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3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2009
We have just returned from a River Cruise on the Avalon Scenery July 26 - Aug. 4th Paris to Nice. Let me start out by saying we were a bit apprehensive since this was our first river cruise, we have been on 7 big cruise ship voyages prior, ... Read More
We have just returned from a River Cruise on the Avalon Scenery July 26 - Aug. 4th Paris to Nice. Let me start out by saying we were a bit apprehensive since this was our first river cruise, we have been on 7 big cruise ship voyages prior, and we do love large ship cruises. We arrived in Paris two days earlier and stayed at the Marriott Rive Gauche, great hotel, and although not in the immediate center of Paris, the location was walking distance from the metro (very easy to navigate)and lots of shops and places to eat. We then joined our group on Sunday and transferred over to the hotel Le Meridien, Montparnasse, which was part of the Avalon tour accomodation. Too bad, the Le Meridien could not hold a candle to the Marriott. Avalon offered a bus tour of Paris on Monday, but since we have already been in Paris for 3 days already, we decided to do our own thing for the day,as I said the Metro is so easy to get around and very inexpensive. Breakfast was included with the Le Meridien and it was very nice. Tues. morning we boarded our bus for the trip to Chalon-sur-Saone, with a stop in Beaune, quaint little town where we had a choice to visit Hospice de Beaune or wine tasting tour, we decided on the Hospice. We then continued on to board our boat. I won't continue about all the stops we made on the way to Nice. I will say the places we visited were amazing, in some cases it was like stepping back in time the quaint towns and scenic beauty cannot be described adequately. About the boat, our state room was one with a french balcony, but we could not open our slider because of the flys etc. There was plenty of room for our things and the room very comfortable. They gave us complementry bottles of water every day. I will say the food was very good, morning was a buffet as was lunch with good choices. Dinner was from a menu with meat, fish or veg. choice. My problem was the fact one could not get anything to eat in between, we had to wait till the appointed hour when the dining room would be open for luch or dinner. True in the afternoon for one hour they had a coffee/tea and cake service but if you were not there you were out of luck. Most days the majority of the boat would be out on tours and when we returned the coffee and cake were no where to be seen. So from about 4 o'clock till 7:30 you were out of luck. True in the rear lounge cookies (from the tin) were always available but it would have been nice if they had an assosrtment of pasteries and home made cookies instead those cookies no one ever ate. Breakfast and lunch the food was plentiful but dinner entrees were a tease. One night at dinner I placed my order and asked for a side order of the pasta (which was veggie. choice) and that seemed to confuse them, hence, no pasta. I had also read that at the end of the meal they would come around with platters of seconds if anyone wanted, but that did not materialize. I think Avalon should rethink some of it's food availablity. I understand the galley is small and limited but food is a very big part of the enjoyment of the vacation. Wine was served at dinner and it flowed freely. The staff on the boat were top notch, very hard working young people and they deserve to be acknowledged. When we arrived in Nice we had to wait a few hours before our rooms would be available. We stayed at the Hotel Boscolo Plaza. When we walked in the lobby we thought wow, nice hotel. Not so fast, Our first hint was in the elevator very small and inatiquate. The hallway on our floor kind of reminded us of the "Tower of Terror" in disney world, old, musty and in serious need of updating and let me tell you, our room was no better. The mirror was cracked as was the tub. We had one chair in the room, a kind of desk chair with plastic seat, the ac was ineffective. The included breakfast the next morning was the worst meal of or stay in France. Not a very nice hotel and I would not recommend anyone to stay there. There was an optional tour in Nice and I say GO FOR IT, "An Evening In Monaco" worth every penny 85 Euro. Our favorite tour of the week. In summary - I would highly recommend the river cruise, you get all the benefits of a land tour without the hassel of on/off bus, different hotel every day, packing and unpacking. In fact I would call this a river/land tour with no hassel. We met some wonderful people from around the world and it is a vacation that will leave a fond imprint on my memory. We are looking forward to booking another river cruise in the near future. And......we still love large ship cruising, I guess you might say, we're addicted Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2002
It has been two years since my husband and I took a barge trip on the Esprit. Since there is no other review here I thought I would share some of our impressions of the Esprit. We have been on 24 cruises, and we both agree that this was ... Read More
It has been two years since my husband and I took a barge trip on the Esprit. Since there is no other review here I thought I would share some of our impressions of the Esprit. We have been on 24 cruises, and we both agree that this was the very best. To give you an idea of what we expect from a cruise line, our mainstream cruise line of choice is Crystal, plus we have sailed on Silversea and Radisson. While the Esprit is very small and a bit more basic than your average cruise line, it was, without a doubt, the most amazing cruise experience we've had. The barge holds only 18 passengers and the staterooms are very small. However, they are well-planned with plenty of storage space so that we were able to completely unpack our suitcases. The main deck consists of a living room, dining room, and outdoor deck area. The food and the service were amazing beyond description. Steve was our chef, and he had complete creative freedom based on what inspired him and what looked good at the local markets. Lunch was buffet style with freshly made salads, a meat dish, a vegetable dish, and a quiche of the day. White and red wines, either Premiere or Grand Cru, were free flowing. The bottles were set on the table and we refilled our glasses at will. When the bottle was empty, it was replaced. Lunch was always followed with a selection of three French cheeses. Lunches lasted from one-and-a-half to two hours. Evenings always began with a social time with champagne or other aperitifs. When dinner was ready, we'd go to the dining room where we were never disappointed in the evening's fare. Again, wine was free-flowing. We started with an appetizer, then the main course, followed by cheese and then a dessert. Dinners lasted three or more hours. The service and friendliness of the staff were incomparable: our captain, the chef, one deckhand, and three young ladies to take care of us while on board. We also had our guide who drove the shuttle bus and was our tour guide. These tours were included in the cruise price and it was always just our group--we never joined any other groups. Plus, if someone didn't want to go on the excursion, no problem. We visited chateaux, wineries, and local towns. When we weren't sightseeing, we were cruising and going through the locks on the canal. It was very easy to step off the barge and walk along the tow path or take one of the bicycles that are kept onboard and ride off into the next town. If you love food and wine and want to see the beautiful countryside of Burgundy, definitely take a cruise on the Esprit. Read Less

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