Ultra-deluxe barging in France

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#1
SF Bay Area
1,017 Posts
Joined Oct 2014
I'm reposting the following here because I received no gladness on the River Cruising threads. Fully warranted here when you consider the tithe for a six-night "cruise." The cabins may be more cramped than usual but everything else is over-the-moon fabulous.

"Last June we enjoyed an utterly wonderful barge cruise with European Waterways of the Briare Canal/Upper Loire Valley on the Renaissance. Sophisticated, savvy, kindly crew; exquisite environs, large cabins (for a barge), great bathrooms (for a barge), daily excursion to a chateau, vineyard or village market. Gorgeous countryside -- flowers, trees, ancient villages.

http://www.gobarging.com/renaissance-barge

Of course, we're going again next summer in July -- in Burgundy on the Le Semaine des Grand Crus, with Belmond.

http://www.belmond.com/afloat-in-fra...days/grand_cru "

Welcome input, comments, suggestions, questions from any and all.
#3
5 Posts
Joined Jul 2017
Apologies for what may be known as "necrobumping" on some boards but we're finally piecing together plans for an upcoming trip and I've had this site bookmarked for a while and can finally utilize it!

OCTOBERKAT, our initial choice/hopes are to do a barge cruise with European Waterways next summer in Burgundy ... cannot seem to find much on here one way or the other about the company but everything on the site looks like exactly what we are looking for ...

Would LOVE to know a little more about what you thought of the company, barge, facilities, etc.? It's a big occasion for us and we don't know how many more years we have of being able to complete our bucket list of dream trips (and this one specifically is mine ... it would be my 60th birthday celebration but doing a barge trip has been one of hubby's dream since hearing about them from a friend at work ... he doesn't love the idea of a cruise generally as much as I do but this really appeals to him!)

Would love any extra thoughts you could share as a well-respected CC member (and I promise to be more active now that we're moving into active planning etc.)

Thanks in advance!!!
#4
NY, ZG/Colorado
948 Posts
Joined Jun 2013
I believe OktoberKat has not been on this board for sometime now. Some health issues with her husband and do not think they are cruising. I always enjoyed her well thought out and humorous posts. Just an FYI but hope she responds to your request.
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#5
5 Posts
Joined Jul 2017
Thank you, Portofino ...

Hoping all is well with Oktobercat and her family ...

As a newcomer, I know it's hard for me to just barge into a conversation (no pun intended!!!) but am kind of overwhelmed with our sort of sudden decision to move up this long-time amorphous dream trip of mine into reality within the next year ...

Of course, the first place I looked was this board ... in fact, I admit I had to rejoin with a new name because I can't for the life of me remember what my original board name was (I was a lurker, so it's not like I created a trail of breadcrumbs).

I am grateful for everything anyone has shared in detail and have a lot to read ...

Thanks in advance to anyone who HAS posted and I look forward to putting together some ideas. I know what we want to do is going to be costly but on the other hand, as they say, you just never know when you may run out of time to go after those dreams.
#6
SF Bay Area
1,017 Posts
Joined Oct 2014
Hello, Pamela, good to see your post. If I fail to address any of your questions, let me know. Also, "well respected" -- haha, not so much.

First, here is a diary of our Burgundy canal barge cruise:
http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showt...ight=amaryllis

Second, more commentary: We've barged twice in France and are considering another such "cruise" next year (in Scotland!). We are fairly well travelled and adore our barge trips -- at the top of our holiday list. You will want to book the ultra-deluxe category; these barges are luxurious and comfortable -- the best of everything. If the bank permits. Yet, barging at any level is a bargain in my view.

We favor the Loire Valley over Burgundy, the scenery is far more delightful and the wines are pretty good as well. Each day there is an excursion to a chateau or a vineyard or a garden or a pottery or a winery or a town market (such fun!) or a walking tour, etc. Plus bicycles when you want the breeze in your hair. There usually is one cabin bigger than others so do your research and book early. The cabins are exceptionally comfortable, you won't feel cramped. In any case, you'll spend most of your waking hours on the shade or sun decks so as to glory in the gorgeous countryside and villages through which you'll glide.

Each evening is a fine-dining experience, different wines with each course. There is an open bar all day and night long, help yourself. Also soft drinks, juices, mineral water, coffee, espresso, tea, etc.

Most of the ultra-deluxe barge trips meet their guests in the lobby of a Parisian hotel, then drive to the barge mooring which can be anywhere from an hour to 2.5 hours distant. At trip's end, guests are driven back to Paris.

The unpredictable element is your fellow bargers. Most ultra-deluxe barges accommodate six to eight guests. It's a crap shoot. None of our co-bargers were to our taste but it did not matter, we got along well enough and adored being just the two of us.

We found it necessary to arrive in Paris two nights ahead of the barge trip -- jet lag, we fly from San Francisco. Besides, it's Paris! We stayed a week after as well.

Summer in France, in our experience, can be warmer than expected. Bring hot-weather clothes plus layers for when it's not hot. But, yes, hot.

Status update on us for the relevant folk: Since our Amazon cruise at the end of 2015, our land travels have taken us to Fiji (two weeks at Laucala, epitome of luxury
http://www.laucala.com/), Mexico (X4), Hawaii (X2) Quebec, Santa Fe (opera), London (Last Night at the Proms), Paris (X2), Big Sur (X2), Napa, Point Reyes National Seashore (X4). We sold the house and moved to independent senior living, cough, cough. Sparky the cat died. Six months later we welcomed Magnus the MagnifiCat, a rescued three-year-old flamepoint Siamese. Jim still is walking and talking. As am I.
#7
SF Bay Area
1,017 Posts
Joined Oct 2014
I must add: dress always is informal. Leave gowns, blazers and ties at home. Yet another reason to favor barging over traditional cruising.
#8
SF Bay Area
1,017 Posts
Joined Oct 2014
Also, we may mot be entirely done with traditional cruising. There may be an Alaska cruise in store but it for sure won't be on Regent.
#9
NY, ZG/Colorado
948 Posts
Joined Jun 2013
Originally posted by OctoberKat
Also, we may mot be entirely done with traditional cruising. There may be an Alaska cruise in store but it for sure won't be on Regent.
So nice to hear from you and happy you are enjoying your travels.
You are as funny as ever
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"I haven't been everywhere but it's on my list".....
-Susan Sontag
#10
Washington State
22,844 Posts
Joined Dec 2005
Decided against posting on a thread that goes back 4 years.
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Tolerance and Patience are two things we all need..........
Total nights: Regent = 375 / Silversea = 36 / Oceania = 26 (Upcoming 104 nights: 3 Explorer, 2 Voyager and 1 Mariner)

Sailings per ship: Explorer (4), Voyager (11), Mariner (10), Navigator (3), PG (1), Silver Spirit (1), Silver Whisper (1), Silver Shadow (1), Oceania Riviera (2)

Itineraries Sailed: Alaska (3 sailings) / Baltics / Barcelona – Dubai / Barcelona - Miami / Cape Town – Rio (2 sailings) / Cape Town - Cape Town / E. & W. Caribbean (4 sailings) / CHRISTENING CRUISE - Explorer - Monte Carlo-Monte Carlo / Ft. Lauderdale – Lima / Istanbul-Istanbul / Istanbul-Venice / London-Monte Carlo / Miami – Barcelona 2 sailings) / Miami-Miami (Amazon) / Mumbai – Bali / New York-Southampton / Rome to Lisbon / Singapore to Sydney / Stockholm - Copenhagen / Tahiti / Venice-Rome / Vancouver-Tokyo
#11
670 Posts
Joined May 2004
Greetings to OktoberKat! I'm so looking forward to hearing about your travels.It's wonderful to see that you all are up and running again. I like your style. Fizzy
#12
5 Posts
Joined Jul 2017
Originally posted by Travelcat2
Decided against posting on a thread that goes back 4 years.
But now it only goes back a day or two

Kat, thank you SO much for responding and the details ... I swear to all of you I really did try to find other posts that were on this specific subject but had little luck and I know this board is as good as it gets when it comes to cruising!

We've been debating back and forth for a day or two on this (sticker shock vs once-in-a-lifetime trip) ... we're both middle-aged-bordering-on-maybe-a-little-past-that LOL ... and who knows how many years we (collectively or separately) have left where we can do something like this? So I THINK we have decided YES YES YES ... and now it's down to looking more carefully at the two options (European and FCW) and going all in ... I DO think we want to do Burgundy, though we will consider Loire Valley as well, and your (Kat) thoughts that Loire is preferable is one we'll take into account for sure ... And we also plan to get to Paris about two days in advance and leave a few days later so that we can enjoy some Paris AND be doing our international travel on weekdays (lesson learned our last two trips when we had some Sunday travel in there. Bad idea. Very bad. And we have the flexibility to do it, so we will!)

Also VERY glad to know about the informal atmosphere in terms of dress.

Once we lock and load, I will definitely be asking more questions here and also spend a lot of time reading the threads that I think probably discuss some of the other aspects of river/canal cruising as well as the ports and sites that are relevant.

I'm ridiculously excited already and we haven't even reserved yet (though I am guessing we need to do that soon, especially if we want choice of cabin, since we really only have a few weeks that work for us.)
#13
1,922 Posts
Joined Jun 2008
Originally posted by Travelcat2
Decided against posting on a thread that goes back 4 years.
But you did. Confused...
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#14
uk
857 Posts
Joined Aug 2014
Octoberkat,
Also like to say welcome back. I enjoyed your comprehensive and humorous posts on Regent board a few years back.
It's good to hear you and your husband are enjoying a different type of cruising, and it sounds perfect for you both.
Long may you continue to enjoy this wonderful way to travel.
Best wishes, Jean.
#15
Washington State
22,844 Posts
Joined Dec 2005
Originally posted by YoHoHo
But you did. Confused...
When you try to remove a post completely, you get a message that the what you have written is to short. Therefore I wrote something - just to get my previous post to disappear. It is interesting to see "the group" back together.

Happy to hear that octobercat found cruises that suit her and her DH since sailing on Regent and Silversea were not what they were looking for.

In terms of barge cruising, I looked at this thread just to see if there was anything I could learn. I did!
#16
SF Bay Area
1,017 Posts
Joined Oct 2014
Gosh, you all, happily enjoyed your lovely greetings, so kind! Perks me right up.

Pamela, I very much hope you and your husband can do the barge "cruise" through Burgundy. It's a marvelous trip and so restorative. Plus, FRANCE, you know?! Ask me anything if questions arise later.

Portofino, I am looking at Oceania's Regatta for the Alaska cruise. it departs from San Francisco which is super handy for us. Will be booking semi-soon for 2018 since we'll want owner's suite or next level down.
#17
NY, ZG/Colorado
948 Posts
Joined Jun 2013
Originally posted by OctoberKat
Gosh, you all, happily enjoyed your lovely greetings, so kind! Perks me right up.

Pamela, I very much hope you and your husband can do the barge "cruise" through Burgundy. It's a marvelous trip and so restorative. Plus, FRANCE, you know?! Ask me anything if questions arise later.

Portofino, I am looking at Oceania's Regatta for the Alaska cruise. it departs from San Francisco which is super handy for us. Will be booking semi-soon for 2018 since we'll want owner's suite or next level down.
OctoberKat,

We cruised Alaska on Regatta and it was lovely. Our cruise was in May SF to Alaska and the time of year was perfect. No crowds or children, great docking position and good weather.
Word of advice, we had the Vista Suite in the front. A fabulous suite, although when it gets rough (1st 2 days from SF) you get hit with everything. A wild ride ;-) I personally would take the OS in the back. We had the OS on Insignia for a month in S. America last year and it was perfect. Just something to consider.
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"I haven't been everywhere but it's on my list".....
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#18
Washington State
22,844 Posts
Joined Dec 2005
Keep in mind that Oceania is a step down from Regent (also Crystal, Silversea and Seabourn) and the suites (even the top suite) is smaller than on most luxury ships. While Cruise Critic does include Oceania in the luxury category, the CEO of the cruise line does not (and, of course, they are a sister company to NCL and Regent).
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Tolerance and Patience are two things we all need..........
Total nights: Regent = 375 / Silversea = 36 / Oceania = 26 (Upcoming 104 nights: 3 Explorer, 2 Voyager and 1 Mariner)

Sailings per ship: Explorer (4), Voyager (11), Mariner (10), Navigator (3), PG (1), Silver Spirit (1), Silver Whisper (1), Silver Shadow (1), Oceania Riviera (2)

Itineraries Sailed: Alaska (3 sailings) / Baltics / Barcelona – Dubai / Barcelona - Miami / Cape Town – Rio (2 sailings) / Cape Town - Cape Town / E. & W. Caribbean (4 sailings) / CHRISTENING CRUISE - Explorer - Monte Carlo-Monte Carlo / Ft. Lauderdale – Lima / Istanbul-Istanbul / Istanbul-Venice / London-Monte Carlo / Miami – Barcelona 2 sailings) / Miami-Miami (Amazon) / Mumbai – Bali / New York-Southampton / Rome to Lisbon / Singapore to Sydney / Stockholm - Copenhagen / Tahiti / Venice-Rome / Vancouver-Tokyo
#19
SF Bay Area
1,017 Posts
Joined Oct 2014
Originally posted by portofinoitaly
OctoberKat,

We cruised Alaska on Regatta and it was lovely. Our cruise was in May SF to Alaska and the time of year was perfect. No crowds or children, great docking position and good weather.
Word of advice, we had the Vista Suite in the front. A fabulous suite, although when it gets rough (1st 2 days from SF) you get hit with everything. A wild ride ;-) I personally would take the OS in the back. We had the OS on Insignia for a month in S. America last year and it was perfect. Just something to consider.
Good to know, Portofino, thank you. Looks as if the owners suite is for us, now just have to weigh upper versus lower deck. We're considering the May cruise, as well.
#20
NY, ZG/Colorado
948 Posts
Joined Jun 2013
Originally posted by OctoberKat
Good to know, Portofino, thank you. Looks as if the owners suite is for us, now just have to weigh upper versus lower deck. We're considering the May cruise, as well.
Deck 7 is best. 8 is under the Terrace Cafe. You may encounter noise from carts and people dining etc.

I would take 6 if choice is between that or 8.

The suites are spacious, and the plus is 2 bathrooms. Luxurious enough for us ;-) and believe me...we live well.
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"I haven't been everywhere but it's on my list".....
-Susan Sontag