Weekly roundup Friday 10 Dec 2010

Amalegroloungeb Good morning

And hello from Amsterdam, where I’m taking time from the usual last minute rush of packing up my bags prior to leaving the ship and flying home to Seattle on Friday morning, to send this quick note to you.

This year’s Christmas Markets cruise was quite appreciably different to previous years.  The itinerary along the Rhine of course took us to different places, and notably had us spending more time on the boat just cruising along the river each day than is the case with the Danube itineraries.

That is not altogether a bad thing – we all spent some lovely relaxing hours in the lounge (pictured), just chatting with each other and enjoying a slower pace of life.

Our Scotland tour had a fascinating gentleman with us – an astronomer, and this tour had another astronomer (unrelated to the first) come too.  This second astronomer is an ‘applied radio astronomer’ – his job involves calibrating the accuracy of the GPS signals we get, and he is involved in measurements so accurate that they need to take into account variations in the daily rate of the earth’s rotation and the impacts of continental drift.  My goodness me!

Although it was fun to share social time with the others on board while gliding down the river, and enjoying the beautiful views (much of the time with snow in them!) out the windows, on occasions all the daylight cruising did seem to be gratuitous and unnecessary.  This was most strongly evidenced the night we spent moored in the middle of the river, stationary, but then at 7.30am the ship got underway, spending the next six hours during the morning and early afternoon cruising down river to our next destination.  Why didn’t the ship proceed at night while we were sleeping, giving us more quality time ashore?

There’s no clear answer to that simple question, other than to observe that Amawaterways has an unhappy knack of combining the really stupid with the really good.

The other distinctive element of this year’s cruise was the cold weather.  Brrrr!  We had snow for at least some of every day, although our cruise ended on a warmer note, with sun in Amsterdam yesterday afternoon.

However, cold weather and occasional gratuitous stretches of daytime cruising notwithstanding, I speak for all in our group, and probably just about everyone on the cruise in total, when I say it was a great experience and most enjoyable, with the only downside (at least for me with my ‘special needs’) being the lack of reliable internet access most of the way.  So I’ve been rather disconnected for the last week, alas.

Next Christmas we’ll be back to the Danube again.  I’ll promulgate details in the next couple of weeks.

Although rather disconnected, I did manage to get a bit of internet bandwidth on a couple of days – one time the ship’s in-cabin computer systems all went down for several hours, and so I was able to use their Wi-Fi internet connection without having to share it with 140 other people, and on another morning, jet lag had me up and working at a ridiculously early hour, but again allowing me internet access without so many others seeking it simultaneously.  So there are a couple of articles following this, and next week we’ll be back to a reasonably full publishing schedule.

I have also been spending much of the time in the last week drafting out a new piece on ‘How to Choose a River Cruise’ – crammed full of the tips, traps and tricks I’ve stumbled across during the last five plus years of river cruising and something more than ten cruises on five different cruise lines I’ve experienced.

Currently it is already at 18,500 words and I’m thinking that when complete, it might be a good piece to publish in traditional print form as well.  Stay tuned for more details on this.

Lastly this week, here’s a new website asking for reader reviews :  http://www.bathroomreview.ca/ I haven’t been able to visit it due to bad internet access, but it sounds interesting.

Until next week, please enjoy safe travels

 

David.

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