Review of the Viking Hermod, Exploring the South of France (Lyon, Avignon and more)

Thank you to Malika Bowling for this story and review of the Viking Hermod (all photos credit Malika Bowling).  

Hermod, is a Norse god named for his speed. A giant painting of Hermod hangs prominently on the second floor of the ship. Though speed was not the most important thing on this cruise, we enjoyed this powerful god watching over us day and night.

If you are new to sailing with Viking, or river cruising, here are a couple tips – Viking picks up you directly from the airport and transports you to your ship where embarkation is swift with no waiting. Your luggage is whisked away and will be in your room when you get there. We suggest grabbing a welcome drink in the lounge.

Everything is included with Viking including daily tours, tips and all your meals including wine and beer with lunch and dinner. We even had mimosas at breakfast too! If you hate the nickel and diming like us, you will not find this on a Viking cruise.

Now onto our French Rhône River cruise.

Arriving in Lyon, it was fantastic to be able to head right to our room and relax a bit before dinner. We were docked overnight in Lyon, which the third largest city in France, and if I had not been jetlagged, I would have gone exploring that night. You are free to explore the city as long as you swipe out with your card. The next morning, we got up after a deep sleep and were on our way with our guide for the (included) tour of Lyon.

We had to get on a bus for a short ride up to the to the Basilica of Notre Dame and the drive through town past the magnificent St. Jean Cathedral and the Palace of Justice. What a great kick off to our floating hotel tour.

Vienne – we did not spend much time here, but what we saw was gorgeous. We did pack a lot into stop with a visit to the Temple of Augustus and Livia, the Roman amphitheater and the Gothic Cathedral of St. Maurice on a walking tour before dinner on board the ship.

Tournon, another short stop but the highlight was the stream train ride. Pack a jacket and scarf because this is an open-air train. Even at the end of May there can be cool days and we needed to bundle up. It was worth it as the scenery was quite spectacular.

Our next to last stop on our Rhône River cruise was Aries. It is probably best known for inspiring many of the paintings of Van Gogh. However, as we discovered, there is incredible Roman architecture in Aries.

There were so many things included in our excursions, the guides were incredible, we did not really feel the need to purchase many shore excursions. Though the Beaujolais one did catch our eyes and if you are a wine lover, it may be right up your alley. However, one of the best experiences we had was visiting the Roman Aqueduct near Avignon.

The most fun excursion (paid) was the Pont du Gard, also known as the Roman Aqueduct. This enormous limestone bridge, built by the Romans, is an engineering masterpiece. Though referred to as a bridge, it was never meant to be a bridge but a means to move water.

The idea is that they used gravity to make a downward sloping means to move water. Photos do not really show how large it is. The Pont du Gard is 160 feet above the river. It is 900 feet long and, at the bottom, nearly 20 feet wide.

The Viking Hermod ship is bright and airy and, although river cruise ships are much smaller than ocean ships, we never felt cramped. The decor skews Scandinavian with light wood colors and minimalist designs throughout the ship, from the lounge to the upstairs library area.

Staterooms are smartly laid out with plenty of storage space between the bedside tables and drawers that line the outer wall. There’s even a closet to hang your dressier items, though you may not need to dress up as dinners are not overly fancy.

My favorite part was the bathroom. Viking does a superb job of prioritizing space here. Prior to boarding, I envisioned something like a bathroom you’d find in a camper, but I was so wrong. There is an abundance of shelves for toiletries and the shower is angled rather than being rectangular, providing just enough room to nearly make you forget you’re on a ship at all.

Though the Viking Hermod, like many other river cruises, only has one restaurant, we found the menu choices appealing. Plus, I appreciated that you can choose breakfast items like pancakes, eggs and bacon from a menu vs a buffet if you like. The staff will hustle your breakfast along, knowing you likely have a morning excursion to make. At lunch and dinner, regional specialties are emphasized but you can also choose from a more American-focused menu with choices like hamburgers and hot dogs. I indulged in the hot dog several times; I’ve never had a better one. Ever. That’s not to say the other specialty items like fish in rich sauces or lamb dishes don’t offer fabulous flavors as well. I recommend you indulge in both menu types!

Our stops included cities with numerous Michelin-starred restaurants. The Viking staff is more than happy to assist with recommendations and reservations, should you want to try one!

We wrapped up our trip in Avignon, which was a wonderful city to end our river cruise. The city is surrounded by medieval walls and the narrow streets are filled with churches, museums and palaces.

Since I had never been on a river cruise and the longest cruise I had been on two decades ago was only three short days, I wondered how I’d find this 8-day cruise. But as it turned out, this floating hotel made time go by quickly. The staff on Viking cruises is friendly and quick to get you anything you need.


See cruises here

Viking Hermod (cruisecompete.com)

Viking River (cruisecompete.com)

Viking Ocean (cruisecompete.com)

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