• Donna Zabel

From Paris to Normandy: A River Cruise in Europe

Updated: Aug 24


A River Cruise in Europe

A river cruise in Europe was made for daydreaming. When you float down the Seine, watching the world unfold on either side of the ship, you can imagine just about anything. Dreams and imagination combine with history and hospitality when floating along the rivers of Europe, especially France. Relaxing in beautiful accommodations with every possible 21st century amenity, just a few meters from the stunning countryside, it’s possible to imagine everything from grand processions along the riverbanks, to private romantic trysts, to bloody battlefields. The latter was on my mind when taking a river cruise up the Seine from Paris to Normandy and the cliffs of the D-Day invasion a few years ago.


An Unexpected River Cruise Tour Guide

River cruise in Europe

Daydreaming is one of the reasons why we love river cruises. We float along past landscapes and landmarks of history, remember stories we read in school, or stories we’ve heard from our grandparents.It’s been over six decades, but June 6, 1944 will never be forgotten. Especially by one of the passengers on my ship.

Bob, the veteran on the river cruise

At 92 years of age, Bob was physically small, but his stories loomed large as he recounted memories of landing on Omaha Beach that day. As Bob interspersed his stories with comedic anecdotes, the horrors of war seemed far away to an audience comfortably seated in the ship’s lounge sipping after-dinner drinks.





Sobering & Solemn Omaha Beach

Memorial at Omaha Beach

The atmosphere was decidedly different the next day. The cloudy, drizzly, penetrating damp weather was fittingly accurate as we stood with a more somber Bob on the soggy Omaha Beach where he had landed. We stood close together to shelter from the wind, to think about and imagine all that happened. Our daydreams were replaced by the poignant reality of remembering why we were there.


Touring Normandy & Honoring a Hero

Normandy cemetary

Touring in Normandy encompasses even more than the landing beaches and the adjoining museums that detail all the planning, preparation, and execution that went into D-Day. Touring includes a visit to the American Cemetery and the markers for the over 9,000 soldiers buried on the now scenic hilltop. With our veteran Bob now adopted by everyone, we were treated to a special ceremony, as Bob was awarded a medal from the French.


Dreaming of Future River Cruises

Dreaming of River Cruises

Now I am daydreaming about my next river cruise, deciding where I want to spend time watching the world go by in front of me. Daydreaming may not be difficult but turning it into reality may be. Logistical preparations—scheduling airline arrivals and departures, arranging transfers, packing appropriately, making the excel spreadsheet of contact info for the dog sitter—can be quantified and managed. Daydreaming is harder—it involves expectations, anticipating what to learn, what to know. It takes undivided attention to fully immerse in the destination, to remember why this trip was selected.


If you’re dreaming of a river cruise, DreamMaker Destinations is here to handle the logistical preparations so you can spend your time daydreaming about the adventures that lie ahead. We specialize in creating a personalized journey built to expand a traveler’s horizons and fulfill their dreams. For information about cruising the rivers of Europe and the world, contact DreamMaker Destinations.


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