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Choosing the Best French River or Canal Cruise for You | Cruising in France

Cruising in France

...Travel blog about river and canal cruise vacations on luxury barges and riverboats

 

How to Choose the Best River or Canal Cruise for You (Part 1)

Written by Carolyn on February 26, 2009
Summary:

So, you’ve always wanted to take a river or canal cruise, but how to pick the right one for you? Here are a few things to think about…

Questions to ask yourself and your travel agent before booking your river or canal cruise:

Will this be your first visit to the country?

If you’ve never been to France, you may want to see ”don’t miss” sights like Paris, the Loire Valley chateaus, or the Champagne region on your cruise. But if you’ve “been there, done that,” then taking a barge cruise through the Burgundy countryside or the wild landscape of the Camargue will offer a totally new experience.

River Cruise through ParisBarging on a Canal in BurgundyCruising the Camargue

How many people in your group?

If you have a family or a group of friends, you may want to charter a barge. That will give you the most flexibility to choose how to spend your cruise. The barge captain will have lots of suggestions - all you’ll have to do is agree among yourselves! If you prefer a larger riverboat and have a big enough group (usually 10 or more), you may be able to get a group discount or a free cruise for one person.

If you’re traveling as a couple, you’ll be with other people. So, the question is, do you want to be with a lot of new people or just a few new people? Remember, you’ll be spending a lot of time together on the boat and on the sightseeing excursions.

A single person will want to pay close attention to single supplement fees, which can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars more up to as much as double the single price. A few barges and riverboats have single cabins, but most do not.

Do you want a luxury experience or do you need to watch your pennies?

Generally speaking, the larger the boat, the cheaper the cruise. Because the ratio of staff to guests is much higher on the smaller barges, they typically aim for the high-end experience. Gourmet meals, fine French wines, and personal attention are the selling points of a luxury barge cruise.

Larger riverboats offer several sizes of cabins, with corresponding price breaks, while barges usually are outfitted with several similar staterooms. In many cases, the cabins on a barge can be made up as either twin or king for maximum flexibility. A few barges even offer staterooms with bathtubs.

There are no inside cabins on riverboats or barges, but window sizes vary considerably, from sliding glass doors opening onto a French balcony to small, fixed porthole-style windows. This is not as big a concern as it might be on an ocean cruise where you spend days at sea. But if you think you will want to spend time alone in your cabin instead of in the lounge area or on the sundeck, it’s something to check out.

Cruise Stateroom

Midi Languedoc Cruise Stateroom

Burgundy Beaune Cruise

 

 

 

 

Cruises in France are most expensive in the late spring, early summer and early fall because that’s when the weather is usually the best. If you want to save money, plan to go during the low seasons.

Next time, we’ll take up a few more things to think about when deciding on a cruise that’s right for you. In the meantime, you may want to check out our Frequent Questions page.

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