May 30th we boarded the Uniworld, River Princess for the "European Serenade" cruise. The planned cruise was from Vienna to Amsterdam by way of the Danube thru the Main-Danube Canal to the Rhine. Due to the worst flooding in Central Europe since 1501 our itinerary was drastically altered. We had expected the cruise to be a vacation of a lifetime and it was. One of my favorite sayings is; "Shit happens, it is how you handle the shit that matters." The entire Uniworld staff and our fellow passengers handled the situation with grace and good humor. We know there were many Uniworld employees behind the scenes putting in long hours to enable us to continue with our vacation and everyone appreciated it. The passengers remained upbeat and made the best of the situation. Bart Roelofs, the cruise manager, was amazing. He was under tremendous pressure and never let it show. He kept a sense of humor which had us all laughing no matter the circumstances. I found him to be inspirational. Below is a poem he wrote about the cruise. I have inserted some photos so you can get a visual of our journey.
River Cruise Poem (aka the Flood Fahrt)
By: Bart Roelofs
Uniworld Cruise Manager
In Vienna we all came on board of the wonderful River Princess, this cruise was going to be a big success.
Captain Anton and HM Silvia run a tight ship, a lovely Vienna city tour but then the rain started to drip.
From Tulln we sailed up the Danube River, pouring rain & rising water made us shiver.
Walls were erected by the Austrian fire brigade, hopefully our trip would not be delayed.
Our first stop was the town of Melk in the Wachau, from here we went to lovely Český Krumlov,
Fabulous town in the Czech Nation, too bad that the lunch @ the brewery got lost in translation.
The river was still rising, all hands on deck, as fast as we could to Krems we sailed back.
We found shelter in the industrial port, here we would always to go and come back on board.
We drove back to Melk to visit "Dear Abby", in the afternoon the wine tasting made us happy.
Salzburg was next in line, this city of the "Sound of Music" and Mozart was far but therefore might fine.
Meanwhile in Krems the same old tune, looking at containers and sand dunes.
This could not go on forever and something had to be done, eventually we would have to move on.
Leaving Krems & the ship was painful and hard to do, though finally reaching Germany was like a dream come true.
Going to Nuremberg on 3 buses and CM Bart, it looked it would be a magnificent autobahn fahrt.
Oops, the Danube flooded the highway; scenic driving thru the Bavarian hills meant a 6 hour delay.
Just before midnight we arrived at the hotel, little time left for dinner, so please "mach schnell".
Next morning we had the ultimate shock with cold showers and festival hard rock.
Nuremberg was lovely though and the day was fine, we experienced rare weather phenomena called, "sunshine"!
The German language proved to be pretty hard, we learned all about einfahrt, rundfahrt, & "where the hell is ausfahrt".
Rothenburg was next and the town was just right, 100 years of history in that medieval gem are a delight.
Finally our bus ride was no more, in Strasbourg we were boarding the River Ambassador!
The question was whether we would grab our last chance, and actually be able to leave France.
And yes, just after we came on board the ships engines did start, we could finally enjoy the magic of a river cruise fahrt.
Sailing on the Rhine felt so good; walking thru Rüdesheim in the sun surly improved our mood.
Onward we sailed and started our Castle Rally, dozens of spectacular castles in the Lorelei Valley.
In Cologne we hit the town for a drink in a pub, unfortunately the town was pretty dead so we came home & gave up!
Morning walk to the catherdal of this magnificent city, as it is Sunday all shops were closed, what a pity!
the local bathroom industry we did admire, several grumpy grandmas earned enough to retire.
Amsterdam in the Netherlands our last port of call, soon it will be time to say auf wiedersehen to y'all.
HM Jan arranged at night free booze, with a minor hangover we started our lovely Amsterdam canal cruise.
Rembrandt and Van Gogh, now we know it all, some guides explained every paintbrush in great detail.
If you want and still have energy left you can come with Bart, for an after dinner Red Light District Fahrt!
We now have passed the last river bend, and our Cruise/Bus trip thru 5 countries has come to an end.
In spite of the worst floods since 1501 we were prevailing, and at the end of the day we were even sailing.
The chemistry within the group was wunderbar, whenever help was needed: Martin and Petra were never far.
Captains Evert & Anton, HM Jan & Silvia just to name a few, but all crew members loved working with you.
After this grand trip parting ways is hard, don't forget you'll always have a friend in Bart.
Cherish these memories, we did have a ball, Have a great life and may God bless y'all.