Try Me a River

A first-timer set sails for Europe aboard Avalon Wa­ter­ways.

Porthole Cruise Magazine - - Contents - BY ELIZABETH MARTINEZ

IF YOU’RE LIKE ME, YOU HAVE A SLIGHT fear of the un­known. It doesn’t stop me from liv­ing life, but I do get but­ter­flies when­ever I’m about to make a change or do some­thing new. So, need­less to say, I had a hint of nerves when I planned to em­bark on a first for me: a river cruise.

I was that girl. Hail­ing from South Florida, I’d only ever been on ocean cruises mostly through­out the Caribbean. With Mi­ami’s cruise port prac­ti­cally in my back­yard, tak­ing a trip with 3,000 of my clos­est friends is a fun, easy, and af­ford­able es­cape from the ev­ery­day. But when I heard that 84 per­cent of river cruis­ers are pre­vi­ous ocean cruis­ers, I fig­ured it was worth a try. And when I read about Avalon Wa­ter­ways’ 10-day Canals, Vine­yards and Paris Euro­pean sailing, I was lured by the prom­ise of small towns, cas­tles, vine­yards, and idyl­lic pas­tures.

Af­ter flights were booked and dates con­firmed, I anx­iously checked my tiny apart­ment mail­box ev­ery day for my cruise doc­u­ments. But in­stead, a knock came at the door and when I opened it, a big­ger-than-a-birth­day-cake–sized box stood be­fore me. The box was im­printed with the word “HAPPY” all over it and af­ter open­ing it, I knew why. Sur­rounded by con­fetti-style filler was a port­fo­lio — great for keep­ing pass­ports and travel doc­u­ments through­out the trip — with a per­son­al­ized, bound ( bound!) book­let in­clud­ing a de­tailed, day-by- day itin­er­ary; flight, ho­tel, and trans­fer in­for­ma­tion; op­tional tour de­tails; a swanky lug­gage tag; ship tips; and ev­ery­thing else that im­me­di­ately put my wor­ries at ease.

At that very mo­ment, I felt like I had al­ready started trav­el­ing. My body was still in Florida, but my heart was al­ready cruis­ing through the canals of Am­s­ter­dam and the Rhine River.

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