Our Air France flight touched down at Charles de Gaulle International Airport shortly after 3 this afternoon. We had come to the City of Light to experience something different: an eight-day cruise along the Seine on the low-price leader in river cruising.
CroisiEurope has been operating in Europe for nearly four decades, but with river cruising’s popularity surging in the English-speaking world, particularly among North Americans, the Strasbourg, France based company is ramping up its efforts to attract Americans and other English-speakers onto its fleet of 40-plus ships.
Last year, the company began to forge its way into the North American market, hiring a New York-based public relations firm and, this year, hiring a director of sales for marketing in the United States. To garner media coverage, CroisiEurope has invited journalists to experience its product. The company invited me to sail the Seine for the purposes of this review.
What is CroisiEurope’s most distinguishing feature? Its prices. My 8-day cruise starts at $1,488 per person on the company’s website. And that price included wine and beer with onboard meals — and all drinks consumed at the bar, excluding champagne and some of the premium cocktails and special wines. WiFi is also offered free of charge on board, and of course, all meals. With cruises beginning at less than $200 per day per person, CroisiEurope may just offer one of river cruising’s best bargains.
But as someone accustomed to luxury ocean ships and upscale river cruise vessels, I wasn’t sure that I would appreciate CroisiEurope. I’m no snob, but could I acclimate to cruising on a budget-oriented product?
As we were being driven across Paris to reach Quai de Grenelle Bateau, situated within walking distance of the Eiffel Tower, I wondered if I would enjoy the French food served on CroisiEurope? Would I get by on a vessel where French was the predominant language? What was included? What was not? Would I like my stateroom?