It is really hard to criticize this company. It would be like kicking a puppy. They are just so eager and try so hard. Before selecting this cruise we saw some river cruise shows on the travel channel. We were put off by the passengers being one step form a nursing home and the lame entertainment. No, all our well-traveled friends assured us. Viking is nothing like that. Hate to say it, but that's exactly what it was. Initially on board, we thought this would be our first and last river cruise. During the week, the amazing staff and service grew on us, and now we can easily envision another such adventure.
The great parts were the included tours and the afternoon lectures. I was expecting super-gourmet food, and although they attempted authentic cuisine, it was a bit more plebeian than imagined. Still, quite tasty and excellent choices. The passengers were mostly American with a few scattered Brits and Canadians. I might have appreciated more diversity, but we met some very interesting people nonetheless.
We mostly just took the included tours and walked around each town on our own after lunch. You can get plenty of exercise this way if you want to. After exhaustion sets in, we found it very pleasant chatting with folks in the lounge, sipping wine or tea along with delicious homemade cookies and watching the scenery pass by.
A French friend recommended Les Baux and Lumieres. Thank goodness I took his advice and sprang for this optional excursion. It was the most amazing part of the trip by far. The worst part was the air route home selected by Viking, supposedly free. You get what you pay for. They scheduled us to leave the ship at 3:30 am. The car that took us to the airport broke down on the highway soon thereafter. The driver made us get out for fear of our vehicle being hit in the pitch dark. We waited in the freezing cold for about 45 minutes, climbing over the highway barrier to be safe, while the driver frantically called everyone he knew to come get us. Viking redeemed themselves by meeting us at the airport and whisking us through the first class check-in even though we were flying steerage. Three exhausting flights later, we were home. Next time, I will pay more attention to the flights and times they offer me, and pay extra to not run the gauntlet.
Overall, the experience was excellent even with the aforementioned downsides. Just do it!
Everything you needed including storage, but extremely cramped for 2 people. We had to make traffic arrangements for each of us to navigate around the bed. VERY clean and wonderful housekeeping service twice a day. At first we were disappointed that a French balcony is a glorified term for a sliding glass door. But the weather was unseasonably cold, and we wouldn't have sat outside anyway.
Fascinating French Resistance history that jibed with afternoon lecture.
Cool steam train ride, mostly scenic
Excellent tour of papal palace. Saw Pont d'Avignon on our own after lunch. Did the obligatory song and dance selfie.