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Dinner Cruise on Siene

I am taking my wife and 18 year old daughter to Paris in late March and we all want to take a dinner cruise on the Seine. I read positive reviews on Calife (http://www.calife.com/), but would appreciate any recommendations.

Thank you.

Posted by
2466 posts

I've never been on Calife, but will comment on booking any Seine cruise in advance.
The weather in late March and early April is probably the most unpredictable of the year.
So, if you wanted to see any of the scenery from the boat, you might not be able to do that due to rain, hail, even snow...
I would recommend trying to book while you're in Paris, when you can see how the weather patterns are running.

Posted by
6610 posts

Maybe you've researched this and decided you want to eat on the boat, but I'd suggest an evening cruise without dinner for two reasons. First, you'll pay a lot less and could get a good dinner ashore with the savings. Second, the passing scenery is so spectacular that you won't want to lose viewing time handling your food. I, at least, find it impossible to eat without looking down at the plate some of the time. ;-)

And chexbres is right about weather, better to wait till you're there. Same goes for Eiffel Tower and other weather-affected sights.

Posted by
5697 posts

Agree with Dick and chexbres about waiting until day-of and booking a cruise-only experience if the weather cooperates. Took my daughter to Paris for her first college spring break, and it was a cold, overcast time (fine for museums, though.)

Posted by
65 posts

To all,

Thank you for your responses. I never thought about the risk of bad weather if booking months in advance. I will hold off on booking until we arrive to ensure good weather.

Thanks!

Posted by
1165 posts

Couldn't agree more with Dick and Chexbres! I have been on many Seine river cruises and I really enjoyed them, but each time commented, I would not want to do a dinner cruise. Paris has so many wonderful restaurants. Take the cruise, but dine elsewhere.

Posted by
2466 posts

I have been on two dinner cruises with this company: http://www.bateauxparisiens.com/
but that was when we were new to Paris and didn't know any better. Very expensive, the service was rushed to fit the time limit of the cruise, and the food was airplane-quality. And it's true that we didn't see much of anything.

Like Calife, Bateaux Parisiens also claims that "all the food is prepared on-board in the galley kitchen", but this doesn't seem possible, due to the sheer number of passengers aboard.
Calife is much smaller than the barge-sized boats we were on, but having been in the restaurant business all my life, I doubt very much that everything is prepared to order in their kitchen - it's simply not cost-effective enough.

I'd recommend taking a night cruise without dinner, when you can see the city when it's all illuminated. It's a breath-taking sight to behold. It will only take 10 minutes of your time to stand in line to buy tickets at either the dock at Pont Neuf or the dock at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. I believe Pont Neuf only accepts cash.
Or you could save a couple of euros and buy tickets that are good for anytime during one year. You can go when the weather is good and bypass the people waiting to buy tickets.

http://www.vedettesdupontneuf.com/home/

Posted by
8162 posts

Calife gets good reviews but I am of the 'who wants their head in the plate while passing interesting sights' school of cruising. I have had cruise meals in cities all over the world and have yet to have a good one. I never would choose to do this myself (they have been part of conferences or when being wined and dined by locals when doing consulting gigs and they wanted to show off their city) Paris has great restaurants. I'd plan some special lunches or dinners (you can lunch at fancy places for much less than dinner costs at many of them) and cruise separately. The non dinner cruises are cheap and there are several sites where they launch -- you can go when the weather is right and you feel like going.

Posted by
65 posts

Thank for the advice on dining vs cruising. We will dine separately at a restaurant and then do a night cruise. Any recommendations for a non dinner cruise at night would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you

Posted by
1825 posts

We loved the Caliph dinner cruise. The food was good (not great) and the setting of the smaller boat was perfect. Many birthdays and an engagement on our trip. I havn't been on one of the large boats but I imagine it wouldn't be as intimate and comfortable as the Caliph. I'd book online three days in advance.

Posted by
784 posts

We did the Le Calife dinner cruise and it was excellent. This is the only one where the food is prepared on board. They have a 30 day window to pre-book and you choose your menu at that time. There are also different price points according to what you order. Don't worry about the weather. It rained when we did it in May, we were under cover and there was something magical about seeing the lighted buildings through the rain spattered windows. Made some interesting pictures.

Posted by
8162 posts

There are cruise docs at Pont d'Alma, at Pont Neuf and at the Eiffel Tower at least and you might as well take the one that is convenient when you feel like doing it. The Vedettes Pont Neuf are smaller boats (and thus it is important to be early enough to get a good seat ahead of the bridge); we enjoyed their night cruise and we got tickets ahead on line at a savings of a couple of Euro. The tickets so purchased can be used at any time (they distinquish between day and night trips but other than that you just go to the ticket window with your voucher whenever you want to go)

The boats all go the same place; I don't think it much matters which.

Posted by
1825 posts

The boats may all be going the same place but viewing the scenery sitting in what looks to me like a cattle boat compared to drinking champagne and eating Foie Gras on a wooden boat with stained glass and brass lanterns are two different experiences. While I have only experienced the Caliph and my opinion is skewed, those who have not experienced the Caliph have even less to compare. You get what you pay for.

Posted by
2466 posts

All of the boat cruises follow the same route. It's a one-hour loop, you return to the dock where you started from - either Pont Neuf or Pont de l'Alma. The commentary is sometimes difficult to hear and understand, but many people are just more interested in the view, especially at night.

I provided links to the two tour boat companies above. The boats docking at Pont Neuf are generally much smaller, so less crowded if you want to take photos.

Posted by
9766 posts

I guess I kind of disagree with Richard: no matter what style of boat you're on, the iconic Parisian sights you're viewing while passing remain the same. I don't need atmosphere on my boat, I'm happy with the atmosphere of the sights. Everyone's opinion is different in that we all value different things.

Posted by
1825 posts

Kim, Do you prefer people watching at a sidewalk cafe or McDonalds?

Posted by
9766 posts

Sidewalk café, obviously! but in my mind, I enjoy seeing Paris even from one of the big cheesey boats. Sorry, but I do! As I said, different people prefer different things- that's why all kinds of companies stay in business providing different services.

Posted by
1825 posts

In true Internet forum fashion more than half of the responders have not been on Caliph but that doesn't stop anyone from voicing a negative opinion. Of the three of us who have actually taken the dinner cruise that the OP asked about, all three gave it a positive recommendation.

Posted by
8293 posts

I haven't seen any complaints from the OP, so maybe the different viewpoints have been useful.

Posted by
65 posts

I appreciate everyone's opinion and have much to discuss with my wife and daughter. Thanks to all - there is no wrong answer, just different preferences.

Merci!

Posted by
30 posts

Took the Calife in Sept. 2016. Very memorable. Loved the boat, the staff, the food, and the views. We booked it for our first night in Paris to help combat jet lag because it did not require a lot of physical activity. There were thousands of people lining the Seine the night we took the cruise, the city was alive, the lights and sites were beautiful too.

Posted by
9766 posts

The OP said they had read about Calife, "but would appreciate any recommendations," which presumably opened up the floor up to discussing other-than-Calife options.

Or perhaps I'm just dense and don't get that "any recommendations" means "only respond if you have been on a Calife dinner cruise." Silly me, sorry for gunking up the thread.

Posted by
9766 posts

The OP said they had read about Calife, "but would appreciate any recommendations," which presumably opened up the floor up to discussing other-than-Calife options.

Or perhaps I'm just dense and don't get that "any recommendations" means "only respond if you have been on a Calife dinner cruise." Silly me, sorry for gunking up the thread.