Fred Olsen Cruise Lines has made waves by launching a brand new river cruise product with a familiar feel.
It might have only been 9.30am, but it clearly wasn’t too early to celebrate Rudesheim’s most famous product as we clinked glasses and raised a toast to Riesling. Some other passengers had opted to take a cable car ride over the steep vineyards surrounding the winemaking town on the banks of the Rhine, but we chose a post-breakfast walk, stopping at three wineries along the way.
Over generous samples, our guide explained the history of wine growing in the Rheingau region, which goes back to Roman times. Today nearly 400 winemakers produce the aromatic wine from the so-called ‘king of the grapes’.
Afterwards we made our way back through the cobbled streets – a little more merrily than when we set out – to board our river ship, Brabant, where lunch was waiting and some of our fellow Fred Olsen Cruises shipmates had already started tucking in.
Until this year you wouldn’t have found this particular cruise company floating along Europe’s most popular river. However, the ocean line has branched out into the world of river cruising and chartered Amadeus River Cruises’ Amadeus Princess for the 2018/19 season. With a new ‘B’ name, reflecting the brand, the ship sails on a variety of five-to-25-night itineraries on the Rhine and Moselle.
We were on the ‘Romantic Rhine & Moselle Marvels’, sailing from Basel to Dusseldorf, where highlights include the scenic Middle Rhine Valley, home to the legendary Lorelei Rock, where a siren is said to have lured passing sailors to their doom.
As well as a new name, Brabant has been tweaked to suit British tastes and agents can confidently sell the product to existing Fred Olsen Cruise Lines’ clients and recommend it to seasoned or new-to-river-cruise customers who prefer to travel with fellow Brits.
Launched in 2006, the 156-passenger ship might be one of the oldest owned by Amadeus, but it has been extremely well maintained and has many of the fleet’s trademark features – often lacking in newer ships operated by other lines – including a five-course diner, hair salon, massage room and wellness bath, gym, sun deck splash pool and five complimentary bikes; wifi is also free. Guests can expect the Fred Olsen ‘feel’, with an English cruise service manager, a friendly and relaxed vibe and sterling as the on-board currency.
Meals are served in the main dining room on an open seating basis and are all full service, with additional buffets at breakfast and lunch. In addition to regional dishes, including a delicious Bavarian lunch, menus feature traditional favourites such as a full English breakfast, fish and chips and chateaubriand.
A light lunch and daily afternoon tea are available in the lounge, the latter featuring the requisite cucumber sandwiches, plus scones, cream and jam. Drinks are not included but a drinks package for wine, beer and soft drinks with lunch and dinner is available for £10 per person, per day.
Cabins are spread across three decks, all served by a lift, and the majority measure nearly 15 square metres, apart from the two suites (around 22 square metres each) that include bathtubs and a payable mini-bar. All cabins, which can be configured as singles or doubles, have French balconies and are well-equipped with amenities, including a flat-screen TV, hairdryer and toiletries.
Holidays can be sold on a fly-cruise or cruise-only basis, with agents paid commission on the fly-cruise price. Excursions are sold on an à la carte basis and can be booked individually or as a package of six or seven, depending on the itinerary, in advance or on board. However, it should be noted that shore tours need a minimum number to take place or they will be cancelled.
Brabant offered a very comfortable base for our week sailing down the Rhine and Moselle, with excursions providing a real taste of the destination.
- Fly-cruise and cruise-only fares available
- Flexible optional extras, including excursions and drinks package as well as holiday insurance
- All the hallmarks of a Fred Olsen Cruise Lines product aimed at British passengers
- Friendly, personal service in a relaxed atmosphere
- Excellent on-board facilities including hairdresser, massage room, gym and plunge pool
The seven-night Romantic Rhine and Moselle Marvels itinerary from Basel to Dusseldorf on Brabant is from £1,499pp, based on departures in June and July 2019, including return flights from London, Manchester and Scotland, as well as transfers. From £1,199pp cruise only.