This was our second river cruise, having used Uniworld previously. We wanted to try Viking to see how they compare, other than knowing that they are slightly less expensive than Uniworld. Initial impression of the ship was that it was very worn and needed updating. Now I know that it is being replaced next year. Our cabin was, however, very nice and the steward, Helena, kept it immaculately clean.
It became apparent by the third night of dining that the dinner offerings were not to our liking and the ingredients were "low budget." First night, beef bourgogne (stewed tough meat on egg noodles)...Second night, coq au vin (stewed chicken)..Third night, stewed lamb shank. There is also a fish and a vegetarian option, and the fish was good one time and not overdone, but the mahi-mahi tasted frozen and was dry. Also, there are standard offerings that can be ordered any night--salmon, steak, I forget what else...I had the rib eye steak one night and it was tough and grisly...not the rib eye we are used to in the US, but a different cut of meat. One night I had the scallops and it was 3 small scallops the size of a quarter on rice for a main entree. And here is the real kicker: The same red wine was served every night! Why not change it up a bit, even if you spend the same amount per bottle?? We are in France and want to try different local wines...don't have to be expensive, but a variety. Same thing at lunch...same white wine every day...I don't get it. Breakfast was the best meal of the day, lunches were okay, and dinner was disappointing. I think Viking has a set menu they follow and the chef has her/his hands tied and must follow the menu. I say this because we did the following week on the Viking Buri (this cruise was week 1 of a 2 week cruise) and the menu repeated! Very disappointed. To be fair, the service was excellent, but the dining room felt crowded and it was very loud in there...dinners seemed "busy" and a bit frenzied, not relaxing and elegant. We felt that the dining room was understaffed and they needed at least 2 more servers. Some of the desserts were good and so were the french fries at lunch, as well as the ice cream, but offerings were very limited and the variety was poor...many repetitions of food items or recycling of items, which is to be expected on any cruise, but this time it was painfully obvious. All in all, the dining was disappointing.
The excursions were interesting, and the guides were good with the exception of one who was far too detailed on the history of certain things...20 minutes in one spot just listening, but we enjoyed all the excursions and added several optional ones as well. The only downside to the excursions was the bus rides. The bus seats were very tight and close together and my knees were squished into the seat in front of me on every trip except one. I am 6 feet tall and the other tall passengers has similar problems and complaints. Viking should lease buses that have more space between the seats for their guests' comfort. I expected to be comfortable on excursions, but I was not.
Cabin was fine and very clean...nice large window.