European Luxury River Cruises

Tulips & Windmills in Old Amsterdam

Oh, what a classic – A Windmill In Old Amsterdam has just played on the radio and has brought back a multitude of memories. Recorded by the legendary Ronnie Hilton in the year I was born in 1965 and now a familiar song for many generations of people. However, it may hold even more significance for me as I am half dutch on my Mother’s side and did live in Holland in a place called Horn for a number of years as a child. I especially remember Castle Horn, a beautiful and mysterious castle not far from where we lived and the many windmills dotted around the very flat landscape.

It then dawned on me that I have a husband and four children and not one of them has seen where I lived as a child or knows anything of any real significance about Holland in general. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to go and visit the places I had experienced as a child. This then got me thinking about taking a family trip which would allow us to visit these places as well as exploring some of the more popular places to visit in Holland and the surrounding area.

I decided to trawl the internet for some inspiration and found the perfect solution on a web site called River Cruise Tours. It had a wonderful sounding tour called Tulips & Windmills which started in Amsterdam and made its way round some of the most beautiful and historical places to be found in Holland and Belgium. I thought we could visit my childhood neighbourhood first and then embark on the tour.

The tour begins in Amsterdam for two days where you can explore some historical wonders such as the Anne Frank House and the Van Gogh Museum which houses some of the brilliant work by the famous and troubled artist.

The journey next takes you to the ancient shipping village of Hoorn where there are historical cheese warehouses dating back to Holland’s Golden Age.

The following day it takes you to Arnhem, where there is an optional battlefields tour, before arriving at one of Holland’s oldest cities Nijmegen for the evening.

The following morning you’ll arrive in Kinderdijk before sailing towards Antwerp, the amazing Flemish capital, to witness such wonderful sights such as the Cathedral of Our Lady and Antwerp’s oldest building, Het Steen.

Next, you’ll travel from Ghent to the beautiful city of Brugge to see the Church of Our Ladywhich houses the famous Madonna and Child sculpted by Michelangelo.

You will then travel from Middelburg to Rotterdam and then on to the picturesque and beautiful Keukenhof Gardens, I believe the world’s largest floral park, before returning to  Amsterdam.

I’m going to book this Tulips & Windmills tour and will be looking forward to the looks on my family’s faces when they witness some of the worlds most wonderful sights to see – I personally can’t wait to go down memory lane while also singing silently to myself  ‘A Windmill In Old Amsterdam’.

Romantic second honeymoon on a Viking Longship!

I remember our first wedding with a mixture of fondness and slight embarrassment as it was celebrated in 1989, the end of a rather dubious decade in regards to fashion at least. My dress was a wonderful mixture of blue polka dots on a green back ground courtesy of Laura Ashley at the time and I thought I was in the height of fashion ( but maybe not for a wedding ha ha).

Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is that I’ve decided that I want a second wedding or a ‘Blessing’ with my husband next year to celebrate 25 years of marriage ( gulp). I will also get a chance to wear something a little more stylish I hope.

Of course, there should also be a second honeymoon, and hopefully something a bit more exotic than Scarborough where we had our first but got burnt to a crisp ( but that’s another story).

I was thinking more in the lines of a cruise or river cruise which would be more relaxing and romantic, while also giving us the chance to experience other cultures. My husband’s  parents swear by them and his grandmother went on a lot of cruises in the 1960′s and couldn’t get enough of them apparently – bless her.

River cruising in the 1960′s !

Love the 1960′s fashion though !

After much searching I’ve managed to find a very good website called River Cruise Tours which caters just for what I’m looking for and is very user friendly. I’ve decided on a wonderfully named tour called the ‘VIKING Romantic Danube’ which ticks all the boxes for a very exciting second honeymoon !!

Map of the tour.

The tour starts in Budapest, travels through Austria and Germany, before ending in Nuremberg. It will also be of great interest to my husband as he has family originating from all these areas but has never visited there.

The magnificent river cruise ship we sail on is called the Viking Idun and its features are outstanding. Not only does this Viking Long-ship offer state-of-the-art engineering, design and luxury, it also has eight different types of accommodation to choose from (2 Explorer Suites, 7 Veranda Suites, 39 Veranda Staterooms, 22 French Balcony Staterooms, 25 Standard Staterooms). It also has an observation lounge and bar with floor-to-ceiling glass doors, a restaurant with floor-to-ceiling windows for panoramic views, library corner and on board boutique – the list goes on.

Veranda Stateroom (A)

I’m for one booking our places now with rivercruisetours.co.uk as I’ve heard they are snapped up very, very quickly. With that done, I can be rest assured we have the most amazing (second) honeymoon to look forward to – only the ‘Blessing’ to sort out now…….!!

Farewell beloved caravan – hello river cruising!

It breaks my heart but the time has come for us to sell our beloved caravan ‘Bubbles’. We have had some fantastic holidays in that 6 berth beauty and feel we have enriched our children’s early lives by venturing out and about in this beautiful country of ours. We never really had the confidence to travel abroad with her away from Britain but did find some truly wonderful places to visit on our own door step.

Beloved ‘Bubbles’

We travelled the length and breadth of our country, from Hadrian’s Wall to the beautiful little fishing villages of Cornwall, and loved every minute of it. Longleat was a high point, as was Coniston in the Lake District where we climbed the ‘The Old Man of Coniston’ (even the small children – I  kid you not).

The amazing wolves at Longleat!

My two youngest taking a break and enjoying the view on ‘The Old Man of Coniston’.

The New Forest in the south of England and Stonehenge were also holiday highlights.Stonehenge in particular both fascinated and delighted our children’s sense of wonder and curiosity.

New Forest horses.

Listening to the Stonehenge info. on the head set provided.

The brilliant times we had have both enriched our lives and provided us with some of the most wonderful memories which we can treasure for ever. Now the kids are growing up, hubby and I have got to think of holidays that we can enjoy and get the most out of as a couple! We want to relax but also experience the buzz we got from touring the whole country – which brings me to the whole point of river cruising!

looking forward to more holidays with just the two of us.

We’ve looked at other holiday options like package holidays and Caribbean cruises but want something more intimate and culturally enlightening. Also something that won’t make me want to feel sick every five minutes! We’ve found quite a few river cruise liners but one  really stands out called Viking River Cruises. The ships sound magnificent, especially the longships, and seem to be remarkable value with just about everything included in the price.

For a start, included in the price are:

* Return flights from the UK.

*Deluxe en-suite accommodation with river view.

*All on board meals.

*Specially selected wine, beer and soft drinks with lunch and dinner.

*A wide range of guided tours to must-see attractions and World Heritage sites.

*Cultural enrichment programme for an in-depth understanding of the places you visit.

Amazing accommodation!

Longship-Restaurant_478x345_tcm23-19753

Wonderful on board meals!

Everything that we are looking for basically – and more! Furthermore, there is also no wave motion,  so no seasickness – fantastic!

But must hurry as I’ve heard these cruises are snapped up rather quickly so will be booking mine now through River Cruise Tours as soon as possible.

I truly believe my love affair with river cruising has only just begun – wish me happy sailing!

 

A Useful Guide to River Cruising

If you ‘re new to river cruising,  I’ve found this quick guide from Viking River Cruises that will steer you in the right direction and reveal all you need to know!

What’s included in the price?

Longship-Restaurant_478x345_tcm23-19753

Complimentary drinks including wine with lunch & dinner!

A great deal is included in the cost of a Viking river cruise tour. For your money you get return travel from the UK, river-view stateroom, all on board meals and complimentary beverages including wine, beer and soft drinks at lunch and dinner, excursions, internet access and much more. On holidays with land stays, your deluxe hotels are also included!

What are the ships like?

An amazing Viking river cruise ship!

Quite simply, like staying  in a deluxe, floating hotel with the highest standard in comfort and design. All the ships are light, airy and wonderfully spacious and panoramic windows throughout make the most of the ever-changing views.

What type of accommodation can I expect?

One of the luxurious staterooms!

Viking’s accommodation, or staterooms as their cabins are described, may take you by surprise. All the staterooms are roomy and light and come with a wonderful river view. They also offer en suite facilities and plenty of storage space. There’s a whole range of different staterooms to choose from, including some with verandas and others with two-room suites!

Is there space to relax on board?

Plenty of space to relax!

Yes, there is plenty of space to relax as every ship offers a choice of public areas where you can sit back and watch the world go by. Chill out on the sun deck. or enjoy a drink in the stylish and spacious lounge. The new Viking Longships even allow you to relax as you dine in the open air on the Aquavit Terrace!

What’s the food like on board?

Delicious!

The food on board a Viking river cruise ship is exceptional. From a sumptuous breakfast and delicious lunch to a five-course dinner, you’ll enjoy the finest cuisine. You’ll be treated to traditional favourites as well as regional specialities and lighter and vegetarian options are also available!

Do I have to dress up for dinner?

Casual Dining in Elegant Style

No, you don’t have to dress up for dinner. One of the things guests love about river cruising is the relaxed dress code even in the elegant but informal restaurant!

Will I get sea-sick?

No sickness -just pure enjoyment!

No, you will not feel sick. One of the many advantages of river cruising is that there is no wave motion, so no sea-sickness. You’re always close to the riverbank to enjoy those wonderful and outstanding views!

How do I get there?

Booking in at the ship’s reception.

All Viking holidays include flights from the UK — with regional flights from selected airports at no extra cost. You will be met at your overseas airport and taken to your ship. At the end of your cruise, you will be taken back to the airport — so there’s no need to worry, everything is taken care of.

 

I find that this type of information can give complete peace of mind and so hope this has been of great help when deciding on your river cruise – happy cruising!

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