TV-addicted English-speakers will be disappointed. Although the in-cabin TVs look nice, there are few English channels, and the ones there are (Russia Today, CNN International and Bloomberg Europe) seem rather dreary. There is a DVD channel, but it seems to be rarely used -- something that could be improved with a selection of movies.
Another lack is a library; take a Kindle or a few books along, as you won't find any onboard (unless you swap with fellow passengers). There are a few onboard games to play, though, and the boat has a Samsung notebook for passengers who want to get online but can't be asked to carry their own devices with them. (Actually, you'd kick yourself if you did, as Internet access along the Rhine is very in-and-out.) Fanatical shoppers won't find much onboard either, though the ship did stock some pretty and reasonably priced Swarovski compacts and earrings.
All that said, you'll be hard-pressed to find time to watch TV, surf online or even read very much on a weeklong Rhine cruise. Daily forays ashore, sightseeing up on Sun Deck, lazy lunches and dinners, and post-prandial gatherings in Lafayette's lovely main lounge will occupy most of your voyage.
* May require additional fees
The boat's young and lively crew prove adept at coming up with games that get people of various nationalities mingling and having fun.
They included picture quizzes (guess the famous face or place), film shows (guess the price of the most expensive burger or pudding or caviar in the world), an amusing crew show and a "guess how many people will dance to ..." game, which, of course, got people dancing to the music they'd nominated.
A talented singer and pianist kept passengers entertained between such events. Is there full-on entertainment? No, but there's plenty of fun stuff, and the crew find a good balance, keeping passengers engaged and entertained without going on too much or becoming intrusive or boring.
Shore excursions are not included in fares, but they're offered at every stop (and priced from $35.50 to $126 per person, depending on duration and whether meals are included). But it's worth knowing that the boat generally moves to its next stop while passengers are on excursions ashore, and coach transfers to the next stop are included in tour prices.
So if you choose to dodge the excursions and stay onboard, you'll get more time actually afloat on the river, but you generally won't get much time to explore ashore on your own, as the boat often sails as soon as shore excursions have departed.
On Lafayette, as on most river ships, public space is limited. There's a restaurant, a reception area and a big lounge/bar, all prettily decorated in shades of white, silver and purple.
The lounge is very welcoming and a lovely place in which to read a book and watch the world go by, its large windows offering panoramic views. It also has a dance floor, comfortable armchairs and free drinks (including excellent coffee).
At the top of the boat, the sun deck is carpeted in green and given a pleasant garden feel, featuring white loungers and chairs and an awning to provide shade on hot days.
Fans of pampering will be disappointed on Lafayette, as there is no pool, gym, jogging track, steam room or massages available. But you can walk off lunches ashore or peg out on a sunbed and work up a tan when the weather is clement. (The Rhine in midsummer can be very warm and sunny.)
There were a couple of Spanish youngsters onboard with their grandmother when we sailed on Lafayette, and an onboard youth counsellor kept them entertained with cards and board games.
Such counsellors are onboard certain sailings in July and August, when CroisiEurope offers free fares for children younger than 16 who share cabins with paying adults.
During the rest of the year, no special arrangements are made for children, and although they are not unwelcome, this is not an experience geared to young children.