Our River Cruising Travel Blog

Our River Cruising Travel Blog

Several years ago, we experienced what we considered to be one of the best European river cruises.

Our European cruising holiday began in Hungary where we set out from Budapest.  Our cruise company was APT.  On APT’s “Magnificent Europe” cruise you glide on the water through five countries, taking in the iconic attractions and charming secrets of Europe’s heartland as you cruise along the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers.

We began our travel holiday from Melbourne Australia, flying via Singapore and Frankfurt. We arrived in Budapest, Hungary at about 10:30 am on 21st September, two days before embarkation.  We paid 9 Euros each for bus tickets and caught the shuttle bus to the Ibis Styles Hotel, Budapest City, where we had a great room overlooking the Danube River.  After checking in and enjoying two lovely cappuccinos at the hotel, we set out on a pleasant walk alongside the River, passing the various bridges that connect Buda to Pest.  (Pest means “cave” and Buda means “water” because of some natural springs that were known to the Romans).

We soon crossed a nearby bridge to the Buda side and walked several kilometres, dodging the bike riders and skaters.  We were still getting used to walking on the right side of the path, not the left as in Australia.  We walked along the river, looking at river cruise ships of various sizes, docking, turning and cruising up and down the Danube.

Danube River Cruising

Eventually we came to a large green suspension bridge at the base of a funicular railway. We bought ice-creams (E3 per scoop) and a drink to refresh ourselves.  After our refreshments and relaxing, taking in the moment, we then continued our stroll along the river towards a chain suspension bridge with huge white columns holding the chains.

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Our First Day cruising on the Ama Venita

Our First Day cruising on the Ama Venita

Whilst on the Buda side of the Danube River, we watched the funicular railway rising sharply upwards to the old city above and the Royal Palace that stands high on a rocky escarpment overlooking the river and the more modern city of Pest.  We then crossed the river back to the Pest side.  Pest is a larger city than Buda and presents a completely different historical atmosphere. 

After spending our first night at the Styles Hotel we caught a tour bus to sightsee Budapest.  The tour was fascinating and we spent hours wandering through the streets before walking back to our hotel.

You can read all about Budapest here at the Lonely Planet website.  But this blog is about our memories of the journey along the rivers of Europe.

Then the next day we caught the shuttle bus to the dock and found the AmaVenita APT Rivercruise ship waiting for us.  It was exciting to see as we offloaded our luggage onto the gangway.

Our European River Cruise on the ship Amavenita
Our European River Cruise on the ship Amavenita

So, on the 23rd September, which happened to be my birthday, Chris and I embarked on the Cruise Ship “Ama Venita” and set out on our cruising travel adventure along the famous Danube River.  Our cabin number was 109.  We were immediately welcomed as guests and our luggage was taken to our cabin.

The next day, before setting sail, we were taken on another tour of the city with some of the other cruise passengers.   This tour was even better than the one we had taken on our own before embarking.

Sunday 25th September was our first “cruising day”. 

At approximately 2am, whilst we were sound asleep, our ship entered the first lock of the cruise, known as the Gabcikovo Lock.  Then in the early hours of the morning, we sailed past Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia before enjoying breakfast in the ship’s restaurant.  We had a choice of a full cooked breakfast or pastries.  Before lunch. our cruise director, Paul, gave us a briefing on the tours and excursions in Vienna, Austria.

Our first stop along the river was Vienna (Wien as it is known in German).  Vienna is a truly elegant and grand city.  Our stop allowed us time to take in the grandeur of the monumental buildings as we enjoyed a guided tour along the famous Ringstraasse.  We admired the architecture along the Graben and Kohlmarkt and enjoyed a visit to the world-famous Spanish Riding School.

In the evening, we enjoyed another unique experience at the Palais Liechtenstein, which had been recently renovated.  We were treated to a unique private concert in one of the ballrooms.  After this unforgettable experience, the evening finished with an illumination drive along the Ringstrasse before we enjoyed a late-night snack in the AmaVenita lounge. 

Our first touring day provided us with a day full of memories to cherish for the rest of our lives!

Is Cruising for Retirement?

Is Cruising for Retirement?

Perhaps you are not yet retired or you may have have reached “retirement age”.

Many people think that cruising is an activity that they should put off for retirement.. that time way off in the future when they have the time and the money.  The fact is that, due to unforeseen circumstances,  when that time comes, they may have neither the time nor the money.

In daily life we meet many people of all different ages, but none more interesting than the baby boomers, many of whom have retired or are facing retirement in the near future.  We see and talk to many people who are just about to, or already have, retired and there is a wide range of difference in their attitude of mind, their daily activities and their money?

Why wait until retirement to experience European River Cruises?

But what is retirement age?  The notion of retirement has both positive and negative connotations.  In our country, retirement seems to be synonymous with the age of access to a pension, whether government provided or self-funded.  Many who have followed their passion in life and are realising dreams that they have worked to achieve, do not see the need to change their way of life simply because they have reached a certain age.

Cruising is an activity that suits people of any age.  If you can manage to undertake a river cruise well before “retirement age” you will discover the advantage that you have in being able to go on the many land excursions that require exertion. 

Apart from the benefits of being young, you will have great memories that will last a lifetime.

Rhine River Cruise

to be continued...