Just returned from a 7 night cruise to Provence on the river Rhône from Lyons to Avignon.
The ship is classed as 5 star, but I would take issue with that.
What we found disappointing, was the way the cruise was structured. We started the cruise at Lyons, then sailed upriver to Chalon sur Soane for Beaune, we had a pleasant excursion to Beaune, after which we sailed slowly back down the river past Lyons again. We then made our way down river to Vienne and then stopped overnight at Tournon. I’ve no idea why we stopped there, I suppose they had to stop somewhere, but we arrived in Tournon at 5pm(ish) on a Sunday night with nothing open and dinner was being served at 7 and we left in the morning at 8am, so although we went for a walk after dinner , it was all pretty pointless. Next morning we continued on to Arles, then sailed back upriver to Avignon. Now the point I’m trying to make is that there are a great many locks on the river, but these would have been significantly less if the cruise had been structured to start in Beaune and end in Arles. I presume they want to start and end the cruise in places of more interest, but passing up and down through more locks than was truly necessary was pretty wearing and frustrating.
The staff were friendly and hard working. The hotel manager Veronica was everywhere keeping an eye on things. The food was usually excellent, although there was a problem with timing during the welcome aboard dinner. It took 3 hours to serve. We had both ordered beef for mains which when eventually served was very rare. I like my beef at the very least medium, but we’d waited so long for it to be served we ate it anyway.
I will say the rest of the dinners were much better. Breakfast was good, although slightly eccentric. Sausages should be beef or pork, never chicken! There was a chef making omelettes and fried eggs. Boiled eggs could be ordered which my companion did one day and it was excellent.
We always ate lunch in the Lido bar at the back of the ship, which served a light lunch and this was always nice. The coffee machine was also situated here, however that broke several times, but was fairly promptly repaired.
The panoramic lounge is pretty bog standard, club chairs with some longer couch type seating, the seating was disappointingly not overly comfortable. On this cruise we had quite a lot of time to watch the world go by as we sailed slowly down the river, but the chairs weren’t really comfortable enough to allow you to lounge for any length of time. I expected squashy sofa type seating for comfort, but unfortunately this wasn’t the case.
The reception area is very attractive and the reception staff were helpful.
All in all I enjoyed the holiday, but it wasn’t the 5 star experience I was expecting.
We had a cabin on Diamond deck, which is the top deck. The cabins are very small, with single beds which are only 3ft. I’m not a particularly large person, (I'm a UK size 14) but I constantly felt as if I would fall out of bed, although to be fair I never did. I always woke perched precariously on the edge of the mattress. The beds felt comfortable, but I usually woke with a sore back. The pillows were far too soft, again to be fair, I didn’t ask if they had firmer pillows.
There were 2 desk type chairs shoehorned into the room, but there was absolutely no room to sit for any length of time on either of these.
There is sufficient storage space, although if sailing for more than a week, you’d be pushed for space. There’s a safe and hairdryer as well. Also we were given water bottles which were filled on request.
The shower room was small as always on these ships, but was actually quite cleverly designed to give more space for the shower.
There are toiletries provided, but despite there being 2 of us in the cabin, there was only one of of each toiletry, ie one shower cap, one body lotion etc. When we used them they were not automatically replaced, when I ran out of body lotion I had to go to reception to ask for more, not very 5 star!