Jump to content
OctoberKat

Ultra-deluxe barging in France

Recommended Posts

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.

[url]http://www.gobarging.com/renaissance-barge[/url]

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

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

Welcome input, comments, suggestions, questions from any and all.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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!!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[COLOR=#000000][FONT=UICTFontTextStyleTallBody]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. [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][FONT=UICTFontTextStyleTallBody]
[/FONT][/COLOR]
[COLOR=#000000][FONT=UICTFontTextStyleTallBody]First, here is a diary of our Burgundy canal barge cruise:[/FONT][/COLOR]
[URL]http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2233277&highlight=amaryllis[/URL]

Second, more commentary: [FONT=UICTFontTextStyleTallBody][COLOR=#000000]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.[/COLOR][/FONT]

[FONT=UICTFontTextStyleTallBody][COLOR=#000000]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.[/COLOR][/FONT]

[FONT=UICTFontTextStyleTallBody][COLOR=#000000]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.[/COLOR][/FONT]

[FONT=UICTFontTextStyleTallBody][COLOR=#000000]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.[/COLOR][/FONT]

[FONT=UICTFontTextStyleTallBody][COLOR=#000000]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.[/COLOR][/FONT]

[COLOR=#000000][FONT=UICTFontTextStyleTallBody]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.[/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][FONT=UICTFontTextStyleTallBody]
[/FONT][/COLOR]
[COLOR=#000000][FONT=UICTFontTextStyleTallBody]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 [/FONT][/COLOR]http://www.laucala.com/[COLOR=#000000][FONT=UICTFontTextStyleTallBody]), 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.[/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][FONT=UICTFontTextStyleTallBody]
[/FONT][/COLOR] Edited by OctoberKat

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I must add: dress always is informal. Leave gowns, blazers and ties at home. Yet another reason to favor barging over traditional cruising. Edited by OctoberKat

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote name='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.[/quote]

So nice to hear from you and happy you are enjoying your travels.
You are as funny as ever :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote name='Travelcat2']Decided against posting on a thread that goes back 4 years.[/quote]

But now it only goes back a day or two :D

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.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote name='Travelcat2']Decided against posting on a thread that goes back 4 years.[/quote]
But you did. Confused...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote name='YoHoHo']But you did. Confused...[/quote]

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!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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. Edited by OctoberKat

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote name='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.[/quote]

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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote name='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.[/quote]

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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote name='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.[/quote]

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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote name='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.[/quote]

Note Oceania is not a luxury line, it is upper premium.
Here is my review of Oceania Regatta in Alaska last month

[url]https://www.cruisecritic.com/memberreviews/memberreview.cfm?EntryID=584144[/url]

But maybe if you are in the owner's suite, you can order up special meals and bypass the dining issues.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote name='Catlover54']Note Oceania is not a luxury line, it is upper premium.
Here is my review of Oceania Regatta in Alaska last month

[URL]https://www.cruisecritic.com/memberreviews/memberreview.cfm?EntryID=584144[/URL]

But maybe if you are in the owner's suite, you can order up special meals and bypass the dining issues.[/quote]

Yes, it is upper premium, but the OS is very luxurious. Your butler will bring meals from any of the venues, but we tend to enjoy dining in the restaurants.
As I mentioned to OctoberKat, timing is everything when taking a cruise to Alaska. May is the time to go, if you want to avoid crowds and children. That will greatly impact any cruise to Alaska in prime Summer season. We avoid Summer cruises like the plague.

I have been on 4 Oceania cruises and they suit us just fine. The smaller R ships tend to feel more crowded when the weather is inclement because everyone tends to stay inside to keep warm. But, when in your own OS, you can avoid those issues.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote name='portofinoitaly']The smaller R ships tend to feel more crowded when the weather is inclement because everyone tends to stay inside to keep warm. But, when in your own OS, you can avoid those issues.[/quote]

So, you are saying that you can avoid the crowds by staying inside of your suite? I can see how easily the ship could get crowded if too many people are inside but, IMO, having to stay in your suite - even an Owner's Suite - would not make for a wonderful cruise.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Back to Pamela with an invitation to check back in to apprise us of your barge plans/progress. We, the vicarious, would be pleased to ride along.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote name='Travelcat2']So, you are saying that you can avoid the crowds by staying inside of your suite? I can see how easily the ship could get crowded if too many people are inside but, IMO, having to stay in your suite - even an Owner's Suite - would not make for a wonderful cruise.[/quote]

Due to the fact I have taken this actual cruise, same itinerary, same ship, I am providing OctoberKat with my experience. Everyone is different.

We prefer the OS because we are not very social and enjoy the extra space, two bathrooms, reading, relaxing in our private space, and the views of Alaska all by ourselves in our lovely suite. Nothing like seeing Hubbard Glacier up close and personal while everyone else is fighting for a spot. We have our own balcony :)

We also only dine for two every evening and never share a table. OctoberKat may differ, but I am providing my experience. She will make the best choice for she and her hubby.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote name='portofinoitaly']We prefer the OS because we are not very social and enjoy the extra space, two bathrooms, reading, relaxing in our private space, and the views of Alaska all by ourselves in our lovely suite..[/quote]


I am SO with you on this. Sounds divinely perfect.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote name='portofinoitaly']Due to the fact I have taken this actual cruise, same itinerary, same ship, I am providing OctoberKat with my experience. Everyone is different.

We prefer the OS because we are not very social and enjoy the extra space, two bathrooms, reading, relaxing in our private space, and the views of Alaska all by ourselves in our lovely suite. Nothing like seeing Hubbard Glacier up close and personal while everyone else is fighting for a spot. We have our own balcony :)

We also only dine for two every evening and never share a table. OctoberKat may differ, but I am providing my experience. She will make the best choice for she and her hubby.[/quote]

While I find your "take" on the situation unique, I understand and respect that there are "different strokes for different folks". Even when we have stayed in a 2 bedroom suite, we do not spend most of our time in our suite (unless we invite people in to share our wonderful views or to have a cocktail party).

The TS has sailed on Regent's smallest ship and likely knows how crowded it can get. Oceania's smaller ships are considerably larger but appear smaller. I do like Oceania's Riviera and Marina as they are spacious, light and airy while the smaller ships seem dark and cramped. It is just a matter of personal preference - one that I like to share with people that have yet to sail on Oceania.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Paging Pamela, more info to get you in the mood:

[COLOR=#000000][FONT=UICTFontTextStyleTallBody]
[URL]http://www.gobarging.com/l-art-de-vivre-barge[/URL][/FONT][/COLOR]
[COLOR=#000000][FONT=UICTFontTextStyleTallBody]
[/FONT][/COLOR]
[COLOR=#000000][FONT=UICTFontTextStyleTallBody][URL]http://www.burgundy-canal.com/[/URL][/FONT][/COLOR]
[COLOR=#000000][FONT=UICTFontTextStyleTallBody]
[/FONT][/COLOR]
[COLOR=#000000][FONT=UICTFontTextStyleTallBody][URL]https://www.ricksteves.com/watch-read-listen/read/articles/burgundy-wine-barging-and-beyond[/URL][/FONT][/COLOR]
[COLOR=#000000][FONT=UICTFontTextStyleTallBody]
[/FONT][/COLOR]
[COLOR=#000000][FONT=UICTFontTextStyleTallBody][URL]http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/europe/france/Burgundy/Features/burgundy-canal-journeys/[/URL][/FONT][/COLOR]
[COLOR=#000000][FONT=UICTFontTextStyleTallBody]
[/FONT][/COLOR]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Thank you SOOOOO much!!! So sorry I've been out of the loop for a few days ... work smash and promising myself to settle back in here when I have time ...

Can't wait to read your links!!! I know it's crazy to already be so excited about something we won't be doing for almost a YEAR but hey, anticipation is such a huge part of the experience!

We did lock and load ... will be on the Renaissance with European Waterways next summer doing the Burgundy cruise. I'm already working on refreshing my French (I know, I know, I won't need it on the barge ... but we're hoping to take advantage of the ability to wander through the towns and villages and while on last two "big trips" to Spain and Italy my husband was very well-versed in Spanish and Italian, he's struggling with French whereas I studied it for seven years ... MANY years ago, though ... but I've taken on the "learn enough to be able to communicate with the people in the markets and towns" duties! (It's also good to sharpen my memory, which took a big hit due to minor medical issues).

Not 100% sure of the itinerary yet (I see sample itineraries on their site but not positive that those will still be the same stops next summer). Looking forward to a lot of walking and a LOT of wine and amazing food ... and to relearning how to ride a bike before we go!

Planning on giving ourselves two nights in Paris beforehand and another two afterwards to avoid the worries of delays and, you know, to spend a few days and nights in Paris!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Delighted to learn you booked, Pamela -- good on you! Our first canal barge trip was aboard Renaissance; it is elegantly yet comfortably furnished and has larger-than-the-norm cabins. Confident your spjourn will be fabulous.

You will need your French in the countryside along the barge route. English much less common there than in Paris, a truism no doubt. Edited by OctoberKat

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
We did Burgundy with French Country Waterways. It could not have been more perfect!


Sent from my iPad using Forums

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
So glad to know my new addiction to Duolingo will not be completely wasted :) Now if re-learning to ride a bike goes half as well as re-learning enough French to be reasonably conversational I will be happy!

Meanwhile, every week or so I put aside an hour to just relax (with a glass of French wine) and read/re-read people's posts and stories about their barge cruises ... we think this is the best of both worlds!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×