One of the things I love about river cruising is not just the places you see and things you do, but the people you meet.
On my Rhine river cruise on Uniworld’s SS Antoinette I met some lovely people from all around the world, and a man who helped to make our cruise one to remember.
Anthony Banks is one of those cruise directors who is warm and engaging, and after having a chance to get to know him over the course of the week I just had to ask him if he’d be up for taking part in Ten Questions.
Lucky for me Anthony said yes, and as well as sharing some things about his job he shares some travel tips for Amsterdam, the city he lives in when he’s not cruising down the Rhine and a city I love.
What’s the best thing about your job?
It’s difficult to point out one thing above the others but when I really think about it I guess it’s being where I really want to be and doing what I really want to do. It’s about doing something I always dreamed of doing.
If you could change one thing about your job what would it be?
I would like to do more cruises on different rivers all around the world.
What’s something about your role that you wish people understood?
I wish they understood that I do what I do because I’m driven by passion and love. It’s not just a job to me.
What’s your favorite thing to do on your day off?
I love going to the Amstel Hotel in Amsterdam for a swim in their indoor pool and to take a sauna. It’s a great place to relax, read a book and watch boats go by.
What’s a cheap and cheerful food secret you (usually) only tell your friends?
When I want to bring home a real gourmet experience to wow my friends with, I buy a can of Duck Confit at the supermarket. The amazing thing about this dish is that the duck is slow cooked in its own fat in France by French chefs. All you have to do is heat it and plate it and the result is something extraordinary you have to try. This is a cheap and effective way to bring the authentic flavours of French cuisine into your home.
If money was no object, where would you go for lunch or dinner?
I would go to the Cheval Blanc in Basel. It’s in a hotel that Uniworld uses for its pre and post extensions called ‘Le Trois Rois’. Peter Knogl, the Chef, has 3 Michelin Stars and is someone I really admire when it comes to fusion cooking.
Where do you take a friend when they come to visit?
I love going into the Old Jewish Quarter in Amsterdam and to the Hortus Botanicus (one of the oldest botanical garden in the world) which is full of old greenhouses and exotic plants. This is a less visited part of the city and is full of wonders.
What’s the best shopping experience in town?
For clothing the Kalverstraat is the best and it’s close to the flower market where I can always buy a lovely bouquet for my wife. There are nice places to eat and a great English bookstore.
Is there a local tourist cliché that’s actually worth doing?
Yes, absolutely. Nothing beats a canal cruise in Amsterdam. Even the local people sail at any given opportunity. There is no better way to understand the people and the layout of the city.
Is there a tourist attraction nearby that you can’t believe you still haven’t visited yourself?
It must be the old fishing village of Vollendam. I seem to keep missing the opportunity to go. It’s on my bucket list…
Amanda met Anthony on Uniworld’s SS Antoinette on the Castles Along the Rhine river cruise.
Love river cruises? You may also like to check out my review of Uniworld’s River Countess. For a glimpse into life as a cruise director on a Mediterranean cruise you can also check out my interview with Russ Thomas Grieve, cruise director on Azamara Quest.