We just completed the Portraits of Southern France cruise with Viking River Cruises. This was our first cruise with Viking and will be our last. We've done 2 river cruises with Avalon and were looking forward to this one with Viking after hearing rave reviews from others. Well, it was a disappointment to say the least.
On the positive side, the itinerary was good, the sites were great as were the tour guides. The crew was friendly and hard working. The free wi-fi was definitely a plus as were the bottles of water that were provided for each excursion. The complimentary wine, beer and sodas with lunch and dinner were appreciated although it would have been nice to have been served a variety of the local wines instead of the same bottle of Viking-labeled red and white wine every day. Hello -- weren't we in the heart of the wine country?
The ship, Viking Neptune, was old and showed signs of wear even though it had recently been refurbished according to Viking. The elevated bathrooms were an accident waiting to happen and were not very well lighted. The tiles were old and worn and looked like they could use a good cleaning. The carpeting in our friend's room was dirty and the dust bunnies stayed all week, evidence that the rooms were not vacuumed the whole time we were there. The first few days of our cruise, the hallway to our rooms smelled like sewage.
With few exceptions, the "gourmet" food was not very good and hardly worth the long waits for service, which was a result of poor staffing levels in the dining room. The wait staff did the best it could under the circumstances, but the passengers suffered the results of Viking's attempt to cut corners. There were 6 people who took and served drink orders, took and served food orders and cleared the tables. The maitre d' even helped clear tables. The french fries and pastries were good, but other items were disappointing. A shrimp roll that was served at one meal consisted of a hot dog bun on which loads of louis dressing had been ladled with a few cocktail shrimps sprinkled in. Bouillabaisse consisted of pieces of fish on top of potato wedges in a clear broth. The rice in their sushi roll was densely packed and lacked any trace of rice wine vinegar. Another "sushi" was served as an appetizer. It was made up of three different mousses and sliced so thin that it disintegrated into a mess when you tried to pick it up. By the time ice cream was served, it was usually melting. Coffee and tea were never offered after lunch or dinner and we even had to ask for it one morning at breakfast because no one came by with any. The dinnerware also left much to be desired. On several occasions, we were served coffee in cracked cups and water in glasses that had badly chipped rims. One fellow passenger was so unhappy, he was ready to leave after the third day. I could go on and on, but you get the picture.
After this experience, I would not recommend Viking River Cruises to anyone. Try another company.