A new U.S. river cruise line is set to launch this August. French America Line will set sail on the Louisiane out of New Orleans.
Formerly the Columbia Queen, the Louisiane is undergoing a multimillion dollar refurbishment ahead of its launch. The ship will have 75 staterooms and suites, for a maximum capacity of 150 guests and a crew of 64.
The new cruise line is led by Christopher Kyte, chairman, and Tom Markwell, president. The line will pay 15 percent commission to travel agents on all sales of inaugural year sailings scheduled August - December 2016, Kyte said. For those who book 10 or more guests on one 2016 inaugural sailing, the line's Freedom of Choice program will allow agents to select items on an ala carte basis that range from bonus commission to shipboard credits. Additionally, travel professionals will be able to take advantage of the program’s fam reimbursement feature as well as an aggressive tour leader comp policy.
Itineraries onboard the Louisiane will range from five to 10 days along the Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee, Cumberland and Red Rivers, and the waterways of the Gulf Coast. Pricing is virtually all-inclusive, the line said, with one-night pre-embarkation deluxe hotel stay, all meals, beverages, wines, beer and spirits, nightly live entertainment, cultural and historical talks by onboard Illuminators, and Traveler Collection shore excursions in every port of call included.
Bicycles, helmets and maps are also available for independent explorations in every port of call. For more in-depth experiences during the cruise tour, optional private Curator Collection guided experiences may be added. Optional Prelude and Encore packages are also available for extended pre- and post-cruise experiences.
Illuminators will lead onboard educational sessions that range from the nuances of barbecue styles, the history of classic American cocktails, the origins of Zydeco, the blues or bluegrass music traditions or the religious underpinnings of Mardi Gras, to the socio-economic impact of changing agricultural practices on the Mississippi or Native American history in the Upper Midwest.
The ship's staterooms and suites will be divided into seven categories, many with private verandas or French balconies for optimal river viewing, all situated on the top three of the ship’s four decks. All staterooms will have individual climate control, makeup mirror, deluxe mattresses clad in luxurious linens and duvets, private bathroom with plush towels and L’Occitane en Provence bath amenities, spa-quality bathrobes and slippers, in-room safe, ample storage space, 24-hour room service, flat screen LED television with satellite programming, direct-dial telephones and complimentary 24-hour room service.
The top-tier Richelieu Suite, of which there will be two on the uppermost Champlain Deck, will have panoramic windows and wraparound outdoor promenade seating area, a queen bed, double armoire with built-in drawer storage, chest of drawers, desk and exclusive extras, including Hermès bath amenities, evening canapés, complimentary laundry, fresh fruit and flowers upon arrival, complimentary Curator Collection experiences and private car transfers to/from the airport.
Meals will be served in two open-seating dining venues, featuring French and Continental favorites as well as healthy Currents Cuisine selections under 400 calories for breakfast, lunch, dinner and 24-hour room service. Guests can eat in The Orleans Room, on the first level La Salle Deck, which will offer tableside service for breakfast, lunch and a multi-course dinner, as well as a nightly cabaret show. Veranda, a casual French Quarter-style bistro with indoor and outdoor open seating, serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, afternoon tea, and savory and sweet crepes, beignets and specialty coffees and tea throughout the day, complete with river town views from its aft perch atop the Champlain Deck. The French Quarter Lounge will be the first of three lounges, overlooking the bow on the Joliet Deck, featuring soft jazz nightly. The Great River Room is forward on the Marquette Deck and the location for quiet card games as well as private receptions and events, while the Bar Royale adjoining The Orleans Room will serve pre-dinner aperitifs.
There will also be a full-service Currents Spa with relaxing body treatments and salon nail and hair services with L’Occitaine en Provence products, as well as complimentary Wi-Fi in all public areas. Guests will also get House of Ladurée Parisian-style macarons fresh from its New York City boutique upon embarkation, followed by nightly turndown service of gourmet Vosges chocolates. Travelers can also take advantage of in-room iPads pre-loaded with e-books, daily shore excursion programs and menus for onboard dining and entertainment.
French America Line Partnership With French Heritage Society
French America Line has also partnered with the French Heritage Society, which aims to facilitate the preservation, restoration and promotion of French heritage throughout France and the U.S. A portion of the sale of French America Line’s Curator Collection experiences will benefit the Society’s efforts along the Louisiane’s river routes.
The 2016 Louisiane catalog, with detailed descriptions of itineraries that visit the Deep South, the Heart of America, River Crossroads, Wilderness Rivers and Gulf Waterways, as well as highlights in all ports of call, is now available. To reserve or learn more, visit www.frenchamericaline.com or call 1-888-387-1140.