In late October 2014, my colleague Teri and I departed from Grand Rapids, Michigan for a Rhine river cruise with Avalon Waterways, aboard the Artistry II.
River cruising is a great way to travel Europe– especially if you’re not sure where to go in Europe or what you want to see! Our Cruise Director was Gusta from Amsterdam. She traveled with us for the entire trip. Every night before dinner, during the cocktail hour, she would give a “port talk” about the next day’s excursions, what time to meet, and what the importance of the next port city was.
Dining on board is open seating for all meals. There was a full buffet for breakfast and lunch, and dinner was by menu. Hungry before the scheduled meal time? Not a problem! There is an early riser’s breakfast available, and a light lunch of soup, salad, and sandwiches. For something fun to do, Avalon offers the Pamorana Bistro of Chef’s specials Tapas style. There is an aft lounge with coffees, cappuccinos, teas, and sweet treats always available. These meals, and treats are included in your cruise price.
Life onboard is very casual and comfortable. There is a small workout room, and a hair salon. The ship does have one elevator. The public spaces are never crowded. The top deck is the place to be when cruising the river, with enough loungers for everyone to have a place to sit. The scenery is ever-changing and the cruise director will make announcements of the important sights along the way.
Had we cruised in the summer months, the top deck Jacuzzi would have been open to enjoy as well. There are no swimming pools aboard.
Entertainment (piano and singing by Jerry!) was provided each night after dinner, in the lounge. This offered a chance to visit with others, dance, and enjoy a cocktail. Occasionally, Avalon brought special entertainers onto the ship. Don’t miss these nights! The entertainment was excellent, and again, it was included in the cruise price.
We also took several tours during our stops along the Rhine:
Strasbourg, France – Alsace – wine tasting and winemaking country
Speyer, Germany – Excursion to Heidelberg – Heidelberg Castle
Rudesheim, Germany – Best coffee! Be sure to visit Siegfried’s Mechanical Musical Museum.
Rhine Gorge – Sailing all day. The scenery is so wonderful. Enjoy a baguette sandwich and wine on the top deck!
Cologne, Germany – The Dom Cathedral is very Gothic, and so beautiful.
Amsterdam, Netherlands– This was the end of the trip, but not the end of cool things to see. We did some biking during day, and toured the Red Light District at night. (Sorry, no photography allowed in the district).
Tell us about your river cruising adventures in the comments, or let us know on Facebook!