Just Back from Viking Spirit-Paris to Normandy

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#1
31 Posts
Joined Jan 2013
Our Viking Spirit River Cruise from Paris to Normandy (July 7-14) was fabulous! It was the perfect confluence of crew, passenger mix, itinerary and weather! There were a few hiccups, but I think that is just part of life and since we were new to river cruising and Viking they could have been avoided had we been more experienced travelers.

Hopefully, I will be able to write a review once I get back into life's normal routine.
#2
94 Posts
Joined Jul 2011
Originally posted by A&D Cruising
Our Viking Spirit River Cruise from Paris to Normandy (July 7-14) was fabulous! It was the perfect confluence of crew, passenger mix, itinerary and weather! There were a few hiccups, but I think that is just part of life and since we were new to river cruising and Viking they could have been avoided had we been more experienced travelers.

Hopefully, I will be able to write a review once I get back into life's normal routine.
Looking forward to your review. I sail in just about 6 weeks.
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#3
2,959 Posts
Joined May 2005
We will be first time River Cruisers on Viking Bragi next August. Looking forward to your review. Hopefully, we will be able to avoid some hiccups thanks to your input!!

Cheers, Denise
#4
Bowling Green, KY
1,488 Posts
Joined Mar 2004
We're on Spirit in Dec. hope you will post some pics too. Looking forward to your review. On the hiccups, what do you wish you knew?
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ICOOK4U
#5
Long Island, NY
6,144 Posts
Joined Apr 2000
We returned from the same itinerary but on the Avalon Creativity. We had an awesome time also. It was our first river cruise too. We left Paris July 9th. We must have passed each other on the river. Were you in Paris on Bastille Day?
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Got2Cruise
Planning the cruise is half the fun.
#6
31 Posts
Joined Jan 2013
Viking handled our entire trip--air, transportation, and pre-cruise Paris stay. All went off exactly as booked...but... We paid for custom air and should have immediately asked for better routing. It took us 24 hours to arrive home because we had failed to account for the time change when looking at travel times. . We were booked from Paris to London and then 2 flights in the U.S. However, friends who were booked directly from Paris to the northeastern U.S. did experience unexpected weather delays...so travel time was almost the same and ours was expected.

In doing the trip again I would book my pre-cruise Paris stay independently. We prefer a smaller boutique type hotel with more local flavor. Viking had all pre-cruise passengers staying at Le Meridien Etoile. The location was good--near the Arc d' Triomphe and easy to navigate from. And there were some advantages to staying with Viking...a get acquainted local walk (including a metro trip), an on site Viking Rep, etc. But it is a very large convention type hotel that you can find anywhere in America. Breakfast was a little stressful since there were always a large number of people trying to get finished early.

While our room itself was perfectly adequate, the view was of an asbestos roof with metal stacks. The hotel choice should not have surprised me as Viking obviously has to accomadate a large number of people. There were passengers from several ships (both Viking and others) who were staying there.

Here I am addressing only the "hiccups" and still plan to write a more extensive review about how thoroughly enjoyable our trip was. Getting back to everyday real life is the real hiccup!
#7
31 Posts
Joined Jan 2013
Originally posted by Got2Cruise
We returned from the same itinerary but on the Avalon Creativity. We had an awesome time also. It was our first river cruise too. We left Paris July 9th. We must have passed each other on the river. Were you in Paris on Bastille Day?

We arrived in Paris on the 4th of July and left early morning of Bastille Day.
#8
San Antonio, Texas
2 Posts
Joined Jun 2013
Leaving 8/4 on this our 1st river cruise looking forward to it. One question is whether it is worth while to take the additional tour of the Louvre? I am not that much into art but would like to see the Mona Lisa & a few other pieces but don't know if sending extra money & 4 hours of time would be worth it. Considering just going out & doing something on our own for that PM. Any comments?
#9
Ontario, Canada
2,709 Posts
Joined Nov 2008
Originally posted by o2bretired
Leaving 8/4 on this our 1st river cruise looking forward to it. One question is whether it is worth while to take the additional tour of the Louvre? I am not that much into art but would like to see the Mona Lisa & a few other pieces but don't know if sending extra money & 4 hours of time would be worth it. Considering just going out & doing something on our own for that PM. Any comments?
First off - welcome to Cruise Critic!!!

My opinion re: going to the Louvre just to see the Mona Lisa is that you will most likely be disappointed. I didn't realize that the portrait was that small. It does have it's own wall - and but it also has it's own crowds. I much preferred the Dutch Masters when I was there.

If you are interested in seeing "famous" paintings, you might want to consider going to the Orangerie. It is in the corner of the Tuillerie Gardens - by the Place de la Concorde. It is walkable from the Louvre. Monet's canvases of the Water Lillies are housed there, and they are truly spectacular. You will be going to Giverny to see Monet's house - and the Japanese bridge that is such a important part of these paintings - so seeing the canvases is a good introduction to Monet's famous work.

I was very surprised at how large the canvases are. In the gift shop at the Orangerie, they have post cards of the canvases. They are long and narrow - similar to the canvases themselves. I bought some just to show people the scope of the work.

In the lower level of the Orangerie there are other paintings on display. We saw works by Van Gogh, Rembrandt, - and I think a Picasso as well. The downstairs is (I think) more of a fluid exhibition. Upstairs was updated just for Monet's canvases.

Not a large gallery... But quite overlooked, IMHO.

Fran
#11
31 Posts
Joined Jan 2013
Originally posted by o2bretired
Leaving 8/4 on this our 1st river cruise looking forward to it. One question is whether it is worth while to take the additional tour of the Louvre? I am not that much into art but would like to see the Mona Lisa & a few other pieces but don't know if sending extra money & 4 hours of time would be worth it. Considering just going out & doing something on our own for that PM. Any comments?
We too pondered what was the best thing to do regarding optional tours. We ended up doing both The Louvre Tour and The Versailles Tour and were so glad we did. Both of our tour guides were excellent. We bypassed all lines and waits (which were considerable). On the bus rides to and from the venues we were given lots of other information regarding history and background. We were able to see the main attractions at The Louvre without having to navigate on our own. I highly recommend it.
#15
2,338 Posts
Joined Mar 2004
Originally posted by franski
If you are interested in seeing "famous" paintings, you might want to consider going to the Orangerie. It is in the corner of the Tuillerie Gardens - by the Place de la Concorde. It is walkable from the Louvre. Monet's canvases of the Water Lillies are housed there, and they are truly spectacular. You will be going to Giverny to see Monet's house - and the Japanese bridge that is such a important part of these paintings - so seeing the canvases is a good introduction to Monet's famous work.

Not a large gallery... But quite overlooked, IMHO.

Fran
I quite agree with Fran. The Water Lillies at L'Orangerie are amazing! I loved the way they were displayed floor to ceiling in oval rooms, in a less crowded venue. My "afternoon" at the The Louvre began there and then I walked thru Tuilleries gardens, ate and people watched and then did just the French Paintings room at The Louvre. I love museums.....but it is a vast one. Although I was in Paris before an ocean cruise, I was
going to Giverny a day or two later out of Le Havre and it was quite memorable seeing his work come alive.
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#16
Long Island, NY
6,144 Posts
Joined Apr 2000
The Musee d'Orsay is a fabulous museum, it is rated the #1 Paris attraction of Trip Advisor. Not only is Monet represented, by many other impressionist masters included is Van Gough "Starry Night", and "Whistler's Mother". The building is an old railway station.
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Got2Cruise
Planning the cruise is half the fun.
#17
New Jersey
996 Posts
Joined Dec 2008
Originally posted by A&D Cruising
In doing the trip again I would book my pre-cruise Paris stay independently. We prefer a smaller boutique type hotel with more local flavor. Viking had all pre-cruise passengers staying at Le Meridien Etoile. The location was good--near the Arc d' Triomphe and easy to navigate from. And there were some advantages to staying with Viking...a get acquainted local walk (including a metro trip), an on site Viking Rep, etc. But it is a very large convention type hotel that you can find anywhere in America. Breakfast was a little stressful since there were always a large number of people trying to get finished early.

While our room itself was perfectly adequate, the view was of an asbestos roof with metal stacks. The hotel choice should not have surprised me as Viking obviously has to accomadate a large number of people. There were passengers from several ships (both Viking and others) who were staying there.

Here I am addressing only the "hiccups" and still plan to write a more extensive review about how thoroughly enjoyable our trip was. Getting back to everyday real life is the real hiccup!
We are booked at Le Meridien Etoile for our pre-trip next July. We are considering adding 2 additional days as we have friends in Belgium we wish to spend a day with .... I do like the "ambience" of a smaller hotel (we had a fun experience in the Left Bank years ago) but am wondering if it would be just easier to stay at the same hotel rather than a different one and not spend time and cab fare transferring after 2 days.

Would you recommend this hotel or are there others nearby?
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#18
31 Posts
Joined Jan 2013
Originally posted by pbnjrockette
We are booked at Le Meridien Etoile for our pre-trip next July. We are considering adding 2 additional days as we have friends in Belgium we wish to spend a day with .... I do like the "ambience" of a smaller hotel (we had a fun experience in the Left Bank years ago) but am wondering if it would be just easier to stay at the same hotel rather than a different one and not spend time and cab fare transferring after 2 days.

Would you recommend this hotel or are there others nearby?
I can't say anything about other hotels in the area since I didn't research them. And yes, I'm sure it would be easier than moving around.
#19
31 Posts
Joined Jan 2013
Originally posted by firstplacechef
A&D, how much for the two optionally?
I believe it was 64 euros per person for the Louvre and 80 for Versailles. I think that is about average for guided tours that include transportation. As I said, our guides were excellent and you get so much more than "just seeing" things.

You can call Viking customer service and they will quote prices, times and optional tours for your particular cruise...not sure how far out they have info for though.
#20
31 Posts
Joined Jan 2013
I forgot to mention one "must do" if you are staying at Le Meridien Etoile or near-by. Be sure to visit The Bar La Vue at dusk on the 34th floor of The Hyatt Regency Etoile which is directly across the street. There is a magnificent panoramic view of Paris. The drinks are pricey, but you are paying for the experience. You can sit for as long as you like and watch the sun set over Paris and experience the light show on the Eiffel Tower. We did not go to the top of the Eiffel Tower or the Arc d' Triomphe, so this was our chance to have a wonderful view of the Paris skyline without long waits, crowds, or time constraints.