If you have never been on a cruise before, you should. If you have never taken a river cruise before, you must. Namely, the Romantic Danube with Viking Cruises. You experience the panoramic views, baroque architecture, UNESCO World Heritage Sites and medieval cities all while cruising the smooth waters of the Danube. Julie can explain, first hand, this unforgettable itinerary, the Romantic Danube.
What did you enjoy most about the cruise experience?
I really loved cruising the river…the calm waters and docking right in the cities. I’ve never been on a river cruise so going through the locks was very interesting. One of my favorite nights was the Taste of Germany night with the German Buffet with big pretzels, mugs of beer and accordion music. So festive.
Tell us about the ports/cities you visited with this itinerary.
Nuremberg – We had part motorcoach, part walking tour. On the motorcoach we drove past the Nazi Party Rally grounds. It was chilling to think of what took place many years ago. Visited the Kaiserburg Castle and Old Town on a walking tour. A medieval walled city with cobblestone streets. Lots of character with the beautiful flowers hanging in the windows. The town square had lots of shops where we bought delicious cookies.
Regensburg – All of the shops in the town were closed because of All Saints Day but we went on the walking city tour. We were able to get into the St. Peter’s Cathedral where mass was going on. There were lots of beautiful stained glass windows. Thankfully, the Historic Sausage House was open where we had the best sausages with sauerkraut and mustard. One of the highlights of the trip.
Passau – Where three major rivers meet, we did a walking tour though the old city. We visited the Town Hall, with gorgeous ceilings and walls and then St. Stephen’s Cathedral which houses the largest pipe organ in Europe. With over 17,000 pipes, it was amazing to see. We stopped at Heidi and Peter’s Ladl Cuckooclocks to purchase a dirndl for my friend’s granddaughter and a wooden Christmas tree for my house. Such a cute little store with beautiful clocks. They will ship them home for you.
Wachau Valley – Stayed on board today while most everyone else went to the Gottweig Abbey. (We stayed up until 6am to watch the World Series Final game) What gorgeous scenery of ruined castles with green hills and tiny towns. Spectacular views. We met up with everyone in Krems and then participated in an Apple Strudel demonstration in the evening on the ship.
Vienna – So much to see in Vienna. Felt like I was watching a tennis match bobbing my head back and forth to see everything on both sides of the street during our motorcoach tour. Once we got off and started walking, it was much easier to appreciate all around you. Christmas markets were starting to set up – really wished I could have been there when they were open. Saw the Opera House and the Hofburg Theater and St. Stephen’s Cathedral. A highlight for me was the Spanish Riding School with the Lipizzaner horses. We got up close to one of them as they were walking them into the stable right by us. Also visited Hapsburg palace. So many gorgeous buildings…again it is weird to see where Hilter addressed the Viennese people during his reign.
Budpest – Nothing beats sitting on the front of the river boat early in the morning to watch the arrival into Budapest. The chain bridge, the Parliament building and Gresham Palace…so magnificent! A man on the cruise whose father came from Budapest asked his girlfriend to marry him in this amazing spot. The don’t call it the romantic Danube for nothing! Drove by the Szechenyi Baths, explored Heroes’ Square, (pay no attention to the peddlers or they’ll hound you forever), went into Mattias Church and walked through the market to buy our paprika. I would have loved to spend more time in Budapest.
What shore excursions did you go on? Which ones would you recommend?
I did all of the free ones from Viking. People raved about the Munich excursion so I might have done that in hindsight.
What are your top 3 pieces of advice for someone going on a similar trip?
- Take time to go see the Shoes on the Danube, which is a memorial to the Jewish people who would remove their shoes before being shot into the Danube.
- The rooms are very small. I would try to do the balcony cabin if you can afford it.
- Try to do a later flight or stay an extra night in Budapest to fly home the next day. I had to have bags out of my room and leave at 2:30am to catch the 6:35am flight.
What did you like most about the cruise line?
The friendliness of the staff. When the World Series game was on in the middle of the night they allowed us to be the bar tenders! Super fun and awesome that they trusted the guests to do something like this.