Rhine river cruise
There are few better ways to see the German countryside than a Rhine river cruise, writes Jane Archer
The Rhine rises in Switzerland and flows through France, Germany and the Netherlands, where it empties into the North Sea. Most itineraries are one-week sailings from Amsterdam to Basel – and vice-versa – but there are plenty of variations.
Some cruises start and end in Cologne, others combine the Rhine with the Moselle or Main Rivers, while two-week sailings on the Rhine, Main, Main-Danube Canal and Danube link Amsterdam and Budapest.
Seven-night tulip-themed cruises in the Netherlands and Belgium happen in spring and Christmas markets cruises in November and December.
One of the big attractions is Amsterdam, where a canal cruise and the Rijksmuseum are on the must-do list. If time allows, suggest clients pre-book a slot to visit the Anne Frank House. It is easily done online, but they need to book early as it is very busy. Many itineraries include a night in the city, before sailing to Cologne, a city with a magnificent cathedral, chocolate museum and a beer called Kölsch. The Documentation Centre in a former Gestapo prison records the horrors of Nazi rule.
The Rhine Gorge is the most scenic part of the river, passing beneath more than 40 medieval castles and fortresses, as well as the Lorelei Rock, where legend has it a beautiful maiden threw herself to her death over a faithless lover.
Clients will cruise past steep vineyards, see a 450-year-old bible printed by Johannes Gutenberg, the father of the printing press, ride a cable car in Rüdesheim and explore Strasbourg, a fabulous city with canals, half-timbered houses and a grand cathedral with an ancient astronomical clock.
Highlights for those pairing the Rhine with the Moselle include the Reichsburg Castle in Cochem, the imposing Porta Nigra (Black Gate) in Trier and the house, also in Trier, where Karl Marx was born 200 years ago.
Tulip cruises visit Keukenhof Gardens, where more than seven million flower bulbs bloom each spring.
WHO TO TRAVEL WITH
Multiple cruise operators run itineraries along the Rhine. They include Amadeus River Cruises, AmaWaterways, APT, Avalon Waterways, Crystal River Cruises, Emerald Waterways, Fred River Cruises, Riviera Travel, Saga, Scenic, Shearings, The River Cruise Line, Tauck, Titan Travel, TravelMarvel by APT, U by Uniworld, Uniworld River Cruises and Viking.
The itineraries will appeal most to first-time river cruisers, city-break clients, wine lovers, keen gardeners, history enthusiasts and art connoisseurs.