REVIEW

Viking Burgungy
River Cruise and Provence France

March 19 - April 9, 2008
Please view my photos of the Viking Burgundy Cruise, 10 pages of galleries HERE
By Patricia Blackstock, Myrtle Beach, SC

Now named: Portraits of Southern France

Although this tour is now named Portrait of Southern France, the boat we cruised on was the Viking Burgundy. However, the destinations are the same. Please view my photo gallery and to see the cities and information.

Arles, France
Avignon, France
Tournon and Tain L'Hermitage, France
Vienne, France
Lyon, France
Chalon-sur-Saone and Beaune, France
Dijon, Paris, St. Chapelle, Notre
Dame, Louvre

I had never heard of Viking River Cruises until I received an e-mail from my sister-in-law, Paula. She and two friends from Ft. Worth, TX, weree wantig to plan a Viking cruise through the wine country of France. Would I like go along? I hesitated about 5 seconds before saying "Count me in!" Although I had been to Paris several times, the wine country would be new to me, and I started making plans! I couldn't find much information about this particular cruise as I searched the internet, so most of my questions were answered by calling Viking's toll-free number.

Cruise Review Viking Burgundy Ship: This ship is very well organized. They are obviously familiar with clueless passengers arriving on their ship, and they excel in smooth structure. With all outside cabins and a maxium occupancy of 154 passengers, the Viking Burgundy (built in 2000) offers an intimate way to cruise. Rooms have air conditioning, telephone, TV, hair dryer, a safe and the shower.

Our room was very cramped. OK...so we booked the lowest price levels, but we didn't realize there would be this much difference. (TIP: Book a higher level room...we learned a lesson!)  Even with one b ed folded onto the wall and the other made into a couch, the room was simply too small. Every day we juggled suitcases from spot to spot in order to open drawers. The shower was so small that there was barely enough room to turn around. In case you're wondering, neitgher Paula nor I are overweight. The shower was simply a very small stall. There were no shelves for soap, shampoo, conditioner or even a razor.

The promenade on the upper deck allows for sightseeing as the ship sails from port to port. This area was spacious and offered an outstanding view of the countryside. The ship's bar and lounge provide areas for socializing between stops. I am a non-smoker, and I’m happy to report that I never smelled smoke inside the boat. I did notice that ashtrays had been provided ourside on the deck.

The Included Tours Review Viking Burgundy:  Unlike many cruise ships, your price for the Viking River Cruise includes daily tours. On most days there would be a bus nearby to take us to the local points of interest and history. Paula, my sister-in-law, brought her pedometer to check how far we walked each day, and she logged us at an average of 4-5 miles per day. This is a lot of walking, and keeping up with the group or a tour guide is not for people with any walking problems.  Most of the day trips were too fast. If I wandered away from the group to take a picture or to stick my head in a store, I had to keep an eye on where my group was headed, and usually I had to run to catch up.  If I were asked for a suggestion about the tours, I would ask for fewer stops, and more quality time at the more important places we visited.

Food Review Viking Burgundy: The food was good, and since the Viking served 3 meals a day I'm sure no one went hungry. The breakfast and "quick lunch" were served buffet style. If you preferred, a sit-down lunch was available. My friends and I chose the “quick lunch” every day but one. It usually offered a small salad bar, sandwiches, a hot dish, soup, fruit cheeses and dessert. More than enough for lunch! The problem with eating in the lounge is the lack of space on the very small tables. The tables are a good size for 1 or 2 people at most, with room for a very small plate and a glass. But times the area got so crowded that we were placing food and glasses on the floor or window sill to make room for other people.

The dinner menus offered several chioces of Hors D'oeuvre, soup, entrée, and dessert selections. International selections of cheeses were also available for dinner. All meals were served at a set time. If any of the itms on the dinner menu did not appeal to you, there was always a note on the printed daily menu stating that grilled chicken breast, grilled rump steak and Ceaser’s Salad were available every day by request.

Emergencies as handled by personnel of the Viking Burgundy: I was very impressed with the way the Viking Burgundy handled an emergency concerning one of the passengers who fell while on an excursion alone.  Because of her identifying pinned tag, the people who witnessed the fall immediately called the ship. They contacted a member of the Burgundy staff who was already in the area, and the staff member accompanied the fallen passenger to the hospital. The passenger later reported that she was taken care of immediately. She praised the hospital as well as the caring attitude of Viking Burgundy personnel involved. After she received some stitches, the employee of the Burgundy then accompanied her back to the ship.

Drinks Review Viking Burgundy: The Viking Burgundy has a bar in the lounge, where you can get ice for your room, order alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, as well as a "cocktail of the day." Prices are comparable with with any local bar or café. Paula and I often bought wine locally and brought it back to the ship. If you have a bottle opener and a wine glass, you can bring your own wine into the dining area for dinner. Otherwise you may bring your bottle and pay a corkage fee, or order the suggested wines on the ship’s menu.

Satellite is not Wi-Fi, Viking Burgundy: As I mentioned above, most of my pre-trip information was obtained through Viking's toll-free number.  The first time I called, I spoke with Ty who gave me his extension for future questions.  My first two calls concerned the ship's Internet connections. This was important to me because of my work. I was told that Wi-Fi was available on the ship, and that the ship provided computers in the lounge. I still have my pre-trip notes saying that if I brought my own computer, I could access the Wi-Fi from my room and the cost would be less than the charge for connections through the computers on the ship. This cost, by the way, was 6 Euros per hour.  It's an exorbitant amount and something that should be included in the price of the cruise. An average Internet connection for me is normally 1-2 hours - tasks handled quickly and efficiently with my laptop and a Wi-Fi connection. 

Even though I brought my own laptop, imagine my surprise when I observed that the ship had only one computer located in the lounge, and as you can imagine, it  was occupied almost constantly. My next surprise was learning that the connection offered by the ship is Satellite, not Wi-Fi.  I also discovered quickly that I could not connect from anywhere except the lounge, and the connection itself was excruciatingly slow. I would spend expensive moments waiting for a screen to load, and in many instances the connection was so slow that it timed out and e-mail was not delivered. When the ship left port, it also lost connections. Uploading or downloading pictures was an impossibility. I meet another couple from Brazil who voiced the same frustrations. They mentioned that they too were told the same story....Wi-Fi available with connections from anywhere on the ship, and less expensive if you brought your own computer.

This was so upsetting to me that I complained to Thomas, the Burgundy ship manager. Thomas came across as condescending, boarding on impolite.  His response to my Internet question was “Madam, you were misinformed.”  That was all he had to say, and I had to agree it was true. But how much better it would have been had he said “I can understand your frustration. I will personally see to it that the people who handle toll-free calls are made aware of your situation so that hopefully it will not happen again.”  In my book, customer service is still what it’s all about.

Documents: My final documents for this trip were mailed to my sister-in-law in Dallas. I have no idea how this happened, since I live in Myrtle Beach, and Viking had all my contact information.  They mailed me several brochures after I booked this trip, so I know they had my correct mailing address. Dure to this mistake, Paula had to overnight my documents at the cost of $16.75.  That should not have happened, but I don’t know whose fault it was, why it happened, or what could be done in the future to prevent it. 

Thanks for reading this review. Remember that this is only one person's opinion, and what may be important to me may not mean much to someone else. This was my first Viking cruise, but I have suggested Viking Cruises to my friends, and would certainly choose Viking again for future cruise.

10 pages of my Viking Burgundy pictures - Please view HERE
Feel free to contact me:patrish@funbeaches.com
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