25 Viking River Viking Heimdal River Cruise Reviews

This was our second Viking and it met the high standards of the first one. The service was excellent. The food continues to be superb and the staff are the best. Like one big family. The shore excursions were just the right length ... Read More
This was our second Viking and it met the high standards of the first one. The service was excellent. The food continues to be superb and the staff are the best. Like one big family. The shore excursions were just the right length and time. Being a short cruise little time was actually spent looking at the countryside as most movement was at night. The director was fabulously entertaining as were the wait staff. They all seemed to love their job, especially those that had worked on other cruise lines. They said Viking was the best. My one negative was when they were presenting the opportunity to buy travel certificates for future travel. It was not made clear that only 1 per person can be used per cruise. We did the Paris extension and very impressed with the care we were given from the ship through to checking in at the airport. Viking staff members were with us every single step of the way. The Paris hotel was fine and within walking distance of many fine restaurants. Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
Itinerary 29/03/17 Fly from London Heathrow to Marseille then coached to Avignon to embark on “Viking Heimdal” for 7 night cruise to Lyon. 30/03/17 Moored in Tarascon and coached to Arles. 31/03/17 Return to Avignon. ... Read More
Itinerary 29/03/17 Fly from London Heathrow to Marseille then coached to Avignon to embark on “Viking Heimdal” for 7 night cruise to Lyon. 30/03/17 Moored in Tarascon and coached to Arles. 31/03/17 Return to Avignon. 01/04/17 Viviers. 02/04/17 Tournon and Vienne. 03/04/17 Lyon. 04/04/17 Lyon. 05/04/17 Disembark ship and fly from Lyon to London Heathrow. Ship The “Viking Heimdal” is one of Viking's new Longships and first entered service in 2014, so is quite new. She is 443 ft (135 metres) long, is designed to just fit in the Rhone's locks and has 4 decks (but only an elevator between decks 2 and 3). The Ship is a very comfortable base for 190 passengers in 85 cabins and has a crew of 51. Diesel-Electric Hybrid engines provide ample whisper quiet propulsion with extremely low emissions. Heimdal was the name of the guardian of the Norse Gods. Fellow Passengers I would estimate that vast majority of passengers were either North American/Canadian and British, with a split of around 50/50. The age profile was very similar to most of our sea cruises, with a large percentage of senior citizens. Many of the North Americans were going on to Paris after the cruise, either by air or by train. It was a very amiable cruise and we didn't witness a single serious argument or notice any over indulgence of the included wine or beer. The Crew The crew were mostly European with the majority of the housekeeping and dining room staff being from Eastern European countries. Having experienced many sea cruises, we have never had a better or more (professionally) friendly crew than on this ship. Nothing was too much trouble for them and they always had a smile on their faces. The Hotel Manager, Englishman Chris Harrington, was very professional and had a very good sense of humour. He was able to transfer us from our cabin on deck 1 to a cabin on deck 3 when some passengers did not turn up. My wife Chris had a very painful left knee and negotiating the stairs between decks 1 and 2 several times a day would have been very difficult and painful for her. We had asked Veronika Etenyi of Guest Services if this would be possible and together with Chris Harrington they made the cabin on deck 3 available to us. We were very grateful to them both for this. The Programme Director, Christine Couper was an excellent organiser and kept us well informed of the following day's programme at a pre-dinner talk in the lounge each evening. Although originally from England, Christine now lives in France. Like most of the crew she seemed to be busy from first thing in the morning to last thing at night. Dining There were two dining areas on the ship, the Main Dining Room on deck 2 aft and the Aquavit Terrace Buffet on deck 3 fore. We thought that the Main Dining Room was very elegant and had tables for 4 and 8 people. The Aquavit buffet had tables for 2 or 4 and had an inside section and an outside section. The UPVC sliding doors separating the 2 sections could be opened right up in warm weather. We ate all our dinners in the Main Dining Room but had some lunches in the Aquavit Buffet – it was very pleasant to sit and eat outdoors in the sun when possible. Rather stupidly I had expected the standards of the meals on a river cruiser to be somewhat below that of the big sea going ships we had sailed on – how wrong could I have been? Greek Executive Chef Daniel Papadimus and his small staff (a sous chef, 8 chefs and two dishwashers) produced meals that would have graced the table of any top restaurant. We were given a conducted tour of the galley by Chef Daniel and were surprised how small it was – about 4 times the size of our kitchen at home. Gas cooking is not allowed on these ships so induction hobs are used instead. Some of them very powerful. There are only 2 ovens in the galley, but they are computer controlled and state of the art, each costing more than a BMW car! The choice of dishes for each course was perhaps smaller than some of the bigger ships, but there was always a good choice. For guests who did not like anything from the main courses on the menu there were always alternatives that were available every day :- Caesar's Salad, Chicken, seared salmon fillet or prime rib eye steak. The daily soup was unbelievably good and a lot of the passengers congratulated Chef Daniel on producing the best soups that they had ever tasted (and I wouldn't argue with them, they were superb). The dishes were all very well seasoned and it was rare to see people using the condiments on the tables. On the top sun deck, aft, there is a very healthy looking herb garden which ensures that only the freshest herbs are used in the galley. Wines and beers were complimentary during lunch and dinner in both eating venues and were of a very acceptable quality and the waiters were very generous in their topping up. I like red wines and the complimentary red wines during the week were Argentinian Malbec, a French Shiraz and a French Bordeaux – I was not disappointed. The Maitre D', Imre Kalmar, was first class and ensured that all guests enjoyed their meals to the full. He would put many of the big ship Maitre D's to shame, he was always available and happy to give advice when asked. It was very clear that he was well respected by his staff. On the 3rd April, our penultimate day, we were treated to a 'Taste of Provence' lunch with typical Provence dishes, bouillabaisse, various breads and cheeses. It was absolutely delightful and was enjoyed by everyone, including the staff who dressed up in French costume. Just one small negative – it was on the same day as our lovely 'Farewell Dinner' – there is only so much food I can eat in one day!!!! Entertainment There was a well tuned grand piano in the ship's lounge and very talented pianist Daniele kept us entertained with a wide range of music. Together with Christine Couper he also did some musical quizzes on some evenings. On the second evening a local man playing a piano accordion played tunes for us and we saw him the next day playing outside the Palace de Papes. On another evening a group of four musicians/singers (a male pianist/singer, a female saxophonist/singer a male singer and a female singer) gave us a concert in the lounge. They were very good and were much appreciated by us passengers. The ship is far too small to have any production shows like the big ships but, to be fair, we didn't find that we missed them. By the time we had showered and changed in the early evening, attended the 7:15pm briefing by Christine, eaten a very leisurely and enjoyable dinner, sat for a while in the lounge, we were ready to retire to our cabins, tired but very happy. Most excursions started at 9:00am, one at 8:30am, so we didn't have any late nights. Public Areas Virtually the whole of the top sun deck (deck 4) is available to passengers and has a good selection of seating and sunbeds, many under a shaded awning. At the rear of this deck there are 2 small putting practice greens and a floor shuffle-board game. Between them is the chef's herb garden where a good variety of herbs are growing, allowing the chefs to collect fresh herbs as necessary. There always seemed to be ample seating on this deck for passengers. All equipment on the top sun deck including the seating, railings, awnings and parasols has to be collapsible in order to allow the ship to pass under certain very low bridges. Even the wheelhouse is lowered to the deck below, with a sunroof for the crew to be able to see to navigate. During these (very infrequent) times passengers are obviously excluded from this top deck. The front of deck 3 has the Aquavit Terrace Buffet Restaurant with tables and chairs, half being outside at the very front of the ship and the remainder being under a glazed roof, so very airy. Between the two sections are UPVC sliding doors that can be fully opened up to allow fresh air into the whole area. Outside of mealtimes these areas are available to passengers to relax in or out of the sunshine and there are even some rocking chairs available. At the very front of this area is the ship's bell and this is surrounded by flowering plants and shrubs, making a it very pleasant area. Behind the Aquavit Terrace is the ship's lounge which is very light and airy due to the large picture windows and light, modern décor. There is a well stocked bar here, with the bar wood built in a clinker fashion, like the original Viking longships. There is a variety of comfortable chairs and tables which seemed to accommodate most if not all of the ship's passengers. A baby grand piano, played by excellent pianist Daniele provided music in the evening and occasionally during the day. Each evening, at around 7:00pm, the Programme Director, Christine Couper, gave a brief talk about the following day's programme and excursions and this lounge was also the venue for performances by visiting local entertainers. Self serve coffee and tea stations are provided on decks 2 and 3, two per deck and had machines dispensing various types of coffee, hot chocolate and hot water (for tea). Cookies and madeleines and occasional meringues were available at all times at these stations. A small library on deck 3 amidships had a selection of books, most of which covered the areas that the ship would be visiting, i.e. Provence and the Rhone River areas. They were excellent if anybody wanted to learn a lot more about any of the places we would be visiting. Below the library, on deck 2, is the reception desk , manned 24 hours a day, and a small shop which sold mainly “Viking” branded goods including polo shirts and jackets. Our Cruise 29/03/17 - Avignon By the time that we had embarked on the ship we were very tired. We had left home at 3:00am, Chris had managed a couple of hours sleep the previous afternoon, but I had not slept at all. Because of this we decided to stay on the ship and relax. 30/03/17 – Tarascon (for Arles) Today we were booked on the included 'Arles City Walk' which involved a short coach journey from Tarascon where we were berthed to the ancient town of Arles. Veronika of the ship's Guest Services had told us that 'Leisurely Group' tours were available for the walking excursions, designed for people who had reduced mobility. These were ideal for us, as I walk with a walking stick and so was Chris who had a very sore knee. These tours visit most of the sights of the main tours but have their own guide who makes sure that steps, steep hills and uneven ground are avoided where possible. We signed up for the 'Leisurely Group' for all our walking tours. The town was captured by the Romans in 123 BC and turned it into an important City, with a canal to the Mediterranean being constructed in 104 BC. It is famous for its well preserved Roman remains. Our coach dropped us near the centre of Arles and we divided into two groups, our 'Leisurely Group' being led by our excellent guide Anna. We made our way to the Amphitheatre (aka the Arena) which reminded us very much of the one in Rome. Built in 90 AD the Arena was designed to seat 20,000 spectators. In Medieval times it was turned into a defensive fort with four towers although only three remain today. It still hosts bullfighting, although it would certainly not appeal to us! From the Arena we moved on to the Church of St. Trophime which has an amazingly ornately carved frontage. Built between the 12th and 15th centuries it is in the Romanesque style. The carvings on the frontage represented a lot of stories from the Bible and Anna was able to explain what they all represented. After leaving the church we passed the Hotel de Ville (the Town Hall). We then moved on to the former Arles Hospital (now offices and shops) where the artist Vincent Van Gogh was hospitalised for a period after he cut his ear off. The gardens were very recognisable from a couple of paintings that Van Gogh did whilst there. We also passed the famous 'Yellow Cafe' also made famous in one of his paintings. After we had met up with the other group and been transported back to our ship at Tarascon by coach we had lunch in the Aquavit Buffet restaurant. Chris was rather tired, so decided to rest her knee in the afternoon, but I decided to go out and take some photographs of the castle in the town. The castle, built in the 15th century to protect Provence from attack is a very strong castle built on solid rock to prevent undermining during a siege. We left Tarascon at around 6:45 pm to return to Avignon, arriving between 9:00 and 10:00 pm. 31/3/17 – Avignon After breakfast, at 9:00 am, we left the ship and met our guide Isabelle for our included leisurely walking tour of Avignon. We entered the city by going under the busy road via an underpass and then through a small gate in the city walls. Our first stop was at the Place de la Republique where we saw the beautiful Hotel de Ville building. We then continued on to the huge Palais des Papes (Palace of the Popes) which was an amazing sight. Construction began in 1252 AD and the Papacy was relocated here in 1309 by Pope Clement V when life became rather dangerous in Rome. It housed a total of 7 Popes, not all officially accepted, until the Papacy was returned to Rome in 1377. The Palace was sacked by the revolutionaries during the French Revolution and was further damaged when it later became a prison and military base. The amazing huge and defensive palace is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is slowly being repaired and renovated. We were glad that we were on the leisurely tour as the other tour had to negotiate around 120 steps on their visit to the interior of the palace. Our next stop was to the Basilique Saint-Pierre, rebuilt in 1385, has magnificently carved 4 metre high twin walnut doors. From here we moved on to a large indoor market with stalls selling almost any type of food or spice that you could think of. We left the rest of the party there and made our way back to the ship, stopping only for coffees, as we were booked on an afternoon tour. After lunch on the ship we went on the optional Pont du Gard Aqueduct Tour led by a guide name Mary who had a trainee named Camille shadowing her. We had a very pleasant coach drive of about 35 minutes through some very pretty countryside. Arriving at the complex we had to wait for a short time whilst Mary purchased 38 tickets and then visited the site's museum which was very interesting. We then walked to the aqueduct which was an amazing structure. The aqueduct, built in the 1st century AD was part of the 50km (31 mile) water supply to the city of Nimes from a spring at Uzes, requiring just a gradient of 1 in 18,241 over the distance. Although mostly underground the system required to span the Gardon River and so a bridge 160ft high with 3 tiers of arches was built without concrete, the stones fitting precisely where needed. The water supply delivered 200,000 m³ (44,000,000 imp. gallons) of clean water to Nimes every day! In the 18th century a road bridge was added to the structure and it still used by pedestrians today. Close to the bridge are some very old olive trees that were planted in 908 AD and are still very healthy today. Amazing to think that these trees were 158 years old when the Normans invade England in 1066. We had some free time to get drinks/snacks, visit the gift shops or revisit the museum before we had to climb back into our coaches for the drive back to our ship. 01/04/17 - Viviers This morning we had a bit of a lie in as our included Viviers Leisurely Walking Tour did not start until 9:30 am. Our guide was a very amusing chap named Pierre who was also a ballroom dancing teacher. Together with his wife they had been ballroom champions and, during the tour, he mostly walked backwards, which I thought may have been useful in his dancing days. Viviers proved to be a most delightful Medieval town with many old buildings and narrow streets. There is the ruins of a castle and city walls together with the smallest Cathedral in France in the town but these were up a very steep hill, so our tour did not include this. However, us leisurely walkers were more than happy exploring the little medieval streets with a very knowledgable and amusing guide. It rained twice during our tour but we had our own umbrellas (the ship also supplies them if required) and we still had a very good time. We spent the afternoon on the ship, watching the lovely countryside and watching the ship pass through 2 locks. On this journey we would rise up 120 metres via around 11 locks. 02/04/17 – Tournon & Vienne We got up this morning to persistent drizzle which was a shame as we were going on a steam train ride through the unspoilt Doux Valley where there are no roads. After a 20 minute coach drive we got off at the Gare de Tournon St-Jean where we had about 20 minutes to visit the gift shop or visit the toilets whilst the engineers prepared our Mallet locomotive. These locomotives are articulated in order that they can negotiate the tight bends of the 1 metre gauge track. Our locomotive, No. 403, had been running on this route since 1903! The track runs from Tournon to Mastrou with a length of 33 km, but we would just be going from Tournon to Colombier le Vieux and back today. Our guide was named Phillipe and was a doppelgänger for Jeremy Corbyn, but had a much better sense of humour! Our group had been allocated the last carriage, No. 8, which had rather small windows which could be lowered with a leather strap (like the trains of my youth), but we kept them closed as the rain was still falling. The journey was quite interesting but would have been much more so had we been able to open the windows to take photographs. The countryside was beautiful and at one stage a canal, designed just to deliver water to a hydro-electric power plant, ran alongside the track. This had been built by German soldiers during World War 1. When we arrived at the Columbier le Vieux station we got out whilst the locomotive was uncoupled, run onto a turntable and manually turned through 180 degrees by the footplate man. There was a rather wet stall where a local farmer was selling goat's cheese and honey products and a rather elaborate hen house, resembling a child's doll house. When the locomotive was re coupled to the train we found that we were now the first carriage, directly behind the locomotive. We sat on the opposite side of the carriage on the way back to Tournon, so that we got a somewhat different view from our little windows. Once back at Tournon we re boarded our coaches for the drive to Andance – our ship had repositioned whilst we were on our train tour. It had been a very enjoyable morning's excursion, but could have been much better had it not been so wet. The ship stopped in Andance just long enough to take all the excursionists on board and then set sail towards Vienne whilst we enjoyed lunch. At 2:30 pm the ship made a brief stop at Chavanay to discharge the passengers, including us, who were going on the included Vienne walking tour. Our coach took us into the small city of Vienne. Our guide for the Leisurely Tour was named Lytse (pronounced Litsee). Fortunately the rain had stopped. Our coach dropped us alongside a tractor unit, disguised as a train, pulling 3 carriages and, once aboard, we set off through the town and then started to climb up a steep hill to Mont Pipet. The road was very narrow, with extremely tight turns and we could see why the coaches would be unable to take this route. On top of Mont Pipet we stopped to visit the chapel there and also to admire the fantastic views over the city and the River Rhone from a large viewing area, Directly below us was a Roman semicircular theatre built into the hillside, which could seat 8,000. We re boarded our tram unit and were taken down the hill back into the town and were discharged close to Temple Square, where we went on a walking tour. We visited the Temple of Augusta and Livia, a rectangular building of the Corinthian order, which was erected by the emperor Claudius (10 BC to 54AD). The temple is in amazing condition, mainly due to its being converted to a church in the 4th century. It looked as if it would have been more at home in Rome or Athens. Leaving the temple we made our way to the huge Gothic Cathedral of St. Maurice which is a French Heritage site. Work on the present building started in 1130 AD and it now has 3 aisles and an apse. We spent quite a lot of time inside the Cathedral and Lytse was a very knowledgable guide. The Cathedral is currently being renovated whereby half of it was bright and clean whilst the other half still had the grime of centuries. After this visit we joined up with the other excursion party and we boarded our coach for the short ride to a quay at Vienne where our ship, having relocated, was now waiting for us. A very busy day, but very enjoyable. 03/04/17 – Lyon Our ship had departed from Vienne and we were able to watch her sail into Lyon whilst we had breakfast. The plan had been to moor at the quay and another Viking ship would be mooring alongside us. However, when we got to the quay, we found that the other ship had beaten us to it and we had to moor alongside them. We were booked on the Lyon City Tour and, as we exited our ship, we had to pass across our sister ship, the “Viking Delling” to reach the gangplank to the quay. It was rather odd to be passing across another ship that was exactly the same as our ship (in design and décor etc.) but with different staff. Our coach took us up to the top of a hill where the beautiful Fourvieres Bascilica was situated. This minor Basilica was built between 1872 and 1884, so not as old as most of the religious buildings that we had visited on this cruise. There were a lot of steps to reach the entrance but our guide, Celine, took us to a doorway on the side where there was an elevator to take us up into the ground floor of the Basilica. The interior was amazing, with a myriad of small mosaics depicting scenes from the Bible, one of the most beautiful interiors that I have ever seen. Close to the Basilica there is a metal tower that bears more than a passing resemblance to the Eiffel Tower of Paris. The Tour Metallique de Fourviere was erected between 1892 and 1894 and is 85.9 metres high, weighs 210 tons and, at 372 metres, is the highest point in Lyon. During the Exposition Universelle of 1914 it had a restaurant and an elevator taking 22 persons at a time to the summit. It was used as an observation tower until 1953 but is now just a television tower. In front of the Basilica there is a viewing site that gives amazing views over the city of Lyon and the River Rhone. After a few minutes free time there we re boarded our coach to continue our conducted tour of Lyon. We stopped for a photo opportunity at a high rise building that's side had been painted with windows and balconies with figures from Lyon's history on show. These figures are repainted every few years and most are aged to show them a little older. We then went on a walking tour of the older parts of the city with our guide Celine which mainly consisted of large blocks of high Renaissance apartment buildings with very narrow streets between them. Celine pointed out that some of the doors in these buildings, identified by small seals, could be opened to reveal passages that ran right through the buildings to the other sides. Spiral staircases along these passages gave access to the apartments above them. These 'secret' passages were used by silk merchants to go to and from the markets safely and were called 'traboules'. During World War II the French Resistance members used these traboules to harass the Nazi occupiers and escape from them when chased. Only a few of these passages are open to the public nowadays, but I found these passages to be very interesting and was very glad to have been able to visit them. We then had some free time to further explore the old quarter before we boarded our coach for the short ride back to our ship. We found that another ship, the “Swiss Corona” was moored where we had been on the quay and our ship was now moored alongside her. Both ships were very different in design and so we couldn't get across to our ship by walking through the other. As all the river ships are the same height, we had to climb up the stairs to their sun deck, pass across to our sun deck and then go down the stairs to deck 3 on our ship. Great fun (but not if you have a sore knee!). 04/04/17 – Lyon This morning we were up fairly early again as we were booked on the Beaujolais Wine excursion leaving at 08:30 am. We boarded our coach and met our guide, another Phillipe and we started driving off into the hilly Beaujolais countryside which was absolutely beautiful. We passed through some lovely little villages and everywhere looked well cared for and neat, a pleasure to visit. After a really enjoyable ride we arrived at the Chateau de Chasselas Winery which was just stunning. A beautiful four storey house was within a rectangular walled courtyard with four towers with turrets and several outbuildings. We were met at the entrance by the owner Jean-Marc Veyron la Croix who showed us his vineyards and explained how the grapes were grown. Jean-Marc produces a very high quality wine and only one branch of each vine remains unpruned and this is looped down and tied. Fewer grapes will result from this method but they will be of a higher quality and produce better wine (this is not the inferior Beaujolais nouveau wine). Jean- Marc explained that he had not started life as a winemaker, he had been in the fashion business, but had bought the chateau and business in 1999 after a previous owner had partially renovated it. He had spent a year studying winemaking but had found that there was no substitute for hands on experience. After visiting the vineyards Jean Marc took us into a tasting cellar where we sampled 4 separate wines – a red, two whites and a champagne type wine – and they were delicious. We were also given some nibbles to eat with them and I only saw one person use the 'spit bowls' that were provided, most of us quaffed the lovely wine down.. After the tasting Jean-Marc led us to his little shop where he had various wines, wine drinking accessories and books etc. for sale. I would have loved to have purchased some of his wines but we were flying home the next day, so it was impossible. (The passengers on the next cruise, from Lyon to Avignon,would have been able to buy wines to consume on the ship, Viking do not charge any corkage fees). We were a little reluctant to leave the chateau and its interesting owner, but at least we had some more lovely countryside to look at on our way back. Back on the ship we learned that other coaches on our Beaujolais Wine Tour had gone to other wineries and ours seemed to be the best, I think we were rather lucky. Disembarkation A couple of days before we were due to leave the ship we were allocated a leaving time and suitcase labels, we were to put our suitcases outside our door at 5:15 am and would be leaving the ship at 6:15 am. The previous evening I settled our account by credit card and paid gratuities for the crew. The following morning we were up early, packed our nightclothes inside our suitcases and then put them outside the cabin door. We went to the Aquavit Buffet for a continental breakfast and then, at 6:15 am, said farewell to the lovely ship and headed for a waiting coach on the quay. We identified our luggage which was then put on the coach and we boarded it for the journey to Lyon Airport. At the Airport we were met by two local Viking representatives who guided us to the check-in desk for our British Airways flight to London Heathrow which was scheduled to take off at 10:00 am. Unfortunately the check-in did not open until 8:00am, so we had quite a long wait. After standing for some time we decided to find a seat where we could still keep an eye on our queueing luggage (most passengers did this). The check-in opened on time and we were soon issued with boarding passes for an aisle and middle seat in row 22. Again, the flight was not fully booked and we found that we had all 3 seats to ourselves. We took off on time and had a very pleasant flight, arriving at Heathrow Terminal 3 on time. As usual, it seemed to be miles and miles of walking before we reached Immigration, but once there we were fast tracked through because we both had walking sticks. We then passed through to the baggage reclaim area and I could see both our cases already on the carousel. We phoned our taxi and he picked us up from outside the Arrivals Hall after a few minutes wait. Conclusions This was our first river cruise and, in the main, it exceeded most of our expectations. The ship was very well designed and maintained and the staff very friendly, but always efficient. Compared with our sea cruises it seemed a little expensive but, when you factor in the included excursions at every place we visited, the complimentary (and generous) wine or beer with lunch and dinner, tea and coffee (with cookies and other biscuits available 24/7) and free Wi-Fi, then you begin to realise that the cruise is actually good value. There were a lot of small things which, although of no great importance in themselves, nevertheless increased our feelings that this was a quality company and product. Complimentary bottled water in our cabin was replenished as necessary and, each time we left the ship to go on an excursion, complimentary bottles of water were handed out by the staff, Similarly, if the weather looked to be possibly inclement, Viking umbrellas were also available for all passengers. The excursions were all well organised, ran to time and had excellent and very knowledgeable guides. Viking use mainly their own coaches and they were always very comfortable and clean and driven by excellent drivers. But it was the staff that really made our holiday. Captain Scheen has a great team with Programme Director Christine Couper, Hotel Manager Chris Harrington and Maitre d' Imre Kalmar heading a very happy and efficient crew. We did not find river cruising as relaxing as sea cruising, perhaps due to having no 'sea days' and the fact that we did at least one excursion each day and two on some. We did however love visiting so many different places in such a short time. Will we continue river cruising? A big resounding YES! The River Douro in Portugal looks very tempting, so that might be our next adventure. Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
We decided to try the Viking River Cruise in France for our 30th wedding anniversary. We are not "cruise people" - the only one we had ever been on had been a disaster. However, we kept hearing how wonderful Viking River Cruises ... Read More
We decided to try the Viking River Cruise in France for our 30th wedding anniversary. We are not "cruise people" - the only one we had ever been on had been a disaster. However, we kept hearing how wonderful Viking River Cruises were. People said to go, we would love it, it wasn't like 'large ship cruising' - and they were right. Having a ship that only held 190 passengers made the trip more of a 'boutique experience' rather than a gathering of the masses. It was just amazing. From the moment they met us at the Lyon airport, everything was top-drawer. Our stateroom was perfect. We decided on a veranda room and it was a great decision. Having the space to go out and sit on our own deck was so peaceful. The meals were delicious, with fresh foods. cooked to perfection. We had a wonderful opportunity to meet, and dine with, interesting and insightful people. The excursions were wonderfully informative and very professionally done. At no time were we made to feel like cattle being moved along. (One friend's description of a four- thousand person ocean cruise they took.) The lectures and cultural events on the ship were superb: the opera performers were excellent; the silk scarf demonstration was divine; the lecture on Provencal painters was enlightening. Everything and everyone connected with the cruise was perfect. The entire week was truly amazing. We are already planning for our next Viking River Cruise. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
This was the second cruise my wife and I have taken with Viking, the first one being the Danube 4 years ago and this one certainly matched, if not bettered the first. From the moment you step on board the service from the staff is first ... Read More
This was the second cruise my wife and I have taken with Viking, the first one being the Danube 4 years ago and this one certainly matched, if not bettered the first. From the moment you step on board the service from the staff is first class and that standard never slipped throughout the week. One of my major concerns was how I would be treated in respect of my gluten free diet. I need not have worried. After introducing myself to the female maître di and waiters at the first dinner, they recognized me at each meal time and were excellent at providing gluten free bread, specially prepared breakfasts such as French toast and pancakes and overall were just so knowledgeable and keen to get things just right. If you are coeliac you will understand how important it is to have that peace of mind on holiday. The only part of cruising which we couldn't undertake was the first short trip on the Saone river to Macon as the water levels were too high. As it turned out we went by coach to the vineyard travelling through amazing countryside and was probably more scenic than being on the boat. It also meant we spent a little bit longer in Lyon which is a beautiful historic city to explore on foot. The entertainment manager Christine was on top of her game - a real people person with a wicked sense of humour and all the other staff were extremely friendly and efficient. There are a lot of optional excursions on this cruise so you will never be without something to do or you can remain on the boat and chill out as we often did. The only downside of our trip was due to a late flight home, still being on board ship when the next lucky passengers arrived to start their week, we did think about trying to stowaway! All in all I would highly recommend this cruise, obviously try and pick the time of year when the rivers are less likely to be too high (or even too low) which can be difficult but if you are lucky as we were it is a very enjoyable experience. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
This was my first river cruise, and my travel companion had previously enjoyed a Viking cruise. Our Viking Travel Agent helped us find the best deal that would fit the sort of journey we were looking for. Everything on board fully met my ... Read More
This was my first river cruise, and my travel companion had previously enjoyed a Viking cruise. Our Viking Travel Agent helped us find the best deal that would fit the sort of journey we were looking for. Everything on board fully met my best expectations - indeed, I was very pleasantly surprised to discover my (very comfortable and well appointed) stateroom received attention no less than 3 times per day. The Viking newsletter, daily briefings and announcements assured that being on time for all excursions was effortless. I particularly enjoyed the Silver Spirits package and highly recommend it. We experienced a variety of included and optional shore excursions and was very happy with how everything was geared to making the experience as enjoyable and informative as possible. And the food! Yay for Chef Max! Rarely did I vary from the chef's recommendations, as they were always a delight. At first I was concerned that my travel buddy and I would feel a bit strange at a table with folks we didn't know, but we very quickly made some lovely acquaintances and by the third day were seeking each other out for a lively, completely enjoyable evening - we were, I believe, the last to leave the dining room on more than one occasion. Our regular server, Zuzan, I think is how it was spelled, was so informative and helpful that I fully belive that my enjoyment of my meals and accompanying wine choices were largely due to her advice. My cruise was before the unfortunate accident in September, but having spent time on the sun deck, walking laps or snapping pics of the Heimdal's passage through the locks, I had ample opportunity to observe first hand the undivided attention the captain and crew gave to each lock and bridge. I always felt my safety, and that of all passengers, was in good hands with our Viking crew. My only complaint has nothing to do with the cruise itself. When in the planning stages, I asked about flight booking possibilities for the additional leg I needed (from Bangor, ME to Philadelphia) as I don't live near a hub. I opted to book it myself since the estimated range of price given was more than what I could do myself directly with American. However, and this is a BIG however, because I booked the Bangor - Philadelphia round trip leg myself, it was a SEPERATE itinerary, which meant that I could NOT check my bag through from Bangor to Lyon (and back)...which meant I had to pay $25 for each leg ($50 total) to check my bag since Bangor to Philadelphia round trip is domestic....which ALSO meant I had to retrieve it from baggage claim in Philadelphia, actually LEAVE the airport building, walk 30 minutes to the furthest terminal from where I had landed (landed at terminal F, British Airways was terminal A East), check my bag and hope to get to my gate on time. It was not fun, especially since I had injured my left foot 2 days before departure and American Airlines told me I could expect NO assistance getting my bag from Terminal F to A East because that was outside security AND my flight from Bangor was nearly 2 hours late in arriving in Philadelphia. I would much rather have paid a bit extra for that part of the trip and been able to have it all on the same itinerary Next time (we are working on a possible 2 cruises in 2017) I will know better about how to handle flight booking, but it would have been SO helpful AND anxiety reducing if the booking agent had given me that VERY important bit of information. Bottom line, well done! Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
This was our first cruise (of any kind), and our expectations were mixed. We utilized Viking air service on both ends of the trip and the embarkation and disembarkation were flawless. We arrived at the ship just in time to get settled and ... Read More
This was our first cruise (of any kind), and our expectations were mixed. We utilized Viking air service on both ends of the trip and the embarkation and disembarkation were flawless. We arrived at the ship just in time to get settled and ready for dinner. The ship was marvelous. Our stateroom with balcony was well appointed and contained all of the necessities. It was not overly spacious -- but then we didn't spend a lot to time there. The lounge was comfortable and the staff friendly and welcoming. We particularly liked the open seating at meals, as that gave us the opportunity to meet and get to know a number of other couples. Some we enjoyed several meals with, others only one -- but all were enjoyable. We learned a lot form these experiences. Shipboard entertainment was limited, and that suited us just fine. The piano bar in the lounge was fun and entertaining. The service on board ship was excellent. From the Captain, to the Program Director, Concierge, to the wait staff and the housekeepers -- all were friendly and extremely helpful. One evening, in celebration of Viking's Travel and Leisure #1 ranking we had an opportunity to celebrate with the "whole" crew, including kitchen staff that we seldom saw. That was a particularly memorable evening. The ports of call, Arles, Avignon, Viviers, Tournon, Vienne, and Lyon were delightful. Having the opportunity to "drop out" and explore on our own was great. Several cities we visited were in the midst of festivals that added excitement -- but also crowds. Local shopping opportunities were a fun past time. My wife and I look forward to traveling with Viking again! Read Less
Sail Date July 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
Traveling with Viking has always been a pleasure. This was our 3rd cruise with Viking. Our Cruise Director was incredible! He greeted us at the entrance to the boat and learned our names immediately. We suspect he knew everyone's name ... Read More
Traveling with Viking has always been a pleasure. This was our 3rd cruise with Viking. Our Cruise Director was incredible! He greeted us at the entrance to the boat and learned our names immediately. We suspect he knew everyone's name on the ship. We were most impressed with this young man. All of the staff were exemplary and went out of their way to see that we had a good time and that our needs were met. Our Chef was from Austria and prepared some very good dishes and you could always see him about the ship talking and getting feedback from passengers. Excursions were really well done with knowledgeable and friendly guides. Excursions are the highlight of our travel with Viking as well as the dining! We arrived in Marseille two days early on our own and had a local guide show us Aix en Provence. Delightful day and money well spent. We had paid for a transfer from Marseille to Avignon and that went fairly smoothly. The most frustrating portion of the transfer was pre-arrival when trying to get the logistics down with Viking customer service. That portion could have been more expedient without having to call numerous times to determine the transfer location and time. Once the transfer was in progress all went well and arrival at the ship was timely and we had a comfortable mini-van. We are Viking lovers and have four more cruises on the books over the next two years. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
Viking River Cruise, Viking Heimdal, Lyon to Avignon, May 4-11, 2016 Viking River Cruises presents an attractive, even seductive, face. From the alluring advertising to the handsome “long boats” decked out in understated ... Read More
Viking River Cruise, Viking Heimdal, Lyon to Avignon, May 4-11, 2016 Viking River Cruises presents an attractive, even seductive, face. From the alluring advertising to the handsome “long boats” decked out in understated Scandinavian hues to the exception people who staff their ships to the fine cuisine and excellent local guides who make each destination come alive, Viking does it right. It is only when something goes wrong, whether due to Mother Nature or mechanical trouble, that Viking's failings come to the fore, and the promised excellence falters. We were a group of four booked on the Viking cruise from Lyon to Avignon, starting May 4, 2016. Arrival at the ship was largely uneventful, even though the arrangements for clients arriving on their own was not ideal. Finding the ship required a last minute phone call; fortunately we had a global phone at our disposal and we able to get the necessary information and get close to the ship to offload luggage. Personnel aboard the beautiful Viking Heimdal were unfailingly helpful, courteous and a pleasure to work with. The first indication that all would not be well came the first evening when the staff announced that high water in the Saone River prohibited sailing to the first stop (Macon). The excursion to Beaujolais would be handled by coach from Lyon, eliminating a half day river cruising each direction. Profuse apologies for the situation but nothing in the way of acknowledgement that a significant attraction of the itinerary was to be missed. It must be reiterated that the personnel aboard Heimdal were top notch and were doing their best within the resources given them by Viking to make everyone happy and give them an excellent vacation. Just one example, is the abysmal internet capacity Viking builds into its ships. Even the staff have great difficulty assisting clients online due to the poor quality of the internet onboard. After the third day in Lyon, we sailed in the early am to Vienne, arriving as most people were just getting up for breakfast. That day and the next couple went as planned in the itinerary, with the excellent local guides providing a fine introduction to their towns and the region. After a day in Avignon, the captain announced before dinner that the planned cruising to Tarascon (for Arles) had to be scrapped as a mechanical problem had developed with the ship. Again, coach tours to Arles had been arranged, but for a second time at least two partial days of river cruising were missed. Also, again, profuse apologies for the change in plans but nothing in the way of accommodation. Close reading of the cruise contract would reveal that such changes in itinerary are totally in the hands of the cruse line and no compensation is required. The total absence of any consideration for the diminution of the cruse offering, however, is a reflection of the corporate culture of Viking. It would have been so easy to simply offer the optional excursions as complimentary, for example, as a show of good will when forces, of whatever origin, caused the total cruise experience to be significantly diminished. We had, after all, booked a river cruise, not a coach tour with river segments. Of the scheduled 8 legs of river cruising, we accomplished 4; of the 6 cities/towns to overnight, we did 4, with three nights in Lyon and another three in Avignon. Then, the final straw, came when, on the penultimate evening of the cruise, the final bill was presented and it contained a credit (“from an outside source”, read our travel agent) that had not been revealed to us at the beginning of the cruise. We were left with a sizable credit balance that Viking policy would not allow to the used for gratuities, and also Viking policy had to be used on the cruise for which it was given. This “take it or leave it” seemed to be firm Viking policy, with no explanation as to why we had not been informed of the credit on boarding. In the end, we arranged a full day excursion for our last day, using up the credit and some extra out of our pocket. We had a great day but would not have chosen this excursion without the circumstances. In fairness, Viking has offered a sizable voucher for use on a future cruise as compensation for this last glitch but given our overall unhappiness with Viking as a company we are unlikely to use it. Finally, should anyone from Viking Heimdal, May 4 Lyon to Avignon, be reading this, nothing here should detract from the excellent service we enjoyed aboard. The staff onboard, from Captain Laurent, Cruise Director Bea, especially Program Director Patricia and Concierge Doru, to the restaurant and bar staffs and housekeeping, all performed superbly within the bounds of Viking policies. It is a shame that such dedicated people, superb ships, top notch cuisine, appealing itineraries and expensive advertising are diminished by a company that, in the face of the unexpected, places its bottom line above the fulfillment of the promise of an exceptional river cruising experience. Perhaps my expectations were too high, but the coach trip with river segments is just not a river cruise. Somehow, Viking should know that an make it right. Instead we were offered a bribe. I cannot recommend Viking. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
River cruise: Avignon to Lyon. Mostly elderly couples. As a single, felt unwelcome by crew and passengers. At dining times, told empty places at table "saved" for others. On shore excursions, many passengers unable to walk ... Read More
River cruise: Avignon to Lyon. Mostly elderly couples. As a single, felt unwelcome by crew and passengers. At dining times, told empty places at table "saved" for others. On shore excursions, many passengers unable to walk without assistance. Need plenty of change for tips on shore excursions. Optional shore excursions (many) were expensive. Most time spent on tour bus; very little time spent cruising river. Gangways to ship can be slippery. Cannot sit in the Aquavit Lounge without being asked if you want to purchase a drink. Extremely dark and treacherous stone steps with rope "handrail" in winery to sample Beaujolais. Optional painting class in Arles a waste of time except for the lunch at a local restaurant; superb chocolate shop in St.-Rémy-de-Provence recommended by tour guide at stop there. Excellent optional cooking class in Lyon attended by only three passengers; made cream puffs (for an army) in a very detailed French way with fresh pear mixed into the whipped cream. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
As a regular ocean cruiser, first time river cruiser, I found that my river cruise* on Viking was more like an ocean cruise than I expected. The free beer and wine with dinner and included shore excursions were a nice change, though. ... Read More
As a regular ocean cruiser, first time river cruiser, I found that my river cruise* on Viking was more like an ocean cruise than I expected. The free beer and wine with dinner and included shore excursions were a nice change, though. This river cruise was also more like a bus tour than I expected. There is an optimal experience that the ads portray...eating, drinking, and laughing with other passengers, outdoors with blue skies, and beautiful scenery floating-by. Of the six days and 20 hours from bonjour to au revior, about 20% of the cruising was when we were aboard** and it was not during sleeping hours. But about half of that was spent either waiting in front of a lock, or in the lock. The first time, the lock is cool, but it's preventing the optimal experience, especially since it looks like it's midnight and there's a slimy concrete wall an inch from your nose. So an average of 2.7 non-lock cruising hours per day. Although the rivers were low at the time, the top deck was often closed for bridge clearance, so having the optimal experience was limited to the bow, which held about 40 people (out of the 180 on board). Not that you couldn't enjoy the view from your stateroom, but not enjoying the view with other passengers. So if you were on-board, it wasn't raining, you found a spot outside with likable acquaintances, there's something besides the inside of a lock to see, well, you get the idea. I think this happened once for me. I predicted this would be the case, but make sure you have your expectations set appropriately. I've only been on one bus tour in my life, and that was with a single bus and 35 other students (a long time ago). Sometimes our ship would be parked where we could walk to the city/town. Often we were out of town, so boarded four huge coaches. Either way, I found myself walking around a couple of city blocks or a tourist venue with a gaggle of 180 other passengers. At times I was engaged with what I was seeing, but other times, I just wanted to be away from the crowd. If you wanted to see these same sites, you could drive from start to finish in a rental car in 4 hours. So a few strategically place hotels would mean you'd only need to move once or twice and do day trips to the sights. If you really wanted to see the city from the river, you could book a afternoon or evening cruises. And if you did it with a car, not only could you be away from the gaggle of other passengers, but also wouldn't be tied to the river geography. Again, if you expect to be with a big group, and don't mind that, then having a turn-key vacation where Viking does all the planning might be a great way for you to see the sights. A word about the beer (most people will skip this paragraph). On board we had a decent line-up of German beers. One on tap, Bitberger, plus Budweiser Budvar (the original Bud from Czechoslovakia), Kostritzer Schwarzbier, Benediktiner Weissbier, Kronenbourg 1664 Pilsner. Off-ship, I found two beer places that looked interesting, but didn't work out, timing-wise. In Lyon there was a place called "Le Palais de la Bière", lots of taps, but it wasn't open when I could get up there. "La Chope de Lug" was a bottle shop that looked promising, but it opened only after we sailed that day. Mostly the convenience stores had things that proclaimed the ABV in a big font. Although I couldn't read the label, I figured they were akin to Colt 44, so I left those on the shelf. I found a Belgian (3 Monts) in a general store (along "Place Raspail" in Lyon, a couple minutes walk from the dock). The 3 Monts was pretty good, tasted belgian-like, so I'd call it a "bière de garde" although it said "Bière De Flandre" on the label. The Viking rooms all have refrigerators and they even let you bring your own beer to dinner without a fee (but I drank this one in the room anyway). We found plenty of fun other passengers to hang around with. The first day aboard, at lunch, the situation looked dismal; nobody looked less than mid-sixties, a few quite a bit older, and there were some walkers (we're mid-fifties). But the next night they had a disco night. We only sat in for a beer, but that's when we realized there were quite a few people near our age. Even a few twenty-somethings (with their parents), and also a few thirty somethings (their own). Well, there you have it. A few nice moments that made use of the fact we were cruising on a river, quite a lot of time on buses and in a crowd of other passengers and finally a passable beer experience, given that it was included in the price, and that this is wine country, so what can I expect? The bottom line is if you want a turn-key operation, you don't want to pack and unpack, you don't mind touring in crowds, this is real easy for you, albeit not cheap ($600/day for a couple, not including airfare). If I really wanted to see these sights (which, eh, I'm luke-warm on many of them), you could see them all for much cheaper and not always be in a crowd if you rented a car and stayed in a few hotels. * An August 2015 cruise of seven nights called 'Portraits of Southern France' (Avginon to Chalon-sur-Saoneon) on the Viking Heimdal, a 3 deck ship first launched in 2014 (the previous season). A really clean ship, tight but efficient rooms. Great staff...MUCH better service than the ocean cruises where the tips are automatically added to your bill. I loved the small size compared to most ocean vessels. ** Sometimes were were off on a tour and the ship moved and picked-us up at a different dock. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
As a regular ocean cruiser, first time river cruiser, I found that my river cruise* on Viking was more like an ocean cruise than I expected. The free beer and wine with dinner and included shore excursions were a nice change, though. ... Read More
As a regular ocean cruiser, first time river cruiser, I found that my river cruise* on Viking was more like an ocean cruise than I expected. The free beer and wine with dinner and included shore excursions were a nice change, though. This river cruise was also more like a bus tour than I expected. There is an optimal experience that the ads portray...eating, drinking, and laughing with other passengers, outdoors with blue skies, and beautiful scenery floating-by. Of the six days and 20 hours from bonjour to au revior, about 20% of the cruising was when we were aboard** and it was not during sleeping hours. But about half of that was spent either waiting in front of a lock, or in the lock. The first time, the lock is cool, but it's preventing the optimal experience, especially since it looks like it's midnight and there's a slimy concrete wall an inch from your nose. So an average of 2.7 non-lock cruising hours per day. Although the rivers were low at the time, the top deck was often closed for bridge clearance, so having the optimal experience was limited to the bow, which held about 40 people (out of the 180 on board). Not that you couldn't enjoy the view from your stateroom, but not enjoying the view with other passengers. So if you were on-board, it wasn't raining, you found a spot outside with likable acquaintances, there's something besides the inside of a lock to see, well, you get the idea. I think this happened once for me. I predicted this would be the case, but make sure you have your expectations set appropriately. I've only been on one bus tour in my life, and that was with a single bus and 35 other students (a long time ago). Sometimes our ship would be parked where we could walk to the city/town. Often we were out of town, so boarded four huge coaches. Either way, I found myself walking around a couple of city blocks or a tourist venue with a gaggle of 180 other passengers. At times I was engaged with what I was seeing, but other times, I just wanted to be away from the crowd. If you wanted to see these same sites, you could drive from start to finish in a rental car in 4 hours. So a few strategically place hotels would mean you'd only need to move once or twice and do day trips to the sights. If you really wanted to see the city from the river, you could book a afternoon or evening cruises. And if you did it with a car, not only could you be away from the gaggle of other passengers, but also wouldn't be tied to the river geography. Again, if you expect to be with a big group, and don't mind that, then having a turn-key vacation where Viking does all the planning might be a great way for you to see the sights. A word about the beer (most people will skip this paragraph). On board we had a decent line-up of German beers. One on tap, Bitberger, plus Budweiser Budvar (the original Bud from Czechoslovakia), Kostritzer Schwarzbier, Benediktiner Weissbier, Kronenbourg 1664 Pilsner. Off-ship, I found two beer places that looked interesting, but didn't work out, timing-wise. In Lyon there was a place called "Le Palais de la Bière", lots of taps, but it wasn't open when I could get up there. "La Chope de Lug" was a bottle shop that looked promising, but it opened only after we sailed that day. Mostly the convenience stores had things that proclaimed the ABV in a big font. Although I couldn't read the label, I figured they were akin to Colt 44, so I left those on the shelf. I found a Belgian (3 Monts) in a general store (along "Place Raspail" in Lyon, a couple minutes walk from the dock). The 3 Monts was pretty good, tasted belgian-like, so I'd call it a "bière de garde" although it said "Bière De Flandre" on the label. The Viking rooms all have refrigerators and they even let you bring your own beer to dinner without a fee (but I drank this one in the room anyway). We found plenty of fun other passengers to hang around with. The first day aboard, at lunch, the situation looked dismal; nobody looked less than mid-sixties, a few quite a bit older, and there were some walkers (we're mid-fifties). But the next night they had a disco night. We only sat in for a beer, but that's when we realized there were quite a few people near our age. Even a few twenty-somethings (with their parents), and also a few thirty somethings (their own). Well, there you have it. A few nice moments that made use of the fact we were cruising on a river, quite a lot of time on buses and in a crowd of other passengers and finally a passable beer experience, given that it was included in the price, and that this is wine country, so what can I expect? The bottom line is if you want a turn-key operation, you don't want to pack and unpack, you don't mind touring in crowds, this is real easy for you, albeit not cheap ($600/day for a couple, not including airfare). If I really wanted to see these sights (which, eh, I'm luke-warm on many of them), you could see them all for much cheaper and not always be in a crowd if you rented a car and stayed in a few hotels. * An August 2015 cruise of seven nights called 'Portraits of Southern France' (Avginon to Chalon-sur-Saoneon) on the Viking Heimdal, a 3 deck ship first launched in 2014 (the previous season). A really clean ship, tight but efficient rooms. Great staff...MUCH better service than the ocean cruises where the tips are automatically added to your bill. I loved the small size compared to most ocean vessels. ** Sometimes were were off on a tour and the ship moved and picked-us up at a different dock. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
High water on both the Rhone and Saone from flooding (heavy rain and snow melt) altered our itinerary. Viking emailed us one day prior to tell us to meet the boat in Lyon instead of Chalon-sur-Saone. We never did get to see Chalon. Then we ... Read More
High water on both the Rhone and Saone from flooding (heavy rain and snow melt) altered our itinerary. Viking emailed us one day prior to tell us to meet the boat in Lyon instead of Chalon-sur-Saone. We never did get to see Chalon. Then we remained docked in Lyon for four nights, taking a bus to Beaune, Vienne, and Tournon. Cruise director then announced that cruise itself was "cancelled" and that we could go to all of our remaining sites by bus instead. Quite a few folks accepted Viking's offer to refund the UNUSED portion of our non-cruise. Then, the next night, the message changed that the Heimdal would indeed proceed down-river the next morning. We could choose to skip the next tour by remaining onboard for the first cruise of the week or take a bus to Tournon. We took the bus option and were glad we did because it was the highlight day of our trip. We never got to see Viviers either because the ship needed to get to Avignon while the water and bridges were cooperating. To be fair to Viking, the meals were wonderful (same white wine every day though) and quite varied, and they had no control over water levels. But they did know that the high waters would not recede quickly and that our "cruise" was in jeopardy. A cruise-by-bus was not what we paid for. And the short five hour (4-9 pm) cruise that we enjoyed was overpriced. We await a response from Viking about compensation or incentive for another cruise at this time. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
This was our second river cruise with Viking. We did the Southern Portraits of France River Cruise with an extension to Paris for three days. Our flight from Phoenix was delayed for about four hours due to a "suspicious person" ... Read More
This was our second river cruise with Viking. We did the Southern Portraits of France River Cruise with an extension to Paris for three days. Our flight from Phoenix was delayed for about four hours due to a "suspicious person" on board. So we missed two connecting flights to Marsailles and spent the night in London. I contacted out travel agent who gave me information to contact our ship. They could not have been more helpful. . Susan, the Program Director, took our information and when we arrived in Marsailles almost 24 hours late, there was a taxi waiting to drive us to the ship. We only missed one morning tour and were there in time for lunch. The trip, itself, was wonderful. The history and scenery are breathtaking. We had great guides for our daily tours which were always so informative. Viking does a fine job making everyone feel welcome and they are so accommodating. I highly recommend them for any cruise one may choose. Our extension into Paris was short but very well organized. We had a short morning tour and the rest of the time we were on our own. The hotel was a Marriott in a great location for using the Metro system. The transfers to the airport were worth the extra money.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
My cruise on the Rhone River from Lyon to Avignon, France with 3 days in Paris to start, was perfect. I have zero complaints regarding anything whether it be about the ship or the excursions. I have traveled little and am from the Midwest ... Read More
My cruise on the Rhone River from Lyon to Avignon, France with 3 days in Paris to start, was perfect. I have zero complaints regarding anything whether it be about the ship or the excursions. I have traveled little and am from the Midwest USA. Our initial stay was at the Marriott Rive Gauche in Paris where concierge service, by Viking, was provided and appreciated. Our transfers from airport arrival to ship to airport return were dependable and perfect. The ship was fabulous- well appointed, comfortable with service "over the top." Daily information meetings during cocktail hour were needed and appreciated. Every excursion was delightful. I bought 3 extra excursions. A small complaint here would be that I would like "shopping" time in the towns and villages. I'm not a souvenir collector, but, having a fine arts back ground, I would appreciate time to scout out authentic French products and creations. On board food was so fabulous I had not desire to dine elsewhere! Evening entertainment was professional and fun. As I said at the start, this cruise was perfect in every way. I recommend Viking River Cruises to everyone knowing I will be thanked. And thank-you, Viking, for helping me have an experience of a life time. The end result is that I have plans to return to France! Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
We just returned from our long-anticipated Viking river cruise in France and came away wishing we had paid closer attention to the itinerary (Portraits of France) as our expectations were not met. We made assumptions (based on ... Read More
We just returned from our long-anticipated Viking river cruise in France and came away wishing we had paid closer attention to the itinerary (Portraits of France) as our expectations were not met. We made assumptions (based on Viking's marketing and other friends cruise experiences in other countries and on other cruise lines) about what a river cruise would entail and felt if we had known what to pay attention to, we would have chosen a different itinerary and possibly a different cruise line. Our main disappointments were as follows: 1) there was minimal to no time to spend on either our balcony or topside due to touring schedule and/or time of day we were sailing.We expected to see scenic vistas while sailing, but instead saw miles of flat farmland...AND much of the sailing took place at night and we saw nothing 2) we also anticipated time to leisurely stroll through quaint towns where we docked, but instead oftentimes were docked in industrial settings where our stateroom view was an abandoned,graffiti-laden warehouses. On only two occasions were we close enough to walk into the town for a very short period of time. 3) the 7 day agenda was very structured and very fast-paced....not conducive to relaxation and independent exploration. 4) dinners got tedious as there was only one dining time (7pm) and we quickly saw that passengers would line up 15-20 minutes early outside the dining rom in order to secure specific seating. The 'Captain's Dinner' was quite humorous because the Captain did not attend it nor did the Captain speak English (all passengers were from U.S., Canada and Australia). 5) do NOT pay extra for the elite beverage package...definitely not worth the cost. My advice to anyone looking to take a river cruise: pay attention to the # of passengers, the sailing timeline, the scenery that you can expect to see, the amount of free time and proximity to towns, the ability to dine off the ship at least once. AND...read reviews from passengers who have been on the cruise ( ship and itinerary) you are considering! Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
As experienced cruisers with 17 ocean cruisers under our belt, we were excited to embark on our first river cruise choosing the new longship Viking Heimdal sailing the Portraits of Southern France itinerary. We are busy professionals and ... Read More
As experienced cruisers with 17 ocean cruisers under our belt, we were excited to embark on our first river cruise choosing the new longship Viking Heimdal sailing the Portraits of Southern France itinerary. We are busy professionals and love the true getaway that a cruise experience can provide however we were admittedly a bit concerned that we might find the river cruise experience to be a tad sedate. Much to our pleasure we thoroughly enjoyed our experience. Despite many logistics issues due to both high river height and lock maintenance which required significant and ongoing shifting of our itinerary, our trip was fabulous and we both agreed on the flight home that it was one of the best and most relaxing vacations we have taken. We booked this trip fairly last minute so we used Viking Air (not our typical approach with cruises). Our experience on Lufthansa was one of the only downsides of our trip. It was not awful but just not very good, seemed a bit of a budget experience and the fact that we were booked on 3 flights to get home from France added to the disappointment. We also had to pay for pre-assigned seat assignments on each leg of our trip which was a late surprise, costing us $300 total, and the irony is that we ended up switching seats with a family with two very small children who were being split up for an 8 hour flight.....so much for our pre-assigned seats. Now for the good stuff- the cruise was great. The ship was elegant and understated with easily accessible common areas. The staff and service were just superb. We enjoyed the small footprint of the ship and the intimate atmosphere provided when traveling with only 180 passengers. Given that our cruise last summer was on a 4000 passenger ship, it was quite a dramatic difference. The food quality was top-notch and it was bolstered by the overflowing enthusiastic attitude of our young chef (only 26 years old) and her staff. This was highlighted on one special evening where they served a buffet of Provence food and allowed all of us into the galley where they were dancing with passengers in-between serving us. As I mentioned the itinerary was a daily challenge. Not worth going into all the changes but I think there was not a single day on the ship that was not impacted. The staff did a great job balancing this. The result was that we were able to experience just about everything that was promised with one exception. However, in order to do so we spent more time on bus rides than we had planned. BTW - the buses were high quality and comfortable; some even included TV screens showing the view from the front of the bus. However, the increased bus time was the cause of great disappointment and upset to a few but most passengers focused on having a great time. The weather was superb in the mid 70s to low 80s on most days, so this helped to make the trip wonderful and hearing how the folks on the previous week were faced with rain almost every day, made it even sweeter. The excursions were high quality with generally good guides. Sharing stories with fellow passengers, we can report that the vast majority were happy with the excursions. One fairly universal disappointment was the inaccessibility of the top deck for almost the entire trip. At first it seemed this was a result of high water levels but ship staff revealed that this was more the norm than an exception, due to the large number of low bridges and locks on this itinerary combined with the river height. On the next to the last night the Captain took the ship out for a spin by the bridge in Avignon and he treated everyone to an open bar on the top deck in an attempt to make up for all the issues we had dealt with. It was a nice gesture and a beautiful experience. Other pluses of the cruise were the fellow passengers, very reliable free wireless, and other amenities such as free water bottles for excursions and occasional sweet treats greeting us upon return to the ship. The atmosphere was very casual with few dressing up at all and most only on the night of the Captains dinner. Even on that night the dress was what I would call resort casual for most. The bar staff were extremely congenial and competent. We noticed that the whole staff had a real "pitch in" attitude with many doing several jobs as demand required. The on-board musician was a low light but he was augmented with a few outside acts which helped to provide some variety and I found myself enjoying him a bit more later in the week. Our only regret is that we didn't have more time on our own to wander around and enjoy, especially in Avignon which was truly a fabulous city. We are already talking about another river cruise on Viking...now we just have to decide which one. We are so happy we tried a river cruise, while we still love the ocean, river cruising is our new pleasure. Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
We lost the expected afternoon in Avignon because Viking forgot it was Bastille Day and they had to move the ship north of some locks early in the day. While they offered a bus ride an hour back, it only offered 1 hour in Avignon versus a ... Read More
We lost the expected afternoon in Avignon because Viking forgot it was Bastille Day and they had to move the ship north of some locks early in the day. While they offered a bus ride an hour back, it only offered 1 hour in Avignon versus a full afternoon until an evening departure. We lost the evening in Vivien as promised - it seems Viking does not reserve docking space and we ended up spending the evening docked at a lock in the middle of noplace. When we arrived in Lyon (actually we were northbound, but CC did not let me say we started in Avignon), we were told that was the end of our cruising. The water was too high for our longship to pass under bridges north of Lyon. Everything was still offered, but will multiplehour long bus rides. We were docked for three days with a grafitti covered warehouse on one side and a sister thip on the other, so windows were useless on both sides. All the foreign competitors sailed right past, as their ships are one deck shorter. If you check other reviews, you will see this happens all year long on various portions of the Portraits of Southern France cruise and Viking is running four - yes four longships on this route. Can we say fraud? The historic river heights and bridge heights are not a surprise, and according to both senior crew and CC reports, this happens often all year long. Viking did a fine job otherwise as per usual. But, with the ships Viking chose to use, this cruise cannot be delivered with any certainty. Avoid Viking on this route. Other lines will be just fine. John MacBain Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
Our trip was the first week in July 2014, "Portraits of Southern France" sailing on the Viking River Cruise's longship Heimdal. Read the Cruise Critic's overview of the Viking Heimdal, it is spot on in its description ... Read More
Our trip was the first week in July 2014, "Portraits of Southern France" sailing on the Viking River Cruise's longship Heimdal. Read the Cruise Critic's overview of the Viking Heimdal, it is spot on in its description of the Ship. I must begin by saying the longship Heimdal is flawless. Beautiful accommodations, public rooms and all sparkling clean. Coffee/tea/hot chocolate and cookies always in the common areas. Truly wonderful. STAFF...all very pleasant and efficient. rating 5+++ The longship itself, excellent. rating 4.95 Tour guides, fabulous, knowledgeable, witty, pleasant. rating 5 The towns where we docked and toured, rating 5 Very good food. rating 4.25 If you read the Cruise Critic's description of the cabins however, I have to disagree with several items. The glass showers are not snug...we felt they were roomy and well designed...the shower door does however leave a small puddle on the bathroom floor but it is not in the main walking area...of course your bathroom room is tidied and cleaned at least once a day, more if needed. Also we thought the toilets had super-power flushes unlike what was described in the cabin description. The rooms are well sound-proofed with the only noise from the neighbors being if you are in the bathroom and they flush you can hear that a little. It was fabulous having the normal European 220 volt AND the American 110 volt sockets..and plenty of them. The WIFI was not as good as the description said if you had an IPad. Many people who brought along Ipads had to sit in public areas to get WIFI while if you had a computer, you could get reception in your room. I was sitting on the sundeck of the Heimdal on the last day in Avignon and I got reception on my Ipad from the Uniworld boat which was two boat lengths away from us but no signal from either of the Viking ships which were tethered together at one dock space, the Heimdal or the Hermod. It would be worth the money for Viking to boost the WIFI for all annoyance it caused. What was not so good? 1. The Heimdal Nearly everything about the boat is fabulous. These were the only 3 problems: -There is not enough seating in the lounge for all of the passengers to be able to attend the daily briefings or presentations. -The French balcony rooms only have one place to sit in a cabin for 2 people. -The unpleasant sewage smell in the public areas of the boat when docked in Avignon. (we were told that happens when 2 boats are docked together sometimes...yuck) 2. Last minute embarkation dock/town switch with no explanation. Our experience was exactly the same as reported in an earlier review written by "Atkinsonguy" whose cruise was in May 2014. We had rented a car and traveled toward Chalon-Sur-Saone where we were to embark when we received a last minute email that we would be embarking in Lyon...no explanation of why...We too, drove back to Lyon to find the Heimdal. Luckily we had wi-fi where we were staying... 3. The planning of our time while in Lyon... For four days we sat in Lyon. The first night some things were delayed because a group of people would be arriving later than most of us. Apparently that was the Paris pre-trip extension. We were fortunate as our cabin faced the river and we could see the activity on the river as well as the other bank and the hill behind with the ever-changing dramatic sky. We had friends who paid for a full balcony who were on the other side of the boat and all they saw was a concrete wall and the quay...they felt unable to sit on their balcony because of all the people on the quay. She said, "We were the entertainment for the people walking by." They just stopped using the balcony. We never got to walk around Chalon-Su-Saone or the other towns on the Saone which might have been a good thing to do on Sunday (as nothing is open in Lyon). But the decision was made to take us on the tour of old Lyon on Sunday (the tour was fabulous) but our free time was given when no museums or even shopping was available. Monday we were bussed to Beaune on a cramped, uncomfortable bus...2 hours up and nearly 3 hours back (terrific traffic jams outside the tunnel going back into Lyon) We were given 1 hour of free time from 12 to 1pm...but of course everything closes between 12 and 2. The lunch served at a nearby restaurant was the worst meal I have had in years. When the plates were collected after the meal, all 8 of the people at our table still had half the food left on their plates as it was inedible. It really surprised me that Atkinsonguy reported the same thing happened in May...and apparently Viking did nothing to improve the food or change the restaurant. Again we had a terrific guide and great tour of the hospital for 45 minutes. The 45 minute wine tasting was not worth going to as the wines were not to most of the group's taste. We wanted to go to some museums in Lyon and I was told the only time I would have to do that was Tuesday morning but I'd have to be back on the boat by 11:15am as we would be leaving at that time. Had I chosen to go that would have given me about 45 minutes at one museum. It was explained that the water was too high for the boat to make it under the bridges and that is why we would be missing sailing on the Saone River. I understand that this can happen but choices about how to get us on our tours and to spend time in the cities and villages should be made with the thought of maximizing our opportunities during free time...to have a reasonable amount of free time when we are able to actually see and do things. Also it was sad to lose half our cruising time on the river.. 4. The sundeck and walking track. Once we got underway spirits lifted but then another issue bothered a lot of us...as Atkinsonguy said, "Vikings literature states "Weather permitting, the ship‘s sun dec is its most popular area when the ship is sailing." Not true on this cruise. The weather was mostly fair but the sun deck was NEVER opened when the ship was moving." The same was true on the July sailing. They closed the sundeck. That put smokers in the side verandahs off the reception area which often put smoke in the hallways and made the common areas midship unavailable to nonsmokers if they wanted a smoke-free environment. We got to go on the sundeck the first full day in Lyon and the last day in Avignon. Not the cruising experience I imagined while watching all the Viking ads on TV. Are we glad we took this cruise despite the negatives? leaning toward YES because they have a good product but poor planning in optimizing our time when unable to follow the itinerary impacted the experience. The decision makers didn't seem to listen to feedback from passengers about the bad lunch in Beaune reported in May yet in July passengers have the same bad experience. We reported uncomfortable busses and were told the next day there were better busses, but the last day they were back to the cramped conditions where anyone a bit taller had their knees poking into the backs of the seats in front of them again. (and therefore into the backs of the people in those seats) Knowing what we know now about river cruising and what can go wrong, (too high or too low water and the problems that brings which caused us to miss half our cruising time or inability to ride along on the sundeck or use the track) would we take another Viking river cruise? Definitely not. Too much money and not worth the risk that you can miss half of your sailing/cruising experience. Now you will know some of the questions to ask before you plan your cruise...because the people who take your booking over the phone (and your payment) are extremely helpful in answering all your questions. I found them personable and extremely helpful. Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
Viking, well yes, they have great advertisements, and gorgeous photos of the new 'longboats', however here are the facts. 1). They must have your whole entire cruise fee payable immediately payable upon booking. 2). Watch out, ... Read More
Viking, well yes, they have great advertisements, and gorgeous photos of the new 'longboats', however here are the facts. 1). They must have your whole entire cruise fee payable immediately payable upon booking. 2). Watch out, depending upon where your cruise goes, look at the following : River swelling, lock strikes, time of year for river swelling ( and/or depleting) etc. ALL of those affect your cruise. 3). Speaking of which: those nice photos of your upper deck cruising through those lovely rivers, ahem, on our 8 day cruise recently, only ONE DAY was the upper deck open. Check it out people , Viking is misrepresenting their cruises, letting you think you can sit 'above the ship ' and watch the scenery, when in fact, on our last 2 Viking cruises,the UPPER DECK WAS 'CLOSED'. Yes, that means, NO nice viewing, cruising scenery like they show in their advertisements. And, if there are ANY swollen river delays, that can happen, well, guess what, you are put onto a ghastly bus , no fun, and bussed to the next destination, Our advise is: CAREFULLY CHECK, where are you going on your river cruise, what time of year, what are the rivers like ( heavy rains affect river cruise travel, people !!!), that means your boat STOPS until the river cooperates. I'd like to say that Viking is great, however I think they treat passengers like us ( active adult ) like children. I.e: not telling us "what is happening & when ". This , in my opinion , is their most serious flaw. For an example, our cruise was supposed to start in Chalon, France. So, we purchased the 3-day pre cruise Paris stay. Then, they told us at the Paris hotel, that instead of traveling to Chalon that we now would be bussed to Lyon,, due to ( take note : River swelling !). Okay. We were told 4 hours bus ride. We got on the bus and the lady told us 9-10 hour bus ride. ******VIKING: NOT OKAY! ***** We are not children ! and many people were upset by this. We could have just calmly had a quiet bus ride to Lyon, but no, a talkative ( microphone) lady kept us awake the whole time. And, because English was her second language, every 2nd word was ' uh uh uh ' .....it was PAINFUL. We finally arrived in Lyon missed 3 days of our cruise, people : watch out, that means Viking is dependent on RIVER WATER LEVELS!!!! They do not tell you this as you are sending them your full deposit amount $$$.... In addition, if Viking had told us that the bus ride was 9-10 hours, we would have taken the train(3+hours) and with no loud , bad, tour guide microphoning us for the whole way. On a positive note: the crew of the Viking Heimdal was superb. We do think, however, that the Viking Heimdal crew was very hard working and maybe overworked ? It seemed to us that they did not have enough crew members for that was required. The staff worked incredibly hard , many hours every day and night, however, we, as cruise guests, think they could use more staff. It almost seemed like they had a skeleton crew, just making due, until more staff could come aboard. Kudos to Kornelia, awesome hard work. Our suggestion is: check out Viking, but first, check out when , time of year, are you going, and what other river cruise line does the same itinerary, because , we saw river cruise boats that had their upper deck open while ours on Viking , was closed. Big thing as you are cruising European rivers ! Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
This was our second Viking cruise. The first was the cruise from Budapest to Amsterdam. It was wonderful. "Portraits of Southern France" was disappointing. We had also booked the extra three days in Paris Our hotel the Marriott ... Read More
This was our second Viking cruise. The first was the cruise from Budapest to Amsterdam. It was wonderful. "Portraits of Southern France" was disappointing. We had also booked the extra three days in Paris Our hotel the Marriott Rive Gauche was fine, but it was in a remote area of Paris. Our guide gave us a very perfunctory tour of the hotel neighborhood on our first afternoon. He must have spent all of an hour with us. On our own, we arranged a Grey Line tour of Normandy and amused ourselves on the third day. Due to flood conditions, our embarkation point was changed from Chalon sur Saone Port to Lyon. This was an inconvenience over which Viking had no control. However, the trip from Paris to Lyon could have been handled better. We were subjected to a six hour coach ride on which our guide felt compelled to chatter incessantly. From Lyon through the remainder of the cruise all of our expectations were met. Great crew, wonderful food, accomodations and service. The guides were all very knowledgeable.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
We thoroughly enjoyed our first river cruise with Viking, and have already booked another for next year. The ship is one of the new ones, and it was great. The staff is always doing whatever they can to lkeep you happy. We booked the air ... Read More
We thoroughly enjoyed our first river cruise with Viking, and have already booked another for next year. The ship is one of the new ones, and it was great. The staff is always doing whatever they can to lkeep you happy. We booked the air transportation with Viking - we might have gotten a slightly better airfare on our own, but Viking provides free transfers, which were convenient and avoided the necessity of booking and paying for trains, cabs or whatever. Had some free time in Avignon the first day, after boarding. We liked the idea of everyone dining at the same time but without table assignments. We sat with 3 different groups the first 3 nights, then spent the rest of the dinners with two couples whose company we thoroughly enjoyed. The food was good, not fantastic, but they did have something special each night from the region we were visiting. Breakfast buffet in the dining room with made to order omelets was much better than the breakfast on the terrace. That was frequently out of stock, which never happened in the dining room. Lunches also were fine. The excursions were uniformly great. The tour guides were extremely well informed and entertaining. The places we visited were great. Saw amazing tings and learned a great deal. There were multiple tour guides at each stop so the groups were small. You each get a listening device (recharges overnight in your room) and you set the frequency to the one being used by your tour guide. This allows you to hear everything even if you are lagging behind a bit. We did get some free time to explore a couple small villages - we found the best croissants ever on a side street in Cluny. Cruising sometimes happened in the afternoon, often during dinner. It was great to sit and watch the beautiful scenery go by. (See the note in the cabin review regarding cruising and the veranda.) Probably the only real negative was that we were supposed to switch from the Rhône River to the Saone River on day 5. But high water levels on the Saone and low bridges meant we had to stay docked in Lyon on the Rhone the last 2 days. We still did the excursions, but the bus ride home from the one on the last day was 2 hours - quite long. A couple weeks later we received a credit on a future cruise equal to 15% of the amount we paid. Didn't truly make up for the loss of 2 days of cruising, but you can't really hold Viking responsible for the water level in the river. Overall a great cruise and we would highly recommend both Viking and this itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
This 7-night "Portraits of Southern France" sailing on the Viking River Cruises longship Heimdal didn't meet all of my expectations given all the glossy literature I had received from Viking and the fancy TV commercials they ... Read More
This 7-night "Portraits of Southern France" sailing on the Viking River Cruises longship Heimdal didn't meet all of my expectations given all the glossy literature I had received from Viking and the fancy TV commercials they run on PBS Masterpiece. I made the booking for the May 24, 2014 trip from Chalon-sur-Saone to Avignon a year in advance. The Viking 2-for-1 price for a category B stateroom #219 with a verandah was $8111; I paid $6895 through an Internet travel agency or $493 per night per person. We made our way to Chalon and checked into a hotel the Friday night before the cruise was to leave On Saturday morningI received an "urgent" email from Viking notifying me that the ship would not be leaving from Chalon and we were to make our way to Lyon, about 100 miles south, to board the ship there. No explanation for this change was given. The email did say we could proceed to the docking location in Chalon and bus transportation would be provided. I had a rental car so I drove to the Viking dock at a run down industrial area but no bus or Viking representative was there. I checked with the car rental agency and was told I could return it in Lyon rather than Chalon for no additional charge so we made a decision to drive through the Burgundy countryside to get to Lyon. We found the ship, were directed to our cabin, and were told we would be staying in Lyon until Tuesday noon. The cabin was intelligently designed except for the very limited space between the end of the bed and the wall unit, which prevented one person from passing if the other person was sitting on the bed to get into the unit's drawers. The food served in the restaurant was very good.  At breakfast and lunch one could eat from a self-service buffet, order from the kitchen, or both. Dinner consisted of a choice of three starters, five entrees, and three desserts.  Wine, beer, and soft drinks were complementary in the dining room.  Coffee and tea were available anytime in the atrium. Off ship tours were ok but in many cases the guides tried to present just too much information. The passenger makeup was mostly American couples over 60 years old. There was a few brits, a large Asian family, a few teens, and no children. The Saone and Rhone rivers have none of the charm of the Rhine, Main, Elbe, Moselle, and Danube rivers.  Most of the stretches of river the ship passed through were lined with industrial factories not picturesque medieval villages. Nits that I had about Viking were: 1. On Sunday, the ship's tour of Beaune went on via a 4-hour bus ride (2 hours each way) that included a group lunch of mostly inedible food served in a hot, very crowded second floor dining room. 2. The ship's master (captain) did not speak a word of English so the few times he spoke to the passengers in the briefings in the lounge, he spoke in French and his comments had to be translated by the cruise director or hotel manager. 3. Vikings literature states "Weather permitting, the ship‘s sun dec is its most popular area when the ship is sailing." Not true on this cruise. The weather was mostly fair but the sun deck was NEVER opened when the ship was moving. 4. Given that Viking saved fuel and port charges that the passengers' undoubedly paid for, there was no compensation (not even a free drink) offered for the missed stops (Chalon-sur-Saone, Macon) and missed sections of the river. At the end of the cruise, I left some less than positive comments about the value Viking provided on the guest questionnaire. After we returned home, both my wife & I received emails containing a voucher for $811.11 (a total of 20% of the original retail price of the cruise) off a future cruise within the next year. In what world would a company presume that a customer who had problems with one of their products would return to spend good money after bad on another of their products? Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
My wife and I cruised the Rhone and Saone rivers in southern France during early April of 2014 and were absolutely delighted with our Viking River Cruise experience. Our 190 passenger longship, the Heimdal, was elegant and very ... Read More
My wife and I cruised the Rhone and Saone rivers in southern France during early April of 2014 and were absolutely delighted with our Viking River Cruise experience. Our 190 passenger longship, the Heimdal, was elegant and very contemporary, and our mid-ship veranda stateroom was roomy and had a lovely balcony from which we watched the spectacular countryside drift by as we enjoyed our morning coffee. We found the pace relaxing and the ports of call, such as Arles, Avignon and Lyon, rich in art and architecture - our particular cultural passions. We were concerned that April may prove to be too early for such a cruise, but we were pleasantly surprised with the warm weather and the vibrant spring colors of Provence. We concluded our vacation with a three day extension in Paris and a side trip to Monet's gardens in Giverny - an experience no artist or gardener should miss! This was our third cruise with Viking {the other two were on the Danube and the Rhine} and all have been consistently excellent, from the impeccable service to the gourmet meals spiced with regional favorites. And don't miss any of the daily excursions; they are informative, well-organized and fun. We have been so pleased that we just booked our fourth cruise with Viking - on the Douro River in Portugal. We can't wait to go!   Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
Arriving on our sparkling new boat, Heimdal in March of this year, we grabbed one of Viking's trademark red umbrellas for a walking tour of Avignon in the rain. Others hadn't arrived from their pre-cruise visit to Paris, so we ... Read More
Arriving on our sparkling new boat, Heimdal in March of this year, we grabbed one of Viking's trademark red umbrellas for a walking tour of Avignon in the rain. Others hadn't arrived from their pre-cruise visit to Paris, so we took full advantage of the glistening cobblestones leading through the Roman Ruins and mighty ramparts of the ancient city. Returning to linen tablecloths and fresh flowers greeting us for dinner, we enjoyed a typical gourmet meal and quiet evening in port. The exterior glass walls of our room continually offered the grandest views throughout our week in Southern France. Imagine laying on your comfortable bed in your own home while the French countryside passed slowly by along the banks of Arles, Avignon, Tournon and Lyon. The views were made even more spectacular from the rooftop deck wrapped snugly in the warm blankets brought to you by the courteous crew, sipping a steamy mug of cocoa. Our days were filled with fascinating tours hosted by the most talented and informed guides imaginable, thankfully transmitted to my ear as I wandered about the city snapping photos without losing neither my group nor my wife. Walking in Van Gogh's footsteps, capturing images later discovered to mimic paintings of the master, impacted my life in ways unimaginable. Sadly, I cannot show you these beautiful photos which we will forever treasure. One surreal moment of our voyage included our late-night stroll through sleepy Vivier, along the sycamore lined streets that wound upward between closely grouped homes, rewarding travelers with a panorama from atop this lovely medieval city. Our visit to Tain L'Hermitage became very special as the daughter of noted French painter Pierre Palué invited us into her home to view many of his works, including those of his friends. What visit to Southern France would be complete without wineries and chocolatiers? Viking did not disappoint. Tasty tours highlighted the traditions of their craft. When asked if his vineyards were irrigated, a vintner replied, "Non. The vines must suffer." We never suffered for lack of luxury. As we boarded ship following our many adventures, friendly faces greeted us with refreshments fitting weather and occasion. We cherish our week on the Rhone and hungrily anticipate all that Viking has to offer, sometimes revisiting during differing seasons. The Christmas Markets throughout Europe are not to be missed. Can I rank one Viking Cruise above another? The answer is an affirmative, "No." One cannot rank the Mona Lisa above Starry Night. Read Less
Sail Date March 2014
Viking Heimdal Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.5
Dining 4.0 4.5
Entertainment 3.0 4.0
Public Rooms 5.0 4.7
Fitness Recreation 1.0 3.6
Family 1.0 3.6
Shore Excursion 4.0 4.5
Enrichment 4.0 4.3
Service 4.0 4.8
Value For Money 3.0 4.2
Rates 4.0 N/A

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