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Travel Experience – Viking River Cruise
By Jan Darby and Krystal McCallum
Krystal and I recently had the opportunity to join an 8 day, 7 port, Europe river cruise with Viking Cruises from Passau, Germany to Budapest, Hungary. As neither of us had been on a river cruise before we were very excited to experience this very popular way of travel.
We flew with Qatar Airways via Doha Airport, which is modern, clean and easy to get around. We had great service on our flight, and there was a little more leg room between the seats. The window seats have a more space between the seat and the window.
On arrival in Munich we checked into the Hilton Munich for an overnight stay. This was slightly out of the city but there were plenty of shops, eateries and supermarkets nearby. The hotel was located adjacent to the English Garden, Munich´s famous 900-acre park with shaded paths, brooks, ponds and … "The Englische Garten (“English Garden”) is one of the largest urban parks in the world. To get us in the right time zone, we headed straight out for a walk around the gardens. We had a good night’s sleeps and, in the morning, further explored these beautiful gardens.
In the afternoon, we checked out and had a private transfer from Munich to Passau which took 2 hours by road, and I am sure our driver took a few shortcuts.
We were transferred directly onto the ship and check in was very smooth and quick. Our cabin was the Standard Stateroom. There was plenty of storage room so our luggage could be unpacked and out of the way.
Time to explore the ship, which had 190 passengers onboard. I must say that in all the time during our trip it never felt like 190 people around you, as there was so many areas you could spend time in either relaxing, eating or just watching the beautiful scenery.
We had a day in Passau, a truly enchanting town, before we set sail. Our next port of call was Linz, before cruising through the Wachau Valley. Next was Krems in Austria and onto the beautiful Vienna. Day 6 we were docked in Bratislava in the Slovak Republic, another delightfully quaint city. After cruising through the Danube Bend we were in Budapest on day 7.
With most of the cruising being overnight, it was wonderful to wake up in a new city. Once docked you have the freedom to come and go as you like. This was particularly good for me as I am an early riser and I would be head out exploring at 5am on a long walk in each new city.
On the Viking program, there were so many included shore excursion plus loads of optional tours. These included panoramic coach tours, local home tours, walking tours, hiking and bike riding tours. Krystal and I mostly went on the city walking tours which were very informative and also gave us the chance to shop. We were busy every day and particularly loved our bike tour in Budapest, exploring Margaret Island. Even though you needed to pre-book your included shore excursions, you were able to change or decide not to join them at any time.
On-board, the food was excellent and plentiful, and the crew were fantastic. They were so helpful and nothing seemed like an effort, even assisting in fixing my broken shoe.
In summary, I found this Europe by river cruise to be the most relaxing way of travelling that would suit all – whether you are the active exploring type or just prefer to sit back and enjoy the ride. And don’t believe that myth that river cruising is just for older people. We thoroughly enjoyed our cruise and can’t wait to book another.
Thank you to Viking Cruises and to Jacquey Turner for letting us experience the Danube Waltz.