Q – Unfortunately, I let my husband get away from me for about an hour last Saturday, something I try to never do. He’d been to our local travel agency and he came home with a Viking River confirmation for a cruise in France that includes the Bordeaux. I love exploring different cuisines but I am expecting bland food given the age groups on these river groups. God forbid the chef should toss some salt and pepper on the dish! It was thoughtful of my guy but I wonder how frustrated I will be with the food given that I watch the Food Channel virtually all day.
A – Not sure that watching the Food Channel really qualifies you as a “Foodie”. We think you have to actually go out and enjoy fine meals while also doing some cooking at home.
You may be pleasantly surprised. Viking River is the largest river cruise line, by a wide margin, so you tend to read more complaints about the line on self-appointed “critic” boards. The fact is that you will have ample opportunities to step off your boat to explore local cafes, markets, and restaurants on your own. You will have the opportunity to interact with locals and you will find a surprising numb of food oriented tours off the boat.
Just like tour operators and cruise lines, river boat operators are constantly trying to find affordable locally sourced ingredients. Viking offers European cereals and locally cured meats and cheeses to its guests. But you will also find Scandinavian offerings such as pickled herring and smoked salmon. You will also be able to dine outdoors in the Aquavit Terrace.
We don’t want to ruin any surprises but when you get your list of available shore excursions you are going to see that you can go truffle-hunting, meet with local vintners, tour an oyster farm, and spend some time in a wonderful covered food market. Now, unlike the top-rated lines, Viking will charge premiums for many of these experiences. But you should know that if you are willing to pay for special shore excursion foodie experiences, they are available.
As to the idea that river boat food prepared on-board is intentionally bland – you are essentially correct. Half of the passengers will likely be on a salt-restricted diet – the other half should be.