The Hidden Wonders of a Europe River Cruise

Landmarks & Icons

Eiffel Tower with Boats on the River Seine in Evening Paris, France

Goway’s Training Director, Steve Martin, and his wife, Judy, recently returned from a European river cruise, and shares his fabulous experience, as he travelled along the River Seine, in France.

Steve Martin - Steve and Judy at Claude Monet's House and Gardens, Giverny, France
Steve and Judy at Claude Monet’s House and Gardens, Giverny

The popularity of European river cruising has skyrocketed over the past five years.

In a recent survey taken by a travel industry insider, European river or canal cruises ranked number one for the first time in the Trips of a Lifetime category.

Why?

It combines the best of several travel styles. Cruising generally has grown over the past few years because it offers a totally relaxing vacation. Unpack the luggage once and you’re ready to enjoy! The quality of the cuisine experience is beyond belief, and the ease of moving between cities and countries without the hassle of flying, are just a few of the reasons.

The added bonus of the European River Cruise is that the vessels offer a more boutique experience, with passenger numbers ranging from 100 to 150 (no megaship 1000+ statistics here), and the sheer pleasure of floating through the historic sights and cities of Europe. The continent is literally built around the rivers as a means of communication and transportation. As you dock in each city, merely step ashore and you are in the centre of some of the world’s most picturesque locations.

Steve Martin - Amadeus Diamond Cruise Vessel, France
Embarking on the Amadeus Diamond

I recently had the opportunity to cruise with Goway’s preferred river cruise company, Luftner. This family-run organization, based in Innsbruck, Austria, has 7 boats. I journeyed on their 8-Day Paris to Seine return itinerary.

Suggested Itinerary:
8-Day Paris and the River Seine – Paris to Paris

We headed down stream in search of the famous masters of impressionism – Van Gogh, Cezanne, Gaugin, and the highlight of the itinerary, a visit to the home of Monet, at Giverny. Another highlight of this itinerary is a full-day excursion to the impressive Normandy beaches, which entered the history books following their lively past during the Second World War.

Steve Martin - Commune of Auvers-sur-Oise, Where Van Gogh Spent His Last Days, France
Commune of Auvers-sur-Oise, where Van Gogh spent his last days
Steve Martin - Enjoying a Yoga Class at Notre Dame Chapel, in Etretat, Normany, France
Enjoying a Yoga Class at Notre Dame Chapel, in Etretat, Normany
Steve Martin - Chateau Gaillard, Les Andelys, France
Chateau Gaillard, Les Andelys
Steve Martin - Claude Monet's House and Gardens, Giverny, France
Claude Monet’s House and Gardens, Giverny
Steve Martin - Entrance to Versailles, France
Entrance to the Palace of Versailles

Our river cruiser was the MS Amadeus Diamond, featuring modern, elegant decor. It is a floating luxury hotel, impressing from the moment you step on board. Compared with other river lines that ply the same waters, Amadeus offers a more moderately-priced, a la carte cruising experience. The cabins on each Amadeus vessel are on the outside. They offer guests TV, adjustable air-conditioning, telephone, and bathroom with shower. Almost all the cabins have large panoramic windows with French balconies, affording incomparable views of the charming landscapes along the river banks.

As an experienced traveller, I often tend to avoid guided excursions (much to my wife’s chagrin) but I am now a convert. The local guides were outstanding with their passion and incredible depth of knowledge. Another modern advantage is the use of wireless audio connection to the guides, so you clearly hear every word no matter the setting.

Passengers can use the complimentary bicycles, while ashore, for exploring in private time.

Steve Martin - Biking to Maison Vacquerie - Musee Victor Hugo in Villequier, France
Biking to Maison Vacquerie – Musee Victor Hugo in Villequier

Meals are served in the Panorama Restaurant on the Mozart Deck. You can grab light bites in the early morning or a buffet breakfast a little later. Lunch is served either buffet style or standard sit-down.

Dinners are five-course gourmet affairs, complete with complimentary regional red and white wines. Produce is fresh, regional, and seasonal. Passengers can indulge in an afternoon tea and cake service and a midnight snack, too.

Steve Martin - Panorama Restaurant on the Amadeus Diamond
Panorama Restaurant
Steve Martin - Fine Dining On Board the Amadeus Diamond
Fine dining on board the Amadeus Diamond
Steve Martin - Steve in Etretat, Normandy, France
Steve in Etretat, Normandy, France
Steve Martin - Artists in the District of Montmartre in Paris, France
Artists in the northern district of Montmartre in Paris

To quote Audrey Hepburn, “Paris is always a good idea,” so we added a few days after the cruise to enjoy this most beautiful and charismatic city.

Suggested Itinerary:
8-Day Paris and the River Seine – Paris to Paris