River cruising in France - with the kids!
Posted by Guest Blogger
Posted in: Tauck’s Travelogue
Tags: Family Travel, France, River Cruise
Written by Charmaine MacDonald, National Account Manager for Tauck
I’m a kid at heart so I was excited as I headed to the lounge of the InterContinental Paris Le Grand to meet my fellow travelers on June 19th for Bon Voyage! France Family River Cruise. This was going to be my first Tauck Bridges family river cruise vacation filled with families of various ages and sizes, and we were going to spend two days in Paris and seven nights cruising along the Rhône River. With an itinerary that includes important historic and cultural landmarks, like the Louvre, Notre Dame, and the Palais des Papes in Avignon, the trip promised to be educational and enriching with plenty of fun activities, like biking in Lyon and cooking at a well-known culinary school. I knew I was in for a treat – and that it would be rewarding to see the kids learning a lot along the way.
But you know what? As wonderful as the learning experience turned out to be, it was even more rewarding to watch the families bond together and with new friends from the trip. From the moment the group got together that first evening in Paris until the last good-byes on the Sun Deck of the ms Swiss Emerald, the laughter never stopped.
These are some of the many incredible family bonding moments that I was privileged to witness. I watched as grandparents glowed with pride as their nine-year-old grandsons impressed everyone, including the crew, with their vast knowledge of the FIFA Cup – big-time news during our week onboard! It was also a privilege to take photos for families as they shared their first time seeing the majestic Tour Eiffel – there’s nothing like the magic of the first time. Then there were our guests of all ages, challenging, nay, daring each other to try smelly cheeses, escargots, and a variety of other French foods at the “Do they really eat that?” afternoon activity. I listened to kids as young as nine years of age impress our local guide, and all of us, with their knowledge of history during the scavenger hunt in the Louvre. Imagine how their parents and grandparents felt!
It was also beautiful to see the blossoming of new friendships. As we glided down the Rhône, some kids played Hide and Seek together and others played cards and chess. Tod, our Cruise Director (one of our four Tauck Directors), had many challengers for chess. Both onshore and off, the kids bonded over big things, like the art and architecture they saw, and little things, like some really lively karaoke. I could see what a wonderful time they were having with their new friends.
We were a mixed group of extended families, including grandparents, grandchildren, parents, and children. Reasons for choosing this particular family river cruise vacation were just as mixed. Everyone was thrilled that we just had to unpack and pack once – on our floating hotel. Some of the grandparents and parents had traveled with Tauck in the past and felt this was a fabulous way to share once-in-a-lifetime experiences with their younger family members.
Many of the younger generations had never been to Paris or France, and this was why the families chose this trip rather than our other Bridges family river cruise trip along the Danube. (We’re also debuting another Bridges river cruise, Castles on the Rhine: Family Riverboat Adventure in 2015.) Many adults wanted to try river cruising and felt this was a great way to do so in a safe interactive environment with their kids.
We had as much fun onshore as we did onboard. The trip to Camargue, where we saw a cowboy show and had a Provençal lunch on a family-owned ranch, was a huge hit, especially the wagon ride. So was the bike tour in Lyon, and the trip to the pool and the walk across the Pont du Gard – even more so once everyone realized that this was exclusive to Tauck as many outside people tried to join in and our guides politely explained that we were VIP’s!