After taking the tram to the closest location to the ship, we had about a 5 minute walk. When we arrived at the dock, we found that we were one of the first guests to board. We booked a room on the first level, known affectionately as the Aquarium Class since most of the room is below the water. There are large windows on the wall near the ceiling. Since we thought we would be off the ship most of the day and that it would be winter with no need to open the French balcony. It was a fine choice for us as well as being less expensive. We were surprised when we were led to our room on the second level with a French balcony. Enough people had cancelled this trip when given the chance the week before cruising when we were told we would NOT be sailing on the Rhine. The cruise line decided to upgrade those on the first floor to the second and third floors and keep the first floor empty. Now we had a balcony and we did enjoy looking out it though sunrise was late, around 8:27 AM and sunset was early around 4:26 PM.
Since this was a Christmas cruise, the ship was all decked out in decorations. There was a lighted wreath on all staterooms. In the reception/lobby area, there was a large Christmas as well as two other ones in the lounge area. On top of all the windows in the lounge area was garland with ornaments hanging down.
The first night we were all introducing ourselves, finding out where we were from and if we had cruised before. Of course one of the main topics of conversation had to do with the cancellation then the reinstatement of our itinerary. Many others felt the same way I did – we were glad to be going but did not like all the changes. We were putting it behind us and moving forward to begin this cruise that we were excited about.
Before dinner our cruise director, whose job is taking care of us off the cruise, introduced himself and gave us an overview of the week. Unfortunately for us, he was a first year cruise director and because of the water levels had not been down to this part of the Rhine – he was a newbie like many of us. This was the first time in 3 1/2 months that the Prima had been in Basel due to the low water levels. He was very confusing at first and none of us knew what our options were or what he was saying. Many went to him after his talk to get a one on one with him. He was a very nice person, just inexperienced and not clear in his presentations.
After listening to the Cruise Director we all left to go downstairs for dinner. There is one dining time on a river cruise and you can sit wherever you want. We always seemed to gravitate to a table of six so we could meet other people. Wine and beer were complimentary and they were very generous with the pours. We had appetizers, soups, entrees and dessert. Thankfully the size of the courses were modest thought you could ask for more if you wanted.
The sundeck of this ship was lovely though very few of us went up and out due to the temperatures and at times the breeze/wind. There is also a heated small pool with bar service on the sun deck. We used this quite a bit when we were on her on another river cruise.
Keeping with the Christmas theme, we were told one evening that we needed to put our shoe outside our door in the hallway in case St. Nicholas should come to visit. We awoke the next morning to a chocolate Santa in our shoe.
Another evening we had a carol sing in the lounge and a surprise visit from the big man himself, Santa. We took turns sitting on Santa’s lap and getting a gift – one that I had looked at in some of the markets.
Another night we decorated a couple of the Christmas trees as well as having a game of finding the pickle ornament (hint – it was not on any of the trees). The cruise line and staff did a great job of making this a very festive time for all of us.
Though it can be a difficult time to be away just prior to a major holiday it forced me to be more organized by having my gifts purchased and wrapped. Being in Europe with all the holiday decorations and a holiday spirit without all the stress and crowding that I feel here was such a wonderful change of pace. A word of advice – try it, you might like it.