From the off we established that you get out of a river cruise what you put into it. Daily, organised trips, on foot or by coach? No problem. If you want to do your own thing, go for it. Everything is so close at hand - no need to head to huge ports miles from anywhere on a river cruise. You can walk into town, grab one of the brand-new bikes and cycle to the cathedral, castle or to visit those out-ofthe-way backstreets if that's what you fancy. It's your shout.
Our cabin - sorry, "stateroom" - was great: compact but with everything we needed. Mundy had persuaded us to trade up from a cabin in the bilges with its duck's-eye view of the world to one above with big sliding glass doors and its own little balcony. Was that a good idea? Definitely. What fun to lie abed and watch the Rhine roll by with its unending parade of fields and stately barges. We chose our table in the dining roo which we kept for the whole trip. We had a view from the window and were close enough to our neighbours to be able to chat when we wanted to and share our day's experiences, but not so close that we felt obliged to keep up a constant conversation. The food from the first meal to the last was, quite simply, excellent.
We took a tour to the once-in-a-decade Floriade Exhibition near Amsterdam to learn about green technology, made a solo mission to poke our noses around Koln the following day, then a walking tour with a plain-talking local guide in Koblenz. The weather was sunnier by the day, the top deck filling with readers, keen binoculars-wearers and the handful who signed up for the stretching classes.
The views are magnificent. We'd imagined wide, industrial sized vineyards, not the patchwork of vines filling every nook and cranny of the steep slopes around us. A highlight was cycling from
Cochem, with its imposing castle, through the vineyards to the village of Beilstein. Another was Trier's Roman ruins, before we rejoined the Rhine and enjoyed the most beautiful stretch of the river. Blink and you miss another stunning castle, look left and there it is, the Lorelei Rock.
What shall I remember about our trip? The castles with their fairy-tale turrets, the churches with their aspiring spires, the villages with their cobbled streets and geraniums, the verdant, vertiginous vineyards of the Mosel. I shall remember dancing the evenings away to the excellent musicians brought aboard for our after-dinner pleasure. I shall remember sipping cocktails while sitting in (yes, in!) the top-deck miniature swimming pool, luxuriating in the deliciously warm water as we slip our moorings and glide off past yet more improbably picturesque landscapes. And finally, was everyone else older than us and American to boot? Yes and yes. Did it matter? Not one jot. The company was charming and we had an absolute ball.