MS Van Gogh
Built in 1999, this 158-passenger ship from French company CroisiEurope has serious European flavor, from its deliciously rich cuisine to a multicultural mix of passengers. Named after the Dutch expat artist, MS Van Gogh navigates the Rhône and Saône rivers in France, docking in charming provincial ports such as Avignon and Arles. Even though the decor is slightly dated, MS Van Gogh feels well-kept and homey, with paintings by the line’s late owner adorning the corridors.
What We Love
The Accommodating Crew: Despite a growing contingent of English-speaking passengers, MS Van Gogh’s shorter sailings tend to draw a European crowd, with the French making up the majority. The staff makes sure that the Americans, Brits, and Aussies don’t feel left out, however, briefing them personally before public announcements are made in French.
Best Known For
Authentic French Dishes: The kitchen staff delivers beautifully plated dishes with ingredients that complement MS Van Gogh’s itineraries. For example, servers pour Côtes du Rhône wines as you pass Rhône Valley vineyards, and offer Tarte Tropézienne, a brioche and custard cream dessert, in the South of France.
Good Value: MS Van Gogh is not a luxury ship — cabins start at a mere 118 square feet and there’s no lavish decor — though cruises start at a relatively affordable price that reflects what you pay for.
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Who It's Best For
Europhiles: If you came to France to experience a different culture, this ship will give you a great opportunity to mingle with passengers of other nationalities.
Cruisers 60 and Up: Families are welcome onboard, but you’d be hard-pressed to find activities for toddlers and teens, plus the average age hovers around 65.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Few Americans: Don’t be surprised if you find only two or three other English speakers onboard, particularly on short sailings.
Fixed Seating and Menus: You won’t have the flexibility of dining with those you wish every night. Instead, you’ll be assigned the same seat for the entirety of your cruise. While you won’t have a choice of what to order, you can request alternatives.
Some Twin Beds Can’t Be Converted: In some rooms that have twin beds, a built-in cabinet separates the two bunks, so they can’t be converted into a larger, queen-size bed.
Kayla Becker is a New York City-based contributor to ShermansCruise and the assistant editor for the site.