Bordeaux, France River Cruise

May 17-24, 2020 – SOLD OUT, but contact us to be placed on the waitlist

Itinerary | Pricing | FAQ | Reserve

Featuring Damon Huard (Passing Time Winery)
and Drew Bledsoe (Doubleback Winery)

Join us for a week on the river in Bordeaux for outstanding cuisine, natural beauty, and the best wine production in the world. We’ll enjoy seven days aboard the new SS Bon Voyage for an all-inclusive holiday that provides accommodations, dining, all beverages aboard, shore excursions, shipboard gratuities, and taxes. Visit Chateaux, tour cellars, and taste the wine that put Bordeaux on the map.

SS Bon Voyage will cruise the three rivers that define the region, the Garonne, the Dordogne, and the Gironde Estuary. In addition to the shore excursions and wine events provided by Uniworld, guests will have the opportunity to enhance their holiday with visits to renowned wine producers and chateaux in the area.

While many of our cruise guests will be from the Pacific Northwest and Washington Wine Country, we’ll see wine lovers from all parts of North America on board.   In contrast to the more established producers, tours will also be available to more contemporary wine makers in the area who are creating great wines.

Interested? You’re encouraged to make your reservations now for a cabin aboard SS Bon Voyage for this event. One half of the available cabins are allocated to WSU Cougar/Doubleback guests. The other half of the cabins are held for UW Husky/Passing Time guests. Early booking incentives are available through the end of 2018. With only 62 cabins available, space won’t last long.

Your cruise includes:

  • Seven nights’ accommodation aboard SS Bon Voyage
  • Welcome reception
  • All meals aboard ship
  • Complimentary wine, beer, spirits, and soft drinks
  • Uniworld Shore Excursions and tours as outlined
  • Shipboard gratuities
  • WIFI access on board
  • Airport Transfers (Bordeaux Airport), May 17 & 24
  • Port Taxes
  • Unique on-board programs
  • Access to optional wine excursions and tastings throughout the week

What’s not included:

  • Air fare*
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Optional tours and events

*See flight option section for assistance in flight planning and purchasing of airline tickets.

Itinerary

Bordeaux to Bordeaux | 8 Days

Program offerings are subject to change.

Day 1: Bordeaux

Arrive at Bordeaux–Mérignac International Airport, where you will be transferred to the ship. If you’re arriving by air today, your transportation to SS Bon Voyage is included. You’ll be met by a Uniworld representative at the airport.

Your ship is conveniently docked right in the heart of the city, so if time allows, stroll to the nearby food markets or visit the popular Saint-Michel Flea market.  We’ll be hosting an introduction this evening immediately following dinner. (D)

Day 2:  Cruising the Garonne River and Gironde Estuary, Cussac Fort Médoc, Pauillac la Fayette

FEATURED EXCURSIONS: Choice of Médoc Châteaux route with exclusive wine tasting or Bunker Archaeology tour

Journey from Bordeaux, the “Pearl of the Aquitaine,” a famed wine-growing region, to the historical village of Cussac-Fort-Médoc, before arriving in coastal Pauillac later in the afternoon. Pauillac, once a crucial enemy stronghold during World War II, is still home to remnants of its war-torn past.

Embark on an afternoon Bunker Archaeology tour, where you’ll begin to understand WWII from the enemy’s point of view. Led by a local guide, tour the remains of defensive army camps, wander inside bunkers and get up close and personal with the Atlantic Wall, an extensive coastal defense system and series of fortifications built by Nazi Germany that lies along the coast of numerous European countries. (BB, L, WD)

Day 3: Cadillac

FEATURED EXCURSION: Choice of Sauternes vineyard with exclusive artisanal wine-tasting or Château de Cazeneuve

Satisfy your sweet tooth in elegant Cadillac, a town known for its production of sweet dessert wines and perfectly situated in the center of an acclaimed international wine region. The town, which still holds on to its medieval structure, is home to a plethora of impressive wine estates, beautiful chateaus and trails perfect for enjoying the French countryside.

We’ll treat you to an exclusive artisanal wine-pairing lunch at Château Royal de Cazeneuve prior to an appropriate photo stop at Château d’Yquem. (BB, L, D)

Day 4: Blaye, Bourg sur Gironde, Libourne

FEATURED EXCURSION: Scenic drive along the Route de la Corniche Fleurie with Blaye Fortress

“Let’s Go” bike tour: Corniche Fleurie

Spend your morning on a scenic drive along the Route de La Corniche Fleurie. Marvel at the spectacular homes etched into cliffs, sprawling gardens, Blaye Fortress and Lansac’s windmills along your way. Or, choose to experience it by bike, where you’ll cycle towards quiet roads, riverside paths and charming villages. (BB, L, D)

Day 5: Libourne (Saint-Émilion)

FEATURED EXCURSIONS: Saint-Émilion walking tour with wine tasting and private evening tour of Bordeaux.

A full day in Libourne means you’ll have plenty of time to explore the majestic landscape of villages and vineyards. Nestled along the confluence of the Isle and Dordogne rivers, the quaint town is as pretty as a postcard.

On the outskirts of Libourne, you’ll find neighboring Saint-Émilion. Discover the wine-making town by foot on a tour of its most picturesque sights, such as the magnificent Monolithic Church, all capped by a wine tasting at a beautiful château. (BB, L, D)

Day 6: Libourne, Bordeaux, Cité du Vin

FEATURED EXCURSIONS: Libourne “Village Day” with farmers’ market

The French insist that the key to their superb wines is the soil in which they’re grown, the terroir. That same terroir also makes for extraordinary produce—the foundation for the country’s acclaimed cuisine—as you’ll discover today at a local farmers’ market. (BB, L, FD)

Day 7: Bordeaux (Quai des Chatrons)

FEATURED EXCURSIONS: Choice of “Do as the Locals Do” Bordeaux Heritage walking tour or” Let’s Go” biking in Bordeaux backstreets

There’s so much to discover with a full day in Bordeaux’s port of Quai des Chatrons. The architecture is impressive, the wine is exquisite and the shopping is to die for. Explore La Cité du Vin, a one-of-a-kind cultural center and museum that brings the heritage of wine to life through interactive exhibits, shows, academic seminars and more.

Do as the locals do and uncover Bordeaux’s unique heritage on a walking tour or choose to traverse the city by bike. Celebrate the end to a spectacular trip with a farewell dinner onboard. (BB, L, D)

Day 8: Bordeaux (disembark)

Disembark the ship. If you’re flying onward from BDX today, you’ll be provided with transportation to the airport. You may want to consider staying longer in the City of Bordeaux, or traveling on your own farther up the Dordogne River. An extension tour to Normandy will be offered following the cruise. (CB/BB)

Optional Wine Touring

Uniworld provides shore excursions that are included in the cost of your cruise program. Because of our focus on wine, additional visits are arranged that include transportation tours, and wine tasting. These additional tours are optional and are available to book in advance. Cost for these tours range depending on the producer, and will be priced from $35-$80. A full list of tour options will be made available to you approximately 9 months prior to sailing.

Past visits have included: Lynch Bages, Pichon Baron, Rauzan Segla, Prieure Lichine, Phelan Segur, Pichon Longueville, Latour Carnet, Beychevelle, Soutard, Franc Mayne, Beausejour-Becot, Troplong Mondot, Chateau de Myrat, Rayne Vigneau, Guiraud, Chateau d’Arsac, and Lascombes. Based on level of interest and availability, more producers may be added to this list. If you have a favorite Bordeaux producer that you’d like to visit, please let me know.

Extend Your Stay

Why spend just a week in France? We encourage you to extend your stay on either end of the cruise. You may want to consider staying longer in wine country, Paris or Normandy.

Paris Pre-cruise Stay in the City of Lights (May 14-17)

  • Three nights at the Hotel des Grands Hommes (breakfast included)
  • Welcome cocktail and gathering
  • Two Day Pass on Paris Metro
  • Two Day Paris Museum Pass
  • Evening sightseeing cruise on the Seine
  • Transfers from Hotel to Montparnasse Rail Station
  • First Class Rail ticket from Paris to Bordeaux
  • Transfers from Bordeaux Rail Station to the ship

Price is $1165 per person/double or $1495 for single

 Normandy Beaches (Post-cruise, May 24-27)

  • Rail transportation from Paris to Bayeux
  • Two nights accommodation in Bayeux with continental breakfast
  • Final night at CDG Airport with full buffet breakfast
  • Air-conditioned Motor coach transportation
  • Local touring of Normandy, including visits to:
    • Point du Hoc
    • Omaha Beach
    • American Cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer
    • Admission to Memorial de Caen, WWII Museum
    • Farewell dinner
  • Services of a local guide while in Normandy

Tour price is $1125 per person/double or $1430 for single

Cruise Pricing

Pricing for the all-inclusive week in Bordeaux are shown here. Prices are shown per person based on two guests occupying a stateroom.

These prices include the cruise fare, port taxes, all shipboard gratuities, round trip airport transfers (from Bordeaux on embarkation and disembarkation day only), Uniworld shore excursions, all meals aboard, and all beer, wine, spirits, and soft drinks.

Grand Suite                 Sold Out-Waitlist open
Deck: Bordeaux Deck              Category: Grand Suite             Size: 410 sq. ft.            $9669.00 per person
Amenities: Lavishly appointed river-view suite with French balcony, Savoir of England bed, built-in closet, hair dryer, safe, individual climate-control thermostat, flat-screen TV with infotainment center, separate spacious living room and marble bathroom with Hermes bath and body products, plush towels, special towel warmers, backlit magnifying mirror, heated mirrors, cozy bathrobes and slippers, separate rain shower and tub, and a secluded toilet and bidet area. Additional suite amenities include in-suite butler service, packing and unpacking assistance, in-room breakfast, daily fruit and cookie plate and elegant evening snack, iPod dock, Nespresso coffee machine and fine teas, fully stocked minibar, shoe shine, and free laundry service.

Suite                            Sold Out-Waitlist open
Deck: Bordeaux Deck              Category: Suite                       Size: 217 sq. ft.            $7769.00 per person
Amenities: Lavishly appointed river-view suite with French balcony, handcrafted Savoir of England bed, built-in closet, hair dryer, safe, individual thermostat, flat-screen TV with infotainment center and satellite, bottled water; marble bathroom with Hermes bath and body products, plush towels, waffle bathrobes, and slippers. Additional suite amenities include in-room breakfast, daily fruit and cookie plate and elegant evening snack, iPod dock, Nespresso coffee machine and fine teas, shoe shine, and free laundry service.

French Balcony           Sold Out-Waitlist open
Deck: Bordeaux Deck              Category: French Balcony       Size: 140 sq. ft.            $4569.00 per person
Amenities: Lavishly appointed river-view stateroom with French balcony, handcrafted Savoir of England queen-sized bed that may convert into two twin beds, luxurious private marble bathroom with shower, towel warmer, plush towels, backlit magnifying mirror, cozy waffle bathrobes, slippers, built-in closet, hair dryer, safe, individual thermostat, flat-screen TV with infotainment center and satellite, and bottled water. French balcony staterooms measure smaller because of the cut-out for the balcony.

Deluxe                         Sold Out-Waitlist open
Deck: Medoc Deck                  Category: Deluxe                     Size: 151 sq. ft.            $4089.00 per person
Amenities: Lavishly appointed river-view stateroom with large window, handcrafted Savoir of England queen-sized bed that may convert into two twin beds, luxurious private marble bathroom with shower, towel warmer, plush towels, backlit magnifying mirror, cozy waffle bathrobes, slippers, built-in closet, hair dryer, safe, individual thermostat, flat-screen TV with infotainment center and satellite, and bottled water.

Classic                         Sold Out-Waitlist open
Deck: Beaujolais Deck                        Category: Classic                     Size: 151 sq. ft.            $3699.00 per person
Amenities: Lavishly appointed river-view stateroom with smaller windows, handcrafted Savoir of England queen-sized bed that may convert into two twin beds, luxurious private marble bathroom with shower, towel warmer, plush towels, backlit magnifying mirror, cozy waffle bathrobes, slippers, built-in closet, hair dryer, safe, individual thermostat, flat-screen TV with infotainment center and satellite, and bottled water.

Additional discount for check payment shown below. Check Discount is per cabin.

$550, Grand Suite           $450, Suite          $260, French Balcony       $230, Deluxe Stateroom           $200, Classic

Traveling to France: Airfare and schedule suggestions

Flights are generally available to book with major carriers 330 days out.   Plan for the end of June 2019 to start shopping for flights. There are a number of online sites that I suggest. You’ve got Travelocity and Expedia, but the one that I keep returning to is Kayak.com. You can set an alarm on their site to generate notices if fares are trending up or down. If you’re not aware already, search fares from Vancouver BC in addition to Seattle. I’ve saved as much as $500 on a ticket by driving north across the border. If you need assistance with flights, please let me know.

You’ve got a few options for transportation to Bordeaux. The most convenient is to fly with an airline that flies right in the city (BOD). This may be the most expensive option. You may also consider paying less in airfare to fly to Paris with a fast train connection to Bordeaux. Keep in mind that Uniworld will provide transfers from the airport to the ship and return if you fly in or out on May 17 or 24. If you arrive via train, the ship is just a few Euros away by taxi.

Paying for your trip

Cruise payments

Northwest Travel accepts personal check, Visa or MasterCard for payment. We do not accept American Express or Discover Cards. Please make checks payable to Northwest Travel Service.

The initial deposit is $1500 per person. A second deposit of $1500 per person is due August 1, 2019. There is a discount for making each payment by check. Discounts range per stateroom. Grand Suite $550, Suites $450, French Balcony $260, Deluxe Stateroom $230 and Classic staterooms $200. The discount is taken on the final payment in January 2020.

Balance of payment for the cruise is due by January 15, 2020. Check payments must be received by that date. If the initial deposit was paid by credit card, the balance of payment will be charged on or soon after this date, unless prior arrangements are made.

Pre-cruise and post-cruise tour payments

The initial deposit for the Paris tour (pre-cruise) and the Normandy Tour (post-cruise) is $500 per person. Balance for these tour options is due when the cruise payment is due, January 15, 2020.

 About Uniworld Cruises and SS Bon Voyage

For over 35 years, Uniworld has brought its guests a unique and rich travel experience, navigating the rivers of Europe and beyond. And in this grand tradition, SS Bon Voyage sets out to elevate cruising to an art form. The newly remodeled ship, with accommodations for just 126 people, is a study of elegance and style, and fosters a personalized, intimate environment from which you will enjoy the beauty of your surroundings.

Staterooms feature lavish linens and luxury beds, marble bathrooms, spacious closets, and modern infotainment centers with flat-panel televisions and complimentary movie options. Of course, the river view and private French balcony are the truly outstanding features to love.

Wireless internet access, a fitness center, pool, and the pampering services of Serenity River Spa are just a few of the other amenities that complete your onboard experience with SS Bon Voyage.

Drew Bledsoe and Damon Huard

For details about Passing Time, Doubleback, and Bledsoe Family Winery, check out these links:

Damon Huard                      Passing Time

Drew Bledsoe                      Doubleback              Bledsoe Family Winery

Cancellation and refund policy

Typically, these tours are nonrefundable once deposit or final payment is made. Because this ship is chartered, I am able to change names without penalty. If the event is sold out, I should be able to replace any cancelling travelers with interested parties from the waitlist. If this is done, a complete refund will be provided for the cruise portion. In the event the cruise is not sold out, I strongly suggest purchasing cancellation insurance. Links are provided below to a couple companies that I have had success with in the past.

Typically, the more time we have to work with a situation, the more flexibility we have. If the charter is sold out and a waiting list is in place, there should be no problem accommodating a refund.

Trip cancellation insurance

The decision to invest in cancellation insurance is a personal one. The costs have risen dramatically over the past 10 years to the point that I can no longer justify selling it. There are many travelers who would never consider making a commitment like this without some assurance that they could receive a portion of the investment returned to them should cancellation become necessary.

The cost of travel insurance ranges between 6% and 10% of the total price of your travel costs. Insurance costs increase with the age of the traveler.

You will be asked to list the full costs of your travel program. This includes air fare, hotel, ground transportation, and the cruise. You need only insure for funds that are paid in advance. If you have a pre-existing medical condition, some policies will cover for this if you purchase your policy immediately after making your first deposit. There are currently two companies that I can recommend for travel insurance. Rates are generally within a few dollars of each other. I specifically leave others off this list due to past claim problems. CSA Travel Protection and Travelex are two companies that have worked well in the past.

Links

Bordeaux Tourism
Paulliac
Bergerac
Saint Émilion
SS Bon Voyage
Libourne Tourism
Hotel des Grands Hommes (Paris)

Frequently-Asked Questions (FAQ)

Is this an escorted tour?

A representative from Northwest Travel will be on board the ship for the week as well as the pre-cruise to Paris and post-cruise stay in Spain to provide assistance along the tour. If issues arise that need assistance, you will be advised how to reach this person.

What should I pack? Is there a dress code?

Dress Code will be casual. Bring a jacket and tie or cocktail dress if you like, but it’s not expected. Bring a light rain coat. If you’re from the northwest, you probably have 3 of these in your closet. Comfortable clothing is the key. You’ll be walking on cobbled streets and uneven ground, perhaps after a glass of wine or two. Make sure you break in your walking shoes before you travel. The one hard and fast rule of the cruise line is “no shorts in the dining room for dinner.”

What sort of weather should I expect?

May in Bordeaux has an average of 15 days with some rain. On average, rainfall is about 2 inches for the month. The average high temperature is 71°. The average low is 51°.

I haven’t spoken French since high school. Will this be an issue?

Tour guides to chateaux and vineyards will speak English.   English speaking guides will also lead shore excursions from the ship during the cruise week. Outside of an occasional “Bonjour” or “Merci,” you will not necessarily need to have a working knowledge of French.

I have food allergies. Can these be addressed?

The cruise line can work around allergies. If you have gluten, shellfish or other allergies, please include this information in the registration process so that the cruise line can be notified.

What about gratuities?

Typically cruise lines provide a guideline for tipping shipboard staff and crew, including your cabin steward, the dining room staff, and all the people behind the scenes. Your gratuities are included in the Bordeaux cruise price.

For tour guides, the suggested gratuity is a couple Euros per person for a ½ day tour, doubled for a full day tour.

No need to tip in restaurants, though you can always leave your change or “round up.” 15% is generally automatically added (service compris) to adequately compensate the wait staff. 

What’s the difference in cabins on the ship?

This ship is in the process of a complete overhaul. The information that I had from the last time I sailed on this ship is no longer accurate. When details are known related to cabin size and amenities, I will update this information online and via email.

Cabins are for sleeping. There are many public areas, both inside and out, to read, relax and meet other passengers. The ship isn’t large enough to be concerned too much with cabin placement. You can walk from one end of the ship to the other in minutes.

Do I need to worry about motion issues on the ship?

Unlike ocean-going cruise ships, there is virtually no side to side or rocking motion on the river. I’ve taken many groups on river cruises and have yet to experience any problems with motion sickness.

Questions inevitably arise related to currency exchange.

At this time of this writing, the dollar has been pegged at about 1.14 dollars to the Euro.

What’s the best way to get Euros?

This will be discussed in much greater detail in your final documentation. I recommend the ATM machines for the best access to local currency. You get a good rate, the machines are almost everywhere, and you can get only the amount of cash to last you for a day or two. You can also purchase Euros in the US before you go, but you pay a premium for this.

Traveler’s checks and converting U.S. dollars overseas can be more hassle than you would think. Many banks (if you can get to one that’s open) will only accept dollar bills in pristine condition.

Your travel documents will include a great deal of information related to overseas travel in general and this itinerary in particular.

Topics will include packing tips, currency exchange, basic French, local customs, food and drink, telephone options, electrical current, Personal safety, shopping, and much more.

If you have any questions that I have not covered here, please either call me at 425-375-2676 (8 AM-5 PM, Monday through Friday) or email me at brad@nwtravel.com. If you reach my voicemail, let me know specifically what you need and I will respond right away.

Diagram of ship
If you would like to get on the waitlist for this tour, please contact Brad Cilley at brad@nwtravel.com or by phone at 425 375 2676.