Reporting Live from The Loire & the Middle East

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The Crowds Come To See Something Not Seen Before: A River Cruiser On The Loire

 

Imagine floating through France as people line the river banks and assemble on bridges to wave and snap photos of something they've not seen on this river: a "hotel" boat carrying passengers from Europe and North America.

Indeed, as we make our way up the Loire River, we are as much a spectacle to the people and places we are passing as they are to us. "I've never seen a boat like this arrive in Ancenis," our tour guide told us yesterday, as Loire Princesse docked within steps of a castle that has been standing here for more than 1,000 years. "It is a moving experience."

The Loire Princesse is the first "hotel" cruiser to offer itineraries on the Loire River. While other passenger boats may ply the Loire, none offer — or have offered — overnight accommodations on board that allow for weeklong excursions along the river.

As our paddle-wheeler pushes upstream, I'm reminded of the Tour de France, with spectators lining the roads to encourage cyclists muscling their way uphill. The crowds are nowhere near as thick as they are for the world's premiere cycling event, but the French are out in numbers, cheering us on as we make our way (slowly, I might add) up the shallow Loire. To learn more about how the Loire Princesse manage to navigate waters with depths that can be as little as two feet, see my video in Loire Princesse: Day 3, Ancenis & Muscadet.

As I write these words, I am sitting in my stateroom, with the curtains to my balcony drawn back. The balcony door frames scenes of spectacular spring beauty. I slide open the door occasionally to step out onto the balcony to breathe in the fresh air. This morning birds were chirping, trees were budding and blooming, and the water reflected the morning sky, an inspiring start to a new day.

Those of us on board are not unlike Lewis & Clark, the explorers who found their way across America to the Pacific Coast in the early 1800s. We are pioneering a new path for river cruisers, going where none before us have gone. And the French? They are applauding us all along the way.

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© 2015 Ralph Grizzle

We spent the morning cruising along the Loire River to the small town of Ancenis, with its stately castle, built in 984, overlooking the river. Loire Princesse tied up to the dock, and we boarded a motorcoach for an excursion into Muscadet country. Muscadet is a regional wine made from the Melon de Bourgogne grape, and it has been our featured complimentary white wine …

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Loire Princesse: Day 2, Nantes to Saint-Nazaire

This morning, after a buffet breakfast in the dining room where I found it hard to resist the flaky, fresh croissants, I watched as Loire Princesse pulled away from the quay and began chugging downriver. Not all guests were on board. They had not purposely "missed the boat," however. They had opted to do a Nantes city tour and catch up …

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Silver Wind Middle East Adventure Day 5: At Sea

Sailing the Gulf of Aden Position as of 18:49 L: 12° 58’19” N, 43° 11’57” E Speed: 19.7 knots Wind: 8 km/h / Seas: less than 1 metre Thursday, April 9, 2015 Aaron Saunders, Live Voyage Reports Silversea’s Silver Wind finds herself once again in the Gulf of Aden today as she makes her way from Salalah, Oman to our …

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On Loire Princesse: Day 1, Boarding In Nantes

What an experience. To be here, in spring, in France, two hours from Paris, with the evening light reflecting off the Loire River, sitting on the top deck of the new Loire Princesse, sipping a draft beer from Alsace and nibbling on peanuts. I ask myself, Can life get any better?  Of course it could, but only by small margins. Here …

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Silver Wind Middle East Adventure Day 4: Sailing the Indian Ocean

At Sea en-route to Safaga, Egypt Position as of 24:00 L: 12° 58’22” N, 48° 14’13” E Speed: 18 knots Wind: 13 km/h / Seas: 1 metre Wednesday, April 8, 2015 Aaron Saunders, Live Voyage Reports Silversea’s elegant Silver Wind is zipping along the Gulf of Aden at the relatively fast speed of 18 knots. It’s nearly top speed for …

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Before Boarding Loire Princesse: Getting To Know Nantes, By Bike

Tomorrow, I board CroisiEurope's Loire Princesse — again. I was on the new vessel this past weekend for inaugural events, which I wrote about here. Loire Princesse is the first of its kind, a paddle-wheeler plying the Loire. She's a beauty and a technological success, not only for Strasbourg-based CroisiEurope but also for the region of Nantes and for travelers, like …

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7 Days Of All-Inclusive Barging, Plus Three Hotel Nights & Tours, $3,995 Per Person

Ready to go barging with our group of intrepid travelers? We have a great trip planned — a really great trip — and at a great price, $3,995 per person, double occupancy.

You'll need to contact me directly to get this price, and it's easiest to do so by using this link

Here's what is included:

• Six nights/Seven days of all-inclusive barging from Arles to Sete*

• Tours included everyday of the barge trip.

• PLUS two pre-hotel nights in a five-star hotel in Arles, including breakfast**

• PLUS one post-hotel night in a four-star hotel in Montpelier, including breakfast**

• PLUS three additional exclusive tours: Avignon, Pont du Gard & Chateauneuf du Pape, Sete Gourmet Markets Tour & Montpelier Tour

• For only $3,995  per person

* Transfers to Arles at the beginning of the trip and from Montpelier at the end of the trip are not included ** Note that a few lunches and dinners are not included for the pre/post days

I believe this trip offers an exceptional value. Barge trips nearly always start at more than $4,000 per person. And those are the beginning prices for the barge portion only. We're adding three extra nights at four- and five-star hotels, plus we're also adding special tours. All for $3,995 per person. CroisiEurope's price for the barge cruise alone is $2,824.

You'll find all of the details of the trip here.

Please let me know as soon as possible if you'd like to book space by contacting me through the form at this link.

I'm excited about taking you along and showing you some of my favorite places in one of my favorite regions of the world - and via a mode of travel that I think you'll find particularly appealing, barging.

Bon voyage, Ralph Grizzle

Six Tips To Extract More Joy From Your Cruise

In this free special report, I’ve put together a half dozen actionable items that can make the difference between cruise vacations that are memorable and others that fail to measure up to all you had hoped they would be. I’ve cruised on hundreds of ships, as a solo traveler and with family and friends.  — Ralph Grizzle, The Avid Cruiser

Click to download the report.

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Complete this thought: My best packing trip for cruises is ... click here to answer.

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