This summer’s Rhine River cruise


William Urban

Two years ago, when the COVID epidemic shut down the tourist industry in Europe, we canceled the Rhine River cruise that we had booked. This January, when it appeared that restrictions were being lifted everywhere, we used our vouchers for a low-priced cruise this June. Of course, the rules changed and changed again, then we had three flight changes in the last twenty-four hours, but we made it to our almost-below-water stateroom and hoped for the best.

We started in Basel because I knew that the departure from Amsterdam would be much less rushed than if we had to take a connecting flight from Basel to a regional hub. I won’t say much about the flights, since United and KLM had different good and bad points, and nowadays all economy seats are designed for tiny people. So we were tired when we were met at the Basel airport (technically in France) and swiftly transported to our ship—the Mani, which carries 190 passengers and a crew of 50. We were down in the rear half of the ship, with wealthier patrons on the deck above, and the super-rich above them. I never could identify who the super-rich were, the passengers all being at or past retirement age, casually dressed, and not caring whether anyone knew that they were important or famous; if I had hung out at the bar, maybe I would have learned, but I like to remember where I’ve been and what people have said. Forward there was a large dining hall below the slightly smaller lounge with a bar, with outside stairs to the open deck for those who like sun and don’t mind the occasional bursts of cool wind.

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