On our way to the airport on May 5 we received an email from Viking River Cruises telling us that because of rising water levels, our ship, the Delling, would not be able cruise. We would be housed in a hotel, the Novotel, for at least 1 night in Avignon. While we were disappointed we understood that this was something out of Viking's control. However, I was concerned that the Novotel would not meet the standards of a Viking Cruise and I called Viking from the airport asking them for more information and what steps they were taking to make sure we got our money's worth from this trip. The representative I spoke with would not give me any further information.
Upon arrival in Avignon we were brought to the hotel via bus. The hotel was adequate the food less than adequate. We were served 5 meals at the Novotel, none of them close to the quality we expected from a Viking cruise. We spent 2 1/2 days at the hotel and instead of cruising to our daily destinations, we were bussed everywhere. Our guides were good but the trips to and from our destinations seemed interminable and were exactly what we hoped to avoid when we booked a river cruise.
We finally were brought to the Delling on the 3rd night. The next morning it was back on the bus with lunch at a restaurant - not at all what was promised in the itinerary. We finally cruised from Vienne to Lyon for 2 1/2 hours. That was the full extent of being moving on the water. The bus trips were long and arduous, not at all relaxing. Again, we had lunch at restaurants that were just adequate.
We had booked a 3 night extension to Paris. Because we couldn't cruise to our final destination, it took a 7 hour bus trip to get there, not arriving until 4:00. Most of the day was gone by the time we arrived. Our 5 star hotel turned out to be a tired Warwick Hotel that needed to refurbished and thoroughly cleaned. From the hair in the bathtub to no doorman most of the time, it was certainly not worth what we paid for it.
I contacted Viking when I got home and was astounded that the customer service department was not available because they were all on a cruise! They would not be listening to their voice mail and would only check email periodically. It is over a week since we returned and have not heard anything from Viking. Not even a form letter apologizing for the circumstances of our cruise.
We have subsequently found out that Viking knew of the problem a week before the cruise but didn't notify any of the passengers until it would be too late to cancel. It seems this happens frequently in the spring, but we were never told that this might happen. We would never have booked the trip if we knew that there was a good chance that it would not be allowed to embark.
We arrived at Lyon at 6 PM and immediately were sent on the City cruise. It was too long and the guide did not hold our attention. We asked that the tour be cut short and we returned to the ship.View All 47 City Tour Reviews
We enjoyed the Vieux Lyon walking tour. Our guide was informative and we had some free time to spend walking in the old section. We joined fellow passengers at a small café for delicious pastry.View All 26 Vieux Lyon (Old Lyon) Reviews