I enjoy following the travels of the Georgia Ramblers. Despite a name that sounds like a country-western band, the Georgia Ramblers are Elsa and Chuck Nystrom, two avid travelers and relatively new river cruisers. They wasted no time when it came to river cruising, however, and have chalked up four river cruises, all on Uniworld, in the past couple of years. Elsa writes about her first river cruise, where, well, I sense a little Grinch. Read on … — Ralph Grizzle
Most folks would agree that travel expands your outlook; however, travel can also result in certain situations that are very frustrating to a traveler, especially when they arrive in a foreign country.
My husband and I, aka the Georgia Ramblers, have always enjoyed travel. When we were first married, we drove to California on Route 66 when it was the only way West to my husband’s base in California. We continued to take road trips after our seven children reached a manageable age, but we didn’t really take any long trips until the oldest four were in high school or college.
Along the way we owned a number of RV’s including three trailers (a pop-up, a pull along and a fifth wheel) and three motor homes. The third, a 40-foot diesel pusher was by far the nicest, but we didn’t get it until we were in our early 70’s and sold it a few years ago. My husband, the Senior Rambler, didn’t want to reach the point where it would be a struggle to drive a vehicle when it had once been a pleasure.
We have found that river cruising works really well for us. We got used to taking our hotel with us when we traveled in the motor home. The experience is similar on a river cruise, only your hotel is the boat. In the last two and a half years, we have been on four river cruises, all with Uniworld. I retired from teaching history at Kennesaw State University in July 2014 and since then started to write the GeorgiaRambler.com travel blog with my husband’s input.
As experienced as we are at traveling around the U.S. and Canada, we put over 30,000 miles on our last motor home, we had only gone to Europe once before when I taught Study Abroad courses in France almost 20 years ago. We had always wanted to go back but one thing and another kept us from traveling abroad. Having looked through a lot of brochures from the major river cruise companies, I thought taking river cruise would be a fun retirement treat.
And here is my first bit of advice: I chose a cruise that I knew I would love, fully realizing that the Senior Rambler would not; a Christmas Markets Cruise on the Danube.
He does love boats, and I thought that would be enough to get him interested but it wasn’t.
There are several important things to consider about Christmas market cruises:
- The weather can be downright chilly
- You may get rain instead of beautiful snow
- And the days are very short, and seem even shorter when it is raining. It got dark around 3:30 the first week in December in Budapest. This was not a good thing.
Finally, your partner must enjoy Christmas, perhaps not as much as you do, but at least a little. I love Christmas and everything about it, decorations, candles, foods, Christmas music … the Senior Rambler does not. Nor does he like cold weather or snow, since he spent a year in Greenland when he was in the Air Force. So you see, although we traveled together on the River Beatrice, we were on two different cruises. I loved it, he enjoyed the River Beatrice, its crew and staff, the food, meeting my Slovak cousins in Bratislava, even our modest cabin, but as he would say, “never again, a Christmas Market Cruise.”
Fortunately he did enjoy sailing down the river, so I have successfully gotten him to take three more cruises. If you are thinking of taking a river cruise, do discuss the choices with your partner before booking to make sure you are both on board. A cruise is a lot more fun if both of you are enjoying it.
Incidentally, the Senior Rambler says he polled most of the husbands on the Christmas Markets cruise, and most of them felt it was really for women. Now I make a point of picking a cruise that has at least one stop I know he will really enjoy.