We love the River Rhine and looked forward to seeing it glide by our cabin window on our first cruise.
We were to board in Basel so spent two days there in the excellent Hotel Victoria enjoying the trams and the pouring rain.
There was some alarm when we phoned the boat for confirmation of joining instructions. We were told that because of the rain the Rhine was very high and the boat could not get to Basel so was at Kembs. We should take a bus out to the airport and try to find a rep with transport. A bus took us to a field with a path to the boat. We were not advised to cancel the cruise at that time.
The Reception was welcoming and our cases were taken to an excellent cabin that we thought suited us fine.
We wandered round the boat and thought that it all looked good, especially the lounge and dining room. The sun deck furniture was all knocked flat for passing under bridges. As it happened, we never passed under a bridge and the furniture was never re-erected. So there were no activities up there.
There was an evening briefing when we met Karla the Cruise Director. They had postponed the Welcome Reception until the next day because of the stresses folk had had on the way to the boat.
The dining room seemed splendid on entry and promised some good food. However the roof was low and all sound seemed amplified. The service was fairly slow and it was acoustically painful to sit there waiting while everybody else was shouting to make themselves heard. We never managed to finish a meal.
No evening entertainment was arranged while we were on the boat apart from an old film each evening in the small swimming pool/cinema area.
The boat moved a few kilometres to the Breisach end of the canal but was trapped there by the high water in the canal so daily excursions were at first reorganised. Boats that had been left in the River Rhine got away. Some of the day trips were strenuous for the less fit.
On the Tuesday night we were told that we would all have to leave the boat the next day. The main party must leave by 7.am for a gruelling coach tour to Amsterdam. For the rest, arrangements would be made by offices in their own countries for passengers to be flown home. There is a good video under the heading ‘Emerald Sky Jewels of the Rhine’ on Youtube that shows the problems.
We flew home exhausted, with very swollen ankles and needing a holiday. A look at the weather records showed that the boat should not have been brought in to the Alsace Canal and been trapped. Having done so though, the ‘cruise’ should never have been attempted.