Get the inside scoop on our recent Bordeaux France Viking River Cruise filled with stunning food, wine, and adventure.
Are you in need of an adult getaway?
Lt. Dan and I have noticed the older our sweet babies get (now 13 and 15 years old) the more harried the daily grind becomes. The school schedules, homework, alternating sports practices, and constant onslaught of “special events” can be overwhelming.
Sometimes we just need to get away for a short time to recuperate. We firmly believe a few days of self-care here and there lead to an improved outlook on life, better parenting, and better spousing… Is that a word?
Just a few weeks ago, we spent 10 days in France. Alone.
It was an enchanting trip filled with dazzling views of cities and countrysides, glorious food and wine, and plenty of time to rest and reconnect.
We started in Paris. Then we headed south to Bordeaux, to board the Viking Forseti, for a Châteaux, Rivers & Wine 8 day river cruise.
Bordeaux France Viking River Cruise
Bordeaux is a vibrant part of France, encompassing some of the most rich soil and history in the country. Towering cliffs, ancient cave dwellings, rolling farmland, dense forests, and of course vineyards cover the landscape.
The abundant natural resources has made Bordeaux a popular place to live for thousands of years.
Not only do wine grapes grow in bounty, you can also find the highest quality truffles in the world, and glorious produce used in traditional French cuisine, such as figs, and creamy pungent cheeses.
We experienced all this in great leisure. From the moment we booked our trip, to our escort back to the airport in Bordeaux, Viking took care of our every need.
This was honestly the easiest vacation we’ve ever taken.
All travel details, including flights and car service, were arranged for us. All day trips, tours, and meals were taken care of. We simply made a few selections online, packed a bag, and headed to France, passports in hand.
Viking Cruises even sent us a personalized booklet ahead of time that outlined our:
- Ground transportation
- Ship maps with designated room
- Maps of our route
- Daily schedules with special events
- What to expect on a Viking River Cruise
- Tips for travel
- Regional history and so on
I was impressed.
We started our cruise in the city of Bordeaux. Then we ventured up and down the intersecting Gironde, Garonne, and Dordogne Rivers, stopping at charming riverside villages and medieval walled hamlets.
Every single stop was surrounded by brilliant green vineyards and the wineries that are so famous in this particular region of France.
On our cruise we visited the towns of:
- Saint- Emilion
- and the seaside city of Arachon.
Every port had it’s own feel, and even it’s own micro-climate, producing the vast diversity you find in Bordeaux wines.
Each day we had the option to join a guided excursion, exploring these areas on own own, or relaxing on the ship.
Throughout the week we visited Chateauxs for wine tasting, shopped at colorful open-air markets, hunted for Perigord Truffles with the world’s leading truffle expert Edouard Aynaud, explored fairytale villages, and ate and drank like royalty.
Edouard Aynaud, top expert on truffles, and Leno the truffle hunting dog.
Dan and I had such an amazing time on our first Viking River Cruise.
We’ve decided we’ll definitely go back to the Bordeaux region of France, and we will most definitely travel with Viking Cruises again!
For those of you who have never experienced a Viking Cruise, I will attempt to answer all your questions.
Viking River Cruise Q & A
Is a Viking River Cruise for You? Who Should Book a Viking Cruise?
A) First-time travelers, or those afraid to travel abroad.
If you are nervous to deal with bookings, trains, rental cars, language barriers and so on, Viking Cruises will hold your hand through the entire process so you can rest at ease before and during your vacation.
Viking Cruises will book all transportation in the air and on the ground. They also make sure you are escorted to where you need to be. (Even escorts through the airport on the return flight home.)
The ship’s rooms have 110V outlets so you don’t need to buy voltage adaptors. The staff speaks English, so you don’t have to worry about in-country communication. You will find Free Wifi on the ship, along with familiar American products, amenities, and foods.
B) Experienced travelers who don’t want to deal with the hassle of organizing their own vacation.
Dan and I often fit into this category…
Sometimes planning all the details of an upcoming trip can be very daunting. What if your hotel ends up being a dud? What if the TripAdvisor or Yelp reviews are sketchy and you select bad restaurants? What if your tour guide is uninformed?
You also have to consider logistics like train tickets, or driving in foreign countries, unpacking and repacking as you move through various locations, menus you can’t read, etc.
Viking Cruises literally takes care of every detail for you… All bookings, itinerary, excursions, unique experiences, friendly English speaking guides, luxury transportation to events and tours, meals, snacks, trip add-ons.
You do very little to book your trip, then want for nothing!
C) Aging travelers, or those with limited physical abilities.
Viking Cruises offer plenty of daily events and excursions for those that like to get off the ship and explore every stop.
However, you can also stay on the ship, lounge in the sun, and take in the local scenery along the way. Viking Cruises takes great care of its mature clientele, that’s why so many of the retirees we met on the ship travel with Viking Cruises again and again.
Who Should Possibly Not Book a Viking Cruise?
A) Budget travelers.
Viking Cruises offers luxury experiences. There are varied price points on different cruises and accommodations. However, if you are looking to pinch pennies, this is probably not the cruise for you.
B) Those who like to plan all there own trip details.
There are times I enjoy doing all the research to plan and book a special trip. Yet there are also times I’m too busy or exhausted, and just want to get away without all the work. Viking is the perfect option for those instances.
You do get a say in your daily schedule and can pick and choose what to take advantage of each day. Yet if the enjoy trip planning more than the actual vacation, this is probably not for you.
C) Families with young children.
Viking Cruises make a great getaway for parents leaving their babies behind with relatives. However it is not geared towards families.
In fact, there is an age limit of 18 years on Viking River Cruises. Viking offers peaceful adult experiences focusing on rest and rejuvenation, with a little adventure mixed in!
Why Should I Pick A Viking Cruises Over Other Cruise Lines?
Ease & Luxury
Again, the booking process is so simple, your Viking Travel Agent takes care of everything for you.
The river longship is like a floating hotel. You move in, then do not have to worry about repacking the rest of your trip.
All meals, wines, and services are of the highest quality.
Visit places you may not ever find or see on your own!
As you travel through different regions and countries, you will find places that are special to you, that you can return to later for a longer stay.
Some trips are adventures, but are so busy, they cannot truly be considered a vacation. On Viking Cruises, you can relax your entire trip. Then partake of as many adventures as you choose.
Attention to Detail
Although, Dan and I have not gone on a river cruise with any other company, on the ship we met many couples who have. Every single person we met that has tried other cruise lines, stated Viking River Cruises are the best.
The selected ports and daily activities are meticulously planned. The daily menu features regional specialties so you can experience local cuisine. There are drinks and snacks available 24 hours a day. The staff goes above and beyond to meet all your needs.
Are Viking River Cruises Expensive?
Yes and no. Dan and I have traveled extensively, and have planned many adventures on our own. We generally have a set dollar amount we allocate per day to determine the total cost of our vacations. These funds cover all our travel expenses from hotel, airfare, car rental, meals, tours, etc.
Yes, a Viking Cruise exceeds our daily price per day, when we are planning the trip. However, if you consider the level of service you receive, as well as the amount of time it takes to plan all the details of a great vacation, the additional funds are well worth the money.
For instance, Viking Cruises arranges your flights and ground transportation to and from your cruise destination. They take care of your luggage, greet you with drinks and snacks, offer lovely meals made with local ingredients, and do their best to make you feel pampered on the ship.
Are River Cruises for the Older Generations?
Yes and no. Several readers have asked if we were the youngest couple on the ship. Or if younger couples would feel out of place on a Viking River Cruise.
It’s true that Viking Cruises does a great job meeting the needs of an older clientele, and that many couples who have the time to go on lengthy cruises are retired.
However, we met several parents traveling with their adult children (younger than us), brand new empty-nesters, and friends traveling together on girl’s trips.
Although the majority of our new friends were retirees, we certainly never felt out of place. My guess is that as more people discover the glories of Viking River Cruises, the age range will widen quite a bit.
Can Children Come Along?
No. Viking River Cruises are geared towards adults. The meals, activities, daily excursions, and ship amenities are all designed for an elegant grownup experience. There is also an age limit of 18 years.
Yet, as mentioned above, it’s a great way to experience the world with your adult children!
Do You Get to Experience Regional Foods?
Oh yes! The chef on each Viking River Cruise presents nightly specialties created from local ingredients and regional recipes.
On our cruise through Bordeaux we were offered all sort of elegant French classics, such as Coq au vin, Duck Confit, Boef Burginon… as well as regional cheeses, pastries, and wines.
Did We Make Friends on the Cruise? Should You Travel with Friends?
Of course we did! Daily excursions and group dining offered plenty of time to meet people. Dining is open at each meal, so if you want to make the rounds to new groups of people, you certainly can. (Some cruise lines assign seats the whole trip.)
Whether you decide to travel as a couple or with a group of friends is totally up to your personality. If you are outgoing and love to meet new people, book a trip for you and your sweetie, then mix and mingle to your heart’s delight. Personally, we loved meeting new friends.
However, if you are slightly more reserved, you may want to invite some of your friends at home to travel with you.
Viking River Cruises make amazing reunion trips and family gatherings.
Are There As Many Amenities On a River Longship As There are On an Ocean Cruise Ship?
Viking ocean cruise ships and river longships are very different vessels.
The river boats are designed to provide an intimate experience. With accommodations for less than 200 people, you should think of these ships as boutique floating hotels with a lovely restaurant, bar, and lounging areas, instead of a huge resort with tons of on-board activities.
The picturesque port towns are meant to provide the daily entertainment. However, if you fell like staying behind on the ship, the upper sun deck is a lovely place to rest and enjoy a good read.
There is nightly on-board entertainment and dancing in the lounge area.
Would We Go On a Viking River Cruise Again?
When Dan and I set off on our river cruise this fall, it was a first for us on many levels. It was our first time in Bordeaux, France. It was our first time on a river cruise. And it was our first time vacationing with Viking Cruises.
We weren’t exactly sure what to expect. We assumed we would drink plenty of good wine and see beautiful country landscapes. Both expectations were exceeded within the first day.
However, we did not know:
- We would explore hilltop villages, preserved in time, and surrounded by endless vineyards.
- We would enjoy such luxury and care on the Viking Forseti.
- We would receive a thorough education on Bordeaux wines, that will continue to help us select and enjoy wines for the rest of our lives.
- How diverse the wines, cuisine, people, and region as a whole would be.
Viking Cruises not only surpassed our expectations. it gave us the ability to relax in luxury as we took in all this beauty and goodness.
What an amazing gift.
Disclosure: Our trip was sponsored by Viking Cruises. All opinions are our own.