Kieran Hearley, Travel Associates Commercial Leader, recently took an amazing APT European River Cruise, and below he has happily shared his insights and experiences from his time on this wonderful cruise in a very special and beautiful part of Europe.
We arrived at the MS Amareina full of excitement, and seeing her docked alongside many other river cruise vessels was amazing! The APT service began as soon as we stepped on board, with the crew welcoming us with many smiles and handshakes.
We had a day and night in Amsterdam, what an absolute amazing city. I was hesitant to do the canal cruise, as it looked quite touristy! However the APT host assured me that this is an amazing way to see the various neighbourhoods in the city, and you get to see some very cool architecture! Dinner on board was fantastic and our host provided us with a brief on the city prior to guests heading out to explore the city after dark. The Red Light District was quite interesting as were the various "herb" cafes! A few Amstel beers, the local lager at a pub made going to sleep very easy in the absolutely stunning rooms we had the good fortune to be staying in. Whilst in Amsterdam I chose to go to the village Zaanse Schans, well worth a visit with its windmills and traditional houses and barns. Despite the weather the ground excursion leader gave us some great insights into what life would have been like in this area hundreds of years ago.
We cruised into Cologne in the early morning on our 2nd day, and we were delighted to enjoy the first of many amazing on board breakfasts. I think this first morning was where I really saw the APT level of service shine through with the absolutely incredible waiters in the dining room. No matter how many people were in the restaurant, they really went out of their way to ensure your meal was 100% perfect and served with the utmost pride and presentation. From breakfast were split up into different groups and we commenced the walking tour of Cologne. Again, the weather was not great however the guide kept it positive and was really informative about this history rich town. We ended the tour at the amazing cathedral, and learned despite being hit 14 times by aerial attacks during WWII the cathedral still stands today. From there we had some free time to explore the town centre and enjoy a coffee before heading to the buses to reconnect with the ship in the town of Bonn.
Another great start to the day with breakfast on the ship and a short brief from the tour host. We caught the Winzerexpress mini train up to the town centre and visited 2 wineries in the town. The winery hosts were extremely knowledgeable and very entertaining. We enjoyed a few glasses of red and white wine, and also learned about the ice wine process and why it is so expensive! Back on the ship was the first time I engaged the "butler" service, where you can order anything you want to your room! I enjoyed a coffee and some biscuits watching the world roll by on my balcony!
The town of Miltenberg I think was probably the most scenic village we saw on our river cruise. Prior to disembarking there was a really cool glass blowing demonstration where everyone was very impressed! Then we were given a great guided tour through the streets of the town. The Christmas markets were nearly fully setup however I think we were a couple of days too early, so we didn’t see the full array! The Miltenberg castle sits atop the town so we climbed the cobbled streets to see the view! Wow! Back on board we had a cheese and wine tasting from an Australian wine maker. Was very nice!
I felt this town had the most amazing history out of any of our stops along the Main River. The guided tour through the Residence was exceptional. The guide gave the most amazing information about this incredible building. We also were allowed to get into the museum for a one-hour private tour before the public which made viewing the rooms so easy. No crowds what a treat!! Then another colleague and I spent the afternoon walking through the streets of Wurzburg, having lunch at a traditional German restaurant with a few beers! We also discovered the Wurzburg Fortress. This building has too much history to write down! We walked up to the grounds to the city centre and enjoyed the panoramic views of the city.
We disembarked the MS Amareina in the town of Bamburg and had our last in the incredible city of Munich prior to heading back to Australia. This APT tour was a real standout and was truly incredible in terms of service and quality. The food, service, rooms and activities were second to none.