River Cruise Advisor’s Ralph Grizzle is currently sailing aboard CroisiEurope’s Botticelli. Day 4 of his journey has an interesting overview about one of Europe’s oldest river cruise lines – and why you’ll likely be hearing more about them in North America…
Following yesterday’s inspiring visit to Monet’s gardens in Giverny, we spent another morning of scenic cruising as CroisiEurope’s Botticelli made its way down the Seine toward Honfleur.
The relaxed morning on board gave me time to reflect on where CroisiEurope fits in the overall river cruise marketplace. In this post, I’ll provide a few insights to help you determine if CroisiEurope could be the right choice for you.
Certainly, there are cruise companies that offer a more upscale experience than when compared with CroisiEurope — AmaWaterways, Uniworld and Viking River Cruises, to name a few. You’ll want to research those companies on River Cruise Advisor and compare them with CroisiEurope based on your own budget and preferred style of cruising.
Are you a Europhile who wants an immersive experience mixing with Europeans on your river cruise? While CroisiEurope may be a good choice for you, it’s not the only choice. A-ROSA is a European-based cruise line that is also ramping up efforts to attract North Americans.
But while A-ROSA schedules a handful of sailings that are marketed only to North Americans, CroisiEurope’s cruises are never sold exclusively to one demographic, so you will be cruising with Europeans and others from around the world on any of the ships in the CroisiEurope fleet. On our sailing: a mix of English speakers, who hail from as far away as New Zealand, and Europeans, primarily French.
One area where CroisiEurope stands alone, however, is pricing. No other river cruise will cost you less than those offered by CroisiEurope.
Of course, if you’re someone who believes that you get what you pay for, CroisiEurope’s attractive lead-in prices may beg the question, What do you get for per diems of around US$175 per person?
1. A decent stateroom. You get a stateroom on every river cruise. True enough, but let’s begin with the basics. Botticelli features two configurations of cabins: 24 superior cabins upstairs and 51 standard cabins downstairs — for a total capacity of 150 passengers. The most notable difference between the two cabin configurations is that the upstairs cabins on deck 2 have large sliding glass windows. The downstairs cabins have rectangular, fixed windows. I described the cabins in detail, with photos in Boarding Botticelli in Paris: First Impressions.
2. French food. On CroisiEurope, you get something you’re not likely to get on any other river cruiser, at least not on a consistent basis: authentic French food. The chef is French. In fact, of the crew, only the chef, the captain and a few sailors on Botticelli are French. The rest of the crew is primarily comprised of Hungarians, who are warm and gracious in performing their duties. Why not a full French crew? Well, that’s a delicate topic. Let’s put it this way. There are two working groups on strike in France as I write these words: the airline workers, who are causing flight delays and cancellations; and the train workers, who are causing delays in the train schedules. No offense intended against those still residing in the land of my ancestors, but would you really want to rely on a French crew to show up on time and in a cheerful mood?