Our plans this year were to travel to France, and with so many great French destinations to choose from, we finally decided on the regions of Rhone-Alps and Provence. For us, there is no better way to experience some of the best there is than on a Rhone river cruise.
River cruising has become the new way of travelling for many North Americans, and savvy travellers know what they want. A new destination each morning without having to look for hotels, pack and unpack lugage, drive through unknown roads, find parking… Viking has taken all the guess work and hassles out. It is truly a perfect way to travel, so much so that the only thing to do is remember what time the boat leaves. Even the pick up at the airport is seamless, offering a taste of the fun, relaxation and memorable trip to come.
It is no wonder that Viking River Cruises leads the way with more than 50% of all river cruises, they have many of the most modern ships and have now moved into ocean cruising as well.
What to expect on a Viking cruise
If you have high expectations, don’t worry, they will be met!
The ship cabins are well thought out and are decorated to make your journey a relaxing experience. Viking cabins are organised to maximise space and include all amenities you would expect from a high end cruise company, including a bottle of chilled bubbly waiting for you as a welcome gift. It’s easy to fall in love on the spot.
Interacting with the crew is a great experience in itself. Our crew was courteous, helpful, fun and funny, and by the end of the trip we felt like friends! On top of their friendliness, the crew were experts at keeping things tidy and passengers happy.
As you can imagine, cruising through France offers some great gastronomic experiences! On this cruise, we were treated with themed meals based on the regions we traveled through. For example, in Lyon it was a Rhone-Alps meal which offered Bresse poultry and many varieties of cheese, including Tomme de Savoie, Bleu de Bresse and Reblochon. Even better? We were treated to the wines of the region, including the very famous Beaujolais, Côtes du Rhone and Savoy. As we moved closer to Provence, the palate became lighter with salads, melons, fresh fish and delicious breads coupled with the Grenache, Cinsaut and Mourvèdre, and Cabernet Sauvignon wines from the region. The meals can be enjoyed in two different places, the main dining room and the Aquavit on the upper deck. The Aquavit can be open-air when the weather is good and closed with large glass window doors when it became cold or windy. There is also a Lounge that offers pre-meal cocktails and nightly entertainment for passengers who wish to relax to some soothing sounds in a quiet venue.
As with most cruises, there is a daily briefing. In 15 or so minutes, the cruise program director presents the following day’s activities, tours and what to expect from the cruise and the port of call. One of the main reasons to go on a river cruise is the Guided and Optional tours. All tours are included in the price of the trip for everyone and they are very well organized with professional local guides and brand new buses. Most tours are a half day long and in the morning, returning to the ship for lunch. All the tours are worth it, as they are the best way to see a destination in a short amount of time. For those who want to take a break from visiting and touring, the onboard activities include cooking lessons, shopping with the chef and French language courses.
The first day of your cruise was all about getting settled in and it usually takes a good day for all passengers to board the ship. Depending on your arrival time, you can enjoy a light lunch buffet before you decide what you wish to do for the rest of the day. You can join a guided walking tour of Lyon’s city center, lounge on deck while enjoying a cocktail, or catch up on some rest from jet lag – it’s really up to you! There is no need to rush and discover Lyon immediately, as you will have a full day for visiting this marvelous city.