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26. September 2019

Amsterdam to Rotterdam

I was very excited to be offered the opportunity to sail on the Amadeus Queen from Amsterdam to Rotterdam, as my first river cruising experience. Although I had been to Amsterdam before and was familiar with the city, I was intrigued to learn about the other two ports of call – Antwerp and Rotterdam.

I was very excited to be offered the opportunity to sail on the Amadeus Queen from Amsterdam to Rotterdam, as my first river cruising experience. Although I had been to Amsterdam before and was familiar with the city, I was intrigued to learn about the other two ports of call – Antwerp and Rotterdam.

I was very excited to be offered the opportunity to sail on the Amadeus Queen from Amsterdam to Rotterdam, as my first river cruising experience. Although I had been to Amsterdam before and was familiar with the city, I was intrigued to learn about the other two ports of call – Antwerp and Rotterdam.

Day 1 – Embarkation, Amsterdam

Despite a very early morning flight from Stansted Airport, we were very happy to arrive in the capital of The Netherlands. This was shortly followed by a taxi journey to the magnificent Amadeus Queen, after setting our bags down and a quick stretch of the legs, we were greeted with a light lunch filled with sandwiches and tea, while we got to know our fellow cruisers. I took this opportunity to explore each deck and take a look at the various staterooms that were on show including the cosy Amadeus Club that is tucked away at the back of the ship and the inviting indoor pool.

Following a short announcement from our Cruise Director Lorelay, I collected my key from reception and followed a crew member to my cabin. A colleague and I stayed on the bottom deck in a Classic Stateroom which had more than enough space for two passengers, and featured an en-suite fitted with a spacious shower. Other additions included a TV, ample wardrobe space and two windows, which allowed for plenty of scenic views during my journey. I was not worried about cabins too much as I spent most of my time outside my stateroom in the bar, dining area or on a shore excursion.

Talking of shore excursions, our first tour took us through the city of Amsterdam and was separated into three parts. We started on the bus with our tour guide who spoke through the city’s landmarks and how they have planned to expand Amsterdam’s subway system by freezing the soil beneath the ground. Briefly passing Madame Tussauds, we arrived at a local flower market boasting some of the best tulip’s I have seen. Fortunately, we were pre-warned about the issue of getting tulips back through the airport so I decided to hunt for a few local freebies instead. Cheese and wine shops looked to be the best that was on offer and as they beckoned us in, I was pleasantly surprised by the array of cheese to choose from. After 45 minutes exploring the market, we met back with our tour guide and carried on our bus tour seeing iconic landmarks and stunning architecture along the way. One of the more interesting sites was an old converted crane that could be used as a chic modern hotel - fitted with a hot-tub too!

We arrived back to the ship and after taking a few pictures, everybody met in the Panorama lounge for an informative safety brief before preparing for the night’s events. During the sail away from Amsterdam, we were treated to cocktails in the Panorama Bar and classical symphonies from the talented onboard pianist. I couldn’t believe how truly breath-taking the sail-away experience was, as though part of a movie scene. Promptly after a few cocktails, we turned our heads to a welcome meeting from our cruise director, Lorelay Bosca, who then proceeded to introduce us to the heads of each department, Stephan Busch (Hotel Manager), George Pereira (Executive Chef), Vlad Caldare (Maitre’D) and Costin Macovei (Head Bartender). Shortly after, we were treated to an authentic Dutch Shanty Choir who played both authentic Dutch music as well as some British classics. Overall, the choir brought a family feeling onboard, with each member having his/her own story we quickly fell in love with the catchy tunes.

I had been highly anticipating our first five-course dinner onboard, and it didn’t disappoint. The main dining room was a sight to behold, boasting elegant décor and the ever-friendly staff that can be found anywhere onboard. Settling into my seat I was quickly reminded that we were cruising through a vast array of extraordinary views. The menu was packed with classic dishes with a modern twist. Each dish brought a smile to my face, and following the delicious meal we adventured back into the Panorama lounge for a final cocktail before heading off to bed.

Day 2 - Antwerp

 

In the morning (6:00 am-6:45 am and 7:00 am-7:45 am) there was the opportunity to take part in some early morning yoga classes. Unfortunately, I did not attend these due to being tired from the previous day, but fellow travellers were quick to inform me how great it was. I instead opted to head to the breakfast buffet for a well-earned full-English and a spot of tea, before heading upstairs for an ARC presentation. This gave great insight into how Amadeus is the leading river cruise company and what changes they are looking to implement from the feedback that they have received.

It was now 9:00 am and we were set to explore the city of Antwerp. As we all picked up our devices for the journey, we found our way onto one of three coaches. This time around we had a very short coach journey that only took five minutes and dropped us off near the iconic Hetsteen Castle. Luckily, I was able to take a few snaps of nearby monuments before we departed and our tour guide was ever-helpful for pointing them out. Our tour took us through the city streets and the side alleys seeing Brabo’s Monument, the statue Pieter Paul Rubens, Antwerp City Hall and finally, the Cathedral of Our Lady. Everybody in the tour was then given the option to adventure out and explore the various shopping centres around Antwerp or stick with the tour guide and head into Antwerp Cathedral. I chose the latter, and we promptly stepped into a side-entrance due to the on-going renovations. After our tour guide paid for our admission, a tour ensued and we looked at the works of artists from the early 17th century including Ruben’s Descent from the Cross (1612), Elevation of the Cross (1610) and the Resurrection Triptych (1612). I was surprised to learn the cathedral had suffered multiple attacks from Calvinists in 1566, 1581 and then threatened to be demolished by the French. I have to say that exploring the cathedral was arguably my favourite part of the trip, seeing the beauty of this colossal masterpiece and learning about its in-depth history led to a sense of tranquillity. The tour ended and we were given an additional 45 minutes to do as we please around the city before meeting up again. I chose to stay inside the cathedral and discovered a small underground crypt where high-ranking members of the church would be buried in the 16th century.

After heading back to the ship, we were treated to either a light lunch in the panorama bar or a full course lunch in a restaurant. I opted for the light lunch in the Panorama lounge which was filled with soups, pasta and some delightful beef stroganoff. After a quick change of plan, we were given a choice between heading to the Delta works or back into the city. I decided to head back into the city because I wanted to see what else Antwerp could offer apart from its iconic cathedral. I then followed various maps around the city looking for any shops that might interest me. I managed to bag myself a couple of souvenirs before taking the bus back to the ship.

When arriving back at the ship I was met with some more free time, so a colleague and I headed up to the top deck for some stunning views and a few games of giant chess before getting ready for dinner. Fortunately, I won both games but more importantly, I managed to snap a handful of pictures of the French Balcony show stateroom before I got back to my cabin. As everybody was more than settled in by now, dinner was a breeze with amazing riverside views floating all around me. I was quick to get the best pictures that I could of Antwerp and its amazing street art. Tonight’s dinner was amongst the best five-course dinner’s I have ever had. The pork had that ‘melt in your mouth’ sensation - something I will never forget. The evening took us back to the warm-welcoming panorama bar where spirits were high and everybody prepared for the music quiz. Overall, the quiz was fast-paced and allowed everybody to get onto the dance floor to dance the night away before heading to bed for one final sleep.

The next morning brought another well-appointed breakfast filled to the brim with pastries and bacon before we set off on our transfer back to Schiphol Airport.

In conclusion, I was very pleased with my cruising experience as it was my first time and I knew of the high standards of the river cruising industry. Amadeus River Cruises still managed to exceed my every expectation on and off the ship. The food was delicious, there was plenty to do and every member of staff was extremely friendly which helped me to feel at home. I would highly recommend a river cruise to the people around me as it allows you to explore the best of each city in style.



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