The Maas, as it is called in Dutch and German (Meuse in French and English), is actually not a very busy river. I seem to have taken pictures of it mainly when something was going on, such as a barge passing through, but there were long periods when the river was just empty.
I assume it must have been much busier in the nineteenth century, when for several decades the Meuse Valley was the leading industrial region of continental Europe, especially further upstream in the Belgian (Wallonian) part of the valley.
The Meuse or Maas is one of those confusing rivers that flow more or less from south to north, so that upstream is at the bottom end of the map and downstream is at the top. This means that if you are in Maastricht and want to go to Liège, you don’t know whether to say you are going up to Liège because it’s upstream or down to Liège because it’s lower on the map.
This confusion of course has more to do with our map-making conventions than with the river, since the river was here before we were.
Actually I prefer to think of it as the Meuse, rather than the Maas, because the word Maas always reminds me of the exaggerated borders of Germany in the original (no longer officially used) first verse of the German national anthem: Von der Maas bis an die Memel / Von der Etsch bis an den Belt. These lines were written in the 19th century before there was any such thing as a united Germany, but they were later seized upon by the Nazis and other nationalists who wanted Germany to expand in all directions, west into France, Belgium and the Netherlands (through which the Maas flows), east to the Memel (= Neman) in Lithuania, south to the valley of the Etsch (= Adige) River in Italy and north to the Fehmarn Belt, which is the least controversial of the four because it actually does form part of the border between Germany and Denmark.
The Maasvallei (= Meuse Valley) is one of five passenger ships run by the Stiphout company for excursions in and around Maastricht.
For instance, they offer a 50-minute cruise on the Maas/Meuse several times a day for € 10.50 Euros for adults and € 5.95 Euros for children (prices as of 2019).
They also have longer trips (several hours) to Liège or Visé and back. And they offer various special excursions such as Brunch Cruise, a Pancake Cruise or a Saturday Night Cruise.
The same company has two “beautiful American school busses” which they use for city tours.
I haven’t tried any of these offers, just snapped a photo of the Maasvallei as it was going towards the St. Servaas-Brug (Saint Servatius Bridge).
One morning I was crossing the Maas/Meuse when a ship called the River Navigator came through and docked at one of the landings.
I later looked it up and found that the River Navigator is one of several cruise ships belonging to a company called Vantage Deluxe World Travel. This is an American company, based in Boston, which describes itself as “a leader in luxury river cruising for Americans”.
They say their ships are “designed with the American traveler in mind” and have a “US plug in every stateroom”. At mealtimes they offer “gourmet cuisine that reflects genuine local fare adapted for the American palate.“ (Uh-huh.)
The River Navigator is 360 feet long. Feet? Yes, this is for Americans, remember. 360 feet is about 110 meters. The ship carries 134 passengers and a crew of 36, which they point out is a passenger-to-staff ratio of better than 4 to 1.
My photos in this post are from 2012. I revised the text in 2019.
See also: The Netherlands’ Deep South.