First off, an unashamed plug for Cruise Passenger magazine’s long-time supporters, Emirates. As people say, once you’ve turned left as you board a plane, you never want to turn right again! As for going upstairs on the A380, well now you’re really talking. Flying business class with Emirates makes that long trip to Europe pass by in a pleasant cocoon of cossetting and pampering and the jetlag is now minimal (or certainly more bearable).
In Amsterdam I’m staying overnight at the Bridge Hotel on Amstel, booked online after much research into moderately priced, centrally located accommodation. It’s charming, perfectly placed for my one essential To Do, which is see the Van Gogh collection that’s temporarily housed in the Hermitage Museum. I have an hour and a half to do that before it closes at 5pm and it’s well worth the short time spent there. Before it gets dark I take a brisk walk around the surrounding picturesque streets and canals and am amazed by all the cyclists – young and old, not a helmet to be seen and a wonderful array of sidecars for kids, baskets and luggage carriers. The evening is beautiful and bloody cold, but of course it is autumn here. Might have to invest in some warm socks and a thick cardie on board Celebrity Reflection tomorrow … but first there’s a tram and train ride back to Schipol airport, then a 3.5 hour bus trip to the port at Eemshaven. Travel in all its glory!