Ask Harriet: Air conditioners on French river cruisers

I love traveling in Europe—that history, that art, the architecture! But surely, most of us have had one of those experiences where you get to where you’re going and your heart sinks. The in-person experience doesn’t match the picture, or the amenities aren’t exactly what you’re used to in the U.S. That’s why Grand Circle Cruise Line is proud of its fleet of ships designed for American standards and expectations. This month’s question is from a traveler who wants to know about air conditioning on our river ships.

Q: I will be on the M/S Provence from Nice to Paris. Please let me know what the warmer months are like on the ship. Are there individual air conditioner controls in the cabins?

—Alma Schwartz, 2-time traveler from Loxahatchee, Florida

A: Hi Alma, I’m glad you hear you’re going to be traveling on Cruising Burgundy & Provence to the Cote D’Azur. While onboard, you need not worry about your comfort. Your individual cabin will have a thermostat with climate controls, and there is air conditioning in the ship’s public areas. As with all of our cruises, filtered tap water and ice are available at no cost. Though I can’t say the same for each and every place you may stop along the way, you can always return to your ship or your cabin to relax and enjoy a glass of water to cool down before making more discoveries. Because yours is a Cruise Tour, you have land portions in Paris and the Cote D’Azur, where we’ve thoroughly evaluated each of the hotels we use according to class, proximity to major attractions, comfort level—including air conditioning—and more. Although most people know that air conditioning in public areas and at historical sites in Europe is less common than in the U.S., you can always take breaks in your ship cabin or hotel room if need be.

But if you reference the temperature chart in your Travel Handbook (also available by clicking here), you will see that the average temperatures in June for the areas of France (or Italy, if you’re taking our Italian Riviera & the Cinque Terre trip extension) are in the low-‘50s to mid-‘70s. While there always exceptions, I’d say you’ve picked a lovely time of year to experience the landscapes and villages that have inspired some of the world’s greatest artists, and gourmands.

Letters to Harriet

Like me, a lot of our travelers get excited about revisiting a region to learn more about it after a wonderful initial trip. Charles Michaelson is one such traveler who enjoyed Cruising Burgundy & Provence to the Cote D’Azur so much he’s making plans to cruise on The Seine: Paris to Normandy.

Ruth, my wife, and I had a great time on the Nov. 7 Rhone river cruise. Seven days on the M/S Provence and being in France in November, when most tourists have left, were two of the highlights. Another highlight for me was our visit to the American military cemetery at Draguignan, where more than 800 servicemen and one woman are buried. Most were killed in the August 1944 landing in southern France. I hope to take the Seine cruise in 2013.

—Charles Michaelson, 3-time traveler from Boynton Beach, Florida

Hi Charles, thanks so much for writing. Without a doubt, some of the best feedback we receive from travelers is about the poignant experiences they had at American military cemeteries like Draguignan, and the 9,000-plus graves at Colleville sur Mer, which you’d visit on our Seine cruise.

Because so many travelers have told us how moving these experiences are, we decided to offer an enhanced 2014 departure honoring the 70th anniversary of D-Day and those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Sail with us on May 27, 2014, and your stay in Honfleur will coincide with D-Day’s 70th anniversary. You’ll enjoy an enhanced itinerary, which will feature special attractions, historical observances, an encounter with a D-Day expert, and more discoveries that we’ll announce on our website in the coming month as the itinerary is finalized. In the meantime, please take a look at the itinerary for our The Seine: Paris to Normandy River Cruise, one of our highest-rated trips among history buffs.

Do you have questions for me about trips you’re taking or vacations you would like to go on with Grand Circle Cruise Line? Please email me at I look forward to sharing what you have to say!