The dates above apply only to the "cruise" portion of our vacation. Viking also arranged our air transport from Houston, TX on 20 May to Paris, our stay in Paris (2 days), and a bus tour of southern France through Burgundy to ... Read More
The dates above apply only to the "cruise" portion of our vacation. Viking also arranged our air transport from Houston, TX on 20 May to Paris, our stay in Paris (2 days), and a bus tour of southern France through Burgundy to Lyon (2 days). Each element of the vacation was excellent and, though we met with some rain at the beginning of the trip, Viking (from drivers, to guides, to choice of locations visited, to hotels, to our fellow passengers) provided an excellent experience for us.
Our ship, the Delling, was magnificent. The staterooms were beautifully designed and well-appointed, light and airy, surprisingly roomy, spotlessly clean, and maintained by a well-trained, polite and cheerful staff, eager-to-please and to accommodate our needs. The Rhone portion of the trip was amazing. We began the cruise portion of our trip late in the day, while passengers were asleep. The movement of the vessel was so smooth and quiet that we could only tell that we were moving the next morning, when we looked out to see southern France gliding by our stateroom window. Hardly any vibration at all from the engines.
Our guides on the various tours were knowledgable about their subjects (wines, produce, architecture, history and cultural significance of the areas visited). The tours themselves were well-organized and interesting. There was adequate time for photography en-route, meal stops, and the onshore sites chosen were perfect. Our guides handled questions superbly. Our tour directors, onshore and on the Delling, were top-notch. The electronic devices permitting us to hear the tour guides while ashore worked well. While onboard, we heard talks on various subjects of interest (silkscreening, how the galley was run, etc.).
We were fortunate to have been able to attach ourselves to a congenial group of eight passengers from all around the United States, who enjoyed each other's company. And so we often dined together in the evenings, toured together, and had a grand time. We stay in contact with some of them even today. The cruise attracted some interesting, well-educated people who work, or worked, in a variety of fields, and who became engrossed in the history and culture of southern France. Our dinner conversations included discussions of what we had seen on a given day, and each of us was able to bring additional perspective on what we viewed that day to the dining table. Our fellow passengers were certainly a highlight of our Viking experience.
All meals on the Delling were perfect. For breakfast, we generally chose the lighter fare in the forward restaurant (croissants, juice, fruit and coffee) on most days. The food was fresh and the tables and serving area were kept spotless by an able and accommodating staff. This, and buffet-style lunches dining when we were not on an onshore tour and lunching ashore, provided us with the opportunity to meet and visit with other passengers. Luncheon fare, whether hot or cold, had considerable range of ingredients, and the variety of fresh foods was excellent. All dishes were well prepared, and beautifully displayed. The staff encouraged us to sample from a range of offerings.
Dinners were a special treat. Choices were surprisingly broad and made of fresh materials. Our chef was amazing. One of our number at dinner had a condition that prevented her from consuming a particular (and common) type of food, and so our chef managed to accommodate her dietary needs. If another member of our dinner group needed a change to some element of his meal, the waiters carried the message to the chef and he altered the meal for that person. The wine list featured local wines as well as the usual ones, and was quite broad.
The food quality was equivalent to that in a four star restaurant, in my opinion. Service was excellent. I don't think that even on a single occasion, a "wrong" meal turned up in place of what was ordered, and I'll note that requests for individual modification of the menu in some manner were fairly common in our group of diners. Desserts were a special part of the meal. Scrumptious in taste and beautiful in presentation. How chef managed that in his modest-sized kitchen was amazing.
At all times, we felt completely secure on the cruise. The staff carefully and conscientiously manned the gangplank at both ends of shore excursions, screening arrivals, and they knew their passengers well. And tour bus pickup points were kept close to the docked vessel and to the sights visited. This was a particularly important consideration for us this turbulent year.
We followed the Viking cruise with an extended stay in Avignon, our point of disembarkation, and to which city we had flown our son and his family to continue our exploration of southern France. This, and rental of a small villa on the coast in Frejus was, in some ways, a repeat of a similar trip we took when he was very young, four decades ago. I will say that this portion of our trip, though well- and carefully-planned, was much more hectic for us without the assistance of the staff and facilities aboard the Delling. And we were constantly trying to find "parking" for our vehicle at our lunch, dinner, and cultural stops during that ten day period. What a distraction that was!!!
All-in-all Viking provided a more luxurious and restful vacation for us than we had anticipated. Thank you for a great experience and the opportunity to meet your group of loyal and efficient employees, and such interesting fellow passengers. Read Less