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Ultimate France (2021) tour
Avignon Bordeaux Ultimate France (2021) Trip

Ultimate France (2021)

Uniworld
4.9 . Excellent
96%
Travel Style: A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers. Relaxed
Physical Level: Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level: 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards. Comfort (4*)
22 days
From: $ 9,999 $ 455 / day
Checking price

Overview

Short Description

This triumvirate of France brings you the very best of each region—Paris and the Normandy coast in the north, vineyard-rich Bordeaux in the southwest, and the sun-drenched Mediterranean delights of Burgundy and Provence.

These vessels are smaller than most ocean cruisers, limiting which amenties are available. Passenger counts can vary. One of the biggest advantages of a river cruise is the ability to dock at smaller ports and local villages.
Trip Type River Cruise
See all the highlights and popular spots on a classic tour.
Itinerary Focus Classic Highlights
3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards.
Lodging Level Comfort (4*)
Flight & Transport Inclusions N/A
Start City Bordeaux
End City Avignon

Destinations

France

Attractions & Cities Visited

Avignon Bordeaux Burgundy Lyon Normandy Paris

Activities & Interests

Culture Historic sightseeing River cruise

N/A
See more

Itinerary

2019 version

Bordeaux to Avignon


Day 1 - Bordeaux (Embark)

Port - Bordeaux

Arrive at Bordeaux-Mérignac International Airport. If your cruise package includes a group arrival transfer or if you have purchased a private arrival transfer, you will be greeted by a Uniworld representative and transferred to the ship.


Day 2 - Blaye, Bourg sur Gironde

Port - Blaye

The Route de la Corniche Fleurie…could this be the most beautiful road you’ve ever traveled? Find out today on the drive to Blaye Fortress, passing through one impossibly picturesque hamlet after another. Once you arrive, you’ll find your center with a unique and expertly led yoga session in the heart of this historic fortress, a UNESCO-designated citadel that once protected Bordeaux from attacks by sea.

In the evening, a special Captain’s Welcome Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you.

Excursion(s) - Bourg sur Gironde walking tour
Excursion Price - $70
Excursion(s) - Panoramas of Route de la Corniche Fleurie with Blaye Fortress
Excursion Price - $70

This little road between Blaye and Bourg-sur-Gironde winds through picturesque hamlets with equally picturesque names—Pain de Sucre, Marmisson and Roque de Thau among them—limestone cliffs on one side, the Gironde on the other. Fishing huts on stilts stand above the waters of the estuary; charming 19th-century stone houses built by sea captains sit tidily along the road. Many of these captains traveled to far-off places and returned with exotic plants, which they planted in their gardens and along the road (hence the route’s name). But the history of these cliffs extends far beyond the 19th century—people have inhabited the area for thousands of years.

Upon returning to Blaye, your guide will take you through the 17th-century demilune-shaped citadel built by famed military engineer Vauban. This fortress design was the one Vauban, Louis XIV’s favorite military engineer, found most satisfactory, and he built some 300 of them in the Sun King’s realm. The citadel contains the ruins of a medieval castle, houses, squares, streets, even a convent, all enclosed within stark walls. If you stand on top of those walls, you will have a terrific view of the estuary— this view was the field of fire, giving the citadel command of the river.

Excursion(s) - “Let’s Go” yoga in the historic heart of Blaye Fortress
Excursion Price - $70

Join your wellbeing coach for a unique yoga session in the Blaye Citadel, designed in the 17th century by a renowned military architect to protect Bordeaux from attacks by sea. Calm your mind as you take in panoramic views of the Gironde Estuary and the remnants of the medieval castle. Become aware of your surroundings as you steady your breathing. You’ll then practice postures, or asanas, before enjoying a period of relaxation to end your session.

Excursion(s) - Rendez-vous chez Rémy Martin
Excursion Price - $70

Not all wine remains wine: Some of it is distilled into cognac. At one time, wine from the Charente region was notoriously poor and did not keep or ship well—but double-distillation worked magic on it, transforming it into marvelous liquor. Rémy Martin has been making cognac for almost three centuries, refining the process over the years; late in the 19th century Paul Emile Rémy Martin, a fifth-generation cognac maker, began aging his brandy in oak barrels for years—or decades—much longer than was customary at the time. Today Rémy Martin uses fine Champagne to produce its fine cognac, blending a variety of eaux de vie and aging them in oak barrels that might be 200 years old. (Remy Martin’s legendary—and legendarily expensive— Louis XIII cognac has been called “One Century in a Bottle” precisely because of that extraordinary aging process.) Tour the facility and learn how this elixir is created, then taste three different cognacs with complementary nibbles.


Day 3 - Cussac Fort Médoc, Pauillac la Fayette

Port - Pauillac

The legendary Médoc region abounds with prestigious wine châteaux in a dizzying array of architectural styles, as well as miles of grapevines stretching to infinity. Take a scenic drive through the storied Médoc wine route, followed by a wine tasting at a beautiful wine estate. Enjoy the waters of the Garonne River and the Gironde Estuary before heading to the pretty town of Pauillac, gateway to the storied Médoc wine route, the Atlantic coast and remnants of the Atlantic Wall erected during WWII.

Excursion(s) - Fresh Médoc oysters tasting
Excursion Price - $70
Excursion(s) - Médoc Châteaux route with private wine tasting
Excursion Price - $70

In 1855, when Napoleon III asked for a classification of the best wines in France to give visitors, some 60 Médoc wines were awarded Grand Cru status—out of 61 total. A panoramic tour of this legendary landscape takes you from Pauillac to the tip of the Médoc peninsula, past storied vineyards of the region, including Château Latour, Mouton Rothschild and Pichon Longueville Baron, and through the villages of Margaux, Saint-Julien and Saint-Estèphe. You might be surprised to discover that the peninsula is only three miles wide, though it is 50 miles long, and the road carries you past a dizzying array of architectural styles— Renaissance, Greek Revival and medieval—as well as miles of grapevines. You’ll turn off the road and enter one of these estates for a private tour and a tasting of premier Grand Cru wines—but you won’t know which one of these exceptional châteaux is your destination until you open your invitation.

Excursion(s) - Bunker archaeology tour
Excursion Price - $70
Excursion(s) - “Let’s Go” bike in the Médoc vineyards
Excursion Price - $70

Combine fresh air, gorgeous scenery and fine wine with a bicycle ride among the prestigious Médoc vineyards. Meet your guide and mount your bicycle in Pauillac and wheel out of town, pedaling through the lush landscapes of historic estates that have seemingly remained unchanged for centuries. Truly experience the atmosphere—the earth, the sunshine—of this famous wine-growing region.


Day 4 - Cadillac

Port - Cadillac

The French phrase “la douceur de vivre” is an accurate description for your time in Cadillac, known for its deliciously flavored dessert wines. Visit Château Royal de Cazeneuve, site of Henry IV’s and Queen Margot’s tempestuous love. Meet the owner around a glass of Sauternes in the reception hall.

Note: Sailing this stretch of the Garonne depends on the tides. If it is not possible to sail to Cadillac, you will be transferred to your destination via motorcoach.

Excursion(s) - The colorful life of Toulouse Lautrec at Château de Malromé
Excursion Price - $70

Uncover the history of artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec with a visit to Château Malromé. Originally the home of his mother, Adèle, Malromé would soon inspire much of his artwork. As one of the best painters of the post-impressionist period, Toulouse-Lautrec is known for his distinctive and colorful take on Paris in the late 1800s as well as his fascination with Moulin Rouge dancers and famous singers, who were prominent in much of his work. Venture to the nearby town of Verdelais, where you’ll notice two beautiful central walkways lined with trees and 19th-century façades. It is in Verdelais’ cemetery that Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec is buried. After, you’ll be treated to an absinthe tasting at Café les Pèlerins.

Excursion(s) - Private owner's tour of Royal Château with Sauternes toast
Excursion Price - $70

You’ll journey through the vineyards to Château Royal de Cazeneuve, a polygonal 14th-century fortress with a royal pedigree. A favored residence of Henry IV, who inherited it from his mother, Jeanne d’Albret. The beautifully restored château still belongs to descendants of the Albret family. After your intimate visit you will meet Louis and Caroline de Sabran-Pontevès, the owner and his wife for a Sauternes toast, sampling the unique perfume and flavor of the area.


Day 5 - Libourne (Saint-Émilion)

Port - Libourne

The medieval town of Saint-Émilion is an ideal place to linger. Wander its cobblestone lanes lined with wine shops and bakeries, and stop to admire the amazing rock-hewn church that extends beneath the city’s streets. Another treasure awaiting you underground? A wine tasting in the cellars of a Grand Cru estate. With Libourne as your base, travel to nearby breathtaking Saint-Émilion and immerse yourself more deeply in the region’s history and wine culture.

Excursion(s) - Saint-Émilion walking tour with wine tasting
Excursion Price - $70

Hilltop Saint-Émilion offers both exceptional architecture and historic vineyards. The Romans were the first to plant grapes here, and this was the first vineyard region to be protected by UNESCO because of its history. Shops brimming with wine and wine tools line the steep cobblestone streets; medieval ramparts that bore witness to battles for control between French and English monarchs still stand; and vineyards encroach upon the village. Of all the sights, however, perhaps the most extraordinary is the 12th-century church carved into a cliff. Only the tower is above ground; the rest of the church is subterranean. Its numerous underground galleries provided refuge during periods of strife, and include the grotto where St. Émilion, for whom the town is named, lived out his life in the ninth century. You have to see it for yourself—you’ll be amazed by its almost unfathomable construction. After touring Saint-Émilion, you’ll visit the cellars of a premier Grand Cru estate where you’ll taste some of the world’s most highly rated wines.

Note: Today’s lunch will be on your own.


Day 6 - Libourne, Bordeaux

Port - Libourne

France’s rich agricultural tradition is the heart and soul of the region’s exquisite cuisine—and what better way to get a taste for the freshest vegetables, cheeses, breads and fruits than with a visit to Libourne’s lively farmers’ market?

Excursion(s) - Libourne “Village Day” with farmer's market
Excursion Price - $70

How could you visit this rich agricultural land without delving into a farmer's market? Libourne’s market is the heart and soul of the town; everyone comes here to choose the freshest vegetables, the ripest cheeses, the most luscious fruits, the loveliest flowers, and to chat with the producers and growers. Check out the stalls brimming with produce in the market square, then duck into the covered market and savor the enticing aromas of bread and cheese, fish and meat. After exploring the market, you and a small group of other travelers will be invited to push open the doors of ateliers, homes and shops, meeting the artisans who make some of the goods arrayed so enticingly in the market.


Day 7 - Bordeaux

Port - Bordeaux

Discover Bordeaux’s many charms today, either on foot with a local expert or on two wheels—the locals’ preferred way to navigate the city’s charming backstreets. You have a wonderful selection of active opportunities to see this magnificent UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In the evening, a special Captain’s Farewell Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you.

Excursion(s) - Cité du Vin museum visit
Excursion Price - $70
Excursion(s) - “Do as the Locals Do” Bordeaux walking tour
Excursion Price - $70

Catch a tram at the Quai des Chartrons to the Place de la Comédie, the heart of Bordeaux’ Golden Triangle. Though Bordeaux was the capital of Aquitaine in the Middle Ages and has its share of Gothic churches, it reached its apex in the 18th century. The splendid honey-colored stone buildings from this era make up a city core that UNESCO has designated a World Heritage Site (this is the district that inspired Baron Haussmann when he redesigned Paris at the behest of Napoleon III). Trade with the French colonies built this handsome district, furnishing vanilla, sugar, spices and cocoa to inventive chocolatiers and bakers, who used these goods to create iconic desserts. Chocolate, once a Spanish monopoly, became part of Bordeaux’ culinary heritage when banished Spanish Jews brought the art of chocolate-making to France. What are Bordeaux’ present-day residents enjoying when they step inside the luxurious food halls and elegant shops in this neighborhood? Find out as you sample the delicious handiwork of Bordeaux’ bakers, as well as cheeses and chocolates—learn a few recipes, too! You’ll also visit one of the city’s wine bars and see first-hand how the wines of the many local châteaux are enjoyed by today’s sophisticated clients.

Excursion(s) - ”Let’s Go” bike Bordeaux backstreets
Excursion Price - $70

Hop on a bike and wheel with your expert guide along the Quai des Chartrons, a riverfront neighborhood that was the purview of British wine merchants back when they dominated the wine trade. It fell on hard times in the 20th century, but the tall merchant houses have since been reclaimed; now they house welcoming shops and cafés. Pedal past the antiques shops of Rue Notre Dame and the Church of St. Louis on your way to major city squares such as the Bourse and Parliament before heading back to the ship along the banks of the Garonne. Of course your outing will include a stop for refreshments at one of the delightful cafés you pass.

Excursion(s) - Bordeaux walking tour with caviar tasting
Excursion Price - $70

Day 8 - Bordeaux (Disembark), Transfer to Paris via High-Speed TGV Train (Embark)

Port - Bordeaux

Disembark the breathtaking S.S. Bon Voyage and transfer to Paris via high-speed, first-class TGV train. Your next ship, the magical S.S. Joie de Vivre, waits to carry you along the Seine on the next leg of your adventure.  Note: Ship schedule and order of sightseeing may change throughout the itinerary. Tour to port of destination by motorcoach and substitute visits to other sites may occur during your trip due to the impact of water levels, closures because of public holidays or other uncontrollable factors.


Day 9 - La Roche-Guyon, Vernon, Giverny

Port - Vernon

Today is a celebration of northern France’s natural beauty, with an excursion to a splendid château and gardens situated in an equally grand setting, plus a chance to immerse yourself in the very landscapes that inspired Impressionist master Claude Monet. Visit the hilltop Château de La Roche-Guyon, surrounded by beautiful gardens and offering sweeping views over the Seine. Later, you can visit the home and gardens of Claude Monet. Or take in the beautiful French countryside in a more invigorating way, with a guided bike ride from Vernon to Giverny.

This evening, a special Captain’s Welcome Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you.

Excursion(s) - Château La Roche-Guyon
Excursion Price - $70

From cave dwelling to fortress to castle to palace: This is the history of Château La Roche-Guyon (the Rock of Guy), which takes its name from its medieval lords (traditionally named Guy) and its location, a limestone outcropping—a rock—above the Seine. Medieval knights kept watch for marauding Vikings from the tower high atop the hill and later defended the double wall around a 13th-century manor house; successive lords added to the buildings over the centuries, so you can see not just troglodyte chapels but Renaissance rooms where kings Francis I and Henry II were entertained (and, legend says, Henry IV pursued a lovely chatelaine without success) and handsome 18th-century state apartments. Enlightenment thinkers met with the Duchess d’Enville, who owned the château before the revolution and who had the huge kitchen garden laid out according to Enlightenment principles. You might think, as you walk through the elegantly designed garden and beautifully paneled rooms (mostly without furniture these days, so you can appreciate the Gobelins tapestries without distraction) that the residence’s military function was in the far distant past, but Rommel made his headquarters here during WWII, precisely because the ancient fortifications and caves were so secure.

Excursion(s) - "Let's Go" hike on the Crests trail
Excursion Price - $70
Excursion(s) - Monet’s gardens at Giverny
Excursion Price - $70

Monet often painted the little riverside town of Vernon, so you are likely to recognize scenes the master rendered in oils on your way to his home in the village of Giverny, where he lived and worked for more than 40 years. When Monet bought the property, most of it was an orchard; he transformed it over the years into the enchanting visions immortalized in his paintings, essentially creating each work of art twice: once as a living garden and again as a painting. As you stroll through the grounds, you’ll see the famed Japanese bridge and water garden shaded by weeping willows. Monet’s house, which you will also visit, remains furnished as it was when the leader of the impressionist school lived here, complete with his precious collection of Japanese engravings.

Note: Giverny will be closed during the March and November cruise departure dates.

Excursion(s) - “Let's Go” bike ride from Vernon to Giverny
Excursion Price - $70

The country roads between Vernon and Giverny offer easy—and pretty—biking. Hop aboard your bike and pedal about three miles to the village where the artist lived for decades. You’ll pass the church and cemetery where Monet is buried and the Hotel Baudy, where his painter friends often stayed, and arrive at the artist’s home and garden for a tour.

Note: Giverny will be closed during the March and November cruise departure dates.


Day 10 - Rouen

Port - Rouen

Walk in the footsteps of greatness in Normandy’s medieval capital, a city with a historic quarter that remains amazingly intact. From the cathedral Monet painted dozens of times to the cross marking the spot where Joan of Arc was martyred, Rouen is a treasure trove for the culturally curious. The roll call of famous people who lived or died in Rouen is long and varied—Richard the Lionheart, Joan of Arc, Gustave Flaubert and Claude Monet are among them.

Excursion(s) - Rouen walking tour, the Dukes of Normandy’s capital
Excursion Price - $70

Day 11 - Caudebec-en-Caux (Honfleur or Étretat)

Port - Caudebec-en-Caux

Caudebec-en-Caux, a lovely little town on the right bank of the Seine Estuary, is your base for one of two very different excursions. You could drive through the beautiful Calvados countryside to Honfleur, a delightful seaside harbor and city of painters, or head to the windy cliffs of Étretat for a game of golf.

Excursion(s) - Honfleur walking tour
Excursion Price - $70

A walking tour of the fishing village begins at the former smugglers’ harbor of Vieux Bassin—the most frequently painted scene in Honfleur—which looks much as it did a century ago, though now the boats in the harbor are more likely to be pleasure craft than fishing vessels. Your local guide will take you down tiny lanes, where houses stand shoulder to shoulder in a jumble of styles: narrow 19th-century slate-roofed townhouses, 15th-century fishermen’s cottages, and tall and elegant mansions— many adorned with figures of chimeras or saints. You’ll also see St. Catherine’s Church, built in the 15th century by shipwrights who gave it an oak ceiling that looks like the hull of a boat.

Excursion(s) - “Let's Go” golfing in Étretat
Excursion Price - $70

It would be hard to find a more spectacular location than Étretat’s clifftop course, which is ranked as one of the best in France. Originally laid out in 1908 and substantially redesigned in the 1990s, it offers a multitude of challenges: Two nine-hole loops take players right to the cliff’s edge, the wind can be a serious challenge in and of itself, and the 10th through 14th holes offer formidable tests of a golfer’s skill. Spend the morning on the course, lunch on your own in charming Étretat and explore the seaside village that so many artists, including Monet, rendered in paint, or return to the ship for lunch and a leisurely afternoon onboard.

Note: Golf excursion is open to a limited number of golfers. Club entrance and use of golf clubs are provided for usage during your excursion. Please call for more information.


Day 12 - Rouen (Normandy Beaches)

Port - Rouen

There are moments when we travel that move us on an otherworldly level—experiences that stir a profound emotional connection. The Normandy beaches certainly have that effect. On your full-day outing, you’ll visit Normandy’s beaches, including Utah Beach and Ste-Mère-Église, with a choice to venture to either the American, British and Australian or Canadian beaches. After, you’ll go to the American cemetery and partake in a private ceremony at the Omaha Beach Memorial—a sentimental remembrance of Operation Overlord.

Excursion(s) - Normandy Beaches: highlights of American sites
Excursion Price - $70

Join your fellow passengers in a journey to Omaha Beach and the American cemetery, where almost 10,000 US soldiers are buried, most of whom lost their lives during the D-Day invasion. Today's journey also includes highlights of American sites.

Note: Lunch on own if participating in this excursion.

Excursion(s) - Normandy Beaches: highlights of British & Australian sites
Excursion Price - $70

Join your fellow passengers in a journey to Omaha Beach and the American cemetery, where almost 10,000 US soldiers are buried, most of whom lost their lives during the D-Day invasion. Today's journey also includes highlights of British and Australian sites.

Note: Lunch on own if participating in this excursion.

Excursion(s) - Normandy Beaches: highlights of Canadian sites
Excursion Price - $70

Join your fellow passengers in a journey to Omaha Beach and the American cemetery, where almost 10,000 US soldiers are buried, most of whom lost their lives during the D-Day invasion. Today's journey also includes highlights of Canadian sites.

Note: Lunch on own if participating in this excursion.


Day 13 - Mantes-la-Jolie (Versailles)

Port - Versailles

How did France’s rulers live over the centuries? Step into the private rooms of the Palace of Versailles, the lavish palace built by the Sun King, to find out.

A special Captain’s Farewell Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you this evening.

Excursion(s) - Versailles Palace secret apartments
Excursion Price - $70

It was the official residence of the country’s kings and queens from 1682 until the revolution, and though the monarchy possessed other palaces, Versailles stood alone in magnificence. Tour the royal apartments, which still look much as they did when Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette fled in 1789. In these rooms, you’ll find lush silk draperies, exquisite marquetry tables, gilded beds, Aubusson carpets and porcelain ornaments that reveal the elegance of the 18th-century royalty’s lifestyle, as well as the extravagance that helped fuel the rage leading to the revolution. Climb the great staircase and enter the jaw-dropping Hall of Mirrors, where the absolute ruler of France held court for the ambassadors of Siam, Persia and the Ottoman Empire, along with all the great seigneurs of France. Ladies intrigued behind their fans, plots were hatched, and careers were made and destroyed beneath the sparkling chandeliers here.

Excursion(s) - “Versailles Gardens and Queens Hamlet”
Excursion Price - $70

Day 14 - Paris

Port - Paris

Whether you’re a first-time visitor to the “City of Light” or you’ve been here many times before, there’s something for everyone today in Paris. Enjoy a panoramic overview of the city, join a local expert for a walk through two much-loved neighborhoods, or pedal your way along the Left Bank, a fresh and fun way to take in the sights.

Excursion(s) - Paris city tour
Excursion Price - $70

Hemingway called Paris a moveable feast: Once you’ve experienced it, you will take it with you wherever you go. If you are experiencing Paris for the first time, this tour will introduce you to the City of Light’s most cherished landmarks. You’ll head via motorcoach from the Arc de Triomphe, commissioned by Napoleon to celebrate his Grand Army’s 128 victories, down the Champs-Élysées to the Place de la Concorde. These broad 19th-century avenues and stately buildings were created by Baron Haussmann in a great urban development that eliminated the cramped, crazy-quilt medieval city and gave Paris its modern form. You’ll pass the magnificent Opéra Garnier, the Place Vendôme (home to designer salons), the legendary Louvre and, on the Left Bank, the Sorbonne University and the Panthéon. Stretch your legs at the Luxembourg Gardens, then take in the École Militaire before arriving at the manicured grounds of the Champs de Mars, the perfect vantage point from which to see Paris’s most iconic structure—the Eiffel Tower. Cross the Seine via the most stunning single-arch bridge in Paris, Pont Alexandre III; it displays elegantly sculpted nymphs, winged horses and graceful art nouveau lamps. Once on the other side of the river, you’ll be sure to spot the largest glass ceilings in France, which shelter the Grand Palais and the Petit Palais. As you continue along the Seine’s banks you’ll see many striking contemporary bridges too. Your city tour will finish at your ship’s dock.

Excursion(s) - “Do as the Locals Do” Île de la Cité and Latin Quarter
Excursion Price - $70

As a true Parisian would, take the Métro to the Île de la Cité and the great cathedral of Notre Dame. Henry IV said that Paris was worth a Mass when he converted to Catholicism—and he made that conversion official here, in the center of Paris. In fact, Notre Dame is officially the center of France; facing its main entrance is Kilometer Zero, the location from which distances in France (including those of the French national highways) are traditionally measured. An expert in the history and architecture of this magnificent cathedral will be your guide. Begun in the 12th century and finished about 200 years later, Notre Dame is one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture in Europe.

After you’ve admired Notre Dame’s stained glass, flying buttresses and idiosyncratic gargoyles, cross the Archbishop’s Bridge to the Left Bank and the Latin Quarter. Wander through the narrow streets where for centuries artists, writers, philosophers and the Sorbonne’s students have lived and worked, argued politics, painted, sipped absinthe and lived the bohemian lifestyle for which the district is famous. Matisse, Picasso, Rimbaud and Sartre, as well as American expatriate writers Hemingway and Fitzgerald, are just a few of the notables who made this district home. Take some time to meander through the area’s little squares, perusing the shop windows and perhaps relaxing with a drink at a classic café.

Excursion(s) - “Let's Go” Seine riverbanks bike ride
Excursion Price - $70

The Seine’s quays may be protected by UNESCO for their cultural importance and significance in the development of Paris, but they are also the scene of a host of fun outdoor activities: games for kids and grown-ups, a climbing wall, a running track, yoga classes, even a beach in August—and an inviting bike path. Join a guide to pedal along the Left Bank, crossing the bridges that link historic Île de la Cité and Île Saint-Louis and getting a close look at the heart of the city’s origins. Bike to the Esplanade des Invalides (Napoleon’s tomb is one of the monuments here) and along the Quai d’Orsay to the Champs de Mars, one of Paris’s largest green spaces . . . which just happens to have one of the best views of the Eiffel Tower in the city. It’s a fun way to take part in the life of the city while also getting some exercise.

Excursion(s) - “Heart of Paris” Seine River cruise
Excursion Price - $70

Day 15 - Paris (Disembark), Transfer to Lyon via High-Speed TGV Train (Embark)

Port - Lyon

You’ll transfer from the magical S.S. Joie de Vivre in Paris to the striking S.S. Catherine in Lyon via high-speed, first-class TGV train for the final leg of this fabulous grand tour. Once you’ve settled into your new home, you’ll have some time to explore delightful Lyon, which is nestled alongside the Saône River.


Day 16 - Mâcon (Beaune)

Port - Mâcon

The pace of life is decidedly more relaxed in Burgundy, where endless rows of grapes hang heavy on the vine. The capital of the region’s wine trade, Beaune is renowned for its history, beauty and highly prized wine, as well as its medieval-era hospital—the Hospices de Beaune.

A special Captain’s Welcome Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you this evening.

Excursion(s) - Mâcon walking tour
Excursion Price - $70

The man whose impassioned defense of France’s famous tricolor flag guaranteed its continuance as the national flag was born in Mâcon, your destination today. Alphonse de Lamartine, born a year after the French revolution began, became the country’s first Romantic poet and a celebrated man of letters—and, in 1848, a founder of the Second Republic. You’ll spot his statue opposite Mâcon’s city hall as you stroll from the ship with your guide through this historic riverport city, which has been an important trading center since the Celts founded it 2,200 years ago. The Romans built a bridge across the Saone here, and you’ll have a great view of its 16th-century successor, the graceful multi-arched St. Laurent bridge, from the square. Ramble down Rue Monrevel for a look at the twin towers of St. Peter’s, the church that replaced Mâcon’s medieval—and irreparable—cathedral and then along bustling Rue Carnot, lined with shops and cafes, to a curious wooden house that predates the bridge: Maison de Bois’ facade is decorated with carved figures of men and monkeys—standing, sitting, holding onto mythical beasts. It’s the oldest house in Mâcon, built around the year 1500, and one of just a few remaining examples of this rustic medieval style of architecture.

Note: Today’s lunch will be on your own.

Excursion(s) - Burgundy landscapes, Beaune and the hospices
Excursion Price - $70

Beaune may not be a large town, but it brims with history, a wealth of splendid regional architecture and incredible food. Nestled inside medieval ramparts, Beaune was the seat of the warlike dukes of Burgundy until the 16th century.

You’ll recognize the Hospices de Beaune (also known as Hôtel-Dieu) immediately by its fabulous multicolored-tile roof—it’s a symbol of Burgundy. Founded as a charitable institution by the duke’s chancellor in 1443, the hospital became a model for charitable giving in southern France, one with a unique fundraising tradition that continues to this day. Over the centuries, the hospice monks were given wine and vineyards, and they began selling the wine at auction in order to support their charitable work. The wine auction is now world-famous, and the institution remains a working hospital for the poor, with modern facilities standing alongside the historic Hôtel-Dieu.

Note: Today’s lunch will be on your own.

Excursion(s) - Wine tasting at Burgundy Estate
Excursion Price - $70

Day 17 - Lyon

Port - Lyon

As the epicenter of French gastronomy, Lyon is a city of tantalizing contrasts. There’s much to explore here, from the work of culinary visionaries to silk weavers’ secret passageways. After your choice of excursions, embrace the locals’ favorite mode of transportation with a bike ride—a great way to see the sights.

Excursion(s) - Lyon Capital of Gastronomy tour
Excursion Price - $70

No one eats better than the citizens of Lyon, a tradition that harks back more than a century, when women opened unpretentious restaurants, called bouchons, to feed hungry workers. The traditional bouchon serves hearty meat-based dishes, but quenelles—luscious dumplings—and a seasoned cream cheese called cervelle de canut are longtime local favorites too.

While explaining Lyon’s important gastronomic history, your guide will show you the city’s bouchons and specialty food shops and take you into the legendary local gourmet scene—and you’ll have a chance to taste some delectable offerings. Don’t miss the macarons! On the way to these fabulous culinary destinations, you’ll see some of Lyon’s historic old quarter, with its many spectacular examples of medieval and Renaissance architecture, and les traboules, the city’s old passageways.

Excursion(s) - Silk weavers walking tour
Excursion Price - $70

Lyon’s history is entwined with silk, which dominated the city’s economy for centuries—at one time, almost a third of the city’s population were silk weavers. Jump on a tram and head for Lyon-Perrache station with your guide, who will take you into the historic Saint-Jean Quarter, part of the UNESCO-honored Old Town. The Gothic cathedral is probably the most striking heirloom of the Middle Ages, but the tall rose and ocher buildings dating to the Renaissance pay tribute to the importance of the silk trade with Italy in that era. Enter the courtyard of the Gadagne Museum, which is housed in an early16th- century building, and stroll along Rue Juiverie, which has been occupied since Roman times and was once home to Nostradamus. You’ll see some of the traboules, the old passageways that snake between and through buildings, secret shortcuts that silk weavers took to keep their delicate fabrics out of the rain. You’ll pass cozy bouchons, which serve traditional local dishes, and you’ll have a chance to see a Jacquard loom in use.

Excursion(s) - “Let's Go” Lyon peninsula bike tour
Excursion Price - $70

Get out and about with a bike ride along the river. Lyon boasts a thriving bike-rental scene, which tells you just how popular this mode of transportation is—you will definitely have two-wheeled company as you pedal along the banks of the Rhône on a sunny day. Your route takes you over the new Raymond Barre Bridge, past the spectacular new Museum of Confluences (so named because it sits at the confluence of the Rhône and the Saône) and along the peninsula, a strip of land with the Saône on one side and the Rhône on the other. Here, houseboats tie up along the banks, swans float on the water and locals take advantage of the lovely park like setting. You’ll also have a great view of the Old Town on the other side of the river. This outing gives you a little taste of what it is like to live in Lyon, as well as a little exercise.


Day 18 - Tournon (Tain-l’Hermitage)

Port - Tournon

If you love fine wine, you’ll love the twin villages of Tournon and Tain-l’Hermitage. Tournon may be a small town, but stirring events took place here: A castle was raised on the hilltop in the 10th century to protect the region, and new fortifications were added over the centuries, including two “new” towers built to defend against Protestant attacks in the 16th century. You’ll see the handsome houses constructed by wealthy merchants and garrison officers when you walk through the Rue de Doux area, and you’ll pass the 14th-century church and the oldest secondary school in France.

Excursion(s) - Tournon and Tain-l’Hermitage twin villages stroll with wine tasting
Excursion Price - $70

Nestled on opposite sides of the river in the heart of the Côtes du Rhône, the twin cities of Tournon and Tain-l’Hermitage are an ideal destination for connoisseurs of fine wine. Tournon may be a small town, but stirring events took place here: A castle was raised on the hilltop in the 10th century to protect the region, and new fortifications were added over the centuries, including two “new” towers built to defend against Protestant attacks in the 16th century. You’ll see the handsome houses constructed by wealthy merchants and garrison officers when you walk through the Rue de Doux area, and you’ll pass the 14th-century church—unusual for the number of houses incorporated in its walls—and the oldest secondary school in France.

Cross the pretty flower-decked Marc Seguin suspension bridge to Tain-l’Hermitage to visit local wine cellars, where you’ll taste the region’s famous Côtes du Rhône, Saint-Joseph and Crozes-Hermitage wines. These wines are produced from the Syrah grapes that grow on the steep slopes lining the river. After your wine tasting, you’ll have time to browse through the shops; the Valrhona chocolate factory is always a popular stop.

Excursion(s) - “Let's Go” Hermitage terrace vineyards hike with wine tasting
Excursion Price - $70

Are you ready to explore the steepest vineyards on the Rhône? The vines producing the world-famous Hermitage wines grow on precipitous slopes above the river, so steep that terracing is essential. Hike along the paths that parallel the rough courses of stone through the vineyards, each one situated to catch the afternoon sun. After you’ve seen how the grapes—primarily Syrah—are grown, taste the fruit that has been transformed by the vintners’ craft into legendary wine.

Excursion(s) - Wine brotherhood ceremony at Château des Seigneurs de Tournon
Excursion Price - $70

Day 19 - Viviers, Châteauneuf-du-Pape

Port - Viviers

An enchanting village where time seems to have stopped centuries ago, Viviers has a long and storied past that goes back more than 1,600 years—and a splendid architectural heritage to match. At one time, Viviers was divided along religious lines—the clergy lived in the upper part of the town, the laity in the lower part. Your exploration of the town will take you through both parts, as you begin at the crest and make your way to the riverbank.

Excursion(s) - Truffle hunting & village of Grignan
Excursion Price - $70
Excursion(s) - Valrhona chocolate and wine pairing
Excursion Price - $70
Excursion(s) - Intimate Viviers “Village Day”
Excursion Price - $70

Sycamores line some of Viviers’ stone-paved streets (planted, so they say, to provide shade for Napoleon’s soldiers), and houses here bear the watermarks of floods over the years. A local expert will show you the fountain squares in the Old Town, which combines Roman and medieval influences, and cobblestone lanes so narrow you can stand in the middle and touch the medieval houses on either side. Viviers climbs a hill crowned by 12th-century St. Vincent’s Cathedral. It happens to be the smallest cathedral in France, but it contains a marvelous organ. Take a seat under the soaring vaults and listen while a local organist demonstrates just how fine an instrument it is before you meet some of the local residents. You might choose to learn how a local potter makes the attractive wares sold at Poterie; step into one of two homes—one a mansion, the other more modest; take a dance class; or sample the wares at a popular bar. Don’t feel that you must opt for the bar if you’d like a little refreshment; all visits include an aperitif. On your way back to the ship, stop to try your hand at a game of petanque, which is akin to horseshoes, only it’s played with steel balls.


Day 20 - Avignon

Port - Avignon

The walled city of Avignon is one of the most fascinating towns in southern France, with a host of historic gems to explore—including the fortress residence of rebellious popes who broke from Rome and once lived and ruled here. You’ll see the Palace of the Popes and much more today, and also have a chance to kayak under a 2,000-year-old Roman aqueduct.

Excursion(s) - "Let’s Go” kayak ride on the Gardon River
Excursion Price - $70

Note: Kayak ride on the Gardon River is only available for May through September departure dates.

Excursion(s) - Avignon walking tour with Palace of the Popes
Excursion Price - $70

It’s hard to believe, looking at the charming cafés and entertaining street performers in the Clock Tower Square, that this lively scene owes its existence to a 15th-century siege. This area was the heart of medieval Avignon (and the site of the original Roman town), crowded with cottages and narrow streets—until a pope had it all demolished in order to give his troops a clearer field of fire. That is Avignon in a nutshell: It was the city of the popes. The Avignon popes built the ramparts that still surround the Old Town and the huge, nearly impregnable fortress that dominates the UNESCO-designated district; in fact, the city did not officially become part of France until 1791. Stand below the high, thick walls to get a sense of just how daunting these fortifications were, then prepare to climb many steps as you tour the Palace of the Popes itself—it’s worth it!

Excursion(s) - Pont du Gard Roman aqueduct visit
Excursion Price - $70

In the middle of the first century, Roman engineers responded to Nîmes’s need for water to fill its baths, fountains and pools by building a 30-mile-long aqueduct from Uzès to Nîmes—which required transporting Uzès springwater over the River Gardon. A thousand workers quarried 50,000 tons of soft golden limestone and used it to construct—without mortar—the magnificent tri-level bridge that still spans the river. An expert guide will explain the techniques used to build this engineering marvel, which has withstood 2,000 years of floods and storms that swept away much newer bridges. You can see notations those ancient Romans made in the stones as they cut and fitted them into place when you view the bridge itself, and you can learn about the entire project at the museum. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is as beautiful as it is fascinating.


Day 21 - Tarascon (Arles)

Port - Tarascon

Explore a sun-drenched Provençal town today with an allure all its own. Known for its remarkable Roman ruins, Arles so inspired Van Gogh that he painted some 200 paintings there. Arles has existed since the sixth century BC, when the ancient Greeks founded it and named it Theline. It was here that the Romans built their first bridge across the Rhône River, creating a vital overland route between Italy and Spain.

A special Captain’s Farewell Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you this evening.

Excursion(s) - Arles walking tour
Excursion Price - $70

Van Gogh paid tribute to Arles’ atmospheric beauty in some 200 paintings, including Starry Night Over the Rhône. It’s an ancient city boasting a remarkable collection of Roman ruins; among them are a theater where the famous Venus of Arles—on display in the Louvre—was discovered in 1651 and an amphitheater that is still used for sporting events. Join a local expert for a stroll through this district, where medieval houses crowd in among the ancient structures and the city gates date to the 13th century. Pause before the town hall, built with stone quarried from the Roman theater, and the Romanesque St. Trophime Church, which was erected in the 12th century. It replaced the church where St. Augustine, the man who converted the inhabitants of England to Christianity, was consecrated by the first archbishop of Canterbury. Walk in Van Gogh’s footsteps past the cheery yellow Café de Nuit—still open and still the same shade of yellow it was when he painted it—and across Forum Square before visiting the town’s bountiful farmers’ market, which displays seasonal fruits and vegetables, medicinal herbs and many more specialties of Southern France.

During your free time after the tour, you can peruse the local shops, go olive tasting or delve further into Arles’ stunning collection of architectural treasures.


Day 22 - Avignon (Disembark)

Port - Avignon

Disembark the ship. If your cruise package includes a group departure transfer or if you have purchased a private departure transfer, you will be transferred to Marseille International Airport for your flight home.

Availability

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Price From $ 9,999
Price Per Day: $ 455 per day
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Start DateFinish DateCategory 5Category 4SuiteCruise DirectionAvailability 
May-30-2021Jun-21-2021$ 11,599NA$ 22,499Bordeaux to AvignonSold Out Reserve
Jun-13-2021Jul-05-2021$ 11,599NA$ 22,499Bordeaux to AvignonAvailable Reserve
Jun-27-2021Jul-19-2021$ 11,399NA$ 22,299Bordeaux to AvignonAvailable Reserve
Jul-11-2021Aug-02-2021$ 11,699NA$ 22,599Bordeaux to AvignonAvailable Reserve
Jul-25-2021Aug-16-2021$ 11,899NA$ 22,799Bordeaux to AvignonAvailable Reserve
Aug-08-2021Aug-30-2021$ 11,899NA$ 22,799Bordeaux to AvignonSold Out Reserve
Aug-22-2021Sep-13-2021$ 12,199NA$ 23,099Bordeaux to AvignonAvailable Reserve
Sep-05-2021Sep-27-2021$ 12,399NA$ 23,299Bordeaux to AvignonAvailable Reserve
Sep-19-2021Oct-11-2021$ 12,399NA$ 23,299Bordeaux to AvignonAvailable Reserve
Oct-03-2021Oct-25-2021$ 11,899NA$ 22,799Bordeaux to AvignonAvailable Reserve
Oct-17-2021Nov-08-2021$ 9,999NA$ 20,899Bordeaux to AvignonAvailable Reserve
Apr-03-2022Apr-25-2022$ 9,999NA$ 21,099Bordeaux to AvignonAvailable Reserve
Apr-17-2022May-09-2022$ 11,299NA$ 22,399Bordeaux to AvignonAvailable Reserve
May-01-2022May-23-2022$ 12,199NA$ 23,299Bordeaux to AvignonSold Out Reserve
May-29-2022Jun-20-2022$ 12,199NA$ 23,299Bordeaux to AvignonAvailable Reserve
Jun-12-2022Jul-04-2022$ 12,199NA$ 23,299Bordeaux to AvignonAvailable Reserve
Jun-26-2022Jul-18-2022$ 11,699NA$ 22,799Bordeaux to AvignonSold Out Reserve
Jul-10-2022Aug-01-2022$ 11,899NA$ 22,999Bordeaux to AvignonAvailable Reserve
Jul-24-2022Aug-15-2022$ 12,099NA$ 23,199Bordeaux to AvignonSold Out Reserve
Aug-07-2022Aug-29-2022$ 11,899NA$ 22,999Bordeaux to AvignonAvailable Reserve
Aug-21-2022Sep-12-2022$ 11,999NA$ 23,099Bordeaux to AvignonAvailable Reserve
Sep-04-2022Sep-26-2022$ 12,799NA$ 23,899Bordeaux to AvignonAvailable Reserve
Sep-18-2022Oct-10-2022$ 12,799NA$ 23,899Bordeaux to AvignonAvailable Reserve
Oct-02-2022Oct-24-2022$ 12,499NA$ 23,599Bordeaux to AvignonAvailable Reserve
Oct-16-2022Nov-07-2022$ 10,499NA$ 21,599Bordeaux to AvignonAvailable Reserve
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26 Uniworld Travel Reviews & Ratings

96%
4.9 out of 5 (100+ reviews)
Excellent 24
Great 2
Average 0
Disappointing 0
Terrible 0
Value
4.8
Guide
4.8
Activities
4.8
Lodging
4.9
Transportation
4.8
Meals
4.9

Ultimate France (2021)

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Company Reviews

better the second time around?

5.0
Details
Value4.0
Guide4.0
Activities4.0
Lodging4.0
Transportation4.0
Meals5.0
This was our 6th Uniworld and 2nd time down part of the Danube.

local guides very good; better than last time. food remains excellent; lunch food choices in particular are better than before. service, in particular Dining room, remains excellent. servers really attempt to learn food and drink preferences. front desk service is excellent. small improvements in room (chocolate jar; audio box chargers in closet; closet hanger rods more like home than ship) appreciated.

the ship is starting to need updating; our shower stall needed to be re-grouted; deck might need to be refinished in areas. elevator never worked during cruise; 24 hr. coffee machine malfunctioned for 3 days. the itinerary itself isn't full of "must-sees" but has has sights and experiences that might be hard for you to do on your own with just a guidebook.

While cruise wasn't perfect, we would travel with Uniworld again; possibly even down the Danube a 3rd time, but on a newer ship.
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Pros, cons and tips

4.0
Details
Value4.0
Guide3.0
Activities3.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation3.0
Meals4.0
This is a review of the Uniworld China + Tibet + Yangtze tour in June, 2019, taken by my wife (80) and me (77). Since knowledge of a reviewer helps readers to judge the applicability to themselves: we are both former academics, normally spry and immersed in cultural, political, and healthful life activities, but we sometimes found the trip daunting, as discussed below. We resist aging, but not always with full success.

The tour had pluses and minuses.

The biggest minuses:
• My wife’s breathing difficulty in our 3-night stay in Lhasa, Tibet (she spent the whole time breathing oxygen and couldn't go on any outings)
• The (inevitable) problem of touring a totalitarian country where citizens are intimidated from talking honestly about the full scope of their lives

The biggest pluses:
• Our guide, Kevin, who was outstandingly attentive, helpful, supportive and patient. He went out of his way to help in difficult situations (like my wife’s breathing problems in Lhasa).
• We were also quite appreciative of Tiger’s brief stint with us.
• With a few exceptions, our baggage was always handled by others. And the exceptions weren’t overwhelming. Apparently for a group, the weight of any individual bag just gets averaged in with all the other group bags being checked. (Some travelers handled their own carry-ons.)

Most of the other people on the tour were quite amiable and unassuming—not always the case when you travel with people whose financial position has to be pretty good to afford this kind of trip (that financial position too often drives unwarranted expectations of privilege and reverence [if that’s not redundant…]).

The accommodations and included breakfasts (and many other meals) were luxurious, though we ourselves didn’t need them to be THAT nice (in this we’re probably exceptions from other travelers—and in this case, a number of our co-tourists had taken multiple Uniworld tours, so they knew and liked what they'd be getting); indeed, we had to learn to stop tanking up at breakfast just because so many goodies were offered, buffet-style. Had we realized those luxuries were part of what we were paying for (and in retrospect we SHOULD have realized), we might have taken a different, cheaper tour. Ironically, what most drew us to the Uniworld trip were the chance to visit Tibet and the expectation that at such a high cost we’d always be getting outstanding, highly informed guides (which wasn’t always the case; as retired academics, we’re unusually demanding in the critical analysis of what we want to hear).

GENERAL NOTES:

We spent several days on our own before the tour (in Beijing) and at its end (in Shanghai). These were quite valuable to us. Perhaps because of time, the Uniworld tour took us to few museums. We are museum junkies, and visited several during our non-tour times. Among other things, Beijing has a terrific national museum, an interesting (partly because of its political subtext) museum about women and children, and an extensive arts district. Shanghai has its own major museum and a tour of the city’s past relationship with Judaism that gives you a more general sense of the troubling antithesis of glitzy life highlighted elsewhere.

I’ve traveled to many parts of the world, and I’ve always been able to learn at least local alphabets and some minimal language skills. China is the first place I’ve gone where I could do none of the first and only a few words (probably wrongly intoned) of the latter. This was extremely frustrating, especially when we toured on our own. Few people outside the major international emporia (I never quite got used to how many upscale stores were in all places we visited) speak English (why should they?). The one ameliorating factor was that many people (especially store employees) had phone apps that did good to excellent translations between spoken English and spoken Chinese. You should have one for your own use.

In major cities, signs quite often include English, so that you can at least know where to shop and what you're looking at. Prices (which you can often negotiate) are typically typed into a calculator.

Perhaps even more than in the West, people are glued to smart phones. Pretty much everyone, it seems, uses an app that includes texts, phone use, and a payment facility, so that people seem to may carry little or no cash or credit cards. No one seems to care—or maybe everyone is just resigned to—that the government can monitor this app and know a ton of stuff about you. As a foreigner, however, you are unlikely to be able to use this app because you need to have a compatible bank account (probably meaning from a Chinese bank).

No matter how you travel in China, you'll see the amazing efforts to accommodate the expansion cities, so that a “town” of which you've never heard might have a million or more people. On the tour, you'll see almost only architectural and shop glitz that the government and cities bask in. You might get very brief glimpses of poverty.

While on the one hand the Chinese government talks a good game and takes some important steps vis-à-vis the climate crisis, on the other hand they still use an enormous amount of fossil fuel for electricity generation. I was also struck—dismayed—by the fact that from all appearances, people only drink bottled water (Westerners are warned against tap water, but I don’t know if local people build up an immuinity to its problems). Especially in warm weather, I can only guess at the billions of single-use plastic bottles that are used every day by the population of 1.4 billion (plus large numbers of visitors). On rare occasions, like at an airport, you might see a place to refill a water bottle (I assume that water is safe).

Please note that in criticisms like the previous paragraph, I do not intend a holier-than-thou American attitude. I am even more critical of what our government does—or more importantly, doesn’t—do vis-à-vis the climate crisis.

THE PEOPLE

Almost everyone was pleasant and upbeat. We mostly moved among middle- (and presumably upper-)class people; we encountered many others, but they were kind of in the background (just as in capitalist countries), and while we made it a point to notice their existence, we had no meaningful interactions with them.

The westernization of outward behavior was almost palpable. My wife had visited 10 years ago and regularly commented on the difference. My impression is that the young (teen-agers, young adults) are especially into western fashion and culture—and to what to me was a surprising extent, seemed to be able to afford indulging that taste.

For what it’s worth, my observation was that people are quite materialistic, focus their lives on that, and increasingly able to afford to indulge themselves. Outwardly, at least, they have little concern with the strictures of their government. Tiananmen Square seems to be in the distant past. Treatment of Moslems and Uighurs (not unlike our current treatment of immigrants and Moslems or our like history of racial and ethnic conflicts) was far away. So far as I could tell, people like Americans (though we’re also bizarre outsiders—there are occasional instances of Chinese people, especially ones who live far from the cities we visited, walking up to a foreigner and asking to take a photo together (this happened to me on the Great Wall, with some pretty young guys).

SECURITY

This abounds. You need to carry your passport everywhere. You'll encounter frequent security checks where you have to put whatever you're carrying through a scanner and show official IDs. In Lhasa, these checks were even present as you wove your way through street markets.

At every airport check-in, you not only go through a security scanner, but you then step up on s short stool so that someone with a hand scanner can go over every inch of your body. (I have sometimes wondered whether proliferation of security folk, including regular police, in nations like this is a clever device for combining meaningful security with full employment.)

The government must have an incredible volume of disk space and incredibly fast computer programs to be able quickly to access information about any given citizen or visitor. Check-in at airports always includes a live photo of you. I’m sure if anyone in the security services had wanted to track me down at any time, it wouldn't have taken more than a few seconds. (For each accommodation where you stay, you have to register with the police. Hotels typically do that for you.)

IN-COUNTRY TRAVEL

We had 4 in-country flights (part of the reason for what Uniworld charges), and much as we wanted to visit the places to which we flew, the time and effort involved in getting from to shuttle bus (then sometimes a long walk) to hotel to airport to check-in to security to boarding to flying to disembarking to shuttle bus to the next hotel became overwhelming.

The tour included 3 nights in a luxury boat on the Yangtze River. This was quite pleasant and included a night’s visit to a show (I don’t remember exactly which one, but when on our own my wife and I went to a couple of shows in Beijing—well worth it even if they're not something to your normal taste). Here, we had some down time. At our ages, we needed more of that. I got sick while on the boat and got what seemed like pretty good medical care.

(By American standards, medicals for my wife in Lhasa and for me on the Yangtze boat were low but not miniscule.)

By American standards, taxis are cheap. They were pretty easy to find in Beijing. (The “universal” app includes signups with services like Uber.) But in Shanghai, they were extremely rare, and we had to get help from strangers to order one. As you would expect, this is especially hard when it’s raining and you're a very long walk from your hotel. Among maybe a dozen or two cab rides during our entire stay, we had two bad experiences with cabbies; I advise photographing the driver’s information and the meter area. I found that this significantly mitigated the problems.

We took the metro in Beijing. After brief adjustment, it was very easy to use. The main difficulty is that stations are far apart, so on (say) a rainy night, you will still need an umbrella and endurance. Shanghai seems to have an equivalent subway system, but we never used it there.

LHASA

Part of the altitude problem my wife (and a few of our fellow travellers) had appears to be the flight’s forcing a lack of transition from sea level to an altitude over 2 miles. (On the other hand, a slower, staged transfer probably would have added cost to an already expensive trip—and maybe loss of a day’s touring.) Especially for older folk, however, I think this is a relevant concern.

I don’t know why, but although I could feel very mild pressure in my breathing, I was fine for the entire Lhasa visit. I had a different disappointment (perhaps idiosyncratic to myself, an academic and non-religious person): if I remember correctly, our entire stay involved visiting Tibetan religious locations. I quite support SOME such visits—religious history is central to human existence—but I would have liked to see aspects of other Tibetan cultural history.

Because of Beijing political issues with Tibet, filing out your Chinese visa involves the charade of not mentioning you're going there (if you do mention it, your visa apparently will be denied).

And a warning re Lhasa (and at least the Great Wall): there can invite lots of climbing, and a number of us, especially some of the older people (even when altitude wasn’t an issue), chose to climb minimally (just enough to get a sense of where steps were going and what the resulting view would be). Kevin and other guides were totally understanding—indeed, we were offered climbing options.
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Highly recommend

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
Me and Nena are in cruise business more than 38 years and booked so many river cruises in Europe and charter ships in Russia, India, Egypt and Ukraine. Uniworld offer excellent cruise and we highly recommend this great company.
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Fantastic

4.0
Details
Value4.0
Guide4.0
Activities4.0
Lodging4.0
Transportation4.0
Meals4.0
Fantastic cruising the Nile on MS River Tosca, spacious rooms, super crew, delicious meals, fantastic service, awesome waiters, knowledgeable tour guide Marwa! Would love to go back!
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Professioal, friendly and unforgetable experience for the cruise

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
The facility on ship was good. Staff servicing us were very professionally good. For the meals it was indeed very nice especially the kitchen was able to provide some Asian dishes that is fantastically great.
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Amazing time, Amazing ship

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
I had never been on a river cruise before and did not know what to expect. After this cruise, I was ready to sail right back with Uniworld. Everything on the ship, from the food and amenities, to the excursions and especially the crew, made the week one of the best I've had.
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Details

Ship Name

S.S. Bon Voyage, S.S. Joie de Vivre, S.S. Catherine

Deck & Cabin Plans

S.S. Bon Voyage


S.S. Joie de Vivre


S.S. Catherine


Trip ID#:

Uniworld-211

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