Overall we had a great experience on the Danube, but we had a couple of minor complaints that prevent me from calling it a five-star cruise.
Staff - the staff were truly 6/5 stars, and would do everything in their capacity to make the trip as enjoyable as possible. The fitness instructor Angie was amazing as well. However, there was always at least one (sometimes up to 6-7) staff smoking in the crew area at the rear of the sun deck. It was not enjoyable walking past it each day, and sometimes the smoke could be smelled further towards the front of the ship. Given that they said during the briefing on the first day that it was a non-smoking ship, this was a bit frustrating.
Cabin - very nice cabin with plenty of storage space. Was pleasantly surprised at how huge the shower is. However, the wifi in the cabin (and throughout the ship) was very, very spotty and overall unreliable. I've been on ocean cruises with better wifi.
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This was the only tour of the trip where we did not have a very good guide. This may have been because we had ~30 people on the Castle Hill Hike (far higher than what is typical from what I could tell) so they split the Castle Hike in Bratislava into two groups. We did bring up our guide experience to the Cruise Manager and he said that others had also mentioned this, and that he was going to make sure they never use that guide again. That being said, the castle itself is not *that* particularly interesting in my opinion. However, the views across the river to the other side of the city and the border with Austria are quite nice. Given the short amount of time in Bratislava I may have been better off just exploring the city on my own.
This tour had the best guide of the trip. Our guide Szilvia was extremely knowledgable, hilarious, and managed to keep us entertained non-stop for the entire tour. If you spend any amount of time in Budapest prior to the trip and can do the Pest side on your own, I would highly recommend the Castle Hill Hike as it’s a phenomenal way to see the Buda side of the city. We finished by walking across the bridge and learning a bit about the Parliament Building. We then headed back to the boat on the tram with our guide. Clocked in at just over 5 miles total of walking. The elevation gain wasn’t really much at all - especially compared to some of the other Castle Hikes on this trip.
Half of my group did the walking tour and the other half did the Bike Tour. The walking tour was nice, and Durnstein is a cute town (although I get the impression that it can easily become jammed with tourists). The half of my group that did the Bike Tour raved about it - this is a great place for cycling as the Wachau Valley is extremely scenic and you get to bike through vineyards and other lovely scenery. Was thankful for the warning from others on the Fortress Hike - getting up to the Fortress looked intense.
As expected, the Salzburg option was the most popular excursion. Salzburg is pretty and you get a good (2+ hours) of free time to explore the city, but man the Salzburg core is packed with people. This is also a LONG amount of time on the bus. About 1 hr 30 min on the way there - but you stop at Mondsee so it doesn’t feel as long. Wished I had more time to explore Mondsee as it was very scenic and far less crowded than Salzburg. Leaving the city it took us about 1 hr 45 to get back to the boat. Overall, probably worth doing if this is your only time to see Salzburg but the time on the bus was significant. Salzburg or Cesky Krumlov are really your best options (other than taking a day off perhaps) as Linz is not really a tourist city as others have said.
The bike tour was as a great way to see the city - we started at the boat and worked our way to the city center to the major sights. Due to the stops for traffic lights and the fact that we had a 30 minute free time period in the middle of the tour, it wasn’t overly strenuous. I was extra glad we did the bike tour since you have to take a bus to Schonbrunn Palace and I would have had serious bus fatigue if I had done the Imperial Vienna Tour in the morning, which features a good amount of bus rides.
Sleepy but cute town. Loved seeing the planes takeoff at the airport across the river. Pro-tip - sometimes the train from Vilshofen to Munich can get quite crowded - would recommend paying the ~10 euro/ticket extra to sit in the "1st class" section where there are far fewer people.