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Owned by a French family and carefully supervised by them, a large (50 ships) French river cruise company called CroisiEurope is starting to make significant inroads into the U.S. market for European river cruises. With their unusually friendly English-language website and their unique, all-inclusive policies (shore excursions are almost always included in the price), CroisiEurope has decided to make their river cruises bilingual (all announcements in both French and English), and are beginning to enjoy heavy business from Americans attracted by their low prices, which CroisiEurope claims are cheaper than anyone else's. 

Like all European river cruises, meals include free beverages (wine and beer, fruit juices, soft drinks), but unlike some others, there is also a policy of "open bar" throughout the day and evening—you can request a free-of-charge drink at any time. Those liquids complement a standard of cuisine which is of thoroughly French quality; nearly all past passengers are ecstatic over the meals prepared by French chefs and geared towards a French clientele. Meals are three courses and copious.

I haven't myself taken a CroisiEurope cruise. But I've been impressed by an outpouring of satisfied comments from those who have. To begin with, the CroisiEurope ships travel on every European river, and on rivers in Asia, too. Their ships are designed to be "long and low"—being designed primarily with only two decks, so that they can pass underneath the low bridges on some of Europe's best-known rivers. Sailings are rarely cancelled when heavy rains raise the river level to a height that cannot be navigated by some of the newer ships of other lines.

I have also been impressed by CroisiEurope's obvious effort to break into the U.S. market. Their crews are today almost always thoroughly bilingual in English and French, and their reservation facilities (reached via a toll-free 800 number) seem to be more than adequately staffed. You can make a booking as easily as any French passengers can.

To access their English-language website and U.S. 800 number, be sure to spell out the entire name: CroisiEuropeRiverCruises.com. By limiting yourself to a shorter CroisiEurope.com, you'll pull up the French-language site and a European phone number.