Photo Credit: Robert S. Donovan

I hail from the west coast of Canada; my playground was the rocky beaches of Georgia Straight between Vancouver Island and the coast of mainland British Columbia.

Through this somewhat narrow passage we watched the comings and going of plenty of sea-going vessels. From early morning salmon fishing boats to the regular rocking back and forth of the Quadra Island ferry, log booms pulled by sturdy tugboats and massive freighters carrying stock and supplies to who-knows-where.

What always stopped us in our tracks though were the cruise ships. Gliding by so closely we could see passengers waving to us from the deck, we would run along the beach trying to keep up as long as possible. Sometimes there would be 4 or 5 ships stacked up in the straight awaiting the tide to change so as to navigate the dangerous narrow up ahead. These were the best days as we could see so many magnificent ships all at once.

Of course, the ocean doesn’t have cruising all wrapped up. When I was a teenager my parents took me to Germany where we hopped on a river cruise up the Rhine river. I loved it. We lounged on the decks all day watching villages, fields, and magnificent castles pass by. As the river only gets so wide the scenery is all so close; castle walls seemed close enough to touch and we could easily see the landlubbers on shore waving to us.

Just like the grand ocean going cruises, river cruises in Europe are extravagant affairs. Great food, great wine, and great company are assured. With so many beautiful stops along the way, days are filled with sightseeing and exploring while nights are spent in comfortable, luxurious cabins.

A treat to be sure.