I just returned from the A-Rosa Stella Provence river cruise (sailing on Saone and Rhone rivers), August 2013. The all-inclusive cruise experience was great!
The cruise included a wide range of ages from 30-80 yrs -- several 30-40 year olds who loved to party from USA, many 50 year olds from USA, and about 40 German / British passengers.
Our French balcony cabin had 2 doors that opened wide (not just a sliding glass door) , which added to the enjoyment of views along the river. On several mornings, we were welcomed by gorgeous sunrises and swans as we arrived into the port towns. Cabins offered lots of storage, both hanging racks and shelving.
A-Rosa's Stella departs and returns to Lyon. This is a big plus, over the other river cruises that leave from Chalon-sur-Saone because Lyon has major airport and train connections, making arrival /departures easy.
A-Rosa Stella serves wonderful wines with lunch and dinner. For example, the last night's wine pairings with dinner were Perrin et Fils wines. Bar drinks are included -- and Stella's bartender makes great mojitos -- perfect enjoyment for late afternoons, as we sat on the sun-deck, sailing past small stone villages, under brilliant blue skies.
Lunch aboard the Stella offered a buffet in the main dining room, or grilled lunch on the sundeck, along with bar service. The dining room never felt crowded, due to the floor-to-ceiling windows on each side of the dining room, that let in light and offered magnificent views!
The itinerary was perfect for this region. The shore excursions that A-Rosa offered were handled by knowledgeable local guides, who had pride in their town, and wanted to show us 'the best'. I really enjoyed the excursions to Chateauneuf-de-Pape and Beaune. In both locations, we were able to enjoy samples of the local wines. When the ship stopped in Lyon, after the tour of Old Town, we were offered lunch at a restaurant owned by Paul Bocuse, a famous Michelin 3 Star chef! We enjoyed a 5 course lunch, paired with wines. And, best of all, this special lunch was included at no additional cost!
Bicycle tours were offered -- a guide would take passengers on 3 hour excursions through small wine-growing villages -- or we could borrow a bicycle to ride around Avignon or Arles, if preferred.
At the end of the cruise, departing the ship was a unique experience -- we requested that Stella's reception desk order a taxi for us, to go to the airport at 7:15am. As we strolled off the ship, a Mercedes 500 taxi was waiting for us -- our luggage already loaded in the trunk. And, this private taxi only cost us 50 Euro!
A-Rosa's river cruises should definitely be included, when you consider taking a European River cruise!