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Those who love French style — and French food — don’t have to cross the pond this year. An alternative is appearing on American rivers: The new French America Line, which is taking its French connection very seriously.
For its inaugural season, starting Sept. 30 onboard the 150-passenger Louisiane, the company has chosen an array of distinguished French and French-influenced brands as signature guest amenities; partnered with and become a member of French-American preservation group French Heritage Society; and developed menus with mouthwatering French specialties such as beignets.
“We wanted to reflect the same French flair and joie de vivre that define our flagship’s gracious public and private spaces in the many small, thoughtfully orchestrated touches that guests will discover daily during their cruise tours,” said Tom Markwell, president of French America Line.
Attention to detail extends to the Laduree macarons that will be flown in fresh from the company’s New York City boutique and offered upon embarkation to guests, who can enjoy the recipe created in Paris by Pierre Desfontaines in the 1930s.
Nightly turndown will become an event with gourmet Vosges Haut-Chocolat chocolates, created by Katrina Markoff, who combines exotic indigenous spices, herbs, flowers, roots and liqueurs with premium, ethically sourced chocolate.
With breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner service, French America Line will offer selections of Dammann Freres loose-leaf teas, sold in Paris since 1925 and now available worldwide.
Hermes bath amenities will be available in the two Richelieu Suites, and all accommodations will feature L’Occitane en Provence bath amenities from the retailer’s verbena and shea butter product lines, which use butter from Burkina Faso in West Africa that is harvested in a sustainable and fair-trade partnership with the women who produce it.
L’Occitane’s lavender pillow mist is a specialty item added to Louisiane’s pillow menu, which will offer eight different options, including down, memory foam and buckwheat pillows.
Onshore, a portion of the sales from the line’s optional Curator Collection guided excursions — which focus on French heritage — will be donated to the French Heritage Society to support its cultural and preservation initiatives in the U.S., many of which are located along the rivers where Louisiane will sail. The line is working on excursions designed to offer in-depth experiences, such as an after-hours museum tour and dinner, behind-the-scenes previews of historic architectural preservation and restoration projects, regionally inspired cooking lessons, private tours of exceptional art collections, exclusive musical performances and wine tastings.
Louisiane will carry 64 U.S. crewmembers on its five- to 10-day itineraries on the Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee, Cumberland and Red rivers, where the ship can sail into destinations that larger ships can’t navigate.
Bookings are available for fall 2016 and just opened for 2017. Pricing includes a pre-cruise night in a deluxe hotel; all meals and free-flowing beer, wine and spirits; nightly live entertainment; and Traveler Collection shore excursions in every port. Dining is under the direction of chef Regina Charboneau, whose culinary skills once received a round of applause from Julia Child.