The Enchanting Rhine River Cruise

Koblenz

AMA Sonata – The Enchanting Rhine – 7 night River Cruise

Arrival – Amsterdam – I came in on the train into Amsterdam’s Central Station.  Very easy to find the river side of the terminal.  Just to the right and a quick 10 min walk to the Pier of the AMA Sonata.  We arrived early and were quickly checked in and our luggage was whisked away.  The complete process took 5 min!  They were such a treat!  We were then ready to explore Amsterdam.  What a great walking city.  Just keep an eye on the bikes and you are good to go.  Amsterdam is very organized in that there is a place for the cars, a separate area designated for the bikes and a side walk for pedestrians.

The Rijksmuseum is located about a 30 minute walk depending on the distractions, from Central Amsterdam.  The Dam Square is minutes away from the rail station with the Royal Palace and Madame Tussauds.  We enjoyed a canal cruise to see the city from a unique perspective.  There are many restaurants and shops to while away a bit of time.  A great past time is a coffee on the patio and people watch.  I thoroughly enjoyed my time in this fabulous city.

We were lucky to overnight in Amsterdam and could enjoy the extra time to see Amsterdam and the Canals that evening.  We left the next morning on the included Canal Cruise and bus tour and the ship set sail from Central Amsterdam and met us at Wijk bij Duurstede just south of Amsterdam.  Once back on board we enjoyed cruising toward the Rhine.  If I had seen Amsterdam’s treasures before I would have loved to have stayed onboard the ship and see the course that they set to cruise out of Amsterdam and down to the Rhine.  The tour on the morning of our departure did not give us a chance to stop and smell the roses.  I would suggest that if you wish more than an afternoon to explore Amsterdam to come in the day before so you won’t be so rushed.  If you do I would book entrance into the Ann Frank House and the Rijksmuseum.  You could do this in advance with the hotel concierge or if you booked the hotel with the River Cruise Company there is a representative at the hotel who would be happy to help you with this.  If you don’t you will wait a very long time for entrance.

The ship is the perfect size to meet and mingle with all the guests on board.  We ate with someone new at every meal and then were re-acquainted with each other during day.  Whether we were on the ship or on a tour.  I loved being able to mix and mingle but see the same people over and over again.  It gave you the chance to really make someCologne Cathedral lasting friendships.

The 3rd day we arrived into Cologne and experienced our first Walking Tour.  The walking tour included a visit to Cologne Cathedral.  What an amazing building!  The architecture is amazing and just the size and length of time it took to build!  The detail in this building is spectacular!  When participating in the walking tours you would bring your QuietVox devices from your cabin and this will enable you to hear the guide.  This allows you to wander a bit on your own and not miss any of the details he/she is giving the group.  The size of each group is between 20 – 25 passengers.  One group is designated as Gentle Walkers for those that are not able to go at the same pace as the others.  The nice part of these tours is that if you only wished to stay with the group a bit of the time and then wander off on your own, easily done.  You just need to be sure you know where the bus will pick up and when to get you back to the ship if you don’t wish to walk.  However, the ship was docked close enough that a walk back to the ship was easily possible.

That evening, after dinner, we docked in Koblenz. You were either able to explore on your own or you were welcome to join the Cruise Director on a walk through town.  One group that was very large!  It was like the pied piper and his merry men!  We were docked in Koblenz overnight so again you were welcome to enjoy the night life if you so wished.  What a charming small town with such character.  The history and architecture in these cities and towns are spectacular.  Not something that we would see anywhere close to home.  Each day before heading out you can pick up a map of each city.  This just gives you an idea of where the ship is docked and the location of some of the important and interesting sights to see.  A great added benefit!

Onward to Rudesheim but we will cruise the Rhine Gorge before our next excursion.  The Castles on the Rhine are spectacular sights.  Some may think yup – see one castle – see them all.  But that is just not true.  They each have their own characteristics and some have some very unique histories.  For instance The Sterrenberg and Liebenstein Castles were built by warring brothers.  While one brother went off to war he instructed the younger brother to watch over his love.  The elder brother didn’t realize that it would be many years before he would return home and by the time he returned his younger brother married his love.  The eldest brother built his castle not far from the original home castle.  Over the years of battle between the 2 the younger brother built a wall to protect his keep.  You can still see the castles and the remaining wall from the Rhine.  I would strongly suggest that you bring along binoculars so that you are able to see the detail of these castles along the Rhine.

My favourite CasToll Castletle is built on a small island in the middle of the Rhine.  Pfalsgrafenstein Castle was built as a Toll Castle.  As the boats and ships went up and down the river years ago, they were to pay a toll.  If they did not pay it on the first time past they would get you on the way home.  They had large chains that crept from the castle to both sides of the Rhine.  Those that did not pay would not be able to cruise past because they would haul taught the chains so there was no way they could get past.

While on board the River Cruise I spoke with past cruisers and I asked them which river cruise itinerary they liked best.  The felt the Rhine was their favourite because it was a bit more relaxed pace than their previous itineraries.  On our sailing we had time for a more leisurely morning because the tours were scheduled either mid-day or afternoon.  Now each cruise line will be a little different with their inclusions.

In Rudesheim we were transferred from the ship to the centre of town for our Wine Tasting Tour.  Unfortunately, we were not able to walk through the vineyards due to the weather but we sampled 3 different wines in the Wine Cellar.  This was very unique and the wine master kept the commentary very unique and interesting.  We were able to buy bottles of the wine we liked the best and the winnery delivered our purchase to our ship.  This allowed us to explore the shops and pubs of this pretty little town without the extra weight of the wine.  Again – very easy to walk down to the ship’s location or you had the option to wait for the last Express Train back to the ship.Cafe with flowers

The walking tours were very leisurely.  On this sailing I was certainly not the youngest on the ship.  I was very much in the majority.  The majority of the other passengers were very active in their daily lives regardless of their age.  There were about 10 – 15 passengers whom did require a bit more assistance and this was readily available.

The scenic towns were the other highlight.  Every town had it’s unique look and history.  Many were partially destroyed during the war and painstakingly restored to the period they were originally built.  Here is just one of the beautiful buildings in Riquewihr, France.

Another interesting detail of the cruise was the locks that you go through over your journey.  I did not realize that there is such differences in height from on part of the river to another until you experience the lock system.  The most interesting for me was the first one we encountered not far from Amsterdam.

It was different from the others.  Most of the locks are very similar to those that I have seen in the Trent Severn Waterways near Peterborough at home.  This one as you can see is much more substantial.

The cruise was amazing in so many ways.  A different and unique experience at every turn.  I can’t wait to experience the Danube!  I would love to speak with anyone who would be interested in my Rhine River Cruise Experience!

 

 


 

 

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