I have often written about my desire to sail on the Danube River. After speaking with some friends, I knew that a few of them did as well. The idea came to me to get a “group” together for this cruise. The benefit would be traveling with friends as well as receiving a group discount of 5% off the fare. To me that’s a win-win situation.
After weeks of research, reading countless reviews, looking at temperature charts (cooler in Prague, warmer in Budapest), when fares went up or down…I have finally made a decision and booked a cruise.
I have booked with AMAWaterways which received excellent reviews from our travel agent and reviews I read about online. They offer both a land and cruise tour or a cruise only option. This cruise is called The Romantic Danube. They also offer The Legendary Danube but I liked The Romantic Danube’s itinerary better as it stops in Bratislava before ending in Budapest.
The land/cruise itinerary would include three nights in Prague and begin on May 29th, 2015. When you arrive in Prague on the 29th you check into your hotel and have the balance of the day to get acclimated to Prague as well as beginning to get over jet lag. Your first tour will take you to the historic city center which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You will visit the 1,000 year old Prague Castle followed by walking over the Charles Bridge to the Old Town Square. That evening you will have an opportunity to go to an optional Folklore Dinner. The next day you have your choice of two optional excursions. You can visit either Terezin, the infamous Nazi WWII concentration camp that is now a memorial to those who perished or visit Lobkowicz Palace. Your last morning in Prague you will depart to transfer to the ship but on your way you will stop in Regensburg for a guided walking tour of one of Germany’s best preserved medieval cities – another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Lunch will be on your own. You will continue on to Vilshafen, a 1,200 year old Bavarian town.
For those interested in the cruise only portion you begin your trip when you embark onto the ship in Vilshafen. Blogger Hubby and I are planning on doing the Cruise Only portion and doing Prague on our own. We can book through AMA Waterways seats with them to transfer from Prague to Vilshofen with the stop in Regensburg and the tour there. That will run about $100 per person. It’s nice to have the option to do Prague on your own as well as having transport to get to the ship.
We overnight in Vilshofen and are able to explore the city before we set sail for Passau. That afternoon we will have a guided tour of this 2,000 year old city noted for its Gothic and Italian Baroque architecture, cobblestone streets and St. Stephen’s Catherdral, home of the world’s largest pipe organ.
We sail during the night and arrive in Linz, Austria home of the Linzer Torte. I know that I’ll need to find a bakery to taste (um, eat) some(lots) of them. We’ll have a walking tour of Linz which is the second largest city in Austria. Afterwards, we’ll have a choice of three different excursions. The first is to visit the Lake District in the scenic Salzammergu region, another UNESCO World Heritage Site; the second to the Czech town of Cesky Krumlov, a preserved medieval town nestled in the hills from the Austrian/Czech border. The final choice is to Salzburg, Mozart’s birthplace where you will take a walking tour of the historic center made famous from the “Sound of Music” We’ve been to Salzburg so we will probably choose either the Lake District or the Czech town. Free time will follow this tour.
Once again, we’ll travel during the evening, going through the numerous locks on the Danube River. During the morning we’ll cruise through the narrow Strudengau en route to Melk where once again we’ll have a guided tour through to Benedictine Abby, Europe’s largest and most famous monastic site. We’ll return to the ship and cruise through the breathtaking Wachau Valley to Krems. In Krems we will board a motorcoach that will take us to Durnstein. We will see this picturesque old town on our walking tour as well as the blu facade of the local abbey church and the ruins of a castle where Richard the Lionhearted was once imprisoned. After dinner on board the ship we will enjoy a wine tasting from a winery in Krems.
Vienna – what can I say about Vienna. We will spend a full day here where we will see the famed Opera House, the Ringstrasse and St. Stephen’s Cathedral. The afternoon is free to stroll and explore the city, which is another UNESCO World Heritage Site. You have an opportunity to take an optional excursion to Schonbrunn Palace. At night, you will have the opportunity to enjoy an optional Mozart and Strauss concert and then overnight in Vienna.
Next cruise stop is Bratislava, Slovakia and once we arrive we will have a walking tour that includes the Old Town Hall, Mirbach Palace, and St. Martin’s Cathedral. There is an alternative “Communist” tour that will include architectural landmarks as the Radio Building, Liberty Square and Soviet War Memorial.
This will be our last night of cruising as we sail toward Budapest. When we arrive we’ll see the Buda Castle which offers us a view of the river and the twin cities of Buda and Pest. We’ll go to the Fisherman’s Bastion, Royal Palace, St. Stephens Basilica and Heroes Square After dinner we will sail a special “illuminations cruise” past the illiminated river front of Budapest.
Finally, after breakfast, we will disembark. We plan to spend a few days in Budapest before heading home. Are you ready to join Blogger Hubby and me on this adventure? Although we have group rates, we do not have to do things together but are a “group” in name only. Of course, if you want to have dinner, a drink or sit and chat with us, we would welcome it.
For the bicyclists amongst us, the boat does have 2 or 3 guided bike tours as well as having about 25 bikes on board for our use. WiFi is free as are the beer and wine with dinner. There is on board entertainment during the evenings as well though nothing like the ocean liners.
Please contact Michelle Bemis of McCabe World Travel in McLean, Virginia to become part of our group at 703-762-5049. Please let her know you are with Jane’s Group. You can also email Michelle at Michelle@mccabeworld.com You can discuss where you would like your stateroom to be located (on a riverboat there aren’t any “bad” rooms”). For those who are thinking about cruising solo, there is a single supplement and our travel agent Michelle will go over with you the various costs and options.
Please be aware that staterooms go fast since there are only 164 passengers on this river boat. Already the suites and category A staterooms are sold out and we are more than a year away from the cruise. If you are thinking about it, my suggestion is to not delay in talking about it or thinking it. There are only about 18 staterooms left. Finally, please share this cruise with any friends you think might be interested in joining us. I think the more friends we have, the more enjoyable the cruise will be.