Well, a good night’s sleep was had by both, beds very comfy and cabin plenty warm enough. Breakfast was another delight, charmingly served by the staff and a good choice of fruit, eggs, bread, dairy products, cheese and meats.
The ship really has everything in a very neatly packaged way, a compact, pretty, light gym, comprising running and stepping machines with massage available in the afternoons and a most acceptable sauna. Hairdressing is on offer in a snug little corner and proving highly popular.
The Royal Crown moored in Rotterdam, and we headed forth to explore. After an interesting offer of a lift from two most helpful chaps, we trotted off on foot to the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen. And what a great museum, showing a first-rate collection, with a Dutch flavour for sure, including several Monet, a Rubens or two and some timeless Degas sculptures. It’s in the Museumpark, at the bottom of Witte de Withstraat, a lively, villagey street full of colourful cafes and bars. So a brisk 90 minutes was spent taking in some our favourite artists, then we returned to the Royal Crown for lunch.
I’d heard that food was a major part of the cruising experience, and so it is! Three courses again, with wine for many, though not us, I must confess, it seems to create the need for a lengthy afternoon nap and there was more to see. Meals here are much more of a fine dining experience and certainly not canteen style in any way. There was full waiter service with good choices and another irresistible pudding. Yes, my jeans were feeling a tad tighter, and sadly the lack of gym kit meant I wouldn’t be pounding away on the cross-trainer this afternoon. Ah, well.
Our afternoon’s jaunt took us to the Sonneveld House Museum, a 1930s house, totally restored to how it was at the time of building. It is a real period piece, with some quite surprising technology for the time. Mr Sonneveld was an industrialist who travelled to the US and brought with him all the latest inventions, an early version of the jet power shower, an internal phone system and small electric lifts to allow his servants to move goods between floors. The building itself is a vision of glass and space, rather like a cruise liner of the time, and a true example of the example of the Nieuwe Bouwen movement. I like the domestic as a museum, it allows you a glimpse into the reality of people’s actual lives more easily. Mother is somewhat of a fixtures and fittings queen, so this house really was a treat.
My quota of culture satisfied and tea partaken of in a funky bar-cum-restaurant, full of jolly folk, we strolled back to the Royal Crown. I like the Dutch people – so relaxed, though clearly purposeful, with a very accessible sense of style. So a quick change for dinner, once again utterly delicious and brilliantly balanced, whilst cruising to Gorinchem.
I hadn’t previously ‘got’ the cruise and dine experience so beloved of many, but now I do. We enjoyed another explosive sunset, just before pudding, which seemed within inches of the picture windows, spreading across the horizon as far as you could see, which actually is very far indeed!
Silver Travel Advisor recommends Hebridean Island Cruises for European Sailings on the Royal Crown.