Hello Again Everyone,
as the Holiday Season rapidly approached, I was excited to know that I was about to experience my first ever river cruise and sure enough, my wife and I recently returned home having experienced a wonderful few days on the river Rhone in France with the up-and-coming new player in the river cruise market, VIVA Cruises.
Firstly, if by any chance you’ve ever thought of river cruises as being boring and for people of a certain age, then VIVA will change your mind on that forever! They have entered the river cruise scene with their motto of “Enjoy the Moment” and that itself gives a clue as to their forward thinking as they aim to target lifestyles rather than ages or origins. If you like to explore the world in absolute comfort on an all-inclusive basis, then VIVA river cruises should be for you! The cruises are relaxed and informal - no fixed time slots or seating for dinner on these ships!
Speaking on board the beautiful river cruise vessel MS LORD BYRON with VIVA’s passionate President, Andrea Kruse, it did not take me long to realise that her vision for the brand is to update the travelling public’s conception of European river cruising.
Not only that, but she also wants to attract a whole new generation of guests to this wonderful, luxurious and safe way to see some of Europe’s greatest cities, rivers and countryside. To that end she is building a simple pricing structure, using VIVA’s own-build river vessels, providing a good four-star-plus standard of all-inclusive service and even taking care of all on-board tips from March 2020.
VIVA’s President and Chief Operating Officer also went on to say that, although at present the biggest market share is for German guests, she aims to have 50% of all guests sourced internationally, including from the USA, Canada and Great Britain. Already English is spoken throughout the ship by the multinational European staff on board, so no concerns there if you’re English speaking.
We joined the MS LORD BYRON in the beautiful French city of Lyon and one of the greatest benefits of river cruising is that you really are moored in the center of the city or town that you are visiting. This means that it is never more than a short stroll into the town or city center - although if you wish to venture further afield on a tour, then of course VIVA will be happy to arrange that for you too.
With the first night of our trip being an overnight stay in Lyon, this meant that we had all of the next day to explore the city and we did in fact take a tour - albeit a very informal VIVA Cruises guided walking tour of old Lyon. The small group in the tour of around 15 people made this especially intimate and enjoyable, our local lady guide describing beautifully the sights we were seeing around us.
This being the Rhone wine making region, the tour even included a visit to a small wine retailer who explained where several of his favorite local wines and cheeses were produced before providing us with a sample of each of them - oh well, it must have been past midday somewhere in the world…!!
Tour over by lunchtime, we were able to make our own choice as to whether to go back to the ship or stay and have lunch in one of the quaint restaurants in the old town, as a group of us did. I can assure you the French onion soup was delicious!
There is much more to recount in future articles, but for now it just leaves me to mention that VIVA has recently launched it’s North American sales office and website: viva-cruises.com/us/ and not only can you book your cruise from there, but VIVA will also take care of arranging your air travel and transfers to and from the ship as well.
After a lifetime pursuing my career on the salt water oceans of the world, I seem to have been easily converted to the pleasures of sailing down the fresh water rivers of Europe - and I’m sure you will love it too!
Bon Voyage, Season’s Greetings and a Happy New Year to you all,
Captain (recently retired)
Queen Mary 2