Category Archives: European River Cruises

Viviers, France

by John Lane

A dreary day, but great time on the Rhone River

We are floating up the Rhone towards Lyon and enjoying every minute of it.
Avignon was our second stop and the Palais de Papes (Palace of the Popes)
dominates the city.   This walled city dates back to the 14th century and I
always wonder how they built all this stuff so many years ago. Shopping and
sidewalk cafes dot the streets and we enjoyed all.   I enjoyed a typical
french lunch at a local restaurant compliments of Tauck which they gave
each guest 20 Euros to immerse themselves in the local French food…and
we did it was wonderful.

Viviers, Fr

Viviers – unique trees lining the street into the city center

Viviers, a small ancient city of about 4,000 is a maze of small
cobblestone streets and not much life as most of the people have left the
town and moved to the countryside.   We did visit a local potter and
purchased two bowls that would of cost three times the cost in the U.S.   I
will enjoy those and put the chocolate sauce, carmel or basil mustard that I bought in Avignon in them…YUM! Lyon will be our last stop and hoping for better weather but on the river all things are good and relaxing!

Note: John is onboard the Swiss Emerald with Tauck River Cruises this week, sailing from Arles to Lyon, France and will be posting blog updates as his time allows; check back for more!

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Filed under European River Cruises, Our Cruise Stories, River Cruises, Tauck European River Cruise

A Day in Arles

by John Lane

Who would of thought that a Roman Ampitheater would be in the middle of Arles in Southern France?   Arles, the southernArles amphitheater most point of our Rhone River cruise, became a Roman colony in 49 BC when Julius Caesar took over the region.   Arles is also known for Van Gogh.  He settled here in 1888 and entered into his period of uniques light colors of the region.

Camargue, outside of the city, is Western Europe’s largest river delta and home of more than 400 species of birds including the pink flamingo.   The famous Camargue black bull and the Camargue white horse are also found here.

A wonderful walking tour of the city in the morning and a “Tauck exclusive” afternoon at the ranch of the Laurent Family where we dined on a provencal lunch and watched the bulls and horses in action.   It was a truly amazing day in Arles.

Note:  John is onboard the Swiss Emerald with Tauck River Cruises this week, sailing from Arles to Lyon, France and will be posting blog updates as his time allows; check back for more!

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Filed under European River Cruises, Our Cruise Stories, River Cruises, Tauck European River Cruise

Tauck River Cruise – Initial Impressions

by John Lane

Elegant was the first thing that came to mind once I entered the Swiss Emerald of Tauck River Cruises. The two-story reception area with the marble floors, rich woods, and crystal chandelier greet you as if you are in a fine hotel. The dining room and lounge are forward from the reception; the staterooms and bistro are aft.

Tauck interior

Elegant Interior of Tauck Swiss Emerald

My junior suite (cabin 302) is one of the nicest cabins I have ever had.
There is plenty of closet space with a safe, mini bar, and plenty of nice wooden hangers. A queen size bed with nice reading lights, along with a glass top dressing table and then a table and two chairs are situated in front of the french balcony. The marble and granite bathroom are what I would consider one of the best I have had on a cruise. Molton Brown toiletries, thick towels, and blow dryer await you.

I have found a good friend in the self serve coffee/cappucino/espresso machine in the bistro. It is open 24 hours and offers continental breakfast in the morning starting at 6 am and later a light lunch; cookies, tea, coffee are available 24 hours. A bistro dinner is served each evening and you must make your reservation by 2 pm to be one of the lucky ones to dine in this small venue. But more on the food later. Today we will explore Arles, our first port, and learn more about “cultural immersion”, as Tauck calls it.

Note:  John is onboard the Swiss Emerald this week, sailing from Arles to Lyon, France and will be posting blog updates as his time allows; check back for more!

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Filed under European River Cruises, River Cruises, Tauck European River Cruise

You can travel lite—I did!

by John Lane

OK, I did it! When I was planning for my packed luggagetrip to France,
I was trying to decide what to take and what luggage to use. With today’s restrictions from the airlines on luggage you really have to plan ahead.

I am going to France for 8 days and my business partners said no problem. “Just take a carry on”. I said “for 8 days?” You can do it, I was told. Could I really pack for an 8 day trip to France with just a carry on and a backpack… Well guess what I did! I will breeze through customs in France not having to wait for my bag!  

No more lugging a large suitcase! Au-revoir!

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April 16, 2013 · 3:40 am

Viking River Cruises Sets A New Record

by John Lane, Cruise Escapes

Viking River Cruises set a record on March 20 by christening 10 new Longships and setting a Guinness World Record as most ships inaugurated in one day by one company.

Viking River christening new European River Cruises March 2013The Viking Aegir, Viking Alta, Viking Bragi, Viking Embla, Viking Forsetti, Viking Jarl, Viking Rinda, Viking Skadi, Viking Tor and Viking Var were chistened in dual ceremonies in the shipyard in Rostock, Germany and in Amsterdam in stimultaneous ceremonies. I know you are asking were did these names come from. Viking names each of their ships after Norwegian gods.

These 190 passenger Longships with 95 staterooms offer two Explorer suites, seven two-room Veranda Suites, each with a full size veranda in the living area and a French balcony in the bedroom. There are also 39 Veranda stateroom with full size verandas and 22 with French balconies.

Viking River European River CruisesBy the way, Viking will surpass this years record in 2014 when they christen 12 new Longships in the spring. Viking River captures 40% of the river cruise market and continues to become a household name. All of these ships will offer the scenic itineraries of the wonderful European Rivers. You are probably thinking that is lots of ships to fill, but Viking is sold out for most of the remainder of this year. With only 95 cabins on each ship, each departure sells out fast and we have lots of people that wait too late too book and are disappointed that there is not a cabin available for them. Even with all these new ships you MUST book early (a year in advance in many cases) to get the cabin you want.
River cruising is completely different than deep water ocean cruises. No last minute bargains. If you wait till that last minute you will be left at home.

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Filed under European River Cruises, New Ship

River Cruise 101….

Although they have been in the marketplace for many years, river cruises (mainly in Europe) have exploded in popularity in the last few years.

European river cruiseSo what is a “river cruise” and why have they become so much in demand?          First, a river cruise reaches inland destinations, not possible for ocean ships.      This means that you very often “dock” in the heart of town and can walk directly  into the center of each day’s destination.  It also means that you have continuous    scenerywhen you are cruising, often some of the highlights of the itinerary, such as castles along the Rhine!  You are also guaranteed a view from every  accommodation as all staterooms are oceanview (or maybe we should say  ‘riverview’), there are no interior cabins.  Lastly, and perhaps the most notable point, the pricing is virtually all-inclusive:  shore excursions and wine with  lunch & dinner are included!

Needless to say, after having taking numerous ‘deep water’ cruises over the past 25 years, I was quite excited to embark on my first river cruise.  Our itinerary was “Tulip Time” through Holland and Belgium with an April 5 departure date on Avalon Waterways. Continue reading

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Filed under European River Cruises, River Cruises