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Tales from the Riverbank

Traveltalk's JON UNDERWOOD continues his voyage through southern France aboard Emerald Liberte

Okay, so after just three days ‘at sea’, I’ve figured out why river cruising is the new black. Quite simply, it is one of the best ways to travel.



Once onboard, it’s like an elegant magic carpet ride, offering equal measures of fun, food and friendship. Simply disengage your brain and enjoy the freedom of not having to plan anything more strenuous than lifting a glass (or three) of your favourite adult beverage.  


With Emerald Liberte, it all starts when you unpack in your modern and comfortable cabin. She was only launched in February and while you can’t quite smell the new paint, Liberte is a sparkling jewel in the Evergreen crown.



Having bid farewell to your suitcases, you just go with the river flow as you’re transported from one destination to the next. A daily activity sheet keeps everything on track with optional excursions, daily walking tours, entertainment and special events all laid out for you. There are no airports to negotiate, no taxis to order, no hire cars to pick up, no hotels to check-in to – the ship simply plonks you right in the heart of town. And once you’ve seen one spot, you simply climb back onboard and set sail for the next stop, all in the comfort of your floating hotel.


And what a hotel it is. There’s a pool at the back of the ship where you can cool off after a hectic day of sightseeing, or a gym to try and work off the mountains of delicious food and wine you’re consuming with alarming regularity. Massage treatments, facials and hairdressing facilities help to keep everyone ship shape while the pool converts into a cinema at night for moviegoers.



Planning where to eat when travelling can sometimes be a challenge, either linguistically or gastronomically, but aboard Emerald Liberte you are spoilt for choice. Breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner come and go in a whirl of fresh local produce, prepared by the onboard chef and presented by the excellent wait staff. Whether it’s Tibor, Samuel or Constantin, you’ll be guaranteed a warm welcome no matter what time you rock up.


But perhaps the most enduring memories you’ll take from a river cruise are of the people who you shared the experience with. Our little team of six did Australia proud in the trivia night quiz, winning the event and earning some bubbles for our efforts before celebrating our success by dancing the night away to the twinkling fingers of resident pianist Zoltan. Such memories cannot be easily matter how much you might want to in the morning!


‘Sensations of Southern France’ is a seven-night/eight-day sailing from Arles to Lyon. Guests can also do a river cruise through Portugal or an MSC ocean cruise either before or after. Getting to Arles is easy with flights into Marseille or Nice.


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Written by: Jon Underwood
Published: 4 July 2017

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