, bottled water available for each excursion, umbrellas available to borrow, free wifi which was slow in the cabin, coffee machine, cookies in the afternoon, turn down service, free wine with lunch and dinner, a daily briefing on upcoming events, prompt laundry service, water is provided in room daily but not enough for 2 people. This is not a cruise for children which adds to relaxing vibe of the ship. We were surprised to learn that Viking does not offer much for customer loyalty. Returning guests get $200 off the price (which amounts to nothing) and it's only valid if you travel within 2 years. The service and product are very good and are enough to bring guests back but we are used to much better perks for repeat business. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
The title says it all. I have traveled a lot including around the world 4 times. Been in well known and obscure places. Had been to Nice and Monte Carlo before to make a presentation. But this was different view that the Navy never ... Read More
The title says it all. I have traveled a lot including around the world 4 times. Been in well known and obscure places. Had been to Nice and Monte Carlo before to make a presentation. But this was different view that the Navy never had. The food was simply put, great. The cruise ship was smoother than a train, plane, bus or car. Slept like a lamb. While this cruise was predominantly for wine tasting, I saw some of the best sights in southern France. We climbed castles for spectacular views, we hiked towns to see historic landmarks, we went to a museum featuring a Roman Colony in Gaul (France) in 500 BC and we went to wine tastings that even a non-drinker like myself could enjoy We traveled with two other couples. The tours were excellent. My wife and I had a grand time and were sorry when it was over. We will be re-booking some more trips with Viking. Can't wait. Oh yes, the crew was great, the waiters special with their tips and critiques and the amenities on board were surprisingly excellent. We stayed in a room with a veranda facing the river. We sat out there evenings when we were docked or traveling. I would recommend this experience to anyone! Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
I booked a package directly from Viking including RT air, 7 night cruise from Avignon to Chalon sur Saone, 3 night extension in Paris, and all transfers. We flew into Marseilles where a representative took us to a waiting transfer bus. ... Read More
I booked a package directly from Viking including RT air, 7 night cruise from Avignon to Chalon sur Saone, 3 night extension in Paris, and all transfers. We flew into Marseilles where a representative took us to a waiting transfer bus. The cruise was very good. Our cabin was a category A veranda on deck 3. Cabin was well appointed. The bed was comfortable. The lighting was excellent. Although the bathroom was small, it was well organized. The L'Occitane bath products were very good. The bath towels and bed linens were extremely nice. Our cabin stewardess promptly serviced our cabin whenever we went to breakfast or dinner. There was also bottled water in the cabin. Electrical outlets were in pairs. 110v and 220v on both bed stands and in other locations. Hairdryer dried my hair. It was better than many other cruise lines. Included tours were good. We opted for the leisure tours and were happy with the pace. The audio listening device was excellent. Food on the ship was good. Dinner had 3 menu choices that changed nightly and 3 standard options ( steak, chicken, and salmon). I ate all my meals in the main restaurant. I loved the Taste of Provence lunch buffet. The included beer and wine with meals was good. The docking locations were not always in good locations. It would have been better if they docked in places where you could just walk off and be in a town or offer shuttle service in all ports. A shuttle bus was offered only in Tarascon going to Arles. Entertainment was limited to a piano player and some local entertainers. There was a lecture or selling event in Lyon on silk scarves. The scarves were not all silk and were priced too high. A rayon scarf for 59euros was the cheapest on the ship. I did not buy any scarves at that sale. I did buy some beautiful silk scarves in Paris. The transfer from Chalon to Paris was by bus. We stopped for a brief walking tour and lunch in Auxerre. We arrived in Paris and were taken to the wrong hotel. The guide insisted that we were in the right place. Only after we showed her the printed paper with the hotel location, did she apologize. That mishap delayed our arrival at our Paris Hotel by more than an hour. The included hotel was the St. James Albany Hotel on Rue Rivoli. Location was excellent. It was across from the Louvre and Tuilleries Gardens. Metro line 1 had a stop close to the hotel. Included breakfasts were average. The hotel room was dark and dirty. Linens were terrible. It was not nearly as good as our cruise experience. The restaurant at the hotel was 202 Rue Rivoli. We ate dinner there one evening. I made the reservation on tripadvisor and saved 20% off the entire bill. The food was excellent. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
This was our second river cruise with Viking. We did the Southern Portraits of France River Cruise with an extension to Paris for three days. Our flight from Phoenix was delayed for about four hours due to a "suspicious person" ... Read More
This was our second river cruise with Viking. We did the Southern Portraits of France River Cruise with an extension to Paris for three days. Our flight from Phoenix was delayed for about four hours due to a "suspicious person" on board. So we missed two connecting flights to Marsailles and spent the night in London. I contacted out travel agent who gave me information to contact our ship. They could not have been more helpful. . Susan, the Program Director, took our information and when we arrived in Marsailles almost 24 hours late, there was a taxi waiting to drive us to the ship. We only missed one morning tour and were there in time for lunch. The trip, itself, was wonderful. The history and scenery are breathtaking. We had great guides for our daily tours which were always so informative. Viking does a fine job making everyone feel welcome and they are so accommodating. I highly recommend them for any cruise one may choose. Our extension into Paris was short but very well organized. We had a short morning tour and the rest of the time we were on our own. The hotel was a Marriott in a great location for using the Metro system. The transfers to the airport were worth the extra money.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
My cruise on the Rhone River from Lyon to Avignon, France with 3 days in Paris to start, was perfect. I have zero complaints regarding anything whether it be about the ship or the excursions. I have traveled little and am from the Midwest ... Read More
My cruise on the Rhone River from Lyon to Avignon, France with 3 days in Paris to start, was perfect. I have zero complaints regarding anything whether it be about the ship or the excursions. I have traveled little and am from the Midwest USA. Our initial stay was at the Marriott Rive Gauche in Paris where concierge service, by Viking, was provided and appreciated. Our transfers from airport arrival to ship to airport return were dependable and perfect. The ship was fabulous- well appointed, comfortable with service "over the top." Daily information meetings during cocktail hour were needed and appreciated. Every excursion was delightful. I bought 3 extra excursions. A small complaint here would be that I would like "shopping" time in the towns and villages. I'm not a souvenir collector, but, having a fine arts back ground, I would appreciate time to scout out authentic French products and creations. On board food was so fabulous I had not desire to dine elsewhere! Evening entertainment was professional and fun. As I said at the start, this cruise was perfect in every way. I recommend Viking River Cruises to everyone knowing I will be thanked. And thank-you, Viking, for helping me have an experience of a life time. The end result is that I have plans to return to France! Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
As experienced cruisers with 17 ocean cruisers under our belt, we were excited to embark on our first river cruise choosing the new longship Viking Heimdal sailing the Portraits of Southern France itinerary. We are busy professionals and ... Read More
As experienced cruisers with 17 ocean cruisers under our belt, we were excited to embark on our first river cruise choosing the new longship Viking Heimdal sailing the Portraits of Southern France itinerary. We are busy professionals and love the true getaway that a cruise experience can provide however we were admittedly a bit concerned that we might find the river cruise experience to be a tad sedate. Much to our pleasure we thoroughly enjoyed our experience. Despite many logistics issues due to both high river height and lock maintenance which required significant and ongoing shifting of our itinerary, our trip was fabulous and we both agreed on the flight home that it was one of the best and most relaxing vacations we have taken. We booked this trip fairly last minute so we used Viking Air (not our typical approach with cruises). Our experience on Lufthansa was one of the only downsides of our trip. It was not awful but just not very good, seemed a bit of a budget experience and the fact that we were booked on 3 flights to get home from France added to the disappointment. We also had to pay for pre-assigned seat assignments on each leg of our trip which was a late surprise, costing us $300 total, and the irony is that we ended up switching seats with a family with two very small children who were being split up for an 8 hour flight.....so much for our pre-assigned seats. Now for the good stuff- the cruise was great. The ship was elegant and understated with easily accessible common areas. The staff and service were just superb. We enjoyed the small footprint of the ship and the intimate atmosphere provided when traveling with only 180 passengers. Given that our cruise last summer was on a 4000 passenger ship, it was quite a dramatic difference. The food quality was top-notch and it was bolstered by the overflowing enthusiastic attitude of our young chef (only 26 years old) and her staff. This was highlighted on one special evening where they served a buffet of Provence food and allowed all of us into the galley where they were dancing with passengers in-between serving us. As I mentioned the itinerary was a daily challenge. Not worth going into all the changes but I think there was not a single day on the ship that was not impacted. The staff did a great job balancing this. The result was that we were able to experience just about everything that was promised with one exception. However, in order to do so we spent more time on bus rides than we had planned. BTW - the buses were high quality and comfortable; some even included TV screens showing the view from the front of the bus. However, the increased bus time was the cause of great disappointment and upset to a few but most passengers focused on having a great time. The weather was superb in the mid 70s to low 80s on most days, so this helped to make the trip wonderful and hearing how the folks on the previous week were faced with rain almost every day, made it even sweeter. The excursions were high quality with generally good guides. Sharing stories with fellow passengers, we can report that the vast majority were happy with the excursions. One fairly universal disappointment was the inaccessibility of the top deck for almost the entire trip. At first it seemed this was a result of high water levels but ship staff revealed that this was more the norm than an exception, due to the large number of low bridges and locks on this itinerary combined with the river height. On the next to the last night the Captain took the ship out for a spin by the bridge in Avignon and he treated everyone to an open bar on the top deck in an attempt to make up for all the issues we had dealt with. It was a nice gesture and a beautiful experience. Other pluses of the cruise were the fellow passengers, very reliable free wireless, and other amenities such as free water bottles for excursions and occasional sweet treats greeting us upon return to the ship. The atmosphere was very casual with few dressing up at all and most only on the night of the Captains dinner. Even on that night the dress was what I would call resort casual for most. The bar staff were extremely congenial and competent. We noticed that the whole staff had a real "pitch in" attitude with many doing several jobs as demand required. The on-board musician was a low light but he was augmented with a few outside acts which helped to provide some variety and I found myself enjoying him a bit more later in the week. Our only regret is that we didn't have more time on our own to wander around and enjoy, especially in Avignon which was truly a fabulous city. We are already talking about another river cruise on Viking...now we just have to decide which one. We are so happy we tried a river cruise, while we still love the ocean, river cruising is our new pleasure. Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
This was our second Viking cruise. The first was the cruise from Budapest to Amsterdam. It was wonderful. "Portraits of Southern France" was disappointing. We had also booked the extra three days in Paris Our hotel the Marriott ... Read More
This was our second Viking cruise. The first was the cruise from Budapest to Amsterdam. It was wonderful. "Portraits of Southern France" was disappointing. We had also booked the extra three days in Paris Our hotel the Marriott Rive Gauche was fine, but it was in a remote area of Paris. Our guide gave us a very perfunctory tour of the hotel neighborhood on our first afternoon. He must have spent all of an hour with us. On our own, we arranged a Grey Line tour of Normandy and amused ourselves on the third day. Due to flood conditions, our embarkation point was changed from Chalon sur Saone Port to Lyon. This was an inconvenience over which Viking had no control. However, the trip from Paris to Lyon could have been handled better. We were subjected to a six hour coach ride on which our guide felt compelled to chatter incessantly. From Lyon through the remainder of the cruise all of our expectations were met. Great crew, wonderful food, accomodations and service. The guides were all very knowledgeable.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
We thoroughly enjoyed our first river cruise with Viking, and have already booked another for next year. The ship is one of the new ones, and it was great. The staff is always doing whatever they can to lkeep you happy. We booked the air ... Read More
We thoroughly enjoyed our first river cruise with Viking, and have already booked another for next year. The ship is one of the new ones, and it was great. The staff is always doing whatever they can to lkeep you happy. We booked the air transportation with Viking - we might have gotten a slightly better airfare on our own, but Viking provides free transfers, which were convenient and avoided the necessity of booking and paying for trains, cabs or whatever. Had some free time in Avignon the first day, after boarding. We liked the idea of everyone dining at the same time but without table assignments. We sat with 3 different groups the first 3 nights, then spent the rest of the dinners with two couples whose company we thoroughly enjoyed. The food was good, not fantastic, but they did have something special each night from the region we were visiting. Breakfast buffet in the dining room with made to order omelets was much better than the breakfast on the terrace. That was frequently out of stock, which never happened in the dining room. Lunches also were fine. The excursions were uniformly great. The tour guides were extremely well informed and entertaining. The places we visited were great. Saw amazing tings and learned a great deal. There were multiple tour guides at each stop so the groups were small. You each get a listening device (recharges overnight in your room) and you set the frequency to the one being used by your tour guide. This allows you to hear everything even if you are lagging behind a bit. We did get some free time to explore a couple small villages - we found the best croissants ever on a side street in Cluny. Cruising sometimes happened in the afternoon, often during dinner. It was great to sit and watch the beautiful scenery go by. (See the note in the cabin review regarding cruising and the veranda.) Probably the only real negative was that we were supposed to switch from the Rhône River to the Saone River on day 5. But high water levels on the Saone and low bridges meant we had to stay docked in Lyon on the Rhone the last 2 days. We still did the excursions, but the bus ride home from the one on the last day was 2 hours - quite long. A couple weeks later we received a credit on a future cruise equal to 15% of the amount we paid. Didn't truly make up for the loss of 2 days of cruising, but you can't really hold Viking responsible for the water level in the river. Overall a great cruise and we would highly recommend both Viking and this itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
It was a pleasant introduction to river cruising. The ship was quite new and maintained is mint condition throughout the cruise. The staff - all of the staff - were totally dedicated to our pleasure, and constantly performing the little ... Read More
It was a pleasant introduction to river cruising. The ship was quite new and maintained is mint condition throughout the cruise. The staff - all of the staff - were totally dedicated to our pleasure, and constantly performing the little requests made by us in addition to their daily responsibilities. The food was outstanding by any standard, and of course, plentiful. The only downside - perhaps because it was my first experience - was the request for tips and suggestions of amount on the final day. There has to be a better way to do this - perhaps in writing before one signs on. There is no doubt that the crew deserved to be compensated, but it is done is a very disagreeable manner and the end of the journey - leaves a bad taste in ones memory. I went up to the Bridge and talked to the Captain about the ship - well, not speaking French, and he not much English - but he was open to all my questions about the mechanics of the vessel. This says a lot for him. All in all a pleasant experience that Pat and I are repeating this April on the Elbe Cruise. Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
A river cruise was on the top of mt "Bucket list" and my husband agreed to come along, he had never been to France. We contacted Viking and made all the arrangements and from that first call I knew we were in good hands. They ... Read More
A river cruise was on the top of mt "Bucket list" and my husband agreed to come along, he had never been to France. We contacted Viking and made all the arrangements and from that first call I knew we were in good hands. They took care of everything flights, trip insurance and assorted calls during the year from novice travelers. We arrived in Marsielle to be greeted by two representatives of Viking, the ships representative and our driver. From that moment on we were on vacation! The drive to Avignon was terrific, our cabbie was a native and took the scenic route to the ship pointing out all the sights of interest to us. What a way to start our vacation. Upon arriving at our ship we weren't allowed to do any thing but relax. The staff was outstanding, always nearby but never intrusive. No question was a bother. The ship, the food and the wine! What can I say perfect. We did have one glitch too much water in the river so we stayed in Lyon for two days rather than one. The cruise director worked her magic and was able to plan a trip for our unexpected day in Lyon. It was a fabulous vacation and we are looking forward to once again sailing with Viking. Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
My wife and I cruised the Rhone and Saone rivers in southern France during early April of 2014 and were absolutely delighted with our Viking River Cruise experience. Our 190 passenger longship, the Heimdal, was elegant and very ... Read More
My wife and I cruised the Rhone and Saone rivers in southern France during early April of 2014 and were absolutely delighted with our Viking River Cruise experience. Our 190 passenger longship, the Heimdal, was elegant and very contemporary, and our mid-ship veranda stateroom was roomy and had a lovely balcony from which we watched the spectacular countryside drift by as we enjoyed our morning coffee. We found the pace relaxing and the ports of call, such as Arles, Avignon and Lyon, rich in art and architecture - our particular cultural passions. We were concerned that April may prove to be too early for such a cruise, but we were pleasantly surprised with the warm weather and the vibrant spring colors of Provence. We concluded our vacation with a three day extension in Paris and a side trip to Monet's gardens in Giverny - an experience no artist or gardener should miss! This was our third cruise with Viking {the other two were on the Danube and the Rhine} and all have been consistently excellent, from the impeccable service to the gourmet meals spiced with regional favorites. And don't miss any of the daily excursions; they are informative, well-organized and fun. We have been so pleased that we just booked our fourth cruise with Viking - on the Douro River in Portugal. We can't wait to go!   Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
Spectacular! Great crew, great ship. Almost perfect weather made this a great time to travel France. With about 175 passengers, this was a very comfortable format without all the big ship craziness. Food was amazing every day. Excursions ... Read More
Spectacular! Great crew, great ship. Almost perfect weather made this a great time to travel France. With about 175 passengers, this was a very comfortable format without all the big ship craziness. Food was amazing every day. Excursions were informative, interesting and well planned allowing you to either stay and enjoy the site, go back to the ship or catch a later bus back to the ship. Loved opening the sliding glass door, sipping wine and watching the scenery as we slipped down the river. Being 6'6", there was some trepidation about cruise cabins, based on other cruise experiences, but ours was surprisingly comfortable - even the bath space. Housekeeping staff was professional and fun! Staff was attentive, yet not overbearing, visible, but not always in your way, polite and professional, but also lots of fun. We were "the kids" on this journey, but one couldn't help notice how everyone's needs were attended to. Some passengers required help and it was always available. Some required special access and that was provided. Some had dietary restrictions which were attended to. All in all, an A+ crew. I would highly recommend this - both Viking and the destinations we visited. This was a great selection and we're already planning our next trip with Viking.   Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
Arriving on our sparkling new boat, Heimdal in March of this year, we grabbed one of Viking's trademark red umbrellas for a walking tour of Avignon in the rain. Others hadn't arrived from their pre-cruise visit to Paris, so we ... Read More
Arriving on our sparkling new boat, Heimdal in March of this year, we grabbed one of Viking's trademark red umbrellas for a walking tour of Avignon in the rain. Others hadn't arrived from their pre-cruise visit to Paris, so we took full advantage of the glistening cobblestones leading through the Roman Ruins and mighty ramparts of the ancient city. Returning to linen tablecloths and fresh flowers greeting us for dinner, we enjoyed a typical gourmet meal and quiet evening in port. The exterior glass walls of our room continually offered the grandest views throughout our week in Southern France. Imagine laying on your comfortable bed in your own home while the French countryside passed slowly by along the banks of Arles, Avignon, Tournon and Lyon. The views were made even more spectacular from the rooftop deck wrapped snugly in the warm blankets brought to you by the courteous crew, sipping a steamy mug of cocoa. Our days were filled with fascinating tours hosted by the most talented and informed guides imaginable, thankfully transmitted to my ear as I wandered about the city snapping photos without losing neither my group nor my wife. Walking in Van Gogh's footsteps, capturing images later discovered to mimic paintings of the master, impacted my life in ways unimaginable. Sadly, I cannot show you these beautiful photos which we will forever treasure. One surreal moment of our voyage included our late-night stroll through sleepy Vivier, along the sycamore lined streets that wound upward between closely grouped homes, rewarding travelers with a panorama from atop this lovely medieval city. Our visit to Tain L'Hermitage became very special as the daughter of noted French painter Pierre Palué invited us into her home to view many of his works, including those of his friends. What visit to Southern France would be complete without wineries and chocolatiers? Viking did not disappoint. Tasty tours highlighted the traditions of their craft. When asked if his vineyards were irrigated, a vintner replied, "Non. The vines must suffer." We never suffered for lack of luxury. As we boarded ship following our many adventures, friendly faces greeted us with refreshments fitting weather and occasion. We cherish our week on the Rhone and hungrily anticipate all that Viking has to offer, sometimes revisiting during differing seasons. The Christmas Markets throughout Europe are not to be missed. Can I rank one Viking Cruise above another? The answer is an affirmative, "No." One cannot rank the Mona Lisa above Starry Night. Read Less
Sail Date March 2014
Viking Heimdal Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.5
Dining 4.0 4.5
Entertainment 3.0 4.0
Public Rooms 5.0 4.7
Fitness Recreation 1.0 3.6
Family 1.0 3.6
Shore Excursion 4.0 4.5
Enrichment 4.0 4.3
Service 4.0 4.8
Value For Money 3.0 4.2
Rates 4.0 N/A

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