From the excellent food to the friendly staff, it's a ship we would certainly use again, not least for its stylish décor and finish. With so few passengers and plenty of deck area and comfortable seats in the spacious lounge, complete with grand piano and pianist during afternoon tea and after-dinner coffee, the ship never seemed over full at any time. We could be as chatty or as quiet as we wished.
The cabin was perfectly adequate with the right amount of storage space (even for my excessive amount of clothes), and the bathroom had ample room for the walk-in shower. The tap water was even drinkable as they carry fresh water. Unlike the ships on a certain TV promotion, our graceful vessel had a wooden rail around the main entrance deck, allowing us to walk up and down each side if we wished.
The cruise itself was relaxing in between visits and very restful as we sailed gently down the river. Needless to say, a highlight of this itinerary is the Rhine Gorge, with the hilltop castles and the legendary Lorelei rock (or Loreley as the rock proclaimed). We were treated to an onboard story and song of the Lorelei maiden, or siren, as we sailed passed - there is now a statue round the corner from the rather unremarkable rock.
Some of my highlights were:
Strasbourg - very pretty areas down by the canal and lots of willow trees (my favourites). The inside of the cathedral was the most stunning we saw in any of the towns. I loved the astronomical clock, the pole of angels, and the Christ on the cross scene, which I managed to photo when illuminated.
Heidelberg - an ancient university town with pretty buildings, with a backdrop of the old castle on the hill which you can reach by funicular railway, or foot. We found a wonderful chocolate shop/café on the main street which drew me in with the quirky Forest Gump seat outside.
Rudesheim - a pretty small town with the most wonderful Siegfried's Musical Cabinet Museum. A knowledgeable guide showed us the most fascinating collection of mechanical musical instruments through the centuries and allowed us to hear many of them. My inner child kicked in at the circus display!
Koblenz - another pretty town with a beautiful river front. Superb cable car ride up to the fortress on the hill, with stunning views over the river.
We didn't have time to take a tour of Amsterdam at the end as we flew straight home, but a group of passengers went off to do so before their flight. Fortunately, we've been there before so didn't miss much. We're used to cruising on larger sea-going ships, which we love, and were interested to experience the difference of a smaller vessel that is never far from land.
|Piano in lounge|
|stairs up to reception|
Although we do enjoy the slight anonymity of larger ships, and the variety of public rooms and restaurants, we can honestly say we would like to cruise down the Danube one day on this particular unique ship, the Royal Crown.
Everything slows down on a river cruise and the added rest from all Internet activity added to the pleasure. Even though I had my kindle with me for reading in bed, the first thing I did was to choose a book from the library. It seemed more fitting to read the old fashioned way on such a stylish ship while the world passed slowly by down the river.
If anyone is interested in such a journey on the Royal Crown, you can find out details of the ship's itineraries (which is sometimes hired by different upmarket companies) from my travel agent husband, Simon. He happened to hear of it through his company, hence the reason we booked ourselves this holiday.
Now it's back to work, and I'll try to catch up with everyone's blogs!