_MS Loire Princesse _
France's Loire River, with its extremely shallow sections, was long left off river cruise itineraries. That is until 2015 when CroisiEurope launched MS Loire Princesse, a 96-passenger paddle wheeler specially designed with a propulsion system to make its way through three-foot-deep water. With a nod to the age of glamorous steamboat cruises, and fashionable interiors decked out by Missoni Home, this French beauty is a stylish way to sail through the Loire Valley.
What We Love
Boutique Size: With only 48 cabins, this small ship offers a personalized experience that feels more like you're on board a barge than a river cruise.
It's Very French: Except for the Missoni decor, the ship is entirely French, from its independent family ownership (the second and third generations are now involved) to the cuisine. Get ready for plenty of croissants and fine French wine as you sail past regal châteaus.
Best Known For
It Goes Where Other Ships Can't: CroisiEurope is pioneering cruising on the "wild" waters of the Loire Valley, and this paddle wheeler was built specifically to make its way through shallow spots.
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Who It's Best For
Budget Cruisers: While excursions are additional, these good-value cruises include everything else, from the food and wine to the Wi-Fi.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
There's No Elevator: The ship has only two decks, but the restaurant is located on the lower one, which might be tricky for those who need assistance — especially since the one cabin designed for those with reduced mobility is on the upper deck.
Cabins Are a Squeeze: Staterooms are a snug 127 to 142 square feet, which may be an issue for anyone who likes to spread out. The ship does not have suites, but cabins on the upper floor are a notch above the rest, with private balconies and floor-to-ceiling windows.
Lane Nieset is a Miami-based contributor to ShermansCruise who also writes for Ocean Drive, Frommer’s, and Paste.