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Riverside Chat: Six Reasons To Cruise The Seine

With the Douro, the Danube, the Rhine, the Main, the Rhone, the Saone, the Moselle and more, why would you want to cruise on the Seine River? I’m Ralph Grizzle, of rivercruiseadvisor.com and here are just a few reasons why you’ll want to cruise with AmaWaterways on one of France’s most storied rivers.

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Watch the recap of our September 2017 barge trip along France’s Petit-Seine & Yonne rivers on CroisiEurope’s Raymonde.

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Video: A Cruise Along The Seine With AmaWaterways

The Normandy region is renown for its beauty, its palatable flavors, its gorgeous countryside and the D-Day Landing Beaches. Bookended by Paris, a cruise along the Seine speaks to the sublime pleasures of exploring a narrow ribbon of river that inspired a handful of French Impressionists and that continues to inspire Francophiles today. Check out our feature video.

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A Rhone River cruise delivers you to the epicenter of a fascinating destination. I’m Ralph Grizzle of River Cruise Advisor, and I experienced the Rhone on AmaWaterways during a weeklong voyage from Lyon to Arles. Join me for adventure on one of France’s most famed rivers. Read the rest of this entry »

Rhone River Excursions On AmaWaterways

So why choose to river cruise the Rhone? For argument’s sake, let’s say that you’ve narrowed your choices and that you’ve settled on France for your river cruise. You could do the Seine, which is lovely, setting off on your journey on a gorgeous evening from beneath the Eiffel Tower for an adventure that takes you to Normandy and back. See It’s Time To Return To France. You could cruise Bordeaux, a beautiful city that serves as the hub for wine-inspired excursions by bike, hike and motorcoach. See AmaWaterways ‘Taste Of Bordeaux’.

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Crystal Cruises Christens Crystal Bach

Crystal River Cruises christened Crystal Bach, the first of its four new build “Rhine Class” river ships, on Sunday, August 20 in Rüdesheim, Germany. Crystal’s CEO and president, Edie Rodriguez, presided over the ceremony, along with emcee and longtime popular Crystal entertainer, Mark Farris. The ship’s godmother, beloved German opera star Anna-Maria Kaufmann, christened the ship with the traditional blessing and champagne breaking, and also lent her famed talents to the celebration with a special performance of Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Air.” Also in attendance were the ship’s cruise guests, local travel partners and executives from Crystal’s parent company, Genting Hong Kong.

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In Germany, Crystal River Cruises welcomed Crystal Bach to its award-winning fleet. The luxury river ship, the first of four “Rhine Class” ships set to sail the rivers of Europe, was delivered to Crystal by MV WERFTEN during the official handover ceremony in Wismar, Germany. In attendance to witness the occasion were Crystal’s CEO and president, Edie Rodriguez and several local dignitaries.

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I find river cruising to be one of the most enjoyable travel experiences available to those seeking to get to know Europe. Let me count the ways:

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Looks can deceive. Rarely, for example, will Scenic appear as the lowest-priced operator when comparing river cruises on similar itineraries. In my story, What Scenic Does Differently In Bordeaux, Scenic’s per diems for eight-day Bordeaux itineraries were considerably higher than AmaWaterways (by 28 percent), CroisiEurope (by 90 percent) and Viking (by 45 percent). On some sailings, Scenic’s per diems in Bordeaux approach $700 per person, compared to Viking at $481 per day. At first, I thought, “Wow, Scenic is over-the-top,” even though Uniworld came in higher (nearly $750 per day in staterooms that are a third smaller). A closer look at the numbers, however, reveals a much different picture than what I saw at first glance.

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Riverside Chat Episode 2: Rhone River Cruises

Hi, I’m Ralph Grizzle. I run rivercruiseadvisor.com and this week I’m on the Rhone River. What I love about this river is that it combines the beauty of the river with the charm of Provence. I get a lot of questions about the Rhone and about France in general. Here’s our Riverside Chat featuring the Rhone River.

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Scenic Luxury Cruises and Tours, working in partnership with PBS National Sales, has announced its sponsorship of the fourth season of The Great British Baking Show, airing Fridays at 9 p.m. as of June 16th.

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AmaWaterways Announces New Wellness Program

AmaWaterways announced it has launched a wellness program onboard AmaLyra’s Paris & Normandy sailings. The program – led by “Sports Scientist” Selina Wank features four to six classes daily, including morning stretches, jogging, yoga, cardio and core strengthening and circuit training. Activities will be complemented by discussion groups with a focus on healthy eating and relaxation techniques.

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In 2015, I spent six nights on Scenic Jasper, sailing from Budapest to Vienna. What I learned was that Scenic serves up a quality experience at a high level. The Australia-based company may already represent the most-inclusive river cruise company in the marketplace, though Scenic must contend with the likes of Crystal, Tauck and Uniworld.

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Next week, I’ll fly to Bordeaux to board Scenic Diamond for an eight-day voyage in France’s renowned wine-producing region. The itinerary is impressive, which I’ve outlined below, but it’s the ship that I am most curious to see. Scenic redesigned its France-based Space-Ships this year to include a private cooking emporium offering tailored cooking classes.

Scenic Culinaire is a new onboard cooking school using dedicated space that features cooking stations and a cheese and wine cellar as well as real-time cameras and screens to ensure each participant (including me) can see every cooking move in detail. Fresh ingredients are sourced from local markets and the cooking instructors will introduce guests to regional recipes based on the itinerary regions.

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You may have missed the news last week. AmaWaterways is going big. The company is building a double-wide river cruiser for the Danube.

Construction on AmaMagna started in March. The new ship will set sail in 2019. It will be interesting to see what AmaWaterways brings to the table – or rather, to the Danube. With the expanded space, AmaWaterways can include more features on AmaMagna than are on its current fleet.

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Koblenz, Germany — It had been awhile since I was on a Viking Longship, and although I had attended christening events and even did a couple of weeklong cruises on Viking a few years ago, too much time had passed since I’d stepped on a Longship. Last Sunday that changed when I boarded Viking Hlin in Basel for a seven-night “Rhine Getaway” voyage to Amsterdam.

After a quick transfer from Basel’s airport to the St. Johann docks, I felt good stepping into the familiar light-filled reception area of Viking Hlin (named for the goddess of protection in Norse mythology).

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CroisiEurope has officially kicked off its newest river cruise tours: combination land-and-cruise voyages that explore Africa’s Chobe and Zambezi rivers. The journeys include a four-day voyage aboard the African Dream, a brand-new luxury river cruise vessel that carries only 16 guests in its eight suites. Read the rest of this entry »

What. A. Great. Trip. In early April, I cruised with Avalon Waterways on the Rhine and Moselle rivers. The itinerary, bookended by Amsterdam and Paris, served up some of the same stunning scenery that inspired Dutch landscape painters such as Jacob Isaackszoon van Ruisdael. Just look at the photo below, for example, unfiltered and untouched, snapped with my iPhone from the Club Lounge, aft on Avalon Visionary, one morning on the Moselle.

I could have spent hours out on deck watching the landscape pass. Instead, I drew back the curtains and admired Europe in HD from my Panorama Suite. After only a few days on board Avalon Visionary, I understood what Avalon Waterways has been trying to market: framed postcard-like views from the bedrooms of its so-called “Suite Ships.”

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Crystal River Cruises: In A Class Apart

Crystal Mozart stands apart because of its width alone. At 22.85 meters (roughly 75 feet), Mozart is nearly twice the width of the standard river cruiser. With so much real estate, Mozart can boast features that most river cruise vessels cannot, such as an indoor pool and Jacuzzi, a spacious gym, four restaurants, an ultra-wide sundeck with a retractable bar and much more.

Of course, all that space comes at a cost. Mozart can navigate up the Danube not much past Passau. That’s not a huge handicap. The section of the Danube that Mozart can cruise is among the most popular stretches on the river, with marquee attraction such as the Melk Abbey and the Wachau Valley, and storied cities like Vienna, Budapest and Bratislava. Read the rest of this entry »

Cruising The Rhone On AmaWaterways: Lyon To Arles

April 20-27, 2017, I will cruise along the Rhône river through France’s legendary wine growing regions. The region is home to such famous vintages as Beaujolais and Côte du Rhône, and I’m sure we’ll sample plenty of wine. We’ll enjoy wine tastings at local vintners, marvel at ancient Roman ruins, stroll through medieval villages and shop for Provencal crafts. Our itinerary includes the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Avignon as well as Arles, the city where Vincent Van Gogh spent much of his life.
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Amsterdam, April 12, 2017 — The skeptic in me thought it would be boring. A painting workshop. I’m not a painter. Why would I want to waste my time putting a brush to canvas when all of Amsterdam was out there for me to explore? I wasn’t alone in my thinking. A colleague of mine confessed that he too was not terribly excited about the afternoon excursion that our host, Avalon Waterways, had graciously organized for us. It wasn’t that we weren’t appreciative. It was just that painting was not our forte. Nor was it an aspiration or even something I would consider taking up as a hobby. That all changed one afternoon in Amsterdam. Read the rest of this entry »