At least one shore excursion happens every day on Deborah; usually, taking place in the morning after breakfast. Since the towns you're visiting aren't bucket list tourist attractions, these are usually fairly mellow excursions to visit a monastery or cathedral, a winery or a goat cheese farm.
If there's one place where Deborah could improve, it's with the shore excursions. The guides weren't always fluent in English, which led to long French explanations with a sentence or two tacked on for us (even a very cool-at-first lantern tour of Nevers at night fell prey to this issue). The guides would spend lots of time discussing small details without revealing some of the basics of why we should care. We found ourselves longing just to walk around without the guide, although the early hours of the excursions meant that many shops in the small towns were closed, so there was nowhere to go.
Daytime and Evening Entertainment
Entertainment during the day is limited to sitting outside with drinks and watching the scenery go by. There is no music or entertainment in the evening either; passengers usually rolled out of the dining room around 9 p.m. and maybe had a digestive before going to bed.
On one morning, our shore excursion was cut short and the boat brought on a Loire wine expert for a tasting of the different varietals in the region. This was an extremely popular activity and many passengers said they hoped it would be added to the permanent itinerary.
Afternoons are quiet time, with no activities or enrichment planned. For the most part, passengers sat outside and talked among themselves, read books or took naps. The appearance of a lock was met with much excitement.
Deborah's indoor lounge takes up the bulk of the main deck. It's an attractive spot, with comfy purple banquette sofas, small ottoman chairs and funky modern lamps. The pinhole lights in the ceiling changed colors during the evening, from purple to orange. There's a small bar with a few stools, although no one really congregates there. Because we didn't have a full house for our cruise, the lounge was spacious enough for everyone to have a seat; if 22 passengers were onboard, it might feel crowded.
Deborah also has an outdoor seating area at the front of the boat. With tables, chairs and sun umbrellas, this was the main spot where passengers hung out during the daytime sailing hours. Bar service at both the lounge and the outdoor space was quick and efficient; the excellent hotel manager took very good care of both French and English passengers.
The top deck of Deborah is a sun deck with lounge chairs, although the area is only open in the afternoons when the ship is docked or almost docked because of low bridges along the sailing route. The staff has a chain on the stairs leading up to it; when the captain removes the chain, you can go up. Passengers awaited this event with glee, as the lounge chairs on the top deck were extremely comfortable. There is no cover for the deck, which was fine during our unseasonably warm fall, but the heat could be an issue at the height of the summer.
Deborah has a hot tub at the front of the boat, but it was broken during our trip.
There's a small service desk with a computer in between the bar and the lounge area where the hotel director can look up information for passengers and also hand out maps; passengers can also use the computer if they want. A few books, mostly in French but some in English, are scattered around the lounge. There's no laundry service.
Wi-Fi on Deborah is free and worked most of the time, except when we were in a particularly remote area or in the locks.
Deborah does not have a spa or fitness room onboard. Compact bikes are available to be used in port. This was a bit of a disappointment. Although our original itinerary said we'd be able to bike between locks, there was only one section where we could do so and it wasn't very long. The paths along the Loire Canal simply aren’t maintained to the standard they should, so biking isn't safe for Croisi passengers.
Deborah does not have age restrictions, and families are welcome on the boat; sometimes a family will even charter the entire vessel. While shore excursions are not adjusted for children, if a large number of kids are onboard, the staff will try to do some limited programming for them. Meals and cabins are not changed.