MS Gérard Schmitter
The 176-passenger MS Gérard Schmitter — named after the founder of French line CroisiEurope — puts an emphasis on casual fun over upscale indulgence, which translates into upbeat service and colorful interiors with pops of pink and purple throughout. MS Gérard Schmitter cruises the vineyard-flanked Rhine River, and the cuisine is traditional French while the staff is largely local — as are the guests.
What We Love
Upper-Deck Lounge Bar: Tucked away from the larger and more crowded middle-deck bar, this intimate lounge is one of the quietest nooks on the ship, with the bonus of an open-air terrace with aft views. Sink into a recliner with a chilled cocktail and watch the Rhine scenery — bright-green vineyards, castles, medieval villages — unfold around every bend.
Unique Shore Excursion: In contrast to MS Gérard Schmitter's more standard shore excursions (the twin-spired Gothic cathedral in Cologne; the wine-soaked town of Rüdesheim am Rhein), the ship also offers a rare day trip to the Kröller-Müller Museum in the Netherlands' Nijmegen. This superb museum and lovely sculpture garden, frequently bypassed by other river cruises, holds the world’s second-largest collection of Van Gogh paintings.
Best Known For
French Cuisine: The three-course lunches and dinners are a journey into traditional French cooking — creamy sauces, wine-simmered beef bourguignon, thick wedges of quiche, foie gras, and rich desserts. Pace yourself, particularly during the day — this is nap-inducing cuisine. The included wine is also French (bien sûr) and of a quality that leaves little need to opt for the additional-charge premium wines.
Value: Since its launch in 1976, the family-owned CroisiEurope has been committed to making its cruises accessible to a wide range of passengers. Translation? A lower fare in comparison to other river cruise operators. As of 2016, the price also includes alcoholic drinks and shore excursions.
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Who It's Best For
Laid-Back Culture Aficionados: CroisiEurope attracts mature European travelers — mostly in the 50s-plus range — who are as interested in culture and cuisine as they are kicking back and lounging on the sundeck.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Parlez-vous Français? Though English is widely spoken on the ship, French is the primary language on board, so you may want to brush up on a few phrases to converse with your fellow travelers.