Author Archives: Ralph Grizzle

There are 416 articles by Ralph Grizzle published on this site.


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 »

With summer underway and France officially re-opening to North American travelers in early June, CroisiEurope is marking the 2021 summer season with the resumption of the company’s diverse itineraries throughout France. CroisiEurope’s first river itinerary set sail at the end of June, with the canal and river itineraries to follow this month.

We’re big fans of CroisiEurope’s canal cruises. Here are a couple more itineraries offered by the French river cruise company: Read the rest of this entry »

AmaWaterways announced a partnership with Metropolitan Touring to introduce a new river cruise experience in Colombia.

Starting in December 2023, guests will be immersed in experiences on shore as well as on board a new custom-built, all-suite, eco-friendly river cruise ship. The new ship and cruise program will incorporate design experience from AmaWaterways’ President and Co-Founder Rudi Schreiner, plus Metropolitan Touring’s expertise in expedition cruising in the Galápagos Islands. Read the rest of this entry »

When I first started river cruising, I found it difficult to choose which river, which river cruise company and which ship. Hopefully, these tips will make it easier for you to navigate the wonderful world of river cruising. Read the rest of this entry »

From Barges To Luxurious River Boats

In previous posts, we learned how river cruising evolved from an experimental steamboat on the Saône to paddle-wheelers plying rivers in the United States and Europe to something resembling river cruising today: the first hotel barge in France. Since that first barge made its debut in 1966, forward-thinking entrepreneurs continued to develop and build riverboats that were the blueprints for the industry today. Next, we’ll head to a city on the Rhine to what may well be considered the birthplace of modern-day river cruising. Read the rest of this entry »

Yesterday, the European Union announced that it would welcome fully vaccinated travelers as well as unvaccinated travelers from Covid-safe countries (the list of countries is expected to be released on Friday). While details are pending, the new measures could go into effect as early as next week. Read the rest of this entry »

We love it when we’re right (and wish it were more often). In last week’s post, we suggested that additional cruise restarts would be announced before the end of the month. And no sooner than those words were released into the digital sphere that we got word that Royal Caribbean would be sailing from Bermuda. This is a first for Royal Caribbean. By home-porting outside the United States, big ship cruise companies are finding ways to circumvent—or outright avoid—CDC requirements that are attempting to stall cruising’s restart. Crystal, Celebrity and Royal Caribbean had already announced cruises from home ports in the Bahamas and St. Maarten. Bermuda is the newest twist, and we think it’s a good one. Read the rest of this entry »

Want to cruise this weekend on an eight-day Historic South and Golden Isles sailing between Amelia Island and Charleston? Yes, we consumed our morning coffee before writing this, and no, you’re not reading an old post from March of 2019. Cruising in the United States is back, after a year’s hiatus. You can now cruise again, this coming Saturday if you wish or any other Saturday thereafter.

This past weekend, American Cruise Lines’ 100-passenger Independence sailed from Jacksonville, Florida (Amelia Island) and is currently en route to Charleston, South Carolina. In Charleston, passengers will disembark Read the rest of this entry »

In our last post, we learned how in 1966 the first barge with cabins debuted in France. Known as Palinurus, the then-40-year-old barge had been converted from a cargo-carrying barge towed by mules to a hotel barge propelled by an engine. Heavily reconfigured since 1966, it still operates today as Luciole. Another canal cruiser with cabins made its debut nearly a century earlier. It too still operates today. What follows is the story of a voyage across Sweden on Göta Canal Company’s Juno.

For the past few weeks, we’ve been on a quest to learn the history of river cruising. We started our inqury in the 1700s, when a young Frenchman successfully steamed up the Saône in Lyon Read the rest of this entry »

The 47-Day River Cruise Through Europe

Is this river cruising’s world cruise equivalent? In June 2023, AmaWaterways will offer a 46-night exploration of Europe that sails through 14 countries on seven rivers. While full details will be released on March 15, what we know now is that the “Seven River Journey” will employ four ships (with seamless ship swaps for guests) to explore the Seine, Rhône, Saône, Rhine, Moselle, Main & Danube rivers. Read the rest of this entry »

In 1783, in the city of Lyon, a 32-year-old engineer and inventor did something remarkable: He unwittingly gave birth to river cruising as we know it today.

On what was presumably a warm day in mid-July, thousands of Lyonnaise gathered along the banks of the Saône to watch the Frenchman chug upstream in a boat measuring 150 feet long and 16 feet wide. They were witnessing a spectacle never before seen: the world’s first successful voyage by steamboat. Read the rest of this entry »

While travelers continue to prioritize health and safety, they are increasingly looking to plan longer, immersive travel experiences to better appreciate nature, live in the moment and reconnect with friends and family, according to AmaWaterways’ Co-owners Rudi Schreiner, Kristin Karst and Gary Murphy.

Notably, AmaWaterways was the only U.S.-based river cruise line to sail in Europe during 2020, successfully implementing enhanced protocols and procedures as part of a unique charter program.

The company says it recently has seen a surge in bookings. We’re not surprised. In our recent survey, 66 percent of readers responding to our poll said they believe North Americans will be able to river cruise in Europe again by or during the fall of 2021. Read the rest of this entry »

When Can You River Cruise Again In Europe?

 

With Covid-19 vaccinations under way and river cruises scheduled to resume operations in the spring, one question stands above all others for us: When will North Americans be able to ply the rivers of Europe again?

Our best guess: summer of 2021.

Come summer, we believe North Americans will be able to fly to Europe, go on a river cruise and return home with little worry of contracting Covid-19. Of course, summer spans several months, from late June through late September. If things go well with vaccinations, early summer is a reasonable assumption.

By June, if all goes as planned, Europeans will have already been safely river cruising during the spring and into the summer. Read the rest of this entry »

CroisiEurope’s Summer & Fall Success

We’re impressed that a few river cruise companies were able to operate during the summer and fall with few or no Covid cases. Last week AmaWaterways’ Kristin Karst told us that her company cruised without incident when it ended its season last month. Listen to our complete interview with Kristin in this podcast.

CroisiEurope, based in Strasbourg, France, operated from mid-July through October, and told us that they were the first to resume cruising on many of the rivers and seas where the company operates.

Astoundingly, at least from our perspective, CroisiEurope carried more than 11,000 guests on 152 cruises Read the rest of this entry »

Wow! We were impressed and encouraged while listening to Michael DaCosta, CroisiEurope’s General Manager, North America. Mike spent an hour with us talking about CroisiEurope’s return to cruising. River cruisers and barges are back in business, with no incidents (knock on wood). Capacity is limited to 75 percent, and dining is done in two shifts, unlike the single seating on CroisiEurope’s ships during normal times. In this informative webinar, Mike outlined several itineraries currently operating and discussed protocols. If you want to feel good about the future of cruising, check out our replay of Wednesday’s webinar. Read the rest of this entry »