I was leafing through a catalogue of Viking River Cruises that had arrived in the mail, and noticed the description of a trip from Paris to Rouen and back. I had toured and loved Normandy as a teenager long ago, and was sure that my husband (who had never been to France before) would also find it very interesting. After seeing Viking ads on PBS for so many years, he and I agreed that this was the moment to give one of Viking's cruises a try.
We felt well-cared for right from our initial phone call to book, with Viking regularly sending us useful e-mailed updates and documentation. Every moment of the trip was thoughtfully organized and well-planned. We chose a lower-deck cabin, knowing that a balcony wouldn't be a must in December weather! Our room was quiet and comfortable, with reliable WiFi. We spent most of our time elsewhere in the ship in any case, meeting fellow guests, and enjoying the lounge and scattered seating areas.
The food aboard was superb, the best we've ever had on any cruise. The staff were all friendly and very helpful. We loved the evening entertainment ... as one example, I never expected to hear Delibes' Flower Duet from Lakmé, exquisitely performed by talented singers, the very first night aboard! The Rolf's own pianist was great as well; my husband and I enjoy ballroom dancing, and the pianist provided a nice variety of dance melodies.
Excursions were excellent throughout. Our guides were uniformly good, and I loved the headsets provided for the tours that made it possible to hear our guides without any difficulty. Each tour brought experiences I had never in my life expected: seeing the 25,000-year-old Venus of Brassempouy at the national archaeological museum in St-Germain-en-Laye; the delightfully crookedy half-timbered houses of Vernon; Van Gogh's wind-swept grave, and the very room where he passed away; the Bayeux tapestry; white bluffs along the Seine; an isolated monument to a fallen aircraft in a field near the beautiful cemetery at Bény-sur-Mer; I could just go on and on. It was so lovely that Viking gave us each a rose to put on a soldier's grave of our choice at Bény-sur-Mer. Let me also mention a tour that Viking arranged at the last minute, when the "gilets jaunes" prompted the closing of Versailles and the cancellation of an optional tour there. Viking refunded the fee for the Versailles tour, and then offered to all passengers a complimentary tour to Chantilly instead. Kudos to our Program Director, Michael, and his staff! The Château de Chantilly and Condé Museum were a revelation and absolute delight.
I can hardly wait til our next cruise with this company. And it won't be long, because we have already booked another trip :-)
Our room was clean and very comfortable, everything we needed.