Uniworld European River Cruise with Stephen

Uniworld’s Legendary Rhine and Moselle
Basel to Amsterdam
October/November 2014

River Queen - Ship

We have been fortunate to travel with Uniworld before on four river cruises, but when we stepped on board The River Queen we noticed something different. On all previous cruises the staff have been unfailingly polite and friendly, but on this cruise we felt that the entire crew went taking low dose cialis above and beyond to make sure that the passengers effects of long term cialis use in farmacia cialis had a truly exceptional holiday experience and were made to feel a part of the River Queen family.

We arrived at the ship around noon, and were met

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by the Hotel Manager who made sure that we were introduced personally to the front desk staff, the head barman and his two assistants and any other staff we encountered on her personal orientation. This has never happened before. This forged a bond between us and the cialis tadalafil staff that lasted the whole cruise.

Drink with Captain

Captain Ferdy and his engineering and deck crew were also more visible and interacted with the passengers much more than I have ever seen buy viagra without a prescription before. The Executive Chef was always in the dining room every evening making sure that everyone was enjoying the cuisine and taking any comments to make sure that his team did not disappoint at any meal.

If you love your job, you will excel at it. I don’t think there was a single Uniworld employee on The River Queen that did not want to be there. There was not a better team on a cruise than the River Queen for those 13 days. We can understand why the River Queen was ranked #1 Small River Cruise Ship by readers of Conde Nast Traveler recently.

The River Queen is a most unique vessel, and stands out on the rivers from any other river cruise ship. Her exterior resembles the grand river steamships of the 1930’s. She has a straight bow and curved stern, traditional red, white and black hull, and has a funnel – even though it is non-functional. The seating on the Sun Deck are all gleaming, varnished teak and mahogany. She is also the only river cruise vessel that has a fireplace in the lounge. Which was lit on a couple of occasions when the weather became a little nippy. It made for a very cozy atmosphere.

Stephen on Deck

Since our last cruise, Uniworld now offers a truly all-inclusive European river cruise, with everything included. All scheduled airport transfers, all gratuities to staff on board and to the local tour guides on shore, unlimited beverages onboard, including an extensive selection of distinctive wines, craft and regional beers, spirits, cocktails, soft drinks, juices, cappuccinos, lattes, espresso, French press coffee, fine teas and mineral water. Internet and wi-fi access onboard to stay connected. Carefully crafted shore excursions hosted by English-speaking local experts with options to personalize with “Choice is Yours”. All meals on board, impeccably prepared using the finest and freshest ingredients sourced from farmers’ markets and other local suppliers. Uniworld also has the highest staff-to-guest ratio in the river cruise industry – one staff member to four guests.

All river cruise ship cabins are small, but ours was comfortable, with luxurious, specially made English Savoir beds and fine Egyptian cotton linens, bottled water, flat-panel interactive cialis for sale television, bathrobes and a well appointed, marble tiled bathroom stocked with L’Occitane en Provence toiletries.

Interior of ship

The ship’s public areas are where The River Queen sets herself apart. She boasts a panoramic lounge thanks to its 180 tadalafil generic degree, floor to ceiling windows. As I said before, she is complete with the only working fireplace on any river cruise ship. She also has a cozy Captain’s Lounge, a library, an elegant dining room featuring spectacular views, as well a spa with sauna, fitness room, and a guest boutique.

On a few occasions, unique local artistes were brought onboard to entertain in the lounge after dinner. There was a French musette accordionist with a delightful chanteuse singing a medley of French songs, especially Edith Piaf numbers. A duo who entertained with everything from classic and contemporary songs to light opera – absolutely wonderful. Another pair entertained with a comic flair and succeeded in having the whole

lounge on their feet dancing, including me. At all other pharmacy rx one times the resident lounge pianist, Andrea, with her extensive repertoire, was eager to please as she took requests and was never stumped by off-the-wall items.

Cruise & Scenery

And now a brief overview of our stops on the itinerary:

Basel

We overnighted in Basel before boarding The River Queen, Because of a rail strike when we arrived in Germany, we were late arriving in Basel and did not have an opportunity to do any exploring as our hotel was in the financial district away from the old town. However, when we boarded the ship, we discovered that there was a bus departing for the old town after lunch which gave us a few hours to experience Basel. It was Sunday and all the stores were closed, but we found that the local families took the opportunity to wander around the old town and enjoy themselves with at stop at a sidewalk restaurant or café.

The Alsatian wine villages of Kaysersberg and Riquewihr

Tanneurs - Street view

This was a thoroughly delightful excursion through the Alsace vineyards and villages.

A well in Kaysersberg bears an inscription that warns against drinking water and urges the reader to “Drink with moderation old and subtle wine – and leave the water to the side”. What better words could guide you as you begin your exploration of the route des vins.

Kaysersberg , which lies on eastern France’s popular wine route, is the hometown of Albert Schweitzer. Though it was spared the ravages of WWI, Kaysersberg suffered heavy damage during WWII. Sensitive reconstruction has restored the town’s historic character and cemented its reputation as one of the brightest gems of the Alsace region.

Uniworld Europen River Cruise 3

Arriving in Riquewihr, you’ll feel as though you’ve been transported back to the Middle Ages. Not much has changed since the 16th century. The timber-frame buildings still boast colourful shutters and cheerful window boxes, and stone arches still lead you to cobbled squares with cafes and carved fountains.

Strasbourg

One of my favourite cities, located right on the border of France and Germany, and each country has claimed it as their own. In fact it has changed hand six times. The last time being at the end of World War II. It is now one of the capitals of the European Union.

It is certainly a French city, but one with a definite German flair, blending those nation’s traditional culinary and architectural styles. In Petit France, the picturesque old quarter, you can wend your way through the maze of lively pedestrian streets or wander the cobblestone lanes along the canals between the half-timbered buildings. At the centre is the Cathedral of Notre Dame, a medieval masterpiece, built over three centuries between 1176 and 1439. It impresses from every angle.

Speyer

Uniworld Europen River Cruise 5

Unlike so many German cities, Speyer was not heavily damaged during the two world wars. The delightful main pedestrian street stretches from the cathedral to the old town gate, and is lined with lively small shops and cafes.

Speyer enjoyed the luxury of being a free city of the Holy Roman Empire, answering only to the Emperor himself for 500 years. It boasts the second largest Romanesque

building in Europe, the great cathedral of St.Martin and St.Stephen. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the cathedral was built between 1030 and 1061, and is still in use today.

Rudesheim

Redeshelmer Schloss

Like many cities along the Rhine, Rüdesheim has a lengthy history that stretches back to Roman times. Today this romantic medieval place , even though some may call it touristy, is the centre of the Rhine wine industry. The Drosselgasse, sometimes called “the happiest street in the world”, is a very narrow (only 6 feet wide and 360feet long), and crowded with shops, cafes, wine taverns and gardens. High on the hillside, above the vineyards, is the Niederwald monument, depicting the mythical figure of Germania, which can be reached from Rüdesheim by foot through the vineyards, or by cable car.

Uniworld Europen River Cruise - Train

From Rudesheim, you sail along one of the most beautiful sections of The Rhine. The Rhine River Valley, a designated UNESCO World Heritage site, runs for 65km between Rudesheim and Koblenz and offers new delights at each bend and twist of the river. Steep riverbanks are lined with sloping vineyards and quaint towns, and hilltops are crowned by fairytale castles. In fact you pass no less than 23 castles in various states of repair.

 

Cochem

Castle

Due to a mechanical failure of our ship on a previous river cruise, we had spent quite some time in Cochem and it was comforting to revisit this picturesque town.

On a hilltop behind the town is the Reichsburg Castle. Built around 1020, it was destroyed by the French, then rebuilt during the 19th.century in a more romantic style of architecture. Today, Cochem has a charming medieval ambience. The long narrow streets are teeming with shops, cafes, and medieval architecture. But it is not only the fairy tale buildings in and around Cochem that remind visitors of its 2,000-year legacy; the town’s folk tales and wine traditions are also kept very much alive. The Romans, who considered wine a preventative medicine, were the first to develop the Moselle vineyards. Every legionnaire was given a daily ration of one litre of wine and, as the story goes, was punished if he did not drink it!

Luxembourg

Riverway Town

The Duchy of Luxembourg is one of the smallest sovereign nations in the world. The duchy’s capital city, also called Luxembourg, perches on a promontory overlooking the Petrusse and Alzette valleys. Due to its strategic geographical position and every-changing political affiliation (the city was variously controlled by Spanish, Austrian, French, and Prussian forces, amongst others), the city grew into one of the greatest fortified sites in Europe. Today the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is an independent constitutional monarchy, and the partially demolished fortifications found in its capital city are a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. The historic castle casements and centuries old battlements stand side by side with the gleaming high rises that denote the city’s status as a 21st.century international financial centre.

The heart of Old Town is a designated pedestrian area. Here you will find Notre Dame Cathedral, a fine example of late Gothic architecture. The Palais Grand Ducal where both Louis XIV and Napoleon once resided. It has been the official residence of the reigning Grand Duke since 1890.Place d’Armes, “the city’s sitting room” is a vast square surrounded by shops and sidewalk cafes, and often used for concerts and markets. This is the lively heart of Luxembourg.

Trier

Trier is the oldest city in Germany and in ancient times it was the largest Roman settlement north of the Alps. Six emperors reigned from here. The city delights visitors with its cheerful blend of old and new. Trier’s Old Town is built for walking as the vast majority it pedestrian only. All the attractions are close to the main Market Square known as the Hauptmarkt, the citys gorgeous Cathedral (Dom St. Peter’s) and its companion Church of Our Lady, and around the square are attractive medieval buildings with arcades at the bottom. On the edge of the Hauptmarkt is the 15th century Gangolf Church, known at the Market Church, that has quite a powerful set of bells. On the street leading from viagra online the Hauptmarkt is the House of The Three Magi originally constructed in 1261 and now completely restored. It cheap viagra canada free shipping is a classic example of the types of homes built by prosperous merchants, who built tower-like houses with entrances only reachable by ladders dropped from the upper level.

At the end of the street is The Porta Nigra or Black Gate, a magnificent example of Roman architecture. It is today, the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps.

Street View 1

Bernkastel

Bernkastel-Kues claims the title of ‘Pearl of the Moselle’. It is a mecca both for those who want to enjoy the quiet charms of the region and for wine-lovers seeking out some of the finest wines produced in Germany. At the heart of Bernkastel is the Marktplatz, one of the most ideal of medieval small town German market squares. Tall half-timbered, colour-washed houses with steep roofs and gables and intricately carved facades, some dating back to the early 1600’s, ring the square. In the centre is the 17th century St.Michael’s Fountain, which used to flow with wine on special occasions in the past. And high above it all, guarding town, river, woods and vineyards, stands the Landshut, the ruins of a 13th-century castle, which can be reached by a not-too-taxing walk through leafy vines. The Moselle Wine Museum must not be missed. Here you can sample literally hundreds of wines. Upon entering you are given a small glass and, in the cellars beneath the museum, open bottles from all the wineries in the region are awaiting you.

Koblenz

2000 year old Koblenz sits at the confluence of two of Germany’s major rivers, the Rhine and the Moselle. Right where the two rivers meet is a park, Deutsches Eck, which translates as “corner of

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Germany”, and is dedicated to unity. Today, Koblenz serves as the cultural, administrative, and business centre of the Middle Rhine. Although air raids during World War II destroyed 85% of the city, extensive renovation has successfully preserved the ambience of old Koblenz. While strolling through the town’s historic centre with its narrow lanes and romantic squares you may choose to go shopping, or just to have a break in one of the many sidewalk cafés. Nowhere in Old Koblenz is far from the banks of the Rhine or the Moselle. Here you can stroll leisurely along the rivers watching barges and boats passing by.

Cathedral

Cologne:

From Roman times Cologne flourished because of its location on a major crossroads of European trade routes. In the Middle Ages it was more important in European commerce than even London or Paris. As a place of pilgrimage, Cologne was second only to Rome. Today, this fourth largest of German cities is still the centre of the German Roman Catholic Church. The Gothic cathedral is the largest and finest in the country. Begun in 1248, it was not completed until 1880 – still using the original plans! Although the Allied bombings of World War II destroyed almost 90% of Cologne, this “miracle of a church” survived almost unscathed. The rest of the city had to be rebuilt. The result has the look of a mishmash of old and new with six freeways winding along the rim of the city center, only yards from the cathedral. Much of the Old Town, ringed by streets that follow the line of the medieval city walls, is closed to traffic. Hohestrasse is the bustling main artery of Cologne’s huge pedestrian shopping zone. Along here you will find German fashions and luxury goods and several department stores.

Uniworld Europen River Cruise 1

Amsterdam:.

Today, this small city is also one of the largest historical centers in Europe. Some 7000 houses are classified as historical monuments. About 160 canals crisscross the city; 2100 bridges span these canals, and some 2000 houseboats float on top. Not to mentions the million or so viagra online bicycles that you find literally everywhere.

Uniworld Europen River Cruise 2

On this visit, we learned that whenever you see a red lane on the streets – keep off! It is for the sole use of bicyclists, and they don’t take kindly to pedestrians. I was told that the quickest way to learn a few Dutch swear words was to stray onto that lane. Sometimes, it was inevitable. We stayed further away from the Centraal tourist district this time in the Museum Quarter, which is more residential. Here you are subjected to much more bicycle traffic and had to be really careful. Amsterdam is always a fun place to visit, and this time it was bustling more than ever. However, strolling along the side of the canals, under the trees still showing their autumn leaves of red and gold, was a really peaceful, satisfying experience. There is a great deal of road reconstruction going on as they periodically have to replace the sinking tram tracks due to the base of sand under the streets.

Volendam

Street View 2

We took one of the rural buses from Centraal Station to the characteristic Dutch fishing village of Volendam, just a half

hours bus ride away. This village has preserved its character for over six centuries. The small houses, canals and bridges present an atmosphere of geniality and romance, not to mention most picturesque photo opportunities. A stroll along the seafront brings you to a myriad of tourist souvenir shops, bars and seafood cafes. You could not have asked for more fresh fish as it came straight from the fishing boats in the harbour across the street. A visit to the Volendam Cheese Factory is guaranteed to get your taste buds going.