River cruisers who want to vacation in the U.S. but enjoy some continental flavor have a new choice to consider: French America Line and its river ship the Louisiane, which will debut in August at its homeport in New Orleans.
The vessel is the former Columbia Queen, and it’s undergoing a multimillion dollar refurbishment to reflect a “subtle but elegant French-inspired ambience to embrace the rich history of the areas she sails that were once known as French America,” says the company. Inaugural sailings for a maximum of 150 guests and a U.S. crew of 64 will begin Aug. 22.
Cruises range from five to 10 days along the Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee, Cumberland and Red rivers, and the waterways of the Gulf Coast. Pricing is virtually all-inclusive, with one-night pre-embarkation deluxe hotel stay, all meals, all beverages, wines, beer and spirits, nightly live entertainment, cultural and historical talks by onboard “Illuminators,” free Wifi in public spaces onboard, and shore excursions in every port of call included in the tariff.
The Louisiane’s small size – it has just 75 staterooms – will enable it to access historic river ports on five American rivers that larger ships cannot reach. The line’s executives include Christopher Kyte, chairman and Tom Markwell, president.
“We designed Louisiane to embody superb river experiences, including exploring many diverse traditions on our country’s waterways that were influenced by la belle France during the colonization of America. It’s a wonderful narrative and quite unique to what’s currently available, offering the highest level of service and amenities comparable to that found on the rivers of Europe,” says Kyte.
“We also believe that the integrity of the company to whom you trust your vacation should be reflected in our fare structure. Therefore, we guarantee that we will not artificially inflate our prices and then lower prices as the sailing date approaches. You can book early with utmost confidence that you are receiving the best price available, as our fares remain the same from the moment they are created until the moment the vessel sails. That is the French America Line promise,” he adds.
The ship offers cabins with private balconies and French balconies. All staterooms will have individual climate control, makeup mirror, deluxe mattresses clad in luxurious linens and duvets, private bathroom with plush towels and L’Occitane en Provence bath amenities, spa-quality bathrobes and slippers, in-room safe, ample storage space, 24-hour room service, flat screen LED television with satellite programming, direct-dial telephones and complimentary 24-hour room service.
Two Richelieu Suites will be the most lavish accommodations onboard, with panoramic windows and wraparound outdoor promenade seating area, a queen bed, double armoire with built-in drawer storage, chest of drawers, desk and exclusive extras, including Hermès bath amenities, evening canapés, complimentary laundry, fresh fruit and flowers upon arrival, complimentary Curator Collection experiences and private car transfers to/from the airport.
A nine-day Memphis to Louisville cruise in August has starting fares from $3,999 per person, double. A Richelieu Suite runs $6,999 per person.