Author Archives: Ralph Grizzle

There are 430 articles by Ralph Grizzle published on this site.


Avalon Has ‘New’ Leadership

Normally, promotions at a river cruise company wouldn’t be something we’d publish. But in this case, we’re pleased to see that Pam Hoffee has taken the helm of Avalon Waterways. We’re pleased because Pam’s passionate about river cruising. Under her leadership we expect even better things to happen for one of the world’s most popular river cruise companies.

Pam tells us that she will be 100 percent focused on Avalon, instead of dividing her time between Avalon and other duties. “I am so thrilled about it as the brand is growing so much and deserves this attention,” she says. “I am very excited for the future with Avalon.”

Yep, we agree. Avalon is doing some wonderful things. We’ll be reporting on what is setting Avalon apart in future posts here on River Cruise Advisor.

Here’s the official press release … Read the rest of this entry »

In last week’s survey asking What, If Anything, Is Holding You Back From River Cruising In Europe, more than half of respondents (52 percent) said that it was war in the Ukraine that made them hesitant to river cruise this year. We did not ask readers to elaborate, something we may do in a future post.

War in the Ukraine was followed closely by the Covid surge in Europe. Nearly 30 percent of you expressed concerns about the variant tearing its way through Europe. I am on barges traveling in France now with a group of 20+. On the last morning of our first barge trip, two people tested positive. Both were mild cases. When I checked in with the two this morning to ask how they were feeling, they replied, ”Generally okay, symptoms similar to a cold, some coughing, sinus draining, slight elevated body temps.” Read the rest of this entry »

In last week’s survey asking What, If Anything, Is Holding You Back From River Cruising In Europe, more than half of respondents (52 percent) said that it was war in the Ukraine that made them hesitant to river cruise this year. We did not ask readers to elaborate, something we may do in a future post.

War in the Ukraine was followed closely by the Covid surge in Europe. Nearly 30 percent of you expressed concerns about the variant tearing its way through Europe. I am on barges traveling in France now with a group of 20+. On the last morning of our first barge trip, two people tested positive. Both were mild cases. When I Read the rest of this entry »

SeaDream Yacht Club recently announced a more than $10 million dramatic upgrade and renovation project for twin yachts SeaDream I and SeaDream II. The project is now complete on board SeaDream II, and on March 26 SeaDream I goes into drydock for 54 days in Lisbon, Portugal to undergo identical renovations as SeaDream II.

A recent onboard photo shoot has resulted in a glorious new collection of images showcasing the beauty of SeaDream II and serves as a precursor to SeaDream I’s upgrade. Quotes from recent SeaDream II guests such as “Love all the updates,” “New spaces are outstanding,” “Simply Read the rest of this entry »

France To Suspend Pass Sanitaire

It wasn’t long after we published last week’s post, Seven Workarounds To France’s Pass Sanitaire, that we learned of the French government’s plans to drop requirements for the health pass. This comes as welcome news to travelers heading to France this spring and beyond. In fact, Britton is headed to France on Monday. See I’m Going To Paris On Monday.

While we won’t know the full details until next week, this site, www.gouvernement.fr/info-coronavirus, (translated from French), suggests that the Pass Sanitaire will not be required for most activities: From March 14, the application of the “vaccination pass” will be suspended in Read the rest of this entry »

With river cruising abroad resuming, many of us have plans to travel to Europe in the coming months. One vexing issue, particularly for those of us from North America, is how to obtain the European Union Covid Certificate, which effectively provides freedom of mobility while in Europe. While, yes, anecdotally, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control vaccination card can suffice in some cases, assuming that you’re fully vaccinated (which in France includes the booster), the paper card is not guaranteed to work when stepping off an international flight in Paris, for example, and hoping to catch the train to the Strasbourg or Bordeaux. From our understanding, doing such will likely require the QR codes representing the Read the rest of this entry »

Before getting into the meat of this article, I would like to take a moment to praise CroisiEurope. Here’s five reasons why I think the Strasbourg-based company is an exceptional cruise operator.

1. CroisiEurope has been in business for a long time, and it’s a family-owned and operated business, founded in 1976. The company has a heart and it’s here to stay in our opinion. Have a read about the company’s origins in my post, River Cruising’s Unlikeliest Pioneer: In Strasbourg, Where River Cruising Changed Course

2. CroisiEurope gets high praise from our readers. In the comments section of my story, The Only Two Americans On Board: CroisiEurope New Year’s Cruise In Provence, one reader wrote: The food is five star, which keeps us coming back. There is unlimited wine served at dinner with bottles of red, white and rose on the table. The bar is open after breakfast and included with no charges except for some Champagne and brandies. We have never gotten a liquor bill at the end of our trip. The prices are reasonable for what you get for your money spent. I highly recommend Croisi. Read the rest of this entry »

In last week’s newsletter, we asked you when is the earliest you’d be ready to river cruise again in Europe. Nearly 85 percent of you are ready to river cruise in 2022, with spring 2022 getting the largest slice of the pie.

We asked, What gives you confidence about your answer as to when you would cruise? Or what’s holding you back? One reader commented: Time to move on; two years is enough and life is short. Indeed.

Another wrote: Because we went on a river cruise in 2021 and a small boat cruise two weeks ago. Steve and Lorraine are actually friends of ours here in Asheville. We had dinner with them last Sunday and learned that despite traveling in Europe from last August until late November, including a river cruise on AmaWaterways in September, they remained Covid free. In fact, they said they generally felt safer abroad Read the rest of this entry »

Think no one’s river cruising? Think again. While river cruising in Europe generally takes a pause during the cold of January and February, as well as much of March, regions outside of Europe still see river cruises operating.

Earlier this week, we heard from Patty Moss and her husband Bill, who were in Jordan before traveling to Cairo to board AmaWaterways’ new 72-passenger AmaDahlia.

Patty and Bill are doing a pre-cruise extension before embarking on AmaWaterways’ Secrets of Egypt & The Nile 12-day cruise program. She and Bill were in Petra yesterday with 10 others who are also Read the rest of this entry »

Crystal is suspending operations for its ocean and expedition ships through April 29, 2022, with river cruises suspended through the end of May 2022.

The company announced in a letter to guests today that “Suspending operations will provide Crystal’s management team with an opportunity to evaluate the current state of business and examine various options moving forward.”

The Wall Street Journal reported that Crystal’s parent, Genting Hong Kong says that it will run out of cash by the end of this month, putting the fate of Crystal in question. That’s not to say that Crystal is dead in the water. Read the rest of this entry »

Our Readers Are Ready To River Cruise

In last week’s post, Our New Year’s Eve Wish For You, we told you about Dolf Dunn’s Christmas Markets cruise. Dolf and his wife Lannie shared photos of Christmas trees at various ports of call (as well as Christmas trees on AmaSiena). The Dunns praised AmaWaterways for not missing a single Christmas Market. “If a city closed a market, AmaWaterways found an alternative one to take us to,” Dolf wrote.

AmaWaterways’ Kristin Karst saw our story and reached out to us. If you don’t know who she is, let me tell you about Kristin. Originally from the region of Dresden, Germany, Kristin is the high-spirited, always smiling Read the rest of this entry »

Our New Year’s Eve Wish For You

The headlines surrounding cruises of late have been anything but cheery. The latest gut punch: This week, the CDC advised that we should all avoid cruises, no matter if we’re vaccinated, boosted or masked up.

We’ll discuss the CDC’s advice in a post next week, including counter comments from one organization presenting a compelling argument that cruising is safer than almost any collective leisure activity you can do on land. We’ll also hear from two of our loyal subscribers who continue to cruise and suggest that we should no longer put our dreams on hold.

One is Dolf Dunn who, along with his wife Lannie, experienced something we had thought was not possible: the Christmas Markets on the Rhine. Read the rest of this entry »

Not long after pressing the “publish” button for Is This The End Of River Cruising As We Know It? – River Cruise Advisor, I received several comments from our readers. Some offered words of encouragement; others offered words of caution.

Let’s start with the words of caution from T.J. and Sherry. Their comments have been edited for brevity. Read the rest of this entry »

I LOVE Backroads. What’s to love? The company layers its active adventures, primarily cycling, on top of cruises, both ocean and river. That layering provides the perfect adventure: You spend your days being active, exploring Europe the way many Europeans do, straddling a saddle. Your floating hotel is your oasis for rest and replenishment.

In 2016, I had what turned out to be one of the best trips I’ve had on the rivers, cycling with my son while cruising on AmaWaterways. Check out Backroads Bike Trips & River Boating: A Winning Combination For Active Travelers. Rinse and repeat. In 2019, we cruised Ponant and pedaled Croatia, a wonderful trip that I summed up Read the rest of this entry »

With December 2022 departures of Riviera River Cruises’ popular holiday season cruises now available, plan ahead to celebrate Europe’s Rhine and Danube Rivers in all their wintry splendor. Riviera’s holiday season cruises include Yuletide Markets itineraries that depart in the weeks before Christmas, departures over Christmas itself with the ship decked in lush garlands and a grandiose tree, and celebratory sailings to ring in the New Year. In all, six itineraries with 20 departures are available to book.

I’ll be hosting one of those cruises, departing Cologne on December 21, 2022 and cruising along the Read the rest of this entry »

Seems that every time I host a cruise, I end up committing to hosting more. In 2022, I am now hosting a total of five trips. Three of those are sold-out barge trips that got pushed forward from 2019. Two, however, are brand new, and I am excited about both of these trips because they sail a couple of my favorite itineraries. Read the rest of this entry »

Before boarding Crystal Debussy in early October, I wondered if this would be the same Crystal River Cruises that I had experienced two years ago. In October of 2019, I cruised Crystal Bach on the very same itinerary on which I was about to embark: an 11-day voyage on the Rhine and Moselle rivers.

That cruise two years ago had been so good that I wanted to show others the beauty of the Moselle with a river cruise company that caters to guests who demand the best, and so I set out to put together a group sailing. More than two dozen people signed up to travel with me in the fall of 2020. Because of the pandemic, our cruise was pushed forward to October of 2021 – and even that timeline seemed dubious. Read the rest of this entry »

We’ve just returned from a series of cruises: AmaWaterways on the Rhine, Viking Ocean Cruises in Bermuda, Crystal River Cruises on the Rhine & Moselle, and Avalon Waterways on the Rhone. This webinar replay from October 20, 2021 covers a wide range of topics from testing before leaving home to life on board and more. Read the rest of this entry »

“I listen to my body, and my body says no to the vaccine.” I was standing at Amsterdam’s Rembrandt Square, dipping fries into a dab of mayonnaise (patat met) when a fellow standing next to me said, “Eet smakelijk,” which I understood to mean enjoy the fries. I thanked him and said that I hoped he enjoyed the apple that he was gnawing on. Thank you, he replied in English, before adding: “I’ve just finished a march and cannot find my car. Luckily, I know people here and someone is coming to help me.”

I learned that he was from Arnhem, about 90 minutes away, and that he had come to the Dutch capital to protest against the vaccines and the QR codes that restaurants and bars now require patrons to show before entering. The QR codes demonstrate proof of vaccination.

“It’s not fair,” he said. “I have grandchildren. I don’t want them to be vaccinated until we know the long-term effects of the vaccines.” He feels shackled by the QR codes, living in a stratified society where there are those who can now enjoy pre-pandemic life in the Netherlands, going to restaurants and bars, for example, and those who cannot. No QR code, no entry into the pre-Covid world.

For the American visitor, however, all of Amsterdam seems to exist in a carefree world with little regard for Covid transmission. Though I had only been in Amsterdam for the afternoon, having arrived from Atlanta, what I observed was an ocean of differences in our responses to Covid-19. Read the rest of this entry »

Last week, I told you that I was preparing for my first trip to Europe since October of 2019. I promised to answer your questions about how I was gearing up for this trip, which is on Crystal Debussy, cruising the Rhine and Moselle rivers. Many of you wanted to know about Covid protocols and the like, but the majority of you were most interested in two things:

  • How I got business class air for $600 each way on Air France,
  • How I snagged a deal at the Waldorf-Astoria Amsterdam (paying the equivalent of a stay at a Hampton Inn).

Britton and I will address all of your questions about Covid protocols and what it’s like to cruise these days in our upcoming webinar on October 20. Please be sure to register for Our Experiences On Four Different Ships.

For now, though, let’s get right to the burning questions on our readers’ minds. Read the rest of this entry »

I now know what it’s like to be a ping pong ball. Trips booked, then postponed, on again, off again, vaccine freedom, then Delta dread, governments imposing mandatory quarantines, then …

We were all set for our October 4, 2021 Crystal Debussy cruise on the Rhine. Flights booked, hotels booked. Ready. Set. Go. Not so fast. A month before our departure, in early September, the government of the Netherlands imposed new rules that required both vaccinated and unvaccinated Americans to quarantine for 10 days. Crystal and other river cruise operators were left scratching their heads, along with those of us who had booked cruises departing from Amsterdam.

What to do? A 12-hour transit loophole provided a solution, a not-so-great one. The idea was that we would cancel our hotel rooms, reschedule our flights to arrive the day we were to step on Debussy and get the herring out of the Netherlands as quickly as possible – well, at least within 12 hours so as not to violate the quarantine requirement. Read the rest of this entry »