10 Reasons you should book a Viking River Cruise

In the 1860s, young artists such as Claude Monet, Alfred Sisley, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Vincent Van Gogh, and Camille Pissarro rode the new train lines from Paris north to picturesque country towns and Normandy’s striking coastline. I was on the same journey, but gliding down the Seine on a Viking river cruise with my mom by my side. This mode of transportation – a Viking longship – was a first for both of us. Read in detail about How a Viking River Cruise Brought Me and My Mom Closer (March 2023) on JohnnyJet.com and MSN.com.

Our Viking Longship from above in Les Andelys, France next to the Seine.

As a lover of gardening, art, food, adventure, and learning, I knew my mom would appreciate this journey, but it had been many years since my mom and I had any sort of alone time together. We hadn’t vacationed together since I was a teen let alone shared a room. Flashes of the 1987 film Throw Momma from the Train crossed my mind as I hoped we’d survive 24 hours a day together for ten days and the title of this article wouldn’t be called Throw Momma from the Boat. 

On our second evening aboard Viking’s modern Scandinavian-designed vessel in Paris, we clinked champagne on the rooftop to our good fortune under the twinkling Iron Lady Eiffel before pulling away to glide down the Seine and follow in the footsteps of medieval kings, soldiers, heroines, and artists.

Ten Reasons to book a Viking River Cruise

Besides the fact that every day you wake up to a new exciting and enriching adventure, here are the other top 10 reasons why Viking far exceeded my expectations on an 8-day river cruise from Paris to Normandy and back. 

1. New Viking Longships are designed to navigate the Seine and park near the Eiffel Tower.

The modern Scandinavian-designed Viking Fjorgyn with light-filled public areas is one of four Viking River Cruise Longships designed to navigate the Seine River and bring guests to the heart of Paris with a docking location just a short walk from the Eiffel Tower. All staterooms feature balconies and are designed for viewing the river’s culture, commerce, and creativity. Each room offers optimal storage and daily cleaning services. 

Our boat’s location at Rue de Grenelle was perfect for getting to know the City of Light as we spent a night before and after the cruise onboard in Paris and extended our trip with hotel stays. From our boat’s location we could easily walk to the Eiffel Tower and one day I ventured through the city, woods, and even by a lake to find the Louis Vuitton Foundation where I admired not only the art exhibits but the grandeur of the building itself designed by Frank Gehry.

2. Complimentary tours are included in each port.

My mom kept exclaiming how wonderful our experience was as Viking arranged a local guide to meet us at each port location to give us an understanding and appreciation for each place, while curated optional onshore experiences were available for an extra fee. Additional excursions included a culinary tour of Paris or a trip to Versailles. 

3. Enrichment is offered onboard daily.

Guests can savor delicious cocktails, listen to live music and learn from guest lecturers. My favorite onboard enrichment included a French class, a cheese workshop, and a lemon tart cooking demo where my mom and I oohed and aahed over the possibilities of trying the cooking techniques at home. 

In Auvers-sur-Oise we followed the last 70 days of Vincent Van Gogh’s life from his bedroom right to his grave recognizing many scenes he painted in the area, but not before looking at Monet’s home in Giverny with pond and bridge where the artist painted his famous water lilies. 

4. The intimacy of the boat allows for easy connection with other guests.

Lunches and dinners aboard allowed for an intimate connection with new friends at dining tables as there were less than 100 people aboard our river cruise. Not a fan of monstrous cruise ships filled with crowds and buffet lines, our Viking Longship’s 8-day river cruise felt more like staying in a floating boutique hotel.

5. The river cruise allows access to towns and places for exploration you may never ever get to otherwise.

As the boat easily maneuvered the calm river, we zoomed down the curvy snake-like Seine, slipping into a different port each day and witnessing history come alive in a new village. As a former art history major, I imagined the Impressionists as they strove to capture the beauty and changing light en plein air of this enchanting landscape. 

Some of our favorite stops from Paris to Normandy and back included La Roche Guyon where a 12th-century chateau greeted us, carved into white chalk cliffs above the Seine. We climbed high into its medieval keep with dungeons and pigeonnier tower, once a status symbol to let others know you were feasting on pigeons daily.

La Roche Guyon

In the narrow lane town of Les Andelys, full rainbows shot across the sky on our hike up to Chateau Gaillard, an imposing Middle Ages castle built in 1196 by Richard the Lionheart. It was impossible not to pick up French souvenirs, sample a pastry, and try a Lionheart beer before boarding.

Chateau Gaillard

In Rouen, we followed Joan of Arc’s footsteps where she was wrongfully condemned of heresy and burned at the stake. In the bustling town stuffed with over 700 half-timbered houses, Joan’s story from 1431 continued with a memorial pyre and Joan of Arc Church with a roof shaped like her hat. Close by, the hundred-spire Gothic Notre Dame Cathedral showed off its intricate lace-like architecture giving me flashbacks of Monet’s many paintings representing the façade.

Notre Dame Cathedral in Rouen, France

6. Local ingredients are sourced for meals in each port.

Casual and fine dining meals on board fostered new connections. Guests order off a multicourse menu for lunch and dinner, where options are unlimited. On sunnier days we dined with panoramic views on the terrace or rooftop. Keeping with the regional cuisine, chefs picked up ingredients from each locale, creating dinners like a Taste of Normandy making it a fabulous way to sample new dishes and get to know the culture. I loved sampling ten different kinds of cheeses and pates. 

7. Daily Happy Hour and drinks are included in the price.

Unlimited beverages are part of your experience as Viking doesn’t try to upsell you. Everything is included in the price. Happy Hour was often accompanied by live music or entertainment. Wine was served with meals daily as well as popular “Mexican” Cokes or in Europe, Coke with real sugar. My favorite morning or late-night treat was the all-day coffee and tea bar with even rich hot chocolate and snacks like baby croissants, local French sweets, and chocolate Madeleines. 

8. Everything is very well organized.

Everything ran like a well-oiled machine so that even tour groups on land were broken up into small groups. Rooms were cleaned while we were dining or out for the day. Champagne or treats greeted us when we returned from a long day exploring. A daily schedule was placed in our room to alert us to the hourly perks or the next day’s offerings. There is literally something to choose from every hour so those who may not want to venture off the ship one day can be happily accommodated. Some days it felt like I had the whole ship to myself. 

9. The mode of transportation is the perfect way to travel with an older relative.

Making memories with my mom was priceless. I will hold this trip close to my heart ‘til the day I die. My mom and I snapped selfies outside Versailles smiling as large as could be at our great fortune to be there together as this was my mom’s first time at the royal residence where she reiterated, “I can’t believe how many bucket list dreams I am checking off in one trip!”


While days were packed with exciting endeavors, traveling on the river helped us slow down and appreciate the setting. This mode of exploration was perfect for my 77-year-old mom who had a bad knee and made it easy for us as most offshore jaunts were not more than a mile. If sightseeing was more than an hour away, we took the special Viking tour buses to get to the attraction.

Chateau de Malmaison, Napoleon’s last residence that became his wife Josephine’s passion project that she kept after their divorce

In Paris, my mom chose one of Viking’s pre-organized city tours to Montmartre so she would have less time on her feet. Later that day I ran around the ship trying to find her only to locate her outside the ship’s entrance laughing with new friends that she met on the tour, some even younger than me. “Let’s have drinks, Mim. Meet us for dinner!” her new compadres called after us. 

10. The friendliness and patience of the staff is unparalleled. 

I was always amazed at how patient the staff was with older guests or guests with a lot of questions. Everyone working onboard was willing to help you at any time and make sure you were comfortable and happy.

Pro Tip: Extend your stay in Paris. Celebrate on Paris’s Champs Elysees with a French culinary classic meal of escargot, onion soup, steak frites, and sole meuniere at the sophisticated legendary Fouquet’s Brasserie opened in 1899. During the winter holiday, the restaurant feels extra special with holiday lights, an extraordinary Christmas tree, and over-the-top classy décor. Black and white photos of all the famous film guests are proudly highlighted in the central room. As my mom confirmed, “This was one of the best meals of my life!” 

Fouquet’s Brasserie in Paris.

Read our Paris tips to help you pre-plan your trip. Learn about some of our favorite ways to experience Paris.


leave a reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.