Yes, those are lyrics from Proud Mary, so if it gives you an Ike & Tina earworm, I'd say I'm sorry, but I wouldn't be sincere.
In late August 2019, Michele and I, plus our friends, Andy and Jackie Schwitter and Jim & Deborah Nugent, two couples that we have traveled with extensively over the past 20 or so years, took a 7-day river cruise aboard the Crystal Bach. We were sailing the Rhine River from Basel, Switzerland to Amsterdam. The Bach is a 106 passenger, 6 star, all-suite luxury river cruise ship just celebrating its second birthday. The cabins were huge, 253 sq. ft. (A quick check of one of the competitions new ships that tied up next to us in port one day had cabins of 150 sq. Ft. 103 sq. Ft. smaller!!) with king bed, large bathroom with walk-in shower, walk-in closet, and sparkling wine refreshed in cabin daily. Throw in the unforgettable food; warm, friendly, knowledgeable staff in both the restaurant and the lounge; and an all-around VIP vibe for guests from every walk of life, and the Bach earned its place on my best experiences list.
As a group, we started in Paris and, after a few days, took the TGV to Basel. Basel was charming on a level that I didn't expect. We loved it. The old city is primarily a pedestrian zone, so walking was pleasant and care-free. We were able to board the ship in Basel, starting at noon. Not wanting to miss a moment, we arrived around 12:15, boarded, began with a glass of bubbly, and were checked in and assigned our cabins. The first order of business – lunch! This introduction to the skills of the culinary team did not disappoint. While I can't remember what was on offer that day, I can tell you that every day there was a well-stocked salad bar with at least three types of lettuce, and a host of options to make the salad your own. Once you cleared the salad bar, you had three, and often four, entrée choices, numerous vegetable sides, three different dessert choices, and cheese if you were so inclined.
After lunch, it was up one level to the lounge to make the staff's acquaintance and get a grasp of our options. There was no need to worry. I kept testing the quality of their martini's and am happy to report that every one I tasted was as good or better than the one before it.
Don't feel like a cocktail? No worries - there was an extensive wine by the glass list. I was partial to a California Pinot Noir, and most anything you could want was there. If you felt to need to upgrade your wine or liquor options, it was available for a fair price. No one in my group felt the need. We were happy with the choices available to us.
While Breakfast and lunch were primarily buffets with ala-cart options, dinner every evening was a plated affair. You ordered from a menu of that evening's options with a suggestion of red and white wines to be paired with dinner, all part of their all-inclusive offering. Again, if you felt the need to trade-up, the option was available.
During our daily stops in port, there were sometimes up to four activity options included as part of our cruise. You made your activity reservation on-line long before you left for Europe. Once again, if you wanted something other than the regular offering, it was there for you for an additional charge. We never felt the need and were happy with our options.
Tours don't do it for you? How about sitting on the top deck as we sail the Rhine past the Lorelei, with castle upon castle coming in to view on an amazingly beautiful stretch of river? Would that work?
There was something for everyone, and it was all of a quality that made you feel good about your decision to sail aboard the Crystal Bach.
And if you are wondering, this was not a comped or discounted trip. We all paid the same as any other guest. If you are questioning whether we felt it was worth it, one of my friends remarked that we took advantage of so much that was part of the cruise price, he couldn't figure out how they made money on us.
I had to order another martini to ponder his comment.
Now, back to Ike & Tina.