EMERALD On The Rhine, Part Two

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Continue with Peter Knego aboard Emerald Waterways’ EMERALD SKY, the first in a four-member “Star Ship” platform of river cruise ships, on her maiden transit of the Rhine, with visits to Cologne and Koblenz.

Emerald Waterways

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THE SANDS OF ALANG: A new DVD about shipbreaking in Alang, India

All photos by and copyright Peter Knego 2014.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

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Horizon Lounge, facing aft from port.

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Another totally random EMERALD SKY carpet shot.

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Reflections Restaurant, facing aft.

Having spent the entire night and a good portion of the morning propped up in my stateroom filing stories for various markets, I napped for a couple hours, then emerged with just enough time for a frothy cappuccino in the Horizon Lounge before joining a press conference prior to lunch in the Reflections Restaurant.

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Forward stairs, facing down from Deck 3.

Afterwards, there was a little time to relax and taken in the edgy aesthetics of the EMERALD SKY.

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Approaching Cologne.

Around noon, the Rhine’s pastoral surrounds became decidedly more urban as the EMERALD SKY approached Cologne, Germany’s fourth largest city. Founded by the Romans in 82 AD, it was intersected by various trade routes and thrived through the ages until being obliterated by Allied bombs in World War Two.

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MV EMERALD SKY at Cologne.

EMERALD SKY tied up steps away the Museum of Chocolate.  We disembarked in time to join the 1:30 PM walking tour.

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Gauging the depth…

Our first stop was at the base of one of Cologne’s distinctive river depth towers, which at first glance resembled a pointed clock.

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Twin spired.

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Gothic zoom.

We walked a couple short blocks into town to marvel at the magnificent Gothic Cathedral, whose twin spires soar the equivalent of a forty story building (474 feet) into the sky, a rather remarkable feat for a structure that was completed in 1880, albeit after some 6.5 centuries of construction. In 1996, it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.

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Gothic bloom.

April clearly was a wonderful time to be in Germany, with its mild weather and abundant spring blossoms.

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Pixel this.

Although there was not enough time to climb up to the top of the towers, we make a quick pass through the cathedral. In the south transcept, stained glass panels by German artist Gerhard Richter were installed in 2007. Resembling pixels, they are apparently not to the current archbishop’s liking.

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Bier and bites.

At the end of the included tour, which included a walk through the old Jewish quarter and a visit to the fragrance museum, we were taken to a local restaurant for a sampling of local hors d’oeuvres and beer.

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Chocolate museum morsel.

We still had time to visit the Museum of Chocolate for a self-guided tour. Admission is 9 Euros and includes a few tasty samples of Lindt chocolates as well as numerous exhibits (including a small “tropicarium”) on chocolate’s 3,000 year history and how it is grown and processed.

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Gym, facing starboard.

Back on board, the EMERALD SKY, I had time for a very short workout before attending Twiggy’s Q and A in the Horizon Lounge. Alas, bane of maiden voyages in general, the machines were still in need of programming. Still, it was nice to have some sort of workout facility on the ship.

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Orange is the new black:  Twiggy and the bottleneck.

In the Horizon Lounge, the EMERALD SKY’s Godmother gave a short recap of her career, dutifully consented to some pre-screened questions from one of the attending Brit journalists, was presented with the remnants of the prior day’s christening bottle and then sped off with her husband/manager for dinner in town.

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Reflections Restaurant, facing forward.

We enjoyed another leisurely meal in Reflections before I retired after a long but fulfilling first full day on the Rhine.

Friday, April 11, 2014

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MV EMERALD SKY at Koblenz.

We awoke to find the EMERALD SKY securely berthed in Koblenz, which is at the intersection of the Rhine and Moselle Rivers.

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Armored lion overview.

The morning excursion began with a ninety or so minute coach ride along the banks of the Moselle to Cochem. Our first stop would be the fairytale-like Reichsburg Cochem overlooking the scenic town. Built in the twelfth century, it fell into ruins until being reconstructed by Berlin businessman Louis Fréderic Jacques Ravené in 1868.

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Castle gate.

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Dying Roman on the table.

A friendly guide greeted us at the gate and took us on a tour of palatial halls and banquet rooms now owned and operated by the city of Cochem.

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Magical Moselle.

The Moselle, especially on this balmy spring day, was nothing short of magical — just one of many scenic highlights of the week.

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Banks of the Moselle.

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Castle over Cochem.

Our visit concluded with a walk through Cochem. Before we headed back to Koblenz, there was a chance to settle in at a local cafe or shop. I took a quick walk to the stone arch bridge over the Moselle for a few parting shots.

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Basilica of St. Castor abloom.

After lunch on board, we joined the afternoon walking tour of Koblenz, which was founded as a Roman military post in 8 BC. Straddling the two rivers, it’s location is both strategic and scenic, with a charming old town, cathedrals and verdant parks.

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Memorial for Jewish citizen persecuted and killed by the Nazis.

Our guide stopped to acknowledge the occasional brass “stepping stones”, plaques honoring local citizens killed by the Nazis. If it could happen in an idyllic setting like Koblenz, it can happen anywhere.

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Walking through Koblenz.

Throughout the trip, Emerald Waterways walking tours would be an ideal way to sample the local towns. All of our guides were consistently excellent.

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Art Nouveau facade of Hygaea atop the old pharmacy in Koblenz.

Some of the surviving Art Nouveau era architecture was breathtaking.

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Modern Koblenz.

And Koblenz’ ultra modern buildings are pretty striking, as well.

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Kaiser WIlhelm der Grosse Monument.

After the tour, I wandered off to the intersection of the two rivers to explore the massive Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse monument. Majestic, if a bit overpowering, it was built in 1891 by Kaiser Wilhelm II to honor his grandfather Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse, the “uniter” of the German Empire.

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Giant prow at intersection of Moselle (left) and Rhine (right).

Both Kaisers were the namesakes of great ships, so it is fitting that the monument juts into the intersection of the two rivers like the prow of a giant liner.

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Imperial eagle.

Again, not a trace of subtlety here but the Roman-inspired imagery is powerful and beautifully rendered.

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Emerald uber Deutschland.

Back on board, dinner awaited. Afterwards, there was time in the lounge as a cabaret singer crooned away, then it was off to bed and early to rise for my first Rhine Gorge passage.

End of EMERALD On The Rhine, Part Two…

Special thanks: Mindy Bianca, Martin Cox, Elliot Gillies

Peter Knego

Peter Knego

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."
Peter Knego

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