River Cruise Report: How My CroisiEurope Rhine River Cruise Really Began

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CroisiEurope Rhine River Cruise

CroisiEurope Rhine River Cruise – Basel to Amsterdam 

Our itinerary – 9-day cruise

  • Day 1: Board in Basel, Switzerland
  • Day 2: Basel
  • Day 3: Breisach, Germany
  • Day 4: Strasbourg, France
  • Day 5: Mainz and Koblenz
  • Day 6: Koblenz, Cologne and Dusseldorf
  • Day 7: Dusseldorf, Xanten, Numegen and Amsterdam
  • Day 8: Amsterdam
  • Day 9: Amsterdam and debarkation

Hello from Basel, Switzerland

The journey to begin my CroisiEurope Rhine river cruise aboard Douce France, began with a fourteen-day, transatlantic crossing from Fort Lauderdale to Rome. 

Buongiorno, Roma

Though tired, I was anxious to hit the ground running when we docked at dawn in Civitavecchia, the port city for Rome.

One busy day and two relaxing moonlit nights at Rome’s Westin Excelsior suddenly segued into a 8am departure from Rome Termini Station. With a 6am wake-up, breakfast room service was imperative. All I ordered was a pot of American coffee. Steaming hot and carefully poured, I unwrapped a croissant from yesterday’s breakfast and all was good. Ready to roll.

How to get to Basel from Rome by train

Time to head to Basel for my CroisiEurope Rhine river cruise, I hopped into a taxi to Termini. With 20 minutes to spare, I was standing underneath the station’s electronic departures board. Suddenly, my train’s platform number appeared.

The anxious crowd bolted for the assigned platform; everyone wanted to be first to board their assigned coach. My mad rush is to be able to find a storage shelf for my larger spinner bag and the “secret” stowaway place for my computer case. Mission accomplished, I settled into my leather seat, excited for that first slight jolt when the train engages and the journey begins.

A quick train change in Milano (doing the same departure board watch) and in three hours, our Swiss train pulled into Basel, right on time.

Arrival into Basel SBB

The Basel train station is very busy and a bit odd. Off the train, you take the escalator up, walk a few yards and then take the escalator down to street level. There is also an elevator, but not located near our train from Milano.

Boarding Douce France in Basel

A short taxi ride from Basel SBB (the main train station) and we reached Douce France. CroisiEurope, the France-based river cruise line, recently refurbished this 22-year old 108-passenger river ship. I didn’t know what to expect and was pleasantly surprised by how nice the river ship looked.

When I finally settled in onboard Douce France, I was tired and very hungry. On long in-transit days with multiple trains, I don’t eat or drink very much. I looked forward to the Welcome Aboard drink and snacks in a couple of hours.

The Welcome Aboard presentation was set for 6pm. I brought my laptop with me to pass the time until everyone was onboard and the official start of our river cruise. Boarding was later than what I’ve experienced with other river cruise lines. 

The contemporary, mauve-colored lounge filled quickly and champagne cocktail was handed out as you entered the room.

Sylvie, our cruise manager began to speak and it was all in French. Seriously. But before panic set in and my high school French classes were but a tortured memory, Sylvie clearly spoke an abbreviated version for the 10 of us English-speaking guests.

This isn’t my first rodeo with CroisiEurope. It’s almost a French immersion cruise without the need to take a class. The food has a distinctive French flair, from fois gras and French wines to ratatouille and roast canard.

While CroisiEurope seems to attract a majority of French-speaking passengers, it’s priced right to appeal to budget-conscious travelers from around the world.

On board Douce France, the passenger mix also included eight Spanish-speaking folks and a couple from Portugal. The balance of guests were from France. Announcements were made in four languages.

The Captain, Chef and other staff members were introduced (in three languages), we lifted our champagne flutes for a bon voyage toast and it was time for dinner.

On CroisiEurope, English-speaking passengers (ESPs) are all seated together in the front corner of the dining room. It’s been like that on my past two CroisiEurope cruises so I’m guessing that’s the way its done.

Of our 10 ESPs, there were two moms and daughters, two women traveling together from New York, one couple from Kansas City, a solo woman from Maine and me. Except for the two daughters, ages ranged from a mid-forty mom to 81-years. As I looked around the dining room, an average age range for all was probably 65 – 75 years.

TIP of the DAY onboard Douce France:

With a late boarding time for Douce France, I’d suggest that you don’t arrive too much before 6pm. The ship won’t be ready to take on passengers and there are no mid-afternoon snacks available in the lounge. Better still, arrive the day before, request late check out at your hotel and store your luggage with the bellman until it’s time to arrive at the ship.

Tomorrow is free time to explore Basel on your own or with a tour. Passengers from North America have already paid for and chosen their tours when they booked their cruise.

The afternoon should be interesting and something I have not done yet…a tour of the Rhine Falls. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s daily cruise brief. 

See next:

Day 2 – Our trip to Switzerland’s roaring Rhine Falls

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