Our journey to Porto had not been without its stresses, with confusion surrounding testing and Portuguese entry requirements, but thankfully the team at Panache had come up trumps giving us sound advice and double checking that we would arrive with all our paperwork in place. Despite the pre-travel concerns the actual travel to Porto was relatively easy and apart from a couple of checks at check-in and an extra form to show at passport control it really was no different to travel pre-pandemic.
Arriving in the heart of Bordeaux we could see from the dockside that the SS Bon Voyage had a unique style, standing out from the other river ships with her bright blue, playfully designed top deck. Stepping aboard the first thing that struck us was the opulence and grandeur of the reception area, perfectly melding luxurious highly polished, glossy wood furnishings with local affectations, including two enormous ornate vases magnificently displaying the most gorgeous bunch of sunflowers ever and a large, vibrant wall mosaic depicting a typical French countryside.
Think of the most famous rivers of the world...now imagine cruising down one of them in an ultra-luxurious, six-star river vessel. My colleague Natalie has written about her incredible experience cruising along the beautiful Mekong River through Cambodia and Vietnam with Ama Waterways in April 2017. Here's Natalie's story...
"I was lucky enough to sail along the Mekong with Ama Waterways a few years ago and it was the most memorable experience I have ever done! I love that side of the world and it was really a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
As Panache Cruises' river expert, I'm always on the lookout for fantastic, unique opportunities and experiences on river cruise itineraries. For me, river cruising is all about the variety of destinations you get to see along the way, so as river cruising has begun to pick up the pace with the ease of restrictions, I have been researching the best places to explore after so long without setting foot on a river cruise. Instead of heading to the most well-known locations, I found inspiration among some of the lesser-known ports in both Europe and Asia.
A few years ago I was lucky enough to sail on Uniworld's majestic River Princess along the beautiful Danube. As well as the river itself being a big tick off my bucket list (who doesn't want to sail down the beautiful blue Danube?!) the cruise was made even better by sailing with one of the best ultra-luxury cruise brands in the world.
If you haven’t tried a River cruise before, why not give it a go? I would highly recommend this to anybody of any age. There are so many options of itineraries, ranging from magical Christmas Markets, to the beautiful Danube or The Rhine, or one of my personal favourites the stunning Douro!
One of the best experiences for any keen traveller is a river cruise through Europe. Gliding along the Rhine, Danube, Douro, or Seine is a truly magical experience, and at A-Rosa, they are proud to be taking the extra step in sustainability.
In 2022, A-Rosa plans to launch their new ship, Sena, featuring a hybrid diesel and electric propulsion system. The aim is to switch to electric, battery-powered motor when the ship approaches towns and cities, so as to save fuel whilst also keeping the waterways around the cities clean.
After the nightmare that has been the Covid pandemic, we are all ready to get back out there and travel.
I don’t think it’s just me thinking that now, after not being on a holiday in well over a year, instead of booking a regular holiday, why not book something epic? If we have learned anything from this ongoing situation, it’s that we cannot sit and wait for things to happen. No longer will I say “maybe I’ll go there one day” – no, I’m going to just book it!
Uniworld takes river cruising to a whole new level. Ultra-luxury, truly unique and individual ships, exquisite cuisine, and 6-star service make Uniworld a privilege to sail with.