Written by Joy Thrun.
Because we are a luxury leisure travel agency we have seen a steady increase in interest river cruising. I had sailed on the Nile and Yangtze rivers and although the rivers were remarkable the ships were not.
So when we were invited to sail the Rhine River I was delighted to be going back to this historic, scenic part of the continent. I had not revisited this area since my honeymoon in 1984 so I was looking forward to the itinerary but remained cautiously optimistic about the ship.
The Avalon Tapestry ship was as delightful as the itinerary. Ships matter when river cruising. The ships are small, 150 passengers, and of course so are the cabins. However our cabin was so well appointed and maintained I enjoyed it as much as some of the suites I have had on larger ships. The line is Swiss owned and the Swiss are leaders in the hospitality business. Food, cleanliness and organization are paramount to a good river cruise experience. The size of the ship also means they cannot carry great quantities of food, so this means food is purchased locally and adds a gourmet element to the dining experience.
There is not the typical big ship entertainment; in fact there is no entertainment. But at the end of a busy day of touring a keyboard player and cocktails were perfect for my taste.
There is only one open seating for dinner so if you like meeting new people or are traveling with a group it is ideal. Wine is included with dinner and it really flowed so even if Julio Iglesias had been performing after dinner I am not sure I would have been able to stay awake!
The seven day itinerary from Amsterdam to Basel included the Netherlands, Germany, France and Switzerland. For those of us who have freelanced Europe doing 5 countries in a week without packing and unpacking is a treat. Another thing included on this river cruise was sightseeing which was typically small group walking tours with private local guides. I love this kind of touring but I am an avid walker and I did notice that some of the passengers looked fatigued by the 4 hour walking tours so be prepared, stay on the ship or do your own thing in port.
The Rhine is a beautiful river with castles and wineries at every turn. Like all the main river routes in Europe world history comes alive.
You must try a river cruise; it is truly a memorable travel experience. Call me personally for information and advice on River cruising.