This was my 1st river cruise. I would do it again with Viking. The staff and crew were all great. We were able to finish our cruise on the Rhone River without a problem. We met a couple that had spent the same week on the Danube. They had low water levels and their river cruise turned into a bus trip. I enjoyed all of the included shore excursions and went on 2 extra excursions that were exceptional. The Secrets of the Chateau de Flecheres was amazing. One of the owners had a question/answer time in his living room at the end of the tour. He offered us bubbling wine, orange juice and water plus a piece of praline tart that was delicious. When we came back to the ship after an excursion or shopping, we were met with something to drink that got alcohol added to it (you could opt out of the addition to your drink). There were often warm moist towels also. They were welcome with the cold weather we had in late November. All of the cities and towns we visited were great. The things they offered to tourist were amazing. The ancient Roman ruins were incredible. Embarkation and debarkation went very smoothly. The staff makes sure you know exactly where to go. We were met near baggage claim when we arrived and a staff member walked us through the airport to the correct area after debarkation. The food on the ship was always good and a variety of choices were offered. I was part of a group of 10. We had dinner at a large table in the back of the dining room by the kitchen. It was quite noisy there so I would opt to sit near the front of the dining room if a large table is not required. The servers always had a smile. One of my favorite on board events was the program director's talk on the French culture. She made it funny but very educational. The boat seemed to do most of its traveling when we were off the boat on excursions, while we were sleeping or during meals. Suddenly you would realize you were in a lock but you're in the middle of lunch or dinner. We cut lunch short one day to go outside and watch the process of going through the lock. I have been on many ocean cruises and enjoy the sea days. I will be trying my 1st Viking ocean cruise in 2020.
The cabin was very nice. The French balcony cabin is smaller than the lower category, but we were not in it that much. We had a lovely view of the river when we were docked in Lyon for 2 days, before we left for home on the 3rd day. Unfortunately, a vacant river boat tied up to us on the 1st afternoon so we lost our beautiful view and never got it back. The boat stayed tied to us for the duration of our stay. So disappointing. We could have paid less, had the larger room and ignored the portholes blocked by the other boat. On the last 2 days of the trip we were in the cabin more often packing, so having the curtain open to see the view would have been very pleasant.
Avignon is a very interesting old walled city. I have always wanted to see the Bridge at Avignon. Now I have. On our first late afternoon of our Viking cruise, they offered a walk down to the bridge which you could see from our boat. The guide talked about the history of the bridge. Then we went across the street to the city of Avignon and took a walking tour that hit some different spots than the walking tour the next day did. I would recommend both walks.
The Roman coliseum was so interesting. This trip was my first experience seeing such ancient ruins up close. Being able to look at a Van Gogh painting and then see what he used as inspiration was wonderful.