AmaWaterways Danube River Cruise Review
The writer was hosted.
It was a warm, sunny day in September and I had just finished a guided walking tour in Bratislava, Slovakia. This charming waterfront city was our second port stop on a seven-night AmaWaterways Melodies of the Danube River cruise onboard AmaSonata. After the tour, my sights were set on a dip in the swimming pool on the ship’s sundeck. The pool became my go-to place after each excursion that week. Amazingly, few people took advantage of the pool so I usually had it to myself. But the pool was just one of many amenities and services that made this AmaWaterways river cruise an enjoyable one.
The Melodies of the Danube itinerary began in Budapest (Hungary) and traveled to Bratislava (Slovakia), Austria (Vienna, Weissenkirchen – Ybbs – Grein, and Linz); and Germany (Passau to Vilshofen). Pre-cruise land options in Budapest and post-cruise extensions to Prague can be added to the cruise for an additional fee.
Rudi Schreiner, AmaWaterways’ co-founder and president, Kristin Karts, the line’s co-founder and executive vice president, and the late Jimmy Murphy launched the cruise line in 2002. After years of working at other existing river cruise companies, Schreiner and Karts leaned into their own European background, passion for good food, wine, wellness programs, and the idea of freedom of choice to introduce innovative features for the family-owned and operated AmaWaterways. Their goal was to offer a well-rounded healthy and active river cruise experience that included hiking and biking excursions.
“They wanted to have a river cruise that incorporates all these things,” said Brenda Kyllo, the godmother of AmaSonata.
On my cruise, I had the pleasure of sailing with Brenda, who said that Rudi and Kristin spend 50 percent of their time sailing on the ships, interacting with and getting feedback from guests and crew.
The result? Healthy food and active excursions have attracted a younger crowd, lowering the average age of their guests to about 55 to 65 (about 10 years younger than previously). In addition, with no age restrictions for sailing with AmaWaterways, the cruise line is seeing more young people and multi-generational families on their river cruises.
AmaWaterways has over two dozen luxury ships that sail the rivers of Europe, Asia, Africa, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Themed cruises include iconic Christmas markets , Blue Danube Discovery, Gems of Southeast Europe, and Grand Danube Cruise. Wine connoisseurs can discover the Taste of Bordeaux, and the Flavors of Burgundy (debuting in 2024), two of several river cruises in France.
Read More : Castles, River, and Delicious Italian Food in Germany
Sailing on AmaSonata
Built in 2014, the cruise ship has 82 outside cabins and cozy public spaces. There’s an elegant Panoramic Lounge for entertainment and programs, a comfortable library, three dining options, a sundeck with a heated pool and swim-up bar, a fitness center, and a spa and hair salon. In the reception lobby guests check in and out for excursions. There’s also a small gift shop.
I smiled as I walked into my spacious stateroom and saw that I had a private balcony and a sitting area by a French balcony (the doors open for fresh air). I also appreciated the large marble bathroom, a wardrobe with a full-length mirror, and a bed with luxurious linen and pillows. Amenities include a mini fridge, a hair dryer, free wifi, a desk, and a flat-screen TV (not that I needed it with the beautiful passing scenery).
River cruises offer an excellent opportunity to visit not only Europe’s majestic capitals of the Danube but also small medieval cities and towns. Each day there are several shore excursions to choose from. All are included in the cruise fare. And most are half-day so there’s time to discover port towns on your own or relax on the ship. And I loved that I could change my mind at the last minute and switch excursions.
I enjoyed chatting with Cesario Santos, the cruise manager, who was always available to offer tips for choosing excursions and planning our day in ports. “We try to come up with options for people. We’re very flexible,” he told me.
The front desk in reception was also helpful. When we were docked in Budapest, there was downtime in the afternoon and I was interested in visiting a thermal bathhouse. There were two within walking distance. The young woman in reception suggested the Ruda bathhouse (where locals go). I took her advice and spent two glorious hours soaking in pools in the bathhouse that dates back over 450 years.
Hungary’s capital (dubbed Queen of the Danube) is an exciting city to visit. It was my first visit to Budapest so I joined the guided city tour. We drove through the historic city center, stopped in Heroes’ Square, and later walked up numerous steps to Castle Hill. It was worth the climb to see Matthias Church (Coronation church of Buda) and Fisherman’s Bastion. From there, we had panoramic views of Budapest. I also did some souvenir shopping in the shops.
SheBuysTravel Tip : While docked in Budapest, be sure to shop for souvenirs and regional food items at the historic Great Market Hall.
Slovakia’s capital, Bratislava, is a pretty, waterfront city that’s walking distance from the ship. I took the guided tour and then explored on my own, stopping for a gelato on my way back to the ship. Public art includes a quirky “man in the street” statue.
Although there was a city bike tour available, I opted for the bus and walking tour that brought us to Vienna’s historic town. It’s a fun place to spend a few hours shopping and enjoying sausages stuffed with cheese. While there, Cesario rode up on his bike with a bag of Mozart (Mozartkugel) chocolates for us! I found a store that sells them and bought a bag of yummy chocolates to bring home.
The Wachau Valley is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with vineyards, apricot orchards, a little town, and castles. It’s also home to the Melk Abbey. I chose the excursion to the medieval town of Durnstein on the banks of the Danube River. Narrow cobblestone streets are lined with boutiques, chocolate shops, and eateries. I bought a pair of earrings made with stones from the Danube River from a local merchant who said she makes all the jewelry in her shop.
At a small winery, we sat at long tables decorated with softly glowing candles for wine tasting, and later, apricot tasting.
Some guests opted for a hike to the Durnstein fortress while others took a guided bike tour and pedaled about 15 miles along the romantic Danube River.
While docked in Linz, we had a choice to join a local walking tour or take a full-day tour of either Salzburg or Cesky Krumlov, in the Czech Republic. It was a difficult decision but I was excited to see Salzburg. Our first stop was in the small town of Mondsee, situated on the shores of Lake Mondsee. Our guide Julia told us that St. Michael’s Church was the site for the wedding in The Sound of Music.
After Mondsee, we left for Salzburg (the name means salt castle or city), Mozart’s hometown. We visited Mirabell Gardens, Old Town, Hohensalzburg Fortress (I rode the funicular to the top), and other top sites. Along the way, Julia pointed out locations where “The Sound of Music” was filmed. (I was surprised to learn that Austrians aren’t familiar with the movie title. Rather, it’s known as “The Trapp Family.”)
That evening we took in a Mozart & Strauss concert presented by the Hofburg Orchestra at the Hofburg Palace concert hall. It was a lovely way to cap off an enchanting stay in Austria.
This beautiful baroque city is surrounded by the Danube, Ilz, and Inn rivers. Known as the City of Three Rivers, Passau is a fun Bavarian city to explore. And since the ship is docked at the waterfront, Passau is easily accessible.
A group of us took a guided walking tour with Daniel, a Passau native and high school teacher. We walked along narrow cobblestone streets lined with cafes and bicycles (this is a university town, after all) to Old Town where St. Stephen’s Cathedral houses the largest organ in Europe.
Dining on AmaSonata
The cuisine was excellent and reflected each region we visited. For example, in Budapest, the chef prepared tasty goulash. Austrian and German dishes featured a variety of sausages, sauerkraut and potatoes. All the food is fresh – baked or made onboard. There is no processed food onboard and more grains are integrated into breakfast bowls.
We usually ate in the Main Restaurant, where guests dine together at large tables. But the restaurant also has cozy alcoves for small groups. In the Panoramic Lounge, a bistro breakfast and bistro lunch are available for a quick bite (especially handy in the mornings before excursions). An all-day tapas menu and afternoon tea are also available here. The Chef’s Table (at no additional charge) is a delight with a fixed menu. Guests can reserve the Chef’s Table upon boarding the cruise ship.
After dinner, we gathered in the Panoramic Lounge for port talks and entertainment. Some evenings featured Petar, the onboard musician, and other times regional performers. While in Budapest, the Hungarian Folklore Show featured local performers who came on board.
What’s Next for AmaWaterways
After the successful launch of the larger AmaMagna ship in 2019, AmaWaterways plans to increase its presence on Europe’s Danube, Douro, and Rhine rivers by 20 percent in the next two years. The company plans to introduce the AmaMagdalena and AmaMelodia on Colombia’s Magdalena River, and AmaLilia on Egypt’s Nile River.
To book an AmaWaterways cruise contact your travel advisor.
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Budapest’s Best Danube River Cruise Reviews
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If you are visiting Budapest, you must include a sightseeing river cruise across the beautiful Danube. Although the river flows across 10 European countries, in Budapest, it is a real treat. You will see pages of history and stunning architectural marvels pass by, as you cruise or dine along the river Danube. We took the Danube dinner cruise Budapest and LOVED it. This post highlights our experience and offers the best Danube river cruise reviews for your trip.
A Danube River cruise should be on every Budapest itinerary . So here are a few tips and tour options that should help you plan this activity.
Budapest’s Best Danube River Cruise reviews (daytime, sightseeing, evening)
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Budapest Danube River Information
The Danube River is Europe’s second-longest river and flows through 10 countries. It’s also a major water source for Europe.
Full of history , the Danube was once a frontier of the Roman Empire. The river starts in the Black Forest and ends in the Black Sea.
To see the Danube from Budapest is a real treat to the eye due to the architectural marvels that surround the river. Not only that, Budapest – the capital of Hungary is also the largest city and the largest agglomeration on the Danube.
If you have been to multiple countries and cities in Central Europe, you can compare the Danube from Germany- Bavaria , Austria – Vienna , Slovakia, and of course, Hungary – Budapest.
We happen to think that Budapest holds some advantage over the other Danube River cruise destinations, but we’ll let you decide for yourself.
5 Best Danube River Cruises To Choose From
There are TONS of sightseeing and boat tours available for a cruise over the Danube river. We carefully chose a few of the best options for you to consider.
You can opt for private tours or small-group tours. Customizing the dinner cruise is easy, with options of food, drink, entertainment and cruise duration.
Danube River Dinner Cruise
Duration: 2.5 hours
Cost: ± US $80
What could be better than dinner on the Danube? This is a highly recommended cruise tour, especially if you’re traveling as a couple. Spend just over two hours on the water, marveling at the illuminated sights of the city.
You’ll be served a scrumptious 4-course meal along with a drink of your choice. In the background, listen to the sweet sounds of a live band acting as the soundtrack to your very own rom-com. It’s blissful.
Book your candlelit dinner cruise through Budapest for a romantic evening on the river
Budapest Dinner Cruise And Folk Show
Duration: 3 hours
Cost : ± US $60
This nighttime cruise along the river is a bit more lively than the dinner by candlelight but offers much the same enjoyment. A 4-course meal is served with a list of drinks as guests and crew are treated to a gypsy folk dancing show.
This is a real look into Hungarian culture as you enjoy the country’s food, wines and beers, and its love for music and dance. The city sights and lit-up monuments are just the cherry on top of this cruise delight.
Dive into the city’s culture and heritage and book your folk show dinner cruise on the Danube River .
Budapest Sightseeing River Cruise – Daytime
Duration : 70 minutes
Cost: ± US $15
For a brighter look at Budapest’s beauty, you could opt for this river cruise during the day. It takes you past all the same stunning sights, and can easily fit into a day trip itinerary if need be.
You’ll get a glass of champagne, or your choice of beverage when boarding the boat, and a glass of Duna Bella lemonade, too. There’s a free audio guide so you can listen to fascinating facts about the river and the monuments on the shores.
If you’re visiting during summer, this cruise makes a stop at Margaret Island . Passengers get to climb off and take a walking tour around the island before heading back down the river to the endpoint.
Book your Budapest sightseeing river cruise and enjoy the sights while the sun is out.
Floating Bus Tour River Cruise In Budapest
Duration : 95 minutes
Cost: ± US $30
This is a tour with a twist. Initially, you’ll hop aboard a normal-looking tourist bus, which will take you to see some of the captivating Budapest attractions. Enjoy sights of the streets and the many landmarks from the comfort of the air-conditioned bus.
And then, when you least expect it, the bus will drive straight for the water. Your 4-wheeled tour coach will become a water-riding cruiser in just a few seconds. This is delightful, if somewhat scary at first, and is great to do if you have kids with you.
Book your 2-in-1 bus/boat tour of Budapest for an unforgettable ride.
Budapest Evening Sightseeing Cruise
Duration : 1 hour
Cost : ± US $10
For a simpler, but still stunning, evening river tour, you can book this hour-long sightseeing trip down the river. It’s a more budget-friendly option but doesn’t include a meal or a live show.
It does, however, include a welcome drink, and the same magnificent views over the city at night. This is great if you’re on a budget, or don’t have hours to spend on the river. Although you may be sad when the trip is done.
Book your evening sightseeing river cruise for a quick but delightful show of the city lights and sights.
Danube Sightseeing River Cruise FAQs
If you’re still not quite sure about booking a river cruise down the spectacular Danube River, perhaps we can help convince. Here are a few common questions and their useful answers about the tours.
What’s Included In The Danube River Boat Tours?
In typical Danube river tours, a boat ride for 1-3 hours is provided. You can include a drink or a three-course meal or add live performances. There are a variety of cruise choices, so you can book whichever one fits your budget and itinerary.
What Does A River Cruise In Budapest Cost?
Danube river cruises in Budapest start as low as $15 USD and can go up to $125 USD. This depends on the length of the cruise, as well as what’s included in the tour. (More details on the table above).
When Is The Best Time To Go On A Boat Cruise In Budapest?
We always recommend taking an evening tour. The way the banks of the river Danube lit up is incredible. It is also recommended that you take the tour during summer or warmer months. We were here in early spring.
Although the skies were clear and we could capture all the amazing sights, it was very COLD in the evening. (And of course, I was not dressed appropriately). Carry a scarf or wear full sleeve tops and bottoms to fully enjoy the views (and not freeze like me).
Who Should Go On A Cruise On The Danube?
A river cruise down Budapest’s part of the Danube is a treat for anyone.
Couples in love, families traveling together, groups of friends, and even solo travelers. You can pick the tour that suits you. If you have small kids with you, the dinner cruise probably isn’t the most exciting. But the floating bus sure will be!
If you’re looking to create a romantic evening – perhaps even an engagement? – you can’t go wrong with a candlelit dinner river cruise.
Who Offers Danube Cruises?
This is a loaded question.
Most local companies offer 1-3 hour tours. If you wish to take 1-3 days of cruises, then there are international cruise companies that offer such packages. In such cruises, you will be sailing and exploring through multiple countries.
I would suggest booking your tour in advance, online. This avoids arriving and finding out that your desired tour is full. It also takes some of the stress out of what should be an enjoyable day of sightseeing.
Which Danube Cruise Is Best?
Personally, the dinner river cruise on the Danube is our favorite, because we loved it so much. And Budapest is beyond charming at night. However, the best river cruise will depend on you.
Whether you have time for a dinner cruise or prefer something during the day. There are many options, and the above list is just a handful of the top picks.
What Sights Can I Expect To See On A Boat Cruise In Budapest?
We don’t want to ruin any surprises for your own cruise, but some of the top attractions you can look forward to including:
- Hungarian Parliament
- Gellert Hill
- Elizabeth Bridge
- Danube Bend
- Széchenyi Chain Bridge
Take a look at our photos of some of these places from our evening cruise.
Reasons To Go On A Danube River Cruise, Budapest
Taking a cruise over the Danube River was one of the highlights of our trip to Hungary. There is something magical and romantic about sailing and watching the world go by.
The Danube River cruise is a MUST for the following reasons –
It Fits into a Short Trip Itinerary
If you are in Budapest (or any other city) for 1-3 days, adding a sightseeing river cruise will allow you to experience more of the city in daytime and night.
Also if you missed exploring all of the tourist hot spots, you can easily do that on a cruise. We have taken many similar rivers and canal cruises in Paris (night time) and Bruges (day time)
The Danube dinner cruise is one of the most romantic things to do in Budapest. It is easy and affordable to book a tour and reserve your dinner table. You can also add music or performance on the deck.
The 1-hour sightseeing cruise on the Danube starts at $15 USD, making it one of the most affordable ways to explore a new city. And in a unique way.
It’s a Memorable Experience
A Danube cruise (or any other river cruises) are only possible in cities where river systems are navigable and are popular (or historic). So don’t lose this opportunity.
Our Danube Dinner Cruise Budapest Experience
We arrived at the dock at about 6:30 pm local time for our dinner cruise on the River Danube.
This picture was taken at the dock, leading to the ferry.
Depending on what type of cruise you choose, you will be experiencing a different level of hospitality. Our cruise liner was a simple ferry, the hosts/servers invited us inside.
There were dinner tables laid out. Traditional Hungarian music was played in the background.
We started with Hungarian Tokaji wine (a sweet white wine). Followed by some traditional Goulash Stew and potato casserole. The main course included Paprika Chicken and for dessert, we had Vanilla Kifli (sweet pastry)
While we were dining, the cruise took one full lap of the Danube river, showcasing the beautiful buildings and bridges of Budapest.
After dinner, we stepped outside to the dock and it was amazing. The city of Budapest was lit beautifully. All the bridges were sparkling with lights. Our eyes were fixed on the Hungarian Parliament – it was gorgeous!
The Hungarian Parliament is a major tourist attraction in Budapest. From the cruise, you can capture amazing shots of the Parliament building.
The Budapest bridges at night were amazing, as seen from the ferry’s deck. The picture below is of the Elizabeth Bridge. You can also see the monument on Gellert Hill in the distance.
Here is the stunning Liberty Bridge. This bridge was built in the late 19th century and was recently renovated and repaired. The Liberty Bridge is stunning to look at – it is green in color and has large bronze structures of Turul, which is a falcon-like creature.
The unique structure you see, in the far-away sky, is the Liberty monument. This monument is located on Gellert Hill. It was built to commemorate the struggles and victories of Hungarians against different rulers, including the Socialist regime.
The bridge below in green lights is the beautiful Széchenyi Chain Bridge. This is the first bridge that was built over the Danube river in Budapest. Built in the 1840s, it is one of the oldest suspension bridges in the world and at that time was one of the longest bridges as well.
A pair of lions stand at each of the abutments. The picture above was taken at the ferry’s dock.
Another view of the Chain Bridge from the ferry’s deck.
Beautiful contemporary buildings in Budapest, as seen at the end of the river cruise. One of the buildings is the Fine Arts Center.
Overall Thoughts of the Cruise
The Danube cruise was a wonderful experience. The price of the cruise was completely worth it. We could experience the beauty of Budapest in the evening and see all of the stunning views, in a very unique way. And not to forget the amazing wine!
Find other FUN things to do in Budapest
There you have it! Our first-hand review of a Danube dinner cruise, and tips for you to enjoy your own boat tour through Budapest. Have you taken the Danube River Cruise? Share your experience below <3
Have you taken the Danube River Cruise? Share your experience below <3
Pin for Later – Budapest’s Best Danube River Cruise reviews
Mayuri is the founder & editor of ToSomePlaceNew. An Indian-Canadian globetrotter, she has traveled to over 100 cities and 35+ countries. Mayuri has a graduate degree in History and is an MBA. She loves traveling the world, capturing historical nuances, and discussing that over a cup of coffee with her husband, Salil. She currently resides in Edmonton, Canada, and plots travel plans to Europe, the Americas, and beyond.
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Thank you so much <3
Oh wow, I can totally see why you’ve been raving about your cruise! The views from your dinner table alone are enough to entice anyone considering a trip to Hungary. I’ve only done one dinner cruise before, but it was along the Mississippi River out of New Orleans. It’s so awesome! And the price for the Danube cruise seems pretty reasonable, too!
Absolutely! Definitely add this to your itinerary when you visit Budapest!
I spent just a tiny bit of time in Hungary many years ago and it was stunningly beautiful by day. I can see that I really missed out though because it is clearly even more beautiful my night. What an amazing experience. I would love to take the kids to this beautiful country.
Yea absolutely the city is a must visit – so much history, culture and amazing food!
The pictures alone make this post AMAZING. I didn’t even know this river existed until I read your post. It is on my bucket list now!
Aww…that’s great. Hope you get to Budapest soon. Happy Travels babe!
Happy for you to go on and on and on about it! Did the same cruise 2 weeks ago and how stunning is it?? Parliament was obviously the highlight but I also loved going under the bridges. They were all so pretty.
Absolutely it was dreamy and beautiful!
Wow this sounds like it was an amazing dinner cruise. To be able to taste local wine and food while seeing the beautiful sites is great!!
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Freckle and Curl
TUI Danube River Cruise Review
We completed our 7 Day Tui ‘East Danube Explorer’ river cruise in July 2022. In this article we will look to give you a better idea on what to expect if you were to book a TUI river cruise or similar. We will provide you with insight into both the good and bad.
We booked our cruise only a few weeks before the cruise itself. As a result, we got ourselves a great deal. This appears to be usually the case with Tui packages. As you get closer to the time and if there is available space, the price will dramatically decrease. In our case it was around a 50% price reduction. At the time of writing, if you were to book the same river cruise 1 year out, you would expect to pay £1449 per person (excluding any sort of room upgrade). We paid £798 per person, and paid an additional £364 as a room upgrade. We did not opt to have the all inclusive drinks package which was £20pp per night (£280 for a couple for the week).
The price includes:
- Full Board – breakfast, lunch and dinner at two restaurants and a range of drinks are included; standard tea, coffee and juices with breakfast, as well as soft drinks, beer and wine with lunch and dinner.
- £120 per person as credit towards daily excursions (eg: tours)
- Transfers to and from the airport
2. The Ship
Our tour was on the TUI Skyla. This ship features:
- 2 Restaurants (one formal, one buffet)
- Spa (spa pool, loungers, sauna)
We found the ship to be great and challenge the other cruise companies that target a more luxury market. All rooms and facilities appeared to be new and modern. Most importnatly when travelling it is quiet, and all you could hear when moving was the sound of the water.
Free WiFI is onboard but we found it to be fairly patchy and non-existent in our room. As a result, we had to rely on mobile data.
see here for more specifics
We paid an additional £364 for the room (cabin) upgrade and we are thankful we did. If you do not opt for an upgrade you will be placed in a standard room at the deck 1 level.. Whilst the room itself is much like the others available, what you lose is the view. You’re effectively below the water level and have two port windows to peak out of at the top.
We selected the ‘Deck 2 French Balcony Cabin’ the great benefit of this option is the sliding doors that open up. You can relax in the comfort of your own room looking out at an unencumbered view as the world passes by.
The room featured a large double bed that was very comfortable along with equally high grade pillows. A TV with a few English channels (BBC, Euronews, Comedy Central – some shows in english and some not). Unfortunately the casting feature on the TV did not work in our room, I think because of the poor WiFi. Mini fridge was a great feature that allowed you to pickup your own drinks/foods from the towns and store these away. We purchased beer, coca-cola and a bottle of bourbon on day one which allowed us to sit nicely with a drink at our french balcony.
Plenty of storage spaces to unpack you’re personal items and clothes. The bathroom was fairly standard with a sink, toilet (like on an airplane), and comfortable sized shower. Pressure on the shower was not a problem at all. All tap water on the boat was filtered which allowed you to drink from the tap without buying any sort of plastic bottle alternatives.
All three meals are inclusive every day and in many occasions have the opportunity to decide whether to eat at the port location or onboard. Spotted around the ship were also Coffee machines with treats such as biscuits.
Breakfast time is between 7am-9am. There is a buffet option where standard breakfast foods are available. This includes full english breakfast items (beans, bacon, scrambled eggs, mushrooms, hashbrown etc), cereals, yoghurt, continental breakfast, and pastries. In addition to the buffet you have the option to order from the Chef. Through the Chef you can order eggs cooked to your preference, eggs benedict, and omelettes. For drinks you will be served standard coffee, tea or you can grab yourself a juice. We aren’t the biggest breakfast eaters and usually don’t bother eating breakfast, however on the cruise we did every single day in order to fill up before the activities shortly following. One downside we found with the breakfast was there was a lack of fruit options. We are fairly healthy eaters and between the meals we felt we were missing some of the standard nutrients we expect in our daily diets. Therefore when the option for fruit was there, we stocked up when we ordered. For snacks, we also grabbed a couple pastries at breakfast to take with us in our bags during the excursions.
Both Lunch and Dinner and three course meals with an appetiser, main, and desert. For each part of the meal you were usually presented with 3-4 various options including at least one vegetarian option. In terms of taste we were pleasantly surprised for most of the options we selected. There was always a standard chicken or salmon option but we tried our best to try the more unique options when they were available.
One of the nights had a special ‘Indonesian’ menu that was considered experimental. This was by far the best meal we had aboard the ship. So much so that we ordered two mains each (staff were more than happy to oblige!). This makes sense as much of the cooks are Indonesian or from other Southern Asian countries, allowing them to flex their traditional dishes. What we were disappointed to see was the turnout for this option from the other passengers. What we noted was that a majority of passengers aren’t the most adventurous when it comes to their meals. We certainly hope this continues in the future and hope TUI really push this option to passengers as I think they could have done a better job to recommend it.
For drinks the Beer and Wine was flowing. It was unlimited and in most cases your waitress/waiter could not wait to supply you with an more drinks (very handy when you didn’t pay for the unlimited drinks package). There were a few different Beer options with a light and dark beer variation. For Wine you had both White and Red with each night having a different bottle from a new region. The quality was very good, and much better than what we expected (we expected the cheap stuff – it was not).
During the long cruise day where we were moving from Belgrade to Budapest, we had to be onboard for more than 24horus. As a result, they planned a gala night to make things a bit more interesting. This included a 6 course meal where you only had to make one decision regarding the main. This felt quite fancy with the little beautifully presented dishes. Bon appetite (I think staff are told they have to say this, and you will hear it so often it will become quite funny).
Our criticisms of the food are limited to a few different areas. The meat options usually didn’t hit the spot in portion size and the vegetarian options (like pasta) sometimes felt like it was a bit bland and missing ingredients. We would have also hoped for a bit more international flavour to mix things up. However, you can still eat off ship when you’re at the ports if you’re a very picky eater.
5. Port Time and Excursions
One thing that this cruise does is organise optional excursions for you to pick. Included in your ticket price we were given £120 each to use towards excursions. This paid for around 4 excursions. If you wanted more, then it was pretty reasonable priced at around £10-40 depending on how much is involved. There was usually 1 or 2 different excursion options available each day, one in the morning and then one afternoon/evening based excursion.
In all ports a historical walking tour was an option. The guided were local and would provide a wealth of knowledge and answer any questions that you may have. In our rooms we were provided with ‘Vox boxes’ which were little frequency radios with earpieces which allows you to hear the guide from a good distance away.
Each excursion had a rating on how hard the physical activity was (ie Walking). This allowed an individual to decide what they could and could not do. We are young (30) and fit so none of the walking was difficult for us, but for some of the older folk, they did struggle. So it’s best to fully understand the amount of walking that is involved.
If you’re not wanting to do an excursion and instead want to do your own thing that you can do that. That’s what we did in a number of ports. Maps are provided at the front desk which does highlight some key sights which was helpful, but in most cases we just opted for google maps and trip advisory to plan our day. When leaving the boat pay attention to the time you must be back onboard, otherwise you might be left behind.
We did 3 TUI excursions on our cruise:
Wine & History In And Around Novi Sad – Novi Sad, Serbia
Overview: Fortresses, ancient cities and wine houses are all part and parcel of a sightseeing tour in Serbia. This four-hour tour starts in Novi Sad, Serbia’s second largest city. Follow your guide on foot to the mighty Petrovaradin Fortress, perched right on the banks of the Danube. You’ll have an hour to explore and find out how this stronghold became a centre for art and music. Then you’ll hop on a coach and drive to the ancient city of Sremski Karlovci. Take a 30-minute guided walk through its pretty streets before arriving at a wine house – a winery. This city has a rich history of wine production, and you’ll have an hour-long tasting session to find out more about it before heading back to your ship at Novi Sad.
Bohemian Belgrade – Belgrade Serbia
Overview: You can see Belgrade’s bohemian side on this tour. For starters, you’ll be taken to one of the city’s music halls for a folklore performance. This hour-long show gives you a taste of Serbia’s mish-mash past, with songs played using traditional Slavic instruments and dancers kitted out in authentic outfits. After, you’ll be dropped in Skadarlija, AKA the Bohemian Quarter. This place is more of a street than a quarter, but its cobblestone lane is brimming with some of the city’s oldest restaurants and bars. There’s the option of snapping up a traditional snack at one of the eateries – like grilled Serbian sausages or meat skewers, washed down with wine. Then you’ll hop on the bus back to the ship.
Lepenski Vir Archaeological Site and Golubac Fortress – Donji Milanovac, Serbia
Overview: This tour ticks off a pair of Serbia’s must-see antique attractions. After a 15-minute drive from the port, you’ll arrive at Lepenski Vir – an 8,000-year-old archaeological site that’s been dubbed ‘the first city of Europe’. In the museum here, you’ll watch a video presentation about the history of the area. Then you’ll head into the main hall to see what’s left of the old settlement. These remains were discovered in 1960, and historians believe they date as far back as 6500 BC. You’ll see where the old huts used to stand, as well as artefacts like carved stone heads and tools. When you’re finished, you’ll travel to the town of Golubac’s waterfront fortress. This giant stronghold was built in the 14th century, and sits on the shore of the Danube. During a riverside stroll, your guide will tell you about the battles that took place here between Hungary and the Ottoman Empire. And before you start the journey back to the port, you’ll have some free time to explore the castle on your own.
6. Onboard Entertainment
An itinerary is set for each day with a number of different hosted and self hosted events throughout the day. Generally each evening the onboard musicians will provide a few hours of music whether it be a DJ set of 80’s classic hits or cranking out a ballad. On the first night in Budapest there was traditional dancers who put on a show for the guests in the main function room. During the day there was the odd Yoga session and some small games on the top deck (shuffleboard and a homemade mini golf course). Throughout the ship there was various board games, card games, and chess/checkers boards. We honestly didn’t do much of this, and rather entertained ourselves on top deck or in our own room, however people certainly did enjoy all of these.
What we did enjoy was the first night when we left Budapest, the tour manager Tony gave a fact session as we first left the port along the Danube river in front of the beautiful lit up buildings including the parliamentary building. The same was also done when we were passing through the ‘Iron Gates’ which was absolutely stunning first thing after breakfast.
If I asked you to imagine the type of people on a river cruise what do you imagine?…. well you’re probably spot on. River cruises in general do market and attract an older crowd and because TUI is British company you will end up with 95% of White British people above the age of 60. We are a 30 year old couple and we did stand out as a very strange sight to the rest of the passengers. Some other passengers would jokingly ask what us young people are doing and were very interested to get our thoughts on the trip, as we were an anomaly. Honestly we did expect to be much younger than the others but did expect to see maybe one or two couples of similar age (or below 45) but that certainly was not the case. It did not ruin the trip, but it did detract from the social side of things as it was always going to be a bit harder to fit in. Whilst we do live in the UK we are also still not British so that did add another component to feeling a bit like outsiders. Regardless we did not go into this trip expecting to meet a bunch of new friends or party it up. It was planned to be relaxing and fairly calm which it most certainly was. The crowd are fairly calm and level headed, so if you are used to a trip to Benidorm where you drink and party yourself into a coma, then look elsewhere, you won’t get what you’re looking for here. Same with if you’re under 55 and looking to make a bunch of mates on the trip, it’s going to be unlikely unless you do get along with much older people (eg: there was a lovely deaf couple celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary onboard). We must say though, that everyone we did talk to were really nice and certainly went out of their way to say hello. Our boat only had about 70 people onboard (max ~150) so you will see the same people and you will be on excursions with them (which has some forced mingling). Because of this, if you’re used to a normal big ocean cruiser where you can hide in the crowd, you won’t get that here. Many passengers are elderly and have mobility issues, so when on excursions or doing anything as a group just be prepared that it will be slower than what you’re used to.
Overall, the river cruise was a great value for money. It also ticked off a number of new places we had never been to before. There are a lot of different river cruise options, so definitely pick one where you prioritise the ports that sound interesting to you. TUI has done a fantastic job to have a more entry level cost to river cruising. In comparison to other companies running, TUI has undercut them by a hefty margin and I can’t see how others could really rationalise the extra cost. Would we do it again?…. at this stage probably not. It does feel like a one time thing for now (a once and done). However, that is not TUI’s fault, i think that’s more to do with the target demographic that this industry caters to. So until a river cruise company goes after working age people, we will give it a miss for now….. unless financially it makes more sense to do a river cruise to see new spots we want to get to. Are we glad we did it? certainly, definitely a novelty experience.
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Danube River Cruises
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- Spring (March, April, and May): While March can be quite chilly, temperatures become more agreeable as May approaches. However, this season is prone to rainfall. The melting snow causes river levels to rise, potentially leading to rerouting via bus due to impassable bridges.
- Summer (June, July, August): The summer months can bring warmth and vibrant days for exploration. However, this season tends to be hot and bustling with tourists, which might affect the overall experience.
- Fall (September and October): This season is particularly well-suited for Danube River cruises due to its mild climate and diminished tourist congestion at popular destinations. Securing reservations in advance is advisable as word spreads about this appealing time to visit.
- Christmas (December): December offers a unique chance to witness the charming Christmas markets along the Danube River. These markets exude the festive spirit of the Advent season in central Europe, providing a special and captivating experience.
- Keep in mind: The period from January through early March should be avoided. The temperatures throughout Europe, including the Danube region, plummet to cold and frigid levels, rendering this time unsuitable for travel.
The Best Time to Cruise the Danube River
- Melk Abbey - Melk, Austria: A masterpiece of Baroque architecture, Melk Abbey perches above the Danube and offers breathtaking views.
- Buda Castle - Budapest , Hungary : Dominating Budapest's skyline, Buda Castle offers history, art, and panoramic vistas of the Danube and Pest.
- Schönbrunn Palace - Vienna , Austria : The former imperial summer residence, Schönbrunn Palace is a UNESCO site known for its grandeur and extensive gardens.
- Palais Liechtenstein - Vienna, Austria : A magnificent palace showcasing art and culture, Palais Liechtenstein is a hidden gem in Vienna.
- St. Emmeram Castle - Regensburg , Germany : The sprawling St. Emmeram Castle in Regensburg boasts a rich history and striking architecture, revealing the city's grandeur.
- Vienna presents the medieval elegance of Schönbrunn and Hofburg Palaces.
- The Baroque masterpiece, Melk Abbey, is a testament to Austria's grandeur.
- The historic village of Dürnstein exudes charm, set against a backdrop of natural beauty.
- The Wachau Valley unveils some of Europe's finest wine regions.
- Nuremberg's WWII sites provide poignant insights into history.
- Regensburg boasts impeccably preserved medieval architecture.
- Passau's 2000-year-old charm beckons with Baroque and Gothic splendor.
- Biking and hiking opportunities offer unique perspectives.
- Esztergom's neo-classic basilica and Royal Palace are landmarks of note.
- Budapest , a UNESCO World Heritage Site, narrates its storied history.
- Bratislava captivates with castles and cathedrals overlooking its pedestrian-only old town.
- Each country boasts its own historical, cultural, gastronomical, and architectural treasures.
- Prague beckons with iconic sites like the Rudolfinum National Museum and Wenceslas Square.
- The vibrant energy of the Hundertwasser Dancing House adds a modern touch.
- The millennium-old Prague Castle and ornate bridges over the Vltava River reveal the city's rich history.
Upper Danube or Lower Danube?
- Immersive Exploration: European civilization flourished along rivers, making river cruises an excellent way to experience major attractions and key sites in a culturally rich manner.
- Effortless Travel: Imagine waking up each morning in a fresh destination without the hassle of packing and unpacking or enduring uncomfortable overnight buses. Danube River cruises provide the convenience of a floating hotel, ensuring seamless transitions between captivating locations.
- All-Inclusive Value: The price of river cruising is, for the most part, all-inclusive. Your fare typically covers transportation, guided tours, and meals, simplifying your budgeting and allowing you to fully indulge in the experience without constant financial calculations.
- Scenic Vistas: Enjoy breathtaking views right from the comfort of your cruise ship. The landscapes that unfold along the riverside provide a constantly changing panorama, offering a unique and enchanting backdrop for your journey.
- Intimate Atmosphere: River cruises typically accommodate fewer passengers than ocean cruises, fostering a more intimate and sociable atmosphere. This allows for meaningful interactions with fellow travelers and the opportunity to forge connections that can last long after the journey ends.
- Cultural Connections: Docking at city centers and smaller ports allows you to dive deeper into local cultures and communities. You'll have the chance to interact with locals, explore hidden gems, and gain insights into the authentic way of life along the riverbanks.
- Guided Exploration: Danube River cruises often include guided tours led by knowledgeable experts who offer insightful commentary on the history, art, and culture of the regions you visit. This enhances your understanding and appreciation of the destinations.
- Relaxed Pace: Danube River cruises embrace a more leisurely pace, allowing you to savor each stop and truly unwind. Whether it's a tranquil afternoon on the sun deck or a peaceful evening by the river, the pace encourages relaxation and rejuvenation.
- Diverse Itineraries: With a plethora of river routes to choose from, you can opt for journeys that focus on your specific interests, whether it's exploring historic towns, indulging in culinary delights, or delving into natural beauty.
- Captivating Landscapes: Witness the charm of picturesque towns, lush vineyards, and historic castles from a unique vantage point. The ever-changing scenery outside your window adds a touch of magic to every moment of your cruise.
- United Kingdom
- United States
What to Pack for a Danube River Cruise
Cruising europe christmas markets.
- A well-preserved medieval gem, Regensburg's old town boasts architectural marvels and historical significance, earning its UNESCO World Heritage status.
- Vienna's historic center showcases imperial grandeur, while the Wachau Cultural Landscape offers picturesque vineyards and castles. In Salzburg, Mozart's birthplace and cultural heritage shine. Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna stands as a testament to Baroque opulence.
- Cesky Krumlov's historic center enchants with its medieval charm, while Prague's historic center captivates with its Gothic and Baroque treasures.
- Budapest's stunning architecture along the Danube, along with the Early Christian Necropolis of Pécs, offer a glimpse into Hungary's rich history.
- The Danube Delta is a paradise for nature enthusiasts. Transylvania's fortified churches provide insights into the region's history and cultural diversity.
- Elegant Accommodations: Luxury river cruises along the Danube River provide lavishly appointed cabins and suites designed with meticulous attention to detail. Immerse yourself in spacious, well-appointed living spaces that exude indulgence, ensuring a restful sanctuary throughout your voyage.
- Exceptional Service: From the moment you step aboard, a team of dedicated and attentive staff members cater to your every need. Expect personalized service that anticipates your preferences, enhancing your overall comfort and enjoyment.
- Gourmet Dining: Culinary excellence takes center stage with gourmet dining experiences that showcase the finest regional and international cuisines. Expert chefs craft delectable dishes using locally sourced, fresh ingredients, providing a gastronomic journey that tantalizes the taste buds.
- Exclusive Amenities: Luxury Danube River cruises offer an array of exclusive amenities that redefine onboard leisure. Indulge in spa treatments, unwind in elegant lounges, or take a dip in refreshing pools, all while admiring the stunning river views.
- Intimate Atmosphere: Luxury cruises typically feature smaller vessels, fostering an intimate ambiance that ensures a personalized and uncrowded voyage. This setting allows for genuine interactions with fellow travelers and crew members.
- Immersive Enrichment: Enrichment activities such as talks, workshops, and performances enhance your understanding of the regions visited. Engage with experts who provide insights into the art, history, and culture of the destinations.
- All-Inclusive Luxury: Many luxury Danube River cruises operate on an all-inclusive basis, encompassing accommodations, meals, beverages, and a range of enriching activities. This ensures a seamless experience where you can focus solely on enjoying every moment.
- Exclusivity: Luxury cruises offer an exclusive atmosphere that resonates with travelers seeking refined experiences. Revel in the company of like-minded individuals while enjoying the comforts of a thoughtfully designed vessel.
- Bicycling trips
- Urban Explorations
- Wine Tasting
- Village Visit s
- Christmas Markets
- Archaeological Sites
- Land & Sea experiences
- Local Markets
- Cooking Classes
- Wildlife Viewing
- Adventure Activities
All Luxury Danube Cruises
How to choose a danube river cruise, 10 favorite ports on the danube river.
- Melk , Austria - Ride along the picturesque Danube River between Dürnstein and Melk through one of Austria’s Wachau Valley.
- Passau , Germany - take guided bike tour along the Danube from Passau to Erlau passing breathtaking castles & cathedrals.
- Vienna Austria - ride along the Danube through the Donaupark or the Klosterneuburg Monastery accompanied with tasting Viennese coffee and pastries in a traditional cafe.
- Linz, Austria take a guided bike tour around the Old City Center, along the Danube River, and past the ultra-modern Ars Electronica Center.
Cruising the Danube River with Adventure Life
Reviews of Danube River Cruise Lines for 2024-2025
- MS Amabella ,
- MS Amaviola ,
- MS Amacerto ,
- MS Amasonata ,
- MS Amaverde ,
- MS Amamagna ,
- MS Amareina ,
- MS Amalea .
- Scenic Jasper ,
- Scenic Amber ,
- Scenic Ruby ,
- Scenic Pearl ,
- Scenic Opal ,
- Avalon Envision ,
- Avalon Passion ,
- Avalon View ,
- Avalon Imagery II ,
- Avalon Tranquility II ,
- Avalon Impression ,
- S.S. Beatrice ,
- River Princess ,
- S.S. Maria Theresa ,
- Crystal Mozart ,
- Crystal Mahler ,
How to Choose a Riverboat on the Danube
- Anywhere near a lounge, restaurant, bar, elevators, or stairs
- Cabins above the engine room
Danube River Cruise FAQs
- River cruises tend to be more structured with less time for independent exploration
- Danube cruises tend to focus on one specific geographic region of Eastern & Central Europe (unless you choose one of the longer cruises that are more comprehensive)
- Day activities are "relaxed active," including frequent walking tours and similar activities
- A more mature crowd - typically baby boomers hoping to enjoy a structured vacation
- Intimate atmosphere onboard, seldom with more than 200 passengers
- The majority of other passengers aboard tend to be around retirement age
- The itinerary is relatively fixed with daily activities and tours
- Relaxing and alone time are hard to come by, as you will likely dine with others and be on the move.
- Staying in your cabin might mean missing tours.
- nicer cabins, often with balconies or French balconies (full windows that open)
- gourmet cuisine
- more exciting and engaging onshore experiences.
- Generally not included in the cost
- Tip $20 per guest per day
- Tip in a lump sum at the end with either cash or or card
- Give tour guides $3-$5 per tour
- Give bus drivers $1 per ride
- Toiletries, razor, hygiene products, medications
- Extra contacts and glasses (just in case)
- Plug adapter for two/three circular pin 220V European style outlets
- 2-4 pairs of comfortable pants
- One week’s worth of shirts (t-shirts and dress shirts)
- Enough socks and underwear to avoid laundry
- Sweater or sweatshirt
- Waterproof jacket or lightweight raincoat
- Sunscreen and bug spray
- Sun glasses and a wide brimmed hat
- Camera, lenses, accessories (like a charger, extra battery pack, memory cards, and cleaning kit), binoculars
- A couple pairs of comfortable walking shoes
- First aid kit
- Day trip bag (or small backpack – maybe your carry-on)
- Travel alarm clock (if your phone doesn’t have an alarm)
- Sleeping clothes
- Plastic bag for dirty clothes
Traveler Reviews of Danube River Cruises
Magical christmas markets on the danube, eastern europe extravaganza, top danube river travel destinations, danube river trips by departure date.
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This New River Cruise Line Launches Next Month in Europe — With Fantastic Food and Extra-spacious Suites
We were on board for Riverside Luxury Cruises' first sailing. Here's what to expect when the new line launches next month.
Courtesy of Riverside Mozart
“Caviar is my favorite food group,” one of my dining companions mused.
It was piled atop a lightly seared piece of flaky halibut, surrounded by a mouthwatering beurre blanc .
We followed the fish with seared foie gras, an herb-crusted beef filet, a blue cheese profiterole, and for dessert ( my favorite food group), a hazelnut sphere and petit fours. Each course was expertly paired with wines that all had a story, whether it was the Champagne that once graced the table of King Louis XIV or the white from South Tyrol, a region in Italy that’s been growing wine since the Iron Age.
This was the experience in the Vintage Room, the luxe, limited-access, 12-person dining room aboard the Riverside Mozart .
Mozart is the first river ship launched by Riverside Luxury Cruises , a new cruise line and the sibling brand of Seaside Collection hotels. There is another ship coming this year , too: the Riverside Ravel . The ships are former Crystal river boats, placed back into use after the company’s bankruptcy in early 2022. While Mozart will sail the Danube, Ravel will bring passengers along the Rhine, Rhône, and Saône. Three more ships, Debussy , Bach, and Mahler , will be added in 2024, bringing the total to five — but for now, the first two will begin to officially sail in April.
Our itinerary sailed from Budapest to Vienna, a path Mozart will continue to take. From my stateroom — a Riverside Suite outfitted with a king-size bed, bidet, and palette of ocean and foam — I watched the wind pull the curtains out the French balcony door the first day, letting them billow in the breeze to announce our departure from Budapest.
A few moments later, I was up in the Cove Piano Bar on the third deck looking for directions to lunch.
“The basil and I are going to Blue,” the bartender said, referring to both the plant he was holding and the grill restaurant at the back of the boat. “Would you like to walk with us?”
I followed him up to the Vista Deck, the top of the ship. We took a route past the onboard herb garden, alongside early growth of rosemary, lavender, sage, and yes, that basil.
We walked from the bow to Blue’s spot at the stern. From this viewpoint atop the boat, you can see another aspect of Mozart that makes it truly special. The ship is double-wide, 75 feet across. While that may keep it on the Danube because of an inability to head through most locks , it also allows for every room to have a king-size bed; a fitness center with two rooms and Technogym equipment; one of the largest spas on a river ship today, complete with a hot tub, pool, lounge area, massage treatment rooms, and changing rooms with steam rooms and saunas; and a salon.
The extra space also allows for an exemplary culinary program. The kitchen is double the size from other river boats — and so is the amount spent on food. Pasta and bread are made from scratch on the boat the day you eat it. And the menu changes daily, pulling inspiration (and wine selections) from the local ports of call.
In addition to Blue and the Vintage Room, Mozart ’s dining options include the Waterside Restaurant, with daily gourmet a la carte meals; the Bistro, which turns into a tapas restaurant in the evenings; and the pop-up rooftop barbecue grill and bar (literally pop-up, it lowers into the deck for bridges). The true gourmands can take a break in the Connoisseur Club, where cigars and whisky are the stars. It’s like walking into an enormous humidor.
“Wellness, wine, design, and space to move around,” Jennifer Halboth, the CEO of Riverside Luxury Cruises, told me. “That’s Riverside.”
It’s also a family affair. Mozart has no passenger age limit and offers conjoining rooms. So, parents staying in one of the 14 expansive multiroom luxury suites on the boat could join to one of the 67 other rooms, where a nanny and children could stay. That’s perfect for the demographic Riverside is targeting: late 30s and early 40s, those with young families who are potentially short on time but love to experience new things. The itineraries themselves can be linked together, allowing for a cruise as short as three days or as long as 14 or more. Essentially, you and your family can build your own river vacation, using Mozart or one of the other ships as your floating boutique hotel.
It’s just another way Riverside is full of surprises. As I was drinking a milkshake (banana nutella, in case you were wondering) at the Bistro, I overheard another passenger sum up the Mozart experience after locating the ice cream station: “There’s always something new I’m discovering on this ship!”
Mozart ’s cruises start at $856 for three nights.
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Luxury Danube River Cruises
Searching for a top-class river cruise experience? Look no further, as our Luxury Danube river cruises will allow you to discover exceptional destinations such as Budapest and Vienna. Taste the adventure and discover new cultures while enjoying premium services and facilities. Read more on luxury river cruises .
250+ Luxury Danube river cruises with 187 reviews
Danube Classics 2024 (49 destinations)
The beautiful blue Danube (port-to-port cruise)
Melodies of the Danube 2024
Enchanting Danube (2024) (Passau to Budapest, 2024)
This was our first river cruise and everything went beyond our expectation. Services: the staff were accommodating and helpful. Tours: various excursions to choose from for different age group and they were well-organized. Ship: beautiful boutique-design ship. The only cons is a slow Wifi connection but it ain't a big deal. There were so many onboard activity that kept us entertaining. I noticed that the cruise operates in eco-friendly manner, i.e. they eliminates sing-use plastic. That's a big plus!!!!
Romantic Danube 2024
Enchantment of Eastern Europe (Start Bucharest, End Budapest)
Danube Dreams (Westbound) 2024
A Taste of the Danube with 2 Nights in Vienna (Eastbound) 2024
Well looked after, very good short tour
Danube Delights (from Munich to Budapest)
Delightful Danube & Prague (2024) (Prague to Budapest, 2024)
Hiking Cruises in the Former Austro-Hungarian Empire (port-to-port cruise)
European Gems (2024) (from Amsterdam to Budapest)
Classical Danube Cruise (Passau - Budapest)
Classical Danube Cruise (Budapest - Passau)
Delightful Danube Nuremberg → Budapest (2024)
Luxury danube river cruise reviews.
Alles super Gute Verpflegung
The tour was very good, the crew were excellent, very helpful, approachable and informative and always available. The tours were great and the Danube is wonderful to cruise on. The food was of excellent quality but the fact that there was no choice on the menu was poor and we feel there should have been an earlier sitting for dinner, and lunch could have been a buffet. The accommodation was adequate but the shower was totally inadequate. We enjoyed the cruise
This was our first river cruise and everything went beyond our expectation. Services: the staff were accommodating and helpful. Tours: various excursions to choose from for different age group and they were well-organized. Ship: beautiful boutique-design ship. The only cons is a slow Wifi connection but it ain't a big deal. There were so many onboard activity that kept us entertaining. I noticed that the cruise operates in eco-friendly manner, i.e. they eliminates sing-use plastic. That's a big plus!!!!
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Our mission is to serve the 50+ traveler who's ready to cross a few items off their bucket list.
Viking River Cruises’ Romantic Danube: How To Make The Most Of Every Stop
- Cruises and Sailing
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River cruising is a popular way to get the ease and convenience of a cruise while enjoying a more intimate experience.
Viking River Cruises is one of the most recognized names in the industry, and we had the chance to take their eight-day Romantic Danube cruise in the wintertime. The cruise stops vary from year to year and season to season, but each version has stops in Germany, Austria, and Hungary.
During our trip, we wanted to indulge in one of our favorite travel hobbies: visiting different European Christmas markets . Not only did we immerse ourselves in many memorable Christmas markets, but we also explored some charming, beautiful, and historically important towns.
Viking River Cruises’ Romantic Danube offers so many different ways to optimize your time. Our experience was absolutely magical, and we wanted to share some suggestions for how to make the most of every stop on this unforgettable itinerary.
We were guests of Viking River Cruises on their Romantic Danube itinerary. All opinions expressed are our own and are based on our experiences.
The Romantic Danube itinerary varies, sometimes beginning in Hungary and other times in Germany. The stops may vary slightly as well. But wherever your specific journey takes you along this beautiful river route, you’ll find a lot to explore.
Our itinerary began in the German city of Nuremberg . Steeped in World War II history, it witnessed the rise and fall of the Third Reich. History buffs can visit the Nazi Party Rally Grounds , the Nazi Documentation Center , and other historical sites.
But as the second-largest city in Bavaria (after Munich ), Nuremberg also has lots more to offer. The Old Town features beautiful half-timbered houses along with the medieval Imperial Castle . Art lovers can visit the home of German Renaissance artist Albrecht Durer , explore the Germanisches Nationalmuseum , and enjoy numerous art galleries around town.
The food is incredible in Nuremberg, so we recommend having at least one meal or hearty snack ashore. Don’t miss the city’s skinny German sausages served three to a roll or on a plate with sauerkraut or potato salad. Paired with a frosty local beer, it’s a perfect meal.
Stop by the open-air Hauptmarket in the city center for a colorful look at local produce, flowers, handmade gifts, and delicious food specialties. If you happen to be there during the holiday season , you’ll see the transformation of the Old Town into a winter wonderland where over 180 vendors make up the Christkindlesmarkt . Stalls display art, local products, handcrafted goods, and treats of the season. Glittering lights and fresh greenery enhance the festive atmosphere.
A well-preserved medieval city on the northern portion of the Danube River, Regensburg boasts some of the most interesting historic buildings in Bavaria.
The Altes Rathaus is a bright yellow building dating to the 1200s. The Thurn und Taxis Palace is the impressive residence of an aristocratic family that had amassed a fortune from postal operations in the early 1800s. During the holiday season, a Christmas market springs up on the castle grounds. The Porta Praetoria comprises the ruins of a gateway made of rough stone blocks dating to the 13th century. Neupfarrplatz, a Roman fortress built during the reign of Marcus Aurelius, was later home to one of the first Jewish communities in Germany. The ornate German Gothic Saint Peter’s Cathedral is worth seeing, too. Walk across the Old Stone Bridge, a pedestrian walkway over the Danube, and then turn to see the colorful clock tower.
A UNESCO World Heritage site , Regensburg also has great food. The Historische Wurstkuchl , or Historic Sausage Kitchen, is 1,000 years old and the oldest sausage kitchen in Europe, maybe even in the world. If you have time, sit a while at the Weltenburger am Dom , a restaurant and brewery right next to the cathedral. Try the amazing schnitzel with a beer from Weltenburg Abbey, the oldest monastery brewery in the world.
Right on the Germany-Austria border, Passau is a picturesque city. It’s known as the City of Three Rivers, since it’s where the Danube, Ilz, and Inn Rivers come together. Something you won’t find in many other places is a wasserstand , a chart depicting high water marks from floods in the city center. It’s drawn on a wall of the old town hall as a reminder that while being at the confluence of three rivers may be beautiful, it is not without risks.
Art is important to Passau, with the city’s modern art museum and a unique glass museum containing more than 30,000 European pieces of art glass. Check out the fun Artists’ Alley, where cobblestones painted in bright colors line the streets and darling boutiques hold plenty of unique souvenirs.
Passau is home to one of the largest pipe organs in the world, with almost 18,000 pipes. It resides in the gorgeous baroque Saint Stephen’s Cathedral. If the timing is right, you could catch a concert for an unforgettable experience.
Modern pleasures in Passau include the Klostergarten, a contemporary park that is home to farmers markets and gardens. It lights up at night with dramatic lighting, water features, and choreographed fountain displays, perfect for enjoying on an evening stroll.
As the Romantic Danube cruise moves into Austria, you’ll spot the Melk Abbey standing grandly atop a hill overlooking the Danube. More than just an abbey, it’s a complex comprising seven courtyards, a beautiful church, and a library with over 90,000 volumes and rare manuscripts.
Melk is located in the Wachau Valley , where small towns and monasteries flourished during the Renaissance. The scenery is stunning. Several castles — including Schloss Schallaburg , Schloss Artstetten , and Schloss Schonbuhel — beg to be explored, and the ruins of other castles dot the landscape.
If you’re interested in local food and beverages like we are, the Wachau Valley is renowned for its apricots and wine. In addition to excellent wines made from grapes such as riesling and gruner veltliner, apricot wine, apricot dumplings, apricot cake, and some unique items made with saffron are also local specialties.
Krems is the town at the other end of the valley and is sometimes part of the Romantic Danube itinerary.
Vienna is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. There are so many things to see, do, and eat that you will not want to waste a moment of your time there.
We have to put the Viennese culinary culture at the top of our list. Famous desserts like sacher torte and apple strudel, gorgeous coffeehouses, incredible farmers markets, delicious street food, and a wide range of restaurants provide many opportunities to sample local delights. Most people don’t know that Vienna is also home to its own wine regions, making the local wine a great option to try.
Music is another highlight of Viennese culture. The City of Music has many venues from which to choose. The Musikverein , Vienna State Opera , Wiener Konzerthaus , and Schonbrunn Palace offer concerts featuring everything from the classical music of Mozart and Strauss to jazz, pop, and rock. There are also cafés, bars, and nightclubs offering food, drinks, and music in a more intimate setting.
World-renowned palaces like Schonbrunn and the Hofburg as well as sacred spaces like Saint Stephen’s Cathedral and Karlskirche impress with their magnificence.
Of course, Vienna also offers gorgeous Christmas markets in stunning venues like the City Hall, Belvedere Palace, Maria Theresien Square, and Schonbrunn Palace, among others.
Animal lovers can check out the elegant Lipizzaner stallions performing at the Spanish Riding School or visit Vienna’s Tiergarten , the oldest zoo in the world.
Budapest is actually three different cities: Buda and Obuda on the west side of the Danube River and Pest on the east side. That only adds to the intrigue of this unique destination.
The quieter Buda side has hills and a funicular, which you can ride to the top for a panoramic view of the Pest side. The City Park is a lovely place to stroll, with botanical gardens, a municipal zoo, the Budapest circus, and a museum of agriculture. There’s also a huge timer containing sand that takes a year to go from the top to the bottom. It’s started all over again every New Year.
The Great Market Hall features three floors of local produce, prepared delicacies, crafts, and souvenirs. If you like to shop, be sure to stroll along Vaci and Kiraly Streets, pedestrian roads full of touristy joints as well as fun local shops and cafés.
Budapest has several spas and thermal baths in which you can relax while also getting your history fix; many of these structures have been around since Ottoman times.
Budapest also boasts several phenomenal holiday markets, including the Advent Feast at the Basilica , considered among the best Christmas markets in Europe.
The folks at Viking River Cruises know that the spectacular Hungarian Parliament Building is a vision at night. They generally provide an opportunity to see it while you’re on the water and make a picture-perfect memory to last a lifetime.
What To Know Before You Go
Viking River Cruises offers several excursions as well as a variety of add-ons. Be sure to take time before your departure to explore what interests you and book anything extra well in advance because space is often limited. While the ship is comfy, the service delightful, and the onboard activities lots of fun, be sure to get out and explore at every stop. There is so much awaiting you on your Romantic Danube journey.
Diana Laskaris and Sue Reddel are the Co-Founders of Food Travelist . They travel the world and find the best food every destination has to offer. They've tried it all. From Michelin starred fine restaurants to tasty street food on a stick. They hope to bring the world just a bit closer together by sharing a meal and learning about different cultures and ourselves through food and drink. They are both Certified Culinary Travel Professionals and frequent authors of articles about food & travel.
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Danube river cruises.
Coursing through Germany, Austria, Hungary and seven other countries all the way to the Black Sea, the Danube is the soul of Central Europe. Join us along these culture-rich banks, whose scenic vineyards, ancient monasteries and elegant cities have inspired travelers for centuries.
Grand European Tour
Budapest to amsterdam, free international airfare*, $25 deposit & additional savings of up to $800.
Budapest to regensburg, $25 deposit & additional savings of up to $800.
Budapest to passau.
Passage to Eastern Europe
Bucharest to budapest.
Capitals of Eastern Europe
Vienna to bucharest.
Amsterdam to bucharest.
Christmas on the Danube
Danube Christmas Delights
Highlights of danube river cruises.
A Danube River cruise unveils Europe’s rich and dramatic history. Glittering cultural capitals, lush vineyards, magnificent monasteries and endless scenic splendor line the river’s banks. Here are some sample highlights you will see with Viking:
- Enchanting Passau, set where three rivers meet
- Lush vineyards of the Wachau Valley
- The baroque splendor of Melk Abbey
- Vienna’s elegant architecture
- The splendid Benedictine Abbey of Göttweig
- Scenic beauty of the picturesque Danube Bend
- Budapest’s stunning Chain Bridge and Parliament Building
- Soaring cliffs of the scenic Iron Gate
- Romania’s rural culture and rich folklore
- Belgrade’s impressive Kalemegdan Fortress
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