Taking a Viking River Cruise Along the Seine
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Viking River Cruise from Paris & The Heart of Normandy trip travelogue along the Seine River with lots of stops at many charming and centuries old towns and villages in between. This Viking River cruise Seine review shares my recap of my experience that can be helpful when planning your own European river cruise.
I know it has been a while since I last posted about my trip to Paris . It is when I told you I would soon be sharing the Viking River Cruise part of the trip Ed and I took to France. Well, with the holidays and more travel, time got away from me.
Now that things have settled down, I had time to go through all my photos.
I took a ton! I can’t share all of them, but will share the highlights of the 8-day trip starting with the ship accommodations, what we ate and the excursions we went on to explore the towns along the Seine the ship visited. This post will be a two-parter. I will post the second next weekend.
Viking has many European river cruise itineraries. After searching the Viking site, I decided that the Paris & The Heart of Normandy cruise was perfect. I had never been to Paris and had always wanted to go.
I also wanted to see the WWII D-Day beaches in Normandy. The Paris to Normandy cruise allowed me to visit both in one trip and not have to drive or navigate anywhere. Viking took care of everything.
That is what is so nice about river cruising. It is casual and relaxed. You feel pampered and can truly enjoy taking advantage of all the excursions Viking offers each day or just hang back and do your own thing at each port stop.
It is a mode of travel that is unlike any other as you have one “hotel” and do not have to pack and unpack every 2 or 3 days as you move through the country.
We traveled the last week in September into October and I highly recommend Europe during this time of the year not only because the weather is cooler and it’s much less crowded, but also less expensive.
Our ship was named the Kadlin, after the daughter of Norse nobility. During the cruise, we heard from our fellow passengers about other Viking cruises. Many have been on quite a few. This was our first river cruising trip and I’m hoping it won’t be our last.
Day 1 & 2: Paris and LePec
After spending 4 days biking and walking around Paris, we were ready for some relaxing when we arrived at the ship. On the first two days, the boat was docked in LePec which is an hour outside of Paris.
Booking TIP: We were told that the cruise normally starts and is docked in Paris right by the Eiffel Tower but that the Longship Kadlin that we were on was too heavy and long for that section of the river. This was a surprise to me not actually starting the cruise in Paris. If you want a full day and half in Paris and are not going on your own before or after the trip or adding a trip extension, ask before you book to make sure your cruise actually starts in Paris.
There was a bus excursion into Paris on Day 2, but since we had just spent 4 days in Paris on our own, we opted to stay in LePec and tour the town and surrounding area of Saint Germain en Laye by ourselves.
Accommodations on the Viking Kadlin
Once we got onboard and checked in, we checked out our stateroom and then explored the ship. We were there early so there were not many other passengers on board yet. Even when the boat was filled, it never felt crowded. We always found seats in the lounge, at meals, and outside seating.
When you arrive onboard, this staircase is the first thing you see. It goes up to the 3rd floor/deck of the ship where the lounge and our stateroom were located.
The closed doors behind the staircase are the doors to the dining room where all the meals were served. There were both long tables that sat 8 and round tables all along the floor to ceiling windows. I liked sitting at the round tables as it was easier to have conversations with everyone at the table. At the long tables it was hard to meet the other passengers at the opposite end.
We met new people at every meal. By midweek though, we had made some new friends and started to sit together. Fun fact, we met two different couples who live very close to us in South Carolina. Small world!
There are three decks and the Sundeck on this ship. The Lounge, Aquavit Terrace and Veranda Staterooms and Suites were on the Upper Deck. Reception, Dining and more staterooms on the Middle Deck and a few more staterooms on the Main Deck. Our stateroom was on the Upper Deck.
It was called a Veranda Stateroom with a queen size bed and a bath with heated floors and a decent size shower. I was expecting it to be very small, but there was plenty of space.
We had a full veranda that was accessed by sliding glass doors. We didn’t spend a lot of time here as we liked…
…hanging out up by the bow of the ship off the main lounge area where you could see both sides of the river. From our stateroom veranda, you could only see one side and I didn’t want to miss anything.
The main lounge area was on the top deck and where we spent time after coming back to the ship after touring the port towns and villages or coming back from an excursion.
It had a bar, pianist playing each day and plenty of comfy seating.
It was quite pleasant enjoying drinks and snacks before going to the second level for dinner. When it was too cold to sit outside I liked sitting in one of the swivel chairs that were right next to the windows making it easy to sit and gaze out as the water went by.
We didn’t have the best weather during our 8 day cruise, but the clouds and rain didn’t stop us from enjoying the trip. When it wasn’t raining and the ship was moving, the Sundeck was the place to be. The 360 degree views were the best. I was glad I brought a sweater as it was breezy, especially on cloudy days.
Food & Drink On Board The Kadlin
If you have ever been on a cruise, you know you won’t go hungry or get thirsty. Breakfast is buffet style in the dining room with the wait staff getting your drinks. There were eggs made to order, all sorts of meats, fruits, breads and pastry as well as a variety of cereals both hot and cold. There was also an option to order specialty items from the wait staff.
Lunch and dinner are full-service, sit-down meals. Dress is very casual, jeans and sneakers were fine to wear.
The bar was full service and most house wines, beer and soft drinks are included in the price of the cruise.
TIP: We opted to purchase the Silver Spirits Package that allowed us full premium bottles of wine at our table and local wines, beers, cocktails and specialty drinks. If you like a good glass of wine with dinner and like to drink a cocktail, I would recommend adding this package to your trip.
In the late afternoon, there was always a special snack set up out on the terrace. One day it was tea and macarons, another day assorted cheeses, meats and crackers from the regions we were traveling. It was just what we needed after a day out and about touring France.
There were also two coffee and tea stations with muffins and cookies that were self-serve and open 24/7.
After being out on a day excursion, passengers were greeted with warm hand towels and champagne to make the transition back to the ship welcoming.
When it wasn’t raining, Ed and I liked to eat on the outside section of the Aquavit Terrace. It was on the bow of the ship with great views.
At lunch and dinner, there were a few options on the menu from which to choose. Here are a few of the meals I ate. All were very good.
Day 3: Exploring: Vernon & Giverny
Each day of the trip we docked so the passengers could explore the town or go on one of a few excursions that were offered that day. Most of the excursions were included in the cost of the cruise, but a few were an extra fee.
Ed and I signed up for two of these extra excursions. One was riding bikes from Vernon to Giverny to tour Claude Monet’s house and famous gardens. The other was to Honfluer – a 17th century coastal town. I will share more about Honfleur, the coast of Normandy and the other stops we made in Part 2 of this post.
Once the ship left LePec, our first town we stopped at was Vernon, France. Ed and I ate breakfast on the ship and then went into the town around 10:00 in the morning.
The town was charming and we noticed everyone walking by us had a French Market Basket filled with fresh produce and a wheeled tote like the one the woman is using in the photo above. Not one or the other, but both. Everyone had them – they both are “a thing” to have if you live in France.
We walked in the direction where everyone seemed to be coming and going and we ended up at a very large Farmer’s Market with the most colorful offerings.
Stall after stall of fresh produce, seafood and flowers. Look at the size of those langostinos!
Wooden produce crates were everywhere. I would have LOVED to bring one or two of them home as a souvenir.
After walking around Vernon all morning we headed back to the ship for lunch, then relaxed and read for awhile before departing for our bike ride to Monet’s house across the river in Giverny.
The weather cooperated making the 20 minute ride each way quite enjoyable.
Once we arrived in Giverny, we parked our bikes and toured the heart of the village on foot. It was quite a charming, quiet little village with Monet green accents, narrow streets and interesting homes and gardens.
Even though each house was unique, they all had vines and flowers growing all around them.
This is the side view of Monet’s home taken from inside the property. Over that high vine covered wall is the narrow street in the photo above.
It was very crowded at the house since it is a tourist attraction. We had to wait in lines to see both the gardens and house.
If you are familiar with some of Monet’s works, then you can see how these gardens inspired him to paint the way he did and become the founder of Impressionism.
Everything in bloom with paths all over and leading back to the house.
The house is secondary to the gardens. I couldn’t get any photos inside the house as it was too crowded to even lift my camera.
After touring the village of Giverny we headed back to Vernon on our bikes and made a stop at a 16th century brick and timber structure called, The Old Mill. Many have painted it, even Claude Monet. During WWII it was badly damaged, but has been restored.
While we were at The Old Mill, the bike tour hosts offered us an apple tart, macarons, cider, and champagne. We ate and drank as we sat on the banks of the river.
After about 20 minutes, we were back on the bikes headed for the ship.
The ship left about 30 minutes after we got back. Since the sun was still shining, we sat on the veranda for a while before heading to the dining room for dinner.
Read Part 2 of the cruise: Viking Cruise Part 2
If you are interested in other rivers on which Viking has cruises, you may enjoy reading about The Rhine Getaway from Amsterdam to Basel Switzerland my friend Kelly took.
Have you ever been on a Viking River Cruise? If so, what cruise did you take? If you are thinking of going on one, don’t hesitate to ask a question in the comments.
If you missed my Paris trip posts and would like to read them, you can find them, here:
My Must-Have’s For Effortless Travel
This post contains affiliate links which means if you purchase am item I recommend, I will make a small commission.
When going on a river cruise you might want to consider taking travel size binoculars, a lightweight cardigan, crossbody handbag and compact luggage that will fit in a closet or under a bed.
See the items below for more details:
Hi Diane, I just found your blog and have really enjoyed reading about your Paris/Normandy Viking cruise. We are taking the same cruise in late April 2022 on the Kari ship (our first Viking cruise). Was wondering what time of year you went and what type of outerwear would you recommend for my trip? Thanks so much for your very interesting travel advice for this particular cruise.
I see your comment hasn’t been answered. I think she said she went in September… I have not been on this itinerary but have been on many Viking ocean and River and have three more booked! I have the following suggestions, consider the low temps in addition for the highs! It will be cooler on deck, pack layers, weather can be unpredictable, use packing cubes.. don’t pack too much, a scarf or jewelry can update what you wore during the day for dinner, google Viking cruise blogs and reviews… you will gain a lot of knowledge that way, if you need anything, just ask, the crew is amazing and happy to help. You will absolutely love it! Have fun googling the stops as you anticipate your trip and read the descriptions of the excursions carefully, they provide a lot of information.
We are taking this cruise the end of April. Thanks for your input.
Hi Nancy – Great time to visit France. The song, April in Paris just came to my mind. :-) Enjoy the trip.
We took this cruise in July of last year. It was out second Viking cruise. Wonderful service, excellent food, great excursions. Only one problem…it was 107F when we visited Versailles and probably just as warm at Giverny. Did you see the illumination of the cathedral in Rouen? It was amazing!
Hi Dave – We learned from many passengers on our trip, that once you take one cruise, you are hooked and want to take more. It is a wonderful company and a great way to see the world. We didn’t get to see the illumination a the cathedral in Rouen. So sad we missed it.
This post is so timely, as a friend was just telling me about her cruise on the Rhine from Amsterdam to Basel Switzerland!!!! She highly recommended it.
My husband and I have talked about going on a Viking Cruise for sometime now…..I’m thinking we better plan one soon!!
Your trip sounds wonderful. I love how you’re explaining so much of what to expect. Looking forward to reading Part 2!
Diane, did you get one of the french market bags while in Paris? Wondering about the average cost, and if I should get mine from Amazon before the trip?
Hi Shawn – I would have bought a French Market bag when I was in France, but I already own 2. I am not sure if the prices on Amazon are better or not. The bags I saw being sold were all in Euros and I didn’t do the calculations to figure out the dollar amount. If you do buy one when in France, you can actually see what you are buying. Sometimes on Amazon, what you get may not be exactly like what they show in the photo, but on the plus side, you can return it if it is not what you wanted. I hope this helps you figure out where to buy it. Enjoy your trip!
Hi Diane & Ed,
What a beautiful post and trip you both took. I just loved seeing the beautiful flowers and scenery. Thanks so much for sharing your pictures.
So after all these centuries, the Viking longboats are still sailing upon Paris ;-)
Hi Helen – Yes – adds to the charm doesn’t it. :-)
It must have been so amazing and wonderful – and how fortunate you are to be able to take such a vacation. Many of us cannot begin to afford such a thing, but love hearing and seeing the stories of those who can. Looking forward to Part 2 of your river voyage.
Wow! That trip looks amazing. Now I have to add a Viking cruise to my bucket list. You both look so happy traveling around there. I had the same question about motion sickness. I usually can’t do boats at all, so I am glad to hear that you didn’t feel a thing. Thanks for sharing all the memories of your great trip!
I love your Viking cruise. It’s on my list. Two great pieces I have found indispensable in travel especially cruising are a Scottevest which allows you to carry lots of stuff, distributing the weight and keeps your hands free. The other is an over the door clear pocket shoe bag to put all the little things in — reduces searching the minimal drawers.
Hi Patricia – Thanks for the great packing and traveling ideas. I know other readers will benefit. The Scottevest sounds interesting. I will have to look it up.
Ahhhh Diane! This is a dream trip!!! SOOOOO loved reading about it and seeing all your beautiful photos! Thanks for sharing!
My wife Liz and I have been on four (4) Viking River Cruises. Loved them all. We live in Columbia and met a great couple from Irmo in France. Nothing quite like Viking. Loved your take on this sailing. I look forward to your next post.
Wow! Your trip looks and sounds wonderful! This September I will enjoy my 4th Viking river cruise to Portugal. May 2021, will take the Paris to Swiss Alps cruise. Will start in Zurich Switzerland and end in Paris. Will also enjoy the 2 night post cruise extension in Paris. I LOVE Viking river cruises! Thank you for sharing your journal and enjoy many more Viking trips!
Diane, this is a fabulous post. How amazing for you. I’d love to to take one of these cruises but am so afraid of motion sickness. How did the ship feel on the water? Could you feel any rocking? Notice any others with motion issues?
Thanks for letting us travel along.
Hi Joy – I suffer from motion sickness also. I can’t go on amusement park rides, read in the car or twirl around in my fitness class without getting dizzy. I didn’t feel any movement at all on the ship. Not once. It was a very smooth ride. No rocking at all. I was fine. :-)
There is absolutely no motion on a river cruise.
Joy, the longships are so quiet,most of the time I can’t tell if the ship is moving or not. This is a river, not an ocean and you can see both sides with land at all times. No motion feel at all! Go and enjoy a great experience!
So good to learn this as my husband (who was in the Navy for 4 years!) has motion sickness. As long as he sees land he’s fine, but in the ocean, not so much!
Did this same trip on the viking rinda. Fantastic trip! Cant say enough good things about it. We travelled with 4 other people. We had the bedroom plus sitting room which allowed everyone to gather in out room to play games a chat a couple evenings. Well worth the extra money.
Cant wait to so another one!
Love your column, content and information. We’ve been mulling a river cruise so it is nice to see a “real” person review ; )
We’re in SC also. Small world.
Your pics are wonderful! Have not done a River cruise yet, although we have made many trips to France and Giverny was a favorite. Charming village and Monet’s home was magical. Surreal to see vignettes of his famous paintings. ❤️
Thank you so much! I’m loving your pics & reliving our trip. We’ve taken Amsterdam to Basel Viking cruise. The scenery is way nicer that the Seine. A better river experience but I still love being on the small boats.
Thank you for sharing your first experience with a Viking River Cruise. I would love to do the Paris to Normandy cruise you described so beautifully. I am a passionate fan of Monet’s work so Giverny in on my list. We had our first Viking River Cruise in August last year it was the Danaube. Waltz. It stated in Passau and e n dad in Budapest. Nothing prepares you for the exhilarating beauty of the lighted buildings as the ship arrives in Budapest late in the evening. Truly memorable.
Your post is incredibly timely for me as I have been looking at doing a river cruise and Viking is one of the companies I’m interested in. Everything in your and Kelly’s post describe so beautifully what I long to see. My only concern is that I would be traveling solo and am wondering if you think it would be not only safe, but comfortable for a woman traveling alone. I would appreciate any insight you could give me.
I would also like to thank you for your wonderful posts. I look forward to them as they feel like I’m talking to a friend.
Jodee, I LOVE Viking river cruises and please take one of their cruises. However, most all of their cruises are based on double occupancy. You will need to check with Viking as to what cruises allow solo travelers.
Thank you so much for your trip account aboard Viking Kadlin. We have done ocean cruises and would like a new experience. We have been thinking about a river cruise and your pictures of the ship and your your experiences have given us great insight into the reality of river cruising. We look forward to your Part 2.
took the Viking trip on Rhine river, Basil to Amsterdam. ship was the Vidar. did it beginning of May 2017.
it was wonderful. its true that u have to verify all info with them for travel plans. we did have a problem with planes & AIrports. Stuck in Germany for 6 hrs during middle of nite & early am.
glad we did it & would be happy to do it again.
Oh to see Giverny! But was it enjoyable with the “crowd”? Maybe they should limit the number of people.
Hi Connie – I assume the foundation that manages or owns the house would have someone do this, count heads and wait for a certain amount of people to exit before allowing more in. Once I was in the house, there was no way for me to back out. I felt like cattle going through a shoot. Ed stayed outside. He was smart. :-)
Hi Diane, if I can ask a delicate question, when you are off ship exploring towns, eating, drinking, where do you find restrooms? I’m i the only one who thinks this way?!
Hi Carol – :-) It really is no different than when you travel in the US. In Giverny there were restrooms for tourists near Monet’s house. Other places we found restaurants. In Honfluer there were bathroom buildings for the tourists. All were nice and clean. It was never a problem finding the toilettes. :-)
Hi Carol, I felt the exact same way, but be assured, the buses/coaches Viking uses are equipped with a nice little restroom, much like on an airplane. Then the tour guides are always telling you where the “toilets” (as they call them) are located. Although once while we were out walking on our own, we went into a all cafe and paid for a soda so we could use their restroom. ;-)
Hi Diane, so enjoy your blog. This year we shared an experience- Paris to Normandy.
We traveled on Uniworld early April. Monet’s gardens was one our highlights. Of course
the flowers were very different. It was amazing to be there. We had no problem getting inside
and I have many pictures. I wish I could share them with you. Honfleur was part our tour. We had a walking tour and time on our own.
We enjoyed a special service at the Normandy Beach memorial with taps- very touching.
Looking forward to the post next week.
Thanks Susan – We toured Monet’s home on a Saturday afternoon which could be the reason it was so crowded. It was the only place we went on the entire trip that was. I agree with you about the memorial at the beaches. It brought tears to our eyes. More to come on that in my next post.
There were no dry eyes at Normandy service.
Diane! I felt like I was sailing along with you! Monet’s gardens are incredible and all that glorious French food! I loved my cruise along the Rhine but I may have to do the Seine next time!
I feel the same about your post. Ed is German and would love to get to a few towns along the Rhine.
OK… convinced that this will be my first trip once I retire! 62 now so i still have time to plan/save! Looks fabulous! Thank you for sharing!
Hi Cyndi – It is worth saving for. You will truly enjoy the trip and speaking with the other passengers who have been on a few of the different cruises all of them are a trip you will never forget.
We have been on two Viking river cruises…the Elegant Elbe (Prague to Berlin) and Budapest to Bucharest . They were both amazing …this year we are doing the Viking ocean cruise to Alaska…a week on the ship (only 950 passengers) and then a week on land. We can’t wait. We feel Viking is a great value providing exciting experiences and very comfortable travel.
I’m so happy you and Ed had so much fun.
Hi Carole – You are a world traveler! Life is too short not to enjoy and see as much of the world as we can, right? :-) A cruise to Alaska is on our bucket list. The one you are going on sounds fabulous. Will have to look into it. You will have to tell us all about it on your return.
Thank you for sharing! So sorry you weren’t able to get indoor pictures at the Monet house. He is one of my favorite artists. The trip sounds lovely. Silly question – how did you manage to find your bikes once you parked them? Such a lovely trip!
Hi Cate – Our tour guides had arranged in advance where to park our bikes. They were off a parking lot not far from Monet’s House. We locked them to each other so they would not be stolen.
We are going on this cruise in Sept this year. Wondering how far the bike ride is? My husband is not too keen on biking. Is there a way to walk it instead of bike it? Reading your account of your trip has me all excited for our trip. Wondering also if the versailles excursion is worth it.
Hi Barb – You will love the Viking Cruise. I hope to be able to go another one soon. The bike tour was short – only a few miles each way and all on a flat path. I don’t think there would be enough time to walk to Monet’s House from the ship.
For the excursions, we couldn’t do all of them so we had to edit. Ed had been to Versailles before and didn’t really want to go again. We also heard it gets very crowded so you can’t really see anything. Knowing this made our decision a little easier. I enjoyed all the excursions we took and would suggest you do as many as you can.
Beautiful pictures from your river cruise! My husband and I love cruising and have done a Rhine river cruise with Uniworld (Castles on the Rhine), and in April we ‘ll be taking AMA Waterways’ Legendary Danube cruise with a pre-trip stay in Prague. We have done two cruises with Viking’s Ocean cruise division – Iconic Western Mediterranean (Barcelona to Rome) in 2018, and Viking Homelands (Scandinavia, Russia, Estonia, Germany) last year. We are taking Viking’s Empires of the Mediterranean cruise (Athens to Venice) this September. We love Viking – beautiful ships and staterooms, excellent food and service , and wonderful excursions. Your Paris to Normandy cruise is on our bucket list for next year! Looking forward to seeing more of your photos in Part 2!
Hi Terry – What fun to have been able to take so many fabulous cruises. From other passengers on our ship, we learned that they all loved the Danube cruise the best and would do it again. What was your favorite cruise? The pre-stays are a must so you can really see a region. I hope you have a wonderful time on your Med cruise this September.
Hi Diane – We’re really looking forward to the Danube cruise and have friends that did it last year and loved it. And we definitely agree that the pre- or post-cruise extensions are a must. We’re extending in Venice on our Med cruise in September. We’ve loved all the cruises we’ve taken so far, but I think the Viking Homelands that we did this past September was our favorite. Scandinavia and the Baltic region is a beautiful part of the world to visit. My late mother was Norwegian, so seeing Norway has been on my bucket list for a long time. We visited three ports in Norway; Stockholm; Copenhagen and Alborg in Denmark; Helsinik, Finland; St. Petersburg, Russia (stunning!), Tallin, Estonia,; and Berlin. I took a ton of pictures!
Hi Terry, my husband and I met Diane and Ed on the Paris to Normandy trip last fall that she is writing about. We enjoyed it so very much, we’re now taking the Mediterranean cruise you mentioned this coming October, arriving in Spain one day early and staying in Rome two nights after. I’d love to get some do’s and dont’s from you. My email is [email protected] if you would be kind enough to give me pointers? Thank you!
Hi Sally – How exciting for you and Steve to be taking the Mediterranean cruise in October. We both now know that the Viking experience will be wonderful. When I post the second part of the trip next week, I am including a photo of you gazing out at the water on the Aguavit Terrace. :-) Hope you are doing well.
What a lovely trip. Monet’s home and garden was a highlight of one of the trips I took to Paris. I’ve never been on a Viking cruise but have friends who have raved about that mode of travel. Having one “hotel” and not packing and unpacking every 2 or 3 days certainly appeals to me. I’ve been to the D-Day beaches also and am excited to see your pictures and read about your experience. My dad was a Navy retiree as is my husband. I will always remember our visit to that part of France.
Hi Vikki – You must have loved touring Monet’s home and garden since you enjoy gardening so much. Your mind must have been on overdrive seeing so many pretty flowers and plants in such mass. I agree that it was nice to go from town to town and not have to keep packing and unpacking as we moved through the country. My dad was a young GI who arrived in France via Omaha Beach back in 1944. I wish he could have been with us as he always wanted to go back to remember, but never got the chance.