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My time at the River Cruise Conference Amsterdam

I had the pleasure of attending CLIA’s 6th River Cruise Conference in Amsterdam on Saturday 19th November. It was a time where everyone came together to be immersed in everything river cruise – what it has to offer, and why you should add one to your bucket list.

Wouldn’t it be great to experience the world’s best rivers, cruising to locations that main ocean liners can’t? There is something very special, and intimate about being on board a river cruise. Not only will you experience the attentive first class service and the exquisite food that you would expect on any river cruise, but you will also come back with a better knowledge of the stunning locations that you have visited, including the different cultures and historic landmarks. 

I was very lucky to stay on board the lovely Emerald Dawn during my time there. I’ve never been on board a river cruise before, so I didn’t know what to expect… old interior maybe? A little on the old fashion side? Nothing like the state of the art Ocean liners, surely?

How wrong was I.

Absolutely stunning. From the moment I walked on board, I was greeted by the Emerald staff who were on hand to take my luggage straight to my cabin. After a smooth check in, I done some exploring around the ship. It didn’t take long, as this vessel only held a total of 182 passengers! The decor was fantastic, not what I expected at all. A modern design with deluxe comfort for all guests. Honouring the beauty of some of the world’s most aesthetically-stimulating waterways. Each member of the fleet has been deliberately and responsibly designed to match and complement the eternal flow of the rivers. It was brilliant.

I feel after being on a lot of ocean liners, the simplicity of river cruise ships has drawn me in. I knew where everything was after one walk around, which made me feel right at home. After unpacking, I was in a bit of a mess. I’m not the best when it comes to ironing, it’s always a struggle for me. So I wasn’t surprised when I pulled out my shirts to see a wrinkled disaster. Luckily there was a laundry service, so I opted for that. Great thing about it is that they were back in my cabin within the hour. Nothing was a problem. It’s the small things that matter.

Dinner was approaching so I threw my perfectly pressed shirt on and headed for the restaurant. There was a nice atmosphere about the place, very calm and relaxing but lively, it was just right. I opened the menu and I was spoilt for choice, gets me every time. The steak or the chicken? Just reading the way the food is explained is mouthwatering. The food was out of this world. I don’t know how I managed upstairs to the bar! The Entertainment was great, I never knew a man with a piano could get the whole room up dancing. Everyone is there to have a great time – and river cruising is also about meeting new people and making friends!

On a very frosty Monday morning, it was time for our ship visits. Seven fantastic vessels docked in the Amsterdam harbour for an exclusive tour. Each ship has their own personalities. Not every one will be right for you, so it is important that you make sure that it is to your taste. The simplicity of the ships remained the same which was brilliant. As for decor and design, none are alike. From the modern classy style of Emerald Dawn, to the the luxurious boutique all marble decor of Uniworld’s Antoinette, there was so much difference. Go with what makes you feel at home.

If you are looking for something luxurious, then I recommend a cruise on board Tauck’s ms Grace. With a maximum of 130 guests, it is designed at the highest standards for quality and comfort. Ms Grace sails through the Rhine, which is one of the most popular rivers in Europe. My favourite part of this ship was the suites. The way the rooms were structured was smart, making the most of the space they had. Her deck plan was innovative, with a total of 67 cabins, the most popular tend to be the largest.

Riviera’s 5 star William Shakespeare was also impressive. As you would imagine, everything about the ship was first class. This was one of the last ships to visit on the day, and it still made a big impact. The finest of materials have been used to give the best experience for the customer. Riviera has designed their ships for the British market. They have incorporated all the necessities that we would want on a cruise. Riviera’s William Shakespeare was the only vessel out of the seven that had a kettle in their rooms! Which is a huge benefit as we all like our brew in the morning. Another great factor that Riviera is proud to be behind is that their drinks are not included in the price. They feel that customers are not looking for drinks to be included as they are rarely on the ship to have them. Which is very true as there are plenty of daily excursions to keep you busy throughout the duration of your holiday. This is an honest approach from Riviera, that will save you money in the long run.

The demand for river cruising is on the rise. A fifth successive year of growth saw the UK river cruise market rise by 8% to top 150,000 passengers.

What does that mean? It means that river cruising is catching up on today’s market. Customers are beginning to realise the value for money that they are getting whilst on board, and ashore. For me that was one of the things that I have learned over the conference, value for money. I am not knocking ocean cruising in any way, it is one of my favourite ways to travel and I highly recommend you try one, however, when you book a river cruise – in most cases, you get the whole package. Why settle for anything less?

If you are in the age demographic of 55 plus, add a river cruise to your bucket list. I can honestly say it is a fantastic experience that you will never forget. Most river cruise customers are repeat. Why? Because the service is outstanding and each day is a memorable one. I’d also like to thank all the river cruise lines for their hospitality and gratitude.

If only I were 30 years older.

  • December 14th, 2016, 15:19:49