I started planning this cruise with my sister as part of her 80th birthday celebrations. The first outing abroad since lockdown for her, so she was a little bit nervous. There was no need for that. From being greeted at the airport, welcomed onto the ship and the delicious lunch which was immediately available in the lounge, the cruise was top quality.
From the outset, the attitude and service of all the staff on the ship was impeccable. All the staff appeared to enjoy their job, and pleasing and satisfying all customer needs were their priority. This was done without condescension or obsequiousness, two things that I find really annoying. The staff were intelligent and knowledgeable, if you asked a question, and they didn't know the answer, they would find out and come back to you, without exception. All staff were very upbeat and positive and we were welcomed as 'family', this was certainly how we felt by the end of our week on the ship.
Cabins were comfortable and fairly spacious. Storage was available for the case we had which would not go under the bed space which is provided for luggage. The room was also quiet. Despite travelling through locks during the night, I was never woken and the engines of the ship while sailing were never loud or intrusive.
Fairly spacious cabins. The drop down window system to provide fresh air, and an internal balcony space, was a great addition to the room. The beds were very, very comfortable with super soft pillows. The bathroom was quite small but perfectly adequate for an average sized person. Complimentary dressing gown and slippers were very welcome, saving on packing. The maid service was impeccable and the turning down service each night was very special, especially with the chocolate on the pillow! Air conditioning could be easily adjusted which is important as everyone likes their rooms a different temperature. We had a super comfortable week in our cabin.
We chose this cruise in order to explore some of Provence and Burgundy. Arles was charming and amazing. So much Roman history especially in its astonishing Amphitheater. We were shown the location of Van Gogh's yellow house but no other locations of his works. This could be offered, perhaps, as a separate, optional tour? I got lost from the group as I was too busy looking around to see that the group had moved up a side street! I found another Emerald group and joined them until the two groups converged again.
I had always wanted to visit Avignon with its rich history, especially relating to the time of the two popes. Our guide was knowledgeable and easy to understand. We did not go inside the Palais de les Popes which was a pity but there was lots to see so probably no time for a visit. WE stopped in a square for a glass of wine and made our own way back to the ship which was easy. I had, however, always wanted to see the Pont d'Avignon, but it is not on the tour. We were told where it was and we could have walked there after lunch. As it was a fair walk and we were too relaxed and tired after lunch we missed out on seeing this iconic sight.
This was our last visit of the cruise taking a coach from Challon. A remarkable trip to this amazing Hospedele created as a charitable institution in the 16th century. Stunning tilework and many interesting exhibits helped us to understand the nature of the care provided here. You have to stay with your guide if you want to understand everything as the signs are only in French. We had quite a bit of free time after the tour but there is not so much to see to take long. A nice place to relax with a coffee etc.
This is an utterly charming Medieval town. Quiet, with tiny passageways and buildings linked with each other by buttresses. It's Cathedral is exquisite. There was a Farmers Market on the day we visited with exceptional produce. Viviers also has the loveliest avenue of trees as you leave the ship.
Tournon is famous for the Gobelins tapestries in the Cathedral. They were, sadly, missing on the day we visited, (out for cleaning?) The Cathedral, however, has a side chapel with an extraordinary wall fresco depicting the whole life of Christ. It dates for Medieval times and is exceptionally well preserved. Worth visiting if only to see this and the other remaining elements of further frescos. It is a charming little place but there is little to see.
Lyon is an amazing city. The tour includes some very interesting things including walking through the tiny passages which link streets. These were used by people of the Resistance in WW2 to evade being arrested by the Gestapo. The Basilica of Notre Dame is almost too much too describe. It is not old (mid 19th c.) but was constructed to be the most grand. The wall frescos are, therefore, created with gold leaf which sparkles in the light. The height of the roof with the amazing vaults above really impress as does the huge Crypt, no-one buried there though. The tour only scratches the surface of Lyon. We returned at the end of the cruise for two further nights and we were glad that we were able to spend more time in this lovely city. A cautionary warning. Do not attempt to take the Vaporetta back to the ship, (suggested by our guide). There was no service for over two hours when we got there. Various bus trips in the wrong direction meant we had to be directed back to our ship by phoning my sister who got the ship manager onto it. We were hot, tired and hungry when we finally got back. Luckily, they saved some lunch for us!