Rollin’, dockin’, lockin’ on the river…

The River Empress our home for the next 14 days

The River Empress 

 

River cruising in Europe has become ridiculously popular (PBS fans, I’m talking to you!); on the day of our canal cruise (Sunday), there were no fewer than 8 ships docked in Amsterdam – all heavy with passengers and all heading in the same direction (well, there’s really only one choice).   The River Empress, one of Uniworld‘s lovely boutique ships, wisely departs on a Wednesday – avoiding the crowds not only in Amsterdam but at many other stops along the way.  After four days of exploring the canals and cobbled streets in Amsterdam, we made our way to the docks, found our floating home and boarded in high spirits (and not just because of the legalized  ‘air’ in Amsterdam!)

With a minimum of fuss, our bags were whisked away, our empty hands were filled with champagne flutes and we were shown to our stateroom.  Here’s what we found:  (definitely enough room to swing a cat, if you’re so inclined – but then, if you do, you and I are no longer friends)

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The ship was elegant throughout:

At promptly 4 PM, the River Empress set sail on calm waters.  Against gray skies.  A theme that will repeat itself in the coming days.

Roger & Elaine on River Empress

As we cruised along in the extended daylight, we saw scenes along the canal (we weren’t yet on the Rhine river) like this one:

Rembrandt windmillI’ll wait a moment while you all rush to the phone to call your travel agents (or navigate off my blog and to Expedia’s website).

Now that you’re back, here’s a photo of the REAL canal-side scenery from our first hours onboard (note:  not a windmill in sight.  Lots of trees, grass, a few sheep.  Among the highlights were the manure barges that would pass in the opposite direction, trailing a whiff (what would be larger than a ‘whiff’?  A ‘whooff’?  Whatever.) of organic readiness.   There will be lots of vigorously grown vegetables in the Netherlands judging from the canal traffic.)

Netherlands countrysideOnce the excitement of the scenery died down, the 102 passengers ascended to the dining room for our first dinner together.

Vermeer Happy Family

Over the next fortnight, we would be dining sumptuously at least 3 times each day (more if the crew were able to chase you down with increasingly tempting treats), eating our way across Germany with sausage, spaetzle, struedel and an endless bar.  (See photo, above.)  Like many before us, we surrendered shamelessly to the cruise lifestyle.

Next:  the cast of characters onboard

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One Response to Rollin’, dockin’, lockin’ on the river…

  1. sandy May 29, 2014 at 10:12 pm #

    you hit it exactly Elaine! Yup, I have begun to think about river cruising totally because of PBS! And because those giant ships do not appeal! Your digs are gorgeous!~Sandy

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