Christmas Festivities Aboard the Rivers of Europe
February 28, 2018 at 4:44 PM
Saturday 16 December
The first evening aboard the Avalon Imagery II was spent meeting the crew, learning the routines and expectations on board the ship, getting to know our some of our 120 fellow travellers and enjoying our first dinner on board.
Sunday 17 December
We woke to find ourselves docked at Breisach, Germany. There was an optional excursion that morning to Colmar, France. So, we departed by coach for a 10-minute ride through the countryside and found ourselves in France! Colmar is very picturesque - think photo opportunity around each corner. It is an old town and has cobblestoned streets lined with half-timbered medieval and early Renaissance buildings.
Back to the boat for lunch for those that chose, then off in the afternoon to the Black Forest, Germany. The trip took us for a glorious scenic ride past snow-covered villages and forest with trees laden with snow. France in the morning, Germany in the afternoon - great first day!
Monday 18 December
We awoke in Strasbourg, France. After a morning touring the city, we had lunch on the boat before our afternoon trip to Obernai, France. During the afternoon tour we encountered more French gorgeousness, wine tasting at a great Alsace vineyard and festive Christmas markets.
That evening, Kevin and I decided to participate in the degustation menu on the boat. This menu is available for up to 20 guests each evening and was served in the upstairs lounge. Pre-registering was a must! After dinner, we went up on the top deck and braved the cold to watch the fascinating operations of a lock we were passing through.
Tuesday 19 December
During the night, the river was closed to all traffic due to an accident. The captain had to scramble to find a suitable place to park the boat and the cruise director had to rearrange all the coaches booked to take us on our morning tour...all while we slept on obliviously.
The mornings trip was to Heidelberg - another stunning German town with the red sandstone ruins of Heidelberg Castle on the skyline. Our guided tour of the castle and town was followed by exploring the town and sampling the local treats. We cruised on the Rhine during lunch, past Worms and had a late afternoon visit to Mainz, another lovely old town with market squares brimming with Christmas cheer.
Wednesday 20 December
Rudesheim, Germany - Charming lanes, specialty coffees and the Museum of Mechanical Music Cabinets were the scripted part of the morning. Free time saw Kevin and I taking a cable car ride up the hill and over the vineyards to Nederwalddenkmal - absolutely stunning.
The afternoon was all about what you see in the brochures - scenic river cruising. Passing through the gorges of the Rhine, castles, and churches - some in ruins - came to us through the mist and low cloud. In the evening, we explored Koblenz with a guide.
Thursday 21 December
We arrived into Koln/Cologne with its majestic gothic cathedral. Kevin and I chose to take the Jewish Heritage guided walk. Our guide was a young historian not afraid to talk about World War II and Germany's not so pleasant recent history. In fact, as part of the tour, he took us to the Gestapo Prison Memorial Museum.
Friday 22 December
Oh Amsterdam, you are so pretty. We enjoyed a tour of the canals (on a number of smaller boats of course) and a guided walking tour in the morning then Kevin and I decided to visit the Anne Frank Museum, for which I had purchased tickets a couple of months prior.
Our last dinner on board that night was with our tribe - a mix of Americans, Australians, a German, a Scotswoman, and Kiwis. The next morning we were all dispersing and heading off to places all around the globe.
Would I do it all again? Unequivocally yes.
Would I do it again in Winter? Yes - dress right and it's no problem.
What did I enjoy about the cruise? Unpacking once. Visiting four countries in a very relaxed manner. Informative, friendly guides. Plenty of free time to explore. Meeting new people and developing friendships. Re-connecting with my husband, enjoying each other’s company without the stress of doing it all on our own.
What didn't I like? My waistline is the one with the most complaints!