A beautiful river birthday with our dear clients
It was a unique experience for both our dear customers who responded to this unprecedented offer this spring and our guide Julie Lancelot who accompanied them from Seville to the Black Sea. From May 5 to June 15, 2016, 30 passengers travelled a series of five cruises aboard four ships, including the iconic MS Gérard Schmitter which took them from Strasbourg to the Black Sea via Amsterdam.
First of all, who exactly were these lucky long-distance travellers? In the group composed of 12 English speakers and 18 French speakers, only 8 people actually knew CroisiEurope before.
Julie gave them an overview of the company's situation: pioneering river cruising on the most beautiful waterways in Europe since 1976, the Alsatian family-owned business later on engaged in the rest of the world; now operating 50 river ships, among which 6 barges that are perfect to experience gliding along the tranquil waters within Europe, South America, South Africa or Southeast Asia.
She also let they know that in 2017, CroisiEurope will offer unforgettable and exhilarating helicopter tours over the Loire and Medoc regions and various off the beaten track city tours – as part of the new “Discovery Excursion” packages (classic package is still available). One can clearly see that what really sets CroisiEurope apart are its fascinating programmes that bring history, culture and adventure to life.
When they boarded the ship in Strasbourg’s river port on May 28, they had already been through, in order: Andalusia aboard the MS La Belle de Cadiz, Bordeaux and its region along the Gironde aboard the MS Cyrano de Bergerac, the castles of the Loire Valley, spending a night in a hotel in Tours, and the banks of the Seine river aboard Honfleur to Paris from the MS Botticelli.
After 21 days of exploration, the MS Gérard Schmitter headed for Amsterdam via the "Romantic Rhine" before heading for the Danube. Pleasant weather allowed our passengers to enjoy a sweet idleness on the sun deck and in all the convivial places of the boat during these 19 days of sailing.
How was life on board? Did the experience win them over? "Everything went great", says Julie, the happy host who accompanied them from start to finish. She – whilst usually navigating on the rivers of France – was truly thrilled with the rewarding mission entrusted to her. A nice harmony prevailed in the group she guided from one destination to another.
Exceptional moments shared with the Schmitter Family
This cruise was also meant to provide a better understanding of the Schmitter family, its history and its deep attachment to the principles – dear to its founder’s heart – that have been passing on for three generations. Lucas and Déborah Bodras-Schmitter recounted the company’s historical milestones at the reception given in its honor at the ENA (National School of Administration) in Strasbourg, before embarking again the MS Gérard Schmitter.
A big birthday party was also organized in Strasbourg on May 28 with the whole Schmitter clan.
Julie told us that she hosted several quizzes on previous cruises, aiming at challenging passengers’ knowledge of the company. Each time, the last question would be asked by an actual member of the Schmitter family, via a short video. “Some of the passengers were genuinely ecstatic to recognize at their table the very one family member who had asked them a question in the quiz." "They went from one surprise to another with an individualised welcome and many exclusive extras specifically addressed to them."
In Andalusia, near Malaga, they visited Ronda the "white pearl"; in Gironde, they visited Malromé Castle, a property owned by painter Toulouse-Lautrec’s family; in the Loire Valley, they enjoyed a private visit to the Château de Chenonceau. In Strasbourg, it is the ENA institution which opened its doors (see above)…, and so on until Tulcea, where the itinerary ended.
Pampered as it should, they found every couple of days little gifts in their cabins: fans in Andalusia, toffees in Normandy, umbrellas in Gironde...
The exquisite cuisine on board also enchanted them. Julie highlights the incredible work accomplished by the cooks under Chef Alain Bohn and his right arm Christophe Kuhn’s supervision. They concocted them, in the finest tradition of French culinary excellence, exclusive buffets and menus – all standardised upon the trip duration.
The company felt sincerely blessed to have had the opportunity to take them so far and help them live out of such wonderful moments with the support of many of its partners in all of the countries they crossed.
CroisiEurope wishes to thank them plus those who decided to give it a shot and followed the cruise just because of the trust they have shown in joining this unprecedented offer.