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Sail Date: July 2015
Based on a wonderful Rhine cruise on Viking last year, we booked the Portraits of Southern France river cruise for this year. What a mistake. We arrived in France at the tail end of the European heat wave. The temperature was in the upper ... Read More
Based on a wonderful Rhine cruise on Viking last year, we booked the Portraits of Southern France river cruise for this year. What a mistake. We arrived in France at the tail end of the European heat wave. The temperature was in the upper 90s. The air conditioning on the ship was not functioning properly and the cabins/restaurant areas were very warm to the point of being uncomfortable. We were never addressed by the Captain to explain the problem. Various crew members gave different reasons. It was obvious that there had been some instruction not to comment to guests. I felt so sorry for the restaurant servers who had to work so hard in the heat. The problem was finally fixed on Day 5 of the trip. Thank goodness the weather broke and became cooler. On the evening before the problem was fixed, however, our cabin was 81 degrees. We could not open our doors because there was an invasion of spiders. The ship had to call for pest extermination. The we could not use the veranda since it had been sprayed with pesticide. The other not so great part was dinner in the restaurant. Again, some offerings were hit and miss. The serving portions were also very small. There was nothing available for snacks for that 9PM hunger attack. We were fortunate that we had a suite that was supplied with fruit. The ports of call were mostly great. Lyon was fantastic. The small French villages and cities were beautiful. We especially enjoyed our excursion to Beaune. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2015
Our tour director referred to our trip as the cruise from hell, so i am not exaggerating. The customer service aspects of how Viking dealt with a catastrophic A/C failure on its ship during a heatwave was telling. First deny the problem, ... Read More
Our tour director referred to our trip as the cruise from hell, so i am not exaggerating. The customer service aspects of how Viking dealt with a catastrophic A/C failure on its ship during a heatwave was telling. First deny the problem, than deflect the blame for the problem, then distract the passengers from the problem. Fixing the problem should have come first. An apology and acknowledgement would have gone a long way, too. First the Good: (1) The fellow travelers were great -- every made the best of a difficult situation. (2) The ships staff and crew - they were troopers and had to put up with the same discomfort that the passengers did, and they did so with charm and good humor. (3) the Itinerary - the towns we visited were well chosen, and the local guides were excellent. (4) The ship (Viking Delling) had everything one would want on a river cruise ship -- the staterooms are well designed, the bathroom is large as far as cruise ships go, and the showers were great (hot water and good pressure). The lounges and common areas were plentiful and well designed. (5) The chef was accommodating to the vegetarians and gluten-free diners in our group. The Mediocre: (1) the food was so-so. It was plentiful, but nothing to write home about. Avoid the soups at all costs. Their version of clam chowder and lobster bisque were watery soups--not a chowder or a bisque. (2) the women in our group complained there was not enough time to shop in the towns we visited. (3) The on board entertainment -- it was basically a Ricky Martin look alike, with a nice voice, at the piano, doing English as a Second Language Karaoke each night in the lounge. The Ugly: (1) the ships air conditioning did not work. The temperature on our trip exceeded 35 C, on some days it got up to 40. Because the ship's A/C didn't work, the temperature in our stateroom exceeded 80 at night, and there were no windows to open so it was impossible to cool down. During dinner, guests at our table took to wrapping ice cubes in napkins, and wrapping the rolled napkins around their necks -- for 3 nights in a row. (2) The Ship and Viking refused to acknowledge that the A/C wasn't working: for a couple days. They blamed the unusually hot weather and said since a ship is made of metal, it was unavoidable that the ship would get this warm. Then one night another Viking ship docked along side us, we were able to walk into their lobby and dining room, and their A/C worked perfectly fine. So instead of fixing the problem, they offered an open bar to distract us. If our crew or Viking had acknowledgment the A/C system failure earlier, it could have called for repairs earlier. Instead they put their head s in the sand and made the passengers suffer. It turns out that the A/C outage was caused by a plastic bag being sucked into a water intake valve. If Viking had sought a repair as soon as the problem was noted, rather than blaming the design of the ship's A/C system or the weather, the problem would have resolved days earlier. (3) The Viking booked air transfers required at least 25-30 passengers to depart the ship at 3 am (luggage out in the hall at 2:15 am) for a 2 hour bus ride to the airport on the last night of the 8 day / 7 night trip. So in effect, it was a 7 day / 6 night trip. Requiring your guests to set alarms at 2 am on the last night of the tour is not a good way to have people remember the trip fondly. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2015
The bathroom floor is 2-3 inches higher than the stateroom floor. On the second night, I got up to use the bathroom and tripped and fell on the ledge. I hurt my back and my shin. I spent the entire next day in bed iceing my injuries. I ... Read More
The bathroom floor is 2-3 inches higher than the stateroom floor. On the second night, I got up to use the bathroom and tripped and fell on the ledge. I hurt my back and my shin. I spent the entire next day in bed iceing my injuries. I was in moderate to mild pain the rest of the trip. Three weeks later, I still have bruises on my back and a bump on my shin. In my opinion, the stateroom is very poorly designed. I don't think most people expect to have to step up to entire the bathroom. Every other cruise line I have been on, has the bathroom floor on the same level as the stateroom floor. Several other people I spoke with complained about the design also. It seems as though Viking has neglected to consider the safety of its passengers. The ship was clean, the staff were friendly and helpful and the tour guides were very knowledgeable. Unfortunately, it was all over-shadowed by my fall and injury. I also must comment on the food. Many of the dishes were overcooked. The lamb was tough and dry, the fish dry and overcooked as was the coq au vin. The Eggs Benedict was good. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2014
We booked this cruise as at the last moment, the cruise we had planned on Danube from Budapest to Germany got canceled becuase the ship was damaged and had to go into dry dock for repairs. Our pick up at Marsailles airport was well done. ... Read More
We booked this cruise as at the last moment, the cruise we had planned on Danube from Budapest to Germany got canceled becuase the ship was damaged and had to go into dry dock for repairs. Our pick up at Marsailles airport was well done. So from June 22 through June 30 we were on the Viking Buri, a brand new ship for 2014. Upon arrival at the Buri, we were told we could not sail as scheduled the next day, Monday June 23, was Bastille Day, a French national holiday and the river locks would be closed! Question was immediate, why did not Viking know this in advance?? A preview of things to come! We remained tied up until Tuesday. As the river was up a bit (high water), the top (observation deck) was closed as the Buri was too high to pass under the bridges with the deck set up for use with chairs and awnings. We were told it took two hours to take down everything on the top deck and two hours to set it up so since the bridges were closer together than four hours, the deck would remain closed. So that meant 190 or so unhappy passengers would have to try to find room on the small bow observation deck where there was room for possibly 50+. Due to the river height the Buri was trapped at Lyon between low bridges. So we ended up in Lyon, where we stayed for four days. The Buri was tied up next to her sister ship which blocked any view of Lyon. The dock area was far from the city center dock so it meant getting a taxi or a long hoofing to get out of the industrial area into the city proper. We ended up getting bussed to the various sights but it was a long walk to get to the bus pickup area, a problem for those on board who could not walk long distances. The river at our docking area stank badly also making the observation bow deck unpleasant and generally prevented anyone from opening their cabin windows if they were on the left side of the Buri. Those on the right side looked directly into the sister ship, several feet away, not exactly pleasant. Our weather was hot (90+ F) but the Buir's cooling system kept the ship very comfortable. Naturally a fair number of passengers raised holy heck about the situation. Unfortunately there was nothing the staff, crew or ship's officers could do about the situation. Nothing was ever heard from Viking Corporate Management about the situation. Management did not handle the situation very well at all. Obviously some part of Management had put the new Bari and sister ship on this river without regard to the ships overall size and cruising conditions on the river. Essentially a very stupid Management decision. There was no mention at the time of any compensation or partial refund which would have gone a long way to calming some passengers (nor even a free open bar). Upon returning to the USA, I heard some had later received a letter about what happened, but I did not get one. Overall, very poorly handled by Viking!! The staff and crew were excellent under this trying situation. If you had to get trapped on the river, at least being in Lyon was better than being stuck in one of the other much smaller towns and villages. Many of us on board, did our best to make our extended Lyon stay as good as possible. Our shipmates overall were a good, friendly bunch of people from all over the world. Our dining was excellent with a variety of choices always available for each meal. Service by the wait staff was excellent. The lunch and dinner wine/beer or other selections were not top-shelf but still good. Our room was serviced very well each day. Several evenings there was entertainment in the lounge which most enjoyed. Some passengers who paid the somewhat expensive up-tic for drinks were disappointed at the lack of selection and variety. On a previous Alaska cruise in 2013, our small 50 passenger ship had a much better stocked bar and at lower prices. SUMMARY - I have been asked by friends if I would choose Viking again and, honestly, I have to say no, mostly due to the lack of response from their Top Managment. It is difficult to accept that Bastille Day popped up out of nowhere for them and that by late June, that no one was aware (concerned) that the ships could not always pass under the bridges on the sailing route. What really dismays me is that the Viking 2015 Cruise Brochure shows the Buir and her sister ship still scheduled to sail for this particular voyage. DON'T THEY LEARN ! ! ! ! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 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
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2018
It was a present from my son for our birthdays. The food was A+ and the service was A+. I have Crohn's and could not leave the ship very often. I wish they would have had a shuttle once we got to Lyon to get to the shopping areas. ... Read More
It was a present from my son for our birthdays. The food was A+ and the service was A+. I have Crohn's and could not leave the ship very often. I wish they would have had a shuttle once we got to Lyon to get to the shopping areas. The views were beautiful from the top deck and the waiters treated you like royalty. The wines were fantastic - every meal. Go, enjoy and love what you see in France. Avignon was my favorite place to visit. I did get to go there and it was superb. The people all treat you fantastic in France. I LOVED the people. If you enjoy sightseeing and shopping this is the cruise for you. Be ready to be pampered. I would love to do another cruise in Italy if they had one, but as of now, they do not. Thanks for all you have given my family. Mihai - the waiter was the highlight of my cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2018
Viking was highly recommended by friends, and a river cruise you get to see many different towns near the river, and the tour guides tell you the history of each stop. The nice thing about a river cruise is that you have not only the ... Read More
Viking was highly recommended by friends, and a river cruise you get to see many different towns near the river, and the tour guides tell you the history of each stop. The nice thing about a river cruise is that you have not only the hotel, all the meals, and the tour guides for each port. Relaxing, it was not, because each morning you were up early, first to get your breakfast, then to get ready for your guided tour, most tours started at 9am. Then after the tour, back to the ship for lunch. Sometimes the were tours in the afternoon right after lunch. Some tours ended up quite late, so the dinner was a late one. We saw a lot, however, despite the busy schedule. Regarding the shore excursions, some of the guides were very difficult to understand, especially with their heavy french accent. The cabin was rather small, but considering that this was a river ship, it was adequate for us as we are small, but for large people it would be rather very compact, especially the shower. The service was great. Dining was good, especially the breakfast and lunch buffets. We were disappointed with the quality of the dinners, as for a ship of this caliber, the dinners could use some improvement. The entertainment was not like in the ocean cruises, we had one or two outside singers/entertainers for the whole week. There was a ship piano player every night. We opted to include air as part of the package; From Northern California. Viking did a fabulous job of organizing the whole trip, from getting the airfare to providing transportation to the ship, and meeting us with Viking personnel at the airports. We are already booked on another Viking cruise, an ocean cruise to the British Isles, Ireland and Scotland. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2016
I wanted to go to Avignon and wasn't disappointed. The other ports of call Vienne, Lyon, Arles, etc. were lovely and interesting. The winery excursion was interesting and fun. Really all of the excursions were excellent - the tour ... Read More
I wanted to go to Avignon and wasn't disappointed. The other ports of call Vienne, Lyon, Arles, etc. were lovely and interesting. The winery excursion was interesting and fun. Really all of the excursions were excellent - the tour guides were knowledgeable and entertaining. The dining room crew in particular were excellent. Viking is organized and attentive to detail so that everything runs seamlessly. The cabin was nice and pretty much as expected. Everyone on board seemed to be focused on ensuring a great trip for every passenger. The dining room crew, in particular, were excellent -- they helped to make meals fun. The food was great - I do recommend the drinks package. As mentioned earlier the dining room personnel were beyond excellent and attentive. One major issue - a virus - was addressed quickly but could have been communicated better. I will definitely try another river cruise and am looking forward to planning one in 2018, Read Less
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