The first night of any holiday has an air of anticipation, but the first night on board a ship which is about to set sail surely has the best atmosphere of all. The Moët had started flowing from the time we boarded Tauck’s Swiss Emerald, and the lounge was buzzing with excited guests absorbing every word of the Cruise Director’s welcome speech, enticing us with the delights of our excursions yet to come.
As this trip was my first river cruise, I was looking forward to an intimate and serene holiday experience. And I wasn’t disappointed – in fact the week-long adventure floating calmly down the Rhône surpassed expectations on every level.
The Rhône boasts many picturesque and historic towns and villages along its banks, and of course we were looking forward to the wine tasting at some world famous vineyards along the way.
Luxurious Swiss Emerald is the perfect vessel to explore this stunning region, because when it comes to the wow factor it has it in spades. The polished gold, mustard yellow and royal blue tones of the decor simply oozed opulence and we were pleased we had brought some of our best clothes to wear in the evenings.
Our stateroom on Ruby Deck came with floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors – perfect to watch the banks of the Rhône go by and so close to the water itself you could almost touch it. The large flat screen TV kept us entertained with news and movies, and we enjoyed the constantly restocked fridge and generous supply of Molton Brown toiletries.
The journey itself was so smooth that we often didn’t even realize we were on the move; in fact there wasn’t one point during the whole week that we felt the ship rock or sway, so if your sea legs are a little unreliable, this could be one distinct advantage of river cruising.
Champagne was included in the package price, along with every other conceivable drink, cocktail, wine, beer and spirit one might be tempted by. All the excursions were included too; in fact if you didn’t want to indulge in a massage or snap up some bargains at the onboard shop, it was virtually impossible to part with any money – an aspect of the cruise everyone appreciated. Giving tips was not allowed either.