Just returned from Riverboat Cruise on SS Catherine. First time on a river boat. My husband’s special birthday. He is a foodie and loves French food and wine so we selected this itinerary which was in Burgundy and Provence (From Lyon to Avignon). Generally, he does not like cruising preferring to be able to dine in actual restaurants on land which he feels he misses out on during a cruise. However, he was pleasantly surprised….. the ship is brand new this season and is gorgeous and spectacular – even better in person than in photos –t he food, service, staff were all excellent – the ship is beautiful – we loved the small size and ease of getting around – forget something in your cabin? – no sweat – it’s a one minute walk not a twenty minute hike as on a huge mega ship. We arrived the day ahead into Lyon and stayed at Sofitel – across the river from ship and you can literally walk to the ship and will not need a taxi. Strongly suggest you come in the day before the cruise – the jet lag will be killer otherwise imho. I was ill from long flight and layover to Lyon and needed to just sleep for a day. Also, the curried chicken on British airways served at midnight home time did not do wonders for the GI situation. So, yeah, don’t plan on flying over and going right to the ship.
On this particular cruise (cant speak for other dates) the age group was significantly senior – we are in early sixties and were among the youngest. We “closed down the joint” in the evenings and that was before 10 PM! LOL.
Also, would agree with another poster that this itinerary was somewhat disappointing as we could not sail at all the first few days due to high water level – we went by bus to Beaune (in Burgundy) skipping the sail on Saone River. There was very minimal actual sailing the entire cruise. Also, while docked (Stateroom 422) we either faced a wall and the land side, another ship like Viking, or in Avignon, a huge ugly cement piling smack in the middle of our balcony - twice. Therefore, I question the value of paying for an upgraded room with balcony with so little to see out the window. As far as the land tours, the first two guides (to Beaune and city walking tour of Lyon) were disappointing – their English was very poor and they spoke at about a third grade level. However, the other tour guides were excellent and much more professional – night tour of Lyon was fantastic – walking tour of Tournon and Tain L’Hermitage was great. Also liked our tour guide for Viviers. She lived there and was British and was very informative. We loved the wine tastings and we loved the tour to truffle farm – I do not feel it was a “ripoff” as other poster stated.