European Luxury River Cruises

Amazing Amsterdam!

Amsterdam is such a beautiful and unique place to spend time in.

 

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 You have the endless bikes.

 

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 Super barges and river boats.

 

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 Delightful food and quirky shops!

 

Amsterdam has a reputation for its nightlife (ie, red-light district) and ‘special cafes’ (ie, cannabis coffee shops) but there is much more to this truly unique place than this.

For a start,  Amsterdam has many more main attractions, including its historic canals, the Van Gogh Museum, the Rijksmuseum,  Amsterdam Museum, Stedelijk Museum, Diamant Museum and Anne Frank House! These places have helped to attract more than 3.6 million visitors a year from all over the world.

 

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Diamant Museum.

 

The Dutch, and especially in Amsterdam, are known as an open and tolerant people and society. Furthermore, Amsterdam has one of the widest varieties of nationalities of any city in the world with more than  50% deriving from foreign origin.

 

 

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Amsterdam thrives on its diversity.

 

Amsterdam is also a starting point for many river cruise trips because of its many waterways that branch off to some wonderful destinations.

Amsterdam can be enjoyed in many ways but a river cruise must surely be the most relaxing and luxurious way to enjoy this truly amazing place.

 

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View of the cruise terminal Amsterdam with concert hall and hotel.

 

Discover the Rhine Jewels on a River Cruise!

Travelling along the majestic Rhine River can be an amazing experience, and even better when sailing on a river cruise ship.

Not as big as a cruise liner but just as luxurious, a river cruise ship has that added benefit of a more relaxed, intimate experience.

In fact, just the type of surroundings you would want when exploring the vast waters of the Rhine and the magic that hits you at every turn.

 

You can begin a journey wherever you want on the Rhine but starting in Amsterdam and ending in Basel is also a good choice.

The marvelous places to discover on the way will stay with you forever!

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Amsterdam is always a good way to start any journey with its picturesque canals filled with world-class museums, theatres and cafés.

In fact Amsterdam has over 50 world-class museums – including the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh and Stedelijk museums – wow!

From Amsterdam you can travel on to CologneGermany’s largest, oldest but most modern cities.

 

 

 

Cologne is famous for its magnificent UNESCO World Heritage listed Kölner Dom Gothic Cathedral which stands almost 160 metres high.

You can also explore its twelve Romanesque churches and the historic centre of the old city, with its colourful houses and delightful town hall.

A visit to the modern art exhibition at Ludwig Museum is also a must before a mesmerizing  journey to Koblenz. 

 

 

Koblenze is a 2,000 year old town situated at the confluence of the Rhine and Moselle rivers. 

Once there, you will find the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress which was part of the Prussian defences against the French in the 19th century, it was later used as a headquarters for the American military during WWII.

Next, you can sail through the spectacular Rhine Gorge, passing countless castles and vineyards as well as the famous Lorelei Rock – a truly mystical and magical place!

Following that, you could make your way to the wine making town of Rüdesheim, and then board the Winzerexpress mini-train to Siegfried’s Mechanical Music Instrument Museum.

Further upstream is the town of Mannheim which is located at the confluence of the Rhine and Neckar rivers. This city was a pivotal place during the invasion of Germany by the Allies in WWII, and has also long been associated with inventions in industry including the world’s first compact diesel-powered car built by Karl Benz in 1923, and the first rocket plane built by Julius Hatry in 1929 – fascinating!

Even further along you will come to the  beautiful and magical Black Forest region of Germany, steeped in wonderful fairy-tale tradition.

 

 

There, you shouldn’t miss the opportunity to visit Germany’s largest Cuckoo Clock which is a remarkable 12 feet wide, 10 feet high and 3 feet deep.

You could also try  to sample the perfect Black Forest Gateau that is abundant there!

End your amazing journey with  Basel’s beautiful riverbanks as your backdrop, and the wonderful experiences still fresh in your thoughts, something to indulge in for another day!

 

 

New World Record for River Cruising!

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Viking River Cruises can certainly put on a show!

 

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Viking River Cruises recently announced it has set yet another Guinness world record with the launch of its newest Viking Longship!

Viking  was awarded the Guinness World Record for “The Most Ships Inaugurated in One Day by One Company”

In a very impressive multi-phased event taking place over a duration of 24 hours, Viking christened 16 of its award-winning Viking Longships, which

beat last years record of 10 new Viking Longships christened in one day. 

During these unique ceremonies, 9 Viking Longships were christened in Amsterdam, 4 in Rostock, Germany and 3 in Avignon, France – WOW!

The highly efficient,  glamorous and first-of-its kind ceremony included ceremonial godmothers for each ship who went on to christen the ships in

typically elaborate fashion, swinging the usual champagne bottle across the waiting vessels.

 

 

The festivities didn’t stop there as Viking also went on to christen  2 new, unique river vessels in Porto, Portugal, bringing the grand total to 18 new

ships launched across four countries in five days -beat that!

 

Due to the popularity of Viking’s ‘Portugal’s River of Gold’ river cruise, the two new ships there will double the company’s current capacity on the

Douro River, no doubt making a lot of people happy!

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Discovering the Douro on this ‘Portugal’s River of Gold’ itinerary is amazing.

This fabulous river cruise features two days and nights in the Portuguese capital of Lisbon and a cruise along the Douro River.

You get to see some of Europe’s most pristine vistas, historic monasteries, terraced vineyards and baroque mansions – wonderful!

It also includes a day trip to Salamanca, Spain, one of this itinerary’s four UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and several visits to

wineries to see the process and sample the port and tawny wines – sounds like heaven!

 

 

This river cruise alone is testament to the amazing river cruises that Viking have got to offer, no wonder Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking Cruises proudly announces “Today we mark a new milestone for Viking and for modern river cruising. We are proud to celebrate the arrival of our newest ships, and it is an honor to have each one named by a prominent godmother. River cruising is the fastest-growing segment of travel, and it is in large part because of the enthusiasm of our guests and travel trade partners that we have enjoyed such success.”

Relax the Riviera Way!

Ever fancied experiencing the magical charms of the Moselle and Rhine Valleys, with their majestic river bends, imposing castles and picture perfect postcard villages?

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Always wanted to see the astonishing Heidelberg and half-timbered Strasbourg, iconic cities like Cologne, the natural beauty of the Black Forest and the outstanding Swiss Alpine scenery?

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Or indulged in thoughts of the Danube River savouring the delights of Vienna, Bratislava, Salzburg, Esztergom and Budapest?

 

 

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Lovers of France may want to experience the spectacular Rhone Valley and take in its world renowned Burgundy vineyards, the enchanting wildness of the Ardèche gorges and the sun-kissed hills of Provence.

 

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On the other hand, the Seine takes you to romantic Paris through timeless impressionist countryside to medieval Rouen, historic Bayeux and the D-Day Normandy beaches.

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Germany’s Elbe river snakes through  historic Berlin, baroque Dresden and enchanting Prague.

 

 

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If Portugal takes your fancy, then there’s the dramatic Douro to explore, with Oporto and Salamanca just waiting to be discovered.

 

 

 

Amsterdam and the Dutch bulbfields combine a rich mediaeval history with world-class art and breathtaking floral displays.

 

 

 

The best way to see all the above?

Well, you can’t beat a river cruise, and more importantly, you just cannot beat a Riviera river cruise

The reason I know is that I am a travel consultant and can see for myself which cruise line is the most popular at any given time!

At the moment Riviera is leading the race and it’s not hard to see why.

 Published in June 2013, the most notable Which? Magazine voted Riviera Travel one of the UK’s finest Holiday Companies and awarded them their coveted

‘Recommended Provider’ status. Late last year, they improved their ranking in the ‘Guardian and Observer’ Travel Awards, achieving second place in the ‘Best

Large Tour Operator’ category and in the prestigious ‘Telegraph Travel Awards’ were voted their second ‘Favourite Escorted Tour Operator’ and second

‘Favourite River Cruise Operator’ – wow, like I said, takes some beating!

 

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One of Riviera’s outstanding ships!

 

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Standard cabin!

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Bar area!

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Even a gym for those wanting to keep their fitness levels up!

 So Europe is waiting and Riviera Travel can’t wait to show what all the fuss is about and provide you with the most memorable holiday you will ever experience!!

Discover more on a themed river cruise tour!

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Have you ever thought what it would be like to enjoy a luxury river cruise while also experiencing something you really enjoy. Wine tasting perhaps or having the opportunity to hear some of the worlds most renowned music? Well don’t delay, grab a chance now to indulge in something special and find out what river cruise is out there to suit just you.

Avalon Waterways’ exclusive and diverse selection of themed river cruises allow you to indulge your passions at no additional cost compared to any other river cruise. You can enjoy a luxury river cruise holiday to some of Europe’s best destinations while also celebrating that something special to you. If that special something involves wine, beer, food, jazz or classical music, fine art, Jewish heritage, wellness, golf, history and politics, or WWI, their specially packaged, limited-edition themed cruises are the perfect way of capturing the true essence and culture of a European destination. You also get the chance to enhance your personal knowledge with expert on board presentations and enjoy unique travel opportunities to share your interests with like-minded people.

 

 

Wine Theme River Cruises

Have a great love of wine? Well look no further than a wine themed river cruise. Expand your wine appreciation skills and gain expert knowledge as a wine expert explains how the various and distinct grape varieties are cultivated. Learn how to determine the best wines from the regions you cruise through, taste samples on board, enjoy a gala wine and food pairing dinner, and join an included visit to a local vineyard for wine tasting to test your new-found knowledge.

Beer Tasting Theme River Cruises

Beer tasting more your thing? A visit to Austria and Germany on the ‘Austrian Highlights & Bavaria’ tour is even better when it includes a discovery of their famous beers, and this special departure delivers just that with on board tastings, visits to a number of historic breweries and dedicated on board lectures about European beer-brewing techniques.

Music Theme River Cruises

If a love of music is your thing, let Avalon Waterways waltz you to a symphony of destinations. Classical music lovers will enjoy their Music Theme River Cruise ‘Magnificent Europe – Amsterdam to Budapest‘, on which local experts provide insights into European music. Shore excursions on the way take in a Strauss concert in beautiful Vienna, an organ recital in Melk, and explore Mozart’s hometown of Salzburg, where ‘the hills are alive with the sound of music!’.

Jewish Heritage Theme River Cruises

 

If you have an interest in Jewish culture, look no further than this ‘Legendary Danube’ river cruise tour. Gain an understanding of how the Jewish culture was formed on this dedicated Jewish Heritage theme river cruise, and explore landmarks, monuments and museums significant to Jewish history. Visit the Jewish Museum in Budapest, Jewish Vienna, the Jewish quarter in Regensburg, Prague’s Jewish Museum, Jewish Cemetery, and synagogues, and the haunting former WWII Jewish ghetto of Terezin.

Golf Theme River Cruises

If your great love is golf, and leaving the golf course at home is too much to bear, then the new golf cruise is just the tonic to get you all teed up again. A local golf enthusiast will arrange tee times on select nearby courses, so you can maintain your swing whilst sampling fairways and greens that you may not otherwise have experienced.  No need to worry if your travelling companions don’t share you love as there will be alternative programmes for the non-golfers.

History & Politics Theme River Cruises

For those who have a real interest in Europe’s fascinating history and politics, this  ‘Magnificent Europe’ cruise will be accompanied by a diplomacy expert who has worked at the UN, on the NATO/Warsaw Pact and on EU security and economic issues, with special lectures to give unique insight into all things European.

Christmas Market & Festive Cruises

There’s no more wonderful and evocative way to experience the festive season than by a cruise that takes you to the heart of Europe’s Christmastime markets. Delight in the sights, scents and sounds of delicious Christmas treats, observe the local traditions and customs typical of Germany, Austria and Alsace. All the while enjoying the fun atmosphere on board your Avalon ship, decked out splendidly for the season.

 

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So, there you have it – a wonderful choice of river cruises that’s bound to make someone, somewhere very happy indeed. The choice is yours, but don’t delay as I have it on good authority that these cruises don’t hang around for long!

A river cruise to inspire the creativity of ‘the arts’.

Broadly speaking, ‘the arts‘ can be described as the culture of human creativity which includes both the visual arts (drawing, painting, architecture etc), the performing arts (music, dance, theatre etc) and the literary arts (poetry, creative writing etc). I’ve dabbled in a few of them in my life, in particular painting, writing and poetry, and find the satisfaction it provides once completed almost exhilarating.

An example of my work.

However, a problem that quite a few people involved in the arts experience is inspiration or lack of it which can obviously interfere with their creative production. I was having this problem earlier in the year when I needed to provide some work for a literacy course I was working on. The harder I thought, the blanker my mind became. It was as if my creative mind had decided to shut down or become extremely shy to say the least.

What I needed was an experience that would activate some creativity combined with some relaxation as the past few months had been exhausting with one thing or another. I’d heard from one of my friends that a trip along the Rhine River was one of the most beautiful and inspiring experiences anyone could have. Although money was tight, I began to think seriously about some kind of tour along this river and began to ask around and also find some reviews.

Just one part of the Rhine River.

Another friend of mine suggested I go on a river cruise tour along the Rhine as they had done previously. They thoroughly enjoyed it and some reviews I went on to look at raved about it. One in particular stood out , it was called  Uniworld Castles along the Rhine and I managed to find it and book it through Rivercruisetours.co.uk. The ship you sail on is called the Uniworld SS Antoinette and well deserves the label ‘Super Ship’.

As soon as I stepped onto the SS Antionette I new it was going to be a good experience as the staff fell over themselves to help you. The Cruise Manager was attentive, and all the staff spoke English. The accommodation was fantastic and the food delicious. There was on board local entertainment and even a cinema!

Example of a stateroom suite.

Le cinema! The beautiful cinema.

The itinerary was amazing as the ship traveled through Basel, Breisach, Kehl,  Germersheim, Rüdesheim, Koblenz, Cologne and Amsterdam. I also had no shortage of inspiration as the beautiful ship took me to fascinating medieval wine towns, wonderful castles and  majestic cathedrals.

I can understand now why people are so amazed by this beautiful and majestic place. Apparently Beethoven, Schumann, Brahms, Schubert and Wagner idolized it in their music,Turner captured it in his paintings and Byron, Dumas, Hugo and Heine mentioned and celebrated it in their writing. I think I will now follow suit and let the inspiration flow in my writing.

VIKING Tulips & Windmills River Cruise Tour!

Have you ever heard about the most amazing and beautiful sights anymore can have the pleasure to see? I have, and I witnessed them on one of the most wonderful river cruises anyone can experience.

On an earlier blog http://www.rivercruisetours.co.uk/tulips-windmills-in-old-amsterdam/, I mentioned how I was determined to travel on the Viking Tulips & Windmills river cruise tour of Holland and Belgium. Well I did

and booked it through River Cruise Tours who were an absolute pleasure to deal with!

The  wonderfully named tour called Tulips & Windmills began in Amsterdam and made its way round some of the most beautiful and historical places to be found in Holland and Belgium.

The tour begins in Amsterdam and you fly there from London! The return flight and transfers are included in the cruise price! Once on board your ship, you are 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. If you wish, you can also take an optional excursion showcasing the small towns and bucolic landscapes of the northern Holland area – this, I can highly recommend!

The following day, the tour takes you to Arnhem where you are taken on an extraordinary journey to the 17th-century Paleis Het Loo, which for 300 years has been the Dutch royal family’s summer residence. You are taken on a guided tour through its grand furnished rooms and beautifully picturesque landscaped gardens – absolute heaven! Later, there is even an optional battlefields tour that also visits the Airborne Museum!

The following morning you 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 Lady which houses the famous Madonna and Child sculpted by Michelangelo. In Brugge,  You must try their frites and mayonnaise – absolutely mouth watering!

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! The flowers which  include  tulips, hyacinths, croci and daffodils are a stunning display of floral  beauty and can be seen at both indoor and outdoor exhibits. A must if you are a keen gardener but also an amazing sight for anyone to see – I assure you that it will live with you for years to come!!

You can now book the Tulips & Windmills tour through River Cruise Tours for 2014. Tours start from mid March to 1st May 2014 and get booked up very fast. Believe me – you won’t be disappointed!

 

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’.

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