Just Back - Nothing But the Highest Praise
Just back. There were only 32 people, but nothing was shortchanged, including the entertainment. Tour Director Axil was fantastic, as were assistants Darcy and Patricia. D&P were our daily companions; what a terrific team! Their warmth, humor and knowledge were nothing short of outstanding. Tour guides were A+. Weather cooperated. As expected, there was wind and some rain in Normandy. In general, there were NO crowds. We had Giverny – our last stop – pretty much to ourselves. Giverny, in fact, underscored just how good this trip was: Despite forecasts for rain, the skies were generally blue until....the moment we stepped back on the bus, at which point there was a deluge.
This was our first Tauck river cruise and if we take another it will likely be on Tauck. (Our first and prior river cruise was on Crystal.)
The Ship: Swiss Sapphire was as good as it gets. The chef: She was a highlight. Her enthusiasm for what she does was infectious. Oh, and don't miss the wheelhouse tour. This captain loves his job. Our stateroom, #309, exceeded our expectations.
This is the tour we were supposed to take on April 1, 2020. Our tour was cancelled 2 weeks before we were to leave. I was so disappointed. Thanks for the review and happy that you had a good time. Our room was going to be 310. Did your group take the private after hours tour at the Louvre on day 1? If you did, how was it? I hope that one day we can take this tour after all of this business with the mask mandates and Covid Testing are over and done with.
It's great to see Tauck operating these early tours regardless of the number of folks on each. Shows a real commitment on Tauck's part. I hope the participant counts go up so that this doesn't stress Tauck too much. Unfortunately, due to other trips arranged long ago, we won't be on a Tauck tour until next July (Cowboy Country) and then Jordan & Egypt in October. Can't wait.
Travel Maven: I'm sure you were disappointed. We canceled several ocean cruises post-Covid. We did indeed do the Louvre after hours. If was just our group, split into two groups of 16 and a handful of other folks from a Tauck land tour. It was as billed, plus we had a very good guide.
Portolan: I think the cruise after us was scheduled to have 50+, so the numbers were rising - at least for that one.
Herbert, I was part of the other Tauck group on the land tour. Were you guys enjoying yourself because it didn't seem so to us, but then masks hide some much of the face it's hard to tell? Our little group of 9 were on the last night of a wonderful trip where we all laughed so much. Hope yours was fun too.
FYI, Darcy was our TD on our Seine cruise a few years ago.
Oh, Claudia, we were definitely enjoying ourselves...but tired. I think some people were jet-lagged out b/c it was the very start of our trip, it was late and quite a few people showed up w/little time to adjust. For us it was Day 4 in Paris, but we were still exhausted. (We're from California, as were quite a few on the trip – so the time difference was that much worse.) The LONG trip from the ship through horrific Paris traffic (about 45+ minutes) didn't help. But I think everybody was thrilled to be there and you're right on the masks. We also had a fantastic, very animated guide; the guide we didn't have for this trip (but did the next day) was equally as colorful, animated. By the end of our trip everybody knew everybody. It was a very good group. Personally, we could have done without the chateau visit for dinner. I think a few others felt the same way. But it's part of the schtick, and we get it. We also suggested the break the Normandy trip into two groups: One that is for WW2 buffs; the other for folks like us who would have liked an overview, but a faster walk through the first main stop. Our guide was very good, supposedly as good as guides get, but also very every detail. That said, he was exceptional at the cemetery.
Darcy and Patricia and Axil were thrilled to be back working.
Question - what is the typical size of a land group. Yours was 9? What would it have been pre-Covid?
Herbert, that explains a lot -- that most of you were jetlagged. It was so amazing to be there in a largely empty Louvre. You could really appreciate the building itself. We had great guides too who knew so much. We were extra happy since we'd gotten our covid tests back and knew we'd be able to come home.
I enjoyed our chateau dinner but mostly because I liked the pianist, we had a fun group including a couple we've kept in touch with since and the breeze thru the french doors that was blowing candle wax on the table cloth. I know, weird memory but we were so fascinated by it.
Agree on the Dday tour day. We've actually done it twice now. Both days were long and tiring. I would have found more history of the Vikings in Normandy and the Celts in Brittany interesting.
Our land tour was classic sized - normally max's out at 44. I thought we'd have 30 something but a lot of last minute cancellations brought us down to 9. We had just done the Switzerland tour before this and it only had 22. So sad.
Maybe next year the tours won't have all the restrictions like mask wearing, but the crowds are going to be much bigger. I'll trade small numbers of tourists over the hassle of masks any time.
Just returned from the Rendevous on the Seine cruise - we had 55 folks and Darcy, Patricia and Axiel were our travel team. Just a fantastic trip and the ship and its crew were super. Loved every minute of it. Felt very safe with all the protocols in place. We did do the after hours Louvre tour and that is the only way to see the Louvre - we had a great guide who made it even more enjoyable
Finally got all my Normandy/Brittany/Paris trip photo uploaded to my PC. We also got the after hours Louvre tour. Here's a photo of the room with the Mona Lisa - and not much else but the empty queuing lanes. Being there without being elbow to elbow with others was great.
Thx for your comments. We are on the Seine plus London next May and we appreciate all your tips.
Just got back from Impressions of the Seine, the final trip of the season. Boy, people who traveled this year were rewarded!! Airports empty, hotels empty, the ship had 48 people. We had the place to ourselves but the service was exceptional!! Our first Tauck trip, cancelled from last year, and we are sold. Problem is, 2022 is almost fully booked! I can’t imaging a full ship! Vaxed, boosted and tested, get out there and Go!