Stella Cruise Review by CJN1946: Saone and Rhone with Swan Hellenic on A-Rosa Stella
Saone and Rhone with Swan Hellenic on A-Rosa Stella
We had very favourable impressions in entering the small "lobby" with shop display, reception desk, and staircases aft to the sleeping quarters, forward to dining room and lounges, and below to gym and sauna. The ship for its size was very well equipped and comfortable for the 170 passengers. The air conditioned cabins are not large but with sufficient storage space, TV (mainly German channels) comfortable beds and a shower room. The two upper deck cabins have a juliette balcony with full length opening doors giving a wonderful view of the passing of river scenery.
The upper deck has a swimming pool with sun lounging area, a games area with quoits etc and a covered area to enjoy drinks in the shade. The deck below has a sauna and a small well equipped gym with various exercise machines, there was also a fitness instructor who gave any kind of instruction including Pilates classes. The forward part of the ship a dining room with a nice mix of tables, so that a couple could More keep to themselves or form a large group. The large lounge held the bar, a great range of cocktails, and full length windows for those who wanted to enjoy the scenery in air conditioned comfort.
The service was impeccable, there are 46 crew on the ship, mainly German and very friendly and on a small ship you encountered them frequently; there was always a smile and a greeting. The food was amazing, 5 course meals every evening, with a Mediterranean theme and local produce, the chef may have had had a Michelin star or tw. During the day there was a buffet with numerous choices at breakfast and lunchtime, and afternoon tea with cakes. Coffee and tea, with lots of choices, were free and available from 6:30 am to late at night on a self service basis. Alcoholic drinks had to be paid for but the price was no more expensive than a normal restaurant.
We travelled with Swan Hellenic who had chartered the ship for a history themed tour of eight nights with a university lecturer on board to give informative talks. We journeyed by train from St Pancras via Lille to Lyon to board the ship, much the most civilized way of travel, with a Swan Hellenic tour manager to ease our passage. The cruise was up the Soane and then down the Rhone visiting Beaune for the medieval hospital, Tournus to see Cluny Abbey remains, Viviers for the Ardeche gorge and lavender fields, Arles, the Roman amphitheater , Avignon, Bridge and Popes Palace, Vienne for the Roman remains and Lyon for the medieval town, there were guided coach tours with local guides for each visit. The pace of the tours is not fast as many of the passengers are of advanced age, typical Swan Hellenic clientèle, in fact there is always a gentle option for each tour for slower passengers. Travel down the river is naturally slow, often several hours overnight, with long delays at the locks which needed some rearrangement of timetables to manage all the planned visits. A very relaxing and informative eight days. Less
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