One of the easiest ways to travel from city to city, River Cruises are becoming an increasingly popular way to travel. I was recently lucky enough to enjoy a short cruise along the River Danube from Budapest to Passau, and discovered five reasons why everyone should take a river cruise at some point in their lives...
1. The Most Relaxing Way to Travel
Of all of the modes of transportation I have ever used, River Cruising is by far the most relaxing. You won’t get anywhere in a hurry, it’s true, but why would you want to when your vehicle comes equipped with a full service restaurant and bar, games and entertainment, and a comfortable cabin with all the conveniences of a boutique hotel? More than that, there’s something soothing about the motion of the river and the soft vibrations of the engine beneath you. All this makes for a very leisurely way to get to place to place. Often sailing through the night to wake in a new city, it’s almost as if you’ve magically arrived at your destination without having to travel at all! Best of all, you can settle in to your cabin for the duration of your cruise, without ever having to repack you bags.
2. Central Docking Locations
One of the main benefits of river cruising is that the docking location of the ships is, for the most part, centrally located in each city. The river is usually at the heart of the city, making it the perfect route to bring you directly into the centre of things. Although this may not always be the case, particularly in larger cities, we were pleasantly surprised to find our docking point in Budapest located just a few minutes’ walk from the Mercado Central, the city’s impressive food, clothes and souvenir market; as well as Váci utca, its most famous shopping street. Similarly, in Linz and Bratislava, we found ourselves just minutes from the cities’ historic old town centres. It could not have been more convenient!
3. Riverside Scenery
Riverside scenery is a huge part of what makes cruising such a pleasant way to travel. Rolling along the Danube, we were privileged to take in lush greenery and forests, surging mountains, hilltop castles, quaint villages and green copper topped church spires. River cruise ships are designed to make the best of these views, with panoramic windows across the front and back of the ship so that you can relax and enjoy the landscapes from the bar and restaurant areas. Most cabins offer large windows that can be opened up to make the most of the river views and, of course, there’s always the upper deck. This is the perfect location for sun worshippers when the weather obliges, but also offers shaded areas so that those of us of a paler persuasion can also soak up the scenery in the open air.
4. Service & Entertainment
Of course, the level of service you can expect on a river cruise will always depend on which company you sail with and the star rating of your ship. That said, our experience on the MS Amadeus Rhapsody with Lüftner Cruises was first-rate. The selection and choice of food was impressive, with a full hot and cold buffet breakfast, high quality à la carte lunches and dinners, and light versions of all meals also served in the bar for those looking for a more relaxed dining setting. The staff were not only attentive and efficient, but also friendly and fun, really adding that extra something to our cruise experience. In the evenings, we were treated to music, dancing or a show in the bar, while on sailing days, pastimes on board included a talk on the River Danube, a traditional Bavarian “Frühschoppen” (brunch of Weisswurst sausage, pretzels and Weissbier) and an ice-cream party! With a daily programme and briefing provided, there was never any confusion as to the options of how to spend our time.
5. Organised Excursions
While a number of excursions may be included in your cruise holiday package, you can also book supplementary excursions on board for each point of call, subject to availability. When time at a particular port of call is limited, a guided city tour is the perfect way to make sure you see the very best of the city you’re visiting. Occasionally, you may want to visit a location or attraction further away from your docking point, and a guided excursion is certainly the most convenient way to do so. For example, from the Austrian city of Linz, it is possible to take an excursion to Salzburg, easily one of Europe’s most beautiful alpine cities.