I’m in Holland (or the Netherlands, if you insist), for the christening of the ms Creativity, the newest ship to join Avalon Waterways’ river cruising portfolio.
Along with a handful of international travel journalists, I’ve been on the ship for about a day now, getting to know the beautiful new vessel, and to experience some of the advantages of river cruising. Our short weekend journey has taken us from Amsterdam to Hoorn, a scenic and historic city, and now to Volendam, a small village where today’s christening took place.
The ms Creativity is the third in a class of five sister ships, and the eighth to join the Avalon fleet. The 110-meter ship holds 140 passengers in 70 state rooms, most of which are equipped with floor-to-ceiling windows and French balconies. River cruise ships are much more intimate than the superliners used for most ocean cruises; still, the Creativity features a well-appointed dining room, two lounges, an internet café, a fitness center and salon.
Though our journey has been short, I can already see why river cruising has become so popular. The river is calm, so there is no seasickness. And the small size of the vessel makes it easy to get to know a number of people on board, without feeling overwhelmed by the crowds.
But perhaps the most impressive facet is the destination itself. River cruising allows you to experience Europe (or China or the Nile or other destinations) in a way that oceanliner cruising cannot. Our itinerary includes stops in a number of charming small towns that a cruise ship could never reach. The Creativity is specially outfitted with a collapsible wheelhouse and deck railing so that it can be navigated under some of Europe’s low bridges.
When we disembark, we blend into the town like locals, instead of overwhelming it as swarms of thousands of cruise passengers also do. The city tours, like everything else on a river cruise vessel, seems more intimate and more casual. Even today’s christening ceremony was fun and understated – dignitaries kept their remarks brief, and everyone enjoyed the popping bottle of champagne against the ship’s hull.
Tomorrow, I’ll disembark for a three-day city tour of Amsterdam, while the Creativity gears up for its inaugural cruise on the Rhine toward Germany. While I won’t have time to come along, this experience has vaulted river cruising toward the top of my list of much anticipated travel experiences.