land trip or river cruise?

Hello all and thank you in advance for any tips you can offer. I am researching wether to go on this trip or the River cruise on the Seine. We went last fall on the Amsterdam to Budapest river trip and it was beyond wonderful. Our 50h wedding anniversary is next summer and I want to surprise my husband with this trip. He is a WWII fanatic and Normandy is his bucket list trip. I, on the other hand, want to see the "other" sites offered on both of these trips. The land tour looks to me like it will offer a better Normandy experience. As much as I hate packing and unpacking I am thinking this would be the best option for HIM. Any thoughts or advice from those of you who have gone? It would break his heart if we did not get a great tour of the Normandy D-Day sites.


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    Both Seine cruises next year have a full day at the Dday beaches like the land tour you mention. I don't see much difference other than a reference to seeing some memorabilia. What difference are you concerned about?
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    edited May 2017
    I haven't looked at the itineraries but have travelled in France many times in the past and the French countryside is beautiful and so are the smallest out of the way restaurants. I keep putting off the river tours because I think people miss so much stuck in a boat between locations, even a rest stop in a country can be an experience so different from something at home and strolling in the evening in France is safe just about anywhere but Paris where you have to be so careful of pickpockets. You miss the evenings in a country while on a boat that restricts you to where the river is. We love the Loire Vallet, mustjave been there about six times, itbrings back lovely memories of being there as a family.
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    British, I’m not sure I agree with your comparison. Iturnipseed is comparing a river cruise to a group land/bus tour. It sounds like you’re describing an independent vacation (rent a car, travel at your own pace, etc) where you do indeed interact more with the locals and have more ability to choose how you spend your time.

    For both land and river cruises you spend a significant amount of the tour as part of the group which has to adhere to a schedule. Both give you some free time for independent exploration. For us, the bigger difference is the hotel changes and more meals you have to figure out on your own (which also drives down the cost of the land tours). Some people like that flexibility and are undaunted by the possible language challenges (yes I know most Europeans are better English speakers than we Americans know their languages). Even in the US my husband gets stressed at going to new restaurants with unfamiliar menus and price tags. He gets stressed, I get annoyed and we are both unhappy. Everyones “adventure” level is different.

    Iturnipseed seems to mainly be concerned about the Dday beaches, but I really don’t see much difference between the itineraries on this so it really comes down to overall itineraries. The land tour has most of the stops the river cruise has, plus a bunch more that sound very interesting.

    My opinion, she needs to decide whether the added itinerary items outweigh the convenience of living and dining on board the ship. We’re looking forward to our upcoming Seine cruise – except ironically – the Dday beaches. Would rather see the Bayeux tapestries.
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    My husband and I went on the land trip in September 2015, and we LOVED it. I wanted to go for a lot of reasons; his main one was to see Normandy. Beginning this spring, Tauck has changed the trip a little bit to make it even better. They have arranged for early admission to Chateau Versailles on day 2 of the trip. It never made sense to me to begin a trip in Versailles and not include a Tauck guided visit to the palace. Anyway, problem is now solved.
    Back to the trip comparison. In my opinion, it is an easy decision to go on the land trip, especially if Normandy is a big part of the trip.
    I am looking at both itineraries, 10 days on the river and 13 days on land, not counting any early arrivals or extra days at the end of the trip. The river cruise has practically all meals and all wine and liquors included, but it is more expensive, especially if you stay in higher category cabin.
    The important stops along the Seine, like Rouen and Giverny are included in both trips. Both trips have just 2 days in Paris, which is not nearly enough. Add some time before and/or after.
    The land tour offers visits to the cathedrals in Chartres, Bayeux, and Rouen. The Loire Valley is beautiful. Every little town along the way has a pretty Gothic church and countrysides dotted with chateaux. We stayed in a chateau and dined with a Baron at his estate. The Chateau Villandry is particularly lovely with a grand house and beautiful gardens. The days spent along the Atlantic coast were charming, including a visit to the Memorial de Caen. Mont-Saint-Michel is a treat in itself as well as the Bayeux and Apocalypse tapestries. You would miss all this on the river cruise.
    All of the towns and villages on the land tour were very safe and uncrowded, unlike Paris.
    And now NORMANDY. On our trip we spent all day at the beaches, the American Cemetery, Arromanches, and a VERY special museum. The museum is privately owned by a collector of WWII memorabilia and is not open to the general public. Just one of Tauck's little perks.
    It is a big building full of tanks, motorcycles, jeeps, and all sorts of trucks. There are uniforms to try on and guns to "shoot." You can climb in the tanks and pretend to drive the vehicles. All the guys loved it as they turned into little boys again and got to play with the Army toys. The girls had a great time also. As best as I can tell, this museum is not included on the river cruise. Do your husband a favor and take him to see this.
    This is a lot of information, but I really think that for this trip, the land version is a better choice, even if you have to change locations frequently. (I never unpack. I just roll my clothes and move them around in the suitcase.)
    Then if you have not done a river cruise, do the Tauck Blue Danube. It is marvelous.
    Whatever you choose, have a wonderful time.
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    The museum was the only difference I could see btwn the cruises and land tour days at the Dday beaches. Hard to tell if the cruises don't include it or just don't mention it. Hopefully some who has taken the cruise recently will wade in.
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    edited May 2017
    Another vote for the land tour. (Nancy did an excellent job comparing the two.) We have not taken the land tour but we did take Rendezvous on the Seine. I am very aware that there are many people who love river cruising. We have friends who will no longer travel any other way. For me -- it was my least favorite trip ever. The Seine is not a particularly pretty river. I found the ports (which I have to say are virtually the same ones other companies visit) to be some of the least picturesque places I have visited in Europe. I would much prefer to visit the Rouen Cathedral (which is magnificent) and move on to Giverny and then to Paris as the land tour does -- rather than spending the day in Rouen. In terms of Normandy -- it is not a short ride from where the ship is docked so I would imagine that you would have more time there on the land tour. The cruise did not include the museum Nancy talked about. In fact -- there really was not enough time to both walk around the cemetery and visit the museum located there. I don't know if that is true of the land tour. (The cemetery was closed the day we visited because of an electrical outage and Tauck arranged for those of us who wanted to to go back the following day and because of that we did have time to do both. I would not have wanted to have to choose.) Other than Paris (where we had been 3 times before and love) -- Giverney -- and Normandy -- I was bored to tears. (I suggest extra time in Paris. However long you are there is never enough!) I prefer to experience the countryside between stops. Now that we have tried a river cruise -- we are back to land tours. I am not the only one on our trip who felt this way. There were those who liked it -- and also many who did not. The ship itself was fine. We were in a category 7 cabin which was very nice. The food left a lot to be desired. Fellow travelers who had taken other Tauck river cruises agreed and said that was not the case with the cruises they had taken previously. Somehow the dining room managed to run out of croissants every morning at breakfast and cheese every day at lunch. In France! (And yes -- I noted all of this on my evaluation.) We all have different likes and dislikes and obviously this is just my opinion. Not having to pack and unpack and constantly change hotels certainly has its merits -- but knowing what I know now -- I would definitely go with the land tour.
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    Bummer about the food on your cruise Judy. Hopefully the Sapphire has gotten a better chef. We've had excellent food on the Inspire and the Emerald. Never ran out of cheese or croissants - although chocolate ones were not always available.

    I'm trying to ease my spouse into land tours with the England Scotland Wales tour after the Seine cruise. We'll see how he does.
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    Just another thought about land vs. river cruise. We only had 22 people on our small group land tour. A boat load of 90-ish people would be way too many for the WWII museum. We had an intimate experience at the beaches and at the cemetery, and I am glad I experienced them that way. By the way, when you pack for the trip, take something red, white, and blue. I have a scarf with flags on it. Lots of people wore something patriotic at Normandy. It just seemed like the right thing to do.
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    Thank you all so much for the replies. I am so thankful for this site! We are now considering going early and taking the train from Paris to one of the towns near Normandy and taking a 2 day tour from Overlord Tours for him to get his "Normandy fix" and then the river cruise from Paris. That way he will have already seen it when the Truck trip gets there and he won't be so worried that he missed something. My family jokes all the time the I married GI Joe,even though he is a retired Air Force Col. My travel agent said she really does not understand why I am so insistent on gong with Tauck when other groups are so much less but I told her once you have been with Tauck you are hooked.
    As nice as the land tour looks, I hate packing and unpacking when tracking from hotel to hotel.
    Thanks again for the tips.
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    For Iturnipseed, we've just returned from our Seine cruise and wanted to give you an update on how the day at the Normandy Beaches went. Keep in mind, I'm not a big WWII expert.

    The day before, Tauck had a special speaker come on board who gave a very interesting hour long talk about D-day and the lead up to it. This was great prep for what we'd be seeing the following day.

    The day itself had an early start - 7:45 for an 1 1/2 bus ride to the first stop - we picked up our guide for the day en route who used the time on board the bus between stops to talk about what we'd be seeing. He was very interesting.

    At Point du Hoc, we had a guided walking tour of the site and description of the American efforts to take out the casements.

    Then on to Omaha beach and a short visit to view the memorial and take photos.

    Next was a visit to the American Cemetary at Colle-sur-Mer - 30 minute guided tour, then 30 minutes on our own to place flowers on the grave of our choice and just wander around - beautiful site.

    Lunch was at the Omaha Beach club - golf course - not great food

    The last stop was Arromanches where we had 1 1/2 hours to spend as we chose - wander the town, look at the beach and what remains of the man made harbor and tour the museum. The museum has a very good old film talking about this. (As a bit of coincidence, we took the Tauck Scotland Wales England land tour immediately following this cruise and one of the stops in Conwy Wales where the 1st Mulberry Harbour was constructed).

    Another longish bus ride to drop off the guide and meet the ship which was supposed to be in Caudebec. Turned out they got held up in a lock and we were waiting for them. Not back on board til about 7. A long but interesting day.
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    Regarding the land vs the river cruise....One of the big differences I see is the private Louvre Museum tour with the River Cruise but NOT with the land cruise. Am I reading that incorrectly? I see the Museum D"Orsay on the land cruise but no mention of visiting the Louvre on the land cruise. I can't imagine going to Paris and not visiting the Louvre. Can anyone give me their thoughts on this? Thank you.
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    edited September 2017
    I haven't looked at either itinerary because I have been to France many times. Generally speaking since I have now taken many Tauck land tours, I realize how they work..... they usually begin in large cities where there is a good sized airport that people can arrive at easily, but often the tour allows only a little time to see the city. I think Tauck does this on purpose to encourage people to arrive a day or so early so there is less chance of customers missing the start of the tour for one reason or another...we have seen this happen several times over the years. While the Tour directors have to operate 'for the good of the whole group' it is clearly a distraction for them to be sorting out people who are missing. It really is a good idea to arrive early at the start of the tour to both recover from jet lag and have time to see some sites that the tour does not include. In Paris that could be days. The Louvre alone takes a day. When we were not retired, this was harder to do but we managed it on most occasions and always feel an advantage over those who arrive last minute and they definitely have less energy by mid tour.
    Believe it or not, I have only been to Paris once, it is my least favorite part of France, but I enjoyed it. We went independantly for several days after a visit to relatives in England, I think it was February! Everywhere was quiet, the museums, Versailles etc. the flights are much cheaper. So for some cities, I recommend seeing them on an expensive Tauck tour, then when you feel confident about the city, and have seen it sparkling in the summer months, try a way less expensive independent trip for a week in the winter when you can concentrate on museums when it doesn't matter about the weather. We stayed in a small very French centrally located hotel that was cheap. We have recommended it to several friends and family and they all loved it's charm and location. Both Paris and Rome are the two places where I have experienced first hand with people trying to steal from us on the street, three times on that short Paris trip and in Rome it included almost being knocked off my feet when a gang selling fake handbags had to grab their wares and run from the police down a narrow street we happened to be walking along. Like I say, Paris is my least favorite part of France and I much preferred almost any other cities in Italy too. As far as museums, the original question, there are some people out there that do not enjoy them, or take more or less time to 'Do' them. Tauck has to balance out what people want as a whole and balance that with the total time allotted for a city. Tauck did experiment with tours to just one city for a week in the past, but I don't think they are that popular, on a tour, people want to get several locations under their belt. I am not one of those people who has a bucket list of places I want to visit and then cross them off my list, I want to go back and see some places again, once in a lifetime is not enough.

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