Rhone River Cruise: Burgundy and Provence

June 6-13, 2021

Itinerary | The Ship | Pricing | FAQ | Reserve

SS CatherineThe South of France beckons. The wines and cuisine of Burgundy and the Rhone Valley are the focus this weeklong journey from Lyon to Avignon. We’ve chartered the entire ship for seven fun-filled days and nights.

Chef in the Hat, Thierry Rautureau (Luc, Loulay) will join us to lend his unique talents to the experience. In addition, this cruise will feature Washington Winemakers Kerry Shiels of Côte Bonneville, and Jeff Lindsay-Thorsen of WT Vintners.   In addition, Master Sommelier Larry Stone, Co-founder and CEO of Oregon’s Lingua Franca Wines will add to the on-board educational componentWe’ll have wine and food discussions, visit cellars, and sample Michelin-starred restaurants, all while exploring villages and vineyards along the river.

Your cruise includes accommodations on the luxurious SS Catherine as she travels from Avignon to Lyon, all meals, adult beverages, most shore excursions , taxes & gratuities. By chartering the entire vessel, we’re able to offer exclusive low rates to our guests and provide a unique educational program on board.

  • Sample vintages as we cruise the Saone and Rhone Rivers.
  • Shore excursions in the villages on the river
  • Dine with old and new friends
  • Evening entertainment on board and ashore
  • Wine discussion throughout the week
  • Unique Michelin dining experiences

Itinerary

The route of the SS CatherineDay 1: Avignon (embark)

Arrive at the Marseille airport, where you will be met and transferred to the ship. You’re encouraged to come early to experience a re-vitalized Marseille or spend time in Nice, Cannes, or elsewhere on the Côte d’Azur. The ship departs the dock at 7 PM this evening. Guests can board the ship as early as 1 PM.

Day 2: Tarascon

Explore one of two sun-drenched Provençal towns today, each with an allure all its own. Known for its remarkable Roman ruins, Arles so inspired Van Gogh that he painted some 200 paintings there.

Tarascon boasts an ancient castle, as well as a local legend about a ferocious dragon. Arles has existed since the sixth century BC, when it was first founded by the ancient Greeks. It was here that the Romans built their first bridge across the Rhône River, creating a vital overland route between Italy and Spain and facilitating the expansion of their empire.

TarasconLong renowned as one of the region’s most attractive cities, Arles lured artist Vincent van Gogh, who painted hundreds of works here (including Sunflowers and The Yellow House) in just 15 months. A short distance from Arles is the ancient and charming town of Tarascon. Its many medieval sites include a 12th-century church and a 15th-century castle that is rich with tales of a beloved ruler. Bask in the warmth of the Provençal sunlight in either of these friendly Mediterranean towns.

Day 3: Avignon

The walled city of Avignon is one of the most fascinating towns in southern France, with a host of historic gems to explore—including the fortress residence of rebellious popes who broke from Rome and once lived and ruled here. You’ll see the Palace of the Popes and much more today, and also have a chance to kayak under a 2,000-year-old Roman aqueduct.

Day 4: Viviers

Meet some new friends today in the village of Viviers, encounters that really get at the heart and soul of the French people and their culture and traditions. No matter whom you get to know—a pottery maker, a dance teacher or a local homeowner—you’ll have an enjoyable and truly authentic experience, something you’ll remember for years to come.

An enchanting village where time seems to have stopped centuries ago, Viviers has a long and storied past that goes back more than 1,600 years—and a splendid architectural heritage to match. At one time, Viviers was divided along religious lines—the clergy lived in the upper part of the town, the laity in the lower part. Your exploration of the town will take you through both parts, as you begin at the crest and make your way to the riverbank.

French cheesesDay 5: Tournon (Tain-l’Hermitage), Lyon

If you love fine wine, you’ll love the twin villages of Tournon and Tain-l’Hermitage. Whether you opt for a guided walk or a more vigorous vineyard hike, you’ll also have a chance to taste the local specialty—wonderful wines made primarily from Syrah grapes.

Day 6: Lyon

As the epicenter of French gastronomy, Lyon is a city of tantalizing contrasts. There’s much to explore here, from the work of culinary visionaries to silk weavers’ secret passageways. After your choice of excursions, embrace the locals’ favorite mode of transportation with a patisserie-fueled bike ride—a great way to see the sights. Two rivers: one tranquil, one torrential. Two hills: one for labor, where the sound of the silk weavers’ looms used to echo; the other for prayers, crowned by a spectacular basilica.

Two cities, as different as night and day: one boasting colorful Old World façades, medieval mansions and hidden passageways; one with a sophisticated urbanity reminiscent of Paris. Situated at the confluence of the Rhône and Saône rivers, and with roots stretching back over 2,000 years to the days of Julius Caesar, Lyon is a place of fascinating dualities.

Today you have your choice of ways to explore this city of contrasts: Sample its culinary riches with a visit to its peerless market hall or follow the footsteps of the silk weavers in the old quarter. For a more active option, see the city from its extensive—and lovely—bike paths.

BeauneDay 7: Mâcon (Beaune)

The pace of life is decidedly more relaxed in Burgundy, where endless rows of grapes hang heavy on the vine. The capital of the region’s wine trade, Beaune, is renowned for its history, beauty and highly prized wine, as well as its medieval-era hospital—the Hospices de Beaune. Located in the southernmost part of Burgundy, Mâcon, a Saône River port, is your gateway to Beaune.

Day 8: Lyon (disembark), transfer Lyon Airport for flights home

Disembark the ship. If your flight departs today, you will be transferred to Lyon–Saint-Exupéry Airport for your flight home. Alternatively, you may opt to spend a few more days in Lyon, consider a TGV Train to Paris, or join the post-cruise extension to Champagne.

Shore tour options available for our guests

Touring and dining opportunities:

  • Kayaking at the Pont du Gard
  • Seven-course lunch at L’Auberge du Pont de Collonges, the Michelin 3-star restaurant of Paul Bocuse in Lyon
  • Bicycling along the Rhone River
  • Wine tasting in Burgundy at Domaine Drouhin and Patriarche
  • Visit to a family-owned truffle estate followed by lunch nearby in Grignan at la Table de Delice
  • Enjoy Gastronomique lunch in Les Baux de Provence at Oustau de Baumanière with their epic wine cellar
  • Additional Michelin dining opportunities in Beaune and Avignon

More information about shore tour options is available here.

Pricing

Your cruise costs (per person, based on double occupancy)

Category Brochure Price NW Travel Charter Price September Incentive Price
Grand Suite $10,799 $9,839 $9,339
Suite $8,699 $7,689 $7,039
Deluxe Balcony $6,499 $5,289 $4,439
French Balcony $5,999 $4,839 $4,139
Classic $4,799 $3,989 $3,539
Classic Single $5,099 $3,989 $3,699

These prices apply for payment by Visa or MasterCard. An additional discount is available to guests paying by check in lieu of credit card (Visa/Master Card).

Classic: $100
French Balcony: $120
Deluxe Balcony: $150
Suite: $225
Grand Suite: $300

An initial deposit of $2800 is required to confirm your reservation. Balance of payment is due January 31st, 2021.

Booking Early has its benefits.

Booking early will guarantee:

  • Best choice of stateroom selection
  • Priority for pre- and post-cruise tours
  • Priority for limited-capacity shore tours
  • Early Booking discount offers

The Ship

SS Catherine Accommodations

To get a better sense of the cabin amenities and layout, visit this page at the Uniworld site.

Grand Suite

  • Lavishly appointed river view royal suite (401 sq ft – 38 sq m) with an open-air balcony
  • Handcrafted Savoir® of England beds, generous built-in closets, hair dryer, individual climate-control thermostat, direct-dial telephone, flat screen TV with infotainment center, safe, separate spacious living room and a bathroom with a separate rain shower and tub, and a secluded toilet and bidet area
  • Triple accommodation option available. The sofa converts into a comfortable bed to accommodate a third person
  • Marble bathroom includes L’Occitane en Provence and Hermes bath and body products, plush towels, special towel warmers, backlit magnifying mirror, heated mirrors, cozy bathrobes and slippers
  • Additional amenities and services include: in-suite butler service; packing and unpacking assistance; in-room breakfast; daily fruit and cookie plate, and an elegant evening snack; Nespresso coffee machine and fine teas; fully stocked mini bar; bottle of wine upon arrival; shoe shine; free laundry service; and a special dinner in Bar du Leopard

Suite

  • Lavishly appointed river view suite (305 sq ft – 28.3 sq m) with an open-air balcony
  • Handcrafted Savoir® of England beds, generous built-in closets, hair dryer, individual climate-control thermostat, direct-dial telephone, flat screen TV with infotainment center, and safe
  • Triple accommodation option available. The sofa converts into a comfortable bed to accommodate a third person
  • Marble bathroom includes L’Occitane en Provence and Hermes bath and body products, plush towels, special towel warmers, backlit magnifying mirror, heated mirrors, cozy bathrobes and slippers
  • Uniquely decorated and additional amenities and services, including: in-suite butler service; packing and unpacking assistance; in-room breakfast; daily fruit and cookie plate, and an elegant evening snack; Nespresso coffee machine and fine teas; fully stocked mini bar; bottle of wine upon arrival; shoe shine; free laundry service; and a special dinner in Bar du Leopard

Deluxe Balcony

  • Lavishly appointed river view stateroom (194 sq ft – 18 sq m) with open-air balcony
  • Handcrafted Savoir® of England beds, generous built-in closets, hair dryer, individual climate-control thermostat, direct-dial telephone, flat screen TV with infotainment center, and safe
  • Marble bathroom includes: L’Occitane en Provence bath and body products, plush towels, special towel warmers, backlit magnifying mirror, heated mirrors, cozy bathrobes and slippers

French Balcony

  • Lavishly appointed river view stateroom (194 sq ft – 18 sq m) with a French balcony
  • Handcrafted Savoir® of England beds, generous built-in closets, hair dryer, individual climate-control thermostat, direct-dial telephone, flat screen TV with infotainment center, and safe
  • Marble bathroom includes: L’Occitane en Provence bath and body products, plush towels, special towel warmers, backlit magnifying mirror, heated mirrors, cozy bathrobes and slippers

Classic Stateroom

  • Lavishly appointed river view stateroom (162 sq ft – 15 sq m)
  • Handcrafted Savoir® of England beds, generous built-in closets, hair dryer, individual climate-control thermostat, direct-dial telephone, flat screen TV with infotainment center, and safe
  • Marble bathroom includes: L’Occitane en Provence bath and body products, plush towels, special towel warmers, backlit magnifying mirror, heated mirrors, cozy bathrobes and slippers

SS Catherine

Frequently-Asked Questions (FAQ)

FAQ for 2021 in France

Uniworld Experience

In July 2015, Northwest Travel chartered the River Royale for seven nights in Bordeaux. My previous river cruising experience up to that time had all been with Viking River Cruises. I could not have been more pleased with my personal experience as coordinator and with the comments and reviews provided by my guests during and after the cruise. Since then, Northwest Travel has chosen Uniworld for 6 river cruise events with the same fantastic service and attention to detail. It was an easy decision to choose Uniworld for this 2021 event.

If you have enjoyed other river cruise companies, I guarantee you will love what Uniworld has elevated the experience to.

Covid-19 and restrictions on travel

We all hope and I expect that the world health situation will return to some semblance of normalcy by the time the date of this cruise rolls around.  I certainly understand that guests are not concerned about committing funds for an event that may be moved or cancelled.

If we’re unable to travel to France in June 2021, an alternative date would be established for the same calendar week (or earlier) in 2022.  Guests who approve and accept the new date would be accommodated with the same cabin assignment.  If guests are unable to accept the new dates, they would have the option of receiving a credit for the funds already paid to use on any group tour or cruise offered by Northwest Travel or to apply it to any Uniworld cruise scheduled in the next 36 months.  The May ’20 Bordeaux cruise was moved to the same week in May 2021 with about 90% approval.  Those that couldn’t make the new date have accepted credit for future travel or are waiting on refunds once their cabins are resold.  The Douro cruise, originally slated for late May 2021 has been changed to May 2022.  All of my garden tour programs scheduled for 2021 have now been rescheduled for dates in 2021.

Air Transportation

Flight details for arrivals and departures:

The ship departs from the port of Avignon late in the afternoon on June 6. It’s suggested that you plan to arrive early to take full advantage of your time aboard. You’re able to board the ship as early as 1 PM. Avignon is well worth a few days on its own. Think about arriving a few days early. Discount rates at select Avignon hotels will be available soon.

Marseille is the designated arrival airport to begin this tour.  You can fly into Marseille with connecting flights through London, Frankfurt, Paris, or Amsterdam. You may also consider flying into Paris and using the high speed train from CDG Airport to the center of Avignon.

Vancouver continues to be an excellent alternative to Seattle for discount travel to Europe. Comparisons made in early February for June travel show Seattle departures in the $1200-$1400 range with Vancouver flights under $800.

Tour Extensions

Three-night Champagne post-cruise extension includes:

  • Coach transportation from the Lyon Pier to our hotel in Reims
  • Services of a local guide in Champagne
  • Burgundy wine tasting visit at Chassagne Montrachet with a light lunch en-route to Reims
  • Three nights’ hotel in Reims at La Caserne Chanzy
  • 2 full days of touring and tasting the Champagne houses in the region*
  • Evening Champagne Dinner
  • Coach transportation from Reims to CDG/Paris for flights home

*A similar tour in 2018 was provided prior to our departure from Lyon.  The specific Champagne houses on the visitation schedule won’t be known until early 2021.  Here is a sample list of some of the houses visited in 2018.  Moët and Chandon, Taittinger, Mercier, Pommery, & Comtesse Lafond.

Single price for this tour is $2390.  A discount of $75 applies if paid by check

Double price is $1990 per person.  A discount of $60 per person applies if paid by check.  A deposit of $800 is due at time of confirmation.  Balance is due January 31st, 2021.

Three-night Barcelona pre-cruise tour includes:

  • Transfers from Barcelona Airport to the hotel
  • Services of a local guide
  • Three nights in Barcelona at Passeig de Gracia Hotel*
  • Welcome dinner at a traditional Tapas restaurant
  • Orientation tour of Barcelona
  • Admission and guided tour to Sagrada Familia
  • Excursion to Montserrat and surrounding countryside for wine tasting, lunch, and exploration
  • Transportation to Avignon to join the cruise**

*Great location in the pedestrian area of Barcelona.  Close to shops, restaurants, and Casa Battlo, one of the must-see Gaudi sites in the city.

**Determination will be made in the early part of 2021 as to whether we will fly from Barcelona to Marseille, then coach to the ship or take a train directly to Avignon.  Schedules are in flux at this time.

Single price for this tour is $2175.  A discount of $65 applies if paid by check

Double price is $1645 per person.  A discount of $50 applies if paid by check.  To confirm this tour, a deposit of $800 per person is due.  Balance is due January 31st, 2021.

Aboard Ship

The order of the day is casual. There is no reason to pack any formal wear for your time aboard. The cruise line asks that you dress appropriately for dinner and evening time. There will be evening events scheduled both on and off ship. Our winemakers will discuss the regions at associated wines as we progress on our route.

You need not be concerned with motion during the cruise. River cruise ships are not subject to the same type of side to side motion common to ocean-going vessels.

There are three scheduled meals per day with table sizes ranging from two to ten guests. Seating is not assigned. Dine with a group of friends each evening or mix it up to enjoy your meal with friends met along the way. Wine, beer, and spirits are included with your cruise.

Documentation

You’ll need a valid passport, which much have at least 6 months validity from the date of entry in France. No additional visa is needed for US or Canadian citizens (at least not yet). We may see an additional level of documentation for European visitors in place in 2021.

Your stateroom

The SS Catherine was launched in 2014. She holds 158 guests in a variety of stateroom configurations and sizes. Some cabins offer picture windows, while others provide French or full-sized balconies. Determine what’s right for you by looking over the cabin descriptions above or visiting the web page at SS Catherine Staterooms.

Dining

The ship provides three meals a day, beginning with a breakfast buffet, plated lunch and dinner. Tables are not assigned. You’re free to dine with different group of friends each evening. The ship is able to accommodate a wide range of dietary restrictions and allergies.

The SS Catherine has a wonderful little alternative restaurant located aft on Camargue Deck. This 30-seat Bar du Leopard provides an opportunity for a semi-private dining experience with your favorite winemaker or Chef Thierry. Each guest will have one evening to dine in this fashion. Guests that book early (first 44 guests) will have a 2nd evening to select if they wish.

Sightseeing

At least one Uniworld shore tour per day is included in the cost of your cruise. These tours are supplemented by additional tours that are available as an option. Tours will include visits to Michelin restaurants, additional visits to wine producers, and a truffle farm.

I anticipate that additional wine visits will cost approximately $30-$45 each, mostly to cover transportation costs and tasting fees. Pricing for Michelin Experiences, including the restaurant of Paul Bocuse, will be determined by the menu and Euro exchange. In 2017, lunches at these restaurants ranged from $150-$450 per person, depending on the restaurant. These events were so popular and sold out so quickly, that additional experiences will be added this year. Specific pricing will be available in Summer 2020. Early booking guests will earn priority in selecting these tour options.

Early booking incentive

Guests who book early will have priority in stateroom selection. In additional, early booking will secure priority in selecting optional wine touring throughout the week and well as pre-cruise and post-cruise tour extensions, which will be limited to 22 guests for each tour.

Weather

June is an excellent time to visit the region. Summer tourists have not yet arrived en-mass, and the weather is fairly moderate with average temperatures ranging from 60°-75° in Lyon to 65°-80° in Avignon. Both locations average about an inch of rain for the month. We’ll have over 15.5 daylight hours for touring in June as we near the solstice.

Deposit and payment schedule

Payments made to Northwest Travel Service are non-refundable. If you need to cancel, I will do everything possible to find someone to take your place. Cancellation insurance is an option to protect your deposit. Trip cancellation will cost between 6% and 10% of the total cost of your tour. I’ve had very good results with two insurance companies with links provided below.

An initial deposit of $2800 per person is required to confirm your reservation. The balance is due by January 31, 2021.

Port or Starboard? Which side should I choose?

I’ve cruised this itinerary a few times and the cruise line has confirmed my opinion that there is little to no beneficial “edge” of one side of the ship or the other. The ship may dock with either side to the shore and there is every possibility that you’ll either raft next to another ship or have a ship tie up next to you. Pick a cabin adjacent to your friends or choose one across the hall from yours so that you’ll always have a view. If you’re doing it right, you won’t be spending much time in your cabin anyway!

What if I need to cancel my cruise?

Because payments are nonrefundable, travel insurance is suggested. Both of the companies listed below have a policy rate calculator online. Enter the cost of your tour and personal data to receive a no-obligation cost estimate.

Two recommended companies are: Generali Travel Insurance and Travelex Insurance.

Cancellation insurance will range in price based on the cost of your travel and the age of the applicant. Get a quote at the websites above before making a purchase. If you have a pre-existing condition to cover, you usually must purchase your policy within 2 weeks of the initial deposit.

Winemaker Biography

Jeff Lindsay-Thorsen

Jeff’s passion for wine and fine cuisine has led him around the world in pursuit of strengthening his knowledge and feeding his passion. To gain a deeper understanding of the vast world of wine, he has worked the harvest at esteemed estates in Burgundy, New Zealand and here at home in Washington and Oregon. In addition to exploring the great wine regions of the world, Jeff has been hard at work at here in the Pacific Northwest.

He holds an Advanced Sommelier Certification from the Court of Master Sommeliers and a Sommelier Diploma from the International Sommelier Guild. In 2008, he won the Pacific Northwest Super-Regional Best Young Sommelier Competition and competed as a finalist in the national competition hosted by La Chaîne des Rotisseurs International Food & Wine Society.

Jeff has had the honor of working alongside several of the Pacific Northwest’s best chefs, restauranteurs, sommeliers, and winemakers while honing his craft. As Wine & Spirits Director of the multi-award-winning wine program at Seattle’s Cascadia Restaurant, Jeff built an internationally renowned wine program. In 2009, he was given the task of developing a dynamic wine program for the much-anticipated second location of the celebrated Wild Ginger restaurant in Bellevue, WA. Jeff went on to develop a much-acclaimed Northern Italian focused wine program and an Outstanding Restaurant nomination from the James Beard Foundation at Holly Smith’s Cafe Juanita in Kirkland, WA. Jeff is currently the Wine Director at celebrity Chef Michael Mina and rock-star sommelier Rajat Parr’s RN74 in Seattle, WA.

Kerry Shiels-Cote Bônneville

Kerry is the winemaker for Côte Bonneville. She began making wine in middle and high school in a series of science projects. After earning her engineering degree from Northwestern University in Chicago, she worked in Torino, Italy, in Fiat’s management development program. She was transferred to Case New Holland (CNH) world headquarters in Chicago before deciding to enter the world of wine.

Kerry received her master’s degree in Viticulture and Enology from UC Davis, and then assumed the winemaker title in August 2009. She has been immersed in DuBrul Vineyard and Côte Bonneville since the inception, but especially since 2005, when she left engineering.

Kerry gained experience in Napa, California, Argentina, and Australia, before returning to Côte Bonneville full time.  She loves crafting world class wines that express this spectacular site and sharing them with people.

Lawrence Stone-Nilsen, CEO and Founder Lingua Franca

After Krug-Cup-winning* Master Sommelier Larry Stone won the prestigious Grand Prix de Sopexa title in Paris for Best Sommelier in the World in French Wines, he continued as a restaurateur and sommelier for the next 25 years, associated with Four Seasons Hotels, Charlie Trotter’s, and Rubicon.  At Rubicon he joined forces with NY restaurateur Drew Nieporent, Robin Williams, Robert De Niro and Francis Ford Coppola.

Larry has served as Trustee of the James Beard Foundation, on the board of the Court of Master Sommeliers and also served on the board of the Kronos Quartet.  He has won numerous awards and mentored a host of young sommeliers.  With everyone he teaches, Larry tries to instill a sense of service and a respect for all people.

A Seattle native, Larry has had a long love affair with the Eola-Amity Hills.  There he bought a highly coveted farm on an exceptional site in 2012.  He planned and planted Lingua Franca, using clonal and massal selection of vines to insure the finest quality material.  In 2016 Lingua Franca winery was completed, with Dominique Lafon as the consulting winemaker and the brilliant young French winemaker, Thomas Savre.

Today his sole focus is on Lingua Franca Estate Wines, the fulfillment of a lifelong dream.

*The Krug Cup is awarded to those Master Sommeliers who pass their exam on the first attempt.

Make Your Reservation!

If you have any questions about this tour, please contact Brad Cilley at brad@nwtravel.com or by phone at 425 375 2676.

Pre-cruise tour to Barcelona
YesNo

Post-cruise tour to Champagne
YesNo

Affiliation:
Chef Thierry RautureauCote Bonneville’s Kerry ShielsWT Vintner’s Jeff Lindsay-ThorsenLingua Franca’s Larry Stone

Payment (required)
I would prefer to pay by check to take advantage of the discountI will pay by Visa or MasterCard (secure link will be emailed to you for payment)