Hailing the President’s Cruise

15-time travelers add new page to their passports on The Great Rivers of Europe

By Sherry Fishman, 15-time traveler, Morristown, New Jersey

Charles Cox and I will celebrate our 17-year anniversary as a couple in October. But I won’t forget one of his first questions when we got together, walking through the park: “Do you have a passport?” We’re both 15-time Grand Circle travelers. “If we’re going to be together, you’re going to need one,” he said. We’ve been traveling together ever since, and I’m halfway through my second passport. I just love it.

Our most recent trip was the President’s Cruise on The Great Rivers of Europe this past June. I totally recommend the President’s Cruises even if you’ve already done the base trip before.

Charles Cox and I are both 15-time travelers, most recently on the President’s Cruise in June, which this year featured an enhanced itinerary of The Great Rivers of Europe. It was our second time on this trip, and we were far from disappointed!

We had already traveled The Great Rivers of Europe, but it was fun to revisit, and to see the enhanced and new features. We’ve taken a number of repeat trips, including two Romance of the Rhine & Mosel River Cruises. We had done that once and then went again with friends two years ago. Over the years the trips change a bit, and when we went the last time we went to the Stork Park, where we visited the birds and nests, and it was just really interesting and different.

I had a fantastic time this June. I knew it said “President’s Cruise” but I didn’t think I was going to be at the actual captain’s table! I ended up sitting right next to Franco Guerriero, the president of Grand Circle Cruise Line, and he was just really very, very nice and down to Earth.

I was delighted with my opportunity to eat dinner at the Captain’s Table next to Franco Guerriero, the president of Grand Circle Cruise Line.

The whole M/S Harmony crew was really just one of the top highlights—we’ve never had such phenomenal service on 14 other cruises, they just couldn’t do enough for you. There were four nights of open bar, and the chef was amazing. Chef, Danny Scotland—who’s actually from Germany—was so personable, he came out to check on everybody every night, and was so friendly and everything was beautifully presented. There are certain things I don’t eat and there was enough of a variety for me every night.

Chef Danny Scotland outdid himself at dinner, and there were many dishes for even the pickiest of eaters to choose from.

We also really enjoyed the music entertainment every night. Charles and I don’t usually dance, but we got out there a little when he was playing. We’ve never had anyone who was on the ships before for any of our 14 other cruises who played music every night. There was also a massage therapist on board. I had one, and our new friend Anne Umana, had a couple. She had just had surgery recently, so the massage therapist really helped her.

One of the things we enjoy the most is the people we meet on GCT trips, and this one was no different. The couples in the blue group with us—Anne, a 4-time traveler from Swampscott, Massachusetts, and her companion, Lou Tobia, a 2-time traveler also from Swampscott; and Sidney and Estelle Darion, 9-time travelers from New York City, New York—just hit it off. They made a wonderful trip even more fantastic.

How do I know I had a good time? I downloaded seven or eight books on my Kindle, and I only got through about two and a half. I’m a big reader, always right before I go to bed or sitting on the trips, but we were doing so much I didn’t have time! We were walking so much during the day because there was so much to see and do that I fell right to sleep.

Cuckoo clocks in Regensburg are really fun to watch, but I felt no need to keep track of time on vacation.

For me, one of my favorite highlights included the royal blue windows by Marc Chagall at St. Stephen’s Church in Mainz, Germany. They were just as breathtaking the second time around. The vivid colors are just so striking.

Marc Chagall designed the breathtaking Cerulean blue windows at St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Mainz, Germany.

And the place where we had the Home-Hosted Kaffeeklatsch was amazing. It was a trout farm and a place that they rent out like a hostel. A mother and a daughter—who had two children—ran the place. The water came down from the mountains and they didn’t need any electricity to run this amazing farm, which was spotless. It was really fascinating, and I don’t even eat trout! I’ve never seen anything like this farm before.

We greatly enjoyed our Home-Hosted Visit to the mountainside trout farm.

I expect there will be other things I haven’t seen before on my next trip, although I am familiar with the area, having sailed the Russia Revealed: Moscow to St. Petersburg River Cruise. Charles and I really enjoyed speaking with Franco at dinner about the new trip to Ukraine and we will probably look into that soon.

But, no matter where we travel next, I’m sure there will be several walks through any number of parks on distant shores—just like the day Charles and I decided to see the world together.

Would you like to experience the excitement of the 2013 President’s Cruise? This year we’ll be featuring an enhanced itinerary for Eastern Europe to the Black Sea, featuring eleven added special events.