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31 France Luxury Cruise Reviews

Ship was beautiful, cabins were huge very spacious the bathroom was a very generous size with a amazing shower. The dining on board is the best dinning experience i have ever had the waiting staff very polite and knowledgeable ... Read More
Ship was beautiful, cabins were huge very spacious the bathroom was a very generous size with a amazing shower. The dining on board is the best dinning experience i have ever had the waiting staff very polite and knowledgeable regarding wines and dishes being served. The port of call were fantastic great choice with very knowledgeable guides who were happy to answer any questions along the way. Seeing the Eiffel Tower illuminated and sparkling was a great start to our cruise. Service we received from every single staff,crew member was brilliant. The whole experience from start to finish was seamless Entertainment was very low key which was fine, nice music playing in the background each evening. I would 110% recommend a Scenic Cruise to friend and family i can guarantee you will be blown away. Looking forward to planning another one and i know Scenic will be my first choice every time. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
We choose this cruise because of the itinerary, reputation for luxury, food and wine, and the date of sailing. Ship: The ship's decor was okay but definitely could be updated in my opinion. There was a nice area upstairs that was ... Read More
We choose this cruise because of the itinerary, reputation for luxury, food and wine, and the date of sailing. Ship: The ship's decor was okay but definitely could be updated in my opinion. There was a nice area upstairs that was used for alternate dining (the Blue Fox). It would be nice if this was an upper level bar, at least for part of the day. Cabin: The room, for a luxury cruise, was tiny, as was the bathroom. My husband and I are small people and we had to wait for the other to pass before moving about the cabin. The bed and linens were very comfortable though. Dining: The food was usually excellent, and if something occasionally was disappointing there were always other choices. We were however, very disappointed with the "fine" wine included with our cruise and the cost for premium wines was steep. Entertainment and Activities: There was an oyster tasting event on board which was excellent and a cooking demo on Caneles. It was nice to have a piano player in the lounge but the music was pretty much the same every night with the exception of a couple of nights of scheduled singers. The cruise manager did a great job of scheduling activities of varying levels, optional filler events, and downtime. Service: Our cruise manager was fabulous, she even assisted us in scheduling an excursion of our own. The staff was excellent, very friendly and accommodating. Ports and Shore Excursions: Excellent! It was nice that there were choices for different ability levels. The groups were divided into very manageable, comfortable sizes. The ports and shore excursions were very interesting and Uniworld hired excellent guides. I would definitely consider a Uniworld Cruise again. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
We'd never taken a river cruise as we normally travel independently, however, I knew we'd need help navigating our way through Bordeaux to learn more about wine. We were so impressed by our cruise director Elia, as well as the ... Read More
We'd never taken a river cruise as we normally travel independently, however, I knew we'd need help navigating our way through Bordeaux to learn more about wine. We were so impressed by our cruise director Elia, as well as the entire staff. The tour guides were very knowledgeable and professional. Virginie is truly a charmer!! Unfortunately, our experience was tainted by a large group of rowdy friends who dominated the ship and activities. Their main objective seemed to be drinking to the point of oblivion. I never expected that from a river cruise!! The staff handled it well, although I think the waiters lost patience towards the end as these guests asked for extra free glasses of wine to take back after dinner in attempts to not have to pay for it at the bar. Talk about reinforcing the "ugly American" reputation... The food was excellent, our room comfortable and spotless, and the morning views on the rivers were spectacular. Bordeaux is an exciting town and easily accessible from Paris by train. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
This was our first ever cruise. We chose the 4 nights trip from Southampton to Zeebrugge and then the trip to St Peter Port (Guernsey) returning to Southampton. We upgraded to deck 11 and had a lovely balcony in a luxurious state room. Our ... Read More
This was our first ever cruise. We chose the 4 nights trip from Southampton to Zeebrugge and then the trip to St Peter Port (Guernsey) returning to Southampton. We upgraded to deck 11 and had a lovely balcony in a luxurious state room. Our room number was 11074 and we were travelling with family who had rooms 11070 & 11064. We found the service and the facilities perfect. The crew were exceptional and made us feel so much at home and relaxed. Evening meals in the Britannia Restaurant was magical and it was a lovely touch that the waiters all stand in a line at the doorway in to greet you when you arrive each evening. Food in every Restaurant was absolutely brilliant and we all ate like kings for our whole voyage. The evening shows were superb as was the Planetarium show. If I had to say a negative about the cruise it was the very expensive alcohol on board. We really spent far to much money on this and really should have brought more with us to reduce the costing. The fact of the matter is that you pay extortionate prices for all drinks and then to slap you really hard in the face they then add on a Compulsory Automatic Service Charge. On our first night we selected two bottles of wine one Red & One White. The two bottles came to $112:50 and then they added on the Service Charge $16:88 which gave us a total of $129:38. This was far to much and kind of set the theme with costing which made us feel uneasy with Cunard and this policy. Even if you went to the bar yourself and bought two pints of draught San Miguel this would set you back $14:95 which included the service charge of $1:95. Not sure how they get away with this extra costing. One tip we took from friends was to visit the Pursers office when we first got on board and we requested they remove the Automatic Gratuity they put on each day. If we had not done this then the 6 of us would have had to have found between us approx. £300 sterling. Anyway forgetting the moan about the extra chargers we did have a great time and enjoyed a wonderful opulent experience. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
We chose this cruise to travel with friends who had been with Scenic previously. We travelled by Eurostar and TGV to Bordeaux, which was fine but only just made it to Paris Montparnasse as the cross-Paris timing was very tight. On ... Read More
We chose this cruise to travel with friends who had been with Scenic previously. We travelled by Eurostar and TGV to Bordeaux, which was fine but only just made it to Paris Montparnasse as the cross-Paris timing was very tight. On arrival at Bordeaux we were not met by any representative so made our own way to the ship. From there our luggage was taken on board, we were given champagne and escorted through the beautiful ship to our cabin, which although smallish by ocean cruise standards was beautifully fitted with a balcony and kept spotless by our cabin attendant Angela. The dining on the ship was excellent with fine wines and other drinks included. The choice of food was excellent and the two special dining evenings were superb. There was a wide choice of excursions (included) to wine chateaux to taste and dine. Passengers should be aware that they should be fairly fit for the walking involved. The entertainment on board was a resident musician, and guest artistes from the local area, and also a very good crew show. Finally, the crew and service on board was faultless, friendly and attentive with a smile. Disembarkation went smoothly and we were transferred to the station for our train journey back to the UK. Would we go again - yes but would need to pace ourselves for the walking involved. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
We chose this cruise specifically because it was advertised at Jukebox Saturday Night with Ken Sparks. The disappointing part of the trip was that we did not get to spend time with him as he was not well and stayed within a small group for ... Read More
We chose this cruise specifically because it was advertised at Jukebox Saturday Night with Ken Sparks. The disappointing part of the trip was that we did not get to spend time with him as he was not well and stayed within a small group for the first week, then he had a heart attack and consequently died. The cruise itself was magnificent, the food, great, the entertainment that was provided by an on board entertainer,great, the tours each day were magnificent, the tour director, magnificent, the staff were fantastic. The tours were a lttle tiring for the people in their seventies, as I am in my fifties and definitely was worn out by the end. The cabin was excellent as we had a balcony and all the trimmings. Overall the cruise was magnificent and I would recommend anyone to go on a cruise with Scenic and I am sure when we can afford the next one we will be going again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
Cruise was faultless with staff being exceptional. We had a fantastic Cruise Director who ensured the trip went without any hassles. He was very friendly and went out of his way to meet people's needs. The cruise stopped at ... Read More
Cruise was faultless with staff being exceptional. We had a fantastic Cruise Director who ensured the trip went without any hassles. He was very friendly and went out of his way to meet people's needs. The cruise stopped at some ports for a couple of days to enable us to take tours to some areas further away. We went to the Somme area, for example, and also the D-Day landing sites. It meant some longish bus trips bit you got to see the countryside. Guides on all of our excursions whether they were the longer trips of just town/city visits were very good. Our guide to the Somme was exceptional and he helped bring the whole story to life. We dodn't do a lot of sailing during daylight hours but just enough to see some of the lovely houses on France along the Seine. Staff, as mentioned, were brilliant. Very friendly and they didn't know the meaning of the word 'no'. Top, top class. Food was also brilliant with lots of choice. Very difficult to fault. We've sailed with Scenic before and will go again in a couple of years. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
This was the year of the great French roast, Paris at 35ºC and similar to that all the cruise long. The payback was clear blue skies, no rain and great photos.The ship was 100% full, hence the service levels in the public areas were ... Read More
This was the year of the great French roast, Paris at 35ºC and similar to that all the cruise long. The payback was clear blue skies, no rain and great photos.The ship was 100% full, hence the service levels in the public areas were stretched. This cruise is a mixture of great French wines and cheeses (approx 450 different cheeses to be tasted), as far as scenery goes the highlights are the cities. The visit to an old hospital and nearby wine tasting at Marche aux Vin was very interesting, as was our first tasting of French nougat which is based on egg white and honey, as was the truffle farm (with charming hosts & dog). The Sundowners excursion (a walk to a nearby fortress tower) for wine/beer/nibbles with live musicians in a cool afternoon breeze was very hard to take. The itinerary was exactly as published. Compliments have to be given to all the bus drivers - they were very professional, safe drivers who helped some of our fellow passengers with their walkers. Driving through the French countryside was most enjoyable. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
The name of this cruise is "Spectacular South of France". This cruise spends most evenings in ports large and small. The first night is is in Paris, which is not on the river cruised; Saone and Rhone rivers. We gathered for a ... Read More
The name of this cruise is "Spectacular South of France". This cruise spends most evenings in ports large and small. The first night is is in Paris, which is not on the river cruised; Saone and Rhone rivers. We gathered for a nights stay at the Scenic's host hotel in Paris. Nice 4 star hotel. The next morning our bags were collected from the hallway at the designated time and we were bussed to the train station for our day trip to Dijon. We were given a short tour. Then we boarded a bus and were transported to the ship that was docked in Chalon-sur-Saone. This is almost an all-inclusive cruise, All drinks, meals, tips, great internet service and shore excursions are included.We also had several special events off the ship that were also included. We visited Tournus, Cluney, Macon, Lyon, Tournon,Viviers, Ardeche National Park, Chateauneuf-du-pape, Avignon, Arles and Tarascon via bus or port. This cruise line obviously caters to Australians and Brits, most of whom were third,fourth or five time regulars with Scenic. We had a blast being one of two American couples. The Australians, in particular, were fascinated by our politics and gun rights. We found the "aussies" to be much more sociable than our American associates back home. We were invited to dine with several separate couples and made some great friends. I can not say enough about the quality of the river cruise experience. On this cruise, you sit where you want, lounge where you want in a wonderfully appointed river "Spaceship". Go on shore excursions where and when you want. The food was top notch, service was impeccable; these guys do not skimp. Our butler "concierge level room" made my wife feel like a queen which made my trip wonderful. Two things I particularly liked about this cruise was the ability tour on your own by foot or electric assisted bike with a "GPS like device" that would self guide you through the port towns. You can also use this device to give you facts about places you see from your balcony while cruising and it is also used for tour guided trips to help you hear better.. We will return to travel with Scenic. The rooms, and bathrooms were balconies were kept clean and the refrigerator was stocked twice a day. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
We have cruised on the larger Oceania ships before and were so pleased. We've done most of Europe already but this was a special cruise that featured the wine regions of Portugal, Spain and France. We cruised on Oceania Sirena. ... Read More
We have cruised on the larger Oceania ships before and were so pleased. We've done most of Europe already but this was a special cruise that featured the wine regions of Portugal, Spain and France. We cruised on Oceania Sirena. The ports were ok for the most part. We used Tours by Locals for most of our tours, rather than the costly ship tours. I felt our butler did not go over and above his service requirements. The food was excellent, as usual. I did not feel that the Sirena was as luxurious as the larger ships. It had undergone a refitting a few months back, but it still lacked the refinement of the other ships we sailed on. Although we did not attend any of the evening entertainment shows, I heard from several others that they were not great. I seriously doubt that I would ever sail on the Sirena again, but I still love Oceania. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
We chose it through a recommendation of a friend who had done several Scenic cruises. the itinerary was of particular interest, with the WWI and WW2 sites, plus many opportunities to visit sites important for the Impressionist and ... Read More
We chose it through a recommendation of a friend who had done several Scenic cruises. the itinerary was of particular interest, with the WWI and WW2 sites, plus many opportunities to visit sites important for the Impressionist and post-Impressionist painters. We were very impressed by every aspect of the ship, and in particular the outstanding crew and the very tasteful decoration. The guides were mainly outstanding, with the exception of a wise-cracking Dutch guide on the visit to the WW! cemeteries--most inappropriate. In particular we loved the fact that the ship docked so close to the centre of interesting towns and villages, and that we could wander around independently. Our only reservation was that over 90% of the passengers were Australian--as are we--and we would have preferred a wider range of nationalities. Still, that is no criticism of Scenic. We are so impressed by Scenic that we are about to book a passage on the Azure in Portugal next year. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
Travelling as a mature couple we loved the cruise - right down the middle of France. The pace was ideal - our previous Danube cruise with Scenic was a little frenetic! We picked excursions a bit different to the usual churches, ... Read More
Travelling as a mature couple we loved the cruise - right down the middle of France. The pace was ideal - our previous Danube cruise with Scenic was a little frenetic! We picked excursions a bit different to the usual churches, castles & grand houses -- learning to cook, olive oil, chocolate & lavender factories. Our first day we were torn between all 3 trips, wine tasting in Beaune, visiting a mustard factory or a museum of old Fiat Arbarth cars, warplanes and so much more. Wine tasting was almost obligatory, but we were shown what to look for, how to view it & smell it - but I never managed to master the 'spitting out' bit! I never realised that there could be so many vinyards & wineries, they stretched as far as the eye could see. But with names like, Beaune, Chateau neuf du Pape, Macon etc who is complaint. A very enjoyable cruise - except for the temperature on the boat - far too cold even in July! Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
Uniworld came highly recommended by our travel agent. It did not disappoint! We sailed from Paris to Normandy. The tour guides were excellent. The ship's staff were superb and well beyond expectations. The food was excellent and they ... Read More
Uniworld came highly recommended by our travel agent. It did not disappoint! We sailed from Paris to Normandy. The tour guides were excellent. The ship's staff were superb and well beyond expectations. The food was excellent and they provided gluten free bread to our traveling companion who is intolerant. The wine selections were great and we learned about them each evening before dinner. We were in a suite and had the services of a butler and we learned not to say, "I wish" because it would happen. Housekeeping was perfect and never intrusive. We had the occasion to have one of the passages have a medical issue on a bus tour and were sent to a hospital. They sent a staff member to coordinate services and help get her back to the ship. They have three levels of ways to basically see the same sites. They had active, regular and relaxed pace so that guests with different capabilities could easily tour. This cruise had a young travelers program that appeared to be excellent. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
My husband booked this river cruise from Lyon to Arles in honor of my birthday, so I was expecting the best and was not disappointed! The S.S.Catherine is an elegant ship with Venetian glass fixtures, original artwork on all of the walls, ... Read More
My husband booked this river cruise from Lyon to Arles in honor of my birthday, so I was expecting the best and was not disappointed! The S.S.Catherine is an elegant ship with Venetian glass fixtures, original artwork on all of the walls, good-sized staterooms and L'Occitane amenities. The food was always prepared to perfection for ALL meals and finished by delicious desserts prepared by two pastry chefs! Each evening before dinner, everyone would meet for cocktails and information regarding the next day's activities. The tours and activities are geared for the sedentary up to "Go Active." We did two "Go Active" tours: a bike ride of Lyon and a hike up into the vineyards of Burgundy. We also did one special excision for an additional charge to the castle of a French Count who saved us wine and lunch. Well worth the extra money! UniWorld's guides were excellent in both their presentation and knowledge. UniWorld has their own fleet of tour buses, too. Our cabin was the perfect size with a little sitting area off to the side so we could watch the countryside or the many locks we went through. We did enjoy the entertainment in the bar area after dinner. Embarkation and disembarkation were a non-event - they were so easy. We decided that the staff must be trained to never use the word "No" as everything was wonderful. We would recommend UniWorld in a heartbeat and hope to enjoy one of their other ships in the future! Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
I took my first ever overseas trip with Scenic Crystal in October 2015 and I can say it was the best experience I could have ever have hoped for, it was truly a dream come true. From the moment I arrived in Prague and met tour director ... Read More
I took my first ever overseas trip with Scenic Crystal in October 2015 and I can say it was the best experience I could have ever have hoped for, it was truly a dream come true. From the moment I arrived in Prague and met tour director Grabriella who was so knowledgeable, helpful and friendly to finishing the trip in Paris with Bernard, also a wonderful tour guide I experienced nothing but pure luxury, friendliness, kindness and dedication to detail. The cruise part of the trip on the Scenic Crystal was amazing and the cruise staff so fantastic, every detail and daily tours so professionally organised I knew I had chosen the best trip I possibly could have. The cruise director Daniella was amazing and knew ever passengers name by the first day and nothing was too much trouble, the allocated butler Vanya was friendly and very organised and efficient. The cabin staff couldn't do enough and the wait staff and chefs were always efficient and so well mannered and eager to please and the food was absolutely perfect. Erica the waitress was an absolute breath of fresh air and engaged with every passenger, I felt I had known these wonderful people forever. The Captain was also fantastic and mingled with the passengers and crew at every opportunity. Your staff and crew are an absolute credit to you Scenic, thankyou for making my first overseas trip a dream come true, I will recommend you to everyone and if I should have the opportunity to travel overseas again then Scenic will be my first choice. Kind Regards:Wendy Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
Absolutely amazing week in the South of France from Avignon to Lyon. The staff is unbelievably attentive to your every need and will do the utmost to offer something incredible that you didn't know existed. The executive chef ... Read More
Absolutely amazing week in the South of France from Avignon to Lyon. The staff is unbelievably attentive to your every need and will do the utmost to offer something incredible that you didn't know existed. The executive chef (female) and the sous chef (male) just grabbed us and waltzed around the dining room with my husband and I, what a treat. Their food was a "party-in-your-mouth" each meal was more and more delicious. The service by the entire staff was always friendly and like family (only nicer.) We had beautiful weather, light rain only one morning, sunny the rest of the week 75 to 85 degrees and dry. Our cabin Veranda A #333 with a balcony was ideal, it was on the starboard side of the ship that was never tethered to another ship, so we always had a water view. Our favorite tour was of a French woman's home in Chatenauf-du-Pape. We learned about her father's love of art and his display of his paintings were terrific, he also had a scarf on display that was signed by Picasso! Our second favorite was the French culinary school where we learned how to make cream puffs with caramelized peaches (YUM!) The wine in this region is incredible from Burgundy to Chatenauf-du-Pape it was all exquisite. No complaints whatsoever, we shall return to Europe via Viking! Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
This trip report covers our June 2015 week on the French Country Waterways’ “Nenuphar”. Our barge journey in Burgundy, France, became the most pleasurable and perfect vacation we have had in 54 years of marriage. There is limited, ... Read More
This trip report covers our June 2015 week on the French Country Waterways’ “Nenuphar”. Our barge journey in Burgundy, France, became the most pleasurable and perfect vacation we have had in 54 years of marriage. There is limited, non-professional, documentation on barge cruising and I had planned to prepare a vacationer’s report that would cover, in depth, our travels and all the events on the barge. After less than one day of cruising, all thoughts of thorough documentation, writing a report on my computer, or the “real world” had disappeared. Prior to the cruise, the staff at the U.S. home office of French Country Waterways (FCW) answered every possible question I presented. My questions ranged from the availability of soymilk in the morning, to what we should wear on board and when visiting the many towns of the Burgundy region. We departed home on Thursday, arrived on Friday, and went to the Hotel Regina in Paris. FCW had recommended this hotel for pre-cruise and handled all transportation and booking arrangements for us. Sunday afternoon we went to the hotel bar, enjoyed drinks, and met our three fellow barge passengers. For this cruise, only three of the six cabins on the barge were booked. There was a total of five passengers… a couple from Canada, an artist living in both the U.S. and France, and my wife and me from the U.S. East Coast. Exactly on time, a gentleman who said; “I’m here to take you to the Nenuphar”, approached us. Everyone’s luggage was already in the van. This van would eventually follow the Nenuphar on her journey and serve as our daily transportation into the countryside. We were welcomed at the barge by our crew: Matthew –captain and our daily guide, Loic – pilot, Sam – matelot, Louise and Jane – hostesses, and Tadec – chef. We were soon to learn that every member of the crew served in many different capacities. Our captain was a wine expert. Our hostesses were cheese experts. Loic and Sam would sometimes be lock keepers. And, Tadec would be responsible for adding almost six pounds to me (and my wife) in six days! It was after enjoying these amazing hors d'oeuvres with several glasses of a local, fantastic, Chablis, and relaxing in this luxurious atmosphere that I knew my plans for an, in-depth, well documented, review of the week to come had been totally destroyed. I became totally incapable of taking daily notes or documenting each event in the manner required of a quality travel reporter. Each day of the cruise was comprised of travel through the locks, visit to a local town/market/vineyard, enjoying the beauty of the countryside, classes in local cheeses and how to eat them, classes in the local wines and how to drink them, and a multi-course lunch and dinner. There was Internet service every evening when we were stopped at a port. I am aware of the lack of web reviews on barge cruising, especially with French Country Waterways, and truly wanted to help others who are contemplating it. The crew of Nenuphar, the time spent enjoying the barge and all that FCW delivers, lulled me into a state of relaxation that I have not experienced for many, many years. I will end my short report with a personal comment that this cruise on the Nenuphar delivered everything promised and in a way that exceeded our wildest expectations. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
When you travel on a Viking River Cruise you know you are going to be treated like royalty. From the moment you step onto the vessel (being greate4d with Bucks Fizz) to the moment you leave you can be sure you will be given every courtesy. ... Read More
When you travel on a Viking River Cruise you know you are going to be treated like royalty. From the moment you step onto the vessel (being greate4d with Bucks Fizz) to the moment you leave you can be sure you will be given every courtesy. Our stateroom was spacious, with all the additions of mini bar, flat screen TV etc. The toiletries were top class and replaced almost every day. Our Itinerary was well thought out and gave us time to wonder through the various ports of call at our leisure. The guides on the waking tours were brilliant and we were given so much information about the areas and the wines. One of the best experiences was the visit to Chateaux Kirwan for dinner accompanied by the wines from their vineyard. The vessel is equipped with the most up to date lounges and bar whilst the dining room was so spacious no one felt hemmed in when seated. I would recommend anyone thinking of taking a river cruise to book with Viking for the holiday of a lifetime. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
Although only a mini cruise - 4 nights - we assumed it would be a fair reflection of a longer cruise. So given our experiences that longer cruise will never happen, Boarding was easy and our balcony cabin was very good. However the ... Read More
Although only a mini cruise - 4 nights - we assumed it would be a fair reflection of a longer cruise. So given our experiences that longer cruise will never happen, Boarding was easy and our balcony cabin was very good. However the following list illustrates where we felt let down compared to the (many) other cruise lines we have sailed with: - The ship's decore is very conservative - lacking in colour and imagination. - The food in the Britannia Restaurant was not good. In particular the lack of vegetables was unbelievable - eg carrots were on the menu, What arrived was one small slice of carrot. Broccoli was on the menu. What arrived was a microscopic piece of broccoli. The dessert was supposed to include a pancake - it did but it was the size of a 10p piece. - The waiter rushed the serving and was clearing the table and resetting it for breakfast before we hand finished. - We never saw anyone cleaning handrails, mirrors, carpets.worktops etc. Cleanliness is not a priority on QM2 - The staff were uncommunicative - and quite dour. All in all a very disappointing experience and one that will not be repeated.   Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
Having previously cruised on the Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth we were very much looking forward to a sampler trip on the Queen Mary 2 before booking a Trans-Atlantic trip. Unfortunately it failed to live up to our expectations in ... Read More
Having previously cruised on the Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth we were very much looking forward to a sampler trip on the Queen Mary 2 before booking a Trans-Atlantic trip. Unfortunately it failed to live up to our expectations in many respects. Our table in the dining room was in a very dark and dismal position and the tables in our section were long tables rather than the normal round ones. The food was "OK" but the waiters made no effort to engage with us. In fact we never leant their names. The Theatre was a little strange - to us it resembled an old time music hall kind of layout. The Commodore Club - our favourite on the other Queens was ruined by being attached at one end to a cigar saloon. This meant that most people crammed into one end of the Commodore club to avoid the very pungent cigar smell coming from this cigar saloon. As is usual with Cunard there were no tea/coffee making facilities in the cabin. Whenever we attempted to get some delivered to the cabin all we ever got when we telephoned was a recorded message saying that room service was busy. On our return to the ship in Cherbourg there was a problem with embarkation just at the point when all of the trips were returning. The queue to board was right along the quay, all the way into and out of the other side of the terminal - and it was raining ! - we all got very wet and very angry. Disembarkation at Southampton was a complete shambles. Rather than calling us to disembark in groups as normal, they continued to call groups even though the whole deck was jam packed with others waiting to disembark and we couldn't find anyone to ask to put a stop to the madness. We did email to complain. The initial response stated that it would take 28 days to respond to our complaint but if in the mean time we wanted to book another cruise we could use the link below !! The eventual response from Cunard was as disappointing as the experience of the QM2. Come on Cunard you can do much better then this. We travelled on the Emerald Princess earlier this year and although there were almost 1000 more passengers the organisation was brilliant.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
I have cruised with Oceania before. The previous was last year on the Riviera, and I gave top marks for most areas that make cruise successful and worth the money. This time the whole cruise was poor. A small cabin, and a bathroom more or ... Read More
I have cruised with Oceania before. The previous was last year on the Riviera, and I gave top marks for most areas that make cruise successful and worth the money. This time the whole cruise was poor. A small cabin, and a bathroom more or less unusable. The first bad sign was boarding at midday to find no table left in Horizons. Obviously the American passengers have special privileges. I cannot think of anything about the ship that warranted paying more per day for an Insignia concierge cabin, compared to a penthouse on the Riviera. At least the Horizon restaurant chefs on the Riviera knew how to cook. The Insignia awful for quality and selection. A total lack of dishes that would be akin to a 5* ship. No Alaska crab legs, no crab and no roast Suckling pig with a crispy skin al' la Riviera.  The main dining room attempted the pig, but forgot to make it crispy. So the food was a no no. The ports of call were a mixture of dead boring, Honfleur [Sunday in the rain], Portland, Milford Haven and Verdon chosen as drop off, or pick up ports for ship tours. The interesting ones were Bilbao, Concarneau and St. Malo. I will never sail again on the Renaissance class ships again, not only with Oceania but other cruise companies such as Azamara, unless I was in a suite. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
Tauck's French Escapade River Cruise Review July 18-31, 2014. South to North Overview: This Tauck adventure features 4 nights in hotels, 2 in Monte Carlo and 2 in Paris. In between there is a 9 night river cruise on the Rhone & ... Read More
Tauck's French Escapade River Cruise Review July 18-31, 2014. South to North Overview: This Tauck adventure features 4 nights in hotels, 2 in Monte Carlo and 2 in Paris. In between there is a 9 night river cruise on the Rhone & Saone Rivers on the 118 passenger Swiss Emerald. This was a high end vacation with a first class river cruise and 2 first class hotels. A rail trip on the 200mph TGV connected us between Lyon & Paris. Booking: Our travel agent made all the arrangements thru Tauck including the extra hotel nights in Paris, plus airport transfers on both ends. We booked a year in advance in order to get one of the eight 300sf suites that the boat had. The other cabins were under 200sf. Two couples booked just the 9 night river cruise and did not do the hotel portions of the trip. Tauck accommodated them and did not charge them for those portions of the trip. Using a travel agent for this type of trip saves you time and hassle. Passengers: There were 106 passengers, mostly from the US. There were 2 couples from Malaysia and 12 Aussies. The passengers were mostly in their 60's & 70's with a few older and younger couples. There were 2 teenagers, who despite having to be with old folks all the time, seemed to have a good time. There were a few people who had walking difficulties, but they were able to participate in all the tours, although they skipped the buildings that had dozens of steps. The crew always had one tour for people who were slow walkers. The passengers seemed to all get along well. The ability to walk stairs is a requirement to be on this trip. Food & Beverage: All beverages (including cocktails, beer, wine, etc) from the bar were included in the cruise as were all the excursions. The only money you could spend on the cruise were from the gift store, for massages and laundry. Tips for everything related to Tauck were included. The food was amazing. I would compare it to Oceania Cruise Line ships. Dinners were 5 courses and presented very well. The wines were from the region and were great. Lunch and breakfast featured wonderful buffets or you could order from your table. Tour Guides: There were 3 tour guides who stayed with us from beginning to end and a Cruise Director on the boat, all excellent. Mistral Winds: Provance can have very strong northerly winds, ranging from 30 to 70mph, called Mistral Winds. We had strong winds (30mph) for several days, but they helped cool things off and keep the bugs away. Cabins: They ranged in size from 150 sf to 300sf. The large cabins get booked way in advance, with waiting lists in case someone in the large cabins cancels. The cabins each had 2 110v outlets that required a 2 prong Northern European adaptor to use. There were also two 220v outlets where you might need a bulky converter to convert to 110v to charge your camera batteries if your 110 outlets are in use. Apple products can be charged from a 220v plug without a voltage converter, as Apple has built their charging units to take 220v or 110v current. The beds come with a thick comforter and no separate sheet that so many hotels use today. We prefer a sheet and a blanket, which they switched to after I asked the room steward. Robes and slippers are provided in the cabins. Rain: It does rain in France. The ship provides large umbrellas for the passengers. You may need a small umbrella for your hotel days. A light raincoat with hood is very handy as the winds are sometimes too strong for the umbrellas. Entertainment: Don't expect much. There brought a few local acts for after dinner. There were a couple nights where the passengers played games organized by the Tour Guides which were fun. Prizes were awarded to the winning teams. Having after dinner drinks on the top deck was great if it wasn't raining. The lounge had a pianist who was excellent. Workout room: Small - 4 pieces of cardio equipment and. Few 2 LB dumbells. Bring your own resistance bands for weight work. You get plenty cardio on the walks and bike rides. Attire: Most dinners on the ship were Country Club casual, (nice shirt, no shorts). Most guys brought a jacket for the 2 or 3 special dinners. Lunch was casual, shorts were fine. Bring a light jacket that doubles as a raincoat with a hood for cool evenings on deck and wet touring days. The museums in Europe are all warm and humid. Wear short sleeve shirts and shorts and bring a jacket that you can tied around your waist. A fan is a good thing to bring along. The air does not move in these museums. Shoes: You'll need a good pair of walking shoes as most daily walks were over cobblestones with many steps, often without handrails. Lightweight sandals don't usually have the lateral support for the cobblestones. Laundry: The ship provided 1 day laundry service for a fee, not cheap, but it's better than dragging 14 days worth if clothes. The weather was sometimes humid, so you need to wash some cloths. The drip dry clothes could be washed in the sink dried in a day hanging in the shower. The cotton clothes took forever to dry. Air Package: We bought the air sea package and let Tauck set up the flights. Next time I'll have our travel agent book the flights. We had Delta flights from LAX to Nice via JFK. Coming home, we flew Air France & KLM from Paris to LAX via Amsterdam. I would have preferred a direct Paris to LAX flight. That would have saved about 4 hours. Tauck will still provide the transfers if you arrange your own flights. Bicycles: The boat had 11 bicycles, single speed, pedal brakes, not the greatest bikes, but we used them and got around fine. Jacuzzi: There was a 4 person jacuzzi on the top deck that couldn't be used while we were moving, due to low bridges, which required that the jacuzzi vanity screens to come down to clear the bridges. The jacuzzi was available in port. Day to Day Notes: Day 1 Sat - Arrival: We flew into Nice from JFK, an 8 hour overnight flight arriving around 11:45 am. We cleared immigration in under 5 minutes and then waited about 30 minutes for the bags. Passport control was quick. Once we collected our bags, we found the man with the Tauck sign and 8 of us settled into a van for a 30 minute ride to Monte Carlo. Tauck has a meeting room at the Fairmont, just past reception where you got your first daily program and instructions for the hotel stay portion of the trip. There was a welcome reception and dinner that night at 6:30pm for the Tauck guests. It was a great way to meet your fellow travelers. Fairmont Hotel: We checked into the Fairmont Hotel overlooking the Mediterranean Sea for 2 nights. Since we were in one of Tauck's highest suite, we got a hotel room right on the water, with an amazing view. On Saturday night, there was a 20 minute fireworks show that we could see from our balcony. Apparently, this was some kind of fireworks completion held on 4 Saturday nights during the summer. The fireworks are shot from a barge in the harbor that the Fairmont overlooks. The Fairmont normally charges $20/night for wi-fi. Since we booked the Fairmont and pre-paid the hotel bill thru Tauck, we got it for free. I had the Tauck tour guide go to the hotel registration deck to make sure that was the case, and it was. Day 2 Sun - Monte Carlo: After a free breakfast for Tauck guests on Sunday morning at the hotel, we boarded buses for a tour of Monte Carlo. They took us up to the old city for an orientation tour with great overlooks of Monte Carlo. We had free time to shop and then back to the hotel for lunch on your own. At 2pm we boarded tour buses to visit the Rothchild's palace and gardens, which was worth seeing, then back to the hotel by 5:30. Dinner was on your own in Monte Carlo on Sunday night. Monday morning, after a free breakfast, we boarded buses for a trip to Nice and then into Arles to board the Swiss Emerald around 5:30pm. Day 3 Mon - Nice: Tauck gave us a walking tour and then we had 3+ hours to explore the City and have lunch on our own. Nice has an impressive beach Promenade with an excellent bike trail along the beach. Bicycles could be rented at one of the many kiosks for a few Euros on a credit card. The drive to the boat in Arles was not terribly scenic, but the tour guides comments made the trip ok. We boarded the Swiss Emerald at 5:30pm. Embarkation: We arrived at the boat and were welcomed with champaign. We waited in the lounge getting to know each other. Small groups of passengers were led to the check-in desk and shown to their rooms. We met back in the lounge at 6:30 to meet the Captain and the staff. The Captain's Dinner was then served. Day 4 Tues - Arles: We had a morning walking tour of Arles, Vincent Van Gogh's home for 2 years. We had a bus ride to the Country to see a working ranch. The ranch family fed us lunch and then put on a show with bull's chasing young men in a bull ring. The bulls are not hurt. The bulls usually live a full life and die of natural causes in their 20's. Still, it was impressive to the bulls going after the young guys in the ring, who would jump over 2 walls when the bulls got close. The horns on the bulls were covered to protect the runners. Day 5 Wed - Avignon: In the morning We had a walking tour of the old portion of Avignon including the Pope's Palace. The walk included about 200 steps, but there was frequent places to sit and listen to the your guide thru the Vox system. We finished that tour about11:00 am and had time to explore the town before returning to the boat for lunch. After a wonderful lunch, we checked out 2 bicycles and helmets and rode a path along the Rhone. The trail was only 2 miles long. We then rode into the old City of Avignon, a city full of cars and not many places to ride a bike comfortably. At 3:30 we loaded up buses and went to the country side to visit a first class winery, the Pope’s former vineyard when the Pope resided in Avignon in the 1300's. We had a wine tasting and a country bus ride. After dinner, there was a duo doing French songs with accordion. Day 6 Thursday - Viviers: Local guides showed us how to play a French version of Bocce Ball, called Petanque. We played the game and had a refreshment and then walked the old town and visited the Cathedral. We were back to the boat for lunch. The boat sailed at 1pm and we spent the rest of the day cruising the Rhone northbound going thru a few locks and under some low bridges. Staff gave talks on the locks, on the French language and on Vincent Van Gogh's life. We had a few sprinkles in the afternoon and some wind, but very pleasant overall. A good day to be on the Rhone River. Day 7 Friday - Vienne: Tauck provided us with a 90 minute walking/tram tour of the old City of Vienne. The best part was the fantastic view of the Rhone River Valley from the highest point in the City. Our tour included 2 churches/cathedrals. We then had 1:45 minutes on our own. We checked out bicycles and explored the trail along the west side of the Rhone. The town is on the east side, so you take a pedestrian bridge across the river to get to the west side. The trail is basically south if this bridge and it runs for miles. The trail is separated from the adjacent street. At 12:15, the boat left Vienne for points north. We boated thru Lyon and turned into the Saone River, but did not stop in Lyon, as Lyon would be our last stop in a few days. Day 8 Sat - Chalon-sur-Saone: A walking tour of the City left the boat at 9:00 & returned at 11:30 . We skipped the walking tour and rode bicycles around the City, which was fun. At 1:30, there was a coach tour to the Country side to visit two wineries. We stayed in Chalon overnight. There was a crew talent show after dinner. It rained for short bursts today. Day 9 Sunday - Macon: We took a coach tour of Chateau de Cormatin at 8:15 from Chalon Sur Saone as the boat sailed north to Macon. We also visited the town of mid evil town Tornau. We met the boat in Macon after 1:00, followed by lunch on the boat. At 2:45, there was a walking tour in Macon, we rode bikes again. Since it was Sunday, not much was open. At 4:45, the staff explained how the Paris portion of the trip would work and asked us to sign up for which Museum we wanted to visit on Thursday. Most people chose the Louvre. Day 10 Monday - On the way to Lyon: We left the boat at 8:30 for a coach tour of the Abbey of Cluny, the National Stud Farm in Cluny, and then onto the Chateau de la Barge for lunch. We met the boat at 3:45 in Trevoux. At 4:30pm, we left for Lyon, arriving at 8:00pm, while we were having dinner. There was light to medium rain throughout the day. Navigation Note: We side tied to a river boat that looked just like ours run by Travel Marvel, named Excellence Rhone, carrying mostly Aussies. They had been stuck in Lyon for 3 days instead of taking the Saone River portion of their cruise. The company that manages that boat would not allow their Captain to go under the low bridges that we had just gone under twice on our cruise. Their daily tours still took them to the area that they would have seen had they sailed the Saone, but they had longer bus rides to get there. Plus they missed 3 days of River cruising. The passengers were not happy about that "Corporate" Decision. Tauck left that decision up to our Captain to determine if we would clear the lowest bridges, which we did by 6" or so. Day 11 Tuesday - All Day in Lyon: In the morning we had a coach tour of the old City of Lyon. The tour included a walk thru the spectacular Basilica on the hill over looking Lyon. This was the prettiest church we have seen so far on this trip. Following that we did a walking tour of the portion of the Old City near the Saone River and then back to the boat for lunch. At 2:30, the Tour Directors led walking tours of areas in Lyon where there was good shopping. Our Cruise Director led 7 of us on a 1.5 hour bike ride along the Rhone River including a bike ride thru a large City Park with a zoo and lagoon. It was an easy ride, no hills. Day 12 Wednesday. On to Paris! The ride on the TGV was fast and smooth. After we arrived, we waited at the train station while members of our group went to the bathroom, which took over 30 minutes as there were limited facilities in the train station, (please people use the toilet on the train!) We then boarded buses for a 3+ hour tour of Paris. There were 2 stops for pictures. We arrived at the Intercontinental LeGrand Hotel around 5:30. We were given our room keys on the bus, which was nice. Dinner was on our own. There were plenty of good restaurants within 5 to 10 minutes walk from the hotel. There were some complaints about the hotel, but we had no problems. Paris hotel rooms tend to be smaller than in America. Day 13 Thursday - a full day in Paris: We started with a breakfast for the Tauck group in a separate dining room in the LeGrand, then it was off to one of 3 museums for a 90 minute guided tour. You had to pick between the Louvre, the Orangerie or the Orsay. Most people chose the Louvre. Tauck provided buses to and from the museums. You could stay longer at the Museum, which we did at the Louvre. Since we all went in as a group, we didn't get an individual ticket, so we had to stay in the Scully section of the Louvre where the Mona Lisa and lots of the big name exhibits were located. Once you leave that section of the Museum, you had to have a ticket to get into the other sections, which we didn't have. We then walked over to Notre Dame Cathedral, about a 20 minute walk. We got there about 12:30 and it only took 10 minutes to get in, free of course. Later in the day, that line was much longer. You'll spend about 30 minutes in the Cathedral. You can walk around the outside easily to view this amazing building. The line to walk up the towers was hours long and you had to buy a ticket. Tonight was the farewell dinner at the fabulous and famous Fouquet on the Champs Elysees. Day 14 Friday: Tauck provides transportation to the airport in small groups as everyone is going home on different days and times. We stayed 2 extra days in Paris. There is so much to see in Paris that you need the extra days to see the sights and dine in French style. We just walked along the streets and picked a restaurant that looked good, and they always were. Ken's Paris notes & tips: Buy tickets to the major attractions from the concierge at your hotel before you go to avoid long ticket lines. We found no vendors on the streets that sold tickets to attractions like you see in New York or Las Vegas. Get the audio guides at the attractions, they cost 5€ cash each set. Guided tours are great, but the schedule for those tours doesn't easily line up with where you are. It's hard to hit a time specific for these tours given Paris traffic and your need to see as much of Paris as you can in a few days. Buy tickets for the L'Open Paris Hop on Hop Off, a double decker sighting seeing bus that allows you to hop on & off. (http://www.paris.opentour.com/fr/) We paid 38€ each for a two day pass. The one day pass was 31€. The concierge sold us the vouchers. This company has 4 routes, which covers a very large amount of the City. The "Big Bus" is cheaper but has only one route and covers a lot less of the City. It is wonder watching this amazing City from above the street level on the open upper deck. Everywhere you look in Paris, there is something worth seeing. Bicycle rentals are available all over the City in on-street kiosk style bike racks. The system is called Velib. Just put in a credit card, open an account and then pick your bike from the racks. The cost is only 1€ per hour. The bikes have 3 speeds, hand brakes, headlines, taillights, baskets and locks. There are many bike lanes and paths in Paris and most bike riders use the busy Paris streets without a problem. http://www.tripadvisor.com/Travel-g187147-c183666/Paris:France:Velib.Bike.Sharing.System.In.Paris.html If you go to Versailles, take a 1/2 day private tour including transportation from your hotel. Your concierge will arrange it. The tour guide can skip the lines. It takes about 30 minutes to get out to Versailles. You can take the subway to Versailles on your own, but the ticket lines are hours long. Doing the Louvre on your own is a long day. The lines are daunting. Get a guide who can skip the ticket lines. Do the Seine River Cruise on your own. The boats leave the docks every 20 minutes or so, and tickets are cheap and you can just walk up and buy them. The docks are located near the Eiffel Tower at the Bateau Mouches. Don't be intimidated by all the tour buses. During the summer, the lights on the buildings take effect around 10pm, if you want to see Paris at night. The last boat goes out at 11pm. The tour takes 55 minutes. Other folks reported that the Seine Dinner River cruises were great. http://www.bateaux-mouches.fr/en Do walk along the Seine River walkways. There are lower walkways and upper walkways along the streets over looking the river. There is a section of the lower walkway where the City imports sand every summer to create beaches with lounge chairs, umbrellas, Volleyball courts, dance floors, misters - all free. The Parisians flock to this area on nice days. Feel free to email me with questions at kentennis@cox.net   Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
Scenic Emerald – South of France July 14th 2014 Cruise Review We arrived in Paris after a long delay in Singapore so were pretty ratty and ready for a rest. Thankfully, our luggage wasn’t lost, we passed through immigration without a ... Read More
Scenic Emerald – South of France July 14th 2014 Cruise Review We arrived in Paris after a long delay in Singapore so were pretty ratty and ready for a rest. Thankfully, our luggage wasn’t lost, we passed through immigration without a hitch and met up with our Scenic transfer driver in the arrivals hall. All good so far The Marriot Ambassador is ok for a major chain hotel. Expensive bar, ordinary breakfast buffet and small room but then I think that’s pretty standard for Europe hotels. We met our fellow cruisers on the Sunday night (the night before Bastille Day) subsequently everything was closed, even the hotel restaurant ! We were left there all wondering what we were supposed to do for dinner. Hubby and I decided the pasta we had for lunch was laying pretty heavy so decided to skip dinner and headed to bed early. The morning of the ‘cruise’ package started with everyone clambering for breakfast which apparently caught the hotel out as they ran out of juice glasses, coffee cups etc. I don’t think this was their first rodeo so was a bit surprised but we were looking forward to our cruise of a lifetime and nothing was raining on this parade ! We had been instructed to put our luggage outside our rooms the night before as this was to be transported to the ship by truck to save us all having to drag it onto the TGV. Great idea ! The transfer to the TGV was smooth and without incident and we were on our way. After a very smooth 2 or so hours we arrived at Dijon where we disembarked the TGV and were loaded onto luxury coaches. A quick lunch stop in Dijon was delicious with some local fois gras with toast. Yum. Back on the coaches and finally on to Chalon-sur-Saone where the shiny lovely Scenic Emerald awaited us. We felt like royalty boarding with all the staff on deck with their dress black uniforms on and welcoming us aboard. When inside the foyer we were allocated a hospitality crew person who escorted us to our cabin balcony suite 207. We highly recommend this suite. Just far enough away from the noise but really close to all facilities. The room was sparkling clean and bright. The bathroom ensuite was very reasonably spacey with a great selection of shampoos, soap etc. At 5.30pm we all had to assemble on the top deck for a safety discussion and instructions on how to put on life jackets etc. With all accounted for we went back down to the Emerald lounge for a well-earned champers. I cannot understate how hard the crew work on the ship. The bar boys are just phenomenal with their energy and funny antics. They really make the day bright when you see their smiling faces and they have a bit of a joke with you once they get to know you a little. They remember names and what your ‘usual’ is too ! Amazing ! Day one we visited the Patriarche Cellars for a wine tasting. The wines we tasted were ‘green’ and acidic and we were really surprised that they gave us such young undrinkable wines to taste as there was no way we were going to part with any Euros in their showroom upstairs ! pity because the cellar and underground tasting rooms were a lovely experience. Back to our home on the river and treated to a magnificent dinner. I could rave about each night’s dinner and lunch but to be honest just be assured the food is aplenty and of 5 star standard. A special night was our dinner date with some new friends we made in the ‘La Mour’ restaurant. Everyone gets to book one dinner there where the service is only to cater for about 30 people (instead of the usual whole ship in the main dining room seating about 140ish people each sitting). The LaMour restaurant is a very special experience indeed. 6 courses of absolutely deliciousness. One comment on the main dining room would be the NOISE ! I don’t know if everyone had their hearing aids turned down but god it was noisy !! I think Scenic need to consider some foam tiles on the ceiling or something because often it was so bad we couldn’t have a conversation across a table. (one of my very few complaints !). With regard to shore tours, we were predominantly interested in wine tasting as this was one of the main interests for choosing this cruise. The wine tastings varied from undrinkable to yum I’ll buy a bottle. It’s all very subjective and I would still encourage anyone interested in the local wines to do the tastings as it is still really interesting to get a different slant on wines and not just our one sided Aussie pallets. One tour that was one of the highlights of our tour was the visit to the Paul Bocuse Culinary Institute in Lyon. What a fantastic experience. If you consider yourself a bit of a ‘foodie’ then this is the trip for you. We were treated to a masterclass with one of the Executive chefs. He cooked a delicious red mullet dish that was to die for. We got the recipe and full instructions so we could make notes etc too. He was so lovely and helpful and happily signed our recipes at the end of the class. Another highlight among our tours was the villages of Luberon region Gordes and Fontaine de Vaucluse. Beautiful villages with lovely medieval cobbled streets with little shops and delicious cafes. However, the absolute highlight of the cruise for us was our visit to Avignon. This place is definitely on our must do again list ! It is perfectly preserved walled city which includes the Palais-des-Papes (palace of the Popes). We were lucky enough to be there when the annual performing arts festival was on so every street and corner had a different act ranging from soccer ball tossing acrobats to a didgeridoo playing Aussie to a whole troupe of bagpipe playing artists. Just phenomenal and a real experience. The video camera got a real workout that day! If there was one tour I would not recommend it was the ornithological park. To be honest it was quite hot and there was little shade. The birdlife wasn’t that interesting to us and we were happy to get back on the air conditioned bus. It came as part of the full day touring that everyone did so I guess we were pretty much locked in to going but given a choice I’d rather stay on the boat and sail on to the next port to meet the coaches. Kurt our cruise director was absolute gold. He was professional, friendly, funny, very careful, extremely competent and caring. He worked so hard to make sure everyone was having the best time. If we do another Scenic cruise I certainly hope he is on it ! All the crew were terrific. Our personal butler Ica and lovely housekeeping lady Simonetta were always looking after us. Nothing was too much trouble and we felt very special. Hubby had a ‘slept on the pillow chocolate’ incident ! Simonetta took it in her stride saying that he wasn’t the first person to do it and she definitely knew the difference between chocolate and any other um stuff you might find in a bed. All in all she made an embarrassing situation funny and let him off with a small wag of her finger hahaha ! The mini-bar was refreshed at least twice per day with chocolates, pringles and white wine. We loved to sit on the balcony before the daily cruise report by Kurt at about 6.30 before dinner. We loved the balcony and having that private area where we could retreat for an hour or so to gather you thoughts before we went into the next activities of eating and frivolity! The night time entertainment was mixed with the onboard pianist (who put up with our karaoke !) and a mixture of ‘Gypsy Kings’ type band, a fabulous piano acordian player and a local gypsy dancing group. All in all we were happy just to catch up with new friends for a few drinks (which were always kept topped up !) in the Emerald lounge. There is also a great area at the front of the dining room where you can sit open air for light lunches and was also great for when we were casting off and setting sail for a new port. Also great for going through the numerous lochs. That was an interesting experience too. One of the lochs was a 23 metre drop ! It was so funny on the way down they played the theme from Titanic ! When were down to the required level and the exit doors opened the theme changed to the Love Boat ! crazy musical director haha ! We would highly recommend this cruise. We found that we were of the ‘younger’ age group being in our early 50s. I would guess the average age somewhere up around mid to late 70s. Most were still pretty able but there were a few that were quite physically challenged needing walking sticks etc. However, they were all there for a fun time and we didn’t feel that the age of the clientele was any problem. Everyone mixed with most people and with no fixed seating in the dining room you could either sit with your regular new friends or seek out new ones if you moved tables. Scenic have got a great strategy for their river cruises and are to be congratulated for tailoring these holidays for the Aussie market. There were a few Canadians, a few British and a few NZ but 98% Aussies. We will definitely consider doing the Amsterdam to Budapest cruise as many on this cruise had done it before and highly recommended it also. Thankyou to Scenic and your crew for making this a cruise of a lifetime and a holiday we will remember very fondly in many years to come. Five star and all inclusive all the way !   Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
Let me start out in the order of events during my families amazing time in Paris and northern France. I chose this vacation in celebration of my Mothers 80th birthday and to also show my appreciation to my Stepfather as well. I have been ... Read More
Let me start out in the order of events during my families amazing time in Paris and northern France. I chose this vacation in celebration of my Mothers 80th birthday and to also show my appreciation to my Stepfather as well. I have been on many Ocean cruises in the past and was always interested in what it would be like to take a river cruise. Let me tell you, i don't think i would ever go back, Avalon River cruises are amazing and top notch . We arrived in Paris four days before the cruise to get over our jet lag and take some time to explore the beautiful city. I chose a apartment in the Latin Quarter which was very nice and close to everything. On the day of the cruise we arrived at the Pullman hotel which was the pre-criuse meeting location around 10:30am. We checked our luggage with the porter there and didnt see our thing until we arrived in our staterooms later on that afternoon. Avalon offers a optional excursion to the Effel Tower which leaves from the hotel at 1pm, so we decided to go on that since i have never been up the tower and it would give us something to do since you can not board the ship until 4-5pm . The tour was a lot of fun and we got to meet some new fellow passengers. After the tour, the bus takes you directly to the ship. Arrival to the ship was so nice, you just walk on , no security scanners , or long lines , it was simple. Everyone including the cruise director(Tony Willamson), who was amazing , greated you and offered you a drink and then eventually escorted you to your state room. The entire ship was so clean and beautiful , like it was brand new and The Creativity is one of Avalons older ships , you would never know its kept up so well. The staterooms were very nice and lots of places to store your things. The bathrooms were so clean and modern, i have never seen anything like that on other cruises. The dinning room was elegant and the wait staff were friendly and very accommodating . The food was different every day for dinner and was fresh and bought in the local markets in the region. The Wine at dinner was wonderful, and your glass was never empty . Every night we would sit with different people which was fun, you actually get to know almost everyone on the ship since there is only around 130 people tops. The portions of the food were small but plenty , i was always satisfied every night . Breakfast and Lunch were great as well, more of a buffet style . Excursions: Vernon, was our first stop. you have a choice of two included guided tours , one was the Bizy Castle or Giverny, we chose Monet's gardens since i love his works and my Mother is into gardening. It was one of the high points of our trip, it was truly amazing. Rouen, was our next port. We took the morning guided tour , the cathedral was breathtaking as well as the town. We had lunch back at the ship and then took a optional tour of the town of Honfleur, it was a beautiful town located on a harbor , great place to sit at a cafe and take in the surroundings , loved it. Normandy beach Landings , was a all day tour on our second day in Rouen. It was around a hour drive to the war museum and beach area. It was so such a moving experience , i have always wanted to see this area of France. I felt so overwhelmed with emotion and proud of all those young service men and women who sacraficed there lives to protect our freedoms. Les Andelys was next. We decided to take it easy that morning and opt out of going on the guided tour of the town, instead we decided to go into town by oursellves on our own time. It was a charming little town, some really nice shops , bought a few things there. After strolling around the town i decided to run up the hill to see the castle built by Richard the lion heart , it had some wonderful views from up there. Conflans was our last stop before going into Paris, we went on the Auvers-Sur-oise , the tour was very informative about the final years of Vincent Van Gogh, the tour took us to his apartment where he lived and through the town and then to his final resting place . After we got back to the boat we were off to Paris. It was a lazy afternoon , which was nice after all the excursions we were on all week, i even relaxed in the whirl pool , very nice. That night was the Captains Farewell dinner, it was a festive night with a crew performance and five coarse dinner and baked alaskan," dellish" ;-) later we took the optional evening tour of Paris at night, it was so beautiful to see at night , especially the Eiffel tower when it strobes at 11pm. On the final day we took the optional tour of the Louvre, it was a lot to take in but we were thrilled to see most of the popular works , such as the Venus De Milo, Winged victory , and of coarse the Rock star, Mona Lisa. All in all, Avalons Creativity and staff and crew made this a vacation we will never forget. They went far and beyond to make us and everyone feel special and cared for. I rarely write reviews, but i felt i needed to for this particular event. i want people to know that this cruise was well worth the money , it was very well organized , i never had to worry about anything. We are definitely choosing Avalon again on our next adventure . Bon Voyage!!!   Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
Viking, well yes, they have great advertisements, and gorgeous photos of the new 'longboats', however here are the facts. 1). They must have your whole entire cruise fee payable immediately payable upon booking. 2). Watch out, ... Read More
Viking, well yes, they have great advertisements, and gorgeous photos of the new 'longboats', however here are the facts. 1). They must have your whole entire cruise fee payable immediately payable upon booking. 2). Watch out, depending upon where your cruise goes, look at the following : River swelling, lock strikes, time of year for river swelling ( and/or depleting) etc. ALL of those affect your cruise. 3). Speaking of which: those nice photos of your upper deck cruising through those lovely rivers, ahem, on our 8 day cruise recently, only ONE DAY was the upper deck open. Check it out people , Viking is misrepresenting their cruises, letting you think you can sit 'above the ship ' and watch the scenery, when in fact, on our last 2 Viking cruises,the UPPER DECK WAS 'CLOSED'. Yes, that means, NO nice viewing, cruising scenery like they show in their advertisements. And, if there are ANY swollen river delays, that can happen, well, guess what, you are put onto a ghastly bus , no fun, and bussed to the next destination, Our advise is: CAREFULLY CHECK, where are you going on your river cruise, what time of year, what are the rivers like ( heavy rains affect river cruise travel, people !!!), that means your boat STOPS until the river cooperates. I'd like to say that Viking is great, however I think they treat passengers like us ( active adult ) like children. I.e: not telling us "what is happening & when ". This , in my opinion , is their most serious flaw. For an example, our cruise was supposed to start in Chalon, France. So, we purchased the 3-day pre cruise Paris stay. Then, they told us at the Paris hotel, that instead of traveling to Chalon that we now would be bussed to Lyon,, due to ( take note : River swelling !). Okay. We were told 4 hours bus ride. We got on the bus and the lady told us 9-10 hour bus ride. ******VIKING: NOT OKAY! ***** We are not children ! and many people were upset by this. We could have just calmly had a quiet bus ride to Lyon, but no, a talkative ( microphone) lady kept us awake the whole time. And, because English was her second language, every 2nd word was ' uh uh uh ' .....it was PAINFUL. We finally arrived in Lyon missed 3 days of our cruise, people : watch out, that means Viking is dependent on RIVER WATER LEVELS!!!! They do not tell you this as you are sending them your full deposit amount $$$.... In addition, if Viking had told us that the bus ride was 9-10 hours, we would have taken the train(3+hours) and with no loud , bad, tour guide microphoning us for the whole way. On a positive note: the crew of the Viking Heimdal was superb. We do think, however, that the Viking Heimdal crew was very hard working and maybe overworked ? It seemed to us that they did not have enough crew members for that was required. The staff worked incredibly hard , many hours every day and night, however, we, as cruise guests, think they could use more staff. It almost seemed like they had a skeleton crew, just making due, until more staff could come aboard. Kudos to Kornelia, awesome hard work. Our suggestion is: check out Viking, but first, check out when , time of year, are you going, and what other river cruise line does the same itinerary, because , we saw river cruise boats that had their upper deck open while ours on Viking , was closed. Big thing as you are cruising European rivers ! Read Less
Sail Date July 2014

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