This cruise was not a good match for us. We have been to France many times, most recently in April of this year, always on our own, and are both reasonably fluent in French. What we thought would be a spectacular voyage along the Saone ... Read More
This cruise was not a good match for us. We have been to France many times, most recently in April of this year, always on our own, and are both reasonably fluent in French. What we thought would be a spectacular voyage along the Saone and Rhone was overall a disappointment. The trip started and ended with excellent transfers provided by Tauck, and our first encounter was at the Intercontinental Grand, accommodations which were below what we normally book.
In Paris we started with dinner at Fouquets which was quite good, but oddly enough there was no pre-dinner gathering so we could get acquainted with our fellow travelers. The next day was a useless bus ride around the sights of Paris at the height of the rush hour, an odd choice for travelers who had all been to Paris. This was followed by a brief trip to the museum of your choice. The guide there was excellent, as were all of the Tauck guides and cruise staff. The next day the TGV train was fine and we arrived in Lyon and boarded our boat. The boat was excellent, state of the art and new, and our level 7 cabin was outstanding. There were only 71 passengers on the boat the advantages and disadvantages I will leave to the reader to contemplate.
Service aboard the boat was quite good, but we soon faced our greatest disappointment: the quality of the food. There was almost always one, meat, one fish, and one vegetarian choice for dinner along with the usual backup of steak, salmon and chicken. One problem was the awful quality of the fish. Tilapia being served on a cruise that was $10,000 a person? Salmon that was farmed? Rolled cod that was made from small pieces of fish? We would not eat this at home; why should we settle for less on a luxury vacation? Most dishes were served in a variety of heavily creamed sauces, which we always try to avoid. While the fresh fruit was good, simple green salads were rare. Even the croissants for the next 9 days were awful. The drinks in the bar were good, as were the wine selections.
While the buses were new and the drivers excellent, we would have preferred more walking and less riding in buses. These bus trips invariably started at 9 AM (unless they started at 8:30). When we asked why, we were told that people wanted to be back on the ship for lunch. Few of the trips were memorable, the exceptions to the ranch in the Camargue and sites associated with Van Gogh. Typical of the poor planning was the bus ride from where the ship docked in Avignon to Monte Carlo. We stopped for 2 ½ hours in Nice, about a mile and a half from the Matisse and Chagall Museums (why not there???) and told to walk around and to get lunch on our own. They never even provided us with a list of good restaurants. Being able to get along in French, we used Yelp to find a nice restaurant away from the tourist dives and had a lunch that was better than what we had on the boat.
We checked in to the Fairmont in Monte Carlo and were given an ocean view room on the smoking floor; in fact all of the rooms that Tauck booked were on this floor. While the hotel was excellent, and the food in the restaurants was expensive but good; the Tauck farewell dinner was so-so. We did not take any of the Tauck activities, but enjoyed walking around on our own, visiting the Palace, Aquarium, and shopping districts.
This Tauck river cruise was a bad match for us. We are better suited to an ocean cruise where relaxing sea-days, great food and evening entertainment are joined by days in ports where we can explore on our own. Read Less