Durant and Cheryl ImbodenEFVblog.com is the former "Travel & Cruise News" section of Durant and Cheryl Imboden's Europeforvisitors.com, a vacation-planning site that's read by several million travelers from 200+ countries every year.

This blog is mostly dormant these days (we've chosen to focus more heavily on our main Europe for Visitors site), but you're welcome to browse the archived posts.

French Country Waterways: A Michelin-starred meal with every cruise

ADRIENNE hotel barge

ABOVE: Adrienne is one of five hotel barges in the French Country Waterways fleet.

First-rate food is a basic component of any luxury barge cruise, but French Country Waterways Ltd. has upped the culinary ante with a unique twist: Each of the company's itineraries  in Burgundy, the Upper Loire, Champagne and Alsace-Lorraine includes dinner at a Michelin-starred restaurant on shore.

If you're cruising on Adrienne or Espirit, you'll be taken to Maison Lameloise in Chagny for modern interpretations of Burgundian cuisine in a converted 15th Century coach house.

Horizon II guests are treated to dinner at L'Auberge des Templiers, a hotel-restaurant set amid parkland near the Châteaux of the Loire and Sologne.

Nenuphar passengers dine at Le Relais Bernard Loiseau in Saulieu, Burgundy.

Princess, which splits its season between two regions of France, offers Michelin-starred dinners at either Les Crayères (Champagne) or Le Cerf (Alsace).

Other things to know about French Country Waterways:

  • The barges are small and intimate, carrying only eight to 18 passengers each.

  • Each barge has an onboard chef who prepares meals from fresh, locally-purchased ingredients. (Lunch and dinner are accompanied by carefully-selected French wines and cheeses.)

  • The cruising pace is leisurely, with plenty of time to enjoy nature, walk or bike along towpaths, and experience the pleasures of negotiating historic canals with locks that are just big enough for a traditional cargo or passenger barge.

We haven't cruised with French Country Waterways, but we have been on several barge cruises, and we can't think of a more relaxing way to cruise. If you like the idea of a slow-paced vacation with friendly companions, great food and wine, and an intimate view of rural France, we suggest visiting the French Country Waterways Web site at:


Photo: French Country Waterways

Coming in 2018: SCENIC ECLIPSE


ABOVE: A CGI rendering of Scenic Eclipse in Paradise Bay, Antarctica.

Scenic, an Australian-based international cruise and tour company, has operated river cruises in Europe since 2008. Today, Scenic has 13 luxury "space ships" operating in Europe under the Scenic Cruises brand, and it launched a new four-star brand--Emerald Waterways--in 2014.

SCENIC ECLIPSE close-upNow, with the announcement of a Polar Class 6-rated "discovery yacht," Scenic is going after the small-ship oceangoing cruise market. When Scenic Eclipse enters service on August 31, 2018, it will offer luxury cruises in such disparate regions as the Mediterranean, the  Arctic, and the Antarctic.

The brand-new 16,500-GRT vessel will accommodate a maximum of 228 passengers in 114 suites (200 passengers in polar regions).

Every suite will have a private verandah (to use Scenic's Australian spelling), and suites will vary in size from 32 square meters (344 square feet) to 233 square meters (2,508 square feet), including balcony.

Other amenities will include two seven-seat helicopters, a seven-seat submarine, Zodiacs, kayaks, snorkeling and scuba equipment, and a remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV). Six dining venues, a spa, a gym, a library, and a 240-seat theater will also be on hand.

As of this writing, details about Scenic Eclipse's debut season were still sketchy, but we do know that the cruise calendar will begin with a miaden voyage from Istanbul to Venice followed by sailings to the Americas, Antarctica, Europe and the Mediterranean, and the Antarctic and Norwegian fjords.

To keep an eye on Scenic's plans for its first "discovery yacht," visit and bookmark:


 Images courtesy of Scenic USA.

See an outdoor opera during a cruise from Venice


ABOVE: La Bella Vita spends part of each voyage moored within a short walk of the Piazza San Marco in Venice.

In 2015, European Waterways is offering two opera-themed cruise tours aboard La Bella Vita, a luxury hotel barge that cruises between Venice and the Po River Delta. Each cruise tour will include a pre-cruise "Night at the Opera" with premium seating in the Arena di Verona, a former Roman amphitheatre in Verona (an easy drive from Venice in the barge's comfortable minibus).

The dates of the two opera-themed cruises are:

  • July 11-18, featuring Puccini's Tosca.

  • September 5-12, featuring Verdi's Nabucco.

Other opera-related activities include:

  • A visit to the Arena Museo opera museum in Verona.

  • A private performance by an opera quarter aboard La Bella Vita.

  • Shore excursions to famous baroque theatres such as Venice's Gran Teatro La Venice.

In addition to the opera performances and activities, passengers will enjoy the experience of cruising from Mantua to Venice via the Po River and the Venetian Lagoon, with an overnight stay on Venice's historic waterfront.

USD prices for the cruise tour start at $5,140 per person, double occupancy.

For more information, see the La Bella Vita - Opera Cruise itinerary and La Bella Vita Barge pages at the European Waterways Web site. 

We also suggest reading our illustrated La Bella Vita Barge Cruise Review at Europeforcruisers.com, which describes our own delightful cruise from Venice to Mantua with European Waterways.