For those who have travelled the world quite extensively and are looking for a more laid back approach to travel, Tauck river cruising may be just the ticket. What better way to visit and experience multiple countries whilst only unpacking once? You’ll find that river cruising is similar to ocean cruising yet on a more intimate basis.
Our particular cruise, the Danube Reflections (Eastbound) comprised of a 7 night cruise which began with a 2 night stay in Prague and ended with a 2 night stay in Vienna. My husband and I, however, joined the group in Straubing, Germany.
Cruising along we were treated to many cities along the way including Regensburg and Passau in Germany, Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic, Grein, Weissenkirchen and Durnstein in Austria, Bratislava in Slovakia and finally back to Austria to enjoy Vienna. Each city we visited proved to be more picturesque and interesting than the last.
The elegant ship itself is like a ‘home away from home’ except that we were treated like royalty on a daily basis by its staff. Contemporary in style, the ship boasts an incredibly engaging and knowledgeable crew from around the world. Facilities on board were fantastic featuring 2 restaurants, a lounge area, gym, sauna, hot tub and mini golf on the deck. The food was bountiful and such high quality. Top shelf liquor was on offer whenever you fancied and ALL of this is included in the cost. Not an extra cent was spent whilst on board.
It’s important to note that the Cruise Directors were an integral component of the cruise itself. They are there to meet your needs, answer your queries, fix your problems. One Director remains on board for the duration of your journey and deals with the admin part of the trip – this means ensuring tours have been allocated correctly etc. The other two, who joined us on every tour, would also ensure all our needs were met and would answer the most silly of questions with a courteous answer.
As an American-owned and run company, the majority of guests on board were from the United States. Having said that there was another couple from New Zealand and another from Australia. Again, the mix of nationalities on board really depend on the time of year you are travelling. As for the demographic, the average age is 60 plus which made the journey along the Danube a very interesting one for me given I was quite a bit younger! Surrounded by so many well-travelled, affluent, like-minded guests, proved to be enlightening and truly enjoyable.
Cabins are more than comfortable, complete with all necessary modern connections. Bathrooms were surprisingly spacious and modern. Beds face towards the shoreline giving you a constant look out. Privacy is not an issue.
Some afternoons were spent cruising whilst others were spent cycling the city where we had docked earlier that day. The bicycles are property of the ship, so exploring on our own using these bikes was never an issue and such a fun thing to do.
Two or three optional (but included) tours are offered each day. The guides on hand were always local, engaging and extremely knowledgeable which makes such a difference and, as we all know, can usually make or break a tour! Depending on one’s fitness level, a tour is presented which will cater to your individual needs.
Whilst on board you are never short of something to do. If you’re not sipping cocktails on deck whilst watching the world go by, you can sit back with a book and relax inside your cabin or anywhere on the ship for that matter. Educational talks are held by Cruise Directors and practically every evening you have some type of entertainment for your enjoyment.
Two particular highlights for me would be visiting Passau and Czesky Krumlov. Passau is a Bavarian city with a little over 50,000 people. This city is located at the intersection of the rivers Danube, Inn and Ilz. It is to this unusual location that the city owes much of its prosperity both today and in its past. Passau is a wonderful city to visit whether you are interested in nature and the beautiful great outdoors or prefer architecture and history.
Cesky Krumlov is a small city in the South Bohemian Region of the Czech Republic, best known for the fine architecture and art of the historic Old Town and Cesky Krumlov Castle. Old Cesky Krumlov is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was given this status along with the historic Prague castle district. Stepping into Cesky is like stepping into a fairy tale, plain and simple.
Ending our river cruise in Vienna and being able to spend two nights there to explore both with the group and on our own was an ideal way to conclude our tour. I mean who doesn’t love Vienna?! It is, after all, the cultural, economic and political centre of Austria. For most music lovers, just the mention of Vienna reminds them of the likes of Strauss, Haydn, Beethoven, Gluck and Schubert.
The waterways of Europe are plentiful with so many to choose from and Tauck covers most of them and then extend to coach tours throughout Europe as well.
My advice – get booking, then packing and embrace yourself for an adventure of a lifetime along the river….
By Leisure Travel Advisor Dana Michael
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