Wrap it up with Peter Knego aboard Emerald Waterways’ strikingly modern EMERALD SKY on her pre-maiden transit of the Rhine, with a passage through the scenic Rhine Gorge and visits to Rudesheim, Mannheim (for Heidelberg) and Breisach (for the Black Forest).
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THE SANDS OF ALANG: A new DVD about shipbreaking in Alang, India
All photos by and copyright Peter Knego 2014.
Saturday, April 12, 2014
Mark 560 Rhine Gorge.
EMERALD SKY quietly released her lines from Koblenz and continued her passage down the Rhine at 0700. By the time I made it up to deck, she was at the 560 mark in the famed Rhine River Gorge.
Wine on the Rhine.
Castles in the sky.
Stewards kindly offered up sweet German bubbly to enhance the 65 kilometer transit through quaint towns, vineyards and steep ravines strewn with castles and medieval ruins but I decided to stick to my frothy cappuccino.
The legendary Lorelei….
I must confess, like the “Little Mermaid” in Copehnagen, the legendary Lorelei was somewhat of a disappointment. Did she plunge off that cliff due to spurned love or was it in response to her bronze likeness?
In the early afternoon, we were exiting the gorge and approaching Rudesheim am Rhiem, a charming UNESCO World Heritage town known for its wine making and offbeat museums.
Choo choo time.
A “choo choo” train takes visitors from the cruise landing up a kilometer or so into the center of town.
Maria and her musical instruments.
Our first stop was at Rudesheim’s key attraction, Siegfried’s Mechanisches Musikkabinett, also known as the Museum of Self-Playing Musical Instruments. Even a diehard cynic like yours truly was instantly melted by the enthusiasm of guide Maria, who loves sharing the secrets of those melodious if not utterly fascinating machines.
Cable car to the summit.
Apparently the other major museum in Rudesheim is the Museum of Torture. Well, maybe next time. Instead, I joined a colleague for a cable car ride to the Niederwald Landscape Park at the top of a nearby hill.
It was a perfect day to take in a panoramic view of the Rhine.
Although it lacks any sort of subtlety, the 1871-built Niederwalddenkmal statue of Germania commemorating the end of the Franco-Prussian War by Johannes Schilling is spectacularly powerful. Lady Liberty looks demure by comparison.
Afterwards, I had time for a jog in the park alongside the quay, then it was all aboard as the EMERALD SKY continued her southbound passage. At dinner in the Horizon Restaurant, I was especially impressed with a pesto gnocchi ravioli. In just a few short days, the cuisine had improved markedly.
Sunday, April 13, 2014
EMERALD SKY’s next port of call, Mannheim, is a rather industrial place that happens to be conveniently close to famed Heidelberg. After breakfast, we filed onto a coach for yet another excellent guided tour of Heidelberg and its celebrated castle.
Heidelberg Castle gates.
Our first stop was the castle, which overlooks the town and the Neckar River. It dates to the late 14th/early15th Century as a royal residence for Prince-Elector Ruprecht III. Destroyed by war and lightning, it was being quarried for its stones when partially restored by Count Charles de Graimberg in the 19th Century.
Salmon stucco vs. green tea gelato.
There was time afterwards to roam through the charming town with its Gothic and Baroque cathedrals and stone streets in search of crispy dried apple chips and even an elusive green tea gelato. Hard to imagine that some 75 years ago, this idyllic and friendly village was in the throes of Kristallnacht.
“Fortune Hunter” and Tea for Twiggy.
Back aboard the EMERALD SKY that afternoon, we had some time to recline on the Rhine. The ship’s godmother Twiggy and her husband kept to themselves throughout the voyage but they did seem to enjoy afternoon tea and a good read in the sun.
Atoms on the Rhine.
I took breaks between filing dispatches, jogging on deck and just watching the scenery pass by. At one point, we encountered a massive nuclear power plant.
There was just one more day to savor as EMERALD SKY followed a brilliant moon well into the night.
Monday, April 14, 2014
MV EMERALD SKY at Breisach.
EMERALD SKY tied up in a raft of other river ships at Breisach, where, after a deck barbeque, we hopped onto coaches for an afternoon excursion to the Black Forest.
Black Forest greenery.
On the drive, we encountered every shade of green in the spectrum.
Open Air Black Forest Museum.
Our destination was the Open Air Black Forest Museum or Schwarzwälder Freilichtmuseum Vogtsbauernhof, which features a collection of vintage farmhouses that date as far back as 1612.
No visit to the Black Forest would be complete without one of its eponymous cake-making demos. The museum’s resident chefs have cooked thousands of these cream-filled, multi-layered confections over the years.
Piece of cake.
After a little sweet indulgence, we stumbled back onto our coaches for the return journey to the ship.
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
EMERALD SKY berthed in Basel, where she would take on her first fare-paying guests for her official maiden cruise back up the Rhine to Amsterdam. The first of four ultra-sleek “Starships” was born!
End of EMERALD On The Rhine
Special thanks: Mindy Bianca, Martin Cox, Elliot Gillies
Having documented over 400 passenger ships and taken more than 200 cruises, MaritimeMatters’ co-editor Peter Knego is a leading freelance cruise writer, a respected ocean liner historian and frequent maritime lecturer both on land and at sea. With his work regularly featured in cruise industry trades and consumer publications. Knego also runs the www.midshipcentury.com website which offers MidCentury cruise ship furniture, artwork and fittings rescued from the shipbreaking yards of Alang, India. He has produced several videos on the subject, including his latest, The Sands Of Alang and the best-selling On The Road To Alang."
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