As river cruising is becoming increasingly popular throughout the UK and Europe, the team at Iglu were keen to experience this soothing and relaxing holiday style. Courtesy of Viking River Cruises, we were invited onboard the Viking Forseti as part of a four night river cruise around the wine capital of the world, Bordeaux, France.
As someone who is completely new to river cruising, I was not entirely sure what to expect before my trip onboard this 5* ship. A far cry from the larger ocean liners, river vessels are smaller, more agile, and only take an average of 150 passengers onboard. Destinations are the sole focus, paired with exceptional food, wine and service in an ambient setting.
We travelled to Bordeaux with British Airways and were met on arrival by Viking guides who lead us to the coach which took us on a short journey to the ship. From here, we hopped straight onboard where we were met with a cosy and intimate atmosphere, along with the Maitre’d and other staff who quickly became familiar faces.
We were pleasantly surprised by the size of the ship’s interior – the atrium was bright and airy with a large glass roof and an open staircase. The corridors were light and open – and staterooms were generously sized with televisions, comfortable beds, hairdryers and stocked with luxury toiletries.
At the top of the ship lies the sun deck, which boasts 360 degree views, shaded seating and a walking track as well as an organic herb garden. There are two restaurants – the main dining room which provides a formal setting, and the Aquavit Terrace which is more casual with the option to dine al fresco. Dinner was in one sitting and generally consisted of five courses; the menus varied daily and the onboard chef and sommelier would offer their recommendations nightly. One evening meal was hosted in a nearby Chateau where the ship’s staff joined us for a very special evening. The lounge/bar area onboard is the evening hub with live music, attentive staff and fantastic views of the surrounding areas, most nights we were docked overnight so there was also the option of exploring the local area for the evening.
The ship took us through the various wine regions of Bordeaux on the rivers Garonne and Dordogne. With one or two ports of call per day, we were given ample time to explore Bordeaux’s towns and villages, as well as the city itself. There is a guided tour at each port which is included in the cost of the cruise – these vary from site-seeing and historical walking tours to coach journeys to local vineyards and Chateaus. The local guides are extremely knowledgeable and everyone is given quiet boxes so you are able to listen clearly whilst following at your own pace. Additional tours are available at a cost. This included a very special trip to Camus to blend your own Cognac.
From start to finish, the trip was exceptionally well organised, the staff highly attentive, the food faultless and Bordeaux itself I would highly recommend to any history buffs or those that enjoy wine. River cruising gives you the freedom to make your holiday as fast or as slow-paced as you like with the support of experts, new-found friends and wonderful food of course!
View our Viking River Cruises