Cruising up or down the Danube River has become very popular and we could understand why on this trip in the early fall as we travelled from Budapest to Vilshofen, Germany and then by bus to Prague. I had heard from many people who had participated in one of the itineraries on various cruise lines. It would be hard to exceed the ship, the amenities, the staff, the excursions, the on-board programs and, of course, the food that AMA Waterways extended to our 33 Craig travellers.
We visited Budapest, Vienna, Linz and Passau along the Danube but the one that caught our fancy was Bratislava, new to all of us. It is the capital of Slovakia and has a charm somewhat different from the others. The old part of Passau, which is a focus of all the river cruises, is also a very memorably picturesque place. AMA has adopted the small village of Vilshofen and is the only line to use it as a terminus. Because of this relationship, the town council treated us to a rousing Oktoberfest in a large tent right beside the dock.
The entire Wachau Valley is a UNESCO World Heritage Area and earned its designation due to the hills, vineyards, orchards and attractive villages, along with its role in various periods of history.
We were guided along the lanes of Durnstein, walked the grand corridors and library of Melk Abbey sitting on the top of a cliff overlooking the river and soaked up the flavour of medieval Europe in the old part of Regensburg. AMA’s excursion groups were designated for ‘regular’ and ‘gentle’ walkers.
Prague is a tourist favourite. Our guides led us through the main sites including the Castle surrounding St. Titus Church, the Charles Bridge and the old square with its iconic astronomical clock. We even had an excursion out of the city to Terezin, an old town and fort that was used as a concentration camp in the Second World War.
But the main attraction was a cruise along one of the world’s best known rivers. Our ship, the AMA Viola, was new in the spring and captained by the line’s most experienced captain. The cabins were spacious, the lounge and dining room were large and comfortable. There was even a small dining room at the stern of the ship where passengers could reserve one evening per cruise for dinner with a special menu. The evening entertainment was first class. Summer weather during the first few days of the cruise allowed travellers to use the swimming pool on the sun deck. One warm, sunny day the ship hosted an ice cream party on the deck.
One couple celebrated a 50th wedding anniversary during the trip. When this became known, we found that many of our couples were celebrating 45th, 50th and 55th anniversaries during the latter part of the year. What a wonderful way to celebrate a special occasion!
Join the next Melodies of the Danube cruise September 20, 2018 with Jennifer Kempa.