When a Hotel in Paris Just Won’t Do, a CroisiEurope Seine River Cruise is Perfect

CroisiEurope Seine Princess docks a 10-15 minute walk to the Eiffel Tower.

CroisiEurope Seine Princess docks a 10-15 minute walk to the Eiffel Tower.

Three days and nights in Paris on a floating hotel.

If you think it’s too expensive to visit Paris, stay near the Eiffel Tower with meals, wine and entertainment included, think again.

CroisiEurope River Cruises, a family-owned river cruise line, offers a unique experience, aptly named the “Paris Short Break.” More like a floating hotel than a cruise, the Seine Princess docks an easy 10-minute walk to the Eiffel Tower.

I recently had an opportunity to experience this interesting “cruise” concept. I really didn’t know what to expect, but I didn’t care.  It. Was. Paris.

It's a short walk to cross the bridge and view the Seine Princess at a different angle.

It’s a short walk to cross the bridge and view the Seine Princess at a different angle.

During my two days and three nights aboard the Seine Princess, we were treated to two late evening cruises along the Seine. Our excursions were perfectly timed to see the glittering gold lights of the Eiffel Tower and the illumination of dozens of Parisian landmark buildings.

Add a complimentary daytime guided motor coach and walking tour to Montmartre and Sacre Coeur and you have the best value in town.

First Impressions

Built in 2002 and refurbished in 2010, the CroisiEurope Seine Princess is similar on a smaller scale to most of Europe’s river cruise ships. With only two decks, this ship holds a cozy maximum of 138 passengers in only 67 cabins.

The lounge-bar is comfortably furnished with plush sofas and chairs and still has room for a good-sized dance floor. The dining room on the lower deck is flanked by large picture windows. There’s a large sundeck that’s nearly the length of the ship with deck chairs, loungers and a few tables.

The Seine Princess lounge/bar is a cozy place for relaxing and where the nightly entertainment takes place.

The Seine Princess lounge/bar is a cozy place for relaxing and where the nightly entertainment takes place.

Staterooms

Smaller than some ocean cruise staterooms at 140 sq. ft., the Seine Princess has large picture windows nearly as wide as the room.  No balconies, but large picture windows offer panoramic views of the river. With the ship is docked most of the time and everyone out and about seeing Paris, this is one of those rare cruises where a balcony isn’t needed.  I didn’t miss it at all.

My CroisiEurope Seine Princess stateroom was nicely and minimally decorated and furnished to give a feeling of spaciousness.

My stateroom was nicely and minimally decorated and furnished to give a feeling of spaciousness.

Storage space is limited but for three-night cruises it doesn’t matter. The wide ledge underneath the window was perfect for setting and leaving my suitcase open for the duration.

My CroisiEurope stateroom had a wifi connection so I used the desk occasionally. But the best wifi was in the lounge.

Every staterooms includes a hair dryer, a safe and in most rooms, twin beds can convert to queen-size.

A tiny corner desk is perfect for writing postcards or using a laptop . Wifi is free but as on several river ships from other cruise lines, too, it’s not too good in the staterooms. I found the best wifi connectivity in the lounge.

The small bathroom was very clean and best used by one person at a time.

The small bathroom was very clean and best used by one person at a time.

The bathroom is sufficient with enough room for toiletries in the medicine cabinet and on a couple of hooks. In lieu of bar soap, there’s a wall-mounted pump soap container, used also for shampoo.

Dining Room

This was a totally different experience for me. I was the only American onboard but there were many English-speaking guests (including a bus tour group from England). My table for 8 included two older couples from the UK, one retried couple from Canada, a young Japanese travel agent based in Germany and me.

On the Seine Princess, one fixed dining time prevailed at 8:30pm. Same table every night too, so you were able to get to know your tablemates.

Fixed dining time and same table every night in the dining room. Photo: CroisiEurope.

Food

French of course!  Breakfast was a typical, lighter European-style buffet.  A diverse selection of cheeses, meats and even smoked fish were offered as well as cook-it-yourself boiled eggs.  Though lunch and dinner were multi-course meals, the portions weren’t gargantuan so you were able to enjoy every bite and leave only minimal crumbs.

The Seine Princess' French delicious version of an Italian Caprese Salad.

The Seine Princess’ delicious French version of an Italian Caprese Salad.

On my Paris Short Break, lunches and dinners were the same for everyone. No choice of appetizer, entrée or even dessert. I’ve been informed that CroisiEurope will adapt their menus so that guests have a selection of entrées from which to choose.

With advance pre-cruise notice, guests can order vegetarian, gluten -free and low/no sodium meals. I give the Seine Princess two thumbs up for their cuisine.  It was excellent.

Service

First night crew and officers introductions by the Seine Princess Cruise Director.

First night crew and officers introductions by the Seine Princess Cruise Director.

I have to admit, to my surprise, the staff was friendly, helpful and well-informed.  I was expecting the stereotypical nonchalant French attitude, but it didn’t happen.  I didn’t notice it anywhere in Paris, for that matter.  Considering I was the only American onboard, I never felt like the odd-person out or a nuisance, despite my zillions of questions.

Entertainment

After dinner, just like on all other longer river cruises, we headed to the lounge for the nightly entertainment.  Our first night featured a “typical” cabaret-style singer who performed a selection of familiar Euro-French songs, from La Vie en Rose to La Bohème and a number from Cabaret.

Clever duo performed traditional French Cabaret songs including a rousing Can Can!.

Cleverly entertaining duo performed traditional French Cabaret songs including a rousing Can Can!.

The second night was a totally hilarious interactive crew and “unwilling” passenger show.  No language barrier issues and a great time was had by all. The Cruise Director quickly rattled off information in French, English and Dutch with brilliance.

Following both nights’ shows, we were treated to late evening cruises on the Seine.  Paris at night is a site to remember…especially from the water.

PIN THIS!

Eiffel Tower at Night
During the day, a walk along the Seine towards the Eiffel Tower was just about as storybook-perfect as I imagined.  If you are a walker, it’s only a little further to shopping at St. Honoré and the Musée D’Orsay.

Typical Parisian riverfront picture. Strolling along the path toward the Eiffel Tower.

Typical Parisian riverfront picture. Strolling along the path toward the Eiffel Tower.

Conclusion

The CroisiEurope Seine Princess is for you if:

  • You want to stay in Paris without the pricy hotel rates
  • Walking is your favorite way to explore a city
  • Enjoy being among non-American passengers
  • A somewhat immersive visit to Paris is important
  • You’ve wanted to try a river cruise and 3- or 4-nights is just the right starter

This isn’t for you if:

  • Physical mobility is a daily challenge (much of Europe can be daunting if you are wheel-chair bound). Note: The Seine Princess does not have an elevator.
  • You only stay in 5-star hotels by lofty American standards
  • A stateroom balcony is imperative
  • European dining at 8:30PM gives you indigestion

Based in Strasbourg, France, CroisiEurope River Cruises is new to many North Americans. With a fleet of 44 modern river ships, smaller river barges and more new ships on the horizon, CroisiEurope is extending their marketing reach across the pond.

If you’re looking for a short break in the City of Lights, I highly recommend the CroisiEurope Seine Princess Short Paris Break. The Seine Princess isn’t the Ritz, but it’s the most affordable, fun, unique and convenient was to spend a few days in Paris AND on the river. Great service, personable and helpful multilingual staff, basic yet comfortable accommodations and excellent cuisine.

Disclosure:  I was a guest aboard CroisiEurope’s Seine Princess for their Short Paris Break cruise but all opinions are my own.

4 Comments

  1. Vicki Bennett January 28, 2015 at 3:27 pm

    I enjoyed this information tremendously. You talked about each of the points most important to me. We have not yet done a river cruise, but I’ve begun looking into them. This sounds wonderful, exciting without being overwhelming, as we haven’t ventured overseas yet either. Now I wonder what the chances are of finding deals on airfare to France!

  2. Klara Lévèque March 2, 2015 at 4:29 pm

    After reading a such passionate a blog, can’t wait to have my first river cruise and discover Paris from another point of view.

  3. Sherry Laskin Kennedy March 2, 2015 at 8:44 pm

    Thanks, Vicki. CroisiEurope’s Paris Short Break is a great way to be able to stay in Paris without breaking the bank AND have everything included. Keep checking on airfares…you never know! Bon Voyage!

    Sherry

  4. Sherry Laskin Kennedy March 2, 2015 at 8:45 pm

    Hi Klara,

    Thank you very much. I’m sure you’ll enjoy CroisiEurope’s short cruise and “hotel” on the Seine. Have fun!

    Sherry

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