We arrived in Paris 4 days before the cruise, stayed at a lovely small boutique hotel close to the port and had a grand time seeing the sights on our own and using tour companies found on TripAdvisor. We traveled by metro and the train, ... Read More
We arrived in Paris 4 days before the cruise, stayed at a lovely small boutique hotel close to the port and had a grand time seeing the sights on our own and using tour companies found on TripAdvisor. We traveled by metro and the train, and it was easy and affordable. I urge everyone to do a before of after Paris visit of several days at least, as there's rather minimal time exploring Paris itself on this cruise. After a 5 minute taxi ride, we arrived at the port at 12:30 pm, were greeted by Patricia the Program Director, and Sascha, the Hotel Manager, and had a nice light lunch in the lounge.
We selected a cabin with a large window that could open which was lovely for views along the river. The room was of sufficient size, with plenty of drawers and closet space. Luggage was stored under the bed. There was a 115 V socket and several european sockets. All of our electronic devices worked fine, and we did not need a converter. We did bring adapter plugs. The room was kept clean and tidy, and we paid our housekeeper an extra tip at the end of the trip. As mentioned previously, the hair dryer is not as powerful as we're used to at home but did manage to dry my hair. We utilized the laundry service, as we limted how much we brought along, and it was delivered back to us in perfect condition the next day.
The excursions have been reviewed elsewhere. Our favorite was the visit to Monet's house and gardens. The gardens are extraordinary, with an amazing abundance of beautiful flowers. There is also a Paris city bus tour with a stop at Notre Dame, a walking tour through Rouen with a "leisure" group for slow walkers, a visit to the Normandy beaches and museums, a stop in Las Andelys and optional tour to Versailles. I found the shopping best in the 2 stores in Las Andelys, and we took the half day Versailles excursion which we found to be sufficient.
Back at the boat, we had breakfast in the dining room, the light lunch in the lounge (there is also lunch in the dining room) and dinner in the dining room. We thought the food was excellent but service a bit slow for dinner, especially for our table of 4, the first one in the middle upon entrance. I suggest avoiding that one, as we were usually the last ones served. People tended to stick with the original table selected on this cruise, so moving seemed like it would be a bit of a challenge. Everyone appeared to be working hard, so it seemed like an additional waiter might have helped.
As typical of prior river cruises, onboard entertainment was limited. We attended an interesting lecture on Joan of Arc, a French lesson, a tour of the galley, an optional oyster eating event and a music quiz that was more amusing than expected. There was also a painting class and a piano player in the evening. The last night there were some classically trained singers, who were very good, but I didn't stay for long due to packing requirements.
All of the major staff members were personable and helpful. Patricia was very orgainized, with a bubbly personality.
A final word on the debarkation: We were assigned a bus for CDG airport 3 hours before the plane's departure. It took 1 hour to get to the airport, and because of a great deal of traffic, left off at Arrivals. Getting through the chaotic maze at CDG was an obstacle course, and even though we were on priority lanes throughout and moved as fast as possible, it took over an hour to get to our gate. Within 10 minutes the plane began boarding. if you prefer a more leisurely airport experience, I strongly recommend getting yourself on a bus that gives you more time. Read Less