This was our 8th Viking River Cruises river experience. If the "Chateaux, Rivers, and Wine" itinerary had been our first Viking river experience we might have come away unimpressed, disappointed, and perhaps not excited about taking other river cruises. We were not alone in our assessment of the cruise. So, if you are doing your first river cruise with any river cruise provider don't choose this itinerary. The ship, crew, and food were absolutely outstanding but the itinerary and scenery along the Gironde, Dordogne, and Garrone rivers left a lot to be desired. Our time on the rivers was actually quite minimal and one sailing had to be cancelled due to adverse tides and water levels that kept us from sailing to Cadillac. The rivers were muddy (not very appealing) thanks to the severe tidal shifts that kept the river stirred up and when we were sailing the scenery was not very special. In contrast to the very scenic Douro, Rhine, Main, Danube, Seine, Elbe, Yangtze, and Sonne these French rivers were pretty blah. Bordeaux is a beautiful old city enjoying a period of renovation and development. We thoroughly enjoyed our time in the city. The walk along the river is wonderful and its fun to see so many people enjoying themselves biking, skating, or strolling along the wide concrete path. Many prefer Bordeaux to Paris and it's easy to see why. We spent 2 nights in the city before joining the cruise and that gave us time to get to know our way around and see the old buildings, churches, and gardens. Once onboard, we basically stayed in Bordeaux for 3 days before the ship moved and we took some walking and bus tours around the city, drove to Cadillac for a wine tasting and walkabout, and finally departed for Bourg at 5:30pm, on day 3 of the trip. On day 2 we did get a short evening ride on the Garonne but returned to the Bordeaux pier. Day 4 offered a two hour morning cruise to Libourne for some optional excursions for some while most of the people stuck around for a city walk around Libourne in the late morning and a walking tour of Saint Emilion in the afternoon. While in Saint Emilion the ship returned to Bourg. On day 5 we toured the citadel at Blaye and strolled through a market and that was very nice. That night we took an optional horse-drawn carriage ride though Bourg that included wine tasting. On day 6 we sailed for about 4 hours to Pauillac where we took a wine country tour through the Medoc and Margaux before ending up at Chateau Kirwan for a special dinner prepared by the crew. This was a good day marred only by a loud, obnoxious, foul-mouthed, uncouth woman who made a complete fool of herself on the bus ride back to the ship. After a short ride in the early morning hours of day 7 we returned to Bordeaux for optional excursions or more Bordeaux sightseeing.
Our chef, Pascal, and our program director, Lorin, and the entire crew did a great job throughout this cruise and with the itinerary being as dull as it was this was important and saved the trip. There are still a few more rivers we would like to see in Europe and some we'd even like to do again so we'll be sticking with Viking River Cruises in the future.
We were upgraded to this cabin and it was actually about 15 sq. ft smaller than the one we had booked. Instead of a chin level window on the bottom deck we had a French balcony on deck 2 that was nice even though we were in port most of the time.
We did this on our own and also with Viking River CruisesView All 19 Bordeaux City Tour On Your Own Reviews