Amsterdam is a fine city to explore from a cruise ship. To dock at the Amsterdam Cruise Passenger Terminal is a convenient few minutes walk from the city centre and all the canals and highlights of the city.
However, we were here not to explore the city, but 7 cruise ships in one go. River Cruise ships that is.
CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association) organised for the great and good of the River Cruise industry, along with interested participants, were together at the end of November 2015, to talk up the prospects for the future and outline the latest developments in cruise ship design, new launches, and the latest facilities.
We had ships from operators Scenic, Croisi Europe, AMA Waterways, Uniworld, ARosa, Amadeus, and Tauck to check out.
To understand more about the different river cruise choices explore more and contact us at GoCruise.
Whilst there is often more variation in the fleets, many of the newer ships are just about the same size, as the locks that have to be navigated on some of the rivers essentially set a maximum limit to the dimensions of length and breadth. Then of course the bridges define how high the ships can be. So with few real differences in the shape and size of the ships, much of the difference is down to how they are fitted out.
And it is extraordinary how different one ship is from the other . In the way the space is used, the furnishings and fabrics, the colour schemes, the flow through the ship, and the facilities and cabins.
Given that can be little point in putting much new thinking into the outside dimensions, virtually all of the effort can be focused on the internal possibilities and character and innovations.
These vessels are beautiful floating hotels with around 40 to 85 rooms, depending on average cabin size. They are luxurious transportation devices, that sail gracefully through the rivers of Europe. They are informative tour guides which point out the features of history, culture, geography, development, and sights from the river view. They are holiday destinations in themselves, yet offer an ever changing destination as the scenery advances by the hour and ports of call open up an exploration of extensive parts of Europe from a single home for a week or fortnight.
Space is effectively utilised to bring pleasant lounge spaces, and well-appointed dining rooms, there’s mingling space near reception, and some more intimate areas perhaps for dining, lectures or celebrations. On many ships there are small gyms and spa facilities – some even going as far as squeezing in a small sauna or steam room. On the sun-deck you could sit and chat and enjoy drinks and food under canopy or in full sun, and of course in the right weather spend time on the sun loungers (but not November in Amsterdam!). A few ships have small pools or Jacuzzis on deck, and some will give you the chance to play giant chess or drafts, or shuffleboard. All the while you get the chance to take in your destinations as you sail through – and spend time exploring towns, cities and places of interest as you dock along the route.
A key decision for a river cruise is how high up the luxury scale you would wish to be, in terms of ship and cabin type, but whilst all lines will ensure you are fed well at all mealtimes for the duration of your cruise, there are also differences to note in the nature of other inclusions. So some ships will include all drinks, and excursions, transfers and even bicycles to explore the destinations, others operate a more choose and select approach.
But before choosing between the ships you could sail, the best starting point for choosing a river cruise is obviously the destinations that you want to explore – from the banks of the Danube, the Rhine, the Rhone and Saone, the Po, the Elbe, the Douro, the Seine, the Mosel, or the Garonne and the Dordogne. And that’s just Europe!
River Cruises open up the idea of taking several city breaks in one, or exploring a whole stretch of Europe at leisure. There are plenty of non-European river cruise options too, but those are for other blog posts!
If you’d like assistance in understanding what there is to see on the different rivers, or the differences between the cruise ships, explore more and contact us at GoCruise.