Some Australian friends had told us how good APT river cruises were, so we went with high expectations. Sadly, not all were met. Perhaps we are not the right folk to do this type of cruising, we are used to independent travelling....this was very ORGANISED!
As it is all-inc the trips are included also...& in the main, they were very interesting.
The dinner at Paul Bocuse Abbaye de Collonges plus the visit to the exuberant truffle farmer were memorable. All trips were well organised but often rushed as it seemed they were designed on returning to the ship by 12-30 for lunch, when everyone ( except us!) streamed off the coaches straight into the restaurant! I appreciate we didn't have to return on the coaches, but that could have left us stranded in parts of the area with possbly poor public transport. So we just went with the crowd. Not our usual style, we do not like being herded.
Meals were generally good standard, but again, everyone was expected to arrive en masse. This left us non-plussed the first dinner...we arrived in the restaurant about 7.30 after a couple of GnTs in the ( curiously empty!) bar. It was obvious we were latecomers...everyone else had rushed down to feed at 7pm.
My main complaint( APT please read this!!) is that sadly most of the wines served- especially in the bar- were of very poor quality( not even Appellation Controllee!) This was a French cruise on the Rhone for goodness sake- why not serve local wines...they are excellent! Instead we were fobbed off with awful unidentifiable "bubbly" rubbish & pretty vile stuff from Pays d'Oc...cheap as chips & rather insulting after paying a high price to be on this trip.
When I politely complained to the bar staff I was informed...quite brusquely...that this was "good" wine & given totally incorrect information about its provenance. Actually several of the staff on board were brusque to the point of rudeness...perhaps its an Eastern European cultural thing? Training required methinks!!! The maitre de & the bar manager( a lovely Portugese guy) were more professional & did in fact miraculously find us some slightly better wine. Why was it hidden?????
Yes ....I realise we could have actually bought different wines from the somewhat expensive wine list...but this is sold as an all-inc cruise...& sold at a high price...so why??? It was actually an insult to be fobbed off with worse than supermarket cheap plonk.
Entertainment on such a small vessel is always going to be lowkey. The problem is that there is nowhere else to go! Just the one lounge area, with chairs remniscent of a nursing home & with the only bar onboard at the back. So, if like us, you do not really wish to listen to an ageing singer performing 60/70s rehash pop songs, then your cabin is the only alternative!!
If you dare to sit at the bar & have a quiet conversation with another couple there, you could be told off! We were...but that's just because some of the fellow passengers on board left a little to be desired in standards!
To sum up....river cruising- for us the box is ticked...we do not fit the profile of this type of traveller.
Nice well kept cabin on upper (3rd) deck..obviously smalll but bathroom good with shower door-always better than curtain! Juliette balcony, nice to have windows wide open for fresh air. Not possible to go out on balcony due to size of boat/size of locks!!!