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Viking Cruise reference: Viking Delling River Cruise - Portraits of Southern France – Avignon to Chalon sur Saone July 1 to July 8, 2105 I am a retired USAF officer and still do occasional consulting work for DOD focused contractors. My wife and I live on a lake in NC and enjoy birding and traveling. We recently went to South Africa on a 21 day birding “safari.” We have been on a number of cruises on the Cunard, Celebrity and Abercrombie and Kent cruise lines – enjoyed them all. We are both in our early 70s, are still very active and in good health. We enjoy walking tours, and regularly participate in long birding trips in some challenging terrain. During my Air Force career, I was stationed in Europe a few times, and was fortunate enough to have an exchange officer assignment with the French Air Force. Given my enjoyable experience in France, we thought a cruise in Southern France would be a great introduction to European river cruises. After reading a good number of reviews, my wife and I decided to take our first Viking river cruise. We opted for first/business class air travel to Marseilles and reserved a Veranda suite (AA). The Viking arranged Delta/KLM/Air France flights were fine, but the Viking transfer from the Marseilles airport to the embarkation location was a bit of a goat rope, in that the Viking greeters seemed overwhelmed by the number of arrivals. The luggage transfer from the airport to the ship went well. The Veranda suite cabin was physically quite good - two rooms, a little balcony and a large bathroom (heated floors) – the shower was exceptional (great water pressure). Cabin and laundry service were exceptionally good – thanks to Denis! The boat (Delling) is large and quite well appointed. They serve dinner in one “open” seating, so dinner can produce an interesting traffic jam with passengers and servers jockeying for space, seating and service. The meals were a shade above mediocre and the served wines the same. The servers worked very hard at meeting a seemingly never-ending flow of customers’ demands, but it appeared to us that they were understaffed. As the cruise progressed and it got hotter, service in the dining room slowed perceptibly, requiring us to sit in that overheated facility for extended periods. Our final dinner on board began at 7:45pm and concluded with dessert being served at nearly 10:00pm – nearly two and one half hours spent sitting in a room with the temperature over 95° F. We speculated that the kitchen staff had succumbed to the heat! If your table were on the sun side of the boat, the curtains needed to be closed – so much for the view. For breakfast and lunch, the queue at the grill was slow and unpleasant, as people felt compelled to cut in and reach through the line. The shore excursions were OK, but nothing like Viking’s advertising. Lots of bus and walking time, with the tour guide “herding cats.” On the positive side, the tour guides were well informed, had a good sense of humor and handled English well. Recommend you look very carefully at the itinerary and tours to be sure it includes somethings of genuine interest to you. Onboard activities varied from the interesting to sophomoric quiz games. The nightly piano player/singer was something out of an old “B-movie,” and his repertoire got old very fast. The passenger dress norms ranged from gym clothing to sport coat. Most of the time we wore high-end golf shirts and shorts with comfortable walking shoes and we felt very comfortable dressed that way on board and on the tours. Don’t kid yourself about your ability to walk on cobblestone streets and climb large flights of stairs – some of the tours were arduous and a few passengers with canes and walkers could not keep up. We’d recommend bring a good supply of Euros, with a generous amount of small denominations bills and change for tour guide and bus driver gratuities. The onboard concierge desk has a limited amount of change for larger Euro currency. Onboard internet was a bit intermittent, but if you were persistent, it worked OK. The number of 120v outlets is minimal; recommend you bring 120v plug multipliers (3 in 1), and adapters for 220v outlets. The Tour Director (Sam), was informative, and entertaining, except when it came to providing timely and accurate information about the boat’s malfunctioning air-conditioning system. The cruise began with what I’d characterize as a marginally effective air-conditioning system that got progressively worse until at about the 3rd evening, when it was totally ineffective. During the ensuing four days without air-conditioning, the on-board temperatures reached ~100ᵒF. One passenger we traveled with signed up for an optional tour just so he could sit in the air-conditioned bus and not participate in the walking tour– clever guy! A good number of on-line reviews have referred to our cruise as the cruise from hell. While that descriptor is hyperbolic, from a passenger’s perspective, it is quite accurate. Constant sweating and wet clothes were the norm; an environment in which virtually all activities were unpleasant, to include the most rudimentary such as sleeping and eating. From the onset of the air-conditioning problem, the Tour Director seemed to be in denial, even though it was obvious to anyone on-board that the air-conditioning was not functioning properly. He blamed the unusually hot weather, and said that since the ship was made of metal, it was unavoidable that it would get this “warm.” Warm is not a descriptor I’d use when the on-board temperatures hovered around 100ᵒF!! One night another Viking ship of a parallel design docked alongside us, and we were invited to visit their lobby and lounge areas, since their air-conditioning was functioning very well – so much for the Delling’s design and climatological situation explanation! What surprised and disappointed us the most was that there was no attempt made to make the best of a difficult situation; for example, buying a few fans to at least get some air movement in the dining room and bar area. I suggested that to the Tour Director and he told me he didn’t have that authority?! If he doesn’t have that authority, who on-board does? The boat’s captain was nowhere to be found during the “heat wave.” On the final night when the Tour Director finally announced what was obvious to all, he blamed UPS for losing the needed repair part, so the on-board steam bath continued unabated, until the morning of debarkation, when the air-conditioning miraculously began to function effectively Since 1967, I’ve flown and fixed aircraft all over the world and I think Viking’s inability to get a part to its boat in Europe is pitiful. They could have delivered the part via car or train, or put someone on a commercial flight to hand carry the part, or put it in their luggage. The fact that they didn’t even buy a few readily available fans for at least the public areas is unfathomable; after all, we weren’t in the middle of the ocean! On the day of debarkation, we had to have our bags ready for pick up at 6:00am – so we packed in the heat for a good part of the night prior. The queue for the final bill clearing took about 30 minutes – the staff seemed overwhelmed and it was HOT!!. The transfer to the Lyon airport via bus was OK, but then there was a significant “bag-drag” from where the bus dropped us off to the terminal. On the positive side, the Viking transfer rep stayed around to be sure we were checked in OK. The Viking arranged flight to Paris went OK, but sure wasn’t first or business class – just wasn’t offered on that model of Airbus. In summary, we believe the Portraits of Southern France cruise is just a lousy itinerary – there are so many low bridges, the sun deck is lowered and off-limits most of the time, so we could rarely enjoy that aspect of the cruise. They did most of the sun deck reconfiguring at night, so in addition to the heat, the noise of the workers was considerable – like trying to sleep in a steamy bowling alley! Many of the in route stops were in small nondescript French towns, ensuring max bus ride time to see something worthwhile. Many of the docking locations were old rundown piers, replete with graffiti. When docked, most times our suite veranda looked directly onto the side of a rundown pier or old warehouse. Despite the heat, at night we kept our sliding doors closed out of concern for someone stepping off the pier right onto our veranda and into our room. Most of the cruise itinerary shore line was an endless succession of scrub trees, deteriorating ancient ruins, most well out of visual range and floating debris. The locks in-between the different river levels were filthy and smelled as bad as they looked. Lock passage was interesting once, but after the 3rd or 4th time it got very old. We paid a lot of money for this cruise, with the expectation of participating in a cruise and sojourn that was enjoyable; instead, we had to endure a situation that was the complete opposite, a third-world accommodation and experience. Of the eight day, seven night cruise, four days and nights were without effective air-conditioning and were just miserable. Look closely at how many days you actually “cruise” - time on the front and back ends are taken up with embarkation and debarkation activities; no fun there! This situation was not a force majeure; it was a failure of Viking equipment and the inability or unwillingness of Viking’s crew to take any visible action to ameliorate the incessant and intolerable onboard temperatures. Any contention that given the circumstances, the crew did all they could is just not accurate, as I personally suggested to the cruise director at least twice, the introduction of a few air-circulating fans would have been a major step in the right direction. These could have been purchased in route at any city/village – the Euro outlay would have been well less than what an “open bar” cost and would have had a greater positive impact on the passengers’ cruise experience. I mailed two certified letters to the Viking CEO (Hagen) and Complaints Department (Andre), the first of which were received on 20 July and to date (2 Sep.), there has been no response from the addressees. Viking management’s approach to this particle problem has been to stall; I guess hoping we’d just give up – bad assumption! Based on our experience, for anyone looking at a Viking cruise, as long as all goes well, great; but if there’s a problem, don’t count on Viking management to do much. Our travel agent was finally contacted by a Viking rep and as compensation, we were offered credit on a Viking cruise for a small percentage of what we paid for our Portraits of Southern France cabin – over half the cruise (50%) was without air-conditioning, so offering less seems to be out of sync with basic logic. Readers can judge for themselves if less than 50% is fair compensation for a miserable cruise and the lack of response/courtesy from Viking management. Based on our first Viking cruise experience, it will be our last – Tauck Tours, here we come!

The Viking River Cruise From Hell

Viking Delling Cruise Review by zipzoop34

10 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: July 2015
  • Destination: Europe
  • Cabin Type: Veranda Suite
Viking Cruise reference: Viking Delling River Cruise - Portraits of Southern France – Avignon to Chalon sur Saone July 1 to July 8, 2105

I am a retired USAF officer and still do occasional consulting work for DOD focused contractors. My wife and I live on a lake in NC and enjoy birding and traveling. We recently went to South Africa on a 21 day birding “safari.” We have been on a number of cruises on the Cunard, Celebrity and Abercrombie and Kent cruise lines – enjoyed them all.

We are both in our early 70s, are still very active and in good health. We enjoy walking tours, and regularly participate in long birding trips in some challenging terrain.

During my Air Force career, I was stationed in Europe a few times, and was fortunate enough to have an exchange officer assignment with the French Air Force. Given my enjoyable experience in France, we thought a cruise in Southern France would be a great introduction to European river cruises. After reading a good number of reviews, my wife and I decided to take our first Viking river cruise.

We opted for first/business class air travel to Marseilles and reserved a Veranda suite (AA).

The Viking arranged Delta/KLM/Air France flights were fine, but the Viking transfer from the Marseilles airport to the embarkation location was a bit of a goat rope, in that the Viking greeters seemed overwhelmed by the number of arrivals. The luggage transfer from the airport to the ship went well.

The Veranda suite cabin was physically quite good - two rooms, a little balcony and a large bathroom (heated floors) – the shower was exceptional (great water pressure). Cabin and laundry service were exceptionally good – thanks to Denis!

The boat (Delling) is large and quite well appointed. They serve dinner in one “open” seating, so dinner can produce an interesting traffic jam with passengers and servers jockeying for space, seating and service. The meals were a shade above mediocre and the served wines the same. The servers worked very hard at meeting a seemingly never-ending flow of customers’ demands, but it appeared to us that they were understaffed. As the cruise progressed and it got hotter, service in the dining room slowed perceptibly, requiring us to sit in that overheated facility for extended periods. Our final dinner on board began at 7:45pm and concluded with dessert being served at nearly 10:00pm – nearly two and one half hours spent sitting in a room with the temperature over 95° F. We speculated that the kitchen staff had succumbed to the heat! If your table were on the sun side of the boat, the curtains needed to be closed – so much for the view. For breakfast and lunch, the queue at the grill was slow and unpleasant, as people felt compelled to cut in and reach through the line.

The shore excursions were OK, but nothing like Viking’s advertising. Lots of bus and walking time, with the tour guide “herding cats.” On the positive side, the tour guides were well informed, had a good sense of humor and handled English well. Recommend you look very carefully at the itinerary and tours to be sure it includes somethings of genuine interest to you.

Onboard activities varied from the interesting to sophomoric quiz games. The nightly piano player/singer was something out of an old “B-movie,” and his repertoire got old very fast. The passenger dress norms ranged from gym clothing to sport coat. Most of the time we wore high-end golf shirts and shorts with comfortable walking shoes and we felt very comfortable dressed that way on board and on the tours. Don’t kid yourself about your ability to walk on cobblestone streets and climb large flights of stairs – some of the tours were arduous and a few passengers with canes and walkers could not keep up.

We’d recommend bring a good supply of Euros, with a generous amount of small denominations bills and change for tour guide and bus driver gratuities. The onboard concierge desk has a limited amount of change for larger Euro currency.

Onboard internet was a bit intermittent, but if you were persistent, it worked OK. The number of 120v outlets is minimal; recommend you bring 120v plug multipliers (3 in 1), and adapters for 220v outlets.

The Tour Director (Sam), was informative, and entertaining, except when it came to providing timely and accurate information about the boat’s malfunctioning air-conditioning system.

The cruise began with what I’d characterize as a marginally effective air-conditioning system that got progressively worse until at about the 3rd evening, when it was totally ineffective. During the ensuing four days without air-conditioning, the on-board temperatures reached ~100ᵒF. One passenger we traveled with signed up for an optional tour just so he could sit in the air-conditioned bus and not participate in the walking tour– clever guy!

A good number of on-line reviews have referred to our cruise as the cruise from hell. While that descriptor is hyperbolic, from a passenger’s perspective, it is quite accurate. Constant sweating and wet clothes were the norm; an environment in which virtually all activities were unpleasant, to include the most rudimentary such as sleeping and eating.

From the onset of the air-conditioning problem, the Tour Director seemed to be in denial, even though it was obvious to anyone on-board that the air-conditioning was not functioning properly. He blamed the unusually hot weather, and said that since the ship was made of metal, it was unavoidable that it would get this “warm.” Warm is not a descriptor I’d use when the on-board temperatures hovered around 100ᵒF!! One night another Viking ship of a parallel design docked alongside us, and we were invited to visit their lobby and lounge areas, since their air-conditioning was functioning very well – so much for the Delling’s design and climatological situation explanation!

What surprised and disappointed us the most was that there was no attempt made to make the best of a difficult situation; for example, buying a few fans to at least get some air movement in the dining room and bar area. I suggested that to the Tour Director and he told me he didn’t have that authority?! If he doesn’t have that authority, who on-board does? The boat’s captain was nowhere to be found during the “heat wave.” On the final night when the Tour Director finally announced what was obvious to all, he blamed UPS for losing the needed repair part, so the on-board steam bath continued unabated, until the morning of debarkation, when the air-conditioning miraculously began to function effectively

Since 1967, I’ve flown and fixed aircraft all over the world and I think Viking’s inability to get a part to its boat in Europe is pitiful. They could have delivered the part via car or train, or put someone on a commercial flight to hand carry the part, or put it in their luggage. The fact that they didn’t even buy a few readily available fans for at least the public areas is unfathomable; after all, we weren’t in the middle of the ocean!

On the day of debarkation, we had to have our bags ready for pick up at 6:00am – so we packed in the heat for a good part of the night prior. The queue for the final bill clearing took about 30 minutes – the staff seemed overwhelmed and it was HOT!!. The transfer to the Lyon airport via bus was OK, but then there was a significant “bag-drag” from where the bus dropped us off to the terminal. On the positive side, the Viking transfer rep stayed around to be sure we were checked in OK. The Viking arranged flight to Paris went OK, but sure wasn’t first or business class – just wasn’t offered on that model of Airbus.

In summary, we believe the Portraits of Southern France cruise is just a lousy itinerary – there are so many low bridges, the sun deck is lowered and off-limits most of the time, so we could rarely enjoy that aspect of the cruise. They did most of the sun deck reconfiguring at night, so in addition to the heat, the noise of the workers was considerable – like trying to sleep in a steamy bowling alley! Many of the in route stops were in small nondescript French towns, ensuring max bus ride time to see something worthwhile. Many of the docking locations were old rundown piers, replete with graffiti. When docked, most times our suite veranda looked directly onto the side of a rundown pier or old warehouse. Despite the heat, at night we kept our sliding doors closed out of concern for someone stepping off the pier right onto our veranda and into our room.

Most of the cruise itinerary shore line was an endless succession of scrub trees, deteriorating ancient ruins, most well out of visual range and floating debris.

The locks in-between the different river levels were filthy and smelled as bad as they looked. Lock passage was interesting once, but after the 3rd or 4th time it got very old.

We paid a lot of money for this cruise, with the expectation of participating in a cruise and sojourn that was enjoyable; instead, we had to endure a situation that was the complete opposite, a third-world accommodation and experience. Of the eight day, seven night cruise, four days and nights were without effective air-conditioning and were just miserable. Look closely at how many days you actually “cruise” - time on the front and back ends are taken up with embarkation and debarkation activities; no fun there!

This situation was not a force majeure; it was a failure of Viking equipment and the inability or unwillingness of Viking’s crew to take any visible action to ameliorate the incessant and intolerable onboard temperatures. Any contention that given the circumstances, the crew did all they could is just not accurate, as I personally suggested to the cruise director at least twice, the introduction of a few air-circulating fans would have been a major step in the right direction. These could have been purchased in route at any city/village – the Euro outlay would have been well less than what an “open bar” cost and would have had a greater positive impact on the passengers’ cruise experience.

I mailed two certified letters to the Viking CEO (Hagen) and Complaints Department (Andre), the first of which were received on 20 July and to date (2 Sep.), there has been no response from the addressees. Viking management’s approach to this particle problem has been to stall; I guess hoping we’d just give up – bad assumption!

Based on our experience, for anyone looking at a Viking cruise, as long as all goes well, great; but if there’s a problem, don’t count on Viking management to do much.

Our travel agent was finally contacted by a Viking rep and as compensation, we were offered credit on a Viking cruise for a small percentage of what we paid for our Portraits of Southern France cabin – over half the cruise (50%) was without air-conditioning, so offering less seems to be out of sync with basic logic. Readers can judge for themselves if less than 50% is fair compensation for a miserable cruise and the lack of response/courtesy from Viking management.

Based on our first Viking cruise experience, it will be our last – Tauck Tours, here we come!
zipzoop34’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Veranda Suite
Cabin AA 320
Cabin was physically quite good - two rooms and a large bathroom. Shower was exceptional. The problem was no functioning air-conditioning and the room was about 100 degrees F - miserable for 4 days and nights. First cruise with Viking, but have been on a number of other ocean cruises - all were first rate.
Upper Deck Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews