By Janie Cadena
VON ORMY- This past fall I had one of the best trips I have ever taken – a river boat cruise on the Danube River. There are many companies who offer cruises on the rivers of Europe, most of them are very good companies. You will find the prices are really not too different no matter what the “sales” are; the big difference is when you sail.
The company I sailed with is AMA Waterways. The cruise I was on was a “Wine Tasting Cruise”. Although I am not a big wine drinker, I learned a lot about wine making and wine drinking. We had a couple from Oregon who own a vineyard and produce their own, very good quality wine. They did a couple of classes on-board the ship. Also, we had the marketing director from Continuum (the company created by Robert Mondavi’s son and daughter) who also had a couple of classes during times we were sailing. Of course, we had the opportunity to not only taste their wines, but we had tours that visited a couple of monasteries and a pub to sample their wines and visit their wine cellars. On AMA Waterways as well as other river cruises, wine is included with your evening meals.
Our cruise started in Vilshofen, Germany. That evening, after our dinner we were invited to a tent set up by our ship for an evening of pretzels and beer and a local Bavarian band. We were welcomed by the city’s vice-mayor (the mayor was away) and the beer festival queen. It was a lot of fun and just one of the little things that was done to welcome us and entertain us.
One thing that makes the cost of river cruises look more expensive than the ocean going cruises is that they include at least one tour every day, sometimes two. They make accommodation for the different activity level of the passengers. Since most tours are walking tours, because the ship has docked right in the middle of some quaint town, the tours were divided into slow walkers, medium walkers and fast walkers. Also, this cruise line carries bicycles and helmets that passengers can check out and ride; there were also bicycle tours offered in a couple of stops. Bicycling along the river is very easy since early barges were towed by mules along river-side paths; those paths have been paved and make biking very easy.
Among the cities we visited was Vienna, the wonderful city of the waltz and Budapest. Budapest is an interesting city and offered one of our most memorable tours. After dinner we went to the top deck of the ship where we sailed up and down the Danube enjoying some appropriate music like The Blue Danube Waltz while we ooohed and ahhhed at the beautifully lit buildings of Budapest.
Janie Cadena, CTC, CPG has been a certified travel counselor for over 20 years and has traveled or lived in over 40 countries. She is also a Certified Professional Tour Guide. She is the owner of Your Travel Guide, a travel agency located right here in Von Ormy. For more information go to: www.yourtravelguideco.com or email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.