The Voice of the Cruise Industry

Back on board with CroisiEurope: A view from the Garonne

CroisiEurope, cruise, river cruise, Garonne, travel,

CroisiEurope has resumed sailings on the Garonne – the first river cruise line to return to the French river and also the first company to welcome multi-national passengers on board.

River cruise expert Jeannine Williamson joined the cruise to see first-hand the Covid-19 protocols that have been put in place and find out what it is like to sail again in the current climate. Cruise Trade News invited her to take part in a Q&A to share her experience with agents.

Which ship were you on and what is it like?

Cruise expert Jeannine Williamson.

I was on Cyrano de Bergerac, which offers a number of itineraries out of Bordeaux. Carrying 174 passengers, it is one of CroisiEurope’s premium class vessels and, in common with other ships in the fleet, it has a bright, airy and contemporary feel.

My cabin was on the top deck, with a wide French balcony window which was really nice. Staterooms on the deck below have windows that open and those on the lower deck have portholes. Public areas include a lounge bar, with a smaller lounge at the back of the ship, and a spacious sun deck.

Who else was on board?

To date, other river lines have offered sailings to domestic passengers but CroisiEurope has opened cruises to guests from other countries. Out of 124 passengers there were five nationalities on my cruise, including French, German and Swiss, and all the crew members spoke excellent English.

Tell us about the health protocols that have been put in place – did you feel safe?

CroisiEurope sent out a health questionnaire that I had to fill out in advance and when I arrived I had my temperature taken as I boarded the ship. My suitcase was disinfected before being delivered to my cabin, where there was an information sheet about the various measures along with face masks, which were replaced throughout the cruise, and hand sanitiser.

The protocols were extensive, with crew members wearing face coverings at all times, enhanced cleaning of the ship and temperatures taken every time we came back on board. I was very impressed and felt perfectly safe.

The on-board CroisiEurope team.

What was it like in the dining room and other public areas?

Passengers are asked to wear masks and observe a one-metre distance from people not in their group when they are walking around the ship. Initially I forgot a few times and had a gentle reminder from staff, but it’s surprising how quickly I got used to it.

Once  seated in the lounges, dining room or out on deck, masks can be removed and most of the time it felt exactly like a ‘normal’ river cruise with everyone in a happy holiday mood.

At mealtimes CroisiEurope already operates a policy where guests allocated a table at the start of the cruise for the duration and lunches and dinners are always served meals – rather than buffets – so that felt exactly the same.

At breakfast an assortment of breads, cheese and cold cuts were waiting on the table and waiters served items from the buffet and cooked dishes. In the lounge areas and on the sun deck drinks were brought to the table to avoid anyone standing at the bar.

Out on excursions we had to wear masks in the coach, but by then it had become second nature.

What was the best part?

Hard to name just one and overall it was fantastic to be back on a cruise in the first place. Although it was a direct result of Covid-19, it was pleasant to visit places that were uncrowded so it was always easy to walk around.

Back on board it would have to be CroisiEurope’s generous inclusions, which cover an open all-day bar, plus a featured cocktail of the day, and a choice of no less than eight complimentary wines at lunch and dinner. By the end of the week I had tried them all.

CroisiEurope has resumed selected sailings on the Danube, Rhine and Elbe.

Where else is CroisiEurope sailing this season?

Unfortunately, quarantine for UK travellers arriving back from France was introduced the day after I got back. However, CroisiEurope has resumed selected sailings on the Danube, Rhine and Elbe, which are currently not affected by any travel restrictions, and more European destinations will become progressively available throughout the season.

The final word goes to CroisiEurope UK sales director John Fair, who said: “We are delighted that CroisiEurope has carefully and safely recommenced cruises across a number of rivers in Europe.

“Safety is always our number one priority but we believe we have achieved that without compromising on our renowned standards of service, food and comfort.

“River cruising has been industry leading in this respect and has been able to demonstrate that cruising in all sectors will return when it is safe to do so and will take thousands of passengers to all the corners of the earth once again.”

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