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19 Emerald Waterways Bucharest Cruise Reviews

Amazing. Amazing. Amazing. This cruise was very interesting and informative. The crew could not have been better. To say they were wonderful would be an understatement. Our waiters were amazing and attentive. The front desk was helpful and ... Read More
Amazing. Amazing. Amazing. This cruise was very interesting and informative. The crew could not have been better. To say they were wonderful would be an understatement. Our waiters were amazing and attentive. The front desk was helpful and informative. Our cruise director was very genuine and knowledgeable, and always made an effort to talk to everyone. The ship is beautiful. There is a lovely pool and in the evening the floor goes over it and it is turned into a cinema! Our rooms were always kept neat and it was truly refreshing coming back to the room after a full day of activities! After dinner, it was always a joy coming back to a pillow chocolate! We even had adorable towel bunnies which were quite impressive! The activities were great for people of all ages, children to the elderly, and I could rave about the service forever, but I am about to go sit atop the lovely sun deck on the ship!:) (We are on the Emerald Star traveling from Bucharest to Budapest. It wouldn’t allow me to properly click which destination or date! We boarded 07/13/19 and disembark 07/21/19! We are on the Danube additionally not the Rhine, this website wouldn’t allow me to properly click my cruise but I just had to fill this out because my experience was unforgettable.) Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
We choose to cruise as we wanted to experience something different. We thought it would be a relaxing and luxurious way to travel whilst being able to visit several countries on the way. From the moment we arrived at the ship there was a ... Read More
We choose to cruise as we wanted to experience something different. We thought it would be a relaxing and luxurious way to travel whilst being able to visit several countries on the way. From the moment we arrived at the ship there was a warm and friendly welcome from the cruise director Balazs and the other staff that greeted us. We found our cabin to be well equipped, comfortable and quite spacious. We soon got used to life on board and found there were and good choice of excursions and activities to suit everyone. The friendliness of all crew and staff made the trip very enjoyable. They were helpful, polite and efficient and nothing was too much trouble. There was a wonderful ambience on board the ship and it was very easy to join in the social activities on offer. We enjoyed this cruise so much, it exceeded our expectations and we would not hesitate to cruise again with Emerald. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
Chose this cruise as it was an area we were interested in seeing. We stopped at very interesting places which gave us access to local history and culture in a comfortable manner. The guides were particularly good and made the historical ... Read More
Chose this cruise as it was an area we were interested in seeing. We stopped at very interesting places which gave us access to local history and culture in a comfortable manner. The guides were particularly good and made the historical information very interesting. We had an extended stay in Bucharest at the beginning of the holiday at the Raddison Blue hotel which proved to be a good start to an excellent holiday. We were able to explore this wonderful city as well as having a city tour before embarkation. We joined the ship and were shown to our cabin by one of the ships stewards who told us about the facilities in the cabin. The meals on board have been excellent and good choices at each sitting. The restaurant staff have been very helpful and attentive throughout. We have enjoyed the entertainment on board but on a special note was Brett's performance. Also our cabin steward was excellent and always mindful of our needs. The shore excursions we joined were interesting and helped us understand local culture Our Cruise Director,Patricia, was most excellent at her job, very helpful and very pleasant at all times. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
My husband and I had a marvellous time, in every way. The crew and all other staff were great, as was the entertainment. We met lots of great people, particularly two groups of Canadians who were great to be with.The food and excursions ... Read More
My husband and I had a marvellous time, in every way. The crew and all other staff were great, as was the entertainment. We met lots of great people, particularly two groups of Canadians who were great to be with.The food and excursions were superb - cannot be faulted. The bedroom was all we had expected, clean and very comfortable, with lots of coat-hangers, which was a very pleasant surprise, not the norm! ( I had taken a few, just in case!) Toiletries were good and stocked up everyday and the room was attended to twice daily.. As we had booked a balcony suite, that is what we expected, not two chairs and a table inside the cabin. This would be our only complaint of the ship but it didn't spoil an otherwise truly memorable holiday. We have travelled with other cruise companies but this is definitely the best so far. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
All aspects of the trip went smoothly, our ship was luxurious, cabin (lowest deck) was spacious and beds and shower etc were great. Service by cruise staff was of high quality... friendly and very attentive. The daily shore excursions were ... Read More
All aspects of the trip went smoothly, our ship was luxurious, cabin (lowest deck) was spacious and beds and shower etc were great. Service by cruise staff was of high quality... friendly and very attentive. The daily shore excursions were varied, tour guides were local and very knowledgeable, we learnt a lot about the history and local cultures. Food was good, wide selection. We only cruised between Bucharest and Budapest, so didn’t go all the way to Amsterdam. We would definitely travel with Emerald Waterways (Evergreen in Australia) again. Highlights included the tour of Viminacium, a very large Roman archeological site with interesting burial findings, and seeing the 1 million year old mammoth skeleton, completely preserved in situ was very interesting as well. The Puszta Horse farm in Hungary was also excellent, great skills of the Magyar horsemen were on show, and included horse cart ride to see the local grey cattle with their huge horns and the local sheep with their long spiraling horns. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
We decided to a river cruise and picked somewhere we had never been. The ship was well laid out the service was excellent and friendly. the included excursions were well organised and informative. A wonderful trip, and we will ... Read More
We decided to a river cruise and picked somewhere we had never been. The ship was well laid out the service was excellent and friendly. the included excursions were well organised and informative. A wonderful trip, and we will definitely go river cruising again We did a Mediterranean cruise some time ago, and found the larger ship not so welcoming. The river cruise ship is more intimate and friendly and has a much nicer atmosphere. The local guides on the excursions were very knowledgeable and approachable. We liked the fact that everything is included, no extra costs for gratuities, and no extra cost for excursions. There was an optional extra but we did not take it. The dining was terrific and wine was included and not stinted. The cruise director gave out information on ports and countries we passed through .which kept us well informed. A great experience and really excellent value for money Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
We picked this cruise as we wanted to visit countries that were new to us and 5 countries in 7 days.. Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia and Hungary fitted the bill! WE were very impressed with the organisation from beginning to end. ... Read More
We picked this cruise as we wanted to visit countries that were new to us and 5 countries in 7 days.. Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia and Hungary fitted the bill! WE were very impressed with the organisation from beginning to end. Transfers went smoothly and on disembarkation day cases and rooms did not have to be vacated until 8:30, we were leaving the ship at 1pm and were surprised to find that we were given lunch before departing in our taxi as we were the only ones on our flight from the ship. Our cruise director Matthew was always helpful and attentive and on the last night we found out what a good voice he had. The included trips proved to be far more interesting than we expected and our guides spoke excellent English and were very knowledgeable. The idea of splitting the coaches into 4 with 4 being for the most active and 1 being for people who needed a slower pace worked well and was appreciated by all we met. We went on 2 "extra" trips, the first being the open air museum in Bucharest. This was probably the least enjoyable of the excursions, possibly because it only stopped raining as we arrived and we were only able to visit 3 houses, the rest being locked, however it was still interesting. Our second excursion was to the National theatre in Belgrade. That was a marvellous experience, seeing backstage, costume making etc and finally we were treated to a concert by 2 student opera singers, who had beautiful voices... and we had a glass of wine as well! The ship was comfortable, the glass sides in the dining room and the lounge added to the experience, especially as the weather was not good enough to sit on deck. The food was good but not exceptional, however the wine made up for that and all the staff were excellent. Coffee was a let down, often only warm and/or weak and we resorted to making a drink on the lounge machine which was always available. Entertainment: We had a local dance troupe one night, who were good and a Croatian band one night. However a criticism of the lounge was that many of the seats faced away from the dance floor and if you had one of those seats you were limited to watching the acts on the TV screens placed at either end of the lounge. Although WiFi was provided for most of the cruise this proved unusable, (maybe a plus point depending on your viewpoint!) We have no hesitation in saying that we would travel with Emerald again Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
Good reports about the ship and crew. The staff were great - dining waiter Alin, Milan and all the others were charming and very attentive. Cabin staff Elena was great too. Yes, we would be delighted to travel with Emerald again. The ... Read More
Good reports about the ship and crew. The staff were great - dining waiter Alin, Milan and all the others were charming and very attentive. Cabin staff Elena was great too. Yes, we would be delighted to travel with Emerald again. The ports visited were most interesting especially Belgrade . Only problem being was with the currencies in the different countries - Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia - we wanted to spend money but had difficulty as most of these countries wanted local currency - it would have been good to have had a money exchange on board the ship !! Hungary was ok as they would accepted credit cards and euros as I suppose it is more developed as a tourist city. The organisation of the cruise and the explanation of the itinerary was well presented by Simona - super girl with great personality. We were lucky enough to be invited to the Captain's Table which was really a thrill. Captain Zamfir Costica was a very charming and interesting man and spoke to him frequently later about his experiences on the river Danube over many years. We spent three days in Budapest after disembarkation and all went smoothly before flying home. We loved the experience of it all !! Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
We liked the itinerary from Bucharest to Budapest. We were able to get to several countries we had not been to before. We had a lot of very interesting side trips, most of which were included and learned a lot about their history ... Read More
We liked the itinerary from Bucharest to Budapest. We were able to get to several countries we had not been to before. We had a lot of very interesting side trips, most of which were included and learned a lot about their history specifically what life was like under Communism. The people are warm and passionate about their countries. We got to taste some the regional food specialties and try the local liqueurs--which were interesting. The cruise boat consisted mostly of English people--I think this company has a large office in London, so we were two of 5 Americans on board. Everyday on board there was a tea time. The breakfasts and lunches were buffets but the dinner was off of a menu. The lunch buffet was interesting because the chef made regional dishes based on the country we were in, plus included salads, several entrees, desserts, and homemade ice cream--plus wine at lunch and dinner. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
After many ocean cruises and a couple of non-European river cruises, this was our first European river cruise. We were absolutely blown away by Emerald and the Dawn. The overall organisation of the trip was excellent. We spent two ... Read More
After many ocean cruises and a couple of non-European river cruises, this was our first European river cruise. We were absolutely blown away by Emerald and the Dawn. The overall organisation of the trip was excellent. We spent two nights pre-cruise in Bucharest at the Sheraton - the room was small and disappointing, but the breakfast was good. During our trip we were taken on so many excellent excursions, that it is hard to single out any one, but starting on the city tour, the guide in Bucharest really brought the Ceausescu situation and the revolution to life with her detailed account of the events. The other guides on our daily trips were equally qualified, and we learned so much about the Balkan states and their history. Some days we had half day tours, but on a couple of occasions we had lunch out (memorably with a village family in their house) and then picked the ship up further downstream. On all trips we used receivers, which were kept in our cabin, and it was up to us to keep them charged for the next day. Emerald Dawn is a beautiful ship - new, modern, clean, plenty of room for everyone, the cabins are comfortable, the public rooms are light and airy, the food is good, nothing is too much trouble for the staff. It is excellent. Our compliments to the Captain and all the crew for their hard work and efforts to make everything seamless. Would we go again? Certainly!! We are hoping to cover the rest of the river from Budapest to Amsterdam next year. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
We chose this cruise from one of the Emerald brochures, having explored the various places that we would be visiting, and could not have been more satisfied with our choice. From our first contact with the Emerald staff we were treated ... Read More
We chose this cruise from one of the Emerald brochures, having explored the various places that we would be visiting, and could not have been more satisfied with our choice. From our first contact with the Emerald staff we were treated with courtesy, and embarkation from the buses that brought us from Bucharest down to the Emerald Dawn was efficient and welcoming. This ship is relatively new, and beautifully furnished throughout. The Lounge and the dining area are spacious, light and airy, and the public areas outside, i.e. the sundeck and balcony are well provided with chairs of various types, tables, and footrests. For the first two or three days of our stay the Lounge was free of the seemingly ubiquitous musak, and that was lovely, but after a couple of days it did appear - shame ! Our cabin had an integral balcony, and we were very pleasantly surprised to be upgraded to one with extra facilities (fresh fruit, a superb coffee machine); our beds were very comfortable, and every facility that we could wish for was provided. The cabin was kept spotlessly clean throughout our stay, and the only suggestion that we could make which would enhance a stay would be the provision of a handrail in the shower. Dining on the ship, whether informally at breakfast and lunch or formally in the evening, was excellent, and the waiting staff and Maitre D ensured that our every need was met. Afternoon tea was provided, land that was so luscious that we gave it a miss, fearing for our waistlines ! We were very surprised indeed to be invited to the Captain's table for dinner - such a pleasure ! The swimming pool, and the calm area in which it is situated, was a wonderful addition to the experience, and although we did not visit this when it transformed into a cinema at night we did, one evening, relax there in the peaceful blue lighting. The entertainment on the ship was excellent, and the Cruise Director enhanced our holiday by the short talks that she gave before dinner each evening, highlighting the next days' activities, Every port and shore excursion, all of which were interesting and informative, was organised and managed in the most efficient manner, without, at any time, causing us to feel that we were being organised far too regimentally. The local guides were excellent and always enhanced our experiences to a great degree. To sum up, we cannot, in any way, find a single fault with this marvellous holiday, and can only compliment the whole crew and every staff member on the level of service, kindness and humour with which they carry out their duties. We hope that we will be able to travel on this ship again. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
To complete the full length of the river Danube. Have travelled by Viking in 2016 from Germany to Budapest and had a wonderful time. So thought that it would make sense to complete the Danube by going fro Bucharest to ... Read More
To complete the full length of the river Danube. Have travelled by Viking in 2016 from Germany to Budapest and had a wonderful time. So thought that it would make sense to complete the Danube by going fro Bucharest to Budapest. Also to change from Viking to Emerald just to experience a different cruise experience. As we have previously on used Viking.. Am pleased to say that we were not disappointed. Would certainly consider Emerald in the future as the company were very well organised. The ship was a dream and my Wife was particularly struck with the Cinema where the four of us spent a pleasant Evening watching Jack Reacher who is my favourite read. Also she was particularly surprised to find out how enjoyable the pool was. Will certainly recommend Emerald to friends and will consider booking with the line in the near future. Perhaps for the French Waterways . Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
I chose this trip because I am interested in Eastern Europe and it certainly lived up to and beyond expectations.The excursions were long enough and I must admit I wish I could have spent more time in some places as there was so much to ... Read More
I chose this trip because I am interested in Eastern Europe and it certainly lived up to and beyond expectations.The excursions were long enough and I must admit I wish I could have spent more time in some places as there was so much to see. The local guides were excellent with vast knowledge ,only to happy to answer questions. The cruse was well organised and our cruise director Simona was excellent nothing was too much trouble. The ship was comfortable,never looked overcrowded and I liked the free seating at meal times,so that you could sit with friends.the evening entertainment was fun ,not too long. The sun decks were well stocked with comfortable seating Service on board was excellent all the staff were professional and attentive.Dining was good with plenty of choice. Cabins were spacious with lots of storage and very comfortable,even providing a fly screen if you wanted the window open. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
This cruise was made available to Seniors in Australia. The ship, Emerald Dawn was a very new ship. It was lavishly appointed in everything modern. The cabin's balcony was good as all that had to be done was to lower the top of the ... Read More
This cruise was made available to Seniors in Australia. The ship, Emerald Dawn was a very new ship. It was lavishly appointed in everything modern. The cabin's balcony was good as all that had to be done was to lower the top of the outer window and the balcony was there. The crew could not do enough for us and were always on hand to welcome you and help out if something needed attention. The itinerary Bucharest to Nuremberg was one of the most interesting and fascinating itineraries I have ever had the pleasure of visiting. Port excursions were very well organised and interesting. Entertainment on board was good as were the visits to resident's homes in certain ports. It was wonderful to talk about our way of life and hear about their way of life, customs etc. Different foods and wines served by these people showed just how different our tastes are. On board food, wines and beers were of a very high standard. Waiting staff wasted little time in remembering your wine and beer choices. I would certainly recommend Evergreen River Cruises to anybody contemplating a River Cruise. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
We liked the itinerary,never having been to Bucharest or indeed having done a river cruise. My husband is disabled so traveling can be difficult but Emerald were excellent from the time we booked. There was assistance at the ... Read More
We liked the itinerary,never having been to Bucharest or indeed having done a river cruise. My husband is disabled so traveling can be difficult but Emerald were excellent from the time we booked. There was assistance at the airports,the hotel in Bucharest and at embarkation. The ship was sparkling clean throughout.Our cabin was large enough to cope with a folding mobility scooter and the crew were always on hand to help us. They could not have been better- nothing was too much trouble for them. The food was delicious and the service in the dining room just right. We didn't go on the all day excursions as they would have been too long for my husband but we thoroughly enjoyed our days on the ship, relaxing on the sundeck looking at the beautiful scenery . One of the best things was that there was no piped music so we could just enjoy the sounds of the river and the birds, it was so peaceful . The excursions we did go on were well organised and very enjoyable. We will definitely travel with Emerald again, just need to find the right itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
We fancied a cruise but didn't fancy the idea of sharing a 10-day pub/restaurant crawl across the ocean with 3000 other people, so decided on a river cruise with Emerald Waterways up the Danube from Bucharest to Budapest. It was ... Read More
We fancied a cruise but didn't fancy the idea of sharing a 10-day pub/restaurant crawl across the ocean with 3000 other people, so decided on a river cruise with Emerald Waterways up the Danube from Bucharest to Budapest. It was entertaining, educational and seriously luxurious. The guests were all adults and a good cross-section from across the planet; Oz, NZ, Canada, and UK mostly with some US, but there was also a small group from Brazil who, in spite of having little English, still seemed to enjoy the trip. The ship was practically brand new and very comfortable. The captain was very approachable and impressed us all with his seamanship (or would that be rivermanshio?). The food was outstanding and the drinks at lunch and dinner comprised good quality wines that just kept coming. Acquiring in advance a drinks package was a good idea although drinks on-board outside of mealtimes were reasonably priced. We only went on the included excursions but they were pretty good (if you like a lot of beautiful old churches) although one did include a 2-hour coach journey which, frankly, I could have done without - Eastern European roads aren't brilliant. Eastern European river ports aren't much to write home about either but Silistra, Belgrade and Budapest were lovely. We have only 2 negative comments about the whole trip: 1. We could have done without 2 nights in the Bucharest Sheraton - it's a good quality business hotel in the middle of a concrete jungle - but all cities are the same and we wanted to be on the ship. 2. It's a pity that for some parts of the river cruise we travelled at night - we were there for the cruise; to watch the countryside drift by at 10 knots, not for the joy of being nailed to some pokey quayside for a few hours whilst we all went on a coach journey, followed by a night passage. It is, after all, marketed as a River Cruise not a coach-borne site-seeing trip. Would we go again? Absolutely. Wonderful value for money and some terrifically unique experiences. We met some lovely people on-board and some incredibly friendly ex-communists ashore. Next time though we'll make sure any hotel stopover is at the end of the trip and not the beginning. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
This was our second cruise on the Emerald Sun. Having done the trip from Budapest to Amsterdam we now wanted to complete our experience of the Danube by sailing from Bucharest to Budapest. This enabled us to tick off several more countries ... Read More
This was our second cruise on the Emerald Sun. Having done the trip from Budapest to Amsterdam we now wanted to complete our experience of the Danube by sailing from Bucharest to Budapest. This enabled us to tick off several more countries including Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia and Croatia as well as revisiting Hungary. The Emerald Sun was as enchanting as it had been in 2015 and several small improvements have made it even more enjoyable. For example the power jet in the pool is a real challenge. We find it hard to find fault with anything. The organisation is superb throughout and if anything does go wrong due to events beyond Emeralds control there is always a fall back plan available. We had a grand balcony cabin which was well equipped and advantage is taken of every inch of space with drawers and cupboards in unexpected places. Clientele is mainly British and Australian together with a sprinkling of Canadians and Americans. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
This 10 day tour included a 7 night cruise from Bucharest to Budapest. Two nights in Bucharest preceded the cruise, on which from embarkation to disembarkation, every detail was attended to. Our ship was only a couple of years old, and ... Read More
This 10 day tour included a 7 night cruise from Bucharest to Budapest. Two nights in Bucharest preceded the cruise, on which from embarkation to disembarkation, every detail was attended to. Our ship was only a couple of years old, and was spotlessly clean. The staff all appeared to genuinely enjoy serving their guests - from the Captain to the room attendants. Meals were superb, with plenty of choice and beautifully presented. The evening entertainment was very enjoyable, especially the show put on by the crew, and the Serbian folk group. Shore excursions provided an opportunity to learn a little of the history of the countries through which we passed - Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia and Hungary. All of the guides on our shore excursions spoke excellent English and were knowledgeable and passionate about their home countries. I believe the tour was excellent value for money, and I look forward to travelling with Emerald Waterways again in the future. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
We knew this was going to be a special holiday the moment we saw the lovely backpacks and wallet containing our tickets and information, but were surprised at just how special it was. The tour included a couple of nights in Bucharest ... Read More
We knew this was going to be a special holiday the moment we saw the lovely backpacks and wallet containing our tickets and information, but were surprised at just how special it was. The tour included a couple of nights in Bucharest – a wonderfully interesting city, which exceeded our expectations on every level. Our stay at the Sheraton was very good – we upgraded to the Club floor, where the lounge was open from breakfast until 11pm. Bucharest was certainly as clean and safe (or safer) than Barcelona, with an amazing amount of history to discover. A city tour was included and the People’s Palace was a real highlight, even though we only saw 10% of the building – and that took over an hour! We had an extra day in Bucharest, so also took a free walking tour and a “Hidden Bucharest” tour we found on Viator. All three tours showed the city off in different ways. With a freak heatwave of up to 30C, it was too hot to go to the Village museum, so we visited the Peasant Museum – I got told off for taking a photo by a security guard who then started talking on her phone! Apart from that incident, we found the Romanians very friendly and enjoyed very good service everywhere we went. After checking out from the hotel, we went to lunch at Cara Cu Bere, one of Bucharest’s more touristy restaurants, where the food and service was excellent. We were then taken to the ship, docked at Giurgiu, not that we saw the town particularly – the ship was mostly docked a fair way from any of the towns and villages, with the exception of Belgrade and Budapest. On arrival at the ship, we were greeted with a non-alcoholic cocktail and a hot towel with smiling staff showing us to our cabins – and pointing out the cupboards behind the mirrors in the bathroom. Amazingly, our luggage was already in the cabin. I double checked that my bedding was hypo allergenic, however, woke up at around 4am wheezing and sneezing as one of the duvets seemed to have feathers in it, but it was quickly changed (yes, at 4am!) We had an offer that included all drinks, not that we seemed to take advantage of it that much - wine at lunch and dinner was really enough for us! We also liked that there was no tipping - it makes it much simpler and easier - and far less embarrassing - for us Europeans. The cabin was very well appointed – bathrobe/slippers, still and sparkling water, a beautiful guidebook (which we could keep!), along with a big television and a lot of drawer space. However, the hanging space was limited by the safe, which could easily have been put next to the wardrobe on the huge shelf. My only other niggle about the ship was that there was one public toilet on each floor and absolutely no reason why they couldn’t be unisex and weren’t more disabled-friendly. The ship was spotless, service was amazing – I’m allergic to cheese and one day was greeted at lunch by the head chef who greeted me by name and said that the Serbian meatballs had cheese in them, but he’d made a couple especially for me. We did, however, found the restaurant on the noisy side, making it sometimes difficult to hear our fellow travellers. Breakfast and lunch were buffet style and dinner was a four or five course meal, with a meat, fish or veggie option. You could also have steak, salmon or chicken for lunch or dinner – one day, I couldn’t choose, so had two main courses! One day, a galley tour was offered, but we were in Belgrade and unfortunately missed it, however, we were brought up to speed by other guests. The lounge was the main room for socialising, although smokers were on top and a smattering of people used the pool. We never saw the cinema in use – on the first night, they lost the DVD and most other nights, there was some entertainment, or we sat chatting to fellow passengers, who, with the exception of some travel bloggers, were just about all retired, making charming and interesting company. The staff were all excellent and the captain was exceptionally friendly and approachable. It’s hard to focus on one person, but Jana, the tour leader, was simply amazing – always friendly and so organised, ensuring everything ran smoothly in a part of the world where I’m sure that there are sudden changes, such as customs regulations sailing in and out of the EU in Serbia. Tours: At each port, tours were included and good maps were given out, although on this trip, most stops were away from too much to see and do. Alfatar – we had an English guide, Denis, who married a Bulgarian wife and had lived in Ruse for over ten years. He wasn’t that keen on talking about Bulgarian history (cutting it down to a few minutes!), but did give some insights into the practicalities of living in Bulgaria. Our tour to a school was imaginative and exceptionally interesting – the kids were just adorable and exceptionally well behaved. Veliko Tarnovo / Abarnassi – Denis was once again our guide and told us much more about the history of the two towns. Veliko Tarnovo was the old capital of Bulgaria and our time there was a little short, however, we had a lovely lunch with a fantastic view and agreed we’d like to visit the town in more depth. Arbanassi was a lovely little village with a fascinating church where a local Bulgarian guide explained all about it, and then a four piece choir sang, showing off the acoustics of the church, not to mention their singing prowess. The next day was spent cruising through the Iron Gates. It seemed to go by very quickly, and was a lovely relaxing day. Belgrade Our day outside the EU meant that any mobile phone calls went from being included in our tariff to 40p a minute, so they remained firmly switched off! A lot of our friends came to Belgrade when they hosted Eurovision in 2006, and called it Hell-grade. Our guide was only too aware of the city’s failings and painted a colourful picture with a great deal of detail in the very sad history of this region, remnants of the war are still in evidence. We found the city very interesting and possibly rather different to how it was 10 years ago. It was very strange to see lots of souvenirs with Putin, exceptionally off putting and a little scary for a same sex couple. Our tour should have included Tito’s mausoleum, but it was closed on a Monday. We weren’t sure how safe Belgrade was so opted for the additional Theatre tour in the afternoon which was very interesting and worth the €29. It’s a beautiful theatre, interesting to go backstage. We ended with a short concert by two young opera singers (along with a glass of bubbly!) which was yet another highlight of the trip. We were going to go back for the galley tour, but decided to have a little wander around the city and walked back to the ship, which was down a flight of stairs, so shuttle buses were arranged, leaving every 30 minutes until about 6. After dinner, a very energetic group of dancers and musicians entertained us. Vukovar/Osijek It was time for the Croatian side of the story to be told – Vukovar has a very sad recent past and our guide brought it all to life. She was definitely the most talkative guide we had, combining history with culture. The tour around Osijek was interesting enough, but then we went to a fisherman’s house who entertained us with humour, wine, ajvar, sausages and cake. We then got back on the coach and went to our home hosted lunch which was a true highlight of the tour. There should have been ten of us, but somehow 12 came in, meaning that the host didn’t sit with us. However, she did tell us about her life in Croatia and how she’d had to go to live with her sister in Stuttgart during the war. All too quickly, it was time to get on the bus again. Kalosca Again, the ship didn’t dock near a town, but a coach took us on a three in one tour – firstly, to the paprika museum where we were greeted by an old woman and some bread/paprika. She gave an interesting talk, then we were offered paprika brandy – an acquired taste. It was then onto an old style house museum where our guide showed us round – the house had a fascinating kitchen with the ovens ingeniously heating the rooms to the sides. He also pointed out a cricket bat shaped object, asking what we thought it was – I can’t remember its real use, but one of the passengers did ask whether it was to beat their wife?! The final part of the tour was to a horse farm, where some amazing horsemanship was shown – including a rider standing on two sponges on two horses and leading 10 horses around the track. We were also treated to more wine, bread and dripping and cake – and a ride round on a farmer’s carriage. We then got back to the ship for a late lunch and had the afternoon to pack – including the paprika that had been given to us as a gift on our return to the ship! It worked well as a bribe for the questionnaires which we also filled in during the afternoon! After dinner (which included the obligatory baked Alaska parade – with real sparklers!) – we were treated to a spectacular view of Budapest by night, a wonderful way to end a wonderful trip. Disembarkation was exceptionally civilised. Our transfer was organised for 11 – the suitcase had to be out by 8.30 and we could use our cabin until 9.30. We went out earlier for a quick walk around Budapest. Only regret? Not leaving this holiday for a big birthday or anniversary. But then again, we’re so lucky to have been able to take this trip as this area has been rocked by war so many times. We had the most sensational holiday, travelling in comfort through some of Europe’s most troubled areas and how they’re making progress since the communist era. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
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