Cruising Germany’s Rhine and Moselle Waterways
Enjoy Luxury Without Straining the Travel Budget
By Alison Gardner, Editor, Travel with a Challenge
European River Cruising at “Half the Price, Twice the Fun”! Well, that slogan certainly caught my attention as I was shopping for a 2019 river cruise on some part of the European continent that we had yet to explore. My husband, Peter, and I decided to take up this seemingly unlikely challenge from Teeming River Cruises while navigating unfamiliar parts of the Rhine and Moselle rivers between Dusseldorf and Trier.
Another appealing aspect of this cruise was our ship itself, the Royal Crown, with a low passenger count of 90 maximum, as we have been noticing the design of many river cruise ships creeping up to 150 or even 200 guests. As that happens, the intimacy level decreases accordingly.
Even before casting off from the Dusseldorf riverbank, it was clear that our ship, the Royal Crown, would be a distinctive part of exploring the destination. While built in 1996, its design from public areas to cabins all reflected the glamour and elegance of Europe’s 1930’s, a Golden Age of Travel. Polished bronze, rich mahogany woodwork, etched glass windows and Art Nouveau lamps were essential elements at every turn. Even our bathroom claimed its share of bronze, warm wood and green marble in a modest-sized cabin. No, we were not in the owner’s suite!
In keeping with the atmosphere of the ship, from day one dining aboard the Royal Crown was – dare I say? – regal in terms of service and settings with a menu to match. Breakfast and lunch were buffet in style and dinner was fully served. An army of chefs behind the scenes took particular pleasure in surprising the guests with freshly-prepared dishes made with local ingredients. Tea, coffee and snacks were always available in the lounge with early risers treated to daily surprises by the ship’s talented pastry chef. Though normally not tempted by dessert, I found myself eagerly anticipating the dessert menu every day with no apologies made!
We chose Teeming River Cruises, www.teemingrivercruises.com because it is taking a different approach to European river cruising. Launched in 2017, it is an independent, family-owned business with the expressed intent of being the low-price leader in European river cruises. As an example of how this is accomplished, cruise guests only pay for activities and tours each person chooses, as opposed to a cruise price which includes all excursions as well as guides.
To explore each port of call independently, you are given a free app to help you decide what you would personally like to see or do. However, if you are not a fan of making such decisions independently, you may book a personally guided tour in advance of the trip. (See “Teeming City Walking App” notes in our Follow Up Facts box below for a fuller appreciation of accessing tour options.) An unforeseen bonus that we used often with our app was the GPS function in order to find our way back to the ship before sailing time!
Likewise, unlimited alcohol with meals is offered as a separate package at additional cost for those who wish to have it. And there are no pickups or drop-offs at the airport, as most Teeming guests tend to check into local hotels for a few days of exploration in arrival and departure towns at the beginning or end of the cruise anyway. These are some examples of cost-saving measures and increased flexibility offered to guests.
As Florida-based owners Jeff and Gina Paglialonga say, “We offer lots of advice in our onboard briefings, but we also equip our guests to get off the ship and explore on their own. There is no better way to see the world!” declare these well-seasoned travelers on six continents. So Peter and I attended the daily port briefings, hung our apps around our necks to use when we felt like it, and took Jeff and Gina at their word on our 8 city/8 day “Delights of the Rhine & Moselle” cruise.
The Mosel/Moselle River (German and French spelling, respectively) Experienced European river cruisers will likely be quite familiar with the Rhine River, one of the main waterways crossing the continent. Not particularly well known is the Moselle River, a left tributary of the Rhine where the two waterways connect at Koblenz, Germany. It is a smaller river with dramatic geography, less used by commercial vessels, and best known for picturesque riverbank towns and villages. These are often nestled below still-imposing fortifications that trace their heritage from Roman settlements, 2000 years ago, through many historical periods as reflected in their colorful architecture. The Moselle literally meanders its way between Koblenz and Trier (both ancient Roman cities) along one of Germany’s most beautiful river valleys with hillsides decorated by terraced vineyards that produce some of the world’s finest Riesling wines. Summer wine festivals unfold along cobbled streets, within close walking distance from each assigned docking area for river cruise visitors. Walking back to the ship as the sun is setting to the accompaniment of outdoor German and international singalongs is truly a magical memory.
So how does the name “teeming” fit into the company name? Gina jumps in to answer that one, “We picked it because our cruises are teeming with affordability, flexibility, individual control, active options for different abilities and interests, and plenty of port time to exercise them all! We have found that our travelers love the opportunity to create their own adventures and itineraries while exploring lovely cities and ports on the iconic waterways of Europe.”
Follow Up Facts Like all tour and cruise operators, Teeming River Cruises’ schedule of 2020 departures is on hold until each European Union country gives a green light for international travel to begin again. However, that should not stop avid travelers from dreaming and planning for those happy days to return!
Here are four recommended options that are most likely to sail in the Fall of 2020: Portugal, Douro River Valley tour, November 8, 2020 departure. Paris and the Seine Valley tour, October 30, 2020 departure. Po River and Venetian Lagoon tour, September 27, 2020 departure. Three U.S. Thanksgiving and Christmas Market cruises in November 2020.
Teeming’s City Walking Tour App for smartphones is free of charge. Prior to your sailing date, instructions are sent about downloading Apps. There you may also advance purchase “Optional Excursions” for various ports. Note that these guided tours are not exclusively offered to Teeming River Cruises passengers so optional excursions should be booked early to avoid popular excursions selling out and to secure the pre-sailing excursion price. While the excursions are based on a first come first serve basis, you may still be able to purchase some excursions after boarding the ship, depending on remaining openings and availability.
Each Teeming River Cruise is offered only once a year, and there are several solo cabins available per cruise. None of the cabins are equipped to accommodate more than 2 passengers (regardless of a passenger being adult or child). There are no connecting cabins on Teeming River Cruises, and no children under 8 years of age may travel on any TR cruise.
The top three countries from which clients come so far are the USA, Canada and Australia. About 28% are between 45 and 60 years, while 64% are 61 or better. These traveling adventurers recognize a good deal and are always up for some of that promised fun!
Alison Gardner is a travel journalist, magazine editor, guidebook author, and consultant. She specializes in researching vacations throughout the world, suitable for people over 50 and for women of all ages. She is also the publisher and editor of Travel with a Challenge web magazine, www.travelwithachallenge.com. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org