The MS Serenity has been our most popular ship for as long as I can remember – especially for those new to river cruising. I was given the opportunity to test it out, and I simply couldn’t resist! I travelled on our Strasbourg Christmas markets cruise – the itinerary I was lucky enough to go on. So I can now answer any questions you, as our customer, may have about the ship, the city and the culture – and everything in-between.
My journey began when I travelled down to Dover, staying in the Ramada hotel the night prior to departure. I was pleasantly surprised and enjoyed a wonderful and comfortable stay. I had a twin room to myself, which contained not one, but two double beds – what dreams are made of! If you’re going away with your friends, you’ll no longer have to snuggle up or risk falling out of a small single – the perfect twin room designed with the customer in mind. The next morning we woke to go to the included breakfast buffet – again a pleasant surprise; the quality impeccable and the selection vast – I would definitely recommend booking this hotel – a perfect blend of comfort and convenience!
I was picked up by the coach in the hotel carpark at around 8:30am, so we got to sleep in – something usually unheard of for most cruise-goers. The coach was comfortable and the driver friendly and informative, I couldn’t have asked for more. We travelled to Dover Docks where we boarded the ferry in ample time, no hiccups and a smooth journey overall. When we arrived in Calais, we all boarded the coach again, ready for our journey to board the ship in Mainz at around 5pm.
The MS Serenity was something of a fairytale – the pictures simply do not do it justice. A clean, modern and comfortable floating hotel with warm, friendly staff and an excellent atmosphere, made even cosier by the festive decorations in the bar. After enjoying a welcome drink with the captain, we had a chance to meet our fellow cruisers – all filled with excitement for what was yet to come.
The following days were packed with the opportunity to explore some of the most beautiful sights, eat delicious food and wander around the glorious Christmas markets that this wonderful corner of the world has to offer. The tours were well organised and the Tour Manager a credit to River Cruise Line – knowledgeable, friendly and happy to answer any questions that anybody had during their stay.
I stayed on the Main Deck and despite being on the lower deck of the ship, I couldn’t hear the engines at all. A comfortable cabin with enough room to easily unpack my clothes and store my suitcase, too. A large bottle of water was placed in the cabin daily, subject to a small charge, and toiletries were provided in the bathroom. Wi-Fi was available onboard for an additional cost and could be used when in the bar, dependent upon the location of the ship, but I didn’t use it much due to the exciting itinerary!
The food onboard was delicious, lots of courses all perfectly prepared. The waiters were extremely polite and a credit to the ship, working tirelessly to cater to any requests the passengers may have had – a simply idyllic winter break.
The cities we visited were a perfect addition to an already perfect holiday. Busy but not overcrowded, whilst both historic and festive – a seasonal delight. There were lovely café’s and blissful bars to stop off at during free time in each destination, large shops to get those last minute presents, and of course the market stalls, where everything festive you could dream of could be purchased.
The Christmas markets themselves were incredible. In Mannheim you could walk around the stalls, all close to one another and all selling food, beer, gluhwein and Christmas decorations, too – something sure to get you feeling extra festive!
Heidelberg saw its Christmas markets spread across three different locations, set out along the high street with the castle dominating the landscape above. Why not take a walk up to the castle to see the magnificent views below? There’s also an ice rink with drinking stalls around if you’re feeling a little daring.
Strasbourg was incredible with Christmas markets taking over the city, the large Christmas tree in the centre being one of the highlights. It really is the perfect location to kickstart the festive feeling and get those last-minute gifts!
Overall, the holiday is an excellent memory of mine, and something I hope to do again in the very near future. To someone looking to see the beautiful, twinkling Christmas Markets of more than one city, it’s the perfect opportunity.
Good food, great people and wonderful memories!