If you are spending a holiday in the Rhine Valley, then a Rhine Cruise is an absolute must.
You simply cannot miss this experience. I don't know how many times we have not enjoyed a cruise on 'our river' - whenever friends come to visit - well to be honest whenever they come to visit between the months of May and October - a Rhine Cruise is on the agenda . April can also sometimes bless us with some pleasant enough days for a cruise but generally speaking from November to March only those of a more Spartan nature would enjoy a cruise.
Although we still enjoy our trips immensely there is something special about the first trip and I envy those of you will be making their first trip - especially if you have a fine day in summer with the sun sparkling in the water and a chilled glass of Riesling wine (or a Pils if you are a beer drinker), you watch the panorama of the sunlit vineyards and the imposing castles float by.
A Rhine Cruise will constitute one of the highlights of your vacation/holiday and give you a 'wow it's good to be alive' feeling!
The scenery and the castles take on a completely different perspective when seen from a ship sailing up the river.
One of the many barges one sees plying the Rhine. The bargee and family live on the barge. You can see the family cars travelling with and it looks as though the bargee's wife is busy with some domestic chore.
A close up view of the Pfalz (a small castle in the middle of the Rhine) as seen from the cruise ship.
A number of different companies offer various packages - from short 3/4 hour trips covering a short section of the Rhine to more extended trips covering basically the whole of the middle Rhine - from Rüdesheim to Koblenz.
This, if you do the round trip, is really a day's outing taking around six hours. Don't forget though that most of the ships - certainly all the larger ones have a restaurant on board and offer simple but enjoyable meals.
If time is a problem for you one solution would be to sail up from Rüdesheim to Koblenz and return by train.
The best place , I think, is sitting on the top deck out in the open but unfortunately most other people think the same - so if you would rather sit on the top deck than inside, you should embark at the starting point of the voyage and be near the front of the queue when the ship is boarded. Certainly by the second stop the best seats will be taken.
Needless to say you should have your cameras or, as is becoming more popular your video cameras with.
If on your trip you pass the famous Loreley you will almost certainly hear, over the ships loudspeakers the much loved Loreley song. This is the renowned poem by Heine set to music. Click here for a foretaste!
From the ship you will see a number of sign posts with numbers on them. These show the length of the Rhine from Basel in Switzerland. Why this was chosen as the starting point, I don't know.
Between these large 'Kilometre Sign Posts' you will see smaller posts wih a cross on.
These show the half way point between two Kilometre Posts.
If you look even more closely you will see yet smaller boards with a number from one to nine (excluding five which is replaced by the cross for half a kilometre).These measure in steps of 100 metres the distance from one Kilomtre Sign Post to the next.
So you will always know, with an accuracy of 100 meters how far you are from Basel in Switzerland.
And on the right folks you see the bridge from which the kilometers are measured!
How useful you will find this information I cannot say!!
Still, a country or holiday that was completely devoid of any eccentricity would be a bit boring.
So on that note I'll bid you 'Bon Voyage' or perhaps more appropriately 'Gute Reise'.