Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Burgundy and Provence Cruise

Below a review of our 7-nights journey through southern France aboard Uniworlds  S.S. Catherine  Burgundy and Provence Cruise sailing the Rivers Saône and Rhône - while enjoying wine, truffles and a taste of history. From Burgundy's vineyards and Hospice de Beaune, Lyon’s old city and Les Halles food market, Hermitage vineyards and wine tasting. The village of Viviers, including a recital of music in the Cathedral, The Roman amphitheater and market in Arles and Avignon’s majestic Palace of the Popes - It was a perfect combination of culture and scenery as well as good food and wine.
Uniworld Burgundy & Provence is an all inclusive cruise - excellent food, wine and most excursions included.
Scroll to the end of the blog for the first day of the cruise. 
More posts, videos and pictures will be added.

Monday, April 9, 2018


A video with a review of the tour :

Day 1 - Lyon - Embarkation

Day 2
Due to high water level in Saone River the ship did stay in Lyon
- excursion to Burgundy and Beaune by bus.

Day 3
Lyon Depart 8:30pm - Lyon Confluence 9:00pm to 10:30 pm

Day 4
Tournon Arrive 6:00am Depart 3:00pm
Viviers Arrive 9:30pm Overnight

Day 5
Viviers Depart 1:30pm
Châteauneuf du Pape Arrive 6:00pm - Depart 6:30pm (pick-up of excursion) 
Avignon Arrive 9:00pm - Overnight

Day 6
Avignon All day and Overnight

Day 7
Avignon Depart 5:00am - Tarascon Arrive 8:30am Depart 6:30pm.
Avignon Arrive 9:00pm  - Overnight

Day 8 - Avignon Disembark

Read more about excursions at this link or in the posts for the individual days below.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

SS Catherine

Take a virtual tour of SS Catherine:

Uniworld launched SS Catherine in 2014. 

There are 4 decks on this ship. The highest deck is the sun deck number. Three decks with 80 cabins with a capacity of 159 passengers and 60 crew members. On Deck two you will find the restaurant forward and the reception mid ships. On deck four two lounges - Aft and forward.
On a typical sailing 130 passengers can be expected. 
There is a self serve laundromats on the ship. 
Read more and see pictures from the ship at this link.

Ship Facts:
Launched - 2014
Passengers - 159
Length - 443 feet
Width - 38 feet
Number of Passenger Decks : 4
Number of Outside Rooms : 80

Day 8 - Avignon Disembark

Last day in Avignon.
The suitcases had to be put outside the door by 08:30 am. We packed it last and then ate breakfast. At 10:45am there was a transfer to Marseilles International airport for a flight home. 
60 minutes drive from Avignon to Marseille International Airport.
Many of our fellow passengers did have a very early start due to strikes in France.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Daily program from the cruise

Here are links to Daily programs for our Cruise
Daily program
Day 1 (April 1)
Day 2 (April 2)
Day 3 (April 3)
Day 4 (April 4)
Day 5 (April 5)
Day 6 (April 6)
Day 7 (April 7)

Please report any broken links.

Day 7 - Tarascon and Arles

Arles, with a number of sites associated with Vincent van Gogh, as well as some fascinating ancient Roman monuments. and the city's expansive open-air food market, with plenty of local delicacies, including Burgundian and Jura cheeses, heirloom vegetables, honey, and sausages.
We sailed from Avignon at 05:00 and arrived at Tarascon at 08:00. Tarascon is 270 km from Lyon and 9 km north of Arles. After breakfast, we drove by bus to Arles, a Roman medieval town with a large amphitheater. A guided tour of the city and heard the history and saw the Roman ruins as well as the town's churches. Vincent van Gogh lived in Arles for a couple of years. In town he had a tribal cafe that he painted the facade on. However, the cafe was destroyed during World War II, but an enterprising cafeteria has built a similar cafe - yet somewhere else in town. We ended up in Arles in the morning to visit the local market. An impressive market with everything you would like to buy. Fresh vegetables, fish, meat, spices, clothes, shoes, etc.

Back at the ship at 13 we ate breakfast. In the afternoon we enjoyed the sun on the front deck. Dragged a cappuccino and read the newspaper today. At 18:00 we sailed back to Avignon - we sat in the van Gogh lounge and followed the trip through the last sluice of the trip on the way to Avignon. For dinner it was 'Alma Rosa evening'. 6 pinot blanc, Chardonnay of Pinot Noir wines were served for dinner. At 20 pm we reached below the city walls of Avignon. After dinner we packed the suitcases.

Friday, April 6, 2018

River Rhône Locks

From Lyon to Avignon we did pass 12 locks. It's exciting to follow the ship passing the locks either downstream or upstream - Fascinating to watch the ship enter and exit the lock with only 20 cm at each side and were little headroom.

This video does feature downstream passage of 'Ecluse de Caderousse'  just before entering Lyon and 'Ecluse de Beaucaire' upstream when sailing from Arles back to Lyon. Video from Bollène Lock and 'How doe Rhône River locks work'

Day 6 - Avignon

Picturesque Avignon—a UNESCO World Heritage Site with the grand Palace of the Popes. 
The night to Friday we arrived in Avignon. SS Catherine lay moored just outside the old city wall. Just passing the road along the river and through the city walls - we were in the middle of old Avignon. After breakfast, we were on a guided tour ' Avignon walking tour and visit to the Palace of Popes' - the first stop was the city center with the town hall on Place de l'Horloge. Then we visited the impressive 'Palace of the Popes' and the local market Les Halles. On our way back to the ship, we drank a cappuccino at the Place de l'Horloge. Ate lunch after which we sat and read the newspaper on the back deck in the sun.

Avignon seen from the Rhone River
Les Halles Food Market
Les Halles Food Market

In the afternoon we walked along the river to Rochers des Doms, a rock from which there is a beautiful view of the Rhone river. On the way back we went out to Pont Saint-Bénézet (Pont d'Avignon). Through the city back to the ship. The rest of the afternoon we enjoyed the ship's deck. At 6:00 pm there was a captain's farewell reception - one day earlier than normal - there are strikes in France on Sunday, so some guests leave the ship when we return to Avignon on Saturday night or very early Sunday morning. For dinner we got shrimp and avocado cocktail, lobster bisque, beef tenderloin followed by local cheeses and finally a Baked Alaska - white wine from South Africa and Rhone red wine. After dinner there was entertainment in the Van Gogh lounge.

Cappuccino at Place de l'Horloge
Pont Saint-Bénézet
Palace of the Popes

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Day 5 - Viviers

Founded in the fifth century, Viviers retains much of its medieval character and charm, with narrow lanes and historic structures, such as the Maison des Chevaliers (House of Knights). Visited the sights on foot, then climb Rue du Château to had a nice view from the 12th-century St. Vincent Cathedral.
We have now reached 165.8 km down the Rhone River - have arrived to Viviers, on the right bank of Rhône in southern Ardèche. The city has retained much of its history. A road flanked by old plate trees leads from the river up to the old buildings - 'The former Bishop's Palace' and Maison des Chevaliers. From the top of Châteauvieux Belvedere, there was a stunning panoramic view of the city's roofs and the Rhone Valley. We visited St. Vincent Cathedral, where the choir is decorated with old tapestries. We did have the guided tour 'Viviers including exclusive organ concert in the cathedral'. On the way back to the ship, a visit to a private home was arranged - the house was refurbished with great respect for history and the owners of Vietnamese origin lived with inspiration from French Indochina. At .

View from the 'top of the Hil'
St. Vincent Cathedral
Townhouses in Viviers

Back on the ship we ate lunch, then we continued south in the most beautiful spring weather - we sat in the bow of the ship and got a cappuccino while enjoying the woods and the mountains that passed by. We sailed under many low bridges, which the ship could just pass. At 3 pm we passed the  Bollène lock at 189.4 km - the lock has a height difference of 24 meters and just wide enough for the ship to be in the lock - interesting to follow the passing of the lock. 
At km 215 we passed the Caserousse lock (9 m difference only). Before dinner we got a gin and tonic in the lounge. For dinner we chose fries for starters, chicken with mushroom sauce and cheese for dessert - Chateauneuf-du-Pape wines. At 9:00 pm we arrived at Avignon - 248 km from Lyon.

The cabin - with open window
Bollène Lock
Gin and tonic in Van Gogh Loungen

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Day 4 - Tournon and Tain I’Hermitage

During the night we sailed 90.8 km south on the Rhone river from Lyon to Tournon-sur-Rhone and Tain L'Hermitage - the towns are opposite each other on the banks of the Rhone river. We had chosen the 'Tourney and Tain walking tour and wine tasting'.
After breakfast, we started a guided walk in the vineyards on the slopes north of Tain L'Hermitage - here we heard about the importance of the soil for the quality of the wines as well as pruning and climate. The grapes cultivated are Chardonnay and Syrah. After the trip on the 'wine mountain' we visited M. Chapoutier who produces 30% of the grapes in L'Hermitage. We tasted a wine made on the Chardonnay grape and then two Syrah wines - one made of grapes grown at the bottom of the mountain and the other of grapes grown on top of the mountain - there was marked difference in the wines.
Valrhona chocolate is produced in Tain L'Hermitage - we visited the factory sale and tasted the many different chocolates - also bought a little home. There was a heavy thunderstorm but we reached back for a late lunch on the ship without getting too wet. In the afternoon we went to an Alma Rosa Winery wine tasting where Richard Sanford told us about the difference between the grapes from different fields and the individual years of Alma Rosa Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. In the evening we got Vol au vent, Prime Striploin and Baba Au Rhum for dessert.

SS Catherina in Tournon
Visiting the Vineyards
Alma Rosa winetasting

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Day 3 - Lyon

We lay at the dock in Lyon overnight. After breakfast on the ship we were on a guided tour of Lyon  - 'Lyon City and Gourmet Tour'. First visit in the old quarter of St. Jean. We visited several of Lyon's 230 secret "traboules" - hidden passages leading into yards where people can make shortcuts from one street to another. A charming district with many houses dating back to the 15th century inspired by Italian architecture.
Lyon is France’s capital of gastronomy. We had a guided tour at the food market 'Les Halles de Lyon Poul Bocúse' - Lyon’s world-famous food market -  told about the local specialties and tasted local wines, charcuterie and cheese - at 12:30 pm we were back on the ship.

After lunch, we had a cappuccino in the Van Gogh Lounge and read the newspaper. At 6:00 pm there was an introduction to the week's program. At 7:00 pm we got dinner: Escargot, fish consommé, pork tenderloin and walnut parfait - with white and red beaujolais village. 
At 09:00 pm we finally set sails towards Tournon and Tain I’Hermitage.

Yard in "traboules"
Les halles Food Market

Monday, April 2, 2018

Day 2 - Burgundy and Beaune

At 07:00 am we sailed down the Rhone River, but unfortunately we could not sail to Macon because of high tide in Saone - we could not get under the bridges. The sailing did end after 5 km at Lyon Confluence, where the Rhone and Saone rivers meet! We have signed-up for the free excursion 'Burgundy vineyards and Hospice de Beaune'.
After a nice breakfast, we drove by buses to Macon instead of sailing. From there through Burgundy's vineyards to Beaune.
In Beaune we first got a guided tour where we heard about Beaune's history, culture and city significance for the development of Burgundy wines. Then we went for a walk in the city - saw the churches, the old part of the city and the city walls. After lunch, we had a guided tour at Hotel Dieu or 'Hospices de Beaune', which until the 1970s was a hospital for the poor. The monks have been making and selling wine to support their charitable work since the 15th century.  In the late afternoon we drove back to the ship in Lyon. 
Before dinner there was the captain's welcome. For dinner we got foie gras, calve tournedos and souffle with mango sorbet. For this, selected Burgundy wines - excellent wines!. After dinner there was entertainment in the Van Gogh lounge. During the evening, the ship sailed from Lyon Confluence to Lyon city, which we will visit on Tuesday.

Vineyards in Bourgogne
Hospices de Beaune

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Day 1 - Embarkation in Lyon

We stayed at Marriott in Lyon the night before our cruise.
After breakfast at the hotel we took a taxi to Quai Claude Bernard where SS Catherine was moored. 
We were among the first guests when we arrived at 11:30 - handed our suitcases to the staff and checked in. Lunch was served at 12:30. 
Before lunch we enjoyed a cappuccino in the Van Gogh lounge. 
There was a lovely buffet in the Cézanne restaurant. Before the cabins were ready at 15, we sat and read the daily news in the Van Gogh lounge. 
At 17:00 we were at the Alma Rosa Winery reception. In 2007, we visited Alma Rosa Winery and we have imported Alma Rosa wines into Denmark for a number of years - we have booked the trip through Montrose Travel. The Alma Rosa Winery tour was arranged by Touring & Tasting and Montrose Travel in California.
After the Alma Rosa reception there was 'Muster Drill' followed by information meeting by the Cruise manager tanya on Monday's activities. 
Right now, the water level in the Saone River is elevated due to heavy rain and melting snow, so we could not sail north to Macon during the night - we will stay in Lyon. In the evening we had a really nice dinner consisting of salad with green asparagus, lamb and parfait / strawberry with meringue - included excellent local wines. We ended the evening with a cappuccino and avec (Baileys and Cognac). The cabin is nicely decorated with a nice bathroom - a large window that can be opened with table and chairs in front of the window.