Yes, those are lyrics from Proud Mary, so if it gives you an Ike & Tina earworm, I could say I’m sorry, but I wouldn’t be sincere.
But first, a quick explanation – This edition of the SITE Texas blog is the heart of a longer personal blog that I will be posting on my website in a week or so. The difference in the two? This blog is focused on my experience on a European river cruise last month, and if you haven’t considered it, how it could be the perfect incentive for the right group. Just trying to separate my business mindset from my fun.
Now, back to my story.
In late August, my wife and I, plus two couples that we have traveled with extensively over the past 18 years, took a 7-day river cruise aboard the Crystal Bach. We were sailing the Rhine River from Basel, Switzerland to Amsterdam. The Bach is a 106 passenger, 6 star, all suite luxury river cruise ship just celebrating its second birthday. Cabins are a spacious 253 sq. ft. (A quick check of one of their competitors new ships, that tied up next to us in port one day, had cabins of 150 sq. ft. 103 sq. ft. smaller!!) with king bed, large bathroom with walk-in shower; walk-in closet; sparkling wine refreshed in cabin daily;, unforgettable food, both in quality and variety; warm, friendly, knowledgeable staff in both the restaurant and the lounge; and an all-around VIP vibe for guests from every walk of life. Given what we all do for a living, we all get to experience the best our suppliers have to offer. Put this on your shortlist.
As a group, we started in Paris and after a few days took the TGV to Basel. Basel was charming on a level that I didn’t expect. We loved it. The old city is primarily a pedestrian zone, so walking was pleasant and care-free. We were able to board the ship in Basel starting at noon. Not wanting to miss a moment, we arrived around 12:15, boarded, began with a glass of bubbly and were checked in and assigned our cabins in short order. The first order of business – lunch! This introduction to the skills of the culinary team did not disappoint. While I can’t remember what was on offer that day, I can tell you that there was a very well-stocked salad bar with no less than three types of lettuce, and a host of options to make the salad your own. There were at least three, and often four, entrée choices, plus multiple vegetable side dishes, three different dessert choices plus cheese if you were so inclined.
After lunch, it was up one level to the lounge to make the acquaintance of the staff and get a grasp of what our options were. There was no need to worry. I kept testing the quality of their martini’s and am happy to report that every one I tasted was as good or better than the one before it.
Don’t feel like a cocktail? No worries – there was an expensive wine by the glass list. I was partial to a California Pinot Noir, and most anything you could want was there. If you felt to need to upgrade your wine or liquor options, it was available for a very fair price. No one in my group felt the need. We were happy with the choices available to us.
Dinner every evening was a plated affair. You ordered off a menu of that evening’s options with a suggestion of red and white wine to be paired with dinner was offered nightly and part of their all-inclusive offering. Again, if you felt the need to trade-up, the option was available.
During our daily stops in port, there were sometimes up to four activity options included as part of our cruise. You made your activity reservation on-line long before you left for Europe. Once again, if you wanted something other than the regular offering, it was there for you for an additional charge. We never felt the need and were happy with our options.
Tours don’t do it for you? How about sitting on the top deck as we sail the Rhine past the Lorelei, with castle upon castle coming in to view on an amazingly beautiful stretch of river?
There was something for everyone, and it was all of a quality that made you feel good about your decision to sail aboard the Crystal Bach.
And if you are wondering, this was not a comped or discounted trip. We all paid the same as any other guest. If you are questioning whether we felt it was worth it, one of my friends remarked that we took advantage of so much that was part of the cruise price, he couldn’t figure out how they made money on us.
I had to order another martini to ponder his comment.
There is so much to say about the trip, but I’ll stop with this – for the right group, this is an amazing experience. I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again.
Now, back to Ike & Tina.
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