Our first cruise of any type - ocean cruises have never appealed to me - but this trip ticked all the boxes for places I wanted to visit, with the added bonus of a private performance in Vienna by Strictly stars Anton Du Beke and Erin Boag, and a dance masterclass/Q&As on board with them the next day. Ship facilities top notch and staff/service an absolute joy. All thoroughly professional yet relaxed and friendly. We particularly loved the glass and mirrors decor which made the ship feel so light and airy.
An apparent improvement this year was the introduction of an events manager, so that aside from the two nights where excellent local musicians came aboard to perform, there was always some evening enterainment provided, such as "Battleships/scategories","Family Fortunes," 70s/80s disco night, etc. He also provided an excellent cabaret as a singer himself one night. There was the occasional film night and aquarobics in the pool. Special mention to our Tour Manager, Nina who was a delight - efficient, and very open and friendly.
Food: Evening meals were a 4 course nouvelle cuisine menu with a meat/fish/vegetarian option, or you could chose from 3 set menu options each night (steak, chichen breast etc). These were all very tasty, albeit low on the potato side of things! and on the 2 Captain's welcome/farewell nights there was also a palette cleanser sorbet course. Breakfast was a sumptuous spread of everything you could possibly want, with a chef cooking eggs/omelettes live to order. Lunch usually consisted of 2 "hot" dishes, sometimes cooked live, 2 soups, salads, etc, cheeseboard, cakes/desserts. You could also order a main course from the daily menu. Would have to say the hot dishes didn't stay very hot in the warmers, but it would have helped if the plates were warmed as well! Would have appreciated soup spoons as the one-size dessert spoons I felt were too big for the deep sided bowls. Wine, draught beer and soft drinks all included at lunch and evening meal. But bottled cider and beer were charged for.
Loved the Vienna concert and performance by Anton and Erin. Our only slight disappointment was that the Active PLUS cycle ride option the next day, which we really wanted to do actually coincided with the Masterclass onboard so we had a tough choice to make. Would have liked to have been able to do both!
Port and shore excusions were well organized and very enjoyable, with "gentle" options for those less mobile. Would have to say that if you want to see more of the embarkation location (in our case, Budapest) it would be best to arrive a day earlier. We boarded at 2pm the day we arrived and only got one morning to see the city before the ship sailed at 1pm for Bratislava. At the other end of the trip, Nuremburg, we were fortunate in that our transfer to Munich was not until 2pm so we were able to make our own way into the city for the morning (by taxi) and spend a few hours there before returning to the ship for lunch. Other passengers had morning transfers so saw nothing of the final destination as the ship docks some 15-20 mins drive from the city! The only other nuisance was that we were transferred to Munich airport 6 hourse before our flight, and were therefore lumbered with our luggage for 4 hours before the bag-drop opened.
We were warned by other reviewers that this cabin was right under the gangplank so were prepared for noise when the ship docked. As this was usually between 6 and 7 in the morning it may not be a problem if you are an early riser! You are also on the waterline so there is a background noise at night of the water movement and the engine but if you are a good sleeper then it shouldn't be a problem. Air-con was on 24/7 though we managed to turn it down a little bit. Speaking to other passengers, if you go for a top deck balcony suite then you lose space between the bed and the bathroom. Ours was adequate and never felt cramped. Bathroom facilities excellent and our cabin steward, Dyas, was most efficient and polite.
Morning guided tour to Gellert Hill, then coach drive to Heroes Square, quick walkabout there; coach back through Pest and across Elisabeth Bridge up to Castle Hill. Guided walk up to and inside St. Matthias church. Left us 45 mins free time before we had to back at the coach. Not enough time to explore as much as we wanted. You need a full day in Budapest at least!View All 353 City Tour Reviews
Morning guided walking tour around the Old city then about 1 1/2 hours free time. We walked up to the Hrad (fortress) and back again leisurely. In the afternoon we opted for the drive out into the Slovakian countryside for wine and cakes with a typical Slovakian in their own home. Very interesting and enjoyable.
morning leisurely cycle ride through the outskirts of Vienna - the Prater, across the Danube to the Neue Donau and along the island where Viennese inhabitants enjoy water sports and more leisurely pursuits. Back through the modern commercial hub to the ship. Afternoon free in Vienna (free shuttles to and from the city centre laid on) then special concert and dance showcase at Vienna Arsenal in the evening)View All 12 Bike Tour Reviews
Very active bike ride from Durnstein to Melk to pick up the ship again. Guide set a pretty fast pace, and although we all managed to sustain it it wasn't quite as enjoyable as it might have been. Weather overcast, which kept temperatures down, but we were riding into the win the whole way! Lunch stop was a brief respite of about 20 mins, then occasional 5 minute breathers. Glad I did it but it meant missing the Dance Masterclass onboard ship with Anton Du Beke!View All undefined undefined Reviews
Guided tour to the Abbey (brought up by coach) was very good. Abbey is an incredible spectacle and well worth a visit. No photos allowed inside, though. Aftwerwards we walked down through the town and back to the ship at our own pace.View All 62 Benedictine Abbey Reviews
Our first completely wet walking tour! Guide informative and engaging. Again, free time afterwards was only about an hour so it becomes a choice between enjoying leisurely refreshments or trying to cram in more sightseeing/shopping!View All 218 Walking Tour Reviews
1/2 hour coach drive into the city from landing stage at Kelheim then had an excellent guided walking tour around the medieval city. Usual hour or so free time afterwards before getting back to the coach. This time an hour's drive to catch up with the ship. Some places of interest pointed out en route.
This was our point of disembarkation. 15-20 mins drive from the city. For us, luckily a late transfer to Munich at 2pm meant we could take a taxi into the city and actually get to visit the place. Most other passengers weren't so lucky. Strongly suggest that you travel in a day early to Nuremburg if you really want to see the city before sailing. Same the other end in Budapest if you are travelling from that direction like we did. Worth noting that lunch is provided on the ship that day if you are still awaiting airport transfer, as well as for the new arrivals, which we hadn't expected.