River Cruise Seminar: AmaWaterways and Visit Dream Destinations, LLC.

by Hank Schrader, USMA ’71, Europe Destination Specialist & Europe River Cruise Expert

On Tuesday May 9, 2017, we co-hosted a wine tasting and river cruise seminar at French Country Wines, with our AmaWaterways Business Development Manager for Texas and LA, Shelia Bielich.  It was a lot of fun, with delightful wine and we had two really good presentations about French Wine Cruises available on AmaWaterways.  Since, many of you live outside the Houston area or may not have been able to attend, I thought I’d give you a recap of an awesome evening.

Our Venue

French Country Wines specializes in small wineries from France.  Many of their wines are imported from the Rhone River valley and the area around Bordeaux.  The store is wonderfully decorated with some very good pictures of the key wine regions of France.  The two owners, Tim and Phyllis, have been in business for 10 years and have a good selection of French wines.  We provided our guests with an excellent selection of 3 French wines.  They were a Pouilly Fuisse (white), a Blanquette (sparkling) and Jourdan (red).  Along with the wine, we provided a cheese and charcuterie tray and fresh breads.   All of our guests told us they really enjoyed the food and wine.  The wine must have been good since several bought wine from the shop to take home.

Welcome Board 5-9-17
Our Welcome Board at French Country Wines

Our Guests and Anne’s Surprise Gift to All

My clever wife, who adds sparkle to any event, provided our guests with a great photo gift.  She found a wireless device made by HP called a Sprocket.  This device is about the size of a cell phone and takes photos from your phone and prints out a small pictures that you can add titles to describe the picture with a caption.  She then attached them to an embossed card she designed.  To say this was a total hit was an understatement–all present wanted to see how it worked and were delighted about this special touch.  As usual, way to go Anne–great idea, better execution–you added class to our event!

Frankie Group
A photo of 4 guests from the Sprocket with the title added–Thanks for coming!

The first presentation–the Rhone River

After a short socializing half an hour, I provided a presentation about our 3 trips on the Rhone River on AmaWaterways.  My presentation covered 3 areas of this great river cruise.  They are 1) To learn about AmaWaterways and the 110 m AmaDagio; 2) Why you should take this cruise; and 3) to learn about this route on the Rhone River.

2015 Rhone & Saone Wine Regions - tan fade
Hank talked about the wine regions on the Rhone & Saone

First, I talked about the wonderful experience of an AmaWaterways cruise and the 110 m. AmaDagio.   Your floating luxury hotel docks right in the center of the historical towns–you will cruise in comfort and style.  The food (featuring regional specialties, using locally sourced, fresh ingredients), unlimited regional wine (that changes daily and is often from various vineyards along the route) served at lunch and dinner and service are all excellent and considered the best among the eight river cruise companies that market to the US cruisers.  I highlighted the tasting menu at Chef’s table (a separate specialty restaurant for 28 guests), a crew who always says” yes” and extras; like bikes. massage/hairdressers and the fitness area.

Hank - AMAWaterways Presentation 5-9-17
Hank talking about Cruise Features of an AmaWaterways River Cruise

Here were my key points about why you should take this cruise:

  • Cruise on the Saone & Rhone Rivers on the MS AmaDagio—first class all the way
  • Cruise legendary wine growing regions of Beaujolais & Cote du Rhone & enjoy wine tastings
  • Marvel at Roman ruins, shop for Provencal crafts
  • See historical Avignon & Arles.
Roman Amphitheater in Arles

I covered the route starting at Arles and ending in Lyon and gave a detailed description of each days tours.  I really emphasized the variety of included tours and after 3 cruises on the Rhone, we still had not taken all the tours offered.  And, of course, as you’ve read before, this cruise sails in the opposite direction.

Sunset Arles
Sunset at Arles
Pont du Gard
Pont du Gard
Old Town Lyon
Old Town Lyon

After the presentation, several folks came up to let me know they learned a lot, so I guess I did a good job!

A Taste of Bordeaux–Shelia’s Presentation

Shelia gave a wonderful presentation.  She started with an overview of the company and all the routes they sail.  She used a great handout map which described the rivers sailed by AmaWaterways and on the flip side was a photo of a 135 m ship, explaining the layout of their long ships with pictures of each area of the ship. She talked about the difference an AmaWaterways cruise provides their guests.  The key point she made, in my opinion, was how Berlitz rated AmaWaterways.  The Berlitz river cruise guide rated more than 280 river cruise vessels and Ama took the 11 top spots in their rankings—pretty impressive, to say the least!


Sheila - Bordeau presentation 5-9-17
Shelia talking about the A Taste of Bordeaux AmaWaterways River Cruise


Trip Map & Wine Regions on A Taste of Bordeaux

Having recently returned from the Taste of Bordeaux cruise, Shelia described the route and tours in detail.  The Bordeaux region consists of Dordogne, Garonne and Gironde (actually Europe’s largest estuary) and is in the southwestern part of France.    It is a round trip cruise out of Bordeaux and features wine tastings, châteaux and abundant vineyards along the Garonne and its tributaries.  She covered extensively the port cities of Cadillac, Pauillac, Bourg (a unique stop only offered by AmaWaterways) and Libourne that are included in this sailing. 

Blaye Citadel
Shelia talked about Blaye Citadel, a famous fortress built by military engineer Vauban


Shelia also talked about Bourg sur Gironde a historic medieval walled city

Shelia pointed out the main reasons to go on the Bordeaux route.  This is an important wine region of France and you will get experience tastings of some of the most distinguished wines of France including Sauternes, Medoc and Bordeaux wines.  If you like wine, cognac, oysters, truffles, châteaux and the grand buildings of Bordeaux and the castles and forts, this is the cruise for you.

Great presentation, Shelia—thanks for coming and sharing this with all of us!

Our Special AmaWaterways Sailings 

Special France Sailings

We are going this November 16-23 (2017) on the AmaWaterway’s, A Taste of Bordeaux cruise and would love for you to come with us!  In addition to our sailing this fall, we will have clients sailing in France with AmaWaterways on the Seine (October 26-November 2, 2017), and the Rhone (November 2-9, 2017).  All these cruise have special pricing and there is limited space available, so if you would like to go, please contact us quickly. 

Special Rhine Sailings

We also have one other special cruise with availability and special pricing in 2017–a wine cruise on the Enchanting Rhine cruise November 11-18, 2017. 

Looking forward to 2018, we have an April special on the Captivating Rhine April 1-8, 2018.
It was a great night.  If you live in the Houston area, we would really like you to come visit with us on our next seminar. 

Thanks to all who came!  If you are interested in any of these cruises, or any river cruise, please contact Hank at 713-397-0188 or email him at hschrader@dreamdestinations.com. We love to help you travel to any destination worldwide and can’t wait to help you:  Savor life . . . make memories . . . Visit Dream Destinations!  Your journey begins here!


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