On Location: River Cruising In Europe

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 We have reported here before about river cruises; who might like one, what they are all about and how to plan, book and go on one. In this series, we invite you to follow along as we go day by day on a river cruise typical of many being offered by a number of cruise lines. This one, with land-tour operator Abercrombie & Kent is a bit different than those we have talked about in the past, for a couple reasons.

Pre- and Post- Hotel Stays Included

River cruises are inclusive by nature, just like ocean cruises. All meals are part of the deal as is the idea of ‘unpack once, see multiple destinations’. In Europe that’s more significant because a nice hotel can be far more costly than, say, a few days at Atlantis in the Bahamas. A big feature of the Abercrombie & Kent (A&K) program is overnight stays in hotels on the front and back end of the itinerary. That’s helpful for a number of reasons.

Day One, Overnight In Munich

First, we get to see the iconic cities of Munich Germany and Amsterdam in the Netherlands at night as well as during the day, something few ocean ships do. It’s a big feature of small ship cruising that has a destination focus and means it. It is one thing to promote destination immersion and a focus on the off-ship offerings of a place and quite another for a cruise line or tour operator to put their money where their mouth is and buy overnights in nice hotels, located in the center of world-famous destinations. That is exactly what A&K did in Munich, overnighting us at the Hotel Torbrau.

The Sure Cure For Jet Lag

Overnighting in the embarkation city is also a great idea because adjusting to the new time zone is eventually accomplished by resetting our sleep clocks, the internal timepiece that tells us we are sleepy or refreshed. There are a number of ways to help that along but in the end, catching up on sleep is the answer and can be hard to do when time does not allow it. With A&K we had that time and were able to adjust quickly and move along.

Orientation To The Area

The defining element of a river cruise that either interests travelers or turns them off of the experience is the focus on the destinations ships visit along the river. Sailing from Nuremberg to Amsterdam, a recurring theme would be the effect of World War II on what we were seeing. Few places along the river escaped the bombing raids of the allied forces and the enduring legacy of Germany’s socialist party; the Nazis.

Appropriately, we began our adventure through time in Nuremberg, touring a World War II Art Bunker and discovered the first element of what A&K calls “The Abercrombie & Kent Difference’; our guide was a native of the area who had lived through the air raids. Taking us through the bunker and verifying that the film Monument Men was indeed generally accurate (minus George Clooney and a cavalcade of stars) brought the experience home; we were in Germany where much of the war unfolded and were about to experience something truly unique.

Details on that tour, other stops on the way to our river cruise ship and more tomorrow as we continue our adventure.