Secrets of river cruising

A Californian man, well into his sixties, whispers into my ear: “Excuse me, but I was wondering if you would like to share something that I picked up in Amsterdam?”

Surely he doesn’t mean what I think he means.

Intrigued, I arrange to meet him on the ship’s top deck in ten minutes, but it still comes as a surprise to see exactly what I had expected: the orange glow of a pipe – and not the kind my grandfather used to smoke.

In that unforeseen moment, under moonlight on the Rhine, I am relieved of all concerns that cruising is only for old people.

Many of the 150 passengers may be pushing retirement, but they are far from boring. I meet a former NASA space shuttle engineer, gay Canadian newlyweds and an ex-fighter pilot revisiting the towns he bombed during World War II. There are also groups of friends in their 40s, two young couples from Melbourne and three generations of a family. Mingling takes place easily, in a way that doesn’t happen when travelling by road or rail.

While we sleep, the luxury vessel floats its way toward Germany, and the next day we wake up in Cologne – just like that. No switching hotels, no traffic, no packing and unpacking. It doesn’t take long to verify that river-cruising offers the ultimate in effortless Europe.

First published in the January 2013 issue of International Traveller Magazine – Click here to read the full article..


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