On Saturday I'm off to Amsterdam for a river cruise on the Rhine on Uniworld's River Empress. The cruise on this 134-passenger boutique-hotel style ship will be a vastly different experience than a cruise on a large resort cruise ship with over 2,500 passengers. I embark in Amsterdam on March 28 and for the next seven days, my floating hotel will take me to the heart of Volendam, Arnhem, Cologne, Mainz and Frankfurt.
On most large cruise ships, you don't see much while you're cruising because you're either at sea or too far away from land to see much of anything. But I expect to be surrounded by a stunning, castle-dotted landscape as I cruise through the Upper Middle Rhine Valley. I plan to find a comfortable perch in the Sky Lounge where I can just relax and soak up the scenery.
On the River Empress, I know I won't find numerous dazzling entertainment venues or a giant fitness center with the latest leading-edge equipment because there just isn't room for these amenities on a 134-passenger ship that's only 360 feet long and 37 feet wide. That's okay with me because I can easily find these things at home. What I can't do at home is travel back in time in the comfort of an elegant floating hotel and experience the exhilaration of turning a corner on a cobble-stoned street and coming upon an awe-inspiring UNESCO World Heritage Site.