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Normandy has a storied history dating to its early Scandinavian settlement, Roman occupation, and its English links as a result of when the Duke of Normandy conquered England in 1066.

Conquering of a different type saw the English and Americans come to rescue France and Europe from the Nazis in 1944.

This cruise/tour gives you a chance to see the highlights of the Normandy region, including the medieval city of Rouen, the village of Giverny made famous by Monet, coastal fishing towns, as well as WW2 landing sites and battlefields.

All of this can be enjoyed from the luxury and comfort of the lovely river cruise ship, with touring, meals, and even most alcoholic drinks all included.

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Paris - Normandy Cruise August 2017

A Summer Opportunity to Experience both Paris and Rural/Coastal France

Arromanches in Normandy, still showing some of the Invasion harbor materials in the bay

Here's a chance to get close to France's history, villages, and coast, 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 Paris and Normandy river cruise is very different.  The deluxe river cruiser, Amalyra, has only 73 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 Amalyra, is long, low, and sleek in appearance with spacious cabins and lovely public areas.

Tour Dates

Start Date and Options

The cruise starts in Paris, France, on the afternoon of Thursday 10 August, 2017.

Generally, most flights from the US depart the day before they arrive in Europe.  So to get to Paris on Thursday 10th, you'd probably fly from the US on Wednesday 9th.

We recommend you should always plan to arrive at least one day prior to joining any international cruise/tour, so ideally you'd leave home on or before Wednesday 9 August.

We can help suggest things to do and where to stay for any time you have prior to the cruise starting, of course.

End Date and Options

The cruise returns to Paris and ends on the morning of Thursday 17 August 2017.

You could leave to return home the same day, and if you did so, most flights arrive back in the US the same day they leave Europe.

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

The coastal fishing town of Honfleur

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 Paris.

With Europe so small, and the UK conveniently connected by Eurostar too, you can realistically consider flying in and/or out of many different cities and adding time elsewhere in Europe before or after your travels.

Most air tickets also allow you to fly into one city and out of a different city.

Pre-Cruise Options - Maybe Paris

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).

And, a bonus third reason perhaps, if it is a while since you last enjoyed Paris, it gives you a chance to re-acquaint yourself with this gorgeous city.

So we recommend that, at the very least, you spend one night in Paris before the cruise.  On the other hand, because you don't need to board the vessel until mid/late afternoon on Thursday 10th, you could fly into some other city (Amsterdam, Brussels, London) and take a train to Paris on the morning of the 10th.

Post-Cruise Options - Anywhere

The ship docks in Paris on the evening of Wednesday 16th, so you can leave as early as you might need to on Thursday 17th to connect with any ongoing travel plans.

Amawaterways also offers a two night extension in Paris.

We're happy to suggest other places in France or Europe that you can conveniently reach from Paris if you wish to stay longer.

Special Savings

This cruise is offered to you for $1000 less than the regular rate published on the official Amawaterways site.  And that is a $1000 discount per person - two of you traveling together will save $2000!  This is a short term special offer.

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.

The gardens at Giverny, made famous in Monet's paintings

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 146 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 July last year, in Bordeaux.  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.

Rouen, capital of Normandy, is dominated by its enormous medieval cathedral

About the Amalyra

Our cruise ship for this cruise, the Amalyra, 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 Amalyra 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 Amalyra are even more marvelously roomy and comfortable.

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

There are 70 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 Amalyra.  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.

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

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 to visit the Amawaterways site and for their detailed day by day itinerary of this lovely cruise vacation.

(Come back here to book your participation on this cruise!)



Tour Cost and Special Savings

We have a short term special deal negotiated with Amawaterways, so we can offer you a $1000 per person discount off the regular published cruise prices.

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 $1000 Discount


lower deck


Before discount



mid or top decks


Before discount



mid or top decks


Before discount



top deck


Before discount




top deck


Before discount



top deck


Before discount



Extras and Inclusions

  • Port Taxes are $168 per person.

  • Gratuities not included.

  • Single rates are the per person rate before discount but with the usual 50% single supplement waived.

  • 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 an exclusive Travel Insider cocktail party on board Amalyra

  • 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.

What about the Air Fare?

If you buy the Amawaterways airfare and their post tour package, they include transfers between the airport and the ship on arrival and from the hotel to airport on 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 Paris?

If you are just taking the cruise and not adding travel elsewhere in Europe, you'll probably choose to simply fly in and out of Paris (airline city code PAR for all Paris airports).

Alternatively you could fly somewhere else in Europe and travel to Paris by train.  Frankfurt is 3 hrs 50 minutes, Amsterdam is 3 hrs 20 minutes, London is 2 hrs 15 minutes, Brussels is 1 hr 30 minutes.

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)
$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 of Companion as on their passport, Age, Citizenship


Your Street Address

City, State, Zip

Phone (Day)

Phone (Night)



Stateroom Preference


Would you prefer twin beds or one king size bed

   One King Bed     Two Twin Beds

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 Wed 10 May, 2017.

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 27 April 2017, last update 26 Jun 2019

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