Best known for its river cruises throughout western Europe and beyond, Viking River Cruises began offering itineraries in the famed Bordeaux wine region of France in 2014.
We love French wine and food, so the line’s already-popular eight-day, seven-night “Châteaux, Rivers & Wine” cruise was particularly appealing. Viking Longship Forseti’s itinerary, which starts and ends in the city of Bordeaux, varies because of shifting tides and water levels, but our experience is typical of what to expect. Our spacious not-so-standard Veranda Stateroom featured a private bathroom with shower, premium bath products (with bathrobe and slippers upon request), a flat-panel TV, a telephone, a safe, a refrigerator, a hair dryer and individual climate control. (All of these amenities are standard in every Viking Longship stateroom.) Highlights of the itinerary included river cruising on the Garonne and Dordogne, as well as the Gironde Estuary; walking tours of Bordeaux, Saint-Émilion, Libourne, Bourg and Blaye; wine tastings in the famed wine communes of Pomerol and Sauternes, the Médoc region and more; creative French fare from chef Pascal Mullier (who is slated to return to Viking Longship Forseti in 2016); dinner, with wine, at Château Kirwan; onboard receptions and events; and two optional excursions that we booked for reasonable fees.
Along with our two highly recommended optional excursions—lunch at Château Siaurac, where our group was joined by the owner, and a tasty tour of the sprawling Bordeaux market with chef Mullier—other appealing add-ons for Viking River Cruises in France’s Bordeaux region include truffle hunting and tasting, which includes lunch; a Taste of Cognac tour, wherein participants leave with a bottle of self-made cognac; and an excursion to the coast for a taste of famed Arcachon oysters, which also included lunch. In addition, this itinerary offers appealing pre- and post-cruise experiences, with a four-day Loire Valley pre-cruise extension and a four-day Paris post-cruise stay on the menu.
Bon voyage and santé—that’s “Cheers” in French!