Viking Spirit - Paris / Normandy

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#1
Manito, IL
83 Posts
Joined Mar 2011
We just returned from the Paris / Normandy river cruise on the Viking Spirit. I highly recommend Viking River Cruises. What a neat way to tour. Yes, the area of viewing is more limited, but European villages / towns were settled along rivers, so from there we see some of the oldest and prettiest. Those who have taken Viking, know they excel in customer satisfaction, and others have posted reviews of that the boats are clean, well-maintained with fantastic staff and tour options. We personally find nothing to fault them on, or complain about.

For those considering a river cruise...I offer these thoughts. This was our second Viking trip in the early Spring, and we chose it mainly for the price reduction. There are pros / cons to going at that time: pro: cost, fewer crowds, but the biggest con is summed up in one word: TEMPERATURES. We were gone 10 days from March 22-31, and it was cold, 30-40's mostly, maybe one day of low 50's in the afternoon.

When planning the trip, I searched weather history, and reading upper 40's low 50's doesn't seem bad. Wrong. Most of the tours are in the morning when it is much cooler, and many of the tours involve walking outside with a guide. The guides and tours are really interesting, as is viewing the villages, churches, etc. But unless you really love cold weather, standing outside with a cold, brisk, damp wind cutting into you, when it is 30-barely 40 degrees, seriously diminishes enjoying what you are seeing, or hearing what the guide is saying.

Also the boat has this beautiful upper deck and chairs. What a neat way to view the countryside, as you cruise a river. But again, not in those temperatures. It was too cold to be on the sundeck more than a few minutes while cruising.

My husband and I are already signed up for 2 more Viking tours, but we will never take one in March / April again. We'll spend quite a bit more to take one in warmer temps, but the pay-off will be that we will get to enjoy the outside tours and be on the upper deck of the boat. Not to mention, seeing flowers and colors of green, instead of winter dormancy.

The cabin level or having glass doors is really not important...Nearly all the cabins are the same size, and so little time is spent there. Often at docking you are alongside another boat, or pier, so curtains are usually closed anyway when in the cabin. Also having a cabin on the same level as the restaurant is not a plus. More people going up / down the hallway. We personally enjoy a lower level, and towards the end. Our room had a nice window, but it was away from traffic activity, and we were able to hear the lull of the water around the boat.

We've not tried other river lines. I can't imagine them being any nicer. The Viking staff really does seem to try to exceed guest expectations. They do a fantastic job.
#2
667 Posts
Joined Feb 2006
Sounds like you enjoyed your cruise as much as we did ours in October. Which two Viking cruises did you book while on board? We're looking at possibly taking a Christmas Market cruise on the Rhine in December on one of the new long ships but are trying to work out the logistics with work/family, etc..
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Ruby Princess 4/17 (Pacific Wine Country), Viking Tialfi 8/16 (Rhine), Grand Princess 2/15 (Hawaii), Caribbean Princess 11/14 (W. CRB), Viking Freya 12/13 (Heart of Germany), Sapphire Princess 4/13 (Coastal), Ruby Princess 12/12 (CRB), Viking Pride (Paris/Normandy) 10/12, Star Princess 12/11 (S. America), Caribbean Princess 5/11 (CRB), Sapphire Princess 2/11 (MEX), Emerald Princess 12/10 (CRB), Viking Sky 11/10 (Danube), Golden Princes 5/10 (Coastal), Vision of the Seas 2/09 (CRB), Crown Princess 12/08 (CRB) ,Crown Princess 8/08 (Scandinavia and Russia), Golden Princess 3/08 (MEX), Island Princess 12/07 (PAN CANAL), Emerald Princess 5/07(MED) , Grand Princess 2/07 (W. CRB), Viking Surkov 8/06 (RUSSIA), Sapphire Princess 3/06 (MEX), Golden Princess 12/05 (S. CRB), Viking Century Star 5/05 (CHINA), Sea Voyager 12/04 (PAN CANAL), Splendour of the Seas 10/04 (MED), Golden Princess 3/04 (E. CRB), Polaris 5/03 (GALAPAGOS), Sovereign of the Seas 3/03 (BAHAMAS), Norwegian Sun 12/02 (W. CRB), Legend of the Seas 5/02 (ALASKA), Norway 12/01 (E. CRB), Miriam 5/01 (EGYPT), Sunbird 3/00 (S. CRB), Song of America 3/98(MEX)
#3
Bowling Green, KY
1,488 Posts
Joined Mar 2004
Any pictures to share? We're on Spirit for the Christmas cruise and are bracing or the cold temps but excited to see the countryside covered in snow. Praying the river levels will be okay also. Did you do any of the optional tours?
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ICOOK4U
#4
431 Posts
Joined May 2003
You mentioned that docking you were at times next to another ship, was it typically also a river cruise ship, Viking or other line ? did it impact getting on and off the ship and did you notice more passengers in ports. Thank-you
#5
667 Posts
Joined Feb 2006
Originally posted by kdowneymd
You mentioned that docking you were at times next to another ship, was it typically also a river cruise ship, Viking or other line ? did it impact getting on and off the ship and did you notice more passengers in ports. Thank-you
Could either be another Viking or one or more other cruise lines. Here is a thread where it was discussed awhile back.

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1801976
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Ruby Princess 4/17 (Pacific Wine Country), Viking Tialfi 8/16 (Rhine), Grand Princess 2/15 (Hawaii), Caribbean Princess 11/14 (W. CRB), Viking Freya 12/13 (Heart of Germany), Sapphire Princess 4/13 (Coastal), Ruby Princess 12/12 (CRB), Viking Pride (Paris/Normandy) 10/12, Star Princess 12/11 (S. America), Caribbean Princess 5/11 (CRB), Sapphire Princess 2/11 (MEX), Emerald Princess 12/10 (CRB), Viking Sky 11/10 (Danube), Golden Princes 5/10 (Coastal), Vision of the Seas 2/09 (CRB), Crown Princess 12/08 (CRB) ,Crown Princess 8/08 (Scandinavia and Russia), Golden Princess 3/08 (MEX), Island Princess 12/07 (PAN CANAL), Emerald Princess 5/07(MED) , Grand Princess 2/07 (W. CRB), Viking Surkov 8/06 (RUSSIA), Sapphire Princess 3/06 (MEX), Golden Princess 12/05 (S. CRB), Viking Century Star 5/05 (CHINA), Sea Voyager 12/04 (PAN CANAL), Splendour of the Seas 10/04 (MED), Golden Princess 3/04 (E. CRB), Polaris 5/03 (GALAPAGOS), Sovereign of the Seas 3/03 (BAHAMAS), Norwegian Sun 12/02 (W. CRB), Legend of the Seas 5/02 (ALASKA), Norway 12/01 (E. CRB), Miriam 5/01 (EGYPT), Sunbird 3/00 (S. CRB), Song of America 3/98(MEX)
#6
431 Posts
Joined May 2003
Yes, I read that as well as the travel industry article. I am not quite as sanguine about the industry all working together to avoid the scenarios that used to occur on Nile River cruises. The rivers in southern france are significantly more narrow and water flow variation both highs and lows will be felt far more acutely with more ships on the rivers and traffic jams seem to be quite possible.In addition pollution both from the boats and the passengers may become more apparent. Hopefully this next season will give some insight because it certainly is a wonderful way to travel
#7
Manito, IL
83 Posts
Joined Mar 2011
When tied up alongside another boat, we were next to a Viking. It did not impact getting on / off. We just stepped over to it via a gangway, and went out their ship. The Viking Spirit is docked less than a mile from the Eiffel Tower. It is an easy and scenic 20 min walk to it along the river. Plus we had an awesome view of the tower itself. At night it twinkles..on the hour.

Crowds were light everywhere except Versailles. And if our group toured on a slow day, I would hate to see a "full" day. Reports were that lines were literally a "conveyor belt" through the castle -- at times impossible to see something closer or stop. Most opted for the half day tour at 79 E, but there was also a full day tour at 89 E that then left Versailles late afternoon and met up with the boat in Paris. We are glad we didn't do that, because the gardens in March didn't have much to offer, and the river cruise back to the Paris docking point is really scenic! Some of the best...beautiful homes, parks, etc. We had left Paris after midnight, so none of us had seen them on the way out.

The Normandy tour is awesome, and that surprised me as I wasn't really interested in it. But viewing that area of the D-Day battles and seeing those thousands of crosses in that beautiful cemetery, is both humbling and inspiring. I dare anyone to view them with dry eyes. The tour guides and museum exhibits are very interesting and we didn't have enough time to fully take them in. Like most memorials, it is something everyone should visit once to pay tribute. I'm so glad we went.
#8
Manito, IL
83 Posts
Joined Mar 2011
My husband and I personally thought Rouen the best stop and town. The medieval portion is so quaint and neat...a maze of narrow streets, passageways and crooked buildings squashed in together. It was a view right out of the Harry Potter village. Really cute shops offering about anything. It was fun. It is more walkable than Paris, and to us more scenic.
#9
Long Island, NY
6,178 Posts
Joined Apr 2000
Hi, thank you for your review. Do you have any "general" advice for Paris? Did you stay there pre or post cruise?
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Got2Cruise
Planning the cruise is half the fun.
#10
Cincinnati. OH-Go Reds
5,043 Posts
Joined Mar 2007
My wife and I plan to go on our first Viking river cruise next year. We will most likely go in May when the weather should be in the 70's. thanks for the review of Viking river cruise line
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