Our cruise on the Delling down the Rhone from Lyon to Avignon had many excellent features (like service, food, and accommodations on the ship) but also some disappointments. There were about 185 passengers; any more would have been too many for us.
The first thing to be said about it is that there was very little cruising and a lot of walking and bus-riding. In retrospect, we suppose this was to be expected since the distance is only about 150 miles. During shore excursions, one sees some very nice aspects of this region in France, especially Roman ruins, wineries, a canyon, and farms. But during the few hours we were actually cruising during daylight, we weren’t passing the beautiful castles one sees in the ads, but rather a lot of factories, nuclear power plants, etc. As senior citizens, one of us having had recent knee surgery, we were pleased about the “leisure” and “easy” tour offerings. Still, there was a lot of walking. Our cruising was further limited by an accident involving another boat that closed down the river for many hours, so we were bused to Arles rather than sailing there on the Viking Delling. We also spent a lot of time in locks: the first time was technically interesting, but later times were boring. Further detracting from use of our veranda were the frequent times that we looked out onto another vessel a few feet away, tied up to ours, rather than looking out to the river. We heard that Budapest to Amsterdam cruising was much better.
On the positive side, our large stateroom (with adjoining living room) was excellent as a generally docked, small hotel room. There were many modern, attractive features and the bathroom was superior. The service was generally excellent. We were brought champagne, fresh fruits, flowers, and wine. The meal service was excellent almost all the time, whether picking items up from the buffet or ordering them from the menu (the chef was German; he did superbly on French cuisine and less so on occasional German cuisine). The only exception was sub-standard orange juice; why don’t they offer fresh-squeezed? The expedition leader, Mia, was exceptional with a marvelous sense of humor; she should be offered a big raise. The waiters were generally very good, only occasionally serving items to the wrong person. Most of the tour guides were very informative and professional; the buses were Mercedes-Benz. Entertainment in the lounge was high quality, including a fine talk about the French Resistance during WW II. So the Delling as a fine hotel was distinctly superior to our other decent first Viking experience on the Yangtze River in China.
The stateroom was excellent. There were fancy controls for temperature and most of the lights. Special reading lights were embedded in the headboard. The closet, refrigerator, and safe were useful. The two screens provided CNN; one could also watch propaganda on "Fox News." The weather information was incomplete. The furniture and bed were comfortable. The bathroom was fine, with much storage space and a sufficiently large shower. The toilet made a brief loud bang when flushed. The veranda was nice when it wasn't blocked by another attached cruise ship.
Our next stop after Lyon was Vienne with an OK city tour but not of the Roman amphitheater. The ship then stopped in Tournon-sur-Rhone, but we didn't see it since we departed very early on an all-day Optional Tour, "Charming Ardeche". I don't know if this questionnaire will give us an opportunity to review that, but it was Very Good.
The walking tour included the immense and impressive Popes Palace. With over 200 steps, the "leisure" tour did not include this, but the guides enabled me (who was able to go into the Palace) to meet up with my wife (who with her cane was on the leisure tour) afterwards. Other parts of the walled city were visited, as well.
The walking tour was OK. But the various groups got held up at the amphitheater by inadequate toilet facilities. We looked through the bars at the theater, then passed city hall. Even the leisure tour got to be a very long walk so we stopped following the tour and instead found a wonderful restaurant (La Plaza) for lunch. The time spent going to and from Arles and in Arles was extended due to the fact that we were bused there and back due to a river accident (not Viking's fault) that prohibited the Delling from going to Arles.