From relaxing on your own private balcony to sneaking away on a bike to explore the French countryside at your own pace, luxury river cruising in Europe has something for all styles of travel. Escape Travel Victoria Point Consultant Belinda Moore recently took in the delights of an Avalon Waterways Cruise
Tell us about your recent holiday
I had been trying to convince my husband for some time that he would love river cruising in Europe and finally he said yes, so off we went. We cruised with Avalon Waterways and couldn't have been happier. Our cabin had a French balcony and beds which faced the doors. This gave us the best view of the stunning scenery.
The ship was lovely and modern and the staff were extraordinary. We used the complimentary bicycles most days and took a leisurely ride through the gorgeous French towns. There were walking tours included at every port and activities onboard for those who preferred to have a more relaxing day.
What were the highlights or stand out moments of your trip?
Visiting some of the charming little towns and old cities in France was just breathtaking. My highlight was a visit to St. Paul-de-Vence – a medieval fortified village about 45 minutes from Cannes in the South of France. Amazing! And great for shopping!
The Carlton Hotel in Cannes is just breathtaking, too. There are Lamborghinis, Bentleys and Ferraris lined up out the front of the hotel - some shipped in from Saudi with their guests!
Any packing tips?
River cruising is pretty casual, so there’s nothing super fancy to pack. There are usually a couple of dinners that people like to dress up for, but you don't need suits and ball gowns like on a bigger ocean cruise. There are no irons in the cabins, so unless you want to pay to get your clothes pressed, try to bring items that don't need ironing.
Any advice for first-time visitors?
Just like with any cruise, you eat way too much. Buffet breakfasts and lunches and then sometimes up to six course dinners... and of course that's not including the morning tea, afternoon cakes and coffee stations, and then the late night snack station! Tip: take clothes with elastic waist bands!
I would take a few trinkets or key rings etc. to give out as gifts along the way to people you encounter. Tipping is usually included on the cruises, but a little souvenir from home is always a nice little extra they wouldn't expect.
Is there anything you would do differently next time?
Maybe stay on for an extra couple of days when the cruise finishes, just to wind down before the big flight home. Other than that, my River Cruise experience was just perfect!