After wanting to try a river cruise for a long time, we finally joined with a group of friends for Avalon's Blue Danube Discovery. Trip began in Budapest where we had two days to explore the city before boarding the ship, trip ended ... Read More
After wanting to try a river cruise for a long time, we finally joined with a group of friends for Avalon's Blue Danube Discovery. Trip began in Budapest where we had two days to explore the city before boarding the ship, trip ended in Prague, where we had about a day and a half. Shortly after arriving we met Monika van der Drift, our Cruise Director, who was terrific and did a wonderful job from that moment until the very end- high praise for her! We cannot say enough good things about her.
Embarkation and disembarkation were very smooth, and the ship's captain and crew were warm, friendly, efficient and professional. The Captain was open and engaging, and several in our group with ship-sailing experience from their military days enjoyed visiting the Bridge, and seeing how things worked, and were very impressed with his knowledge and skill in navigating the Danube.
We loved our cabin, with its floor to ceiling windows, and efficient, functional layout- we have been on big cruise ships and this was by far, the most comfortable room and bathroom layout we have ever experienced- bed was also very comfortable. A+ for the room.
Food was very good and we liked the option of eating lunch or dinner in main dining room or having a lighter meal on the first deck- this was particularly nice one evening when we cruised and watched the sunset over the Danube.Service was very good, we never had a problem, even when adding more seats to our dining table to accommodate some of our party-very graciously the dining room staff helped with this. Food was especially good for the two "special" dinners, the Chef's Dinner and even better, the Gala Farewell Dinner.
Online DJ, Delyan, was great, and responsive to what he noticed passengers enjoying. We so enjoyed listening and dancing each evening. One evening a local ban, The Untouchables, came aboard to entertain, another evening it was The Bavarian Devils- both were terrific. There were also wine and beer tasting events, scheduled at a time that was convenient for those who wished to attend. There was a nice program of fitness activities with Ana, the Activities Director. Bikes are available on board, and many in our group took advantage of this.
As for the ports, it was a nice variety of city and small town. I have a list of towns I want to return to. I will say, we were there during the heat wave hitting Europe this summer, which made for some really hot days of walking, but that is weather, and better than rain! We really appreciated the always- available water on those days.
As for the excursions, there was a nice variety and you could select from both included and those available for an extra fee. Some of our favorites? Royal Waltz concert in Vienna was outstanding and almost made us forget the heat, trip to Cesky Krumlov, Nuremberg, Regensberg and Prague city tours.The wine pairing tour in Budapest also got rave reviews from those in our group. One unexpected treat was lunch on the tour of Nuremberg- much better than you might expect for a tourist group type meal. One not to repeat? Horse show and lunch in Budapest- this is much more suitable for young children, and not the Hungarian horse show you think you are going to see. We had looked forward to Schonbrunn Palace, but to be honest, it was a bit of a disappointment. We were given time to explore the extensive gardens, but no map to guide us so were worried we would not find our way back in time for the house tour. Lack of air movement in the Palace made things difficult in the heat.
We did lose the last day of sailing as another ship (not Avalon!) had hit and damaged a lock, but we felt fortunate that we did not have more disruption because of this.
Would we do this again? Absolutely, and we have been looking at options since getting home. It was a wonderful, wonderful vacation, thank you Avalon! Read Less