Having spent a few days in Amsterdam, in 2002, at the end of our Belgium & Holland river cruise, we were familiar with the city, making our visit there today a relaxing one. We felt like we could give a miss to a second visit to the Rijksmuseum and take a walk along the canals to the flower market, instead. So, we took the bus with the group to the museum, and walked through the city back to the ship, making stops along the way to buy my some Dutch chocolate and stroll through the flower market. A walk to Amsterdam would not be complete without a walk through the Red Light District, so we did that, as well.
Lunch on board our river boat was followed by our cruise through the canal. Now, we are on our way to Cologne Germany, as I write this, while enjoying the sights along the way. There are plenty of farms we can see from the boat with grazing Holsteins and very green grass. No wonder why Dutch cheese is so rich and tasty!
So far, life on board ship is as wonderful as I remembered it to be from our previous two river cruises with Vantage Travel. There are 133 passengers on board; all American. And, so far, everybody we have met is well-traveled; a common trait of river cruise passengers.
The food on board is delicious and the boat is quite comfortable. Our cabin may be small, but there is more storage than in cruise ship cabins. We have more shelving than we know what to do with; so unpacking was a breeze.
I thoroughly enjoy river boat cruising, because it is so much more relaxing than on the large cruise ships. There is no assigned table seating, no casino, no fancy entertainment, no constant announcements and waiters trying to sell you expensive cocktails, and no tendering into port. Instead, the only entertainment is a pianist at night, except for the occasional cultural entertainers or lecturers that will come onboard, then disembark before we sail on to the next town.
River boats mostly stop at small towns and villages, so the passengers disembark (All 133 passengers can disembark in about one minute!), walk up the ramp, and the town center is right there. For other stops, we will split up into 3 busloads and take a driving tour, before returning for an afternoon of free time. It is very convenient; if we’re in town and need to use the restroom or grab something to eat, we can choose to take the short walk back to the ship, then return to town.
The best thing about river boat cruising, however, is unpacking once; the hotel travels with you. It sure beats being in a different hotel every night!