Grand Circle's River Aria

We joined Grand Circle Cruise Line (GCCL)'s tour directors and guests aboard the River Aria in Amsterdam after a non-stop overnight flight from San Francisco. The River Aria was very long (400 feet) and thin, as you can see.

  

The ship has four classes of staterooms, each with a corridor lined by cabins starboard and port. A lounge is by the bow, and the dining room is at the stern, both big enough to sit all the guests. If you notice the bottom row of windows at the water line, that's where our cabin is. Our cabin is small but certainly adequate. The photo on the left is toward our window (next to a dock), with a table between our two sofas-during-day/open-up-beds at night. The table peeks out at the right side of the photo on the right, which shows the same cabin, with the photographer turned 180 degrees. Notice the TV on the wall at upper left, where several channels offered movies, announcements, a cam-corder at the bow of the ship, etc. Notice too the safe for our valuables, and a closet for our clothes. There are two doors, one to the bathroom and the other (with several signs) out to the corridor.

 

Speaking of the dining room, we had open seating for breakfast, lunch and dinner, all of which were delicious. Breakfast was buffet, lunch was a combo, and dinner was served. Dinner (with wine) and dessert was spectacularly decorated on the plate and served by excellent waiters.

Topsides, we could sit for hours, watching the scenery pass by, and we did just that.
  

Some of the bridges across the river were very low to the water, not much clearance! And no standing!
 

Some bridges were so low that the whole top structure of the boat had to be lowered, including the helm!
 

The whole staff cared for our every need, including a little local girl who was curious about the big boat and its occupants. The red boxes around the guests' necks are audio receivers that the tour directors used during city walks.The tour directors (Thijmen, Petra, Sandor & Berenike) were fabulous. Here they are celebrating deep in the lock at the highest point of the Main-Danube Canal.
   

Speaking of locks, there were 66 locks (count 'em) between Amsterdam and Vienna. A lock occurs where there is a height differential in the river or canal. Rivers flow, which means a downhill gradient, hence the geography of the surrounding land must be accomodated. Here's a hand-out which gives all of the locks (and their depths), plus some photos of the River Aria going through a deep one.