The Parisian Royal Holiday cruise travels from Paris to Rouen and back, spending more days in Paris than a similar cruise that goes from Paris to Normandy. We chose it because of the length of the Paris stay and a big plus was the ship's berth on the Seine with a view of the Eifel Tower. We also prefer river cruising because the ships are more intimate and generally have fewer than 200 passengers. Getting to know new people and building relationships is much easier in a smaller venue. Our airfare package include transfers to/from Charles de Gaul (CDG) airport which is a good distance from the ship berth, but was accomplished with speed and comfort.
The cruise includes visits to Christmas markets in Paris and Rouen, although the Paris markets were somewhat disappointing. The local tours included visits to 3 different chateaus with an evening concert at one and a private reception at another. The highlight tour was the Versailles Palace with a tour of the private royal apartments as well as the rooms open to the general public. We were also able to enter the Palace through a group tour door that bypassed the long entrance line.
The ship was decorated for the holidays, the cabins were comfortable and the bathroom fairly spacious. The ship's crew was very friendly and helpful and all living areas could be reached by elevator, which was especially helpful since one member of our party had a broken foot. The injury did create some issues with tours that involved cobbles and long walks since this cruise, unlike others we have made, did not have tours to accommodate "gentle walkers". Using a wheel chair to improve mobility was not an option. The local tour guides were knowledgeable and most were fluent in English. Most days there was free time to pursue your own interests, especially in Paris, and the ship offered optional tours at additional cost including a Rolls Royce night time tour of Paris (if you were so inclined).
For us, the tour highlights, in addition to Versailles, were the Rouen Christmas Market, the tour of Notre Dame de Paris, the Paris Opera House, and a night tour of Paris holiday lights in the major shopping areas concluding with the Eifel Tower light show. We also considered it a plus that the cruise was "all inclusive" so we didn't have to keep money on hand to tip the tour guides, bus drivers or ship's crew. In addition to the wine and beer served at lunch and dinner, mixed drinks were also covered making the trip more enjoyable. Most evenings there was entertainment in the lounge and before dinner the cruise director gave an overview of the next days tours.
The food on board was somewhat a mixed bag. Breakfast had similar offerings each day that included eggs, meat, potatoes, cereal and a variety of breads. The food offered at dinner was generally unique and even included frogs legs and escargot on one occasion. The non-meat or fish dinner option was usually pasta which got a little monotonous. If I had to criticize anything it would be some of the lunches. It became obvious that a part of the lunch offering was recycled from the previous evening dinner. While I understand the economy of this it did get a little predictable.
We chose the least expensive cabins on the lower deck figuring that most of the travel from port to port would occur at night and didn't mind having only a small window and no sliding door. The cabin was nicely appointed with unique art work and had luggage storage under the bed which freed up room in the closet. The bath had a corner shower with a "rain" head, heated floors and towel bar. There was room to walk on each side of the bed. Uniworld does not provide plastic bottled water in the cabins as a measure to reduce the pollution potential but does provide glasses and a large, refillable water bottle with a security seal. They also provide metal water bottles so you can fill them to take on the tours.