My favorite part of the trip was the tour, lunch and wine tasting at Chateau Siuarac. This trip was really all about the wine. I would definitely recommend this cruise to my friends looking for a relaxing, safe vacation with very attentive service. I would recommend a three day visit to the Loire Valley either before or post cruise, to see the great Chateaux of France.
Viking staff, both ship and air were professional, courteous and friendly. We received helpful assistance from the concierge and the transfer representatives at the airport for both our arrival and departure.
The Forseti is a new vessel. Unfortunately it had hit a .log in the river priot to arrival in Bordeaux damaging a propeller and changing the schedule a bit. However that did not affect the excursions to the wine villages that were well organized and well-led by local residents.
The crew and staff were very attentive, the staterooms comfortable and nicely appointed and the ride on the river quite smooth.
The food, as on our other Viking voyage, was flavorful as well as bountiful, and the wines and beers were very good, although at times the selections and preparations seemed more aimed at Amereican taste buds and ideas about meals than the fact that the vessel was in France.
These rivers have chateaux set back from the edge and none of the castles typical elsewhere. This doesn't mean that the views are less enchanting, just different.
Our extension to Paris was delightful, from the TGV from Bordeaux to the hotel in Paris. Because we've been to Paris many times, we chose not to join the packaged bus tour and went off to Rouen on our own one day and found one of villages of Paris in a different district for another.
My first impression upon boarding was, wow, light, bright, modern, beautiful! Although we had an economy cabin, it never bothered me. First of all we were only there to sleep and change clothes. We were kept busy most of the day. The food was wonderful! The staff pleasant and helpful. The program manager, outstanding. Only reason I gave it 4 stars as opposed to 5 was the entertainment onboard. We had the same pianist every night. I would have liked some variety.....especially, some locals from the areas that we visited.
My husband and I purchased 1st airline class tickets to/from France as part of a cruise package through the Bordeaux Region of France. We were told that if we got the insurance, the complete trip would be refunded if events occurred which would not permit us to take/complete the trip. We made payment in advance for the complete trip including airline tickets and travel insurance from TripMate. We initiated the trip as scheduled; unknowingly, I lost my passport in the Atlanta airport and was consequently unable to take connecting flight to France. We notified Viking right away and were: told don't worry you have the insurance, you'll be fully reimbursed. We submitted the paperwork and were told by TripMate, you are only covered for land and water transportation, not air so that is all we will reimburse. We paid Viking 6K for the air portion of the trip and they refused to reimburse for that. This was dishonorable because their agents told us when we purchased the package that the insurance would cover everything and subsequently, when we reported the loss of the passport that we would get a full refund. I've attempted several times to get help from Viking's customer assistance staff but was told it was my fault, consequently they won't pay. When attempting to speak to supervisors, I was told we are independent adjusters and don't have a supervisor. This is poor customer relations and of course, results in our not ever using this cruise company again. Everyone should beware of them.
Forseti is a beautiful\, new river boat. I wish we had more time actually cruising on the river. We spent more time on the buses than we did on the boat. And this trip needs to increase and improve on the chateaus visited for tasting. Overall the wines selected on the boat were not good. I think they based their selection more on price than any other factor.
This had to be the most disappointing vacation I've ever been on. We booked this cruise 7 months earlier, and repeated asked if Viking could accomodate our vegetarian gluten free diets. We were assured we would be well-fed and the food would be delicious. Not so!! It appears all that was done in preparation for our visit was to buy gluten free bread and pasta. The head chef obviously had no idea what a vegetarian ate, so we rarely got any protein other than the eggs on the buffet at breakfast. Night after night we suffered through plates of vegetables, and they weren't even great..just carrots, brocolli and cauliflower steamed on a plate! You could tell the poor waiters, who were very nice, were very embarassed at what they were serving us. On top of that, nowhere in the brochure did it mention that there would be almost no open stores to shop in during the week we were going at Christmas! I almost jumped overboard!! And besides this, our shower tiny shower leaked under the curb so our bathroom flooded with water every time we showered. Also our pillows would flatten to an inch high. After three stacked pillows, I managed to get a three inch lift on my head.
When I contacted someone on my return, I was offered 2 $500 credits for my husband and myself 'if we were willing to give Viking another try'. Are they kidding???????
The reason for two stars and not one is that the waiters, room cleaning person, and most of the staff were very nice and the cruise director was a sweetheart of a man who was overworked to the point of exhaustion.
If you are considering a European River Cruise, I would go elsewhere. Consider yourself warned...
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