Courier February Courier - Page 33

Belly up to the barge BY BOB HOELSCHER In fine, sunny weather last April, I experienced a delight- ful six-night barge cruise on France’s Marne Canal from Paris to Epernay aboard NTA-member CroisiEurope’s Raymonde. The barge accommodates only 22 guests and is perfect for group charters. Raymonde’s cabins are compact but quite comfortable once you settle in and discover all the storage spaces. Our food (continental breakfast buffet, multi-course set menus for lunch and dinner) was very good and service was excellent. This is an all-inclusive program except for crew gratuities, so there is no extra charge for shore excursions. Pricing also includes an open bar throughout, plus numer- ous French wines and cheeses are served with meals. The countryside is absolutely beautiful. Picturesque homes, villages, vineyards, farms and fields of golden rape- seed line the canal along the way, and there are numerous small locks and several historical tunnels to transit. The primary difference between French canal cruises and typi- cal European river excursions is that on the latter, the locks and waterways are much larger, thus so are the cruise ves- Barges such as CroisiEurope’s Raymonde are smaller vessels sels. And there is far more commercial traffic on the rivers. that accommodate a limited number of passengers. After a guided tour of Paris featuring the city’s unique covered walkways, the cruise’s itinerary highlights included lovely Lagny-sur- Marne, the handsome city and cathedral of Meaux, plus an opportunity to learn about and sample the outstanding “King of Cheeses,” Brie de Meaux. Next were a falconry show and sightseeing in Château Thierry, and from Dormans, home of a magnificent World War I memorial, we toured the ancient hilltop village of Châtillon-sur- RIVERBOAT TOURS & DINING EXPERIENCE Marne and saw countless vineyards extending far into the distance. We also NARRATED HARBOR DINNER ENTERTAINMENT CRUISE visited Hautvillers, the birthplace of SIGHTSEEING CRUISE Delicious dinner buffet, live Learn, Relax and View as you cruise Champagne, where Dom Perignon him- entertainment and a 2 hour cruise along Savannah’s historic Riverfront. perfect for groups! self is buried. Savannah’s Only Finally, in Epernay, we toured the cellars of a major Champagne house, one of hundreds of wineries we passed on the famed Champagne Route and on other area roads. We embarked on an excursion to Reims for a tour of the historical city and its storied cathedral, where French kings were traditionally crowned. On the morning of our seventh day, a return transfer was provided to Paris, where groups should plan to include a multi-night hotel stay to explore one of the world’s greatest cities. NARRATED HARBOR LUNCHEON CRUISE Sailing Daily April–October Experience Savannah through our local cuisine and tour of the famous Savannah River! MONDAY GOSPEL DINNER CRUISE Enjoy local Gospel entertainment and savory flavors of the South! A cultural and culinary experience you don’t want to miss! ONLY FOR YOU — A PRIVATE CHEF’S DEMO Exclusive to tour groups, our Chef will delight your clients with a personalized cooking demo before setting sail for lunch! Other cruise options available — Call for schedule Catering to tour groups for over 25 years—we are the Savannah experts! For more details please contact our group sales department, 912.232.6404 or at www.savannahriverboat.com NTAonline.com 31