Sweet songs of the Serenade

Date Posted: 21/11/2012

Group travel organisers enjoyed a fam cruise onboard Travelsphere's Serenade 1.

Rebekah Tailor joined group organisers in sampling the delights of a Rhine river cruise onboard Travelsphere’s MS Serenade 1.

Gliding into Cologne’s attractive cityscape dominated by the Hohenzollern Bridge and gothic cathedral, in that moment I could think of no better vantage point than the one I was enjoying on the lively Sun Deck of MS Serenade 1.

This was the climax to my first river cruise, which had comprised a round-trip visiting the German towns of Koblenz and Bonn, navigating the waterways of the Rhine and Moselle.

River cruising is frequently sold as an ideal way to see a destination from a different perspective, with the bonus of exploring several places in one hit, often being able to moor close to the heart of a town or city.

“I thought it was very well organised and an excellent opportunity to taste the delights of Serenade 1 plus experience travel on Eurostar. What first impressed me was the size of the cabins, the quality and variety of food was excellent, and I thought the price of drinks on board was very reasonable.” - Bryan Reid, Chairman of Leatherhead U3A

Having now enjoyed these benefits for myself I would also add just how relaxing and sociable I found the whole experience, largely thanks of course to the comfort and hospitality onboard the Serenade.

MS Serenade 1: a four-star floating hotel

MS Serenade 1 will be sailing under the Travelsphere banner for the first time in 2013, having been chartered by former sister company Page & Moy for the past seven years. The ship is really a four-star floating hotel with facilities including a restaurant - where the quality and variety of breakfast, lunch and dinner dishes is superb, comfortable lounge/bar, small library, sauna and solarium.

Testing its full capacity of 130 guests on a two-night familiarisation which welcomed onboard a mix of travel agents, GTOs and Travelsphere staff; the taster trip provided a great introduction to river cruising.

Sun deck of the MS Serenade 1.

The size of my cabin took me by surprise and I wasn’t alone in thinking I’d been upgraded. As a ship tour of all three decks proved however, every cabin is the same size (bar the two Chopin superiors), and at a spacious 16-square-metres are reportedly the largest of any other river cruiser.

Cabins on the Mozart and Chopin decks benefit from floor-to-ceiling sliding French doors for maximum view, and I would suggest its well worth opting for one of these rooms over the smaller windows on Beethoven deck - particularly if you’re embarking on a longer cruise.

I took great pleasure in curling up on one of the cabin armchairs one morning with a cup of tea, sitting for well over an hour enjoying the views as we sashayed along the Rhine.

“It was a really good weekend; a great insight into a riverboat cruise. I feel that my clients will really enjoy it. We had a nice relaxing time, fantastic food, great cabins, the staff were really helpful, really friendly. We’ll definitely be back.” - Lin Wilson, Solent Events on Tour

Group travel organisers will also be pleased to note that tea and coffee making facilities are available in each cabin, along with en-suite bathrooms featuring separate shower and bath, flat screen televisions, a mini-bar, fridge and hairdryer.

There’s not many places to ‘hide’ onboard - which is great if you’re a sociable group - and it’s nice to have a sizeable cabin should you crave some alone time.

Exploring Koblenz and Bonn

During the course of the weekend, the majority onboard made the most of our brief visits to Koblenz and Bonn, with the town centres located just a short walking distance from where the ship was moored.

A guided tour through the historic cobbled streets of Koblenz visited the Schängel fountain and Görresplatz, pointing out the cable car mountain station and Ehrenbreitstein Fortress.

This contrasted nicely with a self-guided wander of the pretty streets of Bonn the following day, with sightseeing highlights including Beethoven’s birthplace and the Old Town Hall and marketplace.

For me, the fact that we could step off the comfort of the ship and walk straight to the heart of the old towns within a matter of minutes, sums up exactly why river cruising is such a great option for groups looking for a relaxing trip that still explores a variety of destinations.

Useful contact:

Travelsphere:
0845-758 5007
www.travelsphere.co.uk

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