In September of this year, my wife and I enjoyed a wonderful Riviera Travel river cruise on the majestic River Rhine onboard the MS Charles Dickens from Cologne in Germany to Basel (Basle) in Switzerland.
This mighty river runs from the Swiss Alps to the North Sea through Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, France, Germany and the Netherlands.
On the cruise, we visited many beautiful towns and cities, passed through the dramatic Rhine Gorge and enjoyed stunning scenery, but for me it was the incredible level of shipping movements on the Rhine, probably Europe's premier waterway which impressed me most.
I spent much of my time on the upper deck during the days when we were on passage, absolutely thrilled and fascinated by the number of ships/barges we were passing or overtaking in fairly close quarter situations. There were many river cruise vessels, but most were freight vessels carrying all sorts of cargoes including fuel, containers, aggregates, chemicals, construction materials etc.
On the MS Charles Dickens our Master was Captain Stefan H Will, who in all situations was coolness personified. A very professional, personable and impressive mariner, he was obviously highly experienced and had a detailed knowledge of the River Rhine. His skills, when on passage and berthing in some demanding situations, were to be greatly admired – we were in very safe hands. He was respected and liked by all the passengers. The cleanliness/ smartness of this fine vessel, the MS Charles Dickens reflected great credit on Captain Will and all the onboard teams.
We, of course, also very much enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere and the excellent accommodation, food and entertainment onboard.