It is unlikely that Maggie and I will become ‘frequent cruisers’. Money, or the lack thereof, is one reason; ship-based touring is expensive! And we’re not the ‘boating’ type of person; not sure what that is but I do know that we’re prone to ‘cabin fever’.
That said, we do match key elements of the profile for the majority of river-cruise customers – our age (not too young but not too old, yet); easily tempted by a copious supply of food and beverages; willingness to meet and converse with fellow travellers; and enthusiasm for a well-constructed itinerary of quality sights and experiences. So, we went ahead – twelve months ahead, in fact – and booked a 7-night voyage from Amsterdam to Basel with Viking Cruises.
For those who are interested, here is my account of what it was like, told over four short posts, including one post devoted to the unanticipated entertainment value of passing through the locks on the Rhine River.
The river-cruise ships are designed to be just slim enough to pass through the locks; more of that anon. That’s our cabin, top-right, with the deck, chairs and table. An unseasonal heatwave kept us from extended time hanging out on the deck most afternoons; ditto for the rear deck off the lounge and the sun deck on top of the ship.
(I’m kicking myself that I don’t have a photo of the inside of our cabin. It was attractive, comfortable and designed very cleverly to make a small space feel uncrowded.)
The team in the spotless kitchen did a good job but the reality is that, when catering for 186 passengers with a three-course menu, it is difficult to produce food to a consistently high standard, ie how it looks in the promotional bumf! However, we were well fed and the wines were excellent.
Here is Maggie with ‘JP’, a Texan who was the ship’s Program Director. He and his team delivered a very enjoyable program of on-board entertainment and shore-based sightseeing. At 186, the group of travellers was not at all overwhelming and it was usually easy to find a variety of people to chat with over lunch or a pre-dinner drink. We soon found four buddies – two couples from Florida – to make up a table of six for dinner each evening.
One reason why we were attracted to this particular cruise was the opportunity to take in the sights along the banks of the Rhine River – pretty towns and villages, steep vineyards and castles. There were lots of castles, oh yes!
I am sorry that we didn’t capture any images of another sight which made an impression on us – the high volume of commercial freight using the river, both containerised and piled, eg raw materials. I guess that is a common enough item for residents of the northern hemisphere but it was quite a novelty for we Australians.