For many years the Fan Club, along with Arena ran very successful trips to Holland for the Dutch Conventions. It was decided to hold a special event where we could celebrate the 30th Anniversary of ‘The Miracle’ album with a four-day cruise around the Dutch Waterways, with stopovers to explore the land. The fabulous four star M.S. Serenity was our home for the trip and what a wonderful vessel it was.
We boarded the boat in Amsterdam, berthed not too far from Centraal Station. There was a courtesy bus laid on to take you to where the ship was docked from the station. A special Queen Crest flag was flying high on the mast to welcome us on-board! We were shown to our cabins by one of the friendly crew, we were made very welcome. There was even QTV too in the cabins! Everyone congregated at the bar, which saw non-stop activity for the whole duration of the trip. There were drink packages available which many signed up for. Proost! A buffet lunch was available which kick-started it all off really well. The food was extremely good the whole holiday and every meal tasty, as can be expected on a cruise ship.
There was a Welcome and Safety Meeting with complimentary drinks available, hosted by our resident compere Nick Dadd. We were introduced to the Ships Tour Manager Lisa and then to the Captain and his crew. This was carried out in a real entertaining way with lots of laughter including toilet paper!!
In the ships restaurant dinner was served, with wine on hand too. The ship set sail during dinner which created a relaxing ambience as we watched the sunset over Holland.
Live in the Lounge local recording Rock Star Robby Valentine gave an acoustic performance ably assisted by Maria Catharina to rapturous applause. We were treated to many deep cuts as well as the singles. Robby performed a couple of his own songs to the delight of many. A disco played until the early hours and the night was danced away before heading to our comfortable cabins for some shut-eye!
Bucks Fizzs was available at breakfast, some took advantage of this. Why not! The boat had docked in Rotterdam in the early hours whilst we slept so a tour was arranged and the ships Tour Manager Lisa took those who wanted to visit left the ship for a wander.
The old harbour area was beautiful and so different to the modernness of the city. The new Market Hall had food stalls oh and a bar which was taken advantage of! Those who stayed on the ship had Queen quizzes to keep them amused. Dutch Fan Club president Hannie Rogeveen went off to pick-up the Cruise tee shirts to the delight of all on board. Thanks to Jim Stevenson for a great design and Hannie and Anja for collecting.
Back on board for lunch and set sail for Dordrecht. Once again Tour Manager Lisa took a group off the ship to look around Holland’s oldest city. A beautiful place with a record shop that was invaded by Queen fans! The sun was shining and some decided to relax in the main square and soak up the atmosphere. Some went in search of a windmill. Well we were in Holland!
Queen’s Archivist Greg Brooks and yours truly played our top three favourite Queen tracks and gave an explanation to why these songs are so special. It became quite emotional and tearful. This went down a treat.
Dinner was served with wine sailing along the water. The sound of happiness filled the restaurant. The musical treat for the evening and Live In The Lounge was The Deputies Jim Stevenson and Paul Morland, who played their Queen song set. They went down a storm and were invited back for an encore the following evening which they agreed to play. Another disco followed with a special song played for Lisa Jones as it was her birthday. It’s Late, her favourite song was played and sung by her friends. The day and night sailed to an end and the cabins were welcoming for a good nights sleep.
The final full day started with the excellent buffet breakfast and then a tour of the fortified town Gorinchem, where the ship was docked. Tour Manager Lisa took a group of people off to explore the town. You could see inside a windmill in the town.
Back on board and we set sail for Amsterdam. Queen quizzes kept us entertained before we went to the restaurant for an excellent buffet lunch. Greg Brooks gave a talk on his new forthcoming I Want It All book and played some archive music. There were some real treats. Instrumental versions of Flick Of The Wrist and March Of The Black Queen were well received. The complexities of the songs shone through. A Queen Quiz followed with Jacky and myself. Then Greg joined us for a Cosy Corner chat. Jacky explaining how she secured the job and Greg talked us through his daily activities with some hilarious anecdotes! I chatted on my life around Queen. Again this was well received and was an enjoyable chat. Jacky then played Fans favourite songs who were on-board and an explanation why. Some were poignant.
The ship was taken over by Pirates! The restaurant was ransacked and the table settings re-arranged, the pirates even hung up the napkins! Many fans joined in the fun of the theme and some dressed as holiday makers and some as pirates. This created an atmosphere all of its own in the restaurant and a 6 course meal was served for our last evening meal of the cruise.
Everybody party to the left – party to the right…
Jim and Paul provided the live entertainment once more and took requests! Again they were well received with plenty applause! Did I hear Agadoo or was I dreaming…..? Andy Bacon our technical DJ played the songs once again to a full dance floor as we sang and danced the night away in the way to which we are accustomed. Some of the crew came and joined us in the lounge. It was sad when the evening came to an end in the early hours.
Final breakfast and goodbyes. A transfer bus took those who wanted a lift to Amsterdam’s Centraal Station was available as the cruisers headed home after a very special week. It was so much fun.
Thanks to Cheryl Duke and Arena for organising the event, I think everybody who was on the cruise will agree it was one of the best events the Fan Club has organised. Fans from America joined European fans and we had a blast. Who’s up for another trip down the waterways?