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
I will be sharing the rest of the trip later this week. 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
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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.
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