Background information: I picked this cruise because I wanted to revisit the places I had been on a trip I made in 1964, and I took my 18 year old granddaughter with me because she wanted to see France and practice her French. She had been on 2 cruises prior to this and I had been on 30 cruises. One of my prior cruises was on AmaViola which was a newer AmaWaterways ship with a pool. The AmaCello was an older ship. I use a mobility scooter because I cannot walk very far, and although the crew on the ships are most helpful, it is sometimes difficult to get on and off the ships with a scooter.
The actual cruise on AmaCello went from Lyon to Arles, with two days in Paris at the start and an option of two days in Barcelona at the end. I decided to arrive in Paris four days before the tour.
We flew in to Charles de Gaulle airport - arriving on 20 June, and our travel agent arranged for us to be picked up and taken to the hotel.
HOTEL: We stayed in the same hotel as the AmaCello groups were staying in. Originally this was to be the Renaissance Arc de Triomphe but we were switched to the Renaissance La Parc Trocadero. I think the switch was because there was a large Jazz group on this cruise and they filled up the first hotel.
The hotel had three steps up to the lobby - they had a small lift for wheelchairs but it was awkward because I had to have staff assistance to use it. It had to be unlocked both at the top and bottom. Normally I went in to my room through the garden (which was a cool relaxing space) because there were no steps. The hotel had handicapped rooms (with a shower instead of a tub) but they were all doubles. I didn't want to sleep with my granddaughter, so I got a rollaway bed
Breakfast was included and it was more than adequate, and we also got room service twice and ate in the restaurant which had delicious food.
Our travel agent (who was with Vacations To Go) also arranged a private tour of Paris, a trip to the Louvre and the Catacombs, and a Riverboat cruise dinner. On our own we visited the Musee d'Orsay and L'Orangerie, and I booked a walking tour of the Left Bank with a company called Discover Walks.
The rest of the group came in on June 24th. We had a meeting with our Cruise Director Dragan Reljic that evening.
Paris was in the middle of a unusual heat wave where the temperature would be over 100 deg. F.
EMBARKATION was 27 June. We were to take the high speed train from Paris to Lyon. Initially I was told that I would have to ship my scooter with the luggage and that I would have to walk to the train. After I flatly refused to do that, they figured out that there were elevators in the station, and Dragan took us (my granddaughter and me) to the elevators. In Lyon we got on a bus and there was an arrangement for us to cook and eat some food and then walk or take a shuttle to the ship in Lyon. But it was way too hot to do that, so most of us just went directly to the ship.
At the ship, they had a buffet for us while we were waiting for our rooms, and quite quickly, we could get into the room and unpack. We had a meeting to do the safety briefing - the Captain kept us laughing and then Dragan talked to us about the schedule. When the meeting was over, all the women got roses. There was a vase in the cabin for us to put the roses in
DINING: The dining room is on the lowest deck. For awhile the door to exit into the dining room would not open and this was a problem for me. After a day or so they figured out a manual override, but I always had to wait for someone to let me out (or for the person with the key to let me in). The food at dinner was excellent.
Breakfast and Lunch were mainly a buffet. I absolutely cannot do a buffet. There's no room for the scooter, the food is almost too high for me to see, and if I get something, I can't carry it. If my granddaughter was with me, she could sometimes bring me food from the buffet, and sometimes the waiters would help me. The food was good, it was just hard for me to get.
ACTIVITIES and ENTERTAINMENT There was a gym and Alex was the guy doing the exercise classes. There were nightly concerts, which in the case of this cruise were often Jazz performances. Neither the ship nor any of the hotels had a pool, which was a big disappointment to me. I normally do my exercises in a pool for a hour three or four times a week. My health deteriorates when I can't get into a pool. This ship only had a hot tub. I did go up on the Sunshine Deck once and sat there in the shade and enjoyed the breeze.
SERVICE: In all aspects, excellent.
PORT and SHORE EXCURSIONS
PARIS: Most people arrived on 24 June. On June 25th, we had two tours. First an overview of Paris in the morning. And in the evening we had an evening illumination tour - first they took us up to Sacre Coeur where we could have dinner on our own. Then we went down the funicular, and got back on the bus. We got to the Eiffel tower a little before 11:00 - just in time for the sparkling light show.
The next day (June 26th) we had on our own but then our cruise director Dragan Reljic had arranged an optional visit to a dinner show cabaret up on Montmartre. This was really a terrific show and a lot of fun.
LYON: There was a Bike Tour, but my granddaughter can't ride a bike, and a City Tour which my granddaughter took. They went up to the Basilica and did some of what my granddaughter called "secret passageways" (Traboules) She enjoyed this tour. It was too hot for me to go
BEAUJOLAIS: Neither of us took this excursion because we are not interested in wine tasting.
VIENNE: The Mount Pipet hike was my granddaughters favorite tour. She said: The view of the city was spectacular. Vienne is definitely my favorite of the places we have visited so far. It’s beautiful and quiet with more story to it than it seems. Vienne is the underdog city.
TOURNON: Steam Train RIde: This was the first tour that I did, and it was a really nice ride up the gorge and back. We went through tunnels, and then at the top, the engine turned around and went to the other end of the train to pull us back down the mountain. I went to the little museum at the end of the train trip.
AVIGNON: My granddaughter did the Pont du Gard (aqueduct) tour and then the visit to the Truffle farm, both of which she enjoyed. Dragan arranged for me to get a taxi, and the taxi took me up to Las Baux, and to the Les Remy Antiquities, to King Rene's palace and then around to the Pope's Palace
ARLES: We went on the Camargue and Aigues-Mortes tour and this was a disappointment. For some reason I thought we would see some of the Camargue horses, and we did, but just through the bus window. We did see lots of sunflowers and the bus stopped so we could get out and take photos. Then my granddaughter went on the Van Gogh walking tour. She felt that she knew more about it than the guide. Also it was very hot.
BARCELONA: I have been to Barcelona before, but I had not seen the old city nor had I been into the Sagrada Familia. So we made a reservation for the Sagrada Familia for 12:15 which I thought would be at the end of the "Best of Barcelona" tour. Be the tour had been rearranged so after we saw the Gothic Quarter, we got a taxi to the Sagrada Familia. It was an amazing experience.
The following day my granddaughter did the Mountains and Abbey of Montserrat excursion, which I think she enjoyed.
DISEMBARKATION: Some people got off the ship in Arles but we were going on to Barcelona. So first we went to Nimes, where we had a nice tour, and some free time so we could buy lavender honey. That part of the day was good.
We got to the train station and first we had to change platforms for the train and then we had maybe 6 minutes to get everyone and their hand luggage (and the scooter) onto the train. The train had two levels, and I was blocked getting to my seat in a timely manner because someone was getting another person settled and wouldn't get out of the aisle. We finally got to our seats which were facing another couple which means you have no room for your feet like in a regular seat. Although you have someone to talk to. There was no real provision for lunch, but my granddaughter went and got me a sandwich. I ate it, but it was soggy. I hate soggy bread. Then the train stopped in a station and just stayed there for a hour. The A/C was not keeping up. It was hot. We got to Barcelona about a hour late.
HOTEL in Barcelona - It was another Renaissance. Other people got handicapped rooms with a shower, but I did not. They had to scramble around to find one that had a shower, and, as before it had a double bed. I got a rollaway. My granddaughter loved this hotel. She said it was fancy. The bathroom has one of those rain shower heads and a button IN the mirror that turns on this LED light around one part of it. At one point it got really really cold in the room, and I had to turn off the A/C and the fan because it was blowing cold air on me. I opened the window and let the sun warm up the room a little.
SUMMARY: It was very hot, but that (and the non-working bow camera) was almost the only flaw in this cruise. The cruise director was great, the service was excellent, the food was good, and there was a good variety of excursions and things to do. When I didn't go on an excursion I could sit on the bow and take photos (until it got to hot, and then I could go to my room and take photos)
Our cabin is very nice - a little smaller than the one we had on AmaViola as the AmaCello is an older ship.. Having the beds as twin beds makes one of them be up against the wall of the bathroom. Both beds have a small night table with a lamp, a bottle of complimentary water, and a clock on top, and a drawer and a shelf underneath. There is a comfortable chair, a nice picture on the wall and a bureau with three drawers which also has the TV and the keyboard for the complimentary internet. This would also be where you could look at the bow camera. Unfortunately this camera stopped working and this was a major disappointment for me.
There were three doors to the closet and one of them has shelves. There are plenty of hangers. Because it is so hot, we keep the curtains drawn. We have a double window with sliding doors - they told us the A/C would shut off if we opened the window so we didn't do that often.
The bathroom has a mirror on the door and there is a mirror on the wall over the sink with a cabinet behind it and there is a cabinet below the sink too. They brought me a shower chair and they took out the desk chair away. Without the desk chair there, I can come in and make a 3 point turn where the chair was, and then the scooter is next to the desk to be charged, and is facing out for me to leave.
There was a Bike Tour, but my granddaughter can't ride a bike, and a City Tour which my granddaughter took. They went up to the Basilica and did some of what my granddaughter called "secret passageways" (Traboules) She enjoyed this tour. It was too hot for me to goView All 47 City Tour Reviews
Most people arrived on 24 June. On June 25th, we had two tours. First an overview of Paris in the morning. And in the evening we had an evening illumination tour - first they took us up to Sacre Coeur where we could have dinner on our own. Then we went down the funicular, and got back on the bus. We got to the Eiffel tower a little before 11:00 - just in time for the sparkling light show.View All 112 City Tour Reviews
We had a reservation to have dinner at the Jules Verne restaurant, but it had to close two days prior to our reservation. We got to go up the Eiffel tower anyway.View All 46 Eiffel Tower Reviews
We went on our own - just got a taxi to the place, and went up to the handicapped door to be let in. I signed up for a tour in English and this was a good idea, although it was longer than I thought it would beView All 6 L'Orangerie Reviews
I had a tour of parts of the Louvre. I looked at the pre-Impressionist French and Italian painters and the Venus de Milo.View All 50 The Louvre Reviews
The next day (June 26th) we had on our own but then our cruise director Dragan Reljic had arranged an optional visit to a dinner show cabaret up on Monmartre. This was really a terrific show and a lot of fun.View All undefined undefined Reviews
We had the Steam Train ride up the gorge and back, an it was very scenic an pleasant. We went to the little museum and gift shop after the ride
My granddaughter did the Pont du Gard (the Roman aqueduct) tour which she enjoyed and then she did Grignan and the truffle farm visit - she even got to see the dog find a truffle. She enjoyed both of them
We went on the Camargue and Aigues-Mortes tour and this was a disappointment. For some reason I thought we would see some of the Camargue horses, and we did, but just through the bus window. We did see lots of sunflowers and the bus stopped so we could get out and take photos. Then my granddaughter went on the Van Gogh walking tour. She felt that she knew more about it than the guide. Also it was very hot.