This was my 70th cruise, first time on Viking, first river cruise. Our cruise was 7 nights from Avignon to Lyon, in France. I booked the cruise with Viking as well as the air transportation from Washington DC to France. Before the cruise I was impressed with all the notifications and booking process from Viking, receiving many emails with updates. Some shore excursions are included others you must pay extra for. We booked nine shore excursions., three were additional cost. Our air with Viking required us to leave the night before at 9PM. We arrived at the airport at 6PM (3 hours before the flight) and were told by British Air Lines that we were "stand by".. I was shocked. The staff at the desk tried to help us find other flights, they said 3 seats were still not claimed but we had to wait. I immediately called Viking and they offered no help. 30 minutes before the flight BWI airport was nearly empty 3 people approached and yes, there went our seats. British Air Lines continued to look for flights but could not help. I kept calling Viking, got cut off several times, no one could offer help. By 11 PM both British Air Lines and Viking said "go home". On the drive home I tried to get help from Viking one last time. After talking to a few people from Viking I asked for a supervisor, he told me it was my fault for not buying the insurance. Insurance is for when I can not go, due to a problem on my part, I was ready, willing and able to travel, it was not my fault Viking booked me on an over booked flight. Almost home I got a call from Viking saying they found us a flight at 9 AM. We get home after midnight, got 4 hours sleep and headed back to the airport. After two transfers and long layovers, 24 hours of travel time we finally arrive in France at noon the next day. Vikings rep was there at the airport waiting for us, to wisk us to the ship. Check in was easy.
The ship is spotless clean. Our cabin was water view on deck one, very small at 135 square feet, you must plan moves with your cabin mate. Water is replenished daily, you must get your own ice down the hall from a machine.
Shore excursions - You have these hearing devices in your cabin that you take on the excursions to hear the tour guide. Every day my device stopped working within 15 minutes of the tour, I went to the tour guide to get my device replaced, and 15 -20 minutes later that unit died. After 4 days of this happening I went to the guest services desk and asked for my two last days of tours to be cancelled. Then said they would let me know. They did NOT. The next morning after breakfast I went to the desk and they said ....Oh here is a new unit, it should work. I went on the remaining tours and it did work.
We purchased the beverage package and I thought is was well worth the added cost. Phillipe, Dimi, and Robert were always there to pour my favorite drink. They were fantastic employees.
Food - For breakfast there is a light breakfast served in the casual area, and full breakfast served in the dining room. The dining room breakfast needs help. There are two stations, one for hot, the other for cold items. The hot section has an egg station. Every morning 10 or more people are lined up to get eggs cooked to order, this blocks the entire hot area, so if you want some scrambled eggs, bacon, or other hot item you must wait. The egg station should be its own station away from other food. AND, there is no clear order in line for the egg station, do you enter from this side or that side, people are entering both ways, which just complicates things even more. Also the seating is odd at breakfast. If you arrive 30 minutes before breakfast closes you must learn the "routine". Some tables are set, others are not. But you must go to a table that is set for breakfast, not for lunch or you will sit there and not be served. Once a table has been used for breakfast it is done or closed and the staff are eagerly cleaning and setting it up for lunch. If you show up 30 minutes or less before closing time they are not thrilled with you. 10 minutes before closing they come around and tell you....the buffet will be closing soon. There is a breakfast menu, but you do not receive the menu.....kind of odd. I ordered the eggs benedict one morning, from the menu. I have had this thousands of times, and I must say they were the strangest ones I have ever had, there was not a nice creamy Hollandaise sauce on top, more of a curd like flavorless topping.
Dinner is available in the dining room or the casual area. This was the first week they decided to have the same food available in the casual area that is served in the dining room. I liked the casual area because you have great views of the river while dining.
The food at dinner was good, not great, but good. I would say the food is the same level as Celebrity Cruise Line. The Rib Eye Steak was good and cooked correctly. The Salmon was poached, boring and dry. Caesar Salad was fantastic with actual slices of Anchovies on top. Scallops were excellent. Everything else was average. I have had far superior food on Oceania and Azamara Cruise Lines.
Lunch in the casual area also needs help. Outside they cook burgers....ok fine, what goes great with a burger, that almost everyone wants??? French Fries.....they are inside, and people are squeezing and butting in the line to get some fries. Why are fries not in both places?
The guy playing the piano in the evening was great, good music and always smiling.
The staff try very hard, the majority of them smile and say hello in all places except at breakfast in the dining room.
At a cost of about $9,000 for a one week vacation for two people I do not believe this to be a good value. I am glad I tried Viking. Would I travel with Viking again, Most likely not.
Cabin is super clean, very small 135 square foot, not much storage. Soaps and shampoo are replenished daily. Do not walk in cabin without shoes, there are a few "hatches" in the floor with metal trim that really hurt when you step on them. Water pressure is great in both the sink and shower. Temperature control was wonderful. Several electric outlets, including both sides of the bed, just remember to bring 220V converters.