How is Life on board of a river barge in regard to living at the shore? Well as a guest it’s pure relaxation. You will have your own spacious quarters in the cabin ( click on the link) at the front of the ship. The only thing you have to do is to make your own breakfast in the fully stocked kitchen. After that you are cordially invited in the wheelhouse to be a part of the family, this includes also lunch and a home cooked diner. Of course there are some rules to abide to, all necessary for your safety during your stay.
To live and work on a river barge like the Alm is another story though. There is hardly any comparison with living ashore. And as it is with many things there are good and some less good things. Most certainly it is not a 9 till 5 job, there is also no guarantee you will find every time a load so your income might fluctuate. Next there are the weather conditions, the always fluctuating water levels, and sometimes technical problems with bridges and locks.
What about life as a family you might asked? If you like shopping you are out of luck, for there are no stores around the corner, nor is there a school down the road, and your friends and family are not always at hand. When children reach the school age at four they are often schooled on board until they turn six years old. At six years old they will attend a boarding school to go to a city school at the shore. Every Friday the children must be picked up by their parents and returned to the boarding school on Sunday. No matter if they are in the neighborhood or far away. Durings vacations they are on board. It is one of the reasons that some families decide that the wives live at the shore instead on board. Modern technology makes it possible to contact each other more frequently.
In my childhood days there was no obligatory education for children on board of a river barge. They either got home schooling, went to day schools in harbors or went to a boarding school at eight years old. My parents decided that boarding school was most preferable for me, and back then we got lessons at the boarding school itself. No mingling with the city kids. My parents had not often a load for Holland, which meant I did not see them much during the school year. The means of transportation were not many either in those days. It was a totally different experience.
Is all the above worth to grow up on a river barge? For me it was, there was always that feel of an indescribable freedom , the feel of expectation for not one day would be the same, not even the view from your window. Even when living at the shore for so many years by now the river still does not let go of me , it’s in my genes , it’s a Way of Life.
Was it worth to go on a vacation aboard the ms ALM? You bet it was, not only was it a fantastic adventure but Pieter and Adri also gave me the feeling I was home again. Thank you both for your generous hospitality!