Marilyn Foster: Cruising is the best way to see Europe

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One of my favorite ways to travel is aboard a small cruise ship — or long boat — that will become my home away from home as I settle in and let the captain and crew attend to my needs while I enjoy the cities and villages one sees on the travel shows or has read about in travel magazines.

The long-boats generally hold no more than about 150 passengers and offer comfortable cabins with private baths and windows that slide open to form your own indoor/outdoor patio. You’ll enjoy three gourmet meals daily and be taken to ports you would probably overlook if you were driving.

After enduring that long international flight, there’s nothing better than settling in your cabin and being spoiled for the next 7-10 days. You’ll learn history from capable tour guides as they guide you on walking tours along ancient streets and alleys before letting you “loose” to explore on your own.

No worry, the ship is always moored nearby and within walking distance. It’s nice to have a few hours on your own — without pressure — to explore the nooks and crannies of these charming villages and to enjoy a coffee and pastry in a local bakery or sit outside enjoying a local beer or wine in the village square.

Your travel mates will all be English-speaking as will be your crew. The entertainment usually comes on board after dinner to enlighten you to the culture. There may be cooking demonstrations and glass blowing. Ethnically dressed young people will come on board to sing and dance for you. By the end of the cruise, you’ll know much about the people, history, and culture that formed them.

In 2019, we’ll be cruising along the Romantic Rhine and Mosel Rivers to see tulips in bloom. The Mayflower Tulip Time Cruise, departing on April 7 for 10 days, will begin with a few days in Lucerne, Switzerland before going onto Basel to board the MS Emerald Sky sailing through parts of France, Germany, and ending in Amsterdam. I’ve been on this trip and can only say I was overwhelmed with the color and variety of tulips. I bought tulip bulbs in Amsterdam to plant in my garden and when they bloom annually, I’m reminded of this wonderful trip. If booked prior to Aug. 31, the airfare is free.

For those who love art and good wines while cruising through amazing scenery in Southern France along the Rhone and Saone Rivers, we’ve reserved cabins aboard the MS Emerald Liberte, beginning Sept. 13, 2019. This 11-day tour of the most beautiful and charming part of France begins in Lyon allowing us to see some of the most beautiful sites in Provence. It’s no wonder the Impressionist artists painted so many of their finer works here. Have a glass of wine at Van Gogh’s favorite bar in Arles as you enjoy viewing one of the best preserved forums in the world. Exploring Avignon — once the home of the Popes — and delight in the small shops and incredible history.

At the end of the seven-day voyage, you’ll be transferred to fabulous Nice for three days. Here you’ll be taken to Monte Carlo — the ultimate gambling hall — and have the opportunity to see why Nice “is the place to be” for the rich and famous. This trip has the free air component if booked before Aug. 31st as well.

For a truly “off the beaten path” cruise, I need to recommend to you the Gems of Eastern Europe cruise aboard the Emerald Sun departing July 3, 2019. We’ll touch the countries of Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria as we cruise the lower Danube River.

We’ll start off in Bucharest and end in beautiful Budapest with interesting stops in between. For Dracula fans, who wouldn’t want to venture to Transylvania to tour Bran Castle where your guide will regale you with stories of the famous count? In Serbia, we’ll sail through the Iron Gates on our way to the first and largest archaeological excavation site in Eastern Europe — Viminacium. We’ll touch Croatia to visit Osijek, the 4th largest city in the country. Ever wonder where paprika came from? You’ll find out in Kalocsa, Hungary. Guess what! Free air on this trip as well as all gratuities are included.

Yes, we have quite the cruise tour lineup for you for 2019 with more on the way as we receive word from our tour operator. Not a fan of traveling that far or small ship cruising? No matter, the Chamber has lots of other travel offerings.

I love small ship river cruising and know you’ll be hooked on this way to sightsee after your first trip! Call the Chamber at 882-1565 for information and be sure to book one of the cruises before Aug. 31 to take advantage of the free air offer.

Marilyn is a consummate traveler and always has a suitcase packed. She’s 89 years old and still has so much more of this world to see.


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