Britton and her grandmother are cruising the Rhone on Emerald Liberte. They are guests of Emerald Cruisers for the purposes of this review. Britton has been sending updates of her trip as they cruise along. She’ll have a more detailed report when she returns home.
Saturday, June 4, 2022
Day one of the journey. How exciting! I have to admit, the airport was not easy. This is a busy time of year, and it is normal to expect delays and cancelations. In fact, some of our fellow passengers didn’t make it to the boat until late in the evening, and some even arrived the following day.
My grandmother, GG, and I rushed through Charles de Gaulle in order to make our flight to Nice on time, which we did, but only because it had been delayed. Making our connection was a relief, but the journey wasn’t finished yet. Upon arrival, we met two members of our group of six and sat with them for a coffee and breakfast. We stayed in the Nice airport and waited for our transfer to Emerald Liberte.
We finally arrived to Emerald Liberte just before dinner. Our first impressions of the ship were nothing but positive. The lobby is modern and open, and the public areas are spotless. We were greeted by the wonderful members of the crew and our lovely hotel manager, Joao, who got us acquainted with the ship.
After a long day of travel and a scrumptious dinner, all I wanted to do was go to sleep. GG and I headed to our cabin and tucked ourselves into our cozy beds. What a day we had, and our trip was just beginning.
Arles is a vibrant city known for inspiring the paintings of Vincent Van Gogh. Full of winding streets, brightly colored buildings and beautiful Roman architecture, there is plenty to do and see. I spent the day wandering through the streets and grabbing some of my favorite French staples from Monoprix. GG went on the city tour with a few new friends. Her highlights from the tour were learning about Van Gogh, seeing the cascading flowers from window boxes and her guide, who gave a wonderful insight into not only the history of Arles, but also a glimpse at what daily life looks like for the residents of the town.
After a fun day of exploring, we came back to the ship and had dinner with our new group of friends. Dinner is always wonderful, as it is a great time for our group of six to get together and share our experiences from throughout the day. Perhaps the most special part of the day, however, was our dinner prepared by celebrity chef, Fabien Morreale. Morreale was a contestant on Top Chef France, and the meal he prepared us was absolutely deserving of a win.
After a wonderful evening of conversation and great food, we made our way up to the lounge where we were greeted by a traditional French folklore band. The band, consisting of a drummer, a guitarist, a few flutes and bagpipes, got everyone in the lounge up on their feet and dancing. It was a ball.
Avignon is such a beautiful and historically rich city. GG did another walking tour where she visited the Palais des Papes and the Avignon Bridge. The highlight for me, however, was a canoeing tour that took us from the north of the city down under the Avignon Bridge, and back to Emerald Liberte.
After the canoeing tour, I ventured back out into the city for some shopping. We had a late night call in Avignon, so it was nice to know that regardless of which excursion I chose, I would still have time to see the city.
Viviers is charming medieval town. Though quiet, there is plenty to see within the city – from homes dating back hundreds of years to one France’s oldest cathedrals. GG took a walking tour of the town where she was guided through the town’s market and shops and climbed the medieval streets to the church where she took on an amazing view of the city.
I opted for a more active excursion, hiking to the statue of Mary. Our Activity Guide, Drazen, led our hike, enriching us with history of the town and pointing out various types of wildlife along the way.
After a gorgeous day in Viviers, we headed back to the ship where we dined and played a game of music “trivia” with Drazen. Passengers of all ages headed to the lounge to play and dance the night away. What fun it was.
Unfortunately our time in Tournon was clouded by inclement weather, but that didn’t stop us from having a great time. On our first tour together, GG and I took a vineyard hike where we learned about the wine producing regions of the Rhone. The beautifully manicured vineyards were an appropriate backdrop for our hike, which ended at a local wine shop. An added bonus: We visited a chocolate shop that had a wonderful selection of truffles and other goodies.
One of the highlights of the entire trip was a game that we played in the lounge: Liar’s Club. The premise was as follows, four heads of department sat on stage with a microphone and gave a definition to a foreign word. Three would lie, and one would tell the truth. What made this game so fun was the selection of words chosen. These ranged from the German, “nuttendiesel”, to the Slovak, “bublifuk”, and then to the Hungarian, “fakanal.” We had so much fun laughing at the words and making up definitions. At one point I truly feel I had tears streaming down my face. It was a blast, and it was lovely to see the funny side of the crew.
Perhaps my favorite stop of the trip was Lyon. The town is small enough to feel navigable but large enough to provide wonderful shopping and culinary experiences. Having just been to Lyon last fall, I decided yet again to explore on my own. I visited the city center with my friend Lauren where we did some shopping and explored the old town. We stayed out for lunch and returned to the ship shortly before dinner.
GG took a coach tour, where she learned about Lyon and visited the Basilica Notre-Dame de Fourviere. She said that view from the top of the cathedral was “indescribable,” but shortly after she described it anyway, as “amazing.”
After dinner, we headed to the lounge to watch a local pop group perform covers of modern songs. It got everyone out of their seats and onto the dance floor, which was a wonderful way to spend our second to last night.
Today we docked in Chalon-sur-Saone, though we didn’t see much of the town as we took a bus to Beaune. In Beaune, we visited an old hospital, which now hosts one of Burgundy’s biggest wine auctions. I have to admit, I wasn’t too keen to visit a hospital. In fact, a lot of passengers passed up today’s excursion and opted to stay near the boat. What a mistake. Hospices de Beaune was full of historical artifacts, beautiful stained glass pieces, original paintings dating back hundreds of years and a magnificent tile roof. After touring the hospital, we had free time to explore the quaint town where we shopped and walked around the narrow city streets.
What a way to end the trip. But not so fast. Unfortunately, GG and I tested positive for COVID while getting our rapid tests to return home. Don’t worry, we are both feeling fine. But we do have to stay in Lyon for a couple of extra days until we can return to the United States. These results have come with a bit of a silver lining though. We were told by the hotel staff to stay in our room and that they would bring us dinner and anything else that we needed. Though our time with our fellow passengers came to an end, the service continued.
As I write this final chapter, GG and I are sitting in our cabin having one of the most wonderful meals of the trip. Joao, the Restaurant Manager, brought us a menu and we made our selections. Our meals came to us coursed out and, most importantly, with wine.
We have had a wonderful time sitting in our room at our table with the window open taking the views of the Rhone. What a wonderful way to recap this fantastic journey.