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Where can I find a senior-friendly France river cruise?

SmarterTravel

Dear Editor,

Can you recommend a senior-friendly river cruise company that offers tours in France?

S.R.

Dear Reader,

I’ve never been on a river cruise in Europe myself, but in my experience writing about senior travel deals I’ve come across numerous tour operators who offer European river cruises that seem well suited for seniors.

A number of vacation providers I highlighted in my previous feature, Top five value tour operators for seniors, have river cruise tours in France, including Elderhostel and Grand Circle Travel and its Overseas Adventure Travel brand. Elderhostel, which has a heavy emphasis on educational travel, lists eight different France river cruise tours in its online catalogue, with rates starting at $2,782 (not including airfare) for the 10-night “French Impressionists and the School of Barbizon.” Grand Circle has a handful of tours, including the 12-day Overseas Adventure Travel river cruise “Best of Burgundy: Vineyards and Waterways” for $2,445 (includes airfare from New York).

A couple of other tour providers I’ve reported on because of their senior-friendly vacations also run France river cruises. General Tours, which offers AARP members a $100 per person discount on its river cruises, has the most affordable trips I could find. Its eight-day “Sun-Splashed Colors of Provence” cruise starts at $1,375 before the discount, not including airfare. Viking River Cruises, another company I’ve reported on because of its good discounts and appeal to mature travelers, has three France river cruises listed in its 2007 schedule, including two seven-night cruises (“Paris & and the Heart of Normandy” and “Burgundy & Provence”) for $1,999 per person, not including airfare.

Doing some online research, I also found one other company that seems to have good France river cruises—Trafalgar, which has dozens of itineraries. Prices start at $1,798 for the nine-day “Paris and Normandy” trip. Airfare is extra.

When choosing the right tour, it’s important to not only consider price, but also the trip itinerary and inclusions. Read an itinerary carefully to make sure the trip is visiting the destinations that most interest you. Then, find out what exactly is included in the tour price and what the quality of those inclusions is. For example, you should expect to pay more for a trip that includes all meals and luxurious accommodations than one that only covers some meals and includes tourist-class accommodations. Once you’ve selected a trip that seems to fit your interests and budget, call the provider and ask for past-client references so you can determine if the marketing lives up to expectations.

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