There are few better ways to get to know an area than getting up close and personal with a river cruise. Global Connections travel agent Lynn N. and her husband recently visited Germany on an 8-Day European Cruise through Avalon Waterways – her first trip to Germany and her first trip on a river cruise.
We asked her not only about her time on the Rhine River, but also her comparisons between river cruises and ocean cruises. See what she thought in the Q&A her review below!
How were your rooms?
We liked sitting in our room because we had a suite with a seven-foot window. The room was pretty spacious. It was bigger than a regular cabin you’d find on a big cruise ship. We had a king bed and it faced the window where you can watch everything. We just opened the window and watched the countryside go by.
They had a loveseat, chair, table, safe and TV, plus they clean your room twice a day.
What’s the difference between river cruise and regular cruise?
This is was my first river cruise. When we got on and checked in, we were the only people there at the time. They took our luggage and we were in the room. It was the quickest check-in process ever. The cruise director was super, super nice.
We had around 90 passengers on board. We talked to a majority of them, meeting people from Canada, Australia, Colorado, Washington and others. We met others during dinner and on the tours. It was fun getting to know people from different countries.
River and ocean cruises both have their pros and cons. I would rather go on smaller ships now. There’s too much going on for me on the big ships.
What about activities on a river cruise?
You can definitely relax – you can sit in your room or on the front of the ship and watch things go by. They have two lounges, one was a quiet one, the other had a piano and a bar.
Avalon provided one tour on every stop, which were optional. You put on a little earpiece and listen as a local guide walks you through the town. It lasts a good couple hours, and we walked a lot. They also have a slow-paced group.
We walked through the shops and towns when we had a little bit of free time. I liked shopping there, too. It didn’t seem that expensive – clothes, souvenirs, food.
What were your favorite stops?
Trier was one of the last stops and it stuck out to us. It had a lot of Roman ruins. They said the city itself was built on a Roman city, so the ruins are underneath.
During the cruise, everything was just so green. There were vineyards everywhere. They are up on these big hills – the ground seemed almost vertical. They were all over the place. We went into one winery and they basically handed us a glass, showed us where the wine was and told us to take as long as we want. We brought home one bottle and might save it for our anniversary.
We saw a lot. There were castles on the Rhine Gorge. We sat on top of the ship and our cruise director narrated the history of the area.
It’s amazing to me the history of the Bamberg Cathedral. It was built in the 13th century or even before that, and it’s still in use. It’s so big and ornate. Some of the castles are also still in use. We visited the oldest hotel in Europe and saw some amazing half-timbered houses.
How was the pace of the tour compared to an ocean cruise?
It’s definitely slower paced. Most of the tours left after breakfast around 8:30. You pick where you want to go and you load up on three buses with your tour guide. You don’t have to walk so close to the group because you can hear the guide through your ear piece.
How was the food?
They had happy hour on the ship every night, which was nice. You could have wine or beer with lunch and dinner. The food was included. They actually had something you could sign up for called the Bistro, where they give you appetizers to try, wine or beer, a main course and dessert. It’s really good food, too. It was pretty flavorful. If you didn’t like anything on the menu, you could get chicken or steak.
For breakfast, you can do a buffet, but you have the choice of doing a lighter option – a continental type of breakfast.
We could have done more. We only did two optional tours. If you think about it, excursions from the cruise ship were nothing. They were $40 here whereas they would be $100 on a big ship. Plus, you get more personal time, with maybe 30-40 people in a group, if that.
This was our first time visiting Germany. My husband was born in Nuremberg – his father was in the army overseas at the time – so he has wanted to go for a while. We’d go again – my husband loved the trip.
If you want to have a vacation like Lynn, check out more river cruises online or call your travel agent today at 855-999-7654!
Photos courtesy of Lynn N.