Travel Aware

STAYING SAFE AND HEALTHY ABROAD

 

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office and National Travel Health Network and Centre have up-to-date advice on staying safe and healthy abroad.

For the latest travel advice from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office including security and local laws, plus passport and visa information check www.gov.uk/travelaware

Keep informed of current travel health news by visiting www.travelhealthpro.org.uk  The advice can change so check regularly for updates.

 

 

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News from our award-winning team

We are pleased to announce that our award winning Group Travel Services department has grown from strength to strength and not only dealt with a record number of groups this year, we have already secured as many for departures throughout 2018 and 2019.

A lovely picture (above) of Mary Gotts and her group on a recent Captain’s Choice cruise with us – another successful trip was enjoyed by all. Mary has fully chartered the MPS Lady Anne twice previously with a third booked for 2018. Mary’s favourite cruises are the Rhine to Switzerland and Captain’s Choice cruise, and for 2018 Captain Wido has put together an exclusive new itinerary just for her group. We look forward to welcoming Mary and her members again next year.

Our trip to Yorkshire with the New Meridian Group Organisers Association (picture right) – what a fabulous trip, we learnt a lot, had fun and got to know some of our Group Travel Organisers even better. Thank you to Sylvia Saxon for organising the trip.

Our Groups department can help plan and arrange holidays from just 15 passengers and can offer a wide range of holidays by rail in the UK and Europe, we offer river cruises on our 4-star ship the MS Serenity or our 3-star ship MPS Lady Anne, as well as our extended fleet that includes the Douro, the Rhône and Croatia.


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Interview with Mary Gotts, Ver-Colne Valley U3A

Mary Gotts and her group aboard MPS Lady Anne

Mary Gotts is now in her eighth year as group travel organiser for the Ver-Colne Valley branch of the U3A near St Albans. In addition to monthly day trips, Mary organises approximately four trips each year ranging from short breaks in the UK to holidays aboard, always for group of 45 or more, to destinations and on itineraries that appeal to the varied interests of her members. Key to a great trip, says Mary, is a good choice of excursions in each destination and the flexibility for members to do as much or as little as they like, so in this respect river cruising is ideal.

To date Mary and her group have travelled with The River Cruise Line several times including visiting the Dutch Bulbfields in springtime, cruising the Rhine to Switzerland, visiting the Rhine Valley Christmas markets and, in 2017, taking a full ship charter of the ‘Captain’s Choice’ cruise aboard the mps Lady Anne.

The Captain’s Choice itinerary was added to the programme in 2016 to celebrate 15 years of working with Captain Wido and the Lady Anne. Devised by Captain Wido to showcase less well-known destinations in his home country, this unusual cruise takes passengers away from the well-known tourist spots of Holland and includes visits to the star-shaped town of Heusden, Roermond and the Dutch Lake District, Arcen and its 17th century castle and Nijmegen, the oldest city in the Netherlands.

Here, Mary tells us about her experience of the ‘Captain’s Choice’ cruise and why cruising the waterways of Holland has been such success for her group.

Q – Why did you choose the Captain’s Choice cruise?

Having experienced the Dutch Bulbfields on a previous cruise, I knew Holland was pretty and I was keen to find an opportunity to try something slightly different. On paper, the itinerary seemed to offer exactly what our group looks for – a balance of gentle cruising with opportunities to explore quaint villages and towns away from the usual tourist traps. We’d had such a wonderful experience cruising on the Lady Anne previously that although the itinerary was unusual, I was confident that this trip would suit us and that Wido and his team would look after us very well.

Q – What was the best part of the cruise?

The trip more than lived up to expectations, it was fantastic! None of us had any idea what Holland might be like ‘off-the-beaten track’ but we were very pleasantly surprised, it felt like we were uncovering little hidden gems at every turn. One of the highlights was sitting out on the sun deck, watching the world go slowly past and wondering what fascinating place we would arrive at next.

Q – Did your group have a favourite destination?

All the towns and villages we visited were very pretty. One that particularly stood out was Maastricht, because as well as being interesting, there were some excellent shopping opportunities.

Q – How would you sum up the cruise?

It was a perfect combination for us of gentle cruising and relaxation, with opportunities to explore unknown places, completed by a warm welcome and friendly atmosphere on board.

Q – Do you have any tips for anybody considering booking this cruise?

The Lady Anne is very different to most other river and ocean cruise ships, so try not to make comparisons – the experience is quite different. It is much smaller, more intimate and full of history and, for example there are no requirements for formal dress on board. The Lady Anne is very warm and homely and a lovely base to return to after a day exploring Holland’s hidden corners.

Q – You have cruised on the Lady Anne many times, but recently the group sampled the ms Serenity for the first time. How was that?

Our group has sailed on the Lady Anne and has always enjoyed the experience, so we knew that the Serenity would be very different. The ship is larger, but it felt no less warm and welcoming, thanks to the excellent crew. The service was very attentive, and all the staff were friendly and approachable, which really made it for us – the food was excellent too with a good variety. We enjoyed the ‘Strasbourg Christmas Markets’ itinerary very much, particularly the excursions as many of us had visited both Heidelberg and Strasbourg briefly on a summer cruise. It was wonderful to see both looking so festive, to have more time to discover Heidelberg and to have an opportunity to really explore Strasbourg as we had only had a taster of it from a canal cruise on our previous visit.

Q – Where are you off to next?

 We enjoyed the ‘Captain’s Choice’ cruise so much that in June this year we are chartering the Lady Anne again for a bespoke cruise that Wido is planning for us, nicknamed ‘The Netherlands Part 2’. We all came away from the previous trip so thrilled, we can’t wait to discover more!


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Interview with Gerry Johnson, London Tours

Gerry Johnson, London Tours group aboard MPS Lady Anne

 

Gerry Johnson has been organising holidays for clients from the Chesterfield area for 33 years and is passionate about taking like-minded individuals on interesting trips across the UK and Europe. He first travelled with The River Cruise Line on a cruise along the Rhine aboard the mps Lady Anne in 2012. Since then he has travelled with clients on no fewer than ten River Cruise Line trips on the Rhine, Danube, Moselle and Dutch Waterways.

Most recently Gerry accompanied a group travelling on the ‘Rhine in Flames’ cruise, an itinerary that is unique to The River Cruise Line. Every autumn, towns and villages along the Rhine Gorge celebrate the annual grape harvest in spectacular fashion, with an expertly-choreographed flotilla of up to 80 small ships, lit with fairy lights, taking to the water against a backdrop of incredible fireworks. Thanks to the Lady Anne’s small size, and ability of Captain Wido to secure a coveted permit, The River Cruise Line can offer passengers the chance to sail as part of the flotilla, in the heart of the action, while others must be content watching from the riverbanks.

Here, Gerry tells us about his experience of the Rhine in Flames cruise and why he is especially fond of cruising aboard the Lady Anne:

Q – Why did you choose the Rhine in Flames cruise?

Over the years I have accompanied groups on some excellent trips with The River Cruise Line, and the Rhine has always been a favourite. The Rhine in Flames itinerary offers a chance to see the destination in a different way and to be right in the thick of one of the region’s biggest special events. There’s nothing else like it and I knew it would be something that our regular clients would really enjoy.

Q – What was the best part of the cruise?

Without a doubt it was the evening we sailed with the flotilla itself. Although many of us had visited the destinations on the itinerary before, we didn’t have any idea what the event would be like and it was a great experience. It was really quite an emotional and spine-tingling experience seeing all the ships come together on the river, like an elegant and well-choreographed ballet. The logistics must have been demanding and it is a testament to the skill and teamwork of the captains that it all came together so smoothly. The ships cruised down the river in formation and were held mid-river during the firework display. The atmosphere was exciting – it was like a celebratory concert or West End show with the music and party atmosphere, making it a hugely memorable occasion.

Q – Did your group have a favourite destination?

All the riverside towns and villages are lovely and full of character. Oberwesel, where the Rhine in Flames flotilla took place, is lovely, but my favourite is Rüdesheim. There’s something about this little town that is very special – we always enjoy strolling along the cobbled Drosselgasse, sipping a ‘Rüdesheimer coffee’ and listening to the live music. Siegfried’s Mechanical Museum is great fun too, as is the wine tasting!

Q – How would you sum up the cruise?

A wonderful experience and opportunity to see something completely different on the Rhine.

Q – Do you have any tips for anybody considering booking this cruise?

The best view of the spectacle is from the top deck irrespective of the weather – so be prepared!

Q – You have cruised on the Lady Anne many times, what is it about the ship that you like so much?

The Lady Anne may not be the newest ship on the river but it has so much going for it and our groups always enjoy their experience on board. We always have fun and that’s down to the crew and Captain Wido creating such a warm atmosphere and offering such good service. Nothing is too much trouble and the team’s attention to detail is great. The food is excellent too, always prepared using high quality fresh produce – the rack of lamb is particularly tasty! The Lady Anne is really good value, so it is perfect for clients who want to visit some interesting destinations, see beautiful scenery and enjoy their time on board without a huge price tag.

Q – Where are you off to next?

Next May we are going to try the Captain’s Choice cruise in Holland. We’ve visited the Dutch Bulbfields many times and seen the Keukenhof Gardens, but the opportunity to see some less well-known parts of Holland will be fascinating. A number of our regular clients are very fond of Captain Wido and his wife Jana too, so are looking forward to seeing more of his homeland and to visiting destinations that other river cruises don’t offer.


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on the ship

River Cruises with the River Cruise Line


Mr Bridge booking number 01483 489961

Join Bernard Magee onboard ms Serenity for these spectacular river cruises.

 

Cruise the Danube to Vienna & Budapest - 30th Anniversary Cruise

By coach: 5-14 October 2017; by air: 6-13 October 2017
10 days from £1099

or

By coach: 12-21 October 2017; by air: 13-20 October 2017
10 days from £1099

Discover the delights of the Danube as you enjoy a full bridge programme with Bernard Magee or Sandy Bell, on one of the most scenic journeys through the heart of Europe. From the pretty city of Passau on the Austrian border to the Hungarian capital of Budapest, we cruise in comfort and style aboard the ms Serenity, passing through the beautiful scenery of the Wachau valley and dipping into the history and culture of amazing cities along the way. With a full day in the musical city of Vienna and Budapest as well as a visit to the Slovakian capital of Bratislava, this is a wonderful opportunity to sail the waters that are beautifully immortalised by the composer Strauss, in the classical waltz The Blue Danube

Click here to see prices and travel options for the 5 & 6 October departure

Click here to see prices and travel options for the 12 & 13 October departure


Rhine Cruise & Swiss Delights

By coach: 16-24 May 2018; by rail or air: 17-24 May 2018

9 days from £1119

There’s no better way to see the spectacular sights along the Rhine than from the river itself and on this leisurely cruise you can witness the countless treasures of three countries as we glide through Switzerland, France and Germany. Along the way you can enjoy all the amenities of our ship whilst taking in the beautiful scenery as we cruise from Switzerland towards the lush plains of the Alsace and onwards between the sheer valley walls of the spectacular Rhine Gorge. Our ship is never far away, so after a day of exploring you can return to comfortable surrounds and relax as the crew take care of you – it’s what river cruising is all about.

Click here for full details 

 

MS Serenity

MS Serenity

This stylish 4-star vessel allows passengers to explore the great waterways of Europe in style while being under the care of a friendly and attentive crew.

Cruise the Danube to Vienna & Budapest Excursions

Enhance your holiday experience with a range of optional excursions that allow you to discover the history of our ports of call,

Rhine Cruise & Swiss Delights Excursions

Enhance your holiday experience with a range of optional and included excursions that allow you to discover the history of our ports of call, experience the tradition of local regions and explore further afield. They’re the perfect complement to your cruise itinerary, but they are subject to availability so we recommend you book early!

Rüdesheim highlights
£26
A road train ride transports you to view fascinating examples of early 1900 mechanical music making systems at Siegfried’s Mechanical Music Museum. We also include a cable car ride that rises 37 metres up the hillside to reach the iconic Niederwald monument. This is a unique experience, taking you over the sloping vineyards for an amazing panoramic view of the romantic Rhine valley.

Rüdesheim by night
£27
Visit a traditional wine cellar to sample some of the region’s best wines, before exploring the captivating Drosselgasse, which is filled with little taverns and courtyards and is the cultural heart of the town.




Heidelberg highlights
£19
Heidelberg is one of the most popular destinations in Germany, situated on the edge of the Denwald Forest where the Neckar river reaches the Rhine Plain. The main attractions are its castle, the Church of the Holy Ghost, and its university – the oldest in Germany. A 15-minute climb or funicular ride leads you to view the restored areas of the castle which are used for public events. The castle’s terrace in particular offers fine views of the city, while at the castle down in the adjacent cellar we encounter the Heidelberg Tun, one of the largest wine vats in the world.

Strasbourg canal cruise
£27
Strasbourg is well known for its historical and cultural sights, which are best seen from the unique canal system surrounding the city. Our excursion is aboard a small glass-topped canal cruiser which offers a great vantage point. Having seen some of the sights from the water, you can disembark in the heart of Strasbourg, close to the old pedestrianised walled city and the cathedral.

 

Strasbourg guided tour
£19
The historic centre of Strasbourg is an island in the Ill river, inscribed on the Unesco world heritage list. It is a beautiful place with much to tell: its past, its architecture, its art, its traditions, its great men, and with the help of our guide you can enjoy explanations, commentaries and anecdotes which bring the city to life as we explore by coach and on foot.



Koblenz cable car & Ehrenbreitstein Fortress
£19
Enjoy an exhilarating ride across the Rhine to visit the mighty Ehrenbreitstein Fortress, Europe’s second largest surviving fortress where you can immerse yourself in a world of Celts, Romans and knights. The Koblenz Cable Car was built for the 2011 BUGA Flower Show and is one of the largest cable cars in Europe outside the Alps, which offers amazing views of Koblenz and the confluence of the Rhine and Moselle rivers.

 

Lucerne
Included
With its colourful pitched-roof buildings that perch on the edge of a blue lake, and a magnificent mountain range backdrop, Lucerne is a picture postcard scene of a Swiss resort. Our excursion stops on the lake’s northwest shore where you can relax at leisure and may be enjoy a steamer ride on the lake or, time permitting, take a train ride up nearby Mount Pilatus. Today is a full day tour therefore a packed lunch is provided.

 

Black Forest & Rhine Falls
£22
Rising above the lush Rhine Plain are the cooler mountain slopes of the Black Forest region, which offers much more than cuckoo clocks and black forest gateau as we learn on our unforgettable scenic drive to the picturesque Lake Titisee. We also visit the Rhine Falls, the mightiest falls in central Europe that surge over a ledge of Jurassic limestone. Today is a full day tour therefore a packed lunch is provided. 

 

Excursion Package Price
£125
SAVE £36 PER PERSON
Don't miss a thing by booking our special excursion package which includes all the listed excursions for this cruise.
Not only can you take part in all the exciting trips we have organised, you can enjoy all this at a reduced cost!

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