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14 France River Cruise Reviews

We took advantage of a special offer via Imagine Cruising a company we use and trust for this river cruise.We arrived at Lyon and boarded quickly and were very pleased at our cabin which was spotless and very welcoming with nice decor ... Read More
We took advantage of a special offer via Imagine Cruising a company we use and trust for this river cruise.We arrived at Lyon and boarded quickly and were very pleased at our cabin which was spotless and very welcoming with nice decor etc.We enjoyed the pleasant public areas and especially the sun deck with good seating and a lovely shaded area with also small but well presented pool to cool off in everyday.All meals and most drinks are included and were of very good quality.We enjoy different cultures and the food offered and like to try different tastes and always found something tasty at meal times.Salads.meats,fish desserts.cheeses including the breads were good.Tea and coffee are available at all times. We visited the South of France area from Lyon through Avignon,Arles etc down to the Port st Louis area which was the only port to disappoint.We think this last stop should be excluded from the itinerary as it's too industrial in this part.We enjoyed two trips outside of the towns that we moored in the centres.the first was to the Camargue area ending up in the lovely little seaside town of St Marie de la mer which is beautiful.The second was to Marseille but was too rushed and a bit frustrating as we only had 25 minutes around the port area which was the most interesting part of the city. The clientele are largely German with a few other nationalities and about 25 percent British and there was little mixing ,probably due to the language barriers and it was difficult to communicate and people gathered in the evenings in their own language groups.I hoped for more mixing It was very pleasant to sit to enjoy sunsets and the passing countryside as we leisurely sailed the river.All the main cities including Lyon and Avignon are easily explored from the boat and we have lovely memories of these beautiful places. the evenings were simple with light music playing as we enjoyed the company of fellow cruisers with inclusive drinks and food at hand at all time. We will certainly river cruise again and we hope with Arosa in the future.104 Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
Recommendation of friends who were on their third SCenic cruise. This was my second SCenic river cruise so, obviously compared it with the Danube cruise I went on last year. It was a good experience (not quite as good as the DAnube ... Read More
Recommendation of friends who were on their third SCenic cruise. This was my second SCenic river cruise so, obviously compared it with the Danube cruise I went on last year. It was a good experience (not quite as good as the DAnube cruise I did last year)? The entertainment was good but only for two nights, the rock group was excellent, a great night. the Pope's palace concert good as was the evening drinks visit to castle of Tournon. Although Pianist Richard did his best he was not quite 'in tune' with his audience. The shore excursions were very good except for the village of Oignt where we were promised crafts shops and coffee shops, none of which were open! We wondered why we were only give 45 minutes there, just enough to visit the disgusting toilets!!! Dining was very good but breakfast buffet could have been a bit more efficient, often scrambled egg, potatoes etc. All gone and not replenished very quickly. Wine with meals excellent and special requests fulfilled. Bar service during the day also very good, although not so go up on top deck in the afternoons, seemed to be only one attendant on duty and not to be seen regularly. Captains, senior staff etc.very 'visible' and approachable. All in all, despite minor criticisms I would recommend this cruise to my friends, I had a good time and appreciate everyone's efforts to make my time on board enjoyable. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
This was the year of the great French roast, Paris at 35ºC and similar to that all the cruise long. The payback was clear blue skies, no rain and great photos.The ship was 100% full, hence the service levels in the public areas were ... Read More
This was the year of the great French roast, Paris at 35ºC and similar to that all the cruise long. The payback was clear blue skies, no rain and great photos.The ship was 100% full, hence the service levels in the public areas were stretched. This cruise is a mixture of great French wines and cheeses (approx 450 different cheeses to be tasted), as far as scenery goes the highlights are the cities. The visit to an old hospital and nearby wine tasting at Marche aux Vin was very interesting, as was our first tasting of French nougat which is based on egg white and honey, as was the truffle farm (with charming hosts & dog). The Sundowners excursion (a walk to a nearby fortress tower) for wine/beer/nibbles with live musicians in a cool afternoon breeze was very hard to take. The itinerary was exactly as published. Compliments have to be given to all the bus drivers - they were very professional, safe drivers who helped some of our fellow passengers with their walkers. Driving through the French countryside was most enjoyable. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
Definitely a top-notch cruise ship and cruise line. The pros included friendliness of all staff, ports and scenery (the light presentation at Rouen cathedral at night is a must-see!). Aquavit Terrace for dining in the evening is ... Read More
Definitely a top-notch cruise ship and cruise line. The pros included friendliness of all staff, ports and scenery (the light presentation at Rouen cathedral at night is a must-see!). Aquavit Terrace for dining in the evening is apparently a well-kept secret. We actually dined there almost as many nights as in the formal dining room....a fabulous experience to enjoy gourmet food al fresco on the bow of the ship while cruising at dusk.....however less than a dozen fellow passengers partook in this option on the nights we dined outside. The cons included having a few tour guides that almost ruined our experience: one on Giverny excursion who liked to hear himself talk, dragged the group along and whose French-accented English was very difficult to understand (and I even speak French). We finally broke away from group and toured garden and house on our own. The second guide on the Normandy excursion was completely offensive as she opted to use the long bus ride to get on her soapbox and offer political opinions that were clearly inappropriate. It takes a lot to offend my husband and he was livid. As much as I would like to say that I would recommend a Viking Cruise to adults over 50 I really feel that if we ever have the opportunity to experience Viking again (and we hope to), it'll be at least ten years before we do so. We're both 56 and were often frustrated by older passengers for whom we had to wait, and slowed down our excursions. I love and enjoy senior travelers but we wanted to pack as much as we could in this once-in-a-lifetime trip, and felt we could have easily done more if we hadn't felt pulled back. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
Had not spent a lot of time in provence wanted to see provencal life. Food on board was always fabulous. The tours for the most part were great. Viver was a bore as was the guide. Loved the no pressure on board. When you river cruise ... Read More
Had not spent a lot of time in provence wanted to see provencal life. Food on board was always fabulous. The tours for the most part were great. Viver was a bore as was the guide. Loved the no pressure on board. When you river cruise you must be prepared for the locks, high water, and climbing over other boats something we learned but Viking made everything happen smoothly. We obviously enjoyed the cruise because was are taking another one in 2017 this time in Portugal. We have been on several ocean cruises but really liked the small ship cruise much better. If we ever take another ocean cruise it will be on a small ship with only a few hundred passengers. Viking is always there to serve the customer as it should be since the cost of a river cruise is not low end, We are really looking forward to the next river cruise. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed our trip along the Seine up to Normandy--at least until the Norovirus started hitting the passengers. I estimate that 10-25% of the passengers got sick at some point and their was NOTHING on board to ... Read More
My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed our trip along the Seine up to Normandy--at least until the Norovirus started hitting the passengers. I estimate that 10-25% of the passengers got sick at some point and their was NOTHING on board to alleviate any symptoms. It was like we're all on our own. Infection rate could have been higher or lower because virtually nothing was said by the staff publicly and I would expect them to understate the problem. Do all river cruises experience Norovirus outbreaks? Other than that, I loved the cruise, particularly the casualness, friendliness of staff and passengers alike, and the food. I have no complaints about the cruise itself. The staff admitted that the Neptune was built in 2001 and this was the next to last cruise before it was sold to another company. I found it to be a worn but very comfortable ship Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
We thoroughly enjoyed our cruise on the Seine. Although the Neptune is an older ship which has to show its age and without the "flash" of newer vessels -- we had traveled on a sister ship four years ago so we new what to expect. ... Read More
We thoroughly enjoyed our cruise on the Seine. Although the Neptune is an older ship which has to show its age and without the "flash" of newer vessels -- we had traveled on a sister ship four years ago so we new what to expect. However, in some ways, I liked the smaller size of the Neptune. The public areas easily accommodated the passengers without crowding. There were more smaller, round dining tables that facilitated conversations compared with the long, rectangular tables on some of the newer, large ships. Some of the reviews complained about delays in dining service. I am amazed at those comments -- we had lovely meals with never a problem of delays, and we never noticed anyone else having difficulties. The tour itself was great. All the stops along the Seine were interesting, including Monet's house and garden at Giverny, Rouen and, of course, the day excursion to the D-Day beaches in Normandy. Of note, there were very few optional excursions at an additional cost -- the standard tours were all you needed. Of special note, we greatly enjoyed our program director Lionel. He was informative while being very entertaining by injecting his great sense of humor into a pleasurable trip. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
The Hermod is only a year old and is in beautiful condition and very well maintained by the staff. It is simply gorgeous. The public areas are very well appointed. The dining room suffers from a low, hard ceiling and is very noisy. It ... Read More
The Hermod is only a year old and is in beautiful condition and very well maintained by the staff. It is simply gorgeous. The public areas are very well appointed. The dining room suffers from a low, hard ceiling and is very noisy. It really needs sound baffles. You have to shout to carry on conversations. The service was very slow--only 10 servers for 184 passengers. Ten minutes to get a glass of iced water. The "gourmet" food was well prepared but I prefer the simpler fare of the Viking Pride. The servers waited on all the tables so you never got acquainted with just one for your table with him/her knowing your preferences. The entertainment was mostly the pianist in the bar. He was very good, could play just about anything. The servers were attentive. The drinks expensive: $3.25 for a Coke in the bar. This was offset by free nuts, pretzels, etc. Meals had unlimited free French wine, one red, one white. Too acidic for me, I prefer a Pinot Gregio type which they served only once. The shore excursions varied by difficulty and were all interesting, several offered at each stop, but with the heat wave (95 F) exhausting for me. The best night was the last: we were entertained by an accordionist on the Sundeck, in twilight, next to the Avignon bridge. Spectacular. This was my 3rd Viking river cruise. They were all very good, but the Hermod suffers from a staff that isn't very intimate with the passengers. I was told the staff rotates frequently and their emotional remoteness shows. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
Things got off to bad start when the van that was supposed to pick us up at the airport did not appear for hours...and only came after urgent calls to the ship. So we lost half a day of exploring the embarkation town. (The hotel manager on ... Read More
Things got off to bad start when the van that was supposed to pick us up at the airport did not appear for hours...and only came after urgent calls to the ship. So we lost half a day of exploring the embarkation town. (The hotel manager on the ship did give us a generous drink package in compensation, but we were frazzled even so.) There were similar delays and disorganization on the transfer to the departing airport. As for the cruise itself: Pros: The ship itself was comfortable. The crew relatively friendly. The food was always good and on three occasions extraordinary. I don't think I ever have had such great steak, and I eat a lot of steak. Most of the excursions were very worthwhile--all but one had really knowledgeable and helpful local guides. Only two ports--Avignon and Arles, are major culture rich cities, but all the villages on this cruise had their own special charm and allure. Sometimes that allure was enhanced by the fact they were small and more easy to take in on a short visit. Cons: No onboard fitness room or equipment. Often it seemed Viking had inferior docks at ports-of-call compared to other lines. Very little in the way of evening entertainment. The shore information woman had never been in any of the ports and knew about little more than the offered excursions. Dining room was understaffed--and very noisy. Drinks are VERY expensive if you do not have a package. Most wines were very ordinary--a disappointment on what was a wine country cruise. Perhaps 80% of passengers had been on other Viking cruises and they almost unanimously felt the crew and service on this cruise was well below what they had enjoyed on other Viking ships. Some crew were last minute replacements; others were on their last cruise before their break, so that might have been the trouble. Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
Having traveled with Viking before, our expectations were high. Unfortunately, we were disappointed. Part of the problem was that we did not do enough homework ahead of time. We chose the worst time of year ( due to work schedules) and did ... Read More
Having traveled with Viking before, our expectations were high. Unfortunately, we were disappointed. Part of the problem was that we did not do enough homework ahead of time. We chose the worst time of year ( due to work schedules) and did not realize how much of the cruise would be spent on a bus. Viking hides the fact that for many of the excursions you will have to ride a crowded, uncomfortable bus. There was no scenic views along the highways. We also spent much of the time waiting for the very slow walkers to catch up to the group. Viking does offer a "leisure" group for those passengers but most insisted on signing up for the regular groups ensuring that all of us would forgo the opportunity for free time. Toward the end of the trip, we gave up and just went on our own. This meant we missed out on a few attractions that we could only get into as part of the group tour. Another problem was the weather. We had several days of rain. The boat could not make it under some bridges, therefore we boarded in Lyon and sat docked in the industrial part of tow by an "American style mall" for 3 days. We were told this is a frequent problem. There was no suitable plan B. We were loaded on to busses every day and rode for hours to the town's we were scheduled to visit. There were some good things_ staff was friendly and pleasant, food was good, rooms were small but nice. Our previous trip with Viking was much better. Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
River Cruise from Avignon to Lyon aboard the SS Catherine. 4/6/2014-4/13/2014. Summary: We would do it again. Uniworld cannot be beat. Service: 5/5 stars. Shore tours: 5 stars. Food quality and presentation: 5 stars. Room (Suite) design ... Read More
River Cruise from Avignon to Lyon aboard the SS Catherine. 4/6/2014-4/13/2014. Summary: We would do it again. Uniworld cannot be beat. Service: 5/5 stars. Shore tours: 5 stars. Food quality and presentation: 5 stars. Room (Suite) design and dockage: 3.5 stars. Program: 4 stars. Our credentials: this was our first ever river cruise. We have been on 5 ocean cruises on different lines. Of those we found Celebrity to be the top, Carnival the bottom. Princess and RCL were the others. We are in our early 70s. We have experienced a range of hotels from Red Roof Inns to the Marriott Marquis on Times Square. Similar dining experience. Background: This was the first commercial cruise for this ship. Our Travel agent recommended Uniworld over Viking because of service and passenger/size ratio. For virtually the same size ship Uniworld books a max of 160 passengers and Viking is closer to 200. Also, Uniworld fares include tips, most shore tours, and bar….including most spirits. The complimentary mini bar and carafes of spirits in your room are tailored to your preferences. Uniworld also includes transfers even if you book alternate transportation. The only requirement is that you meet up with their “standard” transfer points; usually an airport, or possibly a hotel on their pre-post stay itineraries. Passenger demographics: On this cruise they told us there were 114 passengers. We are not sure if that included the several Uniworld “suits” on board to check out cruise #1. Of the “paying” passengers about 30? were travel agents. They pretty much hung together and did not want to talk about their jobs or what special accommodation was made to have them on board. These were mostly women in their 40s. Of the remainder most passengers were couples between 50 and 60. No children. Service: Simply the best we could ever ask for. Each individual—whether one of the 2 butlers assigned to the 6 suites, a server, a housekeeper, or a sailing crew member—always had a smile and a greeting. Every one was willing to help in whatever way they could. As an example of their care, there was even a Uniworld rep at the departure airport. She greeted us as the transfer bus unloaded us at the airport, offering whatever assistance we might need to complete our departing flight arrangements. Food: The menus and presentation were simply top notch. Breakfast and Lunch were mostly buffets. Thankful for these; we could measure our portions to accommodate our senior stomach capacities. Dinner was served with several options for appetizers and main course. The cuisine competes with the finest of any shore restaurant. As an example: the breakfast buffet was more than a buffet. One could also order from the galley any form of eggs cooked to order; including eggs benedict. Room design: We were booked in a regular suite. On board there is one level higher—Royal Suite. There was ample room to move around. The negatives with regard to design are two: First, the outboard horizontal up/down half of the window was clever (the upper half was powered up and down) but the horizontal frame was about at eye level when sitting in the “full” balcony. Call “full” maybe 2’X8’? Second, there are sliding glass doors inboard of the balcony. These doors separate the balcony from the inboard sitting area of the wuite. So picture a balcony 8’ wide with 4 2’ sliding sections. The maximum opening is now 4’. Very annoying to squeeze past them to sit on the balcony. We used the balcony rarely due to the obstructed view. Fortunately the weather was unexpectedly warm and sunny so the outside decks—esp the sun deck—were totally acceptable. Dockage: For 2 of our 7 days/nights there was another ship docked against ours, on our side. Thus for privacy reasons we had the curtains closed, making for a virtual inside cabin. And since the curtains are on the inboard side of the “full” balcony its square footage was not usable. Shore Tours: These were well organized and guided by true professionals. Our Shore Tour Director, Emmanuelle, was a vivacious bundle of energy and information. She handled the stress of the first set of tours for the season with cool and entertaining professionalism. Every night she gave a talk about what to expect on the next day’s tour, including some local sayings/language. Our guide in Viviers ended our tour at her home, where she and a neighbor friend served bread, wine, and cheese! Be sure to try to get on Frances’ tour in Viviers! Shore Tours: Gentle Walking: One of the attractions of Uniworld was its offering of Gentle Walking for its shore tours. On some tours Gentle Walking was treated very well……taxis available to meet at intermediate stops for instance. On other tours Gentle Walking appeared to be an after thought. Some tours had no accommodation for Gentle Walking from the general tour. For example, Emmanuelle described the general tour as “level, with few steps”. But level cobblestone is not the same as level concrete. We rate their Gentle Walking as a nice thought but needs more attention. Program: To our mind the most negative aspect of the cruise was Uniworld’s decision to have unannounced, private, invitation-only parties most nights in the most intimate bar—the Bar du Leopard. This usually included dinner for a dozen or two. It virtually closed that bar/lounge—and thus the general access to the indoor swimming pool—between 7 and 9 each night. Unknowingly, we received this “special” honor one night (This night was for Suite occupants.). We feel guilty because we thought it was a one night only event but now realize that 90 % of the paying passengers were excluded each night. When we complained to the Cruise Director she told us we could use the lounge because “there were only 14 in tonight’s party”. But who wants to be a party crasher? The whole approach just seemed contrary to one of the guiding principles of France: Egalité. As far as we know not everyone was included in one of these soirees. We even know of some who got invitations to more than one. This was the only situation where we felt unwelcome and Uniworld appeared to us to be inhospitable. It is actually sad that the hospitality offered by every Uniworld individual gets tarnished by such an organizational decision. Tips: Even knowing tips were included we did leave some tips for the people who helped us personally the most: the butlers and the housekeeper. Certainly these were nowhere near the amounts one would leave if tips were not included. We never felt the slightest pressure to enhance the included tip schedule.   Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
This was our first river cruise and we recommend it and plan on river cruising again. We chose Viking because the catalog we received in the mail included an itinerary we had always wanted to do. The age demographic is largely 70+ . Being ... Read More
This was our first river cruise and we recommend it and plan on river cruising again. We chose Viking because the catalog we received in the mail included an itinerary we had always wanted to do. The age demographic is largely 70+ . Being considering younger we did make friends and connect with others our age We departed December 8, 2013 on the Paris Normandy cruise. We visited with family in UK prior to the trip so we did not do the pre stay or post stay in Paris. We did add on transfers once we arrived back in CDG and were very well taken care for our 30 minute ride to the ship. Our cabin was a corner one next to the staircases but was very well laid out and spacious and we liked it over the conventional cabins down the hall. Great storage and use of space. The staff were extremely courteous and helpful throughout the duration of the cruise. Each evening there was a debriefing of next day excursions or ship program. Very well organized. You leave the ship - you turn in your room key and get a pass which you turn in upon your return. This was a very efficient way of figuring out who was on or off the ship. There is only one dining time and it is open seating. The food was very good. Not excellent but very good. The portions are not those you would find on ocean liner cruisers, which is fine unless you are there for a food frenzy. The food was always elegantly presented . They tried hard to make it regionally based upon the day's visit. The breakfast buffet was very generous but repetitive, however, you could order a la carte. We lunched in the dining room most days vs. the buffet. I feel the lunch menus could have been a little bit more imaginative and did get the feeling that we were at the end of the season when coming to menu creation. At the captain's farewell cocktail they ran out of hors d'oeuvres after being passed to only half of the lounge. When pointed out they did bring more to the entire lounge. I admit I am a food and service snob and did note that one time they used a saucer as a serving dish and I suspect that the crab meat on crab cake night was fake crab meat. To my husband's delight one day they did serve hot dogs :(n For wine lovers such as us ...we would very often buy a bottle of wine at the many local wine shops and they either corked it right there at the shop or the ship would do it for you. There was not any question bringing it on board and they were happy to offer a corkage service at no charge. The entertainment on board is limited. There was a resident piano player who was somewhat engaged. They did have a spirit of Normandy night with local entertainers which was good. Most nights we were tired from daily activities we crashed after dinner. They did offer some "cultural" activities during sailing. Some things they listed as on board events were pretty lame. Would have liked to seen more educational topical info as in lectures relating to upcoming stops. The excursions were excellent and the guides were all fabulous. We opted not to do the intro to Paris half day tour the first day since we had been to the cite several times before and explored Montmartre and Ile st. Louis instead. Visit this small island on the seine by foot when you walk to the left side of Notre Dame and over the bridge. It is literally far from the madding crowd of tourists with small, and I mean, small restaurants and shops. Be sure and get ice cream! Beautiful gift shops and galleries. The Metro is extremely easy to use and in fact if you take the walking, get acquainted, walking tour the first day and the guide instructs you on how to use the Metro. Taxis are very expensive and Metro is the way to go. Our first excursion out of Paris was to the site of Vincent Van Gogh's last days. This particular day was bitter cold and we did not layer properly. Loved all we learned about this very troubled and brilliant artist. Rouen is great shopping. Wish there had been more to the Joan of Arc site. We did take advantage to leave the ship for dinner and dine at a local restaurant recommended by the ship. A Petite Auberge. A delightful culinary experience at what we thought was a very reasonable price. Recommend doing this to get a true local flavor outside of the ship dining experience. The highlight of our cruise was the visit to the Normandy Beaches. It was somewhat of a pilgrimage for us after losing my 95 year old Father-in-law this year who was a survivor of the Battle of the Bulge. You can read and study in history books, or online, but when you are there it is totally incredible. Very emotional day. They had a ceremony for our tour group at the monument which was very poignant. The day of the castle tour I chose to shop the two gift shops with other female companions. Two nice shops for last minute gifts. My husband did the castle tour which is ancient ruins on hillside and a challenging hike for most. This is a short 2 hour dock. The final day was Versailles. Our other reason for picking this itinerary. We opted for the whole day tour and I think this was a mistake. Unless you did not complete all you wanted to see in Paris prior to this point then opt for the half day tour. I really regret doing the full day. Half day or full day you get to see the same tour of Versailles Palace with free time to browse the gardens and gift shop. The whole day gives you 1.5 hours in the town of Versailles for lunch and shopping. Quaint but just more shopping and eating. Back to Paris on the bus and they drop you off for 2.5 hours at the Champs Élysées and return you to the boat at 0630 pm in time for dinner on the last night. Meanwhile the boat sails from Conflans to Paris during the afternoon and you leisurely enjoy the afternoon on the river. The coaches were all very clean. Follow the tipping guide .......if you are lucky enough to get Thierry as your guide in Paris or Versailles you are blessed and consider that a huge bonus. He is very entertaining! Dressing tips: Dining dressing is casual. Many do not change from day clothes. The captains toast/dinner was really no different than any other night. Ladies ..just take a different scarf and jewelry and wear the same outfit. Layer for those excursions at this time of year. Temperature in the cabin was a little erratic. I do have to say the linens and bed comforters were super soft and comfortable. On a final note. They only gave us a two hour window for check in at CDG and it was a very tight time frame. Long lines at check in and security and when we arrived at the gate they were boarding the plane. No duty free shop time! Would we travel Viking again? Possibly...it was great value for the money but I would explore other river cruises first. Bon voyage!   Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
This was our fourth cruise on Viking having previously cruised in Russia, on the Danube and on the Rhine. This time we persuaded five friends to join us. There are sometimes complaints about the flights (and flight times) selected by ... Read More
This was our fourth cruise on Viking having previously cruised in Russia, on the Danube and on the Rhine. This time we persuaded five friends to join us. There are sometimes complaints about the flights (and flight times) selected by Viking. My advice woiuld be to research which flights are available then pay the small amount extra and ask Viking flights if they can get the flights and seats you want. I did this on Lufthansa and we flew when we wanted to, got the seats we wanted and got our Star Alliance mileage. A word of warning about Delta; these flights are discounted fares and Delta will only give 25% of the actual miles flown if you collect Skymiles. Also Delta partners with Air France which does not respect seat bookings and you may find yourself in another area of the aircraft and split up if you are a couple. Now to the ship. The Neptune is not new and therefore shows some wear and tear. It is however extremely clean both inside and out and was kept that way for the duration of the voyage. The cabins (we had a B) are not large but the storage is excellent and the bathroom well appointed. Our cabin stewardess was a phantom but every time we returned to the cabin she had been there to tidy up, put out fresh towels etc. We were on the last cruise of the season and felt the chefs and dining room staff did an excellent job. They were beginning to run out of a few things but the staff bent over backwards to keep everyone happy. I am not a wine expert but I would classify the wines as drinkable. There is always the option to buy wine at one of the tastings and have the wine steward open them for you. The captain handled the ship with great expertise; watching her dock the Neptune was a treat. She was always to be seen around the ship and was very pleasant. She did not however speak any English. The excursion were enjoyable with clean buses with good drivers where used and any local guides were informative and spoke English well. Frequently on this trip, plans for excursions were changed due to the high water mentioned in the previous review. Now it rains too much or it doesn't rain enough; a fact of life and certainly not Viking or any other cruise line's fault. Where Viking missed the boat so to speak was information. The Cruise Director and the "concierge staff" answered questions with fixed smiles and shrugs of the shoulders. We were told the locks were closed. No, the water flowing into the locks was too strong. No, it was French law we couldn't be on board! I speak enough French to understand most of what is said and I found the captain's briefing on the situation was loosely translated by the Cruise Director, telling us what she thought we wanted to hear rather than what was being said. It didn't take the lawyers on board long to realize that the real issue was liability! If one reads these review boards one knows that these water situations occur with some frequency. It would certainly be a big improvement if Viking had printed material ready to distribute explaing how water conditions effect the ship and what the captains are required by law and/or the company to do. Cruising is like most things- caveat emptor. If being switched to buses, or missing a port or two or even moving to hotels is not for you then don't river cruise on any line. And do your research, if you have mobility issues remember some of the excursions cannot avoid steep climbs/descents, rough terrain/cobblestones.   Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
My husband & I are avid cruises, and have been on many cruises prior to the Scenic Rhine & Rhone river cruise, and we believe that if you are told to expect 5 Star and pay a lot of money for 5 Star that is what you should receive. ... Read More
My husband & I are avid cruises, and have been on many cruises prior to the Scenic Rhine & Rhone river cruise, and we believe that if you are told to expect 5 Star and pay a lot of money for 5 Star that is what you should receive. We have never once had a complaint with a cruise liner before, but we are so disappointed with this last cruise that we felt that others should be aware of our experience with Scenic cruises. My husband and I have just returned from a Scenic 14 day Rhine and Rhone river cruise with 3 days in Paris beforehand on the Scenic Spaceships Sapphire and Emerald. If you have ever picked up a Scenic brochure or indeed seen one of their ads on TV, you will hear and see that these trips are supposed to be 5 Star all the way. This was to be the trip of a lifetime 3 days in Paris followed by 14 days cruising the rivers in 5 Star luxury. At least that was what we were led to believe. Balcony rooms, unlimited alcohol, 5 Star dining all for the price of $22,500. Unfortunately the reality was between 3 and 4 star at a maximum. Our supposed spectacular dinner at the Eiffel Tower was more like a 3 star, get what you are given dinner on the first level. No spectacular view at all and a very definite time limit on how long you could sit and enjoy the "scenery". Very big disappointment, especially as there is a much better restaurant, Jules Verne one floor up, but of course more expensive. My husband and I had much nicer meals just in local cafes than this 5 Star Scenic experience. We began our 14 day, 2 river cruise on the Scenic Sapphire. We were very happy with the look and feel of this ship, and the staff were in fact exceptional, especially Miguel and Kurt. The food was mostly 4 Star, however the evening entertainment certainly left a lot to be desired. They seem to get one piano player on the ship for a whole week and that is all the entertainment provided. If you don't want to listen to the same music night after night the only choice is to spend the evening in your cabin as there is nowhere else to go on-board. If you like buffets you will enjoy the food on these 5 Star spaceships if not, you need to be prepared to be very disappointed. I expected table service for every meal; however the only meal that received this was at dinner. It was very unfortunate that so many people ended up with dreadful colds which of course spread like a wild fire through both ships when buffets are the only source of food and people who are sick are handling all the serving utensils. The 2nd week we moved over to the Scenic Emerald. This spaceship is definitely a lot older than the Sapphire and it showed. Our cabin was so disappointing not only was the TV falling off the wall but it didn't work for 4.5 days out of the 7 we were on board. The quilts on the bed had no stuffing left in them, in fact if you picked them up towards the light they were totally see-through. The food on this ship was inedible a lot of the time. If my husband and I were off the ship we in fact preferred to eat at the local restaurants than go back to the ship to eat. We had raw rabbit the first night on board the Emerald and the second night was no better with veal that could not be cut up it was so tough. I won't even begin to describe the dessert of Crepe Suzette that consisted of a piece of crepe roughly the size of my little finger that was an absolute disgrace and that everyone just looked at with absolute bewilderment. Half way through our 2nd leg of the River Cruise I did in fact email Scenic Cruises directly and let them know of our disappointment in regards to the food, entertainment and the quality of the ship. I received a reply from the Customer Liaison Manager, which was appreciated. She informed me that she was disappointed in our feedback and apologised that the meals were not to our tastes and that all of the things I mentioned in my email would be bought to the attention of the new Cruise Operations Manager. She also advised me that she had passed our comments onto the Cruise Director on board the Emerald. The Cruise Director did in fact come to talk to my husband and I later on the same afternoon. She listened to what we had to say, apologised profusely, but of course there was not a lot she could do. She did in fact agree that what we were receiving was not 5 Star and that it should not be advertised as such. If I was advised that Scenic offered 4 Star food and accommodation and we actually paid for 4 Star service, then I would have been happy with what we received. But we were promised 5 Star and certainly did not receive it. I have informed by travel agent of the problems we had and she of course was very upset as she recommended this trip in the first place. We are very frequent travelers, but will never be using 3 Star Scenic ever again.   Read Less
Sail Date April 2013

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