I had never really thought about doing a River Cruise to see Europe. I have to say after having this wonderful experience to cruise down the Rhine River, I would go on another one in a second. Our cruise was booked through Uniworld and our boat was called the River Empress.
We started our journey in Amsterdam and we were met by a Uniworld representative to transfer us to the boat. Upon arriving to the boat (mini cruise ship) I was in awe to see the boats lined up along the river and realize how big the river really is. We were welcomed by a friendly staff and couldn’t believe how easy the check in was.
That evening we were able to go on a walking tour to see the “Red Light District”, yes we’ve all heard about this and our cruise director gave us a great explanation on the history of how it all came about. It was very interesting and I must say, that if you’re walking down the street in the Red Light District remember not too breathe in to heavily.
The next day in Amsterdam we were able to see the city, visit the Anne Frank house and take a boat ride down the canals. The Anne Frank house was a very somber moment and to actually be where they hid out in fear for 2 years was very touching. This was all included in the cruise package. Later that afternoon we took the optional excursion to a Dutch village and saw how wooden clogs are made. I’m so glad we spent the money to do this as the scenery was amazing and I was able to get a great pair of clogs. After the tour in the Dutch village, we took a bus to Volendam where the boat had made its way out of Amsterdam. Volendam is a wealthy fishing village. It was very quaint and had many little shops and great outdoor restaurants. This would be a great place to try the local cuisine of raw herring, if you dare.
The next day we were able to experience going through a lock. It was neat to be able to see how this whole process works. We then stopped in Arnhem and were able to visit the art museum. It was fun to see art from Monet, Van Gogh and other famous artists.
The next day we were cruising down the Rhine and this was absolutely the highlight of my trip for me. I’ve been to Europe a few different times but had never seen anything like this. It was so picturesque sitting up on the top deck and seeing castle after castle and the vineyards along the hillsides. I kept saying to my husband I could sit out here all day and we did! We made a stop in Bacharach, which has existed since before the Romans and whose name can be traced back to the celtic settlement - Baccaracum. It always amazes me to see structures that are still standing from the medieval times.
The following day we stopped in Cologne, Germany. We took the city tour and saw a Roman museum and the Cologne Cathedral. I enjoyed walking back to the boat on the cobblestone streets and stopping to get a fresh baked pretzel (my favorite thing to get in Germany).
We ended our river cruise in Frankfurt and we opted to do the optional excursion to Heidelburg. We were able to go through the Heidelburg Castle and do some shopping. This day was spectacular because it had gotten up to 80 degrees. We had great weather considering we went at the end of March. We didn’t have a lot of rain and the temperatures hung around the 60’s for the week, but 80 degrees definitely wasn’t to be expected. We enjoyed sitting on the river bank and watching the locals enjoying the nice weather.
I was very impressed with Uniworld and their onboard staff. The food was great and the service was exceptional. Even my husband (the picky eater) found food that he enjoyed very much. It was fun to take my husband, who had never been to Europe. He now shares the same passion and love for Europe that I have been telling him about. The best thing was not to have to unpack in every city you stop in. I would recommend river cruising to anyone, even the younger crowd, as once you’ve done it you will recommend it too. You can’t go wrong with a river cruise!