We booked this cruise as at the last moment, the cruise we had planned on Danube from Budapest to Germany got canceled becuase the ship was damaged and had to go into dry dock for repairs. Our pick up at Marsailles airport was well done. So from June 22 through June 30 we were on the Viking Buri, a brand new ship for 2014. Upon arrival at the Buri, we were told we could not sail as scheduled the next day, Monday June 23, was Bastille Day, a French national holiday and the river locks would be closed! Question was immediate, why did not Viking know this in advance?? A preview of things to come! We remained tied up until Tuesday.
As the river was up a bit (high water), the top (observation deck) was closed as the Buri was too high to pass under the bridges with the deck set up for use with chairs and awnings. We were told it took two hours to take down everything on the top deck and two hours to set it up so since the bridges were closer together than four hours, the deck would remain closed. So that meant 190 or so unhappy passengers would have to try to find room on the small bow observation deck where there was room for possibly 50+. Due to the river height the Buri was trapped at Lyon between low bridges. So we ended up in Lyon, where we stayed for four days. The Buri was tied up next to her sister ship which blocked any view of Lyon. The dock area was far from the city center dock so it meant getting a taxi or a long hoofing to get out of the industrial area into the city proper. We ended up getting bussed to the various sights but it was a long walk to get to the bus pickup area, a problem for those on board who could not walk long distances. The river at our docking area stank badly also making the observation bow deck unpleasant and generally prevented anyone from opening their cabin windows if they were on the left side of the Buri. Those on the right side looked directly into the sister ship, several feet away, not exactly pleasant. Our weather was hot (90+ F) but the Buir's cooling system kept the ship very comfortable.
Naturally a fair number of passengers raised holy heck about the situation. Unfortunately there was nothing the staff, crew or ship's officers could do about the situation. Nothing was ever heard from Viking Corporate Management about the situation. Management did not handle the situation very well at all. Obviously some part of Management had put the new Bari and sister ship on this river without regard to the ships overall size and cruising conditions on the river. Essentially a very stupid Management decision. There was no mention at the time of any compensation or partial refund which would have gone a long way to calming some passengers (nor even a free open bar). Upon returning to the USA, I heard some had later received a letter about what happened, but I did not get one. Overall, very poorly handled by Viking!!
The staff and crew were excellent under this trying situation. If you had to get trapped on the river, at least being in Lyon was better than being stuck in one of the other much smaller towns and villages. Many of us on board, did our best to make our extended Lyon stay as good as possible. Our shipmates overall were a good, friendly bunch of people from all over the world.
Our dining was excellent with a variety of choices always available for each meal. Service by the wait staff was excellent. The lunch and dinner wine/beer or other selections were not top-shelf but still good. Our room was serviced very well each day. Several evenings there was entertainment in the lounge which most enjoyed. Some passengers who paid the somewhat expensive up-tic for drinks were disappointed at the lack of selection and variety. On a previous Alaska cruise in 2013, our small 50 passenger ship had a much better stocked bar and at lower prices.
SUMMARY - I have been asked by friends if I would choose Viking again and, honestly, I have to say no, mostly due to the lack of response from their Top Managment. It is difficult to accept that Bastille Day popped up out of nowhere for them and that by late June, that no one was aware (concerned) that the ships could not always pass under the bridges on the sailing route. What really dismays me is that the Viking 2015 Cruise Brochure shows the Buir and her sister ship still scheduled to sail for this particular voyage. DON'T THEY LEARN ! ! ! !
Cabin was fine and comfortable Small and tight but livable and also quiet. The twin beds were excellent. Little time was spent by us in the cabin other than for sleeping as there were no chairs to use, just the beds (twin). This was expected. Our previous cruise was in Alaska on a small 50 passenger vessel which had even smaller but adequate cabins. We did not book a cruise with the idea of remaining in our cabin! No surprises here on the cabin.