2022 was one of the busiest years I’ve ever experienced in the history of Fitzgerald Travel. Every season of was filled with a hosted river cruise experience. This is not typical for the agency and I highly recommend three maximum hosted groups, not five! (note to self). Some of our hosted journeys were our regularly scheduled trips and two of the river cruises were rescheduled from our 2020 and 2021 season due to Covid.
The best part of this year for me was traveling with so many wonderful people! Old and new friends became good friends of each other and of the Fitzgerald Travel family. I was most grateful to travel with my childhood best friend, Tracey during our Christmas Market Cruise with AmaWaterways.
In March, my good friend and colleague Trisha escorted a group down the Mississippi. We sailed on the historic American Queen. We started in Memphis with a pre-night cruise hotel, The Peabody (pre cruise hotel is always included with American Queen Voyages). We went to the Elvis mansion, had our best southern fried chicken, partook in fine Southern spirits, and bounced to the blues.
One of the most profound, memorable and moving takeaways of Memphis for me was the history of slavery in our country and the movement and life of Martin Luther King. Visiting some of the historic markers and sites gave me a much deeper understanding of our own American history. On the lighter side of touring, we visited a ranch, rode an ATV and practiced our best lasso skills. The plantations were incredible, even the haunted ones!
Trisha and I shared a cabin at the aft of the ship with a clear view of the big red wheel. The Tails of Mark Twain, the sound of the melodic calliope of the Queen, and watching the wheel spin from our rocking chairs was mesmerizing. Sailing the American Queen takes you to a simpler time, a magical time. It is very easy to slip into character when onboard. Our cabins were lovely, the dining room was breathtaking, the food was excellent.
In late April, we hosted a river cruise through the waterways of Holland & Belgium during the peak of Tulip Time and during Floriade. We sailed on an Active & Discovery themed river cruise with Avalon Waterways. An Active & Discovery cruise with Avalon is a cruise that incorporates in-depth experiences or more physically active activities to their guests along with the already included regular choices of tours you receive with Avalon. For example, we biked through nearly every inch of Brugges, we traveled the country side of Holland by bike with a stop at a tavern, and we painted our own Delft Blue tile at a special class organized for our cruise! My favorite experience of that journey, kayaking in the canals of Amsterdam during a city-wide festival! Holland has always been my favorite country.
June brought Lisa and I our very first luxury barge sailing through the canals of Provence. This was an extra special journey as we all waited nearly 3 years during several cancellations because of Covid. Not only were we excited to finally be on the MS Anne Marie but over the years leading up to our trip, we all became such good friends. Our meeting was like a big family reunion.
We started this journey in Paris for a few nights. Some of us traveled to Normandy, some of us went up the Eiffel tower and a few of us walked up the stairs on the Arc de Triumph and then dined at Nia until 1 AM.. We stayed at the most charming little boutique hotel called Hotel De Tourisme in a lovely neighborhood within walking distance to Eiffel Tower. We loved that we all walked across the street to the grocery store, bought several bottles of wine and cheese and sat outside on the café tables and created our own party.
The barge was purely sensational! 11 cabins with only 22 maximum cruisers on board. The experience was authentic, more culturally immersive than anything I have personally ever experienced before. The food prepared by our Chef was beyond words and the tours were just amazing. This cruise was very magical. The best part was that our group and the crew merged into one big family that week. This experience was so amazing that I have charted another barge in Champagne for October of 2024. Details can be found here.
August brought Fitzgerald Travel another first! We hosted our first river cruise on the Douro River in Portugal with AmaWaterways. The Douro River and the people of Portugal will always have a very special place in my heart. The people, the country and this river left me speechless (and that is really hard to do). The Portuguese are very warm and very proud of their land. What made this journey so special is the day cruising. As an admirer of nature, you are able to see so much of the land. Touring on the Douro is also very interesting because you are taken deeper into the country to see the UNESCO World Heritage sites. There were some very sharp hair pin turns! We were in excellent care with our professional motor couch driver. One of my favorite spots of the trip, the Villa and Salamanca, Spain!
We rounded out the year in December with a very special sailing trip on the Rhine River from Amsterdam to Basel on a festive Christmas Market Cruise with AmaWaterways. We had an unusual cold snap that came through Europe during our week but the markets were so beautiful and full of action that no one seemed to really notice. What a very special season to end a very busy year. We celebrated the holidays, visited fairytale towns and cities that came alive with music, food, wine, and shopping. The best part about the Christmas Market cruises is that everyone is always in good cheer! I loved that we caroled our way down the Rhine with an amazing group of people and a jubilant crew of the AmaSerena!
That’s a wrap of 2022! We had a very full and fulfilling year! For any questions any additional information you would like to know or learn about, please feel free to contact us!
I am a lucky lady to have the honor to work side by side with Lisa Collins. Ocean Cruise phenom and lover of all things Ocean Cruising. Together we are the Lisas.
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