South of France
Rhône River Cruise
The beauty of France from a luxury river
Beaujolais. Avignon. Chateauneuf-du-Pape.
Provence. Some of the best known parts of France are
featured in this lovely cruise on a luxury river cruiser along the river Rhône, in
late spring with long warm sunny days.
Glide by picture postcard scenes, ancient towns and villages,
as you cruise along the colorful
splendor of the Rhône river..
Maybe you've cruised on a
gigantic cruise ship before. A river cruise is very different.
The custom built (in 1993, renovated in 2006) river cruiser,
Swiss Pearl, has only 64 cabins,
making for a much more personal and less institutional
The river cruise itinerary is
also very different to a traditional ocean cruise. You
never have rough seas, and you're always treated to beautiful
views out your cabin window, never just empty ocean.
Note : We can offer you
an across the board 5% discount on all cruises operated by
Amadeus Waterways. So if this special
escorted tour doesn't suit,
have us arrange whichever other cruise you'd prefer.
skip down to the booking form
Start Date and Options
You should leave the US
on or before Friday 9 May, so as to arrive into Arles on or
before Saturday 10 May. You board the ship on Saturday
afternoon, 10 May.
Many people choose to arrive a day before the
start of the cruise. This means if you - or your luggage -
should miss a connecting flight, or if anything else goes wrong,
you still have a day up your sleeve before the start of the
It also gives you a day to
'de-jetlag' before the cruise gets underway.
Amadeus offer a three day
extension in Barcelona, which would have you leaving the US on
or before Tuesday 6 May, so as to arrive into Barcelona on or
before Wednesday 7 May. This is a $600 per person option.
End Date and Options
The cruise ends in Lyon on the morning of
Saturday, 17 May.
At this point you're free to either fly home or to extend your
stay as you wish. Amadeus offer an extension that would
take you on to Paris that day, and spend three nights there
before flying home on Tuesday 20 May. This is a $600
You can of course plan any other extension after ending your
cruise that you might wish. The Monte Carlo Grand Prix is
on 25 May in case you wanted to return back to that area for
this special event (hint - stay outside of Monte Carlo and take
a train or bus in for the event).
About the Cruise/Tour
Like a traditional cruise,
this is a fully meal inclusive cruise, and - better than a
traditional cruise - it includes a generous amount of shore
touring as well. You won't have to pay extra for your
shore touring when visiting the lovely towns and cities as you
cruise through the south of France.
The cruise of course
includes three great meals a day, plus various other snacks,
on-board entertainment, as well as generous opportunities to
sightsee, both from the boat as it cruises the river, and while
ashore during the many stops. You typically have time to
both participate in a provided tour and also to sightsee and
shop on your own.
A nice extra feature is free
wine, beer or soda with every dinner. And if you wish to
drink more wine, you'll be delighted at the bargain prices that
wine sells for ashore.
While all meals are available on the vessel, you'll also be able
to experience other dining opportunities ashore if you wish.
Similarly, the on-board entertainment can be supplemented with
visits to clubs and bars and shows ashore - the vessel
will sometimes stay in port until late at night, allowing you a chance to
experience each town by day and by night.
Because the ship carries a maximum of 128
passengers, everything is more personal. The crew will
remember you by name, and you have a chance to meet other people on board and
to create new friendships. Most people on these cruises
seem to be variously middle aged and older.
information about river cruising in Europe can be found here.
Why River Cruising
River cruising is simply and
absolutely the most comfortable and convenient way to travel
around Europe. You can unpack your bags and get
comfortable in your lovely cabin and not need to repack or
transfer until the end of the cruise - this in itself is
probably all the convincing you'll need!
In addition, European towns
have historically tended to be centered around the major rivers,
and so river cruising is a great way to get to the lovely
historic parts of Europe, at a sedate speed, and in luxurious
How else could you travel
around Europe? On a bus tour? Yuck! By train
or car - yes, but then you have an abundance of travel hassles
I've experienced every
possible type of travel, and I'm a 100% convert. River
cruising is the best way to see Europe. Try it,
and you'll be sure to agree.
Cruising in May
Experienced travelers know
the best time to travel is always either side of the peak
periods. Spring is a glorious time of
year, and at this time of year you're beating the crowds
and also able to take advantage of shoulder season airfare
and accommodation deals and discounts.
The weather should be warm
rather than hot, but not cold, and dry rather than
wet, but, being late spring, everything will be green and fresh
rather than tired, dry, and jaded as can happen in later summer. Average daily temperatures will be in the
(maximums will be higher). You're getting close to the
longest day so the days will be long and sunny.
About the Swiss Pearl
The cruise ship for this
Swiss Pearl, was built in 1993, and then extensively
refurbished in 2006 to meet the high standards required by
The boat is long but narrow.
It is 360' long and 37.5' wide, and cruises at 16 mph.
This might seem like a slow speed, but it is faster than many of
the other cruise boats, enabling the boat to get between towns
faster and giving you more time sightseeing.
Dining is single-seating and
with no pre-assigned tables, so you can move about as you wish
from meal to meal. Amadeus even provides a generous amount
wine (or beer or soda) with your evening meal each night.
Smoking is restricted to the
outside Sun Deck only.
The cruise has been marketed
primarily to English speaking people and the language
on board is exclusively English. This means you won't have the
inconvenience of having to listen to every announcement being
repeated in four or five different languages, and you can
conveniently talk to your fellow guests (and likely soon to be
new friends) on board.
Cabins on the
are moderately sized at 140 sq ft.
The cruise is offered in
four cabin grades plus there are two suites as well.
There are 62 cabins and two suites on
two decks, and all are well equipped with a/c, bathroom and
shower, phone, television, hairdryer and safe. The television has both local and
satellite channels, and an evening
There is Wi-Fi on board
(you'd need to bring your own laptop).
The A, B and C grades of cabin are
very similar in terms of size and amenities, the D grade cabins
are 10 sq ft smaller. The main
difference between and A, B and C cabins is the deck the cabins are situated on.
picture shows the two accommodation decks on Swiss Pearl.
The most important
difference is the height above the waterline. There is a big difference in
perspective and view between the upper deck (suites and A category
cabins) and the lower deck (B, C & D category cabins). The
cabin floor is actually
below the waterline on the lower deck and your windows and eye level is only a
feet above the waterline. On this deck, with even
the slightest amount of bank on the sides of the river, you'll
not see much other than the water and bank, and there may be a bit more water and machinery noise on
that level too.
When moored, if your cabin
is on the dockside rather than the outboard side, the lower
deck cabins may have a view blocked by the dock, the upper deck cabins
will usually have a view above the dock level.
These differences are much
more profound than in a massive cruise ship where even the
lowest deck is still a long way above the waterline. Of
course, if you do choose a B, C or D category cabin, you can spend
the days in the public areas and enjoy the views from there, but
if you can justify the extra cost to go to the upper deck, the
chances are you'll be very pleased you did.
Suites are 205 sq ft, A - C cabins
are 140 sq ft, D cabins are 130 sq ft.
Tip : Choose the
least expensive cabin type on the deck you'd rather be on.
There is very little added value in choosing a B cabin in favor of a
Amadeus Waterways is a relatively new company, founded by
their President Rudi Schreiner in 2003, who formerly started the
river cruising operation for Uniworld, and who then founded
Viking River Cruises before now creating this latest company.
He has taken his experience and knowledge of both what is good
and bad about other river cruises and built a high quality
company that is quickly setting the new high standard for river
cruising in Europe.
I've spoken with Rudi at length, and we know many of the same
people in the travel industry, and am very comfortable endorsing his
company and his tours.
South of France Rhône
River Cruise - Detailed Day by Day Itinerary
Click this image to have a larger map open in a new window
This lovely itinerary takes you up the Rhone River from
Arles to Lyon. Precruise options allow you time in
Spain (with Amadeus) or the French Riviera (with The Travel
Insider) and Paris, too.
Click here for a
detailed day by day itinerary of this lovely cruise vacation.
Per person pricing for the
cruise is as follows :
Special single cabin
one cabin remains!
$2229 less 15%
$2398 less 15%
$2498 less 15%
$2798 less 15%
Extras and Inclusions
Port Taxes are $91 per
Single rate is 150% of the
above per person share twin rates for cabins or 200% for a
junior suite. Single rate for the Amadeus pre and post
cruise options is $960.
Air can be arranged for you
by us through Amadeus or you can make your own arrangements
as you wish. Air fares can be quoted from most cities
in the US.
You can pay for your tour using a
credit card with no credit card surcharge.
A $400 per person
non-refundable deposit is required to confirm your participation
and to hold your preferred grade of cabin on
this cruise, and the balance is due 90 days prior to departure.
What about the Air Fare?
If you buy the Amadeus
airfare with the extensions, they include transfers from the airport to the cruise
ship when you arrive into Barcelona and (also back to the
airport in Paris if you choose the Paris extension, too). These transfers
are convenient, but require you to arrive on the exact day the
tour starts and leave the exact day the Paris extension ends. They
can easily be arranged by yourself when you
arrive at the airport as well (ie taxi), so should not unduly influence
your airfare planning.
We suggest you check to see
if you can use any frequent flier miles you might have for this
travel, and/or check to see what the best fare you can get on
your favorite airline is, then compare it to the Amadeus rate
and make your decision then.
You are therefore free to
make your own arrangements, any way you wish, to travel to
Arles (or Barcelona for the pre tour option) and then
home again from Lyon (or Paris), and you can of course make extra
stops and arrive earlier or stay longer. You can choose whichever
carrier has the best fare and the best schedules for you, and
you can also choose a carrier that you wish to earn miles with.
We'll be pleased to answer
any questions you might have about arranging your air
transportation, of course.
Which cities to fly in and out
This might seem like an
obvious issue, but remember that Europe is very small and so if
you can't get convenient flights (or fares) on your preferred
airlines to and from the obvious cities at the start and end of
your tour, consider flying in or out of nearby airports and then
using a train to get between that airport and the city you need
to be in.
If you're flying into Arles,
you could choose to fly into Arles, or perhaps into the much
larger airport at Marseille(s). Marseille Airport is 46
miles from Arles.
On your return, if you wish
to fly directly home from the end of the cruise in Lyon, you can
choose from either flying directly home from Lyon or perhaps
taking the TGV train to Paris,
and then flying home from there. The timings of this might require you to overnight in Paris after arriving from
Lyon in the mid/late afternoon (it is a two hour train ride).
There are also trains that
take you all the way from Lyon to the Charles de Gaulle airport
in Paris - also a two hour journey, and a wonderfully convenient
way to return home.
We generally recommend you
should protect against the various types of losses that may
occur while traveling.
Amadeus Waterways offer a
policy that covers you for trip cancellation and interruption
costs, medical costs, trip delay, and baggage delay or loss.
This is $229 per person. The premium is payable with your
To add an extra trip
cancellation premium that will allow you to cancel for any
reason at all, add another $40. With this add-on premium,
if you cancel for a reason not covered by the main policy,
Amadeus will refund you as much of your payment as is covered by
their usual policy, and give you a voucher to be redeemed
against future travel any time in the next year for the balance.
for a new page with more information on the Amadeus travel
How to Extend or Vary this Tour
There are many ways you can
extend or vary this tour. You're of course free to add anything
you like, before or after the cruise, including the Amadeus
arranged options (Barcelona before the cruise and Paris after). Alternatively, if
you prefer, the cruise is a complete experience in itself
without needing any extra time
We recommend you consider
arriving into Europe at least a day before the cruise starts, so
as to give yourself a day to resolve any problems that may occur
such as missing/delayed flights or losing luggage.
If you have more questions, please don't hesitate to ask.
We're here to help ensure your experience is as good as
Need More Information?
If you've a question or need
more clarification, go ahead and ask. Click for Live
Chat Help (if we're online) or
send us an email, or feel free to call us at (206)337-2317.
Tour Terms and Conditions
standard terms and conditions
apply to this tour.
In addition, please note
these extra terms :
1. The 90 day
payment due date is considered to be Friday 8 February 2008.
2. US citizens require a
current passport that will not expire for at least six months
after the date of their planned return back to the US in order
to be admitted to Europe. They do not require any European visas. Citizens of other countries should check with the
airline that will transport them to Europe to determine what
passport and visa requirements may apply.
3. Tour price is
subject to change prior to full payment being received.
4. Terms and
conditions of the cruise line (Amadeus
Waterways) also apply.
The Travel Insider is
licensed by the State of Washington as a seller of travel -
registration number 602 036 247.
9 Nov 2007, last update
28 May 2011