Springtime on the Rhine – River cruise
Visiting Amsterdam – Arnhem – Cologne – Koblenz – Rudesheim – Mannheim – Strasbourg – finishing in Basel.
For my first taste of river cruising I was kindly invited to experience a trip on the M S Serenade, Titan’s river cruise ship, for a 7 night cruise along the Rhine.
As with most Titan tours, guests can take advantage of their VIP home pick up and drop off service, which takes away all of the usual pre-holiday worries of getting to the airport and airport parking.
Our journey started in Amsterdam after a 45 minute British Airways flight from London Heathrow. We were taken to the port to meet the ship where the other guests were already aboard. They had arrived two days earlier and had enjoyed time in Amsterdam prior to the ship setting sail.
On boarding the ship we were met by the Captain and ship’s crew, and light refreshments were served in the Panorama lounge. After introductions we were given the keys to our cabins and left to explore the ship at our leisure until the evening.
The entire ship has recently undergone a complete refurbishment and all the cabins are modern and decorated in a serene and calming shade of green. They all have twin beds which can be converted to doubles, and the bathrooms which both a bath and a separate shower cubicle.
The Mozart and Chopin Decks have full-length sliding windows which open to create a balcony and the Beethoven deck has cabins with high level windows.
The communal areas are bright and spacious, and there is a lift which connects the dining room on the lower floor to the main floor and the cabin decks.
The food on board is to a very good standard, and the staff are friendly, courteous, and attentive. Breakfast offers a wide selection to suit all tastes, which would equal that of any good four star hotel. Lunch time offers two options. You can choose to have a three course meal in the main restaurant or a lighter option in the Panorama Lounge. Dinner in the evening is served in the restaurant and guests dress for dinner, although the dress code is smart casual. However, Guests did dress up for the Captain’s Gala Dinner and the Farewell Gala Dinner. Wine, beer and soft drinks are included with lunch and dinner, and there is a self-serve Tea, Coffee and Hot chocolate station which is open 24 hours.
In the evenings we retired to the Panorama lounge after dinner, where we were entertained by a Singer and Pianist. Guests were also free to disembark whilst we were moored to spend the evening on land if they so wished.
Each day we stopped at a different city along the Rhine and were able to participate in an arranged excursion or explore the sights independently. The advantage to a river cruise ship, is that it is able to stop close to the centre of each town, enabling a lot of the excursions to be taken on foot from the river side. The tours were given by local guides who were interesting and very informative and catered for guests of all walking abilities.
My personal favourites were Koblenz, where we took a walking tour of the historic town, and visited the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress, by cable car. From the Fortress we could appreciate the river and see clearly the point where the River Rhine meets the River Mosel.
I also thoroughly enjoyed the trip to Heidelberg Castle from Manheim and our walking and canal boat tour of Strasbourg. A lovely city full of beautiful architecture, and one that would make a lovely city break.
On several afternoons we set sail after lunch to continue our journey down the river. We were lucky to have beautiful weather on our trip and I enjoyed watching the changing scenery from the comfort of the sun lounges on the Sun Deck, as we gently made our way through towns and countryside, vineyards and gorges.
In all I would say that river cruising is a very relaxing and enjoyable way to travel which allows you to visit multiple destinations with minimal effort. Something I would definitely like to do again in the future.