My first cruise ever, so exciting! Living on a ship for 6 days with 4 floors, and 2 elevators. Cruising through 3 countries and 5 cities. The cruise ship is adjusted for people with special needs, the designers have taken everything into account. MPS de Zonnebloem is equipped with the necessary medical facilities such as hoists and high-low beds. The ship sails about 40 weeks a year across the Rhine to Germany and across Belgian and Dutch waters.
The ship has 11 one-person cabins and 29 two-person cabins on the main deck. Each cabin is equipped with high-low beds, ceiling-lift systems, connection for oxygen, radio, TV, call system, and one bathroom per two cabins.
“Map out your future – but do it in pencil. The road ahead is as long as you make it. Make it worth the trip.” – Jon Bon Jovi
On Tuesday morning we left Duisburg around 08:00 and arrived in Düsseldorf around 13:00, during lunch. We were given different options to spend our day in Düsseldorf, like a bus tour or a walking tour. I chose to discover Düsseldorf independently. We walked (rolled) through the Altstadt, and we visited the Königsallee. The Altstadt is the historic center of Düsseldorf. It is only half a square kilometer in size, but it is a huge draw: historic buildings, narrow streets, nice shops, and a huge number of cafés, bars, and restaurants. The Königsallee is one of the top tourist attractions in Düsseldorf. It is the best-known and also the most popular street in the city. A boulevard of over 1 km long, “dotted” with exclusive shops, lined with plane trees and chestnut trees, and in the middle the city moat Kö-Graben into which the Düssel flows. The cobblestones were the only downside of the city. Did you know, Düsseldorf counted approximately 612,000 citizens in 2016?
One of my habits is visiting Starbucks in every city I am in. We went to the Starbucks in the Königsallee, but it was not accessible! I’ve been to Starbucks in Greece, Spain, and the US, and I’ve never been to a Starbucks that is not accessible. Such a bummer, but we went to another coffee company that was accessible in the Altstadt. We went back to the ship around 17:00 to get ready for dinner. After dinner, we had a volunteer singer on board, Johan. He sang and danced for us the whole night. After Johan’s performance, we had some drinks and went to bed. While Johan was singing, we were sailing to Antwerp. We continued sailing the whole night because Antwerp is quite a distance from Düsseldorf. I loved the sound and feeling of sailing while being asleep, so calming.
When we arrived at the port of Antwerp, we got off the ship and walked to the city of Antwerp. The city was further away from the port than expected. The roads to the city were also very bad for wheelchair users. After like half an hour, we arrived in the city of Antwerp. This modern city is called ‘De Meir’. I’ve been to De Meir before, so it was not a new thing for me. And again, we went to Starbucks and this time it was accessible. We didn’t spend a lot of time in Antwerp, because walking to and from the ship takes one hour in total.
After dinner, I had reserved some time in the bathroom, like a room with a real bath. It was a special adjustable bath and accessible for the hoist. It was my first time in the bath since I’m wheelchair-bound, and I loved it! After this wonderful bath, we all went to watch the women’s football World Cup.
On Thursday morning, we were already sailing toward Gorinchem when we woke up. I had never been to Gorinchem before in my life, so I was very curious about this village. Most people get upset if you call Gornichem a village because they see it as a city. After a nice lunch, we were able to get off the ship to discover Gorinchem. The first thing I noticed was that everything looks very clean and tidy. A beautifully maintained village! There were nice shops and cafés to spend the day at.
The next morning, on Friday, we took it easy in the morning. At about 13:30 we were able to leave the ship again. This time we moored in Nijmegen, also our last destination of this trip. I regularly come to Nijmegen, so this city was not new to me. Although I’ve been here before, it will never be boring. Nijmegen is a beautiful city with plenty to do. Part of the group went to the casino, while another part did a city tour. I decided not to do any excursions and to explore the city myself.
According to some scholars, Nijmegen is the oldest city in the Netherlands. History goes back more than 2000 years, and yet the city is still fairly modern. There are a huge number of sights and museums in and around Nijmegen. Public transport is also well arranged, making it easy to get anywhere in the city. There is also a lot of nature in the area. I spent my day in Nijmegen, mainly shopping and sitting on a terrace. It was primarily a quiet and sunny day.