Dry Cruising: Paris to Paris on the Viking Rolf

Historic flooding in Paris serves as a reminder that even well-researched vacation plans can be soaked by Mother Nature.

“By Tuesday, I wanted to jump ship except there was no ship to jump. We were still on land.”

Paris is the city of light, the city of love and now the city of floods. We are told by a Viking guide that it is experiencing its worst flood since 1902. In spite of this, troves of tourists are here. Like us, they too must have had nonrefundable tickets and didn’t want to waste them. Or, perhaps they had to make the journey because their vacation was scheduled and couldn’t be changed.

The Eiffel Tower in the fog that accompanied the excessive rain, June 6. Photo by the author.

Flooding on the River Seine in Paris June 6. Photo by the author.

For us, we were scheduled to take a Viking Long ship cruise Paris to Normandy and back again. Thereby, the voyage is called “Paris to Paris.” Our ports of call were to be Giverny, Vernon, Rouen, and Les Andelys as well as Paris. There was to be one day of simply traveling the river Seine without any ports of call. To me, this was a glorious thought. I anticipated total relaxation for that day and the whole trip. The ship crew would be my guides and I would be like a child following their direction according to choices I made earlier.

But, this was not to be. Our ship couldn’t travel down to Paris from its position further North because of the high water. Passengers’ hopes and dreams were dashed, or at least mine were. Instead of floating to Giverny and Vernon we were bussed. In the middle of the week, perhaps, we will join our ship in Rouen North of Paris. Still, there is no guarantee that we will float our boat.

All of this sudden change in plans for our anticipated relaxing Viking cruise, now more stress than leisure, brings up an issue that few think of before booking such a journey: the weather. Either high or low water level will affect the cruise adversely.

Though our only personal inconvenience to date was that our room assignment in the hotel was inferior to what we booked on the boat, others clearly felt more pain. Some Viking guests did not know that the plans to meet the ship at the planned dock in Paris had been changed due to poor communication from Viking. They literally were anchorless for up to 24 hours trying to chase down Viking staff to determine what had happened.

On our two previous cruises, one Amsterdam to Basel and the other on the Baltic in the new Viking Star, we experienced smooth sailing. However, I am finding this trip is more challenging, not only for the Viking staff, but for the passengers as well. It is a vacation that isn’t a vacation, an outcome that has to be considered when booking any cruise or perhaps any vacation.