This was our second Viking River Cruise and we were excited at the beginning because our first cruise had been such a delight. We took the Portraits of Southern France cruise in late September/early October 2015. We were warmly welcomed when we boarded the Viking Buri in Chalon sur Saone.
Within hours, the ship’s management informed us that passengers boarding from another Viking cruise had contracted and/or been exposed to Gastroenteritis. As a result, Viking suspended coffee station service and lunch buffet service, and passengers were not permitted to serve themselves anything at any meal. On day six of the cruise, the program director announced that GI illness was no longer a concern. Notwithstanding, Viking never resumed those services.
Things went seriously awry on day 3 as a result of the failure of one of the ship’s engine generators. It took 36 hours for the program director to advise the passengers that there was an issue and how it would be resolved. As a result, the ship spent three days docked in Lyon while we waited for a part to arrive to effect the repair. Viking arranged for us to visit the other scheduled stops on the itinerary, which meant they put us on buses and bused us around France. For example, part of the appeal of this cruise’s itinerary was a full-day visit to Arles. Instead we spent almost 2-1/2 hours on a bus to Arles and almost two hours, again on a bus, to re-board the Buri. Because the ship was continually a day behind the schedule and not docked at the places we were visiting, passengers did not have access to the ship during most of the shore excursions. As a result, quite a few passengers elected not to take the shore excursions because the bused versions of the excursions were too physically demanding – not because of the sites visited but because of the extensive periods of time on the bus.