The 16-passenger African Dream is run by CroisiAfrica, the southern African arm of the French-based company CroisiEurope which is the largest European-based river cruise operator.
Launched in 2018 and branded as one of the CroisiEurope's "premium" ships, African Dream marked the line's first venture in Africa. An identical sister ship, Zimbabwean Dream, will join the vessel in spring 2020.
It is a very comfortable vessel with a bright, airy and contemporary African-themed decor enriched with colorful locally made artifacts. All cabins on the three-deck ship face outside and are located on the lower Main Deck. They are all the same size – 183 square feet -- and there are no suites; the only difference is that two have small balconies.
The ship has one restaurant and one lounge bar, and amenities include a sun deck and a very small pool. Although the main onboard languages are French and English, all menus and printed information are available in English only. An English-speaking guide stays on the ship for the entire cruise, accompanies passengers on shore excursions and is always available to help and answer any questions.
From February through December, African Dream sails on three-night itineraries on Lake Kariba in Zimbabwe. These voyages are part of a fully escorted eight-night cruise–safari itinerary, which includes three nights at CroisiEurope's lodge near Chobe National Park, the second largest game park in Botswana, and a one-night pre- and post-trip stay in a hotel. An optional helicopter flight over Victoria Falls can be prebooked and pre-cruise extensions in Cape Town are available.
The sailing element is very different from traditional river cruises, where ships move daily to different towns and destinations. The African Dream experience is geared toward providing passengers with the best water- and land-based sightseeing and wildlife experiences on and around the world's largest artificial lake. At 136 miles long and 25 miles wide, Lake Kariba defines a portion of the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe and is dotted with more than 100 islands. It is also a very relaxing experience, as it is a "silent" vessel with no onboard announcements.
Antigua, Nelson, Victoria, Victoria
In addition to the core French clientele which make up the largest single nationality, African Dream attracts a smattering of folks from around the world, including the U.S., the U.K. and other French- and English-speaking nations. On select sailings it is also chartered by tour operators where you can expect to sail with people from the same country, such as the U.S. Many of our fellow shipmates spoke conversational English (far more than our rusty school-time French!) and were friendly and inclusive despite any language barriers. On our sailing passengers were couples, adult siblings with their parents and a couple of solo travelers.
Daytime: There is no set dress code and the key is to opt for casual attire based around the climate. Comfortable shoes are a must for the lodge-based shore tours and getting on and off African Dream into the expedition tender. Chinos, shorts, cotton dresses and pants, and T-shirts are ideal, along with sweaters, a hat and a light rain jacket.
Evening: Most passengers change for dinner, but again attire is very casual and only a few folks opt for smarter clothes; jeans are fine.
Not permitted: Too many clothes! There are very strict baggage limitations on internal transfer flights on small planes. Only one piece of soft checked baggage is allowed per person, and bags must not be bigger than 23.6 inches in length, by 15.7 inches in height and 11.8 inches in width.
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.