Our second river cruise in Europe was on the Viking Buri, perhaps one of the nicest river boats afloat. One of the newer Viking longboats, the Buri has the best of everything a boat could have. The finest furnishings, fixtures, and decor. ... Read More
Our second river cruise in Europe was on the Viking Buri, perhaps one of the nicest river boats afloat. One of the newer Viking longboats, the Buri has the best of everything a boat could have. The finest furnishings, fixtures, and decor. The locks on the Eurpoean rivers dictate the maximum size these boats can be but Buri's designers managed to get more in the same space with a few design changes. Balconies were added to one side of the ship which gives Viking more revenue but no more passenger space. I feel the balconies are not necessary as the French balcony provides an excellent view and who needs to sit out on a 30 inch balcony? I did not see many passengers using the balconies and they take a foot or more of space from cabins on both sides of the boat.
We boarded the boat in Chalon-sur-Saone after flying through Paris to Lyon where we spent the night before taking the train to Chalon the morning we sailed. Upon arrival in Lyon we took the Rhone Express from the airport (every 20-30 minutes and no need for advance purchase) to downtown Lyon where we stayed at the Mercure Lyon Part Dieu, just across the street from the terminus of the Rhone Express and not 70 meters from the train station. The Mercure is an excellent hotel for someone making these connections because of its location and the fact that it is a modern, beautiful hotel with a good restaurant and very reasonably priced rooms with king beds. A quick walk to the train mid-morning for our ride to Chalon on the train designated Lyon-Paris (no mention of Chalone but a red shirted information girl told me which train to catch.)
We arrived in Chalone for a quick (15 Euro) cab ride to the ship and since it was after 3PM (1500) we were able to go to our cabin. As wonderful as the ship was, I wish I could say the same about the itinerary. My first River cruise was from Amsterdam to Budapest and there is no comparison to that scenery with what is in Provance. First you docked in beautiful European cities everyday while on this ship we were bused to most of the cities. Also, the countryside in Provance is just not the same as on the Rhine, the Mein and the Danube. One of the stops was at night for A 9-10 PM walk but we got there late and the walk did not end until 11:00; too late for me. Boat sailed, missed that city. Seemed to spend more time in some cities with less in others with no reason.
One optional tour that I feel should be missed is the tour to Peroges an almost deserted medieval town. In my opinion a complete waste of time and money. Take the tour to Le Baux a very active medieval town at the top of a hill, if you like medieval cities. It is well worth your time and money. We took all the included tours but no other optional ones as we generally don't like to tour all day, everyday. We like free time to go back and see the cities on our own. Entertainment was an attractive piano player singing popular songs which I find more enjoyable than local folk dancers and musicians.
The food was exceptional, the best of any of the three river cruises we have taken, and as good as or better than the food on the 35+ ocean cruises we have taken. The menus had three main courses with salmon and steak as always available options. I usually opted for the fish but had the veal and chateaubrian (sp) - all excellent.
Our last day and night was in Avignon, one of the few cities where we actually docked. It was easy to go into town after the morning tour to the Pope's Palace.
Our departure after seven nights was at 6AM (11 Euro cab ride with meter started at 7.50 - language differences precluded me from getting an explanation of why the meter started so high) from Avignon in order to catch the 6:45 train to the Marseille airport an hour and one-half away. We had bought train tickets in advance but could not print them until we got to the train station. Use the YELLOW ticket (Billet) machine; the only one with a keyboard to type your name and e-ticket confirmation code. I might add that we had no trouble getting tickets for all the trains and would not have needed to buy them in advance. But you can never be sure what traffic will be. Flight from Marseille to Paris and home.
If you have never taken a European river cruise, take the Amsterdam to Budapest or a one week portion of it before you take this one. Then you won't need to take this one because you will have already seen the best of what the European rivers have to offer. Read Less