A barge, a region famous for its wines, and one passion: to travel. Since 2015, Edward Anderson and Cindy Unvericht have been offering unique high-end cruises down the Saône and Burgundy canals. An itinerary crafted for those who love French culture takes guests from the hospices of Beaune to the historic Dijon market.
“Americans only know Paris, the beaches of Normandy, Provence and the Canal du Midi,” jokes Edward Anderson. “Our cruises help them discover Burgundy.” A native of Florida, the founder of Grand Victoria Cruises has organized excursions in Africa, South America and Tibet, before setting his sights on the center east of France.
In 2015, he and his wife Cindy Unvericht remodeled the Grand Victoria to provide the ultimate luxury experience. The 120-foot-long “Queen of Burgundy” can easily navigate narrow canals, like the 125-mile canal that joins Migennes to Saint-Jean-de-Losne.
History, Vineyards and Gastronomic Dlights
“Burgundy is known all over the world for its thousand-year-old vineyards and rich gastronomic heritage. There is the Dijon mustard and wines from the Côte d’Or and Côte de Nuits regions. These are among the most expensive and sought after wines in the world,” says Edward Anderson. On board the Grand Victoria, guests can sample a wide assortment of local foods and wines; thirty different kinds of cheeses and signature champagne await the gourmet.
To help visitors appreciate the region’s heritage, three itineraries are offered: “Classic,” “Culinary,” and “Historic,” each packed with daily excursions, castle visits, meals in Michelin-starred restaurants and scenic walks. The historic Dijon market, the streets of Lyon, and the hospices of Beaune will not fail to delight culture lovers.
The three rooms on board can accommodate a total of six guests, and a perfectly bilingual team including a master chef and a hostess are on board to assist guests with their needs. The proof of Grand Victoria‘s success is that the majority of their guests are regulars. Joan has been cruising on “the Queen of Burgundy” for three years in a row, and has lost count of all the friends to whom she has recommended the company. “I was immediately impressed with the style and quality of all the furnishings,” she recalls. “On our first cruise we found the decor to be even more elegant and comfortable than the photos promised. The cabins are spacious and beautifully decorated; the bathrooms have double sinks (a real plus) and a roomy shower. The living and dining areas are ample and lovely. A very nice touch is that there are always fresh flowers set out there.”
Early summer is the ideal time to cruise, as the mild temperature allows for a swim at the spa or reading on the deck. The first few days of autumn see the vineyards bathed in hues of red and orange, as the delicious smell of traditional dishes prepared with seasonal local ingredients wafts through the barge. It is a fully interactive experience. ” We can customize our itineraries and adapt to clients’ wishes even while they’re already on board with us,” the captain says. Impromptu walks along the canal, moments of leisure on the deck, or bike rides to a neighboring hamlet; spontaneity is always encouraged on Grand Victoria Cruises.