15. April 2017
A Springtime Christening Along the Rhone & Saone
The best invitation I have had so far in 2017 was an overnight stay aboard the latest vessel joining the Amadeus fleet, the 140-passenger Amadeus Provence.A beautiful sunny April day in the South of France was the venue of the Amadeus Provence Christening. Having been carefully built at the De Hoop shipyard in the Netherlands, its home now resides along the Rhone and Saone rivers, with its first sailing taking place just days after the special ceremony.
Embarking the ship, a central sweeping staircase where the natural light floods in from the sun deck are where my eyes were first drawn. It is a grand entrance to be welcomed on the 14th ship joining the Amadeus fleet.After a quick freshen up in my well-appointed French balcony cabin, we were taken to the sun deck where hundreds of red, white and blue balloons awaited the 200 guests and local civic dignitaries. The ship received its blessing by Father Johannes Kiefmann who has conducted weddings and christening services for the Lueftner family. Many river cruise ship christenings are lavish affairs with celebrity godmothers, but the Lueftners prefer to keep it within the family and, this time, Amadeus Provence has the eldest daughter Lea as its godmother. Words were spoken by Lea and, in true ship christening style, a bottle of champagne was broken over the bow of the ship. Champagne was circulated as a local band played sweet sounds from the sun deck. A celebratory atmosphere commenced and each attendee on board was asked to take a balloon to release into the sunny skyline in Vienne, a wonderful sight representing the French tri-colour flag.
Eager to discover the latest innovations on the ship, I headed to the aft to view the stunning infinity pool. Comfortable seating and sun loungers surround the pool with some shaded areas available for those viewing the 360-degree scenery. This would quickly become one of my favourite places to unwind on a seven-night sailing. A bar area located close by will keep you replenished with refreshing drinks and shows they have thought carefully about the design of this elegant new addition to the Amadeus fleet.Aromas of lunch tempted us to the restaurant as we were the first ones to use the white crockery, cutlery and pristine white-pressed tablecloths. A brightly coloured array of salads served along the buffet area, lobster soup with freshly made bread, large fresh king prawns in a garlic and chilli sauce and a wonderful lamb dish with asparagus and creamy potatoes were savoured over the two-hour lunch, accompanied by local wines. Desserts were presented in a rainbow of colours by a wonderful pastry chef I had the privilege of meeting a couple of years ago. Her talents amazed us with the feast that awaited at the end of our meal.
A short afternoon of sailing allowed all on board to relax and experience what customers will have the chance to do from now until the end of October. We basked in warm springtime sunshine as we sailed this picturesque river. The seven-night itinerary will take you to key places such as Avignon and Arles, as well as world-famous sights such as Pont du Gard, Gorges de l’Ardeche and the Beaujolais region.So what makes the Amadeus Provence different from the previous vessels in the fleet? The 135-metre ship is smaller than the Silver class of vessels, carrying 140 passengers at full capacity. It boasts 62 staterooms, with the majority measuring 188 square feet, and eight 284 square foot suites. As well as the new feature of the infinity pool, which is unique to Amadeus Provence, new technology has been incorporated, making this the quietest ship built so far. It is also energy-efficient with new ‘air lubrication’ where tiny bubbles of air are being blown beneath the vessel to lower the resistance of the ship in the river, allowing it to save fuel and be more energy efficient. We had time to spend in our cabins prior to dinner. Similarities of the Amadeus Provence in comparison to the Silver class of vessels include the automatic adjustable panorama windows with table and chairs positioned to take in the scenery as you sail. The trademark walk-in wardrobes are perhaps one of my personal favourites. Usually, if I am away visiting a ship for a night or two I rarely unpack from the case, however, these wardrobes are spacious and I quickly hung up my dresses and made myself at home. You can tell it has been designed exceptionally well as plug sockets are conveniently located, making getting ready a breeze. The bathrooms are light and spacious with powerful shower heads. Plush white towels are hung ready to envelop you after showering. The colourful tones of pinks and purples flow throughout the ship, from the cushions in the cabins to the chairs in the Panorama Lounge and seating area at the bow of the ship, known as the River Terrace.
Our Captain’s Gala Dinner awaited us with welcome drinks in the Panorama Lounge. With a glass of champagne and canapes circulating, it was an opportunity to meet the crew from the various departments on board. Smiling faces standing proudly in front of us in impeccably smart uniform. Words from the Captain echoed around the lounge, clearly a man very proud to be sailing this ship for the first season. Dinner was a multi-course affair, for which in the name of ‘research’ I tasted every single course on offer. Beginning with a delicious pate of marinated mushrooms, lavender honey and caramelised goat cheese, I opted for a lobster cassoulet followed by veal fillet for the main event. At this point, I was getting comfortably full and weighed up the choice of a beautiful French chocolate cake served with pannacotta or a cheese selection. As I am not used to having two desserts in one day, having perhaps overindulged at lunchtime, cheese was the decider. However, I had instant dessert envy when the others around me tackled their striking chocolatey dessert plate. Dinner was accompanied by two excellent choices of French wine.
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