I went along on this cruise with my mother and her partner, not expecting a lot. I'd heard about the big ocean cruises which are like crowded, floating malls full of drunk people, and a million a la carte expenses: taking a cruise sounded like the last thing I'd ever want to do. Well below a root canal. But this was absolutely wonderful.
Everything was taken care of, from flights to pick up at the airport to transfers after. We did two cruise extensions, Munich and Salzburg, and had a wonderful guide, Maya, who kept track of us, answered every question, filled us in on lots of local tidbits, history, and interesting facts. We were able to relax and enjoy the experience.
The other people on our extension days moved onto the cruise with us, so we already knew people when we got on board. Dining is open seating, so you end up meeting people and making friends very easily. The food was absolutely delicious, and as we traveled down river, the chef presented local options so that we were able to taste our way through the various countries. (Hats off to Attila, the executive chef!)
My cabin was just fine. I was at the bottom of the ship, which was fine with me. I didn't feel like I needed my own personal balcony, because I could go up top to the sundeck, or to the observation deck. My steward was very nice. And when I looked out my window, sometimes there was a swan staring right back at me, eye to eye.
We did the home visit shore excursions, and it was amazing. We loved getting to visit with local people, and talk about culture, history, politics. Our host served us tea and homemade apple strudel, and showed us all over his house. He is an artist, so we got to see his studio and his art. And his daughter had a little homemade soap business, so we were able to buy some little souvenirs for family back home, even though we didn't do the city tour.
My mother and I walked around in town instead of doing the excursion. We had a great time in a bead shop, and found her a belt. It was a nice, low-key time, and the town is really charming. We didn't quite make it to the glass museum, since it was a little too far for her, but we had enough fun without it.