107 Viking River Viking Heimdal Cruise Reviews

Viking River Cruise, Viking Heimdal, Lyon to Avignon, May 4-11, 2016 Viking River Cruises presents an attractive, even seductive, face. From the alluring advertising to the handsome “long boats” decked out in understated ... Read More
Viking River Cruise, Viking Heimdal, Lyon to Avignon, May 4-11, 2016 Viking River Cruises presents an attractive, even seductive, face. From the alluring advertising to the handsome “long boats” decked out in understated Scandinavian hues to the exception people who staff their ships to the fine cuisine and excellent local guides who make each destination come alive, Viking does it right. It is only when something goes wrong, whether due to Mother Nature or mechanical trouble, that Viking's failings come to the fore, and the promised excellence falters. We were a group of four booked on the Viking cruise from Lyon to Avignon, starting May 4, 2016. Arrival at the ship was largely uneventful, even though the arrangements for clients arriving on their own was not ideal. Finding the ship required a last minute phone call; fortunately we had a global phone at our disposal and we able to get the necessary information and get close to the ship to offload luggage. Personnel aboard the beautiful Viking Heimdal were unfailingly helpful, courteous and a pleasure to work with. The first indication that all would not be well came the first evening when the staff announced that high water in the Saone River prohibited sailing to the first stop (Macon). The excursion to Beaujolais would be handled by coach from Lyon, eliminating a half day river cruising each direction. Profuse apologies for the situation but nothing in the way of acknowledgement that a significant attraction of the itinerary was to be missed. It must be reiterated that the personnel aboard Heimdal were top notch and were doing their best within the resources given them by Viking to make everyone happy and give them an excellent vacation. Just one example, is the abysmal internet capacity Viking builds into its ships. Even the staff have great difficulty assisting clients online due to the poor quality of the internet onboard. After the third day in Lyon, we sailed in the early am to Vienne, arriving as most people were just getting up for breakfast. That day and the next couple went as planned in the itinerary, with the excellent local guides providing a fine introduction to their towns and the region. After a day in Avignon, the captain announced before dinner that the planned cruising to Tarascon (for Arles) had to be scrapped as a mechanical problem had developed with the ship. Again, coach tours to Arles had been arranged, but for a second time at least two partial days of river cruising were missed. Also, again, profuse apologies for the change in plans but nothing in the way of accommodation. Close reading of the cruise contract would reveal that such changes in itinerary are totally in the hands of the cruse line and no compensation is required. The total absence of any consideration for the diminution of the cruse offering, however, is a reflection of the corporate culture of Viking. It would have been so easy to simply offer the optional excursions as complimentary, for example, as a show of good will when forces, of whatever origin, caused the total cruise experience to be significantly diminished. We had, after all, booked a river cruise, not a coach tour with river segments. Of the scheduled 8 legs of river cruising, we accomplished 4; of the 6 cities/towns to overnight, we did 4, with three nights in Lyon and another three in Avignon. Then, the final straw, came when, on the penultimate evening of the cruise, the final bill was presented and it contained a credit (“from an outside source”, read our travel agent) that had not been revealed to us at the beginning of the cruise. We were left with a sizable credit balance that Viking policy would not allow to the used for gratuities, and also Viking policy had to be used on the cruise for which it was given. This “take it or leave it” seemed to be firm Viking policy, with no explanation as to why we had not been informed of the credit on boarding. In the end, we arranged a full day excursion for our last day, using up the credit and some extra out of our pocket. We had a great day but would not have chosen this excursion without the circumstances. In fairness, Viking has offered a sizable voucher for use on a future cruise as compensation for this last glitch but given our overall unhappiness with Viking as a company we are unlikely to use it. Finally, should anyone from Viking Heimdal, May 4 Lyon to Avignon, be reading this, nothing here should detract from the excellent service we enjoyed aboard. The staff onboard, from Captain Laurent, Cruise Director Bea, especially Program Director Patricia and Concierge Doru, to the restaurant and bar staffs and housekeeping, all performed superbly within the bounds of Viking policies. It is a shame that such dedicated people, superb ships, top notch cuisine, appealing itineraries and expensive advertising are diminished by a company that, in the face of the unexpected, places its bottom line above the fulfillment of the promise of an exceptional river cruising experience. Perhaps my expectations were too high, but the coach trip with river segments is just not a river cruise. Somehow, Viking should know that an make it right. Instead we were offered a bribe. I cannot recommend Viking. 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
River cruise: Avignon to Lyon. Mostly elderly couples. As a single, felt unwelcome by crew and passengers. At dining times, told empty places at table "saved" for others. On shore excursions, many passengers unable to walk ... Read More
River cruise: Avignon to Lyon. Mostly elderly couples. As a single, felt unwelcome by crew and passengers. At dining times, told empty places at table "saved" for others. On shore excursions, many passengers unable to walk without assistance. Need plenty of change for tips on shore excursions. Optional shore excursions (many) were expensive. Most time spent on tour bus; very little time spent cruising river. Gangways to ship can be slippery. Cannot sit in the Aquavit Lounge without being asked if you want to purchase a drink. Extremely dark and treacherous stone steps with rope "handrail" in winery to sample Beaujolais. Optional painting class in Arles a waste of time except for the lunch at a local restaurant; superb chocolate shop in St.-Rémy-de-Provence recommended by tour guide at stop there. Excellent optional cooking class in Lyon attended by only three passengers; made cream puffs (for an army) in a very detailed French way with fresh pear mixed into the whipped cream. Read Less
Sail Date March 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 ship was great and the service was very good. Food was very good, chef was excellent. Wished we had more variety of wines to choose from at lunch and dinner - I like a sweeter wine like Riesling. But other wine was ok. Not as ... Read More
The ship was great and the service was very good. Food was very good, chef was excellent. Wished we had more variety of wines to choose from at lunch and dinner - I like a sweeter wine like Riesling. But other wine was ok. Not as much entertainment in each port in evening. Not much to do in evening. The music competition was good and the trivia. Loved the ports and all the tours. great trip. our cabin person was super. always there and cleaned up. Very pleasant person. hotel in Paris worked out great. Very close to Arch and convenient. Hotel in Nice was super location and loved the restaurant on top and the pool. Rooms were so so, really used and abused. But it was clean. Flight back was long but cannot help that. transportation to and from airport was good. Read Less
Sail Date August 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
As a regular ocean cruiser, first time river cruiser, I found that my river cruise* on Viking was more like an ocean cruise than I expected. The free beer and wine with dinner and included shore excursions were a nice change, though. ... Read More
As a regular ocean cruiser, first time river cruiser, I found that my river cruise* on Viking was more like an ocean cruise than I expected. The free beer and wine with dinner and included shore excursions were a nice change, though. This river cruise was also more like a bus tour than I expected. There is an optimal experience that the ads portray...eating, drinking, and laughing with other passengers, outdoors with blue skies, and beautiful scenery floating-by. Of the six days and 20 hours from bonjour to au revior, about 20% of the cruising was when we were aboard** and it was not during sleeping hours. But about half of that was spent either waiting in front of a lock, or in the lock. The first time, the lock is cool, but it's preventing the optimal experience, especially since it looks like it's midnight and there's a slimy concrete wall an inch from your nose. So an average of 2.7 non-lock cruising hours per day. Although the rivers were low at the time, the top deck was often closed for bridge clearance, so having the optimal experience was limited to the bow, which held about 40 people (out of the 180 on board). Not that you couldn't enjoy the view from your stateroom, but not enjoying the view with other passengers. So if you were on-board, it wasn't raining, you found a spot outside with likable acquaintances, there's something besides the inside of a lock to see, well, you get the idea. I think this happened once for me. I predicted this would be the case, but make sure you have your expectations set appropriately. I've only been on one bus tour in my life, and that was with a single bus and 35 other students (a long time ago). Sometimes our ship would be parked where we could walk to the city/town. Often we were out of town, so boarded four huge coaches. Either way, I found myself walking around a couple of city blocks or a tourist venue with a gaggle of 180 other passengers. At times I was engaged with what I was seeing, but other times, I just wanted to be away from the crowd. If you wanted to see these same sites, you could drive from start to finish in a rental car in 4 hours. So a few strategically place hotels would mean you'd only need to move once or twice and do day trips to the sights. If you really wanted to see the city from the river, you could book a afternoon or evening cruises. And if you did it with a car, not only could you be away from the gaggle of other passengers, but also wouldn't be tied to the river geography. Again, if you expect to be with a big group, and don't mind that, then having a turn-key vacation where Viking does all the planning might be a great way for you to see the sights. A word about the beer (most people will skip this paragraph). On board we had a decent line-up of German beers. One on tap, Bitberger, plus Budweiser Budvar (the original Bud from Czechoslovakia), Kostritzer Schwarzbier, Benediktiner Weissbier, Kronenbourg 1664 Pilsner. Off-ship, I found two beer places that looked interesting, but didn't work out, timing-wise. In Lyon there was a place called "Le Palais de la Bière", lots of taps, but it wasn't open when I could get up there. "La Chope de Lug" was a bottle shop that looked promising, but it opened only after we sailed that day. Mostly the convenience stores had things that proclaimed the ABV in a big font. Although I couldn't read the label, I figured they were akin to Colt 44, so I left those on the shelf. I found a Belgian (3 Monts) in a general store (along "Place Raspail" in Lyon, a couple minutes walk from the dock). The 3 Monts was pretty good, tasted belgian-like, so I'd call it a "bière de garde" although it said "Bière De Flandre" on the label. The Viking rooms all have refrigerators and they even let you bring your own beer to dinner without a fee (but I drank this one in the room anyway). We found plenty of fun other passengers to hang around with. The first day aboard, at lunch, the situation looked dismal; nobody looked less than mid-sixties, a few quite a bit older, and there were some walkers (we're mid-fifties). But the next night they had a disco night. We only sat in for a beer, but that's when we realized there were quite a few people near our age. Even a few twenty-somethings (with their parents), and also a few thirty somethings (their own). Well, there you have it. A few nice moments that made use of the fact we were cruising on a river, quite a lot of time on buses and in a crowd of other passengers and finally a passable beer experience, given that it was included in the price, and that this is wine country, so what can I expect? The bottom line is if you want a turn-key operation, you don't want to pack and unpack, you don't mind touring in crowds, this is real easy for you, albeit not cheap ($600/day for a couple, not including airfare). If I really wanted to see these sights (which, eh, I'm luke-warm on many of them), you could see them all for much cheaper and not always be in a crowd if you rented a car and stayed in a few hotels. * An August 2015 cruise of seven nights called 'Portraits of Southern France' (Avginon to Chalon-sur-Saoneon) on the Viking Heimdal, a 3 deck ship first launched in 2014 (the previous season). A really clean ship, tight but efficient rooms. Great staff...MUCH better service than the ocean cruises where the tips are automatically added to your bill. I loved the small size compared to most ocean vessels. ** Sometimes were were off on a tour and the ship moved and picked-us up at a different dock. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
As a regular ocean cruiser, first time river cruiser, I found that my river cruise* on Viking was more like an ocean cruise than I expected. The free beer and wine with dinner and included shore excursions were a nice change, though. ... Read More
As a regular ocean cruiser, first time river cruiser, I found that my river cruise* on Viking was more like an ocean cruise than I expected. The free beer and wine with dinner and included shore excursions were a nice change, though. This river cruise was also more like a bus tour than I expected. There is an optimal experience that the ads portray...eating, drinking, and laughing with other passengers, outdoors with blue skies, and beautiful scenery floating-by. Of the six days and 20 hours from bonjour to au revior, about 20% of the cruising was when we were aboard** and it was not during sleeping hours. But about half of that was spent either waiting in front of a lock, or in the lock. The first time, the lock is cool, but it's preventing the optimal experience, especially since it looks like it's midnight and there's a slimy concrete wall an inch from your nose. So an average of 2.7 non-lock cruising hours per day. Although the rivers were low at the time, the top deck was often closed for bridge clearance, so having the optimal experience was limited to the bow, which held about 40 people (out of the 180 on board). Not that you couldn't enjoy the view from your stateroom, but not enjoying the view with other passengers. So if you were on-board, it wasn't raining, you found a spot outside with likable acquaintances, there's something besides the inside of a lock to see, well, you get the idea. I think this happened once for me. I predicted this would be the case, but make sure you have your expectations set appropriately. I've only been on one bus tour in my life, and that was with a single bus and 35 other students (a long time ago). Sometimes our ship would be parked where we could walk to the city/town. Often we were out of town, so boarded four huge coaches. Either way, I found myself walking around a couple of city blocks or a tourist venue with a gaggle of 180 other passengers. At times I was engaged with what I was seeing, but other times, I just wanted to be away from the crowd. If you wanted to see these same sites, you could drive from start to finish in a rental car in 4 hours. So a few strategically place hotels would mean you'd only need to move once or twice and do day trips to the sights. If you really wanted to see the city from the river, you could book a afternoon or evening cruises. And if you did it with a car, not only could you be away from the gaggle of other passengers, but also wouldn't be tied to the river geography. Again, if you expect to be with a big group, and don't mind that, then having a turn-key vacation where Viking does all the planning might be a great way for you to see the sights. A word about the beer (most people will skip this paragraph). On board we had a decent line-up of German beers. One on tap, Bitberger, plus Budweiser Budvar (the original Bud from Czechoslovakia), Kostritzer Schwarzbier, Benediktiner Weissbier, Kronenbourg 1664 Pilsner. Off-ship, I found two beer places that looked interesting, but didn't work out, timing-wise. In Lyon there was a place called "Le Palais de la Bière", lots of taps, but it wasn't open when I could get up there. "La Chope de Lug" was a bottle shop that looked promising, but it opened only after we sailed that day. Mostly the convenience stores had things that proclaimed the ABV in a big font. Although I couldn't read the label, I figured they were akin to Colt 44, so I left those on the shelf. I found a Belgian (3 Monts) in a general store (along "Place Raspail" in Lyon, a couple minutes walk from the dock). The 3 Monts was pretty good, tasted belgian-like, so I'd call it a "bière de garde" although it said "Bière De Flandre" on the label. The Viking rooms all have refrigerators and they even let you bring your own beer to dinner without a fee (but I drank this one in the room anyway). We found plenty of fun other passengers to hang around with. The first day aboard, at lunch, the situation looked dismal; nobody looked less than mid-sixties, a few quite a bit older, and there were some walkers (we're mid-fifties). But the next night they had a disco night. We only sat in for a beer, but that's when we realized there were quite a few people near our age. Even a few twenty-somethings (with their parents), and also a few thirty somethings (their own). Well, there you have it. A few nice moments that made use of the fact we were cruising on a river, quite a lot of time on buses and in a crowd of other passengers and finally a passable beer experience, given that it was included in the price, and that this is wine country, so what can I expect? The bottom line is if you want a turn-key operation, you don't want to pack and unpack, you don't mind touring in crowds, this is real easy for you, albeit not cheap ($600/day for a couple, not including airfare). If I really wanted to see these sights (which, eh, I'm luke-warm on many of them), you could see them all for much cheaper and not always be in a crowd if you rented a car and stayed in a few hotels. * An August 2015 cruise of seven nights called 'Portraits of Southern France' (Avginon to Chalon-sur-Saoneon) on the Viking Heimdal, a 3 deck ship first launched in 2014 (the previous season). A really clean ship, tight but efficient rooms. Great staff...MUCH better service than the ocean cruises where the tips are automatically added to your bill. I loved the small size compared to most ocean vessels. ** Sometimes were were off on a tour and the ship moved and picked-us up at a different dock. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
We were three couples booked on the Viking Heimdal going from Chalon to Avignon over seven days at the beginning of July. The cruise was recommended by friends, but was extremely expensive, so perhaps we were expecting great things. ... Read More
We were three couples booked on the Viking Heimdal going from Chalon to Avignon over seven days at the beginning of July. The cruise was recommended by friends, but was extremely expensive, so perhaps we were expecting great things. Extensive tv advertising also boosted our expectations. We caught a very early morning flight from Heathrow to Lyon. We had to wait a long time at Lyon because other passenger's luggage had been mislaid on the flight. Eventually we were loaded onto a second coach (the first one having long departed) for a 1 hour 45 minute ride north to Chalon. However it was 100+ degrees and no water was supplied. So several of us trooped back into the terminal to buy water for all the passengers. Eventually we arrived and were allocated our cabins. I cannot fault the friendliness of the staff. We then stayed moored in Chalon for almost two days with daily coach trips offered to see local sights. On the second night we departed back in the direction of Lyon! Each day basic coach trips were offered; some requiring very early starts. The places of interest were of very mixed quality. With one exception all of the extra cost excursions were rejected by the passengers. When we did move down river we were often removed from the top deck where we were sleeping or sun-bathing because the super-structure had to be lowered to negotiate the numerous low bridges. The food was at best average; certainly not compatible with the overall price paid. For the last three days of the cruise the air-conditioning on the boat failed. It was well over 100 degrees on each day. Eventually the captain apologised, said that all four Viking boats in the area had the same problem and it was related to the temperature of the water in the river! Essentially the design of the cooling systems could not cope with the ambient temperatures. Regardless of the exorbitant price paid we were given a recommended scale of gratuities. A quick calculation showed that if followed, the tour director would receive £2000 for her efforts. When we settled our extras bill we were asked if they could add the recommended gratuities. We declined. One week prior to boarding there was a serious terrorist attack in Lyon with loss of life. Regardless of this the security on the boat was non-existent requiring a letter to the management. On only one occasion subsequently were shore tickets collected at the head of the gangplank. On all other occasions anyone could have walked on or off of the boat and committed any kind of atrocity. We felt there was no point in complaining to Viking because the most we would be offered would be a credit on another cruise. No thank you! Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
This was my 2nd river cruise with Viking and I have already booked my next one with them. Boat and service was up to the normal Viking standard, very good. Viking didn't recognise that we were 2nd time travellers. We were told ... Read More
This was my 2nd river cruise with Viking and I have already booked my next one with them. Boat and service was up to the normal Viking standard, very good. Viking didn't recognise that we were 2nd time travellers. We were told we would find something in our room. It was sent to another room, when it did turn up it was a bottle of the same free wine that we had been drinking all week. The last port we docked at was Chalon-sur-Saone, which is a very nice town, but we docked in a unused run down port. Opposite the boat when we docked was a make shift bar that looked very rough. People I spoke to on our trip also felt like myself, which was uneasy to be in this area and didn't want to go for a walk after dinner, and it is a quite a walk into town. Other boats of the same size were using the water edge dock nearer the town centre. We booked this cruise after looking at out flight times, but Viking gave us later flights. On the walking tour of Lyon we had a local guide who seem to know very little about the town and seem to keep looking at her mobile. I am hoping the next trip is of a better standard. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
We also had a disappointing trip on the Southern France Cruise. We stayed in lyon from Wed to Sunday and then the boat went to Avignon. We were bussed around every day instead of cruising down the river as the water levels were too high. ... Read More
We also had a disappointing trip on the Southern France Cruise. We stayed in lyon from Wed to Sunday and then the boat went to Avignon. We were bussed around every day instead of cruising down the river as the water levels were too high. Viking knew this but took our money $8,400.00 which we paid $1,000.00 for a balcony, which we did not use and found out that a ship is parked next to you the whole time we were docked. They give you a little book just before you go and it has all this covered in small print, after you have paid for your trip. What an expensive lesson learned. Viking sent a letter which has the Customer Service Manager name and number, when you call, she does not take calls, what a joke for Customer Service, the rep told us all they would do is 15% off a future cruise, good only for l year. She also said very snarky comment that is you go to Hawaii and it rains all week you do not get your money back, not the same. Very expensive lesson learned about this cruising down the rivers, I was also told that sometimes the river levels are too low. Be Warned. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
High water on both the Rhone and Saone from flooding (heavy rain and snow melt) altered our itinerary. Viking emailed us one day prior to tell us to meet the boat in Lyon instead of Chalon-sur-Saone. We never did get to see Chalon. Then we ... Read More
High water on both the Rhone and Saone from flooding (heavy rain and snow melt) altered our itinerary. Viking emailed us one day prior to tell us to meet the boat in Lyon instead of Chalon-sur-Saone. We never did get to see Chalon. Then we remained docked in Lyon for four nights, taking a bus to Beaune, Vienne, and Tournon. Cruise director then announced that cruise itself was "cancelled" and that we could go to all of our remaining sites by bus instead. Quite a few folks accepted Viking's offer to refund the UNUSED portion of our non-cruise. Then, the next night, the message changed that the Heimdal would indeed proceed down-river the next morning. We could choose to skip the next tour by remaining onboard for the first cruise of the week or take a bus to Tournon. We took the bus option and were glad we did because it was the highlight day of our trip. We never got to see Viviers either because the ship needed to get to Avignon while the water and bridges were cooperating. To be fair to Viking, the meals were wonderful (same white wine every day though) and quite varied, and they had no control over water levels. But they did know that the high waters would not recede quickly and that our "cruise" was in jeopardy. A cruise-by-bus was not what we paid for. And the short five hour (4-9 pm) cruise that we enjoyed was overpriced. We await a response from Viking about compensation or incentive for another cruise at this time. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
I booked with Viking Australian office. I said I would use flyer points to get an upgrade, which should be possible as I was booking 8 months ahead. The 'manager' seemed quite helpful. Closer to the cruise date my wife had ... Read More
I booked with Viking Australian office. I said I would use flyer points to get an upgrade, which should be possible as I was booking 8 months ahead. The 'manager' seemed quite helpful. Closer to the cruise date my wife had a back problem. Her doctor said she should not travel long distance without being able to lie down. So I asked Viking for help. The Australian office contacted HQ but they said no. It was then that I discovered that the Viking flight tickets are 'O' class. That's how they get the cheap airfares. Trouble is, there's no changes allowed. None at all. Of course, it's all there in the fine print, but I was relying on the fact that the Viking guy didn't mention this at the time of booking. So my wife had to fly business class on a different airline to get to Rome via Hong Kong, while her Viking ticket was wasted. However, my wife's seat was sold to someone else for part of the way. My complaint about the no-changes-to- flights received a response that the agent had fully informed me. He had, but only when I asked for help, not at the time of booking. That's why I say, "Beware!" Another thing. Viking says all tipping is included in the cruise price. We received vouchers saying that all gratuities had been paid. However, when we showed the vouchers to local guides, they claimed not to know about it. It was very embarrassing that some passengers were tipping; we had some strange looks. When I complained to Viking, the response was that all guides know about the arrangement. Be very, very aware. By the way, the cruise was supposed to start at Chalon and finish at Tarascon. It didn't. It started at Lyon because of 'high water' and finished at Avignon because of 'construction works'. This shortened the cruise by almost half. It's all covered in the fine print, of course. Read Less
Sail Date April 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
a) The hotel used for our pre-aranged visit in Paris was very poorly located. It was a convention hotel that was close to nothing at all.This was not the hotel originally listed in the advertising. We used the hotel accommodation through ... Read More
a) The hotel used for our pre-aranged visit in Paris was very poorly located. It was a convention hotel that was close to nothing at all.This was not the hotel originally listed in the advertising. We used the hotel accommodation through Viking because the transportation to the start of the river cruise was provided with the hotel package and Viking would not let us travel to embarkation with them any other way. b) Due to high river water we were bussed for an additional hour to the new port of embarkation. We were held responsible for our lunch on this journey...the company had said that they would provide a "box lunch" on this bus trip. c) The dinners on board the ship were disappointing. Some were not edible. Six of us thought the same so it was not just personal to my wife and to me. Breakfast and lunch were OK. d) We were off the ship for a land tour that included lunch.....Viking used an really terrible restaurant for that lunch stop. Disappointing! e) The ship was physically terrific: beds were great. Everything worked well. Clean and neat. f) In short we were underwhelmed. Disappointed by this "luxury" level journey. 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
We just returned from our long-anticipated Viking river cruise in France and came away wishing we had paid closer attention to the itinerary (Portraits of France) as our expectations were not met. We made assumptions (based on ... Read More
We just returned from our long-anticipated Viking river cruise in France and came away wishing we had paid closer attention to the itinerary (Portraits of France) as our expectations were not met. We made assumptions (based on Viking's marketing and other friends cruise experiences in other countries and on other cruise lines) about what a river cruise would entail and felt if we had known what to pay attention to, we would have chosen a different itinerary and possibly a different cruise line. Our main disappointments were as follows: 1) there was minimal to no time to spend on either our balcony or topside due to touring schedule and/or time of day we were sailing.We expected to see scenic vistas while sailing, but instead saw miles of flat farmland...AND much of the sailing took place at night and we saw nothing 2) we also anticipated time to leisurely stroll through quaint towns where we docked, but instead oftentimes were docked in industrial settings where our stateroom view was an abandoned,graffiti-laden warehouses. On only two occasions were we close enough to walk into the town for a very short period of time. 3) the 7 day agenda was very structured and very fast-paced....not conducive to relaxation and independent exploration. 4) dinners got tedious as there was only one dining time (7pm) and we quickly saw that passengers would line up 15-20 minutes early outside the dining rom in order to secure specific seating. The 'Captain's Dinner' was quite humorous because the Captain did not attend it nor did the Captain speak English (all passengers were from U.S., Canada and Australia). 5) do NOT pay extra for the elite beverage package...definitely not worth the cost. My advice to anyone looking to take a river cruise: pay attention to the # of passengers, the sailing timeline, the scenery that you can expect to see, the amount of free time and proximity to towns, the ability to dine off the ship at least once. AND...read reviews from passengers who have been on the cruise ( ship and itinerary) you are considering! Read Less
Sail Date September 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
We lost the expected afternoon in Avignon because Viking forgot it was Bastille Day and they had to move the ship north of some locks early in the day. While they offered a bus ride an hour back, it only offered 1 hour in Avignon versus a ... Read More
We lost the expected afternoon in Avignon because Viking forgot it was Bastille Day and they had to move the ship north of some locks early in the day. While they offered a bus ride an hour back, it only offered 1 hour in Avignon versus a full afternoon until an evening departure. We lost the evening in Vivien as promised - it seems Viking does not reserve docking space and we ended up spending the evening docked at a lock in the middle of noplace. When we arrived in Lyon (actually we were northbound, but CC did not let me say we started in Avignon), we were told that was the end of our cruising. The water was too high for our longship to pass under bridges north of Lyon. Everything was still offered, but will multiplehour long bus rides. We were docked for three days with a grafitti covered warehouse on one side and a sister thip on the other, so windows were useless on both sides. All the foreign competitors sailed right past, as their ships are one deck shorter. If you check other reviews, you will see this happens all year long on various portions of the Portraits of Southern France cruise and Viking is running four - yes four longships on this route. Can we say fraud? The historic river heights and bridge heights are not a surprise, and according to both senior crew and CC reports, this happens often all year long. Viking did a fine job otherwise as per usual. But, with the ships Viking chose to use, this cruise cannot be delivered with any certainty. Avoid Viking on this route. Other lines will be just fine. John MacBain Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
Viking, well yes, they have great advertisements, and gorgeous photos of the new 'longboats', however here are the facts. 1). They must have your whole entire cruise fee payable immediately payable upon booking. 2). Watch out, ... Read More
Viking, well yes, they have great advertisements, and gorgeous photos of the new 'longboats', however here are the facts. 1). They must have your whole entire cruise fee payable immediately payable upon booking. 2). Watch out, depending upon where your cruise goes, look at the following : River swelling, lock strikes, time of year for river swelling ( and/or depleting) etc. ALL of those affect your cruise. 3). Speaking of which: those nice photos of your upper deck cruising through those lovely rivers, ahem, on our 8 day cruise recently, only ONE DAY was the upper deck open. Check it out people , Viking is misrepresenting their cruises, letting you think you can sit 'above the ship ' and watch the scenery, when in fact, on our last 2 Viking cruises,the UPPER DECK WAS 'CLOSED'. Yes, that means, NO nice viewing, cruising scenery like they show in their advertisements. And, if there are ANY swollen river delays, that can happen, well, guess what, you are put onto a ghastly bus , no fun, and bussed to the next destination, Our advise is: CAREFULLY CHECK, where are you going on your river cruise, what time of year, what are the rivers like ( heavy rains affect river cruise travel, people !!!), that means your boat STOPS until the river cooperates. I'd like to say that Viking is great, however I think they treat passengers like us ( active adult ) like children. I.e: not telling us "what is happening & when ". This , in my opinion , is their most serious flaw. For an example, our cruise was supposed to start in Chalon, France. So, we purchased the 3-day pre cruise Paris stay. Then, they told us at the Paris hotel, that instead of traveling to Chalon that we now would be bussed to Lyon,, due to ( take note : River swelling !). Okay. We were told 4 hours bus ride. We got on the bus and the lady told us 9-10 hour bus ride. ******VIKING: NOT OKAY! ***** We are not children ! and many people were upset by this. We could have just calmly had a quiet bus ride to Lyon, but no, a talkative ( microphone) lady kept us awake the whole time. And, because English was her second language, every 2nd word was ' uh uh uh ' .....it was PAINFUL. We finally arrived in Lyon missed 3 days of our cruise, people : watch out, that means Viking is dependent on RIVER WATER LEVELS!!!! They do not tell you this as you are sending them your full deposit amount $$$.... In addition, if Viking had told us that the bus ride was 9-10 hours, we would have taken the train(3+hours) and with no loud , bad, tour guide microphoning us for the whole way. On a positive note: the crew of the Viking Heimdal was superb. We do think, however, that the Viking Heimdal crew was very hard working and maybe overworked ? It seemed to us that they did not have enough crew members for that was required. The staff worked incredibly hard , many hours every day and night, however, we, as cruise guests, think they could use more staff. It almost seemed like they had a skeleton crew, just making due, until more staff could come aboard. Kudos to Kornelia, awesome hard work. Our suggestion is: check out Viking, but first, check out when , time of year, are you going, and what other river cruise line does the same itinerary, because , we saw river cruise boats that had their upper deck open while ours on Viking , was closed. Big thing as you are cruising European rivers ! Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
Our trip was the first week in July 2014, "Portraits of Southern France" sailing on the Viking River Cruise's longship Heimdal. Read the Cruise Critic's overview of the Viking Heimdal, it is spot on in its description ... Read More
Our trip was the first week in July 2014, "Portraits of Southern France" sailing on the Viking River Cruise's longship Heimdal. Read the Cruise Critic's overview of the Viking Heimdal, it is spot on in its description of the Ship. I must begin by saying the longship Heimdal is flawless. Beautiful accommodations, public rooms and all sparkling clean. Coffee/tea/hot chocolate and cookies always in the common areas. Truly wonderful. STAFF...all very pleasant and efficient. rating 5+++ The longship itself, excellent. rating 4.95 Tour guides, fabulous, knowledgeable, witty, pleasant. rating 5 The towns where we docked and toured, rating 5 Very good food. rating 4.25 If you read the Cruise Critic's description of the cabins however, I have to disagree with several items. The glass showers are not snug...we felt they were roomy and well designed...the shower door does however leave a small puddle on the bathroom floor but it is not in the main walking area...of course your bathroom room is tidied and cleaned at least once a day, more if needed. Also we thought the toilets had super-power flushes unlike what was described in the cabin description. The rooms are well sound-proofed with the only noise from the neighbors being if you are in the bathroom and they flush you can hear that a little. It was fabulous having the normal European 220 volt AND the American 110 volt sockets..and plenty of them. The WIFI was not as good as the description said if you had an IPad. Many people who brought along Ipads had to sit in public areas to get WIFI while if you had a computer, you could get reception in your room. I was sitting on the sundeck of the Heimdal on the last day in Avignon and I got reception on my Ipad from the Uniworld boat which was two boat lengths away from us but no signal from either of the Viking ships which were tethered together at one dock space, the Heimdal or the Hermod. It would be worth the money for Viking to boost the WIFI for all annoyance it caused. What was not so good? 1. The Heimdal Nearly everything about the boat is fabulous. These were the only 3 problems: -There is not enough seating in the lounge for all of the passengers to be able to attend the daily briefings or presentations. -The French balcony rooms only have one place to sit in a cabin for 2 people. -The unpleasant sewage smell in the public areas of the boat when docked in Avignon. (we were told that happens when 2 boats are docked together sometimes...yuck) 2. Last minute embarkation dock/town switch with no explanation. Our experience was exactly the same as reported in an earlier review written by "Atkinsonguy" whose cruise was in May 2014. We had rented a car and traveled toward Chalon-Sur-Saone where we were to embark when we received a last minute email that we would be embarking in Lyon...no explanation of why...We too, drove back to Lyon to find the Heimdal. Luckily we had wi-fi where we were staying... 3. The planning of our time while in Lyon... For four days we sat in Lyon. The first night some things were delayed because a group of people would be arriving later than most of us. Apparently that was the Paris pre-trip extension. We were fortunate as our cabin faced the river and we could see the activity on the river as well as the other bank and the hill behind with the ever-changing dramatic sky. We had friends who paid for a full balcony who were on the other side of the boat and all they saw was a concrete wall and the quay...they felt unable to sit on their balcony because of all the people on the quay. She said, "We were the entertainment for the people walking by." They just stopped using the balcony. We never got to walk around Chalon-Su-Saone or the other towns on the Saone which might have been a good thing to do on Sunday (as nothing is open in Lyon). But the decision was made to take us on the tour of old Lyon on Sunday (the tour was fabulous) but our free time was given when no museums or even shopping was available. Monday we were bussed to Beaune on a cramped, uncomfortable bus...2 hours up and nearly 3 hours back (terrific traffic jams outside the tunnel going back into Lyon) We were given 1 hour of free time from 12 to 1pm...but of course everything closes between 12 and 2. The lunch served at a nearby restaurant was the worst meal I have had in years. When the plates were collected after the meal, all 8 of the people at our table still had half the food left on their plates as it was inedible. It really surprised me that Atkinsonguy reported the same thing happened in May...and apparently Viking did nothing to improve the food or change the restaurant. Again we had a terrific guide and great tour of the hospital for 45 minutes. The 45 minute wine tasting was not worth going to as the wines were not to most of the group's taste. We wanted to go to some museums in Lyon and I was told the only time I would have to do that was Tuesday morning but I'd have to be back on the boat by 11:15am as we would be leaving at that time. Had I chosen to go that would have given me about 45 minutes at one museum. It was explained that the water was too high for the boat to make it under the bridges and that is why we would be missing sailing on the Saone River. I understand that this can happen but choices about how to get us on our tours and to spend time in the cities and villages should be made with the thought of maximizing our opportunities during free time...to have a reasonable amount of free time when we are able to actually see and do things. Also it was sad to lose half our cruising time on the river.. 4. The sundeck and walking track. Once we got underway spirits lifted but then another issue bothered a lot of us...as Atkinsonguy said, "Vikings literature states "Weather permitting, the ship‘s sun dec is its most popular area when the ship is sailing." Not true on this cruise. The weather was mostly fair but the sun deck was NEVER opened when the ship was moving." The same was true on the July sailing. They closed the sundeck. That put smokers in the side verandahs off the reception area which often put smoke in the hallways and made the common areas midship unavailable to nonsmokers if they wanted a smoke-free environment. We got to go on the sundeck the first full day in Lyon and the last day in Avignon. Not the cruising experience I imagined while watching all the Viking ads on TV. Are we glad we took this cruise despite the negatives? leaning toward YES because they have a good product but poor planning in optimizing our time when unable to follow the itinerary impacted the experience. The decision makers didn't seem to listen to feedback from passengers about the bad lunch in Beaune reported in May yet in July passengers have the same bad experience. We reported uncomfortable busses and were told the next day there were better busses, but the last day they were back to the cramped conditions where anyone a bit taller had their knees poking into the backs of the seats in front of them again. (and therefore into the backs of the people in those seats) Knowing what we know now about river cruising and what can go wrong, (too high or too low water and the problems that brings which caused us to miss half our cruising time or inability to ride along on the sundeck or use the track) would we take another Viking river cruise? Definitely not. Too much money and not worth the risk that you can miss half of your sailing/cruising experience. Now you will know some of the questions to ask before you plan your cruise...because the people who take your booking over the phone (and your payment) are extremely helpful in answering all your questions. I found them personable and extremely helpful. Read Less
Sail Date July 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
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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