If you know me at all, you know that I have a long, and rapidly expanding list of trips to take one day. Recently, I have been taking some river cruise training and also planning some for clients. The more I learn, the more I want in on the fun!
I have been hearing some great things about AmaWaterways lately, so I think that is where I will start our river cruising. This line is a luxury line focused only on River cruising, and they have been winning an amazing number of awards for their ships and service.
AmaWaterways offers a very large number of European itineraries, but they also offer River cruises in Africa and Asia. Those looked really, really nice, but for this trip of my dreams, I honed in on the “Melodies of the Danube” river cruise. The Danube River cruises are the best sellers of all, and for good reason. I chose this particular itinerary because of the castles, Budapest, Prague, Vienna, and my sentimental favorite, a visit to Salzburg to see the Sound of Music Sights! I LOVE that movie! Doesn’t everybody? PS I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Vienna is also a sentimental favorite, because we honeymooned there 28 years ago!
There are some key differences between Ocean cruises and river cruises, and these make me very eager to try it!
- The ships are MUCH smaller, as a rule, and that makes for a more intimate experience.
- The rivers are not rough like the oceans, so no seasickness.
- The cruise fare is much more inclusive than on an Ocean cruise, so there are less out of pocket expenses as you are on vacation. AmaWaterways includes your choice of excursions, as well as meals at your choice of dining venue, happy hour daily and beer and wine at lunch and dinner, and much more.
- The voyages between ports of call are very scenic, sometimes past castles and UNESCO sights like the Wachau valley.
- Many River cruise lines, including Ama, carry bikes on board to offer you more active options while in port. Ama also offers hiking and walking excursions.
- River cruises get you far into the countries you visit and allow you to visit many of these places without ever packing and unpacking. Your hotel goes with you.
The Melodies of the Danube itinerary offers so much that appeals to me. Here is the Itinerary:
Day 1: Embark from Budapest – I might want to arrive a few days early to explore this gorgeous city. On the first night we have dinner on board and sail past the city lit up at night.
Day 2: Budapest – Today we have a morning excursion to see both Buda and Pest. This city is so photogenic, we will have a great time snapping photos everywhere we go!
Day 3: Bratislava, Slovakia and Vienna, Austria – This is a busy day! We wake up in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. We will take a walking tour and enjoy a little free time in town before sailing towards Vienna. After dinner on the ship, we will head into Vienna for an evening event, “Viennese Wine and Music” in a tavern just outside of town.
Day 4: Vienna – Here we have a choice of three different morning excursions, none of which cost extra. I love that, because we have already seen the big sights in Vienna. It will be nice to try something new! I think we will choose either the guided bike tour along the Danube and through the Donaupark or the walking tour of Vienna’s hidden treasures. In the afternoon we can explore on our own or join a guided bike tour to Klosterneuburg Monastery. At some point, we will be sure to have some apple Strudel, I think we had that at least once every day of our honeymoon in Vienna!
Day 5: Weissenkirchen, Emmersdorf and Grein – This will be a big day! I will admit that these cities are all new to me. I love that! They are in the very famous Wachau Valley (a UNESCO site). There are three options for morning tours, and I am not sure which one I would prefer! Walking tour of Durnstein with a wine tasting, a hike up to the fortress where Richard the Lionheart was held, or an apricots and sweets tasting. The afternoon today will be one of many highlights of this trip. We will cruise through the beautiful Wachau valley. Then we visit the Benedictine Abbey in Melk, which is also a UNESCO sight. After that visit, we sail further on to Grein and get some free time to explore this town as well. This will be a busy day!
Day 6: Linz, Austria – We have two choices this morning. We can take a walking tour of Linz, the second largest city in Austria or take a guided bike tour around town and along the Danube. Later in the day, there is a choice of 3 different tours. The first, and my favorite one, is an excursion to Salzburg, the city made famous by the “Sound of Music” . The other two choices also sound very good. They are an excursion to the medieval town of Cesky Krumlov or a visit to the Austrian Lake District. All three of these options are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Those are some great options!
Day 7: Passau, Germany – Vilshofen – In the morning, we will have a choice of a walking tour of 2,000 year old Passau, a guided bike tour along the Danube from Passau to Erlau, or a guided hike up to the Veste Oberhaus fortress. In the afternoon, we cruise to the medieval town of Vilshofen. There we get to enjoy an Oktoberfest celebration with local beer and Bavarian folk music and dancing. That sounds so fun! I would LOVE to attend an Oktoberfest in Germany, and it doesn’t matter when we take this trip, it is still included.
Day 8: Vilshofen/ Prague – This is where we will disembark and head to Prague. We might stay on an extra day to look around before flying home. The historic city center of Prague is also a UNESCO site. In Prague, other top sites include the 1,000 year old Prague Castle, St. Vitus, the Charles Bridge and Market Square.
This itinerary sounds so perfect! AmaWaterways is especially nice because of their many inclusions. I love this because I know exactly what my costs will be before we leave home:
- ALL excursions are INCLUDED
- Free Wifi
- Fine dining at all on-board venues
- Unlimited red and white wine, beer, and soft drinks at every lunch and dinner on board.
- Bottled water in every stateroom, replenished daily
- Cocktail reception, welcome dinner and Captain’s Gala Dinner
- Lectures, theme dinners, cooking demonstrations and live onboard music
- Bicycles to use on our own or with guided tours
- Local taxes
Might be time to book!