Discovering the Rhine and Moselle Valley with Fred. Olsen River Cruises

Led by Oddfellows host, Wendy Atkins, from our Ipswich District Branch, ten friends embarked on an idyllic river cruise across the Rhine and Moselle Valley with Fred. Olsen Cruises. Embracing scenic views and exploring the old-world charm of medieval towns, the intrepid travellers enjoyed sunshine, laughs and of course, friendship.

Wendy Atkins from our Ipswich District Branch shares her river cruise highlights

On the first day, after an early flight to Basle, Switzerland, we hit an unexpected delay in our journey to board Fred. Olsen’s MV Brabant. But, as they say, the best things happen unexpectedly.

Heading out on a coach to the medieval town of Breisach, we had the added bonus of spending a beautiful afternoon exploring its cobbled streets and pastel-hued buildings. For the spritely few (those who were more mobile), a steep walk up to the town’s fortress offered stunning views of the Rhine.

All aboard

Unlike ocean cruise ships, river cruise boats are small and cosy, making them feel like a home-from-home.  Perfect after a long day, when all you want to do is relax and unwind.

There weren’t many activities on board, possibly due to its size. But, the after-dinner entertainment in the Panorama Lounge included a musical duo who provided some easy listening, whilst enjoying the odd tipple. On a couple of nights there was also a fun quiz.

Food was plentiful aboard the MV Brabant. To start the day we had a hearty breakfast, which included hot and cold options. There was a full menu for lunch and dinner in the restaurant, or lighter snacks provided in the bar. But it doesn’t stop there! Fred Olsen offered free drinks with meals as part of our group deal and a 24 hour hot drink station with plenty of delicious biscuits to enjoy with your cuppa.

Onward along the Rhine

The Rhine is a busy river with lots of vessels passing through, which makes it great for people watching. Our whistle-stop tour took us through Strasbourg, Speyer, Mannheim and Oberwesel. A cable car visit to the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress, the second largest preserved fortress in Europe, gave spectacular views over the ancient city of Koblenz.

Onto the Moselle Valley

From the bustle of the Rhine to the serenity of the Moselle, the next part of our journey guided us through Bernkastel-Kues and Cochem. Both towns are filled with quaint, half-timbered houses (Spitzhäuschen), rolling hillsides with terraced vineyards and castles overlooking the valleys. The banks were dotted with small attractive villages where we enjoyed waving to locals. Proof we can make friends anywhere!

A sweet treat

Back on the Rhine, we headed north to Cologne. We docked within walking distance of the Cologne Cathedral, which was declared a cultural UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. The gothic architecture was breathtaking.

My personal favourite pit stop was to the Chocolate Museum (need I say more), where you can take a walk through the history of Chocolate and indulge in some delicious chocolate tastings amongst other sweet treats in the café.

Friendships made

Throughout the journey, the fellowship amongst us strengthened, as we took in the sights and shared many laughs togetherRiver cruising is a completely different experience to travelling on an ocean liner, but I think we can all agree that we enjoyed every minute of it. So much so, that the group is now counting down to the spring Ocean cruise to Belgium and Holland.

Have you been on a recent Oddfellows Active Travel Club group holiday? We'd love to hear what you thought about it. Please get in touch.

Find out more about the next Oddfellows escorted Fred Olsen Cruise - Belgian Chocolates and Floral Holland Cruise.

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