The Louisiane, a posh, new river cruise option in the USA coming August 2016
The elegant new Louisiane sets sail August 2016
It’s about time. We need more sophisticated riverboats in the United States, not just in Europe and around the globe. Say goodbye to kitsch and hello to French America Line, a deluxe new river cruise company. It debuts Louisiane, its first ship, this August, with river holidays running five-to-10 days, using New Orleans as homeport.
Louisiane, formerly Columbia Queen, recently underwent a multimillion-dollar refurbishment. Its new look reflects an elegant, French-inspired ambiance, embracing the heritage of the region in which she’ll sail. Due to Louisiane’s small size, she can access historic river ports on five American rivers – places larger riverboats cannot navigate.
River cruise veterans, Chairman Christopher Kyte, and President Tom Markwell, head a seasoned executive team. Their goal is to provide the highest level of service and amenities comparable to those found on European rivers.
Expect sails on the Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee, Cumberland, and Red rivers, and the Gulf Coast waterways. Pricing is nearly all-inclusive, such as one-night pre-embarkation deluxe hotel stays. Pricing also includes all meals, beverages, wines, spirits, and beers, nightly live entertainment, shore excursions in every port, WiFi in public areas, and informative cultural and historical talks by onboard lecturers. Such talks might be on the history of American cocktails, origins of Zydeco, bluegrass music, Native American history – all befitting the region Louisiane is sailing.
For those who wish to explore independently, or simply fit in some exercise, bicycles, helmets, and maps are also available in every port. Special private guided experiences are also offered, at an additional cost.
Look for fresh regional specialties with upscale flair onboard Louisiane
Dining is open seating, in two venues. Look for inventive regional, French, and Continental dishes, plus healthy selections (under 400 calories) for each meal. Three lounges offer cocktails; one features soft jazz nightly. Room service is 24-hours. Vosges chocolates, one of my favorites, are a nightly turndown treat.
Louisiane has a full-service spa, providing everything from body treatments to nail and hair services. And techies, take note: iPads, pre-loaded with e-books, daily excursion programs, menus, and entertainment information, are offered for use in each cabin.
Choose from 75 staterooms and suites in seven categories.
Staterooms, with L’Occitane en Provence bath amenities, spa-quality bathrooms, and flat screen LED televisions, look wonderfully plush. Many have French balconies or private verandahs. Book a lavish Richelieu Suite, one of two on the uppermost deck, and additional perks are offered, such as Hermès bath amenities, evening canapés, complimentary laundry service, and private car to and from the airport.
I’m rooting for the new French America line. With its success, more cruise companies may offer higher quality river experiences here at home. We, the consumers, will be the lucky ones. (frenchamericaline.com)