Experienced cruise writer Anthony Nicholas reviews the Arosa Flora Ship
The recent explosion in the popularity of river cruises has brought to the fore a whole raft of new boats and lines, each seeming to offer more enhanced facilities for leisure and relaxation than the other. With such a plethora of excellent options on offer, navigating through the choices can be something of a minefield, to put it mildly.
I sailed on the brand new, year old A-Rosa Flora on a seven day round trip cruise from Cologne to the highlights of Belgium and Holland. And, while the itinerary and sights along the way were both eminently enjoyable, it was the actual hardware – the boat herself – that made the entire adventure such a joyride from first to last.
The A-Rosa Flora can accommodate some one hundred and seventy passengers in cabins arranged over two decks; all come with sliding, floor to ceiling glass doors that open onto a panoramic Juliet balcony. The fixtures, fittings and bedding were all of an incredibly high quality, easily the finest I have ever seen on such a boat. Though not as big as the cabins on some boats, they were more than expansive enough for a week sailing along the springtime Rhine.
Public rooms comprised of a forward, horseshoe shaped panorama lounge, with floor to ceiling windows, light wood accents, and a starboard facing bar at the rear. This led into a walkway that abutted the main dining room. Lined with huge picture windows, this gave the effect of a small, intimate interior boulevard.
The restaurant is light, airy, and elegant. With vibrant colours and simple but exquisite styling, this deck gave the A-Rosa Flora a very open, sunny feel. Everything- from the flatware and stemware to the actual food itself- was of the absolute highest quality. Service across the boat was deft, efficient and a constant delight.
On top, a small pool is surrounded by sunbeds shielded by windbreakers. This leads down to an outdoor bar, and a forward facing observation terrace sprinkled with wooden tables and white canvas chairs. Afternoon tea can be taken here when the weather permits.
Inside, a small sauna and leisure room has portholes looking out over the rolling Rhine itself. As an all inclusive product, A-Rosa includes all drinks- alcoholic and soft- for the entire itinerary, rather than just the normal lunchtime and evening wine and beer set up offered by so many competing boats.
Fitness fans will find that the boat carries a full complement of pedal bikes for use in the various ports of call.
In sum, the A-Rosa Flora is a fully inclusive, finely crafted floating ‘grand hotel’ that elevates a trip down the river to the status of a dream adventure. The staff are friendly and competent without ever being overly intrusive; you can literally be as engaged or not as you want.
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