Scenic Cruises Christmas Market Tour: A ship’s farewell and a slow transition to shore life

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There’s such a difference between the disembarkation from a cruise ship and the disembarkation from a river cruise boat.  This one was serene and manageable – no getting up at dawn, no suitcases in the hallways at midnight.

We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast, said goodbye to the crew and got into the taxi that Yvonne the tour director had arranged for us.

photo(10)That, for me, is how a cruise should end – I hate rushed endings and stressful deadlines which I think can take away from the pleasure that was enjoyed on the cruise.  So this is the way it should be done, though of course bigger ships and larger passenger numbers make that impossible. Another advantage of small ship cruising!

I also think no holiday should end too abruptly so rather than scurry to the airport for a flight home, we have arranged an extra day at an intriguing new hotel in Amsterdam.photo(12)

The Notting Hill (www.hotelnottinghill.nl) -which sounds as if it should be in London, not Amsterdam- is situated right on the edge of the museum district, in easy walking distance of the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh and the Stadlich.

It used to be an old government building and now is a fashionable small design/boutique hotel, with 71 rooms, a welcoming lobby with a wall of antique suitcases, and good bar and restaurant.

unnamedSo we spend the day drooling over the Frans Hals and Rembrandts in the Rijksmuseum, then spend a few hours in the Van Gogh Museum. Lunch in the open gallery of the Rijksmuseum is delicious.

Later we meet an old friend, befriended on a cruise a few years ago, in the bar at the Notting Hill, and he fills us up with wine and Dutch bitterballen and all his news.

Dinner is a rijstaffel at Tempo Doeloe, (www.tempodoeloerestaurant.nl) an Indonesian restaurant in the gorgeously lit Utrechtstrasse, a short walk from the hotel.

A very pleasant way to finish off a Christmas Markets Cruise – enjoying the city of Amsterdam at its seasonal luminous best.

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