cologne cathedral

Endless Travel Blog

Cruising Down the Rhine River With Avalon Waterways!

--by Sheryl Fick

I recently returned from a European river cruise where I escorted a group of 12 on the Rhine River with Avalon Waterways and it was a great experience! If you have not cruised the rivers of Europe or Asia, you are in for an exciting and very relaxing experience. Especially if you have only sailed on an ocean liner, you will find this experience very different and very relaxing. Avalon carries just over 150 passengers, so no long lines for excursions or meals, or anything, for that matter. The ships or boats are normally four decks high and three are for passenger cabins. The ship I was on has bicycles, a small hot tub and a gym, plus a running track for anyone wanting a bit more exercise. Meals are served

Strasbourg is truly a charming French town!

in two dining venues, and wine and beer are included with lunch and dinner. Each day, when the ship arrives in a new port, you have a 2-hour English speaking tour—all included in the price. Avalon makes river cruising a relaxing experience with a great deal of daily information and a 24/7 concierge to assist in any of your needs. But let me tell you about the ports we sailed to in the 7 days we spent in Switzerland, France, Germany, and the Netherlands.

middle rhine riverThe Rhine is the most scenic river in Europe—and the most romantic. You simply unpack and enjoy as the world goes by. No motion on a river, so you glide from town to town and disembark each morning in a new town to explore. After the 2-hour tour, you have many hours to return to that town if you choose, giving you ample time to enjoy what you may have a specific interest in.

Our Avalon cruise started in Basel, Switzerland, which is a small, charming town should you want to arrive earlier than the day the cruise starts. From there, we sailed to Strasbourg, France, where our ship was docked on the edge of town. That afternoon, I set out on a bicycle for an easy 15-minute ride back to the city center for a bit more shopping. Our morning city tour that day hit the highlights of the Cathedral Munster and Petite, France, as well as sever- al museums. Strasbourg is truly a charming French town!

The next day, our cruise sailed west and docked in Mainz, Germany. We visited the interesting Gutenberg Museum where we witnessed the techniques of the printing process. Then we sailed to Rudesheim, Germany. This was a very surprising small town with so much charm, and it was comfortable to walk the cobblestone streets for hours. It was here I took a gondola ride high above the town for a bird’s-eye view of one of my favorite smaller towns on the river. We sailed through the Rhine to Mannheim on what is called the Romantic Middle Rhine to Koblenz, Germany, which is what we all really wanted to see: those romantic castles, vineyards and lovely, small German villages that lined the Rhine on both sides of the river. Simply beautiful, to say the least.

Our approach to Cologne could not be missed—with the
famous Gothic Cologne Cathedral (a UNESCO World
Heritage Site), which remained unharmed during the bombings of WWII. Its construction was finished in 1880 with a height of 515 feet! Incredible! No visit would be complete without sampling many of the Cologne factories either.

rijksmuseumOur final stop and overnight was the capital of the Netherlands: Amsterdam. This city is a melting pot and cultural kaleidoscope, and with so much history, a city not to be missed. We had a wonderful canal cruise that first morning and had ample time to visit the Anne Frank House, the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, or even Madam Tussauds, where there are life-size wax figures on display. This city literally has something for everyone! Here, I chose another bicycle ride as part of a tour into the countryside of Amsterdam. The biggest challenge was just getting out of the city to the rolling hills of the countryside, as there are more bicycles in Amsterdam than there are cars, but we had a very patient guide—thank goodness!

That evening, we had the Captain’s Farewell Cocktail Party, and we all felt it was a wonderful 7 days spent seeing so many impressive sights of the Rhine River. I cannot say enough about the wonders of river cruising, and with this being my seventh river cruise, I was not disappointed in the least.

So give Endless Travel a call, as there are many different brands of river cruises and we are very qualified to differentiate those choices for you and to find just the perfect river cruise for your 2017 sailing. Avalon is simply one of the best!

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