Launched in 1985 and given a bow-to-stern refurbishment and a new name in 2013, Jeanine is one of four barges operated by France-based river cruise company CroisiEurope, which has a fleet of more than 20 riverboats. Sister vessels are Anne Marie, Madeleine and Raymonde, which all sail on the canals and rivers of France.
A purpose-built hotel boat, 24-passenger, two-deck Jeanine has 12 cabins and sports a very bright new look -- one of its standout features -- making it one of the most modern barges on the waterways.
Jeanine offers a real taste of France in every sense of the word. Until recently, the family-owned company was virtually unknown outside of mainland Europe. CroisiEurope is now being promoted much farther afield, attracting passengers from the U.S. and Australia, but it still makes a big point of offering an authentic French experience. So, although the predominantly French crewmembers speak English, the cuisine retains a heavy French accent and will appeal to gourmands.
Complimentary coffee, tea, soft drinks, beer, wine and other alcoholic beverages are included in the fares, with the exception of Champagne and a small selection of premium brand wines and spirits. Daily excursions are also included.
Jeanine sails in southern France, along the Saone River and waterways of Burgundy, and has introduced a new six-night itinerary through the Saone-et-Loire and Cote d'Or regions. There are excursions to some of the area's renowned vineyards and trips to towns like Dijon, famous for its mustard, and Chalon-sur-Saone, birthplace of Joseph Niepce who, in 1824, was one of the inventors of photography.
With its Gallic pedigree, about half of CroisiEurope's passengers are French, but in recent years the line has been marketing to English-speaking travelers and other European nationalities. Expect to see the remaining 50 percent of passengers coming from the U.K., U.S., Scandinavia, Germany and Holland. There are guaranteed English-speaking departures, where non-French passengers will be grouped together, and the other onboard language is French. In keeping with the general demographic for river cruises, the majority of passengers are 60 and older.
The barge has a relaxed, continental atmosphere with no set dress code. By day, passengers wear casual slacks, jeans and shorts with T-shirts, plaid shirts, sweatshirts or sweaters, depending on the weather. Some keep to similar clothing in the evening, although the weekly Gala Dinner is an excuse to dress up, with the accent on smart casual, rather than formalwear. Sneakers or comfortable shoes are a must. There's a lot of walking on excursions, and the terrain includes cobbled streets, vineyards and uneven surfaces.
CroisiEurope's La Belle de l'Adriatique, a 198-passenger oceangoing vessel, was purpose-built for coastal cruises and sails to Greece, Croatia, Montenegro and Cyprus.
The 142-passenger Infante Don Henrique is one of three CroisiEurope river vessels that sail on Portugal's Douro and measures 246 feet in length.
CroisiEurope's Princesse d'Aquitaine, a 138-passenger vessel based on the Gironde River, operates cruises through southwest France. It boasts spacious public areas and an emphasis on its French heritage.