Having sailed previously on a Viking River cruise from Bordeaux and one of their Mediterranean ocean cruises, we were delighted to find nearly "back to back" sailings on the Duoro and Rhone. This review relates to the Rhone cruise on board the Heimdal. As always, the food was a delicious blend of local specialties, Scandinavian delicacies, and rock solid American/European fare--well prepared and beautifully served. Typically helpful but unobtrusive Viking staff (where DO they find these dedicated professionals!!?) provided a very high level of service and the cleanest ship one could envision. Oliver, the cruise director, was not only very talented, but was the most helpful crew member--nothing was too much trouble, and his alacrity in taking care of every request coupled with his amazing knowledge of the area contributed greatly to making our voyage truly delightful. The local guides were knowledgeable and spoke our language as well as any native speakers. My husband, a great fan of Rhone valley wines, was very pleased with the vineyard visits and was able to add to his cellar. We had glorious weather, despite a pesky Mistral chill, and were able to visit the entire itinerary. As is the rule across the Viking line, there were no passengers under 18, which added to the sophisticated ambience. We did find the COVID restrictions heavy-handed, especially for a ship on which all passengers, staff, and crew had been fully vaccinated and PCR-tested prior to and at embarkation. Daily PCR testing on board (yes, daily!), temperature checks, masking in all public areas, on buses, and health questionnaires were, in our our opinion, intrusive--the mask requirement for all areas except staterooms, outdoors, and restaurant/lounge while being served made it impossible for me (I have asthma and prolonged masking is very difficult) to enjoy spending time in the public areas. It also seemed to discourage the kind of friendships that we have long enjoyed on board Viking and other lines. Hopefully, as people become less fearful and this virus diminishes (as it has), Viking will ease up on the restrictions.
Viking river verandah suites are spacious, provide a true suite where one spouse may rest while the other, in the separate living room, reads, takes advantage of the excellent WiFi, or watches the wide selection of options on one of the two large flat screen televisions. The decor was restful, comfortable, and Scandinavian-sophisticated. The bedding is high end hotel quality, and can be adapted to any special wishes. Stateroom staff were outstanding (two stewards)--room was always made up while we were dining or on an excursion. The level of cleanliness would have suited a hospital operating room! The gratis minibar was always full with our desired snacks and drinks. The robes and slippers, hair dryer, and top flight toiletries made packing much easier for us.