by Matt Keedy
February 12, 2003
I joined the Swiss II in Amsterdam, unpacked in my luxurious room, and 18 days later tried to re-pack it all back in with the added souvenirs! Along the way, I made a lot of new friends and enjoyed the leisurely pace of river travel as I watched Europe, literally, pass me by.
All of the passengers were older Americans. During the summer, the ship is chartered by Intrav, which staffs each cruise with its own travel directors and cruise staff. The crew was made up of quite friendly young men and women from around Europe. All spoke English. Joanie, our cruise director, was helpful in making all sorts of arrangements--including a cake and candles at our farewell dinner at Gundel's Restaurant in Budapest.
My stateroom was well appointed with minibar, rich wood paneling, and two beds formed in an L-shape--which opened up the space. By day there were extra pillows, perfect for lounging and looking out the huge picture windows or watching CNN Europe on the in-room cable TV. I especially appreciated the closets, which were well lit with mirrors and lights that automatically turned on when the doors were open.
The historian typically held court on the sun deck, giving narratives as we passed castles and points of interest. He also was responsible each evening for leading after-dinner walks through the villages we tied up at in the evening (no night cruising). Every evening during cocktail hour, Joanie did a briefing for the following day, which was very helpful. The guests immediately settled into an unhurried rhythym.
Food is plentiful and always available (unfortunately). I enjoyed ordering bottles of wine in the dining room--they would keep the corked bottles from night to night so I could share with my table companions. Everything was absolutely first-class--and with Intrav, every single sightseeing trip (at least one a day) was included (hence costing a bit more than other lines, so check and see what is and isn't included). I never thought I would enjoy a river cruise so much, but I am now a convert!
From journal The Great Waterways of Europe/Amsterdam