This was the first cruise my wife and I have ever taken (if you exclude the overnight ferry from Oslo to Copenhagen in 1974, during the worst storm to hit the North Sea since before D-Day - which may explain why this was the first cruise). It was a River Cruise on the Viking Legend from Passau to Budapest and we had with us our travel companions: my wife's sister and her husband. We'd decided to do it over a year ago and I called Viking to set it up, explaining to the fellow we dealt with, Zack, that we'd never done this before so some candid advice would be welcome. That set the tone for the cruise, by which I mean he was an extraordinary point of contact: helpful, informative, candid, responsive; indeed, more adjectives than I can easily list.
The cruise itself went like clockwork, with people meeting us where we were to be met, getting us to the ship with no fuss or bother, and taking care of us throughout the eight days we were with them in a pleasant, low-key fashion. The ship was only a few years old, the cabins comfortable and well-designed, and the food keyed to the country we happened to be cruising through along the way. The other nice thing about the food was that it wasn't the overwhelming excess one associates with cruising. Rather it was nicely portioned for lunch and dinner and the few buffets we had were - essentially breakfast - were just enough. As for the itinerary, for us the Danube was an ideal venue, since it meanders through numerous countries and cultures, most of whose capitals are along the river, and the tours were nicely timed to see all of them, a good mix of driving and walking, with time to wander about after the 'formal' part was finished.. We stopped at Linz to bus to Salzburg, then Melk, Durnstein, Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest Our favorite places were Bratislava and Budapest, plus the portion of the cruise during the day through the Wachau Valley.