One of our Group Leaders, Gerry Johnson, has been organising group holidays for clients from the Chesterfield area for 33 years and is passionate about taking like-minded individuals on interesting trips across the UK and Europe. He first travelled with The River Cruise Line on a cruise along the Rhine aboard the MPS Lady Anne in 2012. Since then he has travelled with clients on no fewer than ten River Cruise Line trips on the Rhine, Danube, Moselle and Dutch Waterways.
Most recently Gerry accompanied a group travelling on the ‘Rhine in Flames’ cruise, an itinerary that is unique to The River Cruise Line. Every autumn, towns and villages along the Rhine Gorge celebrate the annual grape harvest in spectacular fashion, with an expertly-choreographed flotilla of up to 80 small ships, lit with fairy lights, taking to the water against a backdrop of incredible fireworks. Thanks to the Lady Anne’s small size, and the ability of Captain Wido to secure a coveted permit, The River Cruise Line can offer passengers the chance to sail as part of the flotilla, in the heart of the action, while others must be content watching from the riverbanks.
Here, Gerry tells us about his experience of the Rhine in Flames cruise and why he is especially fond of cruising aboard the Lady Anne:
Q – Why did you choose the Rhine in Flames cruise?
A – Over the years I have accompanied groups on some excellent trips with The River Cruise Line, and the Rhine has always been a favourite. The Rhine in Flames itinerary offers a chance to see the destination in a different way and to be right in the thick of one of the region’s biggest special events. There’s nothing else like it and I knew it would be something that our regular clients would really enjoy.
Q – What was the best part of the cruise?
A – Without a doubt, it was the evening we sailed with the flotilla itself. Although many of us had visited the destinations on the itinerary before, we didn’t have any idea what the event would be like and it was a great experience. It was really quite an emotional and spine-tingling experience seeing all the ships come together on the river, like an elegant and well-choreographed ballet. The logistics must have been demanding and it is a testament to the skill and teamwork of the captains that it all came together so smoothly. The ships cruised down the river information and were held mid-river during the firework display. The atmosphere was exciting – it was like a celebratory concert or West End show with the music and party atmosphere, making it a hugely memorable occasion.
Q – Did your group have a favourite destination?
All the riverside towns and villages are lovely and full of character. Oberwesel, where the Rhine in Flames flotilla took place, is lovely, but my favourite is Rüdesheim. There’s something about this little town that is very special – we always enjoy strolling along the cobbled Drosselgasse, sipping a ‘Rüdesheimer coffee’ and listening to the live music. Siegfried’s Mechanical Museum is great fun too, as is the wine tasting!
Q – How would you sum up the cruise?
A wonderful experience and opportunity to see something completely different on the Rhine.
Q – Do you have any tips for anybody considering booking this cruise?
The best view of the spectacle is from the top deck irrespective of the weather – so be prepared!
Q – You have cruised on the Lady Anne many times, what is it about the ship that you like so much?
The Lady Anne may not be the newest ship on the river but it has so much going for it and our groups always enjoy their experience on board. We always have fun and that’s down to the crew and Captain Wido creating such a warm atmosphere and offering such good service. Nothing is too much trouble and the team’s attention to detail is great. The food is excellent too, always prepared using high-quality fresh produce – the rack of lamb is particularly tasty! The Lady Anne is really good value, so it is perfect for clients who want to visit some interesting destinations, see beautiful scenery and enjoy their time on board without a huge price tag.
Q – Where are you off to next?
Next May we are going to try the Captain’s Choice cruise in Holland. We’ve visited the Dutch Bulbfields many times and seen the Keukenhof Gardens, but the opportunity to see some less well-known parts of Holland will be fascinating. A number of our regular clients are very fond of Captain Wido and his wife Jana too, so are looking forward to seeing more of his homeland and to visiting destinations that other river cruises don’t offer.
Gerry Johnson recently returned from the same itinerary this year and still feels exactly the same about the holiday! Book your place on our 2019 itineraries now for a holiday garuanteed to be filled with facts, fun and memories that will last a lifetime…