Rhine Cruise with Shearings Holidays – Chapter 1

Ship Ahoy!

MPS Rotterdam I have just enjoyed 7 nautical days on the Rhine. It seems to me that cruising is similar to the story of The Three Bears.  Cruise ships are too big, pitching fishing boats are too small but Shearings Holidays river cruise ships are just right!

To meet up with the good ship MPS Rotterdam in Cologne, we had to make our way by feeder coach to Hythe. We then separated into our Tour coaches and continued to Dover. Arriving in Calais we then had 500km to travel with 1 overnight stop. I found this gruelling but many of the other passengers loved coaches and were very happy to be taken care of from beginning to end. They did not have to even think about their luggage en route.

I learnt that if you spoke to Shearings Holidays direct, they could make suggestions on how to reach the departure point by train or air. Another excellent service that Shearings offer is a department specialising in the needs of travellers less-abled. If you explain your limitations, well versed staff at Shearings will advise on the right trip for you and the excursions that you will be able to manage comfortably. This worked very well for a member of our group who was diabetic and needed wheelchair assistance. She had travelled with Shearings Holidays before and was a ‘returning customer’. Many of the people I met had indeed travelled regularly with Shearings Holidays – always a good sign.

Hotel Le Bretagne The Hotel Le Bretagne *** St Omer, was our first night’s stop. A charming hotel with good food and a bar but I noticed that there were no grab rails, nor anti-slip mats in the bath which could have been a problem to older clients.

The return overnight stop at a Best Western Hotel in Belgium was fine with all the facilities you could wish for including the all important tea making tray.

Unusually, MPS Rotterdam was taking two groups on this trip. One was called The Battlefields Commemorative Cruise and the other Summer Gardens & Three Countries (Cologne to Brussels). This created some confusion but Melanie our Tour Manager on the ship dealt with it all beautifully. Our drivers also showed great flexibility when the paperwork had not quite caught up with them.

Here was proof that Silver Travellers are on the move from all parts of England.

The ship itself was a delight. A selection of cabins, all shapes and sizes. The old adage of ‘You gets what you pay for’ is true when cruising. Some ships sailing past were clearly offering ‘Champagne Service’ but I am sure you would also pay champagne prices.

Lifting bridge All meals were included and the food was so tantalising that no-one missed a meal even though we all admitted we never ate three meals a day at home.To eat breakfast with the world going by at 22 km an hour (downstream average speed) is a very peaceful way to start the day. 

Melanie our Tour Manager posted our travel plans on the Notice Board daily. All cabins had a TV which showed daily menus and travel plans. Before we arrived at each destination Melanie made announcements giving us a little background knowledge and letting us know if there were any changes to the plan. You have to be flexible when travelling, for locks and lifting bridges do not respect itineraries. No-one could say they did not know what was going on – but of course one person did!

The Battlefields Commemorative group had their own Shearings Tour Guide.

Tony, is a retired military man who very ably took the group through strategy and sites of war. He told heart breaking stories of individual heroic actions which never received official recognition and stories of conscientious objectors who died for their beliefs. I found it all very sad and for me it emphasised the futility of war.

Botanical Gardens - Cologne The Summer Gardens group began by exploring the Botanical Gardens in Cologne where there was a very good Hot House. We visited a World Heritage site – Augustusburg Palace in Bruhl. Here the Palace gardens were designed in 1728 by a student of the master gardeners at Versailles. The Palace itself was a witness to Rococo creations in Germany. The contrast of opulent décor in the state apartments and the bare servants areas behind hidden panels was staggering. 

Cologne of course is famous for 4711 Eau de Cologne which has been produced here for more than 200 years. We are told that the original formula is still used.

Some of our group went to sample these wares and came back smelling of … well cologne actually!

We are sorry to advise that the Specialist Leisure Group, which includes Shearings, entered administration on 22 May 2020. If you have booked a holiday with Shearings, or you have any questions please visit the Shearings website.

157 people found this helpful
16806

Share Article:

Kay Wiseman

Optimistic traveller & wordsmith

Leave a comment

*

Sign up to our newsletter to receive the latest travel tips on top destinations.

Join the club

Become a member to receive exclusive benefits

Our community is the heart of Silver Travel Advisor, we love nothing more than sharing ideas, inspiration, hints and tips between us.

Most Recent Articles

Geoff Moore joined events across the island to celebrate Liberation Day, one of the most important dates in Guernsey’s calendar…
The Royal Shakespeare Company offers far more than just live theatre as Gillian Thornton found out on a visit to…

Come feel the love on a Princess cruise. You’ll enjoy the MedallionClass experience others simply can’t, and it’s exclusively for everyone. Visit incredible destinations and be involved in the best experiences around each one of them.

Experience more with Princess and connect effortlessly with the world around you, spend time away with loved ones, take a moment for yourself, and fall in love with your holiday of a lifetime, every time.

With over 20 years of experience, Wendy Wu Tours has mastered the art of creating exceptional, fully inclusive tours which showcase the very best of each destination.

Each tour is led by a world-class guide, who will highlight the very best of their homeland, and includes authentic cultural experiences so you are not just seeing the sights, but truly immersing yourself in local life.

Say hello to ease at sea. Ambassador’s purpose is simple: they want to inspire every guest to experience authentic cruising, effortlessly and sustainably. Passionate about protecting our oceans and destinations, their ships comply with the highest industry emission standards and there is no single-use plastic on board.

On your voyage, you will receive the warmest of welcomes from the Ambassador community as you sail upon the friendliest ships afloat.

This is a global co-operative co-owned by local partners using real local experts and guides, which supports local communities, environments and wildlife. It offers travellers quirky places to stay, activity holidays and learning experiences. Not In The Guidebooks gets travellers off the beaten track into local culture with day experiences and longer, immersive adventures.

From wild wellness breaks in Wales to painting in Portugal, sustainable adventures in Mauritius to food safaris in Brazil, this is immersive, exciting travel.

Seabourn’s five intimate ships carry guests to the heart of great cities, exclusive yacht harbours and secluded coves around the world, while two new purpose-built expedition ships will combine exhilarating adventures in remote destinations with the sophisticated amenities of the world’s finest resorts at sea.

From the luxury of all suite accommodations to complimentary fine wines and spirits, and a no tipping policy, Seabourn exemplifies the definition of travelling well.