This was our first river cruise and it was absolutely wonderful. We spent 3 days in Paris on our own and then boarded the River Baroness for an 8 day river cruise. As this was our first river cruise, we basically followed the itinerary offer and did not do any of the optional tours. The tours that were included very good and the guides that were provided were very informative and entertaining. The pace of the tours was quite good,and we had no difficutly keeping up, nor did we find them to slow. The food on board was excellent and there was always something that appealed to both my husband and I. Dinner was table service with an excellent menu, breakfast and lunch were both buffet. The service and staff were very friendly, attentive and accomodating. The wines provided at lunch and dinner were very good and we enjoyed them very much. There is only one seating and no tables for 2, but we quite enjoyed dinning with other people, we met so many wonderful people from the US, Austrailia and the UK. There is a wonderful sun deck on the ship with the most comfortable lounge chairs, we also had an wonderful dinner on the ship deck one evening.
Although our room was quite small, it really in no way take away from the experience. Once we unpacked we found a place for everything. Although you did have to make sure everything was in its place otherwise the room could get quite messay. Housekeeping was awesome, cleaned our room every morning while we had breakfast and then again during dinner. No towel animals, but every evening a chocolate or little gift was left on your pillow. Wonderful smelling soap/shampoo, they use L'Occtane products, I liked them so much I purchased some to take home. My husband and I both felt it wasn't necessary to upgrade to the rooms with the French Balcony as we spent very little time in our room and if we were saling we preferred to be on deck enjoying the scenery.
I have only 2 criticism and they very minor in the grand scheme of things. They need a few more bikes and they could be in better repair. It was difficult to reserve the bikes and there were only 6, but we did manage to use them at least 3 times and really enjoyed riding through the towns we were docked at. The other thing was that we wished we had more time at both Juno Beach and the American Cemetery. As Canadians we were dropped off at Juno beach and only had an hour to tour the facility which included War Museum and German Bunker, then we met up with the rest of the tour and headed to Omaha Beach and then to the American Cemetery which also had a war museum. Our time was limited and we would have loved to spend more time in both museums, there was so much to read and a number of movies that we didn't get a chance to see. The American Cemetery is very beautiful and was a very moving experience, we were all given a rose and the name of a soldier which we had to locate in the cemetery where we placed our rose. It was very emotional and we are grateful to have had the opportunity to do this small but respectful gesture.
This was probably the most relaxing cruise my husband and I have ever been on. You cannot compare it to the large cruise lines, it would be like trying to compare an apple to an orange. If your looking for a quiet, relaxing cruise filled with history, incredible food, and peaceful cruising along a scenic river I would highly recommend this.