8 Viking River Viking Heimdal Cruise Reviews

This was my 70th cruise, first time on Viking, first river cruise. Our cruise was 7 nights from Avignon to Lyon, in France. I booked the cruise with Viking as well as the air transportation from Washington DC to France. Before the ... Read More
This was my 70th cruise, first time on Viking, first river cruise. Our cruise was 7 nights from Avignon to Lyon, in France. I booked the cruise with Viking as well as the air transportation from Washington DC to France. Before the cruise I was impressed with all the notifications and booking process from Viking, receiving many emails with updates. Some shore excursions are included others you must pay extra for. We booked nine shore excursions., three were additional cost. Our air with Viking required us to leave the night before at 9PM. We arrived at the airport at 6PM (3 hours before the flight) and were told by British Air Lines that we were "stand by".. I was shocked. The staff at the desk tried to help us find other flights, they said 3 seats were still not claimed but we had to wait. I immediately called Viking and they offered no help. 30 minutes before the flight BWI airport was nearly empty 3 people approached and yes, there went our seats. British Air Lines continued to look for flights but could not help. I kept calling Viking, got cut off several times, no one could offer help. By 11 PM both British Air Lines and Viking said "go home". On the drive home I tried to get help from Viking one last time. After talking to a few people from Viking I asked for a supervisor, he told me it was my fault for not buying the insurance. Insurance is for when I can not go, due to a problem on my part, I was ready, willing and able to travel, it was not my fault Viking booked me on an over booked flight. Almost home I got a call from Viking saying they found us a flight at 9 AM. We get home after midnight, got 4 hours sleep and headed back to the airport. After two transfers and long layovers, 24 hours of travel time we finally arrive in France at noon the next day. Vikings rep was there at the airport waiting for us, to wisk us to the ship. Check in was easy. The ship is spotless clean. Our cabin was water view on deck one, very small at 135 square feet, you must plan moves with your cabin mate. Water is replenished daily, you must get your own ice down the hall from a machine. Shore excursions - You have these hearing devices in your cabin that you take on the excursions to hear the tour guide. Every day my device stopped working within 15 minutes of the tour, I went to the tour guide to get my device replaced, and 15 -20 minutes later that unit died. After 4 days of this happening I went to the guest services desk and asked for my two last days of tours to be cancelled. Then said they would let me know. They did NOT. The next morning after breakfast I went to the desk and they said ....Oh here is a new unit, it should work. I went on the remaining tours and it did work. We purchased the beverage package and I thought is was well worth the added cost. Phillipe, Dimi, and Robert were always there to pour my favorite drink. They were fantastic employees. Food - For breakfast there is a light breakfast served in the casual area, and full breakfast served in the dining room. The dining room breakfast needs help. There are two stations, one for hot, the other for cold items. The hot section has an egg station. Every morning 10 or more people are lined up to get eggs cooked to order, this blocks the entire hot area, so if you want some scrambled eggs, bacon, or other hot item you must wait. The egg station should be its own station away from other food. AND, there is no clear order in line for the egg station, do you enter from this side or that side, people are entering both ways, which just complicates things even more. Also the seating is odd at breakfast. If you arrive 30 minutes before breakfast closes you must learn the "routine". Some tables are set, others are not. But you must go to a table that is set for breakfast, not for lunch or you will sit there and not be served. Once a table has been used for breakfast it is done or closed and the staff are eagerly cleaning and setting it up for lunch. If you show up 30 minutes or less before closing time they are not thrilled with you. 10 minutes before closing they come around and tell you....the buffet will be closing soon. There is a breakfast menu, but you do not receive the menu.....kind of odd. I ordered the eggs benedict one morning, from the menu. I have had this thousands of times, and I must say they were the strangest ones I have ever had, there was not a nice creamy Hollandaise sauce on top, more of a curd like flavorless topping. Dinner is available in the dining room or the casual area. This was the first week they decided to have the same food available in the casual area that is served in the dining room. I liked the casual area because you have great views of the river while dining. The food at dinner was good, not great, but good. I would say the food is the same level as Celebrity Cruise Line. The Rib Eye Steak was good and cooked correctly. The Salmon was poached, boring and dry. Caesar Salad was fantastic with actual slices of Anchovies on top. Scallops were excellent. Everything else was average. I have had far superior food on Oceania and Azamara Cruise Lines. Lunch in the casual area also needs help. Outside they cook burgers....ok fine, what goes great with a burger, that almost everyone wants??? French Fries.....they are inside, and people are squeezing and butting in the line to get some fries. Why are fries not in both places? The guy playing the piano in the evening was great, good music and always smiling. The staff try very hard, the majority of them smile and say hello in all places except at breakfast in the dining room. At a cost of about $9,000 for a one week vacation for two people I do not believe this to be a good value. I am glad I tried Viking. Would I travel with Viking again, Most likely not. Happy Sailing.! Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
We chose this cruise expecting an experience commensurate with TV and brochure hype. Big mistake. Instead we experienced tandem docking with no river views. We expected leisurely dinners with regional French cuisine. Big mistake, the ... Read More
We chose this cruise expecting an experience commensurate with TV and brochure hype. Big mistake. Instead we experienced tandem docking with no river views. We expected leisurely dinners with regional French cuisine. Big mistake, the dining experience was a big disappointment and food quality was not so good. The food service at dinner was rushed and noisy. My wife and I have been on more than 30 trips on many cruise lines and for the cost of this trip we expected much more. The hotel service was very nice and the cabin adequate. The shore excursions terrific and guides were very knowledgeable. Our post cruise hotel stay in Paris was excellent which included free tours. I purchased tickets on line for a private tour of the Louvre which was also a memorable experience. The entertainment on board was non existent unless you are a drinker. We did NOT have a romantic river view cruise through southern France. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
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
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
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
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
This 7-night "Portraits of Southern France" sailing on the Viking River Cruises longship Heimdal didn't meet all of my expectations given all the glossy literature I had received from Viking and the fancy TV commercials they ... Read More
This 7-night "Portraits of Southern France" sailing on the Viking River Cruises longship Heimdal didn't meet all of my expectations given all the glossy literature I had received from Viking and the fancy TV commercials they run on PBS Masterpiece. I made the booking for the May 24, 2014 trip from Chalon-sur-Saone to Avignon a year in advance. The Viking 2-for-1 price for a category B stateroom #219 with a verandah was $8111; I paid $6895 through an Internet travel agency or $493 per night per person. We made our way to Chalon and checked into a hotel the Friday night before the cruise was to leave On Saturday morningI received an "urgent" email from Viking notifying me that the ship would not be leaving from Chalon and we were to make our way to Lyon, about 100 miles south, to board the ship there. No explanation for this change was given. The email did say we could proceed to the docking location in Chalon and bus transportation would be provided. I had a rental car so I drove to the Viking dock at a run down industrial area but no bus or Viking representative was there. I checked with the car rental agency and was told I could return it in Lyon rather than Chalon for no additional charge so we made a decision to drive through the Burgundy countryside to get to Lyon. We found the ship, were directed to our cabin, and were told we would be staying in Lyon until Tuesday noon. The cabin was intelligently designed except for the very limited space between the end of the bed and the wall unit, which prevented one person from passing if the other person was sitting on the bed to get into the unit's drawers. The food served in the restaurant was very good.  At breakfast and lunch one could eat from a self-service buffet, order from the kitchen, or both. Dinner consisted of a choice of three starters, five entrees, and three desserts.  Wine, beer, and soft drinks were complementary in the dining room.  Coffee and tea were available anytime in the atrium. Off ship tours were ok but in many cases the guides tried to present just too much information. The passenger makeup was mostly American couples over 60 years old. There was a few brits, a large Asian family, a few teens, and no children. The Saone and Rhone rivers have none of the charm of the Rhine, Main, Elbe, Moselle, and Danube rivers.  Most of the stretches of river the ship passed through were lined with industrial factories not picturesque medieval villages. Nits that I had about Viking were: 1. On Sunday, the ship's tour of Beaune went on via a 4-hour bus ride (2 hours each way) that included a group lunch of mostly inedible food served in a hot, very crowded second floor dining room. 2. The ship's master (captain) did not speak a word of English so the few times he spoke to the passengers in the briefings in the lounge, he spoke in French and his comments had to be translated by the cruise director or hotel manager. 3. 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. 4. Given that Viking saved fuel and port charges that the passengers' undoubedly paid for, there was no compensation (not even a free drink) offered for the missed stops (Chalon-sur-Saone, Macon) and missed sections of the river. At the end of the cruise, I left some less than positive comments about the value Viking provided on the guest questionnaire. After we returned home, both my wife & I received emails containing a voucher for $811.11 (a total of 20% of the original retail price of the cruise) off a future cruise within the next year. In what world would a company presume that a customer who had problems with one of their products would return to spend good money after bad on another of their products? Read Less
Sail Date May 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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