Featuring an exclusive lecture series by internationally recognized historians and insight from expert local guides, this river cruise and land tour brings together the very best of The National WWII Museum’s flagship D-Day program with a whole new level of luxury—including a five-star river cruise aboard the exclusively chartered Uniworld S.S. Joie de Vivre and world-class château accommodations in the heart of Normandy. Your journey features an itinerary filled with WWII locations—from lesser-known sites available exclusively to The National WWII Museum’s travel programs to iconic landmarks steeped in heroism and history. Visit the famous church in Sainte-Mère-Église, stand on Omaha Beach to view the intricate German defense system, and ponder the overwhelming odds the American soldiers faced on June 6, 1944. Cross Pegasus Bridge where the men of the British 6th Airborne Division won the first battle of D-Day just minutes after midnight. Along the way, hear from top-rated battlefield guides, and appreciate the beauty, culture, and history of a region that has played a critical role throughout world history.
- Travel with featured historians Craig Symonds, PhD, and John McManus, PhD
- Full-time expert local guides
- Full-time Museum logistical tour managers
- Four nights’ accommodation aboard the 5-star S.S. Joie de Vivre
- Four nights’ accommodation in Normandy at a hand-selected 5-star château
- Most meals, including: (8) breakfasts, (3) lunches, (8) dinners, (8) receptions
- House wines, beer, and spirits with included lunches and dinners during land program
- House wines, beer, and spirits throughout the cruise while aboard the S.S. Joie de Vivre
- All gratuities to drivers, guides, and shipboard staff
- Entrance fees to all sites, museums, and attractions
- Private first-class, air-conditioned motorcoach transportation
- Personal listening devices for touring
- Airport transfers (when arriving and departing on tour dates)
- Informative keepsake map book to be used throughout your journey
- Personalized luggage tags and name badge
October 28/29, 2023- Day 1
Depart the US, Paris Arrival, & Transfer to the S.S. Joie De Vivre
Depart the US on October 28 and arrive at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport on October 29. Guests are warmly welcomed and transferred to S.S. Joie de Vivre. Early morning arrivals may choose to enjoy a morning exploring Paris independently after dropping luggage at the ship or may board the vessel and enjoy the ship’s public areas* before settling into a luxurious stateroom or suite this afternoon. This evening, bid farewell to the “City of Light” during a welcome reception and dinner on the Seine River.
Accommodations: S.S. Joie de Vivre (R, D)*
*Light lunch available on S.S. Joie de Vivre from 12:00pm–2:00pm for those arriving in the morning.
October 30, 2023 - Day 2
La Roche-Guyon & Les Andelys
This morning, arrive at La Roche-Guyon, the famous 12th century château on the Seine, where Field Marshal Erwin Rommel had his headquarters. At La Roche-Guyon, “The Desert Fox” planned and prepared the tough defenses that the Allies encountered on D-Day, as well as the German movements during the campaign that followed. After lunch onboard the ship, dock at Les Andelys and visit Château Gaillard—Richard the Lionheart’s 12th century stronghold—offering inspiring views of the Seine River.
Accommodations: S.S. Joie de Vivre (B, L, R, D)
October 31, 2023 - Day 3
Versailles or Auvers-sur-Oise
This morning, dock in Mantes-la-Jolie, gateway to both the city of Versailles and the commune of Auvers-sur-Oise. At the end of World War I, the world’s statesmen gathered at The Palace of Versailles to sign the ill-fated peace treaty ending “The Great War.” The defeated Germans ultimately rejected the harsh provisions of the Treaty of Versailles, setting the stage for another world war just two decades later. Visit the famous Galerie des Glaces (Hall of Mirrors), the actual site of the treaty signing. Also included is an exclusive tour of the royal apartments, which still look much as they did when Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette fled before an outraged mob in 1789. Alternatively, for those that may have visited Versailles on prior trips, there is the option to tour Auvers-sur-Oise, where Vincent van Gogh spent the last days of his life and where he is buried. While in the village, a visit to Château d’Auvers-sur-Oise offers a look at various Impressionist artists who visited this area, or you may spend free time exploring independently.
Accommodations: S.S. Joie de Vivre (B, L, R, D)
November 1, 2023 - Day 4
Rouen & Dieppe
On the northern coast of France lies the fishing community of Dieppe.It was here in August 1942, that the ill-fated raid by mostly Canadian forces would offer invaluable lessons for D-Day nearly two years later. Marvel at the smooth pebbles that make up the beach and imagine the difficulty of landing and running while under fire. The boardwalk behind the beach contains tributes to the men who came ashore in hopes of liberating the town, and a keen eye will be able to spot the German emplacements on the cliff s above Dieppe. After free time for lunch, explore this charming seaside town then return to Rouen. Described by Victor Hugo as “the city with a hundred bell towers,” and the scene of the Eighth Air Force’s first bombing mission over Europe in 1942, take part in a walking tour of the town center or return to the ship to relax before dinner this evening.
Accommodations: S.S. Joie de Vivre (B, R, D)
November 2, 2023 - Day 5
Disembarkation / Bayeux
Disembark from the S.S. Joie de Vivre and depart for the picturesque town of Bayeux. Upon arrival, enjoy free time for lunch in one Bayeux’s quaint cafés. This afternoon includes a viewing of the Bayeux Tapestry–a 230-foot-long embroidered chronicle of William the Conqueror’s cross-channel invasion of England in 1066. Continue to the medieval center of the town, the Bayeux Cathedral, where a guided tour brings to life the construction of the cathedral, from the crypt to the spires. This evening, settle into the Norman countryside at your luxury château.
Accommodations: Château (B, R, D)
November 3, 2023 - Day 6
The first full day in Normandy begins where British airborne troops fired the first shots of the invasion at the crucial Pegasus Bridge. Landing their wooden gliders just yards from the bridge, the men of the British 6th Airborne Division surprised the defenders and scored D-Day’s first victory.
The tour then follows the coastal road past Sword, Juno, and Gold Beaches before arriving in Arromanches, known for the remains of an artificial “Mulberry Harbor”, constructed by the Allies after D-Day. Next is a trip to Longues-sur-Mer, the only German battery in Normandy with the original guns still in place.
Accommodations: Château (B, D)
November 4, 2023 - Day 7
US Airborne: Sainte-Mère-Église & Utah Beach
This morning starts with an exclusive visit to Château de Bernaville, which served as the headquarters of a German General Wilhelm Falley. In the early morning hours of June 6th, US paratroopers ambushed and killed General Falley, making him the first German general killed in the Normandy campaign, while also disrupting the German defenses at a critical moment in the Allied landing. Next, visit the town of Sainte-Mère-Église, where paratroopers landed during the predawn hours of D-Day. Dropping into the town square, the men of the 82nd Airborne Division fought tenaciously against the German defenders for control of this vital crossroads. Tour highlights include a visit to Musée Airborne and to the church made famous in the film The Longest Day.
This afternoon, explore Utah Beach, one of two American beaches, with its broad vistas and four causeway exits through flooded fields. Hear the story of General Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., and visit the Utah Beach Museum, which features a restored B-26 Marauder and detailed recreations of the German beach defenses. End the touring day with a stop at Brécourt Manor, widely known as the scene of Major Dick Winter’s D-Day assault in the HBO mini-series Band of Brothers.
Accommodations: Château (B, L, R, D)
November 5, 2023- Day 8
Pointe du Hoc, Omaha Beach, & Normandy American Cemetery
The morning touring begins at Pointe du Hoc, where the 2nd Ranger Battalion landed at the base of a 100-foot cliff and scaled the vertical face in order to neutralize this heavily fortified German position. A visit to nearby “Bloody Omaha” honors the sacrifice on its sands, while a close-up view of the intricate German defense system at St. Laurent-sur-Mer and Vierville-sur-Mer gives a sense of the overwhelming odds those soldiers faced. The day concludes with a visit to the Normandy American Cemetery to pay respects to the 9,387 Americans buried in the ground they helped liberate. Enjoy a “Farewell to Normandy” dinner at the château this evening.
Accommodations: Château (B, L, R, D)
November 6, 2023 - Day 9
This morning, bid farewell to Normandy and transfer to Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport for individual journeys home
November 6-9, 2023 - Optional 3-night Post-Tour Extension
The Liberation of Paris
Featuring WWII expert Michael Neiberg, PhD, our custom-curated post-tour in Paris focuses on the political tug-of-war inside France during its occupation. The Vichy regime under WWI hero Philippe Petain administered the southern portions of France, while the Germans occupied the northern half, including Paris. The Vichy government proved to be willing collaborators of the Nazis, administering pro-German policies and rounding up the Jewish population of France. In the northern section, a German occupation built the Atlantic Wall and gradually reduced freedoms throughout. On tour, guests first follow in the infamous footsteps of Hitler’s 1940 visit to Paris, visiting some of the sites that he admired during his victory tour in June 1940, including the Eiffel Tower, the Opera, and the Pantheon. The second day of touring visits the refurbished Liberation Museum, which tells the story of occupation, resistance, and liberation of the city. Continue along the Champs-Elysees, admiring the view of the Arc de Triomphe before visiting Les Invalides, where Napoleon is entombed. Afternoons are left free for you to dine at your favorite Parisian restaurants for lunch and to explore the City of Light on your own.
Accommodations: Hotel du Louvre (3 Breakfasts, 1 Lunch, 1 Reception)
Price per person based on double occupancy
Grand Suite - Victor Hugo Deck
Suite - Victor Hugo Deck
Deluxe French Balcony - Victor Hugo Deck
French Balcony - Balzac Deck
Classic - Balzac Deck
Optional Three-Night Post-Tour Extension Program - Liberation of Paris - Double Occupancy
Price per person based on single occupancy
Optional Three-Night Post-Tour Extension Program - Liberation of Paris - Single Occupancy
CRAIG L. SYMONDS, PhD
Craig L. Symonds, PhD, is Professor Emeritus of History and former History Department Chair at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, where he taught for thirty years. He is the author of sixteen books on Civil War and World War II topics, including Operation Neptune: The D-Day Landings and the Invasion of Europe which received the 2015 Samuel Eliot Morison Award for Naval Literature. He is also the author of The Battle of Midway (2011) and World War II at Sea: A Global History (2017), both from Oxford University Press. From 2017 to 2020 he was the Ernest J. King Distinguished Professor of Maritime History at the US Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. In this gripping account of D-Day, Symonds delves into the critical role of the naval forces—British and American, Coast Guard and Navy—and how the success depended mostly on the men themselves: the junior officers and enlisted men who drove the landing craft, cleared the mines, seized the beaches and assailed the bluffs behind them, securing the foothold for the eventual campaign to Berlin, and the end of the most terrible war in human history.
John C. McManus, PhD
John C. McManus, PhD, is Curators’ Distinguished Professor of US Military History at Missouri University of Science and Technology, and one of the world’s leading historians of World War II. He has written 12 books, most of which cover some aspect of the American combat experience in World War II, including The Americans at D-Day; The Americans at Normandy; September Hope: The American Side of a Bridge Too Far; Alamo in the Ardennes; and The Dead and Those About to Die, D-Day: The Big Red One at Omaha Beach. He is in frequent demand as a speaker and has made hundreds of appearances as an expert commentator for radio and television outlets. He has appeared in numerous major documentaries that have aired on PBS, the History Channel, Netflix, the Smithsonian Network, the Discovery Channel, the National Geographic Channel, and others.
Guests who experience this unique journey exploring Normandy and
the Seine River have the option to spend four nights at one of two
hand-selected chateaux chosen to accommodate our privileged guests.
Both rated 5-stars and equivalent in grandeur, immerse yourself in the
profound histories of either Château la Cheneviere or Château D’Audrieu
for the first four nights of your tour. Both centrally located for easy access
to the beaches and battlefields of Normandy, unwind after a full day’s
touring with exquisite dining and rich décor. Guests may choose their
preferred château at the time of booking (based on availability).
S.S. Joie de Vivre
Take a front-row seat to history in France’s sumptuous Châteaux and on the exquisite riverboat S.S. Joie de Vivre
Uniworld’s five-star S.S. Joie de Vivre has been exclusively chartered by The National WWII Museum for our valued guests. Quite possibly the finest river ship on the waterways of Europe, her 64 staterooms and suites exude the elegance and charm of the chateâux in the region she sails. The ship’s one-of-a-kind décor features handcrafted furniture, original artwork, and signature accents inspired by 20th-century Parisian design. Public spaces include the Salon Toulouse with full-service bar, multiple dining venues, an intimate wine bar, and Le Club L’Esprit, an area dedicated to health and well-being, with a day spa, fitness center, and pool.
Château D’Audrieu, a 5-star hotel situated between Caen and Bayeux in Calvados, is ideally located in the heart of Normandy’s countryside. During World War II, the German army set up their headquarters here. On June 8, 1944, 24 members of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division and two British soldiers were killed in the orchards, forests, and clearings around the château. This 18th century residence is listed as a Historical Monument, and joined the prestigious Relais et Châteaux Association in 1977. Twenty-nine elegant rooms with garden views feature satellite TV, Wi-Fi access, and minibars. Suites offer original Louis XV and XVI furniture, or art deco styling. Le Séran restaurant serves high-end cuisine. The property also includes a bar, period-style lounges, and a charming breakfast room.
Château la Chenevière
Château la Chenevière is a 5-star hotel renovated from an 18th-century mansion and farm. The château was occupied by the Germans during World War II, and then the Americans after the D-Day landings. It was fully restored in 1988 to become the lush hotel-restaurant it is today. La Chenevière boasts twenty-eight spacious and comfortable rooms that reflect the elegance and romance of its design. The decor of each room has an individual design, with a perfect blend of modern comforts and traditional luxury. Room amenities include complimentary Wi-Fi, fully stocked minibar, hair dryer, bathrobe and slippers, and courtesy l’Occitane toiletries.