This was our first river cruise after about 18 ocean cruises so a totally different experience. We traveled as a group of 6 adults (brothers and wives) and I can say it was a great cruise and look forward to other river cruises.
Itinerary: 7-Night Avignon to Lyon. Could not sail from Lyon to Macon on the 6th day due to concerns about water level so we took a bus from Lyon on our wine country trip. Not a big deal since we were going to return to Lyon anyway after the sail to Macon.
Embarkation: Arrived by train in Avignon and took short cab ride from train station to the ship...on board by 11:00 am. The cabin was ready and bags delivered so we immediately went to the buffet lunch.
Ship: The Heimdal is one of the Viking Longboats and we were very impressed with the layout and design of the ship. The verandah cabin was probably the best designed cabin we have experienced on any cruise liner. While slightly smaller, it was very well thought out with plenty of storage space and great lighting. The public areas like the dining room, lobby area and lounge were also very well thought out and comfortable. Did not spend as much time on the sun deck as expected as there are so many locks and bridges on the Rhone that it seemed to be closed during sailing times.
Service: The staff were all exceptional. With a small ship, you get to recognize and know much of the service staff and they were all very accommodating, cheerful and helpful.
Food and Drink: All of the dinner entrees were good to excellent. The Coq au Vin was especially good one evening. Breakfast and lunch were buffet with some items available from a menu. The special Provence Lunch was a nice offering one day. While the menu may not have as many choices as an ocean liner, there was still enough variety to make most people happy. Wine, beer and soft drinks were served at no cost during lunch and dinner (and Mimosa's at breakfast) and they kept the glasses full. I thought we would be experiencing a different wine each evening but the white wine never changed (Chardonnay) and 4 of the 7 nights the red was a merlot. But with being in wine country you can bring your own back on board to enjoy.
Shore Excursions: The fact that a tour is included in each port makes a river cruise much more inclusive than an ocean cruise. We had great guides in Arles, Viviers, Lyon, Vienne and for our Wine excursion. The wine tasting and subsequent bus ride thru vineyards was some amazing scenery.
Program Director: Our program director was Christine from England and she seemed to have clones...she was everywhere. I was impressed with the way everything was organized and the hard work she put in.
Entertainment: We knew not to expect much in the form of entertainment. We had a piano player/singer who had full computerized music background accompaniment who was enjoyable and quite a bit of dancing took place....even a conga line one evening. On one evening a group of local talent from Lyon performed and an accordion player was aboard another evening during dinner and drinks.
Debarkation: Even though we did not have Viking transfers, they took care of having a taxi reserved for us at 7:00 am to take us to the train station and even loaded our bags. Much different and so much easier than on an ocean cruise. Impressed with the extra service.
Conclusion: We had read that Viking was the "Ford or Chevy" of river cruises. Not sure if it was meant as a put down of Viking, but we were very impressed with everything on this cruise and definitely want to do another river cruise. And Viking delivered a really good product. One brother did miss the casino from large ships but we were mostly tired, full of food, and ready to rest up for the next day's adventure.
Very well designed, great lighting, heated bathroom floor, and lots of storage
Very hot day...toured Pope's Palace and the walled city. Guide was a little hard to understand.
Loved this town. Great guide. Interesting seeing the actual places Van Gogh painted many of his classics.
Bus trip to cathedral and then time to roam city. Christian was very good guide.View All 47 City Tour Reviews