THE last time I cruised down a river was in my father’s fishing cobble as a young boy and I’d said to my wife that I quite fancied a river cruise holiday but the response was muted,

Three days later she told me that she would like to go on a cruise on the Brabant, a smaller-scaled vessel operated by Fred. Olsen which visits places, larger boats.

I didn’t argue, but I thought this was my idea.

We joined Brabant in Dusseldorf and initial impressions were good. The Brabant offered a combination of cherry wood interior and contemporary styling. Our cabin was stylish and spacious, with floor to ceiling windows.

Cologne was our first port of call, the oldest city in Germany. Our first shore excursion was a panoramic city tour capturing its highlights.

After the Second World War precious artefacts were unearthed, including a perfectly preserved beautiful mosaic Roman dining room floor. Dominating the city is Cologne Cathedral, with its astonishing the stained-glass windows and the golden bejewelled shrine of the Three Kings - a sight to behold.

Further down the Rhine is Konigswinter, crowned by the majestic Drachenburg Castle nestling in dense forest atop a high peak. We accessed the castle by cog railway, which welcomes you into a bygone era with tales of myths and legends.

Overnight sailing brought us to Koblenz from where we were offered a full day complementary Mosel river excursion. Our first stop was Cochem, a small city where we visited Reichburg Castle; fairytale in appearance, its rooms were grand but not opulent. We meandered through the labyrinth of quaint cobbled streets including the atmospheric market square. Many of the shops were selling ladies clothes and accessories, I used diversion tactics as this could have been costly, and felt my wallet breathe a sigh of relief!

We enjoyed a tasty lunch with local beer which cost just £8 per head.

Next a short journey into Beilstein, one of the most beautiful villages on the Moselle,

The day’s final treat was sampling renowned Moselle wines, we returned in a jolly mood! This was a memorable day - in every way.

Next morning still in Koblenz, we took a short walk to the cable car, a thrilling ride looking down where the Rhine and Moselle merge. Returning on the cable car, the nearby beer festival was in full swing - we just had to stop and sample - well, when in Germany!

An afternoon cruising revealed at every twist and turn spectacular sights, characterised by picture postcard villages, steep terraced vineyards, lush forests, and of course, peaks dominated by imposing castle after castle, each with its own style.

Overnight sailing to Speyer, founded by the Romans, one of the highlights of our morning walking tour included the Technik museum housing vintage cars, aircraft and historical locomotives. Our afternoon tour took us to the impressive Heidelberg Castle where we explored this red sandstone fortress.

Sailing into France, our penultimate visit was Strasbourg, its centre, a Unesco World Heritage site. We boarded a river cruiser for our canal trip and gliding under ornate iron, brick and wooden bridges you see stunning sights, a mixture of French and German architecture over centuries. Re-entering the Imperial City, we alighted close to the magnificent Strasbourg Cathedral, this was a fitting place to have lunch where delicious tarte frambee, mixed salad and local wine, cost only £17 for both of us.

Back on German soil, we sailed into Breisach. Our final tour was the enchanting Black Forest. As we journeyed we passed beautiful pastel coloured villages, home to many storks nesting on rooftops, however no baby boom has been recorded!

Descending into a tranquil valley we visited the House of Black Forest Clocks, where the Herr family have made cuckoo clocks for seven generations. Adolf Herr greeted us with cherry liquor; inside we were served, with, what else but Black Forest gateau. It contained local cherries and a hint of their cherry liquor - simply scrumptious. Our host took us to his workshop where we watched in awe as his skilful hands carved the intricate designs on the clock face. Every clock is individually made and each tells a different story, fascinating, I could have watched all day!

Adolf Herr greeted us with cherry liquor; inside we were served, with, what else but Black Forest gateau. It contained local cherries and a hint of their cherry liquor - simply scrumptious.

Further down the valley is the Black Forest Open Air Museum, a farmstead perfectly preserved for over 460 years. Each building contained authentic contents, where we enjoyed this step back in time experience.

This Brabant river cruise itinerary exceeded my expectations - its sights and delights, and exciting shore excursions, with high standards of local guides, was terrific value.

The atmosphere on board was intimate and friendly, where guests mingled, enjoying each other’s company. I am so pleased this cruise was my wife’s idea!!


An identical cruise in 2019 on Fred. Olsen’s Brabant will be a seven-night `Exploring the scenic Moselle Valley` fly - cruise (R1918), departing from Dusseldorf on June 6, 2019. Prices start from £1,499 per person, includes all food and entertainment on board, return flights from London, port and airport taxes, and transfers. Please see website, for further information.