ABOARD THE AMALEGRO, Paris – – They call this an “Art Illumination” cruise — and as soon as we walked up the gangplank of this majestic riverboat we could see why: copies of famous Impressionist art are hung on the walls of every corridor. When the trip is over in seven days, the 79 passengers will have channeled their inner art talent in an attempt to replicate the masterpieces of Monet, Van Gogh, Renoir and the other French artists.
Fat chance, at least in my case. But it will be fun trying.
AMA Waterways likes to name its ships with music themes: “AmaSonata,” “AmaCello,” and the one we’re on, “AmaLegro.’
Whatever the name, it lives in the Seine River. We began the cruise tonight one-eighth of a mile from the Eiffel Tower and over the next few days will float downstream to Normandy.
After a 12-hour trip from Boston via Iceland, an afternoon tea on board was a perfect pickup. It included a pitcher of “Gemstone” water, made with amethyst and rose quartz that promises to cure us of acne, shingles, heart disease, circulation problems and bad metabolism..
Staterooms are cozy, with tiny balconies allowing for great views. And each room has acoustic devices that we’ll take on excursions to hear audio discussions of what we’re seeing.
River boating is not a novel idea. Travelers have been doing it for years. Especially now in the height of summer, the boats are jammed together side by side along the riverbank. But the painting classes we’ll be taking along the way make ours quite different.
Painting is not the only thing we’ll be doing, of course. Our first spin around the boat this afternoon revealed a line of shiny bicycles for excursions, a well equipped fitness room, a baby-sized putting green, an oversized chess set and a Jacuzzi. The two-hour painting lessons on three days will be sandwiched (artfully) between daily excursions.
Our fellow passengers are from Australia, Canada, Ireland, the Netherlands, the UK and USA. My husband and I have biked in Normandy but many are looking forward to seeing that region, where Impressionistic art began and the Second World War reached a climax.
“People say ‘I’ve been to France; I’ve seen Paris,’” cruise manager Sebastian Leroy remarked, “but on this cruise you see much more of France than Paris. The little Normandy villages are every bit as interesting.”
This is our first cruise on a riverboat and we can’t believe how quiet the boat is. We never heard it leave the dock nor felt the slightest vibration. It was only when we looked out our stateroom window and saw the Eiffel Tower lighted up like a giant torch receding in the distance that we realized we were underway.
Photos by Timothy Leland