We have cruised before on ocean liners, but never a river cruise. We are now spoiled. The ship is small and easy to navigate and we never felt like we were herded anywhere. This cruise delivered more than we expected and was an incredible value. We also booked airfare through Viking. This was less than half the air fare I could find but included a short lay-over both ways. Because of this, Viking's friendly staff picked us up at airport in very nice van and took us to ship. Our room was ready at 1p when we arrived and we could have lunch at buffet. Tour of area near ship was helpful and interesting. All tours included on the cruise were very good with informative and friendly guides. The tours made a difference in our experience. Some involved walking uphill on gravel, and usually lasted 1 1/2 - 2 hours. Being able to take these tours and walk is a very important part of the experience. There is a lot of walking and getting on and off ship involves narrow angled gangway.
Crew was very friendly and helpful, made us feel like this was the only time they had taken anyone on this cruise (they were finishing 3 months of this same tour.) Program Director was outstanding. Since we were to visit the Normandy Beaches on US Veteran's Day, she arranged a ceremony at the American Cemetery to lay a wreath and insisted that all American veterans (not just WWII) be recognized since there were many on this cruise. My brother-in-law had served in Vietnam and was never recognized in this way and was so appreciative of the honor. It was overwhelming to see our veterans honored in this place. We were given roses to place on any grave and time to walk around. I appreciate the attention Viking gave to their sacrifice at Normandy and other places.
All of the tour guides explained historical significance of the area, architectural details, life and culture of the area in the past and present. Since we were traveling in November, Giverny Tour was closed and we visited Auvers-sur-Oise, where van Gogh lived, painted and died. Interesting information and wonderful guide, but would not have paid extra to see his rooms, just seeing outside was enough, but it was included in tour. There are no paintings by van Gogh in this town but can see where he painted church and wheat field and street. All stops were very interesting, as was view from sun deck as we traveled. Learning about the locks was informative as we traveled the river and saw beautiful limestone cliffs and towns.
Our room was comfortable and typical of cruise rooms. Enough storage, 2 twin beds pushed together (2 separate twin comforters was interesting for sleeping), bathroom was cleaned daily, sometimes twice; cabin was always kept neat. My sister and her husband were in Cabin 211. The only differences in our rooms was our window opened and theirs did not.