Cost has to be a consideration when choosing a holiday, but this cruise richly rewards pushing the boat out, as Pat Richardson found on board Tauck’s Inspire.
You’ll know you’ve made a great choice as soon as you step on board and into the 5-star-hotel-style reception lobby. And when you see your beautifully appointed cabin, one of just 67 sleeping 130 passengers, you’ll appreciate another benefit being on this luxury vessel has in store: most ships this size carry many more. Whether it’s one of the 22 very spacious suites, the 8 split-level loft cabins (yes, you read that right) or a regular cabin, your home-from-home features a pillow-top mattress, luxury toiletries, TV, in-room movies and a stocked mini-bar.
Opening off the main lobby, as well as a classy boutique and a small library, is the plush Panorama Lounge, with an array of chairs and sofas, dance floor, resident musician and bar. The elegant, picture-windowed Compass Rose restaurant offers open-seating, single sitting dining, as well as breakfast and lunch. For more casual eating, there’s Arthur’s. The ship has a small Fitness Centre; massage room; spa with steam and sauna, and a hair salon. On the Sun Deck, tables, chairs and sun-loungers are set in shade or to catch sun. Behind the wheelhouse, there’s seating protected from wind by glass side-walls. Forward and set lower, are invitingly cushioned rattan sofas and chairs. If you don’t want to sit, this deck also has a jogging track, small putting green and Jacuzzi.
While luxury doesn’t come cheap, on Tauck’s European river cruises, ashore tours, cultural entertainment on-board and ashore and tips are all included. So too is on-board Wi-Fi. As well, unlimited regional wines, beers, premium spirits, coffee, tea, soft drinks and water are complimentary, as is use ashore of the ship’s bicycles. Along with fewer guests, first-rate service, fine dining and a delightfully intimate ambience, they offer another plus: more directors than on any other boat in Europe: that’s one Cruise Director plus three Directors to provide the expertise and service that will make your cruise even more memorable.
Of course, river cruising isn’t just about life on board – which doesn’t get much better than this. It’s also about where your ship takes you, and what you see and do there. My Inspire cruise was on the Rhine and Moselle – or, as they’re known in Germany, Father Rhine and Mother Moselle. You’ll soon discover why, when you sail on them. The Rhine is robust; a busy commercial highway, scenic on its castle-strewn stretches, industrialised on some others. The serene Moselle meanders like a leafy country lane, winding its gentle way through a succession of scenic vistas. For a cruise itinerary, combining these two rivers is a match made in heaven. Who will it suit? Anyone with an interest in art, architecture, history or wine; and all who enjoy seeing other countries, up close and from the inside, with grandstand views all the way, every day.
Our voyage began in the bustling port of Amsterdam, where we’d already enjoyed an included canal cruise and a guided tour of the world-famous Rijksmuseum. After sailing for a few miles, we reached quiet countryside. Cue placid cows chomping grass in broad waterside meadows, distant church steeples needling into the sky, and head-scarfed women, on sit-up-and-beg bicycles, pedalling gently along.
We awoke on Day 3 in Nijmegen, and took an excursion through a sun-dappled woodland landscape where, in 1944, Operation Market Garden dropped British and American paratroopers into the occupied Netherlands. At the Kroller-Muller Museum, set in that woodland, we viewed another world-class art collection. Sailing on, that afternoon, we saw a different breed of cyclists: lycra-clad and wearing helmets, bent low over racing handlebars, pedalling like fury. Ah so, we were now in Germany. On Day 4 we reach Cologne. After a tour of the Old Town, we enjoyed a gala evening in a moated, 12th-Century castle. Another turreted castle featured on the following day’s excursion; in Cochem on the Moselle. Afterwards, we enjoyed a wine-tasting in a wine Museum, and learned a lot.
On Day 6, we docked in Bernkastel. After an excursion to the fortress-city of Luxembourg, a guided walk revealed Bernkastel’s storybook sights. The next day’s excursion was to Germany’s oldest city, Trier. Day 8 brought us to Boppard for another walking tour. Day 9’s excursion to Heidelberg was a highlight of this richly rewarding itinerary; as was our visit the following day to the charming spa town of Baden-Baden, deep in the Black Forest.
On Day 11, we explored the fascinating French city of Strasbourg, with its beautiful cathedral, historic half-timbered houses and ultra-modern European Parliament building. Day 12, we reached Switzerland and docked in Basel, where we’d disembark on the morrow, but first came a city tour and a guided boat ride to Europe’s largest waterfall. And then our cruise was over, leaving us with memories to last a lifetime.
Pat travelled with Tauck on this southbound Amsterdam to Basel Rhine and Moselle River cruise, which is offered on board MS Grace or MS Inspire. In 2017, this itinerary has departures from April until October. The cruise is fully inclusive including memorable and enriching experiences, you couldn’t simply do on your own.
For more information visit www.tauck.co.uk/river-cruises or call 0800 810 8020.