Recently, we were thrilled to be able to take a lively bunch of journalists and travel bloggers aboard the MS Jane Austen with us, to experience the first half of the Rhine, Strasbourg & Heidelberg River Cruise. We were joined by Helen from Fuss Free Flavours and her partner, Ed, Christina from Mostly Food & Travel and her partner, Graham, Karen from Lavender and Lovage, Sam from Cruise Adviser, Kerry from Cruise Critic, Kelly from Best magazine, Nick from Woman’s Own magazine, and Michaela from Yours magazine, and her partner Ash.
We arrived in Cologne on a rather dark, wet October night and we were warmly greeted by the crew, who showed us individually to our cabins. It was soon time for dinner and we made ourselves comfortable in the ship’s main restaurant, tucking into a delicious hot and cold buffet, before setting sail for the ancient German city of Koblenz.
It was smooth sailing throughout the night (many of our group commented on how they’d had their best night’s sleep in a long time!) and after a hearty breakfast, we ventured into Koblenz. All guests who wanted to be involved in the walking tour were separated into groups and each person had their own ‘vox box’ – a very clever little device which allows you to hear your tour guide from a distance.
Our friendly and insightful guide took us around the quaint streets and alleyways of the city, leading to intimate squares lined by traditional shops and tiny cafés, and showed us many beautiful churches and monuments. One of the highlights was the Schlängelbrunnen Fountain – a boy who spits water intermittently at unsuspecting passers-by! Supposedly the model for the statue was 11-year-old Rudolf Dany from Mayen, who was paid 50 Pfennig for each session.
Now it would have been rude not to stop and sample some of Koblenz’s delicious local produce, so some of the group settled in a nearby café for coffee and cake.
After lunch on board the MS Jane Austen in the Lido Bar, a short cruise along the river brought us to Boppard, beautifully situated on one of the rivers most impressive and sweeping bends. A few of us braved Boppard’s steep chair lift, which provided spectacular views across the town.
Back on board for the evening, everyone was treated to a four course a la carte dinner in the main restaurant, and judging from the ‘mmms’ and ‘aaahs’ around the table, everyone was very impressed with the food being served.
After relaxing in the bar and sipping on some cocktails, we retired to bed to get some rest before another fun and busy day ahead.
The next morning we cruised along the revered Rhine Gorge, with its sheer valley walls and stunning castles along the hillsides, while we were told the fable of the Lorelei rock. An enchanting female who was betrayed by her sweetheart, was accused of bewitching men and causing their death. The bishop consigned her to a nunnery and en-route, accompanied by three knights, she passed the Lorelei rock. She asked permission to climb it and view the river for one last time. But as she did so, thinking that she saw her love in the Rhine, she tragically fell to her death. A rather morbid story, perhaps, but in-keeping with the mystery and spectacle of the gorge. We were even treated to a live dramatic re-enactment on board the ship from the crew, which was highly entertaining!
We arrived in Mainz, the capital and largest city of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, where we were free to roam the city at our leisure. Our first stop was the Gutenberg Museum, one of the oldest book and printing museums in the world, which houses two original Gutenberg Bibles from the mid-15th century.
Our afternoon was spent watching the world go by and sipping on a warming Heiße Schokolade (hot chocolate) before returning to the MS Jane Austen for a private dinner in the Lido Bar, and a really fun music quiz (which escalated into a group conga, but that’s another story for another time!)
The next day was sadly our final day on the trip, where we visited the stunning university town of Heidelberg. This seemed to be our group’s favourite stop on the river cruise, with its fascinating history and architecture, including the ‘bridge monkey’ on the bank of the River Neckar.
It was such a lovely few days, and we really appreciated these wonderful journalists and bloggers taking the time to experience what Riviera Travel has to offer.
After Heidelberg, the ship continues to Strasbourg, Colmar, Rudesheim and then back to Cologne. If you like the sound of this river cruise, you can find out more about it on our website.