Cadillac, Sauternes and Sunsets

Sailing the Garonne River, as seen from Viking Forseti’s sun-splashed Aquavit Terrace. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

“In water, one sees one’s own face. In wine, one beholds the heart of another”

- French Proverb
November 27, 2014
Last night, all of the guests aboard Viking River Cruises’ Viking Forseti were asked to do a little dance for the weather gods. Or a few dances, even. Perhaps an offering of fine Bordeaux wines and cheese. Anything in order to avoid one thing: fog.
When the port of Bordeaux experiences fog, the port authorities shut the harbour down. With so many low bridges to pass under and navigational hazards standing between us and today’s port of call of Cadillac, France, any fog would have kept us berthed in Bordeaux.

A little early-morning fog couldn't keep us from arriving in Cadillac on-time. Note the iron bridge in the background; it was designed by Mr. Gustav Eiffel, creator of the Eiffel Tower. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

A little early-morning fog couldn’t keep us from arriving in Cadillac on-time. Note the iron bridge in the background; it was designed by Mr. Gustave Eiffel, creator of the Eiffel Tower. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

At 6:30 a.m, I awoke and looked out my balcony window: fog. Oh no! I looked closer. Wasn’t the pier just five feet away from my window last night? In pyjamas, I went out onto the balcony and leaned over the railing. Not only was there no pier, but we were underway. Viking Forseti was going to make it to Cadillac after all.
Had we not been able to leave Bordeaux, the fabulous crew of Viking Forseti had come up with a Plan B – which had been typed out, printed, and explained to us last night. Meal times would be adjusted, and the Sauternes wine tastings and walking tour of Bordeaux would be conducted by coach with modified departure times to account for the greater distance. One way or another, guests would get the day they were promised in the brochure.

Chateau d'Arche would be the site of our morning Sauternes wine tasting. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Chateau d’Arche would be the site of our morning Sauternes wine tasting. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

The countryside here is very different from that which we saw in Pauillac, but no less impressive. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

The countryside here is very different from that which we saw in Pauillac, but no less impressive. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

To me, this speaks highly not just of Viking’s company policies, but also of Program Director Mieke and Hotel Director Michael. Imagine having to tell coach drivers, “Well, if we sail – meet us in Cadillac at ten. If we call you early and we’re stuck in Bordeaux, we need you alongside at half-past-eight.”
The logistics are enormously complicated, and yet our printed Viking Daily programs came with this supplemental information in-place by the time we’d returned to our staterooms last night. That’s the kind of planning I really appreciate; no matter what happened today, we’d have our expectations set. And when it comes to cruising in particular, expectations are everything. If you prepare people for potential disruption, I think they tend to be more understanding of it and appreciative of your efforts to get around it. Viking definitely understands this.

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