Broadcaster and Classic FM John Suchet shares his love of river cruising as he gets ready to embark on two Beethoven-themed cruises with Scenic and Saga Cruises.
You recently took your first cruise, with Uniworld on the Danube. Did you enjoy it?
It was absolutely amazing. I have an annual reunion with my two oldest friends (we all graduated from Dundee University 52 years ago) and our wives. Last year, instead of meeting in Dundee, I said, ‘Let’s get on a ship for a change’ – and they were up for it! This year’s reunion will have a lot to live up to…
What was your favourite moment on board?
On the first day, we were sitting on the sun deck as the ship cruised out of Budapest, and I noticed a waitress coming up the steps with a tray and six glasses of champagne. I thought to myself, ‘lucky people who’ve ordered those’. To my astonishment, she set them down on our table, and all she said was, ‘I thought this might go down well’.
What especially attracts you to river cruising?
Europe’s rivers are so amazing – there’s always something to look at. And I’d never been through a lock before I travelled on a river cruise. What a great experience!
Tell us a bit about the trips you’ll be doing this year…
This year I’m travelling on the Rhine, which is associated with Beethoven and Wagner, and then the Danube, which is all about Strauss. And in 2021 I might be doing the Volga for Tchaikovsky, so it’s music cruises all the way.
You must have travelled a lot during your career – where is your favourite destination?
My wife and I share an abiding love of France. I used to have a house in Gascony and I still love meandering around the French countryside. But one ambition I have is to visit Buenos Aires. My wife was there many years ago for work, and her whole team went to a sleazy tango bar one night. An elderly gentleman invited her on to the dance floor and taught her to tango, and she says she’d love to take me there and pass the lesson on.
When you go on holiday, what can you never travel without?
I’m almost ashamed to say it, but I absolutely must have my phone with me; all my life I’ve been a television journalist and I just have to stay in touch. A few years ago I’d also have said my Swiss army knife, just to use as a bottle- opener. In my days at ITN,
we always used to say, ‘Imagine at the end of a really hot, dusty day, when you’ve worked your heart out to get a story, someone hands you an ice-cold beer and you can’t.
John Suchet will be joining Scenic’s 7-night ‘Beethoven and the Best of the Danube’ cruise on 6 August 2020, prices from £2,320. He’ll also be on board for Saga’s 11-night ‘Celebrating 250 years of Beethoven’ sailing on the Rhine on 19 October, with prices from £1,799, scenic.co.uk