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Suggestions for a French River Cruise ( our 1st cruise ever)

Suggestions for a French River Cruise ( our 1st cruise ever)

Old Jul 23, 18, 11:58 am
  #16  
 
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If money is no concern, then book/arrange here, they can accommodate bespoke itineraries:

https://www.belmond.com/river-cruises

Originally Posted by Kagehitokiri View Post
anyone noticed what river cruise ships have biggest/best top/owners cabins?

do any 'packages' include some lunches/dinners at top restaurants?

do any cruise companies offer better than average bespoke tour options?
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Old Jul 23, 18, 12:11 pm
  #17  
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space is easy, knock down walls, and if possible do full width cabin

i noted alternative of belmond above, good point re charter (2 to 6 cabin)
some would prefer adding private tours on to regular river cruises
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Old Jul 23, 18, 1:31 pm
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If you take the space to make one or two really big cabins, you lose a lot of extra revenue because you can't add cabins elsewhere. If you want that much space, you're not going to be on a regular river cruise line with 100-160 other people. So I disagree that "space is easy". I'm really talking space = money. If money is no object, get your own boat ;-) Though anything on the rivers & canals in Europe is *still* going to be size constrained because there are locks involved.....

Private charters are totally different animals the way that ocean & river cruising are different animals. It's very hard to arrange private tour options when your berth might change overnight or a half hour before you reach port. Things happen. Locks get backed up forcing schedule changes. If that's not your thing, river cruising (on a standard river cruise line, as this thread is about) is probably not going to be the best use of your vacation time & money.
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Old Jul 23, 18, 3:47 pm
  #19  
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Originally Posted by Kagehitokiri View Post
interesting they do not offer larger suites like ocean cruises
I'd assume there is limited demand for ultra-luxurious / overly spacious suites onboard river cruise ships.

The top suites will generally cost $25000-$50000 per week depending on the cruise line etc. Once you reach that budget, chartering a luxury river yacht (with your own staff etc.) becomes a real possibility.

(Ocean cruises obviously are a completely different animal, and chartering an ocean yacht is much more expensive, and in some ways, less appealing).
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Old Jul 25, 18, 9:42 am
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AmaWaterways is introducing a ship on the Danube next year that are twice as wide as it's current ships, and will have larger cabins. The problem will be that, due to lock size and bridge height, it will only ever be able to do the Danube.
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Old Jul 25, 18, 10:23 am
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Originally Posted by wrp96 View Post
AmaWaterways is introducing a ship on the Danube next year that are twice as wide as it's current ships, and will have larger cabins. The problem will be that, due to lock size and bridge height, it will only ever be able to do the Danube.
And only a short portion, right - just around Vienna? Well, choice is good!

https://www.amawaterways.com/News/Pr...eDetail?id=222
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Old Jul 28, 18, 3:05 pm
  #22  
 
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Here is a link to the River Cruises sub-forum on www.CruiseCritic.com

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/forumdisplay.php?f=191

Also look at the Ports of Call, which will have location specific suggestions, including private tours.

And look at the Roll Call for whichever cruise you are on. Sometimes a few passengers arrange their own private tours to share.
(Also look at other Roll Calls with same itinerary for ideas.)

There are some "river barge" tours that have fewer staterooms, and are often chartered for a single family or small group.
[These are not what you think of initially, with the word "barge", at least not the pricing!]
These can probably be customized at least somewhat, if you've got the "barge" chartered.
Ah... looks like the Belmond river cruises are, or include, these barge-type cruises.

And then look through the full TOC for Cruise Critics, as there is so much more, including travel insurance, special needs cruising... a lot of different topics.

GC
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Old Jul 28, 18, 6:43 pm
  #23  
 
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Originally Posted by fozziedoggie View Post
I have taken the Uniworld Bordeaux cruise; wine focused. Have also cruised Uniworld for "Castles Along the Rhine," very nice scenery along the way.
I would recommend this:

https://www.uniworld.com/en/river-cr...non/day-to-day

Since you mention this is for a special occasion, most of your luxury end products will be all-inclusive down to the many shore excursion choices, well worth the money in my estimation.

Some other choices, but I have not cruised these lines...

https://www.avalonwaterways.com/Rive...s/Seine-River/

https://www.emeraldwaterways.com/riv...cruises-france

https://www.scenicusa.com/river-crui.../cruises-tours
We did the Uniworld Bordeaux river cruise with 7 other kinda picky couples and all were happy with it. Here is another option.

The Canal du Midi. We were on this barge, Liz the Chef goes to Cordon Bleu every year to update her skills. It was an amazing cruise.

Luxury barge holidays in France on the Canal du Midi - Barge Hotel Emma
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Old Jul 31, 18, 11:47 am
  #24  
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Not exactly what the OP was asking about, but a few years ago we actually rented a self-drive barge. No crew, just us four couples. We had a blast. On the Canal Du Midi you can just pull up and moor overnight anywhere you want to, walk into town, find a place to eat and generally just chill. You don't need to be a sailor or know how to navigate. It's a canal, there's no way to get lost! If you see something that looks interesting just pull up and stop. We say many signs for wineries that were walking distance through the vineyard and also several canal-side restaurants. Some of the lock keepers were selling produce and baked goods. The locks were an adventure but we figured it out.

Someone mentioned Tauck as being a cruise line operator. This they are not. They have a great reputation but they do now own any vessels. They book blocks of room on other cruise ships and then repackage them as Tauck Tours. Nothing wrong with that and they may offer their own tours and have a person on board with the group. But if you book Tauck on AMA or Crystal or whatever, you're going to get their cabins, meals and service.
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Old Jul 31, 18, 12:07 pm
  #25  
 
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Originally Posted by milepig View Post
Not exactly what the OP was asking about, but a few years ago we actually rented a self-drive barge. No crew, just us four couples. We had a blast. On the Canal Du Midi you can just pull up and moor overnight anywhere you want to, walk into town, find a place to eat and generally just chill. You don't need to be a sailor or know how to navigate. It's a canal, there's no way to get lost! If you see something that looks interesting just pull up and stop. We say many signs for wineries that were walking distance through the vineyard and also several canal-side restaurants. Some of the lock keepers were selling produce and baked goods. The locks were an adventure but we figured it out.

Someone mentioned Tauck as being a cruise line operator. This they are not. They have a great reputation but they do now own any vessels. They book blocks of room on other cruise ships and then repackage them as Tauck Tours. Nothing wrong with that and they may offer their own tours and have a person on board with the group. But if you book Tauck on AMA or Crystal or whatever, you're going to get their cabins, meals and service.
A "self-drive" barge!? What fun!
I'd never heard about that, although it must be easier than a bare-bones sailboat...!

You also did all of your own shopping/cooking, like a vacation rental?
Was it "one way" or a "round trip" itinerary?

That's the area we'd love to consider, especially including a visit to Carcassonne

Do you have a website/link?

Thanks!

GC
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Old Jul 31, 18, 12:27 pm
  #26  
 
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Originally Posted by milepig View Post
Someone mentioned Tauck as being a cruise line operator. This they are not. They have a great reputation but they do now own any vessels. They book blocks of room on other cruise ships and then repackage them as Tauck Tours. Nothing wrong with that and they may offer their own tours and have a person on board with the group. But if you book Tauck on AMA or Crystal or whatever, you're going to get their cabins, meals and service.
River Cruise Boats | Tauck River Cruising

Sure looks like they have their own boats.....[I've followed this topic for a few years on Cruise Critic - we did a river cruise on Avalon in 2014 so I did a lot of research ahead of time and still read the forum now. So I'm aware there are companies that charter other boats - but I don't think Tauck, at least Tauck in Europe in 2018 - is one of them.....]
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Old Aug 1, 18, 10:34 am
  #27  
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Originally Posted by Hoyaheel View Post
River Cruise Boats Tauck River Cruising

Sure looks like they have their own boats.....[I've followed this topic for a few years on Cruise Critic - we did a river cruise on Avalon in 2014 so I did a lot of research ahead of time and still read the forum now. So I'm aware there are companies that charter other boats - but I don't think Tauck, at least Tauck in Europe in 2018 - is one of them.....]
Well, I was wrong. They do apparently have some river boats. I'm more familiar with their other itineraries which are (mostly?) tours. I just looked at a bunch non-river crises and the ones I looked at say 30-40 passengers, that would be a block of cabins on a itin on any one of a number of cruise lines. I've been the victim of a couple where they sort of "took over" a ship even though there were other passengers on board.
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Old Aug 31, 18, 7:08 am
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Best River Cruises

Originally Posted by milepig View Post
Well, I was wrong. They do apparently have some river boats. I'm more familiar with their other itineraries which are (mostly?) tours. I just looked at a bunch non-river crises and the ones I looked at say 30-40 passengers, that would be a block of cabins on a itin on any one of a number of cruise lines. I've been the victim of a couple where they sort of "took over" a ship even though there were other passengers on board.
My wife and I have taken 6 river cruises in Europe. Our thoughts are:

AMA--In the recent past they have all 10 of the top rated river boats --They also are highly rated for food--we have loved our trips on AMA
Tauck--Tauck does an excellent job on their European river cruises--Their guides are usually teriffic--we have used them 2 times
Crystal --new but very very well rated

We have used Belmond in Myanmar--it was excellent
We have also had very good cruises in Cambodia and China

We think any cruise in Europe would be very enjoyable--but AMA,Tauck aand Crytal are the best --if price is not a concern.
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Old Apr 4, 19, 10:05 pm
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Few years ago I took a cruise on Barge Luciole, on the Nivernais Canal of the River Yonne, in Burgundy, France. It was fantastic.
The Luciole is a boutique barge that accommodates only 12 people in 8 cabins. It cruises the Nivernais from Clamecy to Auxerre in 5 days, and on its route are some of the most beautiful sites in France.
Service aboard was first class: four courses dinners every night with the best wines of the region (Burgundy produces some of the best in France), healthy breakfasts and a very generous happy hour every day. All shore excursions were included: wine tasting in Chablis, market day in Noyers, visits to castles and beautiful churches, always with a very good guide from the barge.The barge also provided bikes, and as it moves slowly I and other guests could bike alongside the canal.
It was a small group, all from England, as were the barge owners, and I made friends I will never forget.
Something different than a big cruise but for me well worth it.
Bea
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Old Apr 11, 19, 11:31 am
  #30  
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Originally Posted by GeezerCouple View Post
A "self-drive" barge!? What fun!
I'd never heard about that, although it must be easier than a bare-bones sailboat...!

You also did all of your own shopping/cooking, like a vacation rental?
Was it "one way" or a "round trip" itinerary?

That's the area we'd love to consider, especially including a visit to Carcassonne

Do you have a website/link?

Thanks!

GC
I just realized that I never answered these questions. Apologies.

We rented from Le Boat and went from Trebes to Narbonne (but there are several companies doing more or less the same thing):

https://www.leboat.com/boating-vacat.../canal-du-midi

You can rent a boat for a week for around $1,700 and our rental fit 8 of us. Some of the cabins are small and have low ceilings, so be prepared, but we all managed. I spent more than one night sleeping on deck and enjoying the amazing warm weather. Don't think of a traditional barge - these are more modern fiberglass vessels.

Each couple found their own way to Carcassone, which is very close to Trebes and then made our way to the dock by taxis, which was very doable. A funny aside is that we all met up by accident at about the right time and went to Trebes together. Carcassone is worth a day or two and if you hit the right day has a smashing market where we bought some supplies for the boat.

The day's departures left at about noon, IIRC, and a couple of us stayed behind to have the boat introduction and "canal etiquette" overview. Basically, here's how to turn it on, here's how to steer and "you can't get lost just go down the canal and how to drop it off. The rest of us made the short walk into town to buy essentials - bread, cheese, beer and wine were high on the list, our "emergency" meal makings - past and sauce, just in case.. And, off we went. Our boat had two small fridges and an adequate stove - with gathering space both inside and out. It had dual drive, which meant you could navigate from either inside or up top. The company supplied us with their own map that was marked with a couple tricky places to watch out for, the (one sharp curve involved following a diagram that had you going straight across and then making a sharp left to avoid a shallow spot (that sort of thing)) location of all the locks, recommended places to stop etc. There was enough fuel on board to last the week, and we stopped a couple places at a public dock to top up the water tanks - very easy. At the first lock we just moored up and watched a few boats go through to get the hang of it. A few locks were motorized and had a lock keeper, most were do-it-yourself, but again actually very easy and fun. At many of the manned locks someone was selling baked goods, etc.

Before the trip we'd obtained a map of the canal and sketched out where we wanted to be each night - large enough town to have some facilities and something interesting to do. The days were sort of like:

An early riser walked into whatever town we were in and bought bread, eggs if we were out, bacon or local sausages.
Start out after breakfast and most lounged about the boat while one drove. If someone saw something of interest we'd stop. Several Chateux, for example, had signs on the canal pointed to their estate. We'd also rented I think four bikes and sometimes a couple would just take off on their own for awhile, saying "we'll see you down the canal. No plans, just whatever caught our eye. Cell phones made hooking back up easy.
There were a fair number of small cafes along the canal and some days we'd stop for lunch and some days we'd eat on board. Everything was cheap and delicious.
We tended to moor up by about 4 each afternoon. Someone would go into town to scout out the restaurant situation and make a reservation for that evening. A delegation would go to the Super Marche if we were in need of supplies, we'd walk around town - several had a small museum along the lines of "Hat Museum" they were all worth a look. Then we'd sort of gather back for cocktail hour on board, some would chat, some would play a card game, some would just sit up top and watch traffic go by (the canal is actually quite busy.
Then off to dinner by about 7. Dinner was always old school South of France style - a couple, one working front of house the other in the kitchen cooking. Very inexpensive and local wine that was often cheaper than bottled water.
Repeat each day.

Utterly relaxing and a total blast. Everyone who's reasonably mobile can do this.No real boating experience is needed. It's sort of like driving a car. Even mooring was easy - on the canal you can moor anywhere for free. We'd would get close to the bank, someone would jump off and tie our rope around a tree and we were essentially done. And we had many adventures - the young French group who were so drunk they kept falling off the boat while trying to navigate through a lock, was worth it's weight in gold. We met many interesting fellow travelers when we'd moor up somewhere. They were from all over the world. We never had a moment of feeling unsafe or uncertain about how to do something.

One tip from group travel of this sort. One of the eight of us was appointed treasures and whenever anyone bought something "for the group" food, wine, water, whatever, she was the keeper of the receipts. At the end of the trip she totaled it all all up, split it four ways and that was what each couple owed. I think that even with that each couple probably owed about 300 dollars, and the share of the boat was under $500 a couple. So we had a week in the south of France for under a Thousand bucks - without the airfare counted in.

At the end of the trip we had a last dinner in Narbonne ( a beautiful little town) and went our separate ways the next morning.

DO IT!!!!
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