It Was Only a Matter of Time

 

by Don McCann

With all of the growing popularity of European river cruises, it’s not too surprising that one of the major ‘ocean’ cruise lines has decided to launch their own river cruise division. Recently, Crystal Cruises announced that they will begin river cruises within Europe in 2017. At the time, they released virtually no details, but earlier this week they announced some date information and even showed us a couple of renderings!

Crystal Cruises European River CruiseCrystal Cruises will begin European river cruises in March, 2017 and reservations will open in December of this year, in 2015. That far in advance, you might ask? Yes! With the demand for river cruises and the limited number of cabins onboard, they sell much further in advance than many ocean cruises.

The river vessels from Crystal will each feature standard ‘suites’ at 250 square feet,Crystal Cruises river cruise suite as well as two 500 square feet penthouse suites. Accommodations will have walk-in closets, king-size beds and the bathrooms will have double vanities. As with their ocean ships, the river ships will include their signature Palm Court, which will have a glass roof & dance floor and there will be a fitness center and spa. The ships will carry only 140 guests.

The other lines in the luxury arena of European river cruises (Uniworld, Tauck, and Scenic) will surely be interested to see how Crystal will create their own style of luxury river cruises and we’ll all be interested to see at what price point, as well. Stay tuned for more info!

River Cruise Month

European River Cruise photo

Idyllic European River Photo – taken by Bill Edwards

by Don McCann

More river cruises are booked in July than in any other month of the year and most of those bookings are for sailings far into the future.  “So what is it about river cruises anyway?” you might be asking.  One of the best features of river cruising is the very issue which begs advance bookings.  You see most river vessels only hold from 130 to 190 guests, so it makes for a wonderful ambiance onboard, but makes inventory scarce unless you plan AHEAD!

So since now is the time many are thinking (or should be thinking) of river cruise reservations for next year, we thought we’d remind you that we have a separate site exclusively for river cruises.  Take a look and contact us with any questions and/or your preferred dates for a reservation……….RiverCruiseEscapes.com .

Tauck River Cruise in Southern France

Tauck River Cruise in Southern France, photo by John Lane

European Christmas Markets River Cruise: Two In One

by Don McCann

Local Baked Treats at Vienna Christmas Market

Local Baked Treats at Vienna Christmas Market

By now, most travelers know about the wonders of European river cruises.  However, many are unaware of the holiday charms of a Christmas Markets river cruise.  These holiday event favorites feature crafts, jewelry, gifts, etc., as well as great local foods and entertainment; they are really more of a ‘festival’.  Tourists and locals mingle as they stroll by the various booths and sip either excellent hot chocolate, or the delicious glühwein, a hot wine favorite!  Germany is perhaps the most noted for the ‘markets’, but you’ll find them throughout Europe beginning in mid, or late November until Christmas.

The attraction of a Christmas Markets cruise is that, not only will you have a great itinerary with tour options at each port, but you’ll also have the opportunity to experience these magical holiday events in various locations.  In other words, it’s almost like two cruises in one; sightseeing, markets, or some of both!  On our recent cruise along the Danube, we were able to visit three, different Christmas Markets in Vienna, Salzburg, and Munich.  Wherever the locations, each one has its own personality and some cities have multiple markets in various locations.  In Vienna and Munich, the market was in front of their town hall building, or “Rathausplatz” in Vienna and “Rathaus” in Munich.  The fantastic facades of these buildings provide the perfect authentic European setting for all visitors to their Christmas Markets.  However, in some locations, the market will simply be in a city square, or maybe a large park area.

Rhine, Danube, or whatever river itinerary you choose for a Christmas Markets River Cruise, you are in for a treat!

Vienna Christmas Market

Vienna Christmas Market at Rathaus

Munich Christmas Market

Munich Christmas Market at Rathaus in Marienplatz

 

Look for an announcement soon on our special Christmas Markets departure in December!

French Waterways with Tauck River Cruises – “Show ‘n Tell”

Our recent blog posts by John Lane featured some of his ports along the French Waterways cruise with Tauck, but in honor of our “River Cruise Week” we thought we’d put together some more photo highlights to illustrate this outstanding itinerary:

John’s itinerary was from Arles to Lyon, then TGV to Paris

Tauck John map

 

 A very FRENCH side street in Arles

Tauck John Arles street

 

                             

 Cafe Van Gogh in Arles – how perfect is this?!!

Tauck John Arles Cafe Van Gogh

 

 The beauty of Arles – inside & out!

Tauck John Arles bakery garden

 

Avignon Bridge

Tauck John Avignon Bridge

 

 

Chateauneuf du Pape near Avignon

Tauck John Avignon Chateauneuf du Pape

Vineyards near Avignon

Tauck John Avignon vineyards

 

 

Tree-lined street in Viviers

Tauck John Viviers street

 

 

Tauck exclusive tour to the Laurent Family Ranch and the Camargue horses

Tauck John Laurent Family Ranch

John, overlooking Vienne

Tauck John Vienne

 

 

St Maurice in Vienne

Tauck John Vienne St Maurice

 

 

Roman ruins in Vienne

Roman ruins in Vienne

 

 

Festive colors of the produce & flowers in Vienne

Festive colors of the produce & flowers at the Vienne market!

 

 

Farewell dinner setting onboard Tauck Swiss Emerald

Tauck John farewell dinner

 

 

Paris:  The perfect ending to any visit to France!

Tauck John Paris

 

For more on Tauck River Cruise, click here>

The Talk About Tauck!

by John Lane

A quote that comes to mind that reminds me of my tour with Tauck would be:
“If you settle for ordinary you are just a tourist”. There is nothing ordinary about Tauck Tours. Tauck offers exclusive destination experiences that are truly all inclusive with the personalized service of a tour host and takes you to those out of the way places the other tour companies don’t.

Tauck river photo

Tauck specializes in ‘destination immersion’

On my Tauck River Cruise, we had several “Tauck Exclusives” that made the River Cruise even more special. We visited a family ranch in Camargue in the delta of the Rhone River. Imagine a provencal lunch served by family members in traditional costumes and being serenaded by a trio of guitar players during the wonderful noon feast. After lunch we had the opportunity to see the bulls and the guardians in action with a demonstration of a Camargue style bullfight. These young men were crazy, being chased by this wild bull through the ring. It was an amazing day that only Tauck could offer. On two other occasions we were given 20 Euros to spend to enjoy the local culture and food! A wonderful lunch in Avignon was enjoyed and in Lyon, the gastronomical capital of France, we enjoyed a “private food tasting”. We then sampled the wonderful foods that were awaiting us at the various stalls at France’s largest indoor food market all on the generosity of Tauck.

With Tauck you can not go wrong—they travel the world. This family run business offers the best! So if you never want to settle for ordinary, travel in good company, leave your worries at home and get what you pay for and then some …travel with Tauck…you won’t be disappointed and you will never travel with anyone else!

A Gem of a Hotel in Paris

by John Lane

I found a gem of a hotel in Hotel Moliere in Paris. Built in 1840 the hotel is in a prime location just off the Avenue de l’Opera and around the corner from the shops and cafes of the Rue de Rivoli and the Louvre. Who could ask for a better location! With all the major attractions of Paris at your doorstep! The metro is close by and if I can maneuver my way through the Paris metro system anyone can!

Hotel Moliere Paris

Hotel Moliere Paris

A welcoming reception staff helped with dining and shopping suggestions and reconfirmed travel arrangements for my departure. This gem of hotel offers complimentary internet service and along with the lobby lounge there is a small living room just off of the reception and small breakfast room. Continental breakfast is included in some rates. Rooms are are decorated in fabric prints on the walls with coordinating curtains hung from the ceiling draped over the window that open to the street. Bathrooms are marble and stone and new! This small hotel is a great value for a city that charges an arm and leg for hotel nights. Stay at the Hotel Moliere right in the heart of it all and you won’t be disappointed!

 

John recently returned from a Tauck River Cruise in France.

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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