More river cruising with Viva Cruises!


Hello again everyone,

I do hope you enjoyed the Festive Season and had a lovely time seeing in the New Year and indeed, the new decade..!

My wife and I were fortunate enough to spend Christmas with family and then to celebrate the New Year in Alicante, Spain which is one of our very favourite cities and which also has the advantage of being several degrees warmer in January than our home in the Cotswolds in England and with much more winter sunshine too!

I promised more about our earlier travel adventure, which was a river cruise on the Rhone in France with the up and coming Viva Cruises.

As one who had spent an entire career on the oceans of the world on “full size” cruise ships, I was expecting to have to be convinced that a river cruise would hold up against the experience of the larger vessels. I need not have been worried about that at all…!!

As far as I could see, all the cabins on the “Lord Byron” looked beautifully fitted out and comfortable and the suite we were lucky enough to have been allocated was truly excellent. The king size bed was comfy and the space in the room more than held up against anything I’ve seen on regular cruise ships. The bathroom and shower had excellent fittings and was surprisingly spacious and with tea and coffee making facilities in every room you could want for nothing.

As I previously wrote, we had embarked on the Lord Byron in the lovely French city of Lyon and indeed we stayed there for an overnight and for a walking tour of the old city the following morning. After that though, it was time to set off down the river Rhone to our next port of call, the small town of Tournon which for us was the gateway to the town of Valence and an excursion to a cookery course at the world famous restaurant Maison Pic, owned and run by ‘chef extraordinaire’ Anne-Sophie Pic.

After trying our hand at some of her signature dishes under the expert guidance of one of her trusted chefs, we were treated to a fabulous lunch, at which point I quickly realised I would never be able to reproduce something as excellent as that, no matter how many cookery courses I attended! Some things are best left to the experts!

After another lovely evening and a peaceful night’s sleep on board our ship, we arrived the next morning at the delightful town of Viviers on a particularly scenic section of the Rhone.

My wife and I decided to explore this beautiful old town ourselves and on foot – it seemed by far the best idea to have a little exercise after the delightful culinary experiences we had recently enjoyed!

The historic town of Viviers has a rich heritage and has many 18th century monuments and places of interest to explore and the narrow lanes make it ideal for a casual stroll around to see them all. Climbing up the hill, you arrive at the magnificent Cathedral of St Vincent, towering over it’s surroundings, gothic and flamboyant in style. Up here in the old town on the hill, the views over the rooftops and the Rhone Valley are truly spectacular.

This for me was the essence of the river cruise – your ship will take you right to the center of old towns you may never have dreamed of visiting and that opens up whole experiences which you never expected and which you will likely never forget.

Viva Cruises’ catchphrase is “Enjoy the Moment” and I for one thought that nothing could have been more appropriate to describe the wonderful four nights we enjoyed with them on the River Rhone last December – I fully recommend you to try it out. You can find out all about Viva through their website

Once again I hope you enjoyed my article and that it has opened your mind to further possibilities – and let’s face it, in the world of travel, the possibilities are endless…!!

Peter Philpott
Captain (recently retired)
Queen Mary 2.