River Cruising with Erica
My name is Erica Shaw and I am addicted to travel. There, I said it and I don’t plan to stop anytime soon. There are very few places on this earth that I do not wish to visit at least once. “I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list” by Susan Sontag perfectly describes how I feel about traveling. I literally want to go everywhere! Now, as a 36 year old wife and mother to 3 very busy kids I do not get to travel as much as I would like. My days are filled with shuffling kids from one place to the next and booking the most incredible vacations for other people. While I love both of these jobs, when I do get to travel I want to make the most of it. That is why river cruising has quickly become my favorite way to see the world! Two years ago, Jon and I had the amazing opportunity to take our very first river cruise. It was on the Seine River in France and went from Paris to the landing beaches of Normandy and back to Paris. This has been my favorite vacation to date. I loved every second of it and I have to add that Jon and I were the youngest people on the boat by a good 20 years! I didn’t care at all! We had the best time and met the best people on this trip.
What makes a river cruise different from other types of vacations or cruises? River cruises are very different from ocean cruises. If you are expecting the large crowds and Las Vegas style shows on a river cruise you will be disappointed. These cruises are meant to fully immerse you in the culture and history of the area you are visiting. You get the diversity of a tour without having to unpack and pack your bags each day. You unpack once and wake up in a new area every single day. Your cruise includes all food and drinks, including beer and wine at lunch and dinner, at least one excursion at each stop, VIP access to the most popular sites in each destination, local guides to tell you the history of the area, and so much more. You also have some down time in each town to explore on your own if you choose to do so. Here is what our days looked like on the Seine.
Day 1: We arrived in Paris! Everything went so smoothly. We made it through customs and to our transfer with no problems. From the airport they took us to a hotel where they had food and drinks for us while we waited for our ship to be ready. We could use this time to explore the city or just rest in the hotel, it was up to us. Once we were on board we set sail down the Seine. The scenery from the dining room as we had our first dinner onboard was breathtaking as we said goodbye to the “City of Lights”.
Day 2: Vernon-Today, we got to visit Claude Monet’s house and gardens in Giverny. Monet’s gardens are absolutely breathtaking! I have never seen so many different types of flowers in one place. I now know why so many of his paintings included these beautiful gardens. After we left Giverny, we went to Les Andelys and Chateau Gaillard, built by King Richard the Lionheart as a fortress in 1196.
Day 3: Cuadebec- This area was once home to over 100 Abbeys. We visited an Abbey that is still in use today and met Father Lulu who runs the Abbey.
Day 4: Landing Beaches of Normandy-If this is the only reason you go on this river cruise you will not be disappointed. This is probably the most moving experience of my life. We started at the American Cemetery and Memorial where 9,386 American soldiers who died in Europe in WWII are buried. We walked the grounds and listened to stories of true American heroes in the visitor center. From here we went to Omaha Beach. We walked on the beach where so many had lost their lives. We were told stories of bravery by our local guide. It was an emotional and very moving experience.
Day 5: Rouen-This was probably my favorite little town that we stopped at. Full of history, wonderful food, and quaint little shops. You have not seen a happier person than me walking around with a freshly baked loaf of French bread that I purchased at the local market! Yes, I ate the whole thing and did not share with Jon, don’t judge me! We also saw where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake, toured the most beautiful gothic cathedral which was once the tallest building in the world, and saw the intricate Gros Horloge astronomical clock, dating back to the 16th century! I could have spent days in this quaint little town. I loved it so much!
Day 6: Conflans-Today we went to Chateau De Malmaison. This large country estate was purchased by Josephine Bonaparte in 1799 while Napoleon was fighting in Egypt. From here we sailed back to Paris.
Day 7: Paris-I absolutely loved Paris and wish we would have added a couple of extra nights here. There is so much to see! My favorite was the night tour. Paris is absolutely stunning at night. There is a reason it is called “The City of Lights”! You also can’t miss the Louvre, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Champs-Elysees, or the Eiffel Tower.
I know this was a quick introduction to river cruising, but I hope that I have enticed you to give it a try. I absolutely love it and have many more on my bucket list.
If you want to give it a try, but don’t want to go on your own you can join Jon and I on the Rhine River July 4-11, 2020!
If you book by March 29, 2019 you get $699 airfare from Tulsa! Pricing starts at $4629 per person with air, transfers, 7 night cruise, pre-paid gratuities, and travel protection. Give me a call for more information! 405-880-3373