By: Richard Doll, Sr Travel Consultant CTA
I just returned from my 3rd Avalon Waterways river cruise, and once again they did not disappoint! This time, I selected Danube Dreams with Avalon Waterways with Berlin – this itinerary has two nights in Berlin, and two nights in Prague before boarding the ship in Deggendorf and sailing through to Prague.
Many of the cities I’d been to before, some more than once, but this was my first time in Berlin. We stayed at the Sofitel Berlin Kurfurstendamm, a beautiful hotel centrally located in the heart of Berlin. We arranged to have airport transfers provided by Avalon, and our arrival was seamless as we were met at baggage claim by our driver and driven to the hotel in a private vehicle, just the two of us.
We checked into our hotel room and freshened up, then took a walk around the hotel before meeting with our cruise director and the other guests doing the Berlin pre-stay, about 10 of us total. Sabine, our cruise director, was wonderful! Her knowledge of history was very impressive and she had a wonderful personality. That evening we had dinner at an Italian Restaurant right around the block from our hotel with one of the couples we met at the orientation, who knew I would have wonderful Italian food in Berlin, Germany.
The next morning, after a really wonderful breakfast, we had an included tour of Berlin. We visited the wall, Checkpoint Charlie, the Holocaust Memorial, and many other sites. Berlin is a fascinating city, with a great deal of history.
In the afternoon, we took a local river cruise around the city, seeing the sights with hors d’oeuvre’s and wonderful German beer, this was a definite highlight.
The next day we made our way to Prague, one of my favorite cities in Europe. We stayed at the Cosmopolitan Hotel Prague, a very nice hotel in Old Town Prague. We chose to take an optional dinner cruise in the evening, which I highly recommend. There was wonderful food, great music and wine, and the scenery of the city of Prague at night was wonderful.
The morning of day two in Prague we had an included tour of the city, including Prague Castle and the Old Town Square Astronomical Clock. In the afternoon we took an inexpensive Uber to the Petrin Lookout Tower. The tower resembles the Eifel Tower, albeit a smaller version. It was built in 1891 as an observation tower, and has been used as a transmission tower as well. Today it’s strictly a tourist attraction, with 299 steps to the top, and amazing views to make it worth it.
The following day we visited one of Bavaria’s most beautiful cities, Regensburg, en route to Deggensdorf to board our ship the Artistry II. We had a very nice walking tour of Regensburg and lunch, before arriving in the afternoon to board our vessel.
When guests arrive to check in for a river cruise, the process is very easy. Everyone is given a welcome drink, and finds a seat at a table or couch in the lounge. The staff will come by and let you know they are ready for your table/section, and you’ll make your way to the hospitality desk where you will get your room cards. It’s fast and easy, so much nicer than an ocean cruise.
We freshened up and went to dinner as the ship pulled out to sail to Passau-Lindau where we arrived at midnight. Dinner on our Danube Dreams with Avalon Waterways is always fantastic, the chefs are extremely talented, and the ingredients are fresh and tasty.
Passau is known at the “City of the Three Rivers”, it’s in lover Bavaria and it’s the site of the confluence of the Danube, Ilz, and Inn rivers. We had a morning guided walk through the historical city center, then we spent some time in the town before making our way back to the ship for lunch. The more active of us took advantage of an included “Hit the Trail: River Hike in Passau with your Adventure Host Zoran”. This is part of Avalon’s Active and Discovery program, included in the package.
From Passau we sailed to Linz, we left in the afternoon and arrived in Linz at 8:30 PM, giving us the opportunity to explore Linz in the evening. The next morning there were choices of activities, we chose the included “Treasures of Linz: Castles, Cathedrals, Mozart & Cake”.
This was an interesting option, we got to see quite a bit of the city and learn much of the history. We spent the remainder of the day and evening in Linz, leaving late in the evening for an overnight sail to Melk.
Melk included a visit to Melk Abbey, one of the more interesting Abbey’s in Europe. The Melk Abbey Library is amazing, it consists of 12 rooms with 750 incunabula (printed works from before 1500), 1700 works from the 16th, 4500 from the 17th, and 18000 from the 18th century. In all it houses about 100000 volumes in total.
We sailed in the early afternoon from Melk to Durnstein, where we did a very interesting included activity – The World of Wachau Valley Saffron. We learned about the history of Saffron, tasted chocolates and cakes flavored with Saffron, and learned about how one man has brought Saffron farming back to Durnstein, partially with the help of an old book from the Melk Abbey Library.
We arrived in Vienna the next morning, and did a city tour and then watched the Lipizzaner Stallions being trained. We did some shopping in Vienna, and explored the city on our own before making our way back to the ship.
We had an extended full breakfast the next morning as we were underway to Bratislava, with a planned arrival of 12:00 noon. A great morning to sleep late! We had an afternoon barbeque on the Skydeck that afternoon before having a walking tour of Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia.
The next morning we sailed into our destination of Budapest, one of the cities I had never been to, and what a treat. Budapest is a really fantastic city with amazing architecture, shops, and food. We had an early flight the next morning, so that evening we had dinner in the Panorama Lounge, the same dishes that are served in the formal restaurant but in a more casual, buffet style. It was delicious and the view of Budapest after dark from the lounge was impressive.
Early the next morning we were transferred seamlessly to the airport in plenty of time for our flight. A little sad to have this incredible journey come to an end, but very happy to have had this Danube Dreams with Avalon Waterways experience!
Senior Travel Consultant CTA
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