MS La Belle de l'Adriatique
One of two ocean-going vessels of CroisiEurope’s fleet, MS La Belle de l’Adriatique is undoubtedly unique. Holding just under 200 passengers, it was crafted for coastal cruising — it sails in Croatia, Montenegro, Greece and southern Italy — and in many ways it resembles an oversized river ship. Plush cabins (recently redone) cover four decks, and there's a piano bar and third-floor lounge where crowds head after meals that are worth your (bon) appetite. When you’re not on one of the terraces sipping wine with the mostly French passengers, you can take a dip in the top-deck whirlpools, ride an elliptical machine or stationary bike, or just relax after one of the invigorating excursions.
What We Love
Refurbished Interiors: MS La Belle de l’Adriatique just had a makeover and its velvety furnishings — in aqua and taupe — are vibrant, and sparkling new.
Manageable Size: This ship has plenty of space for its 198 passengers, and though the group tours are shuttled around in the often-dreaded bus — they never feel too overwhelming to be intimate.
Best Known For
French Cuisine: CroisiEurope Head Chef Alain Bohn is a member of the prestigious culinary institution Maitres Cuisiniers de France, and the meals served at the restaurant are equivalent to what you’d find on tables in France (plus some port-inspired local specialities). Expect impeccably cooked meats, rich sauces, and decadent desserts — some of them flambéed.
Coastal Routes: MS La Belle de l’Adriatique glides past island gems and craggy coasts, offering an endless tableau of scenery throughout the voyage.
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Who It's Best For
Francophiles: If you took French in school and want to brush up on the language and culture, a voyage on MS La Belle de l’Adriatique can be compared to an immersive experience. Most of the passengers onboard come from France, CroisiEurope’s mother country.
Fit Retirees: Seniors are particularly numerous in the off-season — if that’s the company you’re looking for. Many of the excursions are tailored to that crowd; they’re educational and active.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Non-Stop Itineraries: There are some low-key afternoons, but many of the tours onshore require some physical effort —walking up and down hills, sometimes at a brisk pace. Some of the guides are good at accommodating different levels of fitness. Other groups get smaller by the end of the hour (those who had trouble keeping up dropped out or walked back to the bus).
English-Speakers Are Minorities: Depending on the sailing, the number of English speakers will be smaller compared to the Europeans. This means that the staff will translate announcements, and the tours will be conducted in both French and English. Some explanations are more robust in French, however, and on our sailing there are no alternatives for the French-only lectures onboard.
Limited Wi-Fi: The network only works in the third and fourth floor lounges (and not in the cabins), and when at sea, the connection is slow and spotty.
Movement: When the waters are choppy, the ship sways. Pack your dramamine.
Lisa Cheng is a New York-based writer for ShermansCruise who also writes for Travel + Leisure.