Introduction to No Fly River Cruises in France By Rail

This week’s blog post is an introduction to the reality of doing a French river cruise without having to set foot in an airport.  In the UK, our rail system is poor apart from routes leading directly into London.  But once at St Pancras for the Eurostar, then the European mainland is waiting.  So, our introduction to no fly river cruises in France focuses on the quickest rail options available to our customers and explains where rail with a French river cruise works well and where it becomes more complicated.

Paris on a Seine river cruise

Paris No Fly River Cruises

By far the easiest river cruise to attempt by rail from the UK to France is a Seine river cruise. This will be a cruise that will start and usually end in Paris as well.  There are lots of trains from London to Paris daily.  Or you could even do Ebsfleet or Ashford in Kent.  You will be provided with the docking location of the ship, so you could then either take a taxi or the metro, or a transfer may be included by your cruiseline.

If you are travelling more widely in France, then the french regional trains and the high speed TGV will easily bring you to one of the Paris terminals.

Exact timetables for Eurostar and TGV are not available until 3 months before departure.  Savings are available for senior citizens.  If you’d prefer not to navigate the complexities of the Eurostar or French operator SNCF timetables, then we are here to help.

Examples of operators who run Seine cruises from Paris and back into Paris from May – October are: Riviera, Avalon, Amadeus, Amawaterways and Uniworld.

Bordeaux No Fly River Cruises

River cruises along the Garonne river start and end in Bordeaux.  This makes train travel a possibility but will be less straightforward than Paris.  If you are travelling by Eurostar, then you will have to cross Paris to Gare de Montparnasse to catch a train going Southwest on the TGV.  The good news is that the TGV also offers discounted rates for senior citizens and the prices are very good.  It is best to leave yourself plenty of time to make the change.  The journey takes between 2 hours and 2 hours 15 minutes.  It is then a short journey from Bordeaux St Jean station to the boat. If you were to become later than planned, then it is best to check that you are booked on a cruise where they ship doesn’t leave on arrival day.  That way, you won’t be left behind.

Examples of operators who run Garonne cruises from Bordeuax and back Bordeaux from May – October are: Avalon, Amawaterways, Viking and Uniworld.

South of France No Fly River Cruises

When we talk about river cruises in the South of France, we primarily mean cruises along the Rhone and Saone rivers.  These cruises run through Burgundy, Provence and down to Avignon. These cruises work really well with Eurostar and TGV as there is now no need to change stations in Paris.  Various options can be looked at, including a direct train to Marseilles, which runs on certain days.

MS Amadeus Provence Sun Deck

MS Amadeus Provence Sun Deck

Our favourite way of doing a river cruise through this region is catching the direct train to Lyon from St Pancreas and returning the same.  The MS Amadeus Provence, does a 7 night round trip from Lyon, to specifically take advantage of the shorter train journey.  The average journey time from London to Lyon is about 5 hours 30 minutes.

Or, other operators start or end in the south , so would use the train from Marseille. Again, with the direct link to either Paris or London, it makes the journey very easy.  The average journey time for this longer train journey is 6 hours 30 minutes.  We do recommend doing the longer journey at the start of your holiday, if at all possible.

Alex

Why do single travelers pay more for a river cruise?

“Why do I have to pay double for a single cabin?” We get asked this question all the time.  The worst thing for a single river cruise traveler is the single supplement.  But don’t just get angry.  It’s easy to avoid paying double by understanding the river cruise single market and how it works.

Most cruise lines do not have actual single cabins on board.  River cruise ships don’t have actual single cabins – ones that are smaller than double cabins. Yes, that’s right.  Single cabins are few and far between.  I can think of maybe 20 ships in the whole of Europe which have one small cabin onboard, always on the bottom deck with no french balcony.    A small cabin, on the lower deck and you can have it with no supplement.  I’m not sensing much excitement about that option.

So, as a single customer you are usually getting the same size cabin as two people. This is why it looks like the cruise company is charging more for you to be in a double cabin, but on your own.

Sometimes a cruise line can take the decision to not charge a single traveler double, and lower the supplement.  This usually happens when a cruise first goes on sale for a season, hence these discounted double cabins for sole use always sell out really quickly,

From then on, once these have sold out they will usually charge extra.  This can be anywhere from 10% to 100% extra,

My advise is to book early to get either the single cabins or take up their early booking offers of no supplement.

river cruise on the Douro as a single river cruise traveler

What sort of holiday do I want as a single river cruise traveler?

Are you a solo traveler off to explore with like minded people?  Then often you want to make sure you have a good social group on your trip and that you will have some other solo travelers to socialise and dine with.  You don’t want to feel you are going to stick out like a sore thumb, but want to use the trip to make new friends and talk to some interesting people.  You may also want the tour operator to have thought about you beyond the space in the cabin.  Some even offer to pick you up from home, and a really nice idea is a dedicated tour manager who can get the group to interact and make sure that seats are reserved at dinner?

Are you a single river cruise traveler who is travelling with friends?

This is probably the most frustrating issue as you have all found a cruise you like and a date that will suit you all.  And guess what?  You have to pay the same price as your friends do in total for two people.  Unfortunately on a river ship, there isn’t a way to give you half the space so that you pay half the cabin price.  River cruise operators should really just give a cabin price and be done with it, but there you are.

Emerald Star Ship Balcony Cabin

With this in mid here are a couple of recommendations for single passengers.

Uniworld – Itineraries ideally suited for single river cruise travelers.  An open seating plan at every meal, small group excursions, and kindred spirits who share your passion for fresh destinations.  No single supplement or reduced the single supplement on many of their most popular itineraries! Book early for 2018, while space and no supplements are available.

Riviera Travel – have a number of departures with low supplements for both 2017 and 2018 from the Rhine in Germany to the Portugal Douro River most are window cabins for a very reasonable price, but again try to book early as not many cabins available.

Saga River cruise – has very reasonable prices for a single river cruise traveler, limited availability for 2017, and a good selection left for 2018 dates with low or no single supplement.

You can book some amazing river cruises through Europe and beyond with Global River Cruising, offering a range of fantastic itineraries and budgets suitable to your needs and preferences.

 

 

 

 

Exciting new trends ahead for river cruising

River cruising continues to expand and grow in popularity with European river cruises being the most frequently chosen. With a huge selection of places to travel to, wonderful culture to explore and stunning scenery, it is easy to see why Europe is leading the trend of river cruise holiday destinations.

European river cruises are top of the holiday trends

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