A cruise that was not in my plans
Things are always changing on the river. My operational run is Paris to Prague but due to some last-minute changes needed, I did not accompany my previous cruise to Prague but instead, stayed on the Viking Idi. I waited for the arrival of the guests from Prague.
The coaches started to come in from 5.30 pm. It felt strange standing on gangway again and meeting guests as this season I have been with them in their pre-extension stay.
I also had to get used to the immediate turnaround without a real breather from the last cruise to this one.
Disorientation in doing things backwards
Of course, on the Rhine Getaway and Grand European I was always saying goodbye or hello from the ship.
But this operation is completely different and means that I position in Paris after every post extension/cruise stay in Prague.
I then greet the guests at the hotel in Paris and have a desk in the hotel lobby from which, with the help of my city host, dispatch guests on their tours.
The guests had just finished a tour in Nuremberg and had driven a 45 min ride from there after lunch and an afternoon in the city.
They were smiling and seemed happy and so it was not too difficult catching up with them and getting to know them over the next few days.
As a cruise that was not in my plans, it meant that I was doing it backward. Funny how the mind gets set into a rhythm and it takes a concerted effort to snap into a new one.
My point being that the quizzical looks I received more than once when I mistakenly spoke of our visit to Nuremberg later in the cruise when, in fact, they had already been there.
Oddly, no one pointed out my mistake to me. I worked it out on my own when I was reviewing the itinerary for the umpteenth time.
It kind of felt like a new itinerary to me (I guess it was really)as everything was backward and we did Mainz on this run and not Marksburg castle that I usually do.
So, for me, it was a fast learning curve and especially understanding the quirks of the cruise. Fortunately, my colleague, Sabine who does the normal Prague to Paris run, had given me extensive and super useful handover notes, so at least I was somewhat prepared.
The challenge on this particular cruise was the situation of busy locks. The nautic team had to double their efforts to get in on time to each port. Overall, they did manage. However, Mainz was an issue with the locks overnight.
The tours ran late and although most managed to enjoy Mainz, it was rushed and for that, I had to apologize. Unfortunately, you get things happen like this that are beyond the control of anyone.
On ocean, we often missed an entire port due to bad weather or some logistical reason. And so I was much relieved that we at least did not miss out on Mainz.
As the cruise meandered its way to the fascinating towns and cities of Germany, I tried to keep a feel for the mood of the guests and how things are going. In truth, it is an inexact science.
You can think everyone is just ho-hum and then find out they have had the best time by the end of the cruise. You never can tell.
What I do like checking in on, is how the guests enjoyed the optional tours – those tours that they decided to invest money in to go on. Without doubt, Würzburg Residence and Rothenburg are a favorite.
And with good reason! I figured, instead of just reporting on the cruise aspects, it might be useful to focus a little on some of the stops along the way.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber, the “Red Fortress above the Tauber.”
Rothenburg is by far, one of Germany’s best-loved of the Medieval Cities. The excursion starts the moment you get on the motor coach in the morning.
The guides are exceptionally good and amuse and educate with the journey down the “Romantic Road”, talking guests to one of Germany’s last remaining walled medieval towns.
The road itself is almost like a country lane as it winds alongside the Tauber river, through the quaintest of quaint towns along the way. It is quite magical.
Arrival is grand. You can see the fortress walls of the city up on the hill and make your way up to the entrance on the coach.
Once there, you step off the coach and enter the gates. It is as though you walk from a time capsule, where things, for the most part, have been suspended in time due to a stagnation in the 17th century of any progress.
This was due to the 30 years war and the devastating plague that damned to once-bustling town into a state of poverty and stopped progress altogether.
Once ruled by the Holy Roman Empire, this was a busy merchant city. The town was rediscovered in 1802 by German Romantics. And romantic it is.
The 1466 High Altar of St. Jakob’s Church and the Gothic-Renaissance Town Hall are magnificent and the macabre Kriminalmuseum will send a chill down your spine.
Plonlein square is the central point, an epicenter of picturesque history and a walk through the Herrengasse brings the charm of those old patrician houses along mystical lanes.
The day is taken up with the tour, free time and lunch at the renowned Glocke restaurant. After this, guests are whisked off back to Würzburg to visit the magnificent Bishops Würzburger Residenz.
It is an ornate palace that many compare, somewhat flatteringly, to the Versailles. Perhaps that is hyperbole, but it certainly is stunning. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is worthy of a visit.
The guests were great again this cruise. So many nice people and interesting to chat with. A lot of the group were from the South and Texas. I have begun to understand that southern accent a little better these days.
One of the guests had me practicing Y’all and other southern speak that had them almost crying with laughter. I guess I have a long ways to go before I could pass as some Texan good ole boy.
By the time Trier came along, it was time to say goodbye to the ship and head off to Paris again.
Watching the guests get themselves settled in after a cruise is always fascinating to me.
Even though they have done so much travel and touring, they still have that hunger for getting more. And no matter their age or condition, there they go.
It is heartwarming. By the time the two days passed for most of the guests on the post excursion, I think they were looking forward to family, grandchildren and their familiar bed. And so they should. Au revoir!
For me personally, it was time for a breather. Vacay time…but who knows where? I decided I may flirt with something I did while I was on the ocean cruise ships, I would play my own game of travel roulette. It’s fun but a little scary – in a good way 🙂