Lyon & Provence Cruise on the Viking Delling

3/26/2024 to 4/6/2024

 

 

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Page 1 – Embarkation, Ship, Cabin, Entertainment, Activities; Ports of Call:  Avignon, Arles
Page 2 – Ports of Call:  Avignon, Vivieres
Page 3 - Ports of Call: 
Tourmon, Lyon - Day 1
Page 4 - Ports of Call:    Lyon - Day 2, Paris Extension Day 1 & Day 2
Page 5 - Ports of Call:  Paris Extension Day 2 (Continued) & Day 3-4

 

Preface

I have thoroughly enjoyed my four previous river cruises, so when we were on the Viking Venus for our Northern Lights cruise, we booked three river cruises.  They had some good promotions that encouraged us.  The first one was to be this Rhone River cruise.  I have always enjoyed visiting any part of France, since it is so beautiful.  This would also allow Cathy to visit Paris for the first time.  

 

Embarkation

One of the promos offered for on-ship booking was a good price on business class flights.  I normally prefer to book my own flights, but it just made sense to use Viking for these flights.  They had us on some very good Air France flights.  We would fly from the Palm Beach airport to JFK, then to Paris and then to Marseilles.   A few weeks before the cruise, Air France changed two of our flights and changed our itinerary that meant we would have a 6.5-hour layover in Charles DeGaulle Airport.  We weren’t thrilled with the change, but at least we would be in the Air France lounge waiting rather than at a crowded gate.  The terminal was quite nice looking

The large two-story lounge was quite attractive.  Plus, the food offerings very tasty.

   

Since we had so much time for our connection, we were pleased that the lounge had a relaxion room section.  It was pretty comfortable.

When we arrived in Marseilles, a Viking representative met us.  We were directed to a van with another couple who were on our cruise.  It was about an hour and fifteen-minute drive to the Viking Delling waiting for us along the river.  Embarkation is a piece of cake on a river cruise.  We walked onto the ship, went to the desk, and were handed our key cards.  Too easy!

 

Ship

I reviewed a Viking long ship from our December 2022 Christmas Markets cruise.  On ocean cruises with so many public areas, I normally don’t repeat the ship information when cruising on the same ship, unless there are major renovations.  With the Viking long ships, they are all the same, but since there aren’t that many public areas and there are some different accents, I will include it on this ship.

The various public rooms are shown below by category.  The way the long ships are arranged, all the cabins are in the back half of the ship and the public areas are in the front.

 

The Restaurant (Link to Menus) -

The restaurant is located in front of the deck 2 reception area.  This is a very nice room with views to the outside through the large windows.  As through all the ships, the modern Scandinavian style feels so comfortable and attractive.  All the tables hold from six to ten guests.   With the ship being so small, we had friends that we met during the day, either on the cruise, on tours or at other meals that were at our tables.  This is a major plus of river cruising, you meet so many wonderful people that you enjoy spending time with.

   

   

   

There is a buffet area in the middle of the restaurant where you can select various items to go with your meal.  This is especially popular at breakfast when you don't want to order off the menu.  It is also where you can have an omelet made to order for breakfast.  During the lunch and dinner meals, a chef will prepare different items such as pasta.

   

Most of the meals were very good, as we experienced on our first Viking river cruise.  I am looking forward to our next two Viking cruises.

 

Aquavit Buffet –

This is a very nice area near the front of the deck 3 lounge, where they serve continental breakfasts, light lunches, beverages and other special food items.  It is also a handy place to hang out when cruising the river, since it has nice seating and it is easy to get outside to take photos when needed.

   

 

Aquavit Terrace –

This area at the very front of the ship is a wonderful place to hang out with a drink or to have an al fresco dining experience in warmer weather.  We never used it, but it would have been beneficial when we didn’t have enough time before a tour. The only time I took photos of the Aquavit Terrace was when we were going through locks.

   

 

Sun Deck –

This deck is on the top of the ship.  It seemed that most of the time when I wanted to go out to the sun deck for photos it was closed.  I have to assume it was because they had everything taken down to go through low bridges.

   

   

   

There is also a walking track around the outside of the sundeck at the back of the ship.  They have minigolf and shuffleboard inside the walking track.

   

The bridge in the middle of the sundeck can be lowered to allow for clearance under lower bridges.

 

 

Observation Lounge (Link to Menus) -

This is the main room on deck three where all the group activities take place.  It is a wonderful place to spend time while cruising the river, since there are large windows and comfortable temperatures.

   



This is where our evening port talks, or other important meetings would take place.  The chairs are arranged where they can handle various size groups comfortably.  There is a piano used during some of the evening entertainment.

You can access the Aquavit Buffet and Terrace from the front of the lounge.

At the back of the room is the Sky Bar.  The waiters are excellent and very friendly.  They also learn your names quickly like the waiters do in the dining room. 

For this cruise, we ordered the Viking Silver Spirits beverage package.  It costs $25 per person per day.  For us it seemed like a no brainer. For some, it was unnecessary.  They included every spirit they had in the package, even the very expensive liquors.  I was surprised, since they had some good ones.


Reception -

The reception area is on deck 2 with a staircase in the middle leading to the deck 3 lobby. 

   

   

There is a small seating area in the middle of the reception area.

Guest services  is located next to the deck 2 entry to the ship on the starboard side.  It is staffed 24 hours a day.

Across from guest services is a very small shop area.  It mainly sold Viking labeled outerwear. 

There is a small desk in front of the dining room where our Program Director Rafael hung out.

Also in the reception area was a unisex bathroom with two separate stalls and a shared sink.  Men and women could be in there at the same time, which was a bit different.  But it seemed to work just fine.

 

Lobby Deck 3 -

At the top of the stairs is a large painting of  the Norse mythological character, Delling, for whom the ship is named. 

   

There is a small library on the port side of deck 3. 

Just across from the library on the starboard side is a small computer area to access the internet.

On either side of the lobby are seating areas.

   

Very popular spots on deck 3 are the coffee areas just before you enter the lounge on both sides.  They were stocked all day long with coffee and tea as well as cookies.  In the morning, they had muffins and other treats.

 

Elevator –

There is a small elevator that goes between decks 2 and 3 located just behind the restaurant on deck 2 starboard and on deck 3 starboard behind the lounge.  If a guest needed an elevator, I am sure that they were told not to book a cabin on deck 1.  The main exits off the ship were on deck 2 and 3 depending on where we were docked.  However, in some ports, we had to go up to the sun deck and walk across another ship’s sundeck to get off the ship.

   

 

Laundry –

Being in a veranda suite, we received free laundry.  With the cruise only being 7 days long, we only had to do one load in the middle of the cruise   Below is the cost for doing laundry. 

Internet –

Well, I guess everything can’t be rosy about the ship.  The internet was very slow.  With us weaving along a river much of the time, there were many perioods of no connectivity.  I was surprised that it was even lost when we were docked.  It was very inconsistent internet and only good for the barest necessities.  Since both Cathy and I use T-Mobile, our plans include unlimited international data.  Even though it is a reduced speed service, it works great for most of our needs.

 

Cabin

Cathy and I were in veranda suite cabin 304 on deck 3 right next to the upper lobby area.  We thought that it was a perfect location.  We had two rooms, with a bed in one and a sitting area in the other.  It probably would have been roomier if it had just been one big room. 

   

   

   

The bedroom area was quite tight.  The bathroom access was on one wall and a small TV on another.

   

A small closet was on on the other side of the wall where the TV was. 

   

Even though the cabin only had 275 sq. ft including the small balcony, it was quite adequate for our 7-day cruise.  Unlike the 205-foot veranda state room we had on our Christmas markets cruise, we only had two drawers rather than six.  I couldn’t understand why the larger cabin had less storage space.  The hanging space in the closet was larger, but there was only one shelf.  We made do.  The empty suitcases fit easily under the bed.

Above the desk is the Whisper device charger used for the tours. 

There are controls for the lights on either side of the bed.  One side had a US power plug and USB-A plug.  The other side had a European plug.

   

The bathroom was quite functional and the shower large enough.  We had adequate shelf and bathroom storage with the two shelves under the sink.

   

The bathroom has a night light that does a very adequate job of illuminating the bathroom.  So much so that it worked out better to have the door shut to keep the bedroom darker.  One nice feature is the heated floor in the bathroom.  We used it regularly on the Christmas Markets cruise, but not on this one.  There was a knob on the bathroom wall to increase or lower the temperature of it. 

The balcony had a couple small chairs and a table.  We did use it on this cruise, since the weather was so nice most of the time.

   

 

Dining (Link to Menus)

I have included copies of the menus for the main dining room along with photos of some of the food items at the Menus link just above and at the top of each page of the review.

Even though the menu didn’t have a lot of choices, what they did have was delicious and well prepared for the most part.  They varied the menus nicely where I was always looking forward to trying one of their delicious sounding appetizers or main courses.

Our previous Viking cruise had great meals every day.  On this cruise we had a few misses.  The worst one was one of the first dinners where they had boneless short ribs.  Somehow the chef cooked short ribs that were tough and had to be cut with a knife.  Short ribs are normally so tender that you can cut them with your fork.  The other major problem was with the French onion soup one night.  It tasted like they added allspice, the one that is in pumpkin pie to it.  I love onion soup, but I had to leave it this time, as did everyone else at our table.  Strangely, Cathy heard people raving about how good the onion soup was, so maybe it was just us.

There were light options in the Aquavit Buffet if we didn’t feel like a full meal or we could get items from the counters in the middle of the dining room.  I was very impressed with Viking’s ability to provide tasty meals for each seating.

For breakfast, there was a nice self-serve area with eggs, omelets, breakfast meats, fruit, cereal, yogurt, etc.  We could also order off the menu.

 

Entertainment

On our previous Viking river cruise, most nights the entertainment was a piano player/singer.  On this cruise, performers were brought in every night.  We had some excellent entertainment.  Each evening our Program Director, Rafael Poblete, would provide a preview of the next day's itinerary at around 5:45 PM in the lounge.  He also told us about the evening's entertainment.  He was very active in the entertainment and always involved making the events a lot of fun.

The lighting during the entertainment was very low.  I didn't want to use flash, so as a result some of the photos are pretty bad, but I wanted to put them in to remember the fine performers we had.  On the first night we had the Le Gitans Concert.

On the second night we had the captain’s welcome reception with free drinks for everyone.  All the officers were introduced.  A local pianist was brought in for entertainment.  We were surprised at the many delicious looking free drinks that were offered

   

The third night they had a game night with music and dancing.  We missed it but heard that it was a lot of fun.  We regretted our decision to skip it.

On the fourth night, we had a French ballroom dance show.  They were surprisingly good.  The lady dancer changed outfits after each dance to fit with the next song.

   

   

On the fifth night we had a very good show, the French Chansons with Philippe.  The music was very good, and the singers did a great job.

   

On the sixth night we had The River Band – a Nostalgic Music Trio.  They were very good.  The girls in the audience had to get up to dance.  Not many men joined them, but I had to do a couple dances with Cathy.  Even Rafael was showing his moves.  Everyone had a lot of fun. 

   

On the last night another local pianist came on board to play.

 

Activities

We had several activities onboard while we were on tours.  Below is the only one we were able to attend.

The chef had a demonstration on how to make a chocolate fondant.  We would have to wait until dinner that night to try it.

Other activities that we didn’t attend were nautical talks, a guest lecturer to discuss the Lyon resistance during the war and a silk screen printing demonstration.

 

Ports of Call

Day 1 – Avignon

With the change in the flights, we didn’t get on the ship until after 3:30 PM, rather than the original 10:30 AM scheduled embarkation.  It pretty much eliminated any serious exploration of Avignon for that day.  The medieval town looked incredible from the ship. 

   

Fortunately, we would be returning to Avignon in a couple days for tours.  After boarding the Delling, I took some photos of the cabin and public areas while I could.  I especially wanted to do the upper deck, since the weather forecast wasn’t that great for the next day.  I took advantage of the sunshine.  Even though the afternoon had safety and orientation meetings we had to attend, I was able to get off the ship for a few minutes to get closer to the city for some photos while the sun was shining. 

   

I especially wanted to see the Monument du Comtat, with Marianne (the female allegory of liberty), the national emblem of France, symbolizing the "Triumph of the Republic".  It is a beautiful marble and bronze statue with a lion at its base.

   

   

I was looking forward to seeing more of Avignon when we returned.  We would leave in the morning for the town of Arles.

 

Day 2 – Arles

At 5:00 AM the ship cruised south to the town of Arles.  We passed through our first lock of the twelve we would go through till we ended the cruise in Lyon. 

   

This was the only time during the cruise that we would be going south, so we could see the water being drained from the lock beside us.

At around 7:00 AM, we passed under a large bridge with the rising sun in the background.

We arrived in Arles at around 8:00 AM, an hour earlier than scheduled.  From the ship we could see the remains of a previously destroyed bridge with supports with lions on top. 


We were docked next to the Amacello, so we would have to climb to the top deck and walk over the Amacello to get back to the dock.

Our guide for the day was Sian, from Wales.  Like every guide we would have on this trip, she was just outstanding.  So knowledgeable and helpful. 

When we left the ship to start our Arles walking tour, we saw the companion supports on our side of the Rhone with the lions facing toward us.

After a short walk, we entered the ancient gates of Arles.

 

The town had some new and old areas to appreciate.  It was a nice place.

   

   

   

Our first destination was to the Arena of Nimea.  It is one of the best-preserved Roman amphitheaters in the world and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.  It held 21,000 people.  It was built in 70 AD around the same time as the Roman coliseum that held around 60,000.  It is in such great shape for an almost 2,000-year-old building.  It is still used for concerts and other events.

   

   

When we entered the theater and sat down, we saw some school kids on a field trip.  They were taking turns playing gladiator with one side using swords and the other shields.

The buildings across from the amphitheater were so lovely.  Just what you would expect in an old French town. 

Sian pointed out the signposts with paintings done by Van Gogh.  Each painting was close to where Van Gogh used the property as the backdrop.  This one was inside the amphitheater.

We continued our walk through the medieval town.  This was a great town to take in all the history and lovely sights.

 We next came to the Arles Roman theater.  It was also built in the 1st century AD but is not in as good shape as the amphitheater.  I had to take photos through the openings in the fence rails, since we weren’t going into the theater.

   

We walked through the narrow streets until we reached Place de la République in the center of the town.  In the center wa a 66-foot-tall red granite obelisk that was originally erected in the Arles Roman circus in the 4th century.  It fell in the 6th century.  It was rediscoved in two pieces in 1389.  After being repaired, it was then moved to its current location in 1676.

   

On one side of the square is the Hotel de Ville or town hall.  Near the top of the building were the initials RF, which stand for the Republic of France.  We would see this on many buildings in the coming days.

   

We were in Arles the day before the start of a large festival that included bull fights in the amphitheater.  We were certainly surprised that France would allow bull fights, but they are very popular which has kept them from being outlawed.  In the front of the balcony is a bull fighter’s cape.  This is the location where the mayor will stand and announce the opening of festivities.

Next to the town hall is the Church of St. Trophime. 

   

Sian pointed out that on the left side of the entrance were good people going to heaven and on the right those going to hell being led there by a demon.

   

We continued our walk through the narrow streets that were getting very crowded with tourists.  

We came to a less crowded street with a building with a unique entrance.

Close by was the Hotel Dieu.  This was the hospital of Arles that was built in the 16th and 17th centuries.  It remained a hospital until 1974.  It is well known since this is the hospital where Vincent Van Gogh went after cutting off his ear in 1888.  As with many other places in Arles, Van Gogh used the courtyard in some of his paintings.  After the hospital closed, it was repainted in the yellow color that it was when Van Gogh was there.  They now have shops in the courtyard since it is a very popular tourist destination.

   

   

We continued taking in the sights of the ancient town.  We had a different view of the town hall tower and statue on top.

   

Sian pointed out some remains of the old Roman forum.

Across the street was a yellow café.  Sian held up a photo of a Van Gogh painting where it was the subject.   It is pretty cool to be standing in the painting.

   

On the way back to the ship, we saw the thermal baths of Constantine.  This is all that remains from the 4th century grand palace that once stood there.

   

Just before we got to the Delling, Sian stopped and showed us a poster of Van Gogh’s very famous Stary Night painting.  This was the exact spot where he painted it.  Unfortunately, a river boat was docked there, but it was pretty much the same view as we saw from the Delling.

We thoroughly enjoyed our tour of Arles.  It is a lovely town with many historical sites to visit.  The Delling was leaving Arles at 6:00 PM to go back to Avignon, where we would arrive around 10:00 PM.

 

 

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