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The very finest wines in the world come from beautiful Bordeaux.

Our Bordeaux and Beyond cruise glides through stunning scenery, giving us the best of comfort and convenience in a 'traveling hotel' that each day takes us to new parts of tis wonderful region.

 
This cruise/tour gives you a chance to enjoy some of Paris before taking you to perhaps the greatest and most famous wine region in the world.

And even if you're not a great wine drinker, there are still castles and chateaus galore, world heritage sites, lovely towns, and beautiful countryside - lots for everyone to enjoy!

 
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Bordeaux and Beyond Cruise/Tour July 2016

A 14+ Day Opportunity to Experience the Famous Bordeaux Wine Region of France
 

Here's a chance to get close to the world's finest wines and wineries, in one of the most beautiful regions of France, and at the nicest time of year.

Personally escorted by me - David Rowell, the Travel Insider - and featuring a small group of your fellow Travel Insiders, and hosted on a luxurious small river cruising ship, this will be a special experience you'll treasure for ever afterwards.


Maybe you've cruised on a gigantic cruise ship before.  Our Bordeaux and Beyond river cruise is very different.  The nearly new deluxe river cruiser, Amadolce, has only 74 cabins, making for a much more personal and less institutional experience.

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.  Plus almost all the shore touring is included, as are many drinks on board too.

Our river cruise ship, the Amadolce, is long, low, and sleek in appearance with spacious cabins and lovely public areas.

Note :  We can offer you an across the board 5% discount on all cruises operated by Amawaterways.  So if this special escorted tour doesn't suit, have us arrange whichever other cruise you'd prefer.

Tour Dates

Start Date and Options

The cruise itself starts in Bordeaux, France, on the afternoon of Friday 22 July 2016.

We are offering some pre-cruise options in Paris and London and a high speed train from Paris to Bordeaux that would have you arriving two, three or more nights prior to the cruise start date. More details on this below.

Generally, most flights from the US depart the day before they arrive in Europe.  So to get to Bordeaux on Friday 22nd, you'd probably fly from the US on Thursday 21st.

End Date and Options

The cruise itself returns to Bordeaux and ends on the morning of Friday 29 July 2016.

We are offering a two night post-cruise option around the Tours area of France, returning to Paris on the afternoon of Sunday 31 July.

You are of course welcome to stay on in France or elsewhere in Europe as you wish.

Pre and Post Cruise Optional Extensions

You are welcome to fly into Europe any time you wish, of course, and to return home at any time, too, and similarly you don't need to limit yourself to simply flying in and out of Bordeaux.

We offer extensions both before and after the cruise to enhance your overall tour experience.

Pre-Cruise Options - Paris and optionally London Too - $600pp

We strongly recommend you should arrive in Europe at least one day before the cruise starts, for two reasons.  Firstly, this gives you an 'emergency day' in case you - or your bags - miss flights or have any other types of problems en route.

Secondly, it gives you a day to adjust to the new time zone and to relax after your flight(s).

We are offering you the chance to spend two nights (or longer) in Paris, and then with a fast TGV train journey to meet the cruise ship in Bordeaux on the day the cruise itself starts.

An additional option would be to spend time in Britain and then take the Eurostar from London to Paris.

Post-Cruise Options - The Loire Valley and back to Paris - $900pp

Why not see some more of the French rural countryside, and visit some extraordinary chateaus in the Loire Valley around the Tours area.

This three night option starts when we leave the ship and takes us to the Tours area for two nights, and then on to Paris for a third night, after which you can fly on anywhere you like or do anything else you wish.

Special Savings

This cruise is offered to you for $750 less than the regular rate published on the official Amawaterways site.  And that is a $750 discount per person - two of you traveling together will save $1500!  This is a short term special offer.

And, there's more.  Your on-ship gratuities are also included - normally this is extra, and most people choose to pay around €15/day - that's another €105 - call it $120 per person saved.

In addition, all Travel Insider group members get a $100 per person shipboard credit.  You can apply this to anything you spend money on during the cruise - gift shop purchases, bar drinks, beauty salon and massages, even gratuities.  Nope, no need to worry about gratuities, because those are also included in your special Travel Insider deal!

If you've traveled with Amawaterways before, you'll get another $100 per person discount.

Plus you'll get some special Travel Insider exclusive extras - an on-board cocktail function, and an extra surprise bonus, too.

A $400 per person non-refundable deposit is required to confirm your place on this tour.

The tour does not include the costs of travel between your home and the tour start and end points.

Special Wine Theming

In addition to all the other wonderful sights and experiences, this cruise has a guest wine expert on-board - Vern Vierra, founder/owner of St Jorge Winery in the Lodi, California area.

He will be adding additional insight into the wines and wineries we enjoy on the cruise, and offering special tastings and lectures on board.

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 wineries and castles/chateaus as you cruise through the Bordeaux region.

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, each day.

A nice extra feature is free wine, beer or soda with all lunches and dinners (and for breakfasts there's sparkling white wine if you so wish).  And if you wish to drink more wine, you'll be delighted at the sometimes 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 148 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.

I've been on many Amawaterways cruises in the past - in France as well as many other European countries, most recently in December 2015.  I continue to consider them the best river cruise operator, and the many Travel Insiders traveling with me seem to echo that high opinion.

More general information about river cruising in Europe can be found here.

A day by day, town by town photo journal of a Christmas Cruise can be found here.

Why River Cruising

River cruising is simply and absolutely the most comfortable and convenient way to travel around this region.  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 comfort.

How else could you travel around France?  On a bus tour?  Yuck!  By train or car - yes, but then you have an abundance of travel hassles every day.

I've experienced every possible type of travel, and I'm a 100% convert.  River cruising is the best way to see any and every part of Europe.  Try it, and you'll be sure to agree.

About the Amadolce

Our cruise ship for this cruise, the Amadolce, is relatively new (it was built in 2009), and has been been custom designed to meet the special needs of the European rivers, enabling it to operate in less favorable conditions than many of the other boats (ie when the water levels are 'too high' or 'too low').

The boat is long but narrow.  It is 360' long and 38' wide, and cruises at 15.6 mph.  This might seem like a slow speed, but it is faster than some 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.  Amawaterways even provides a generous amount of complimentary wine, beer and soft drinks with your lunch and dinner meals every day.

Smoking is restricted to the outside Sun Deck only.

Our 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.

Cabin Types

Cabins on the Amadolce are generously sized - 170 sq ft each.  The 154 sq ft cabins on the earlier Viking cruise seemed spacious, but the 170 sq ft cabins on Amadolce are even more marvelously roomy and comfortable.

The cruise is offered in five cabin grades plus there are three suites as well.

There are 71 cabins and three suites on three decks, and all are well equipped with a/c, bathroom and shower, phone, flat screen television/computer, hairdryer and safe.  The television has both local and satellite channels, a bridge-cam channel, and an evening movie channel.  There is Wi-Fi throughout most of the ship.

All five grades of cabin are very similar in terms of size and amenities.  The main difference is the deck the cabins are situated on.

This picture clearly shows the three accommodation decks on Amadolce.  The top deck and the middle deck have floor to ceiling sliding doors and 'French balconies' (a very small space outside the sliding door), but the lower deck just has windows.

The most important difference though is not the style of window, but rather the height above the waterline.  There is a big difference in perspective and view between the top deck (suites and A category cabins) and the middle deck (B and C category cabins), while on the lowest deck (D and E category cabins) the floor is actually below the waterline and your windows and eye level is only a foot or so above the waterline.  On this deck, with even the slightest amount of bank on the sides of the river, you'll not see anything other than the water and bank from the bottom deck, 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 lowest deck cabins will have a view blocked by the dock, the middle deck cabins may have a limited view, and the top 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 D or E 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 up a deck or two, the chances are you'll be very pleased you did.

We've written a special article to help you decide which cabin type is best for you, which you can see here.

Special Exception - Rear cabins on top deck

Some passengers have found the rear-most cabins on the top deck to be noisier than cabins further forward on that deck (extra engine noise).  I've stayed in those cabins myself and haven't been troubled by the engine noise, although it is appreciably louder than further forward.

As a result, Amawaterways have downgraded the category of eight of the cabins, making four of them B and four of them C category cabins.

If you don't think you'd be troubled by the engine noise while the vessel is cruising at night, these would be tremendously good value cabins to choose - giving you the upper most deck and all its advantages, but at a lower cost than the otherwise identical A cabins a bit further forward.

Suites are 255 sq ft, cabins are 170 sq ft.

Tip :  Choose the least expensive cabin type on the deck you'd rather be on.  There is no added value in choosing a D cabin in favor of an E cabin, or a B cabin in favor of a C cabin.

Needless to say, feel free to ask if you'd like further help choosing the best cabin option to suit your needs and budget/value point.

Detailed Day by Day Itinerary

Click this image to have a larger map open in a new window

Click for a detailed day by day itinerary of this lovely cruise vacation.

 

 

Tour Cost and Special Savings

We have a short term special deal negotiated with Amawaterways, so we can offer you a $750 per person discount off the regular published cruise prices.

In addition, all Travel Insider group members get a $100 per person shipboard credit.  You can apply this to anything you spend money on during the cruise - gift shop purchases, bar drinks, beauty salon and massages.

We also pay your gratuities for you, too.  That's another $120 or so saved.

If you've traveled with Amawaterways before, you'll get another $100 per person discount.

Plus you'll get some special Travel Insider exclusive extras - an on-board cocktail function, and an extra surprise bonus, too.

A $400 per person non-refundable deposit is required to confirm your place on this tour.

The tour does not include the costs of travel between your home and the tour start and end points.

Stateroom Type

Cruise Per Person

(Before Discount)

Cruise Net

After $750 Discount

D

lower deck

$3898

Before discount

$3148

C

mid or top decks

$4498

Before discount

$3748

B

mid or top decks

$4698

Before discount

$3948

A

top deck

$4798

Before discount

 

$4048

A+

top deck

$5798

Before discount

$5048

Suite

top deck

$5998

Before discount

$5248

 

Extras and Inclusions

  • Port Taxes are $168 per person.

  • Gratuities are included.

  • Single rates are the per person rate plus 50% and then less the $750 discount.  Single rates for the pre and post tours are $880 and $1320.

  • Air can be arranged for you by us through Amawaterways or you can make your own arrangements as you wish.  Air fares can be quoted from most cities in the US.

  • Rates include a US$100 shipboard credit (for drinks, incidentals, beauty salon, and gift shop purchases) per person.

  • Rates include an exclusive Travel Insider cocktail party on board Amadolce

  • Rates can be reduced by an extra $100 if you are a past Amawaterways customer

You can pay for your cruise using a credit card with no credit card surcharge.

A $400 deposit is required to confirm your reservation, the balance is due three months prior to departure.

Single Share Program

If you are planning to travel by yourself, but would prefer to avoid the slightly greater cost, we can make a best effort to connect you with another single Travel Insider group member, but can't guarantee to find someone compatible.

What about the Air Fare?

If you buy the Amawaterways airfare and the pre and post tour packages, they include transfers between the airport and your Paris hotel on arrival and departure.  These transfers are convenient, but require you to arrive on the exact day the options start and finish, and/or can easily be arranged by yourself when you arrive at the airport as well, so should not unduly influence your airfare planning.

Some cruise lines 'play games' - they increase their cruise price so they can then give you a 'discount' on the airfare.  Amawaterways doesn't do this, and so we generally find their airfares are much the same as you can buy directly.

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 Amawaterways rate and make your decision then.

You are of course free to make your own arrangements, any way you wish, to travel to and from the tour, 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.

How Should I Travel to and from Bordeaux?

If you are just taking the cruise and not adding either the pre or post tour options, then you'll want to make your way to join the ship in Bordeaux.

The closest airport is Bordeaux airport, a mere 8 miles out of the city and France's sixth largest airport.  Its airport code is BOD, and it has service from major hubs provided by Air France, British Airways (but to Gatwick, not Heathrow), KLM and many smaller airlines.

Alternatively you could fly to Paris and then take a high speed TGV train from there to Bordeaux (about 3.5 hours for the train journey).

Travel Insurance

We recommend you should consider travel insurance as prudent protection.  Rather than attempt to sell you some policy ourselves that may or may not suit your needs, we recommend you go to this insurance shopping site, which offers comparisons between something like 100 different policies offered by 18 different insurers, giving you all the options you need.

Alternatively, you can take advantage of the Amawaterways insurance.  They offer a policy that covers you for trip cancellation and interruption costs, medical costs, trip delay, and baggage delay or loss.  The cost of this varies depending on the total cost of your cruise.  The premium is payable with your deposit.

 

Total Amawaterways Cost
(per person)
Premium
$2500 - $4000 $321
$4001 - $5500 $441
$5501 - $7000 $562

 

To add an extra trip cancellation premium that will allow you to cancel for any reason at all, add another $60.  With this add-on premium, if you cancel for a reason not covered by the main policy, Amawaterways 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 more information about travel insurance than you probably ever thought you'd want to know, please click the link to read our three part series on the subject.

Need More Information?

If you've a question or need more clarification, go ahead and ask.  You're welcome to send us an email, or feel free to call us at (206)337-2317.

Request to Join the Tour

Your Name as on your passport, Age & Citizenship

Name             
Age                
Citizenship      

Name of Companion as on their passport, Age, Citizenship

Name             
Age                
Citizenship      

If traveling as a single, would you like to share with a fellow tour member?

  No share
  Share requested (not g'teed)

(comments)

Your Street Address

City, State, Zip

Phone (Day)

Phone (Night)

Email

 

Stateroom Preference

 

Would you prefer twin beds or one king size bed

   One King Bed     Two Twin Beds

Would you like the pre and or post cruise options

 

Have you been on a previous Amawaterways cruise?  If so, please advise what year.

Any other special needs

Would you like Amawaterways to arrange the air for you?

  Yes, Please

Would you like to purchase the trip insurance

Yes please, Amawaterways' cancel for any reason

 Yes please, Amawaterways' standard cover

 No thanks, I'll arrange my own

Any other comments

Cruise/Tour Terms and Conditions

Our standard terms and conditions apply to this tour.

In addition, please note these extra terms :

1.   Deposit is required within seven days of your participation being confirmed.  Full payment is due on or before Friday 22 April, 2016.

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 (AmaWaterways) also apply.  In particular, please note that the itinerary can occasionally (rarely) change if water levels are too high or too low to allow the boat to travel.

Originally published 24 Dec 2015, last update 08 Jul 2017

 
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