One big surprise during my cruise on Crystal Bach was the Moselle. It wasn’t my first time on the river, but the weather and the time of year conspired to make the Moselle Europe’s most beautiful river – at least in my view.
On Crystal Bach, we cruised from Amsterdam along with sister ship Crystal Debussy. In Koblenz, Crystal Bach docked with its nose pointed up the Moselle, while Debussy docked in the direction of the Rhine. We each departed, and after a few hours of sailing, my feeling was that we got the better end of the bargain.
The Moselle gave the impression that we were sailing through a gorge, flanked by vineyards running up steep slopes. We docked in fairytale villages, such as Bernkastel and Cochem. Near Trier, in a village called Mehring, we docked alongside a vineyard, which was much preferable than docking in the industrial port in Trier. My photographer friend Mike Louagie and I pedaled 20-plus kilometers each way between Mehring and Trier on sturdy and well-maintained bikes that Crystal provided. The ride was invigorating, through resplendent autumnal landscapes.
In fact, I, and others, spent quite a lot of time on bicycles exploring the region at each port of call on guided and independent rides. Strava, my activity tracking app, tells me that I pedaled more than 100 miles during my time on Crystal Bach. Not bad – and much needed to offset my “caloric footprint” from all the great dining on Bach.
Up early one morning, I make myself a cappuccino from the pantry located in the reception area on Crystal Bach. I say good morning to Marita, the always-smiling receptionist who I wrote about in Live From Crystal Bach: Final Impressions As Our Cruise Ends. As we sail along, a mist rose on the river. Marita and I acknowledge the beauty of the quiet morning. “If you want peace,” Marita says thoughtfully, “cruise the Moselle.” Indeed.
I head to the wheelhouse where Captain Douwe is navigating the river. “It’s my favorite river,” says the captain, who adds that he has been sailing for 48 years now, ever since he was a young teen. He tells me that when there is low water on the Rhine, he’ll sometimes deviate to the Moselle. He informs guests, of course, telling them that although the planned route needs to change, they would not be disappointed. “The Moselle is almost always a pleasant surprise for the guests,” he tells me.
The Moselle could not be more different from the Rhine, the latter of which can be industrial in parts, with large factories on either side of the river. Of course, there are some beautiful stretches, particularly through the Rhine Gorge, but the Moselle holds its beauty for the duration.
Earlier during our cruise, Crystal Cruises President and CEO Tom Wolber confessed his preference for the Moselle. “The Rhine river is a river of legends,” he told me. “The Moselle is a river of fairytales.”
An avid traveler and an award-winning journalist, Ralph Grizzle produces articles, video and photos that are inspiring and informative, personal and passionate. A journalism graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Ralph has specialized in travel writing for more than two decades. To read more cruise and port reviews by Ralph Grizzle, visit his website at www.avidcruiser.com.