The idea of taking a French river cruise was SO appealing. I had images of us floating lazily down the rivers of France, stopping at lovely old towns to wander around and take in the atmosphere and history, without the hassle of unpacking and lugging our things with us. How wrong we were. The cruise we took in May 2012 with Avalon Waterways on the Scenery was a living hell. If you choose to pay big bucks to be herded around like cattle, treated like school boarders who have to eat, drink, shower at certain times and wind up exhausted after being bussed EVERY day, don't say I didn't warn you.
The crew on the boat was superb and did their best to accommodate the needs of the passengers but too many things went wrong. For a start, the rooms (even the "good" ones) are very small, requiring one person to jump on the bed to allow the other to move around the cabin. The double beds have 2 separate single quilts so that you are always uncovered in the middle...hardly luxury! The food was not a reflection of the local cuisine. Every night we had to put up with long multiple course meals that blended into sameness after a couple of nights. Good food, but I would rather have been supporting local businesses.
The Saone River was in flood, (a fact known to the cruise company before we boarded) so we could not berth at the first little town and had to be bussed back to visit it. Then we were stuck for another couple of days in no-man's land outside Lyon as, again, we could not get under a bridge. Again, we spent days in buses. We were missing out on the very things we paid for on the cruise...time to relax on the boat and the ability to wander from the boat directly into the towns we were to visit.
Tiny room with only 1 chair and not enough room to walk around. The Balcony is simply a large sliding door/window. The bathroom is fine and the amount of storage is ample. Up on the top deck means you have a quiet night's sleep (no engine noise) but you do sometimes hear the crew running around the upper deck. The double bed has 2 single quilts (to save money?), that never quite cover anyone.