Grand River Cruising on the Danube with Uniworld

uniwld-budapest.jpgFrom Budapest to Passau on Uniworld’s River Princess— traveling up the Danube in early spring was a great journey. This was our first European River Cruise and we were excited to experience it firsthand. These small cruising ships- long and narrow- that ply these waterways are able to transport you from one historic city to another while you view fascinating sights along the way. Each day brought a new city, and even country, to explore.  Uniworld began each stop with a guided tour(included in the cruise cost) with only 20-25 in each group. Also the Quietvox headsets we wore allowed us to easily hear our guide speaking from many feet away without all the street noise and distractions- no yelling!  After the tour, if you had not signed up for one of the other optional sightseeing trips you were free to return to the boat or explore on your own. Each evening we were briefed in the lounge by our very knowledgeable cruise director on the next day’s activities. She would suggest places to see, great cafe’s and coffee shops and where to find the best shopping. She answered any questions and then provided everyone with a city map and list of things you may want to see.  The River Princess, built in 2001, accommodates 132 passengers and a crew of about 40. All meals are open seating and there are tables from 2-8 scattered throughout the dining area. There is not a bad view from anywhere as you are located aft  surrounded by floor to ceiling windows.  The food is buffet style for breakfast and lunch, while most dinners are served. There is usually some congestion around the centrally located serving area in the dining room, but you just have to be patient. There is a good variety of food available with special choices for dinner each evening- and the wine is included!  The bar and lounge is located forward and again is open to great views. This time of year it was too chilly to enjoy the vast open air deck for any length of time, but it would be a great place to relax later in the season.   Most travelling was done at night although we did get to experience some of the 13 locks daytime on this trip. Great places we visited along the way included Bratislava,Vienna,Durstein and Melk, Salzburg and Passau. On our stop in the small village of Durstein, the wine growing area along the Danube, we took a hike to the castle above town for spectacular views and a look at the place where Richard the Lionhearted was imprisoned for a time!  Without a doubt, this is a wonderful way to see Europe and a great value too. Transportation, meals, guided tours and nightly entertainment were all included- and did I mention wine at dinner! And on a ship this size you get to know the crew members pretty quickly as well as the other passengers. Uniworld has 8 cruise ships sailing the various rivers of Europe, so plenty of choices for those vacations to come. John & Joan Salzburguniwld-durns.jpgRiver Princess        Salzburg                    Springtime        MV River Princess uniwld-durnst.jpguniwrld-church.jpguniwrld-melk-toast.jpg Durstein          Vienna Cathederal–meeting of Mast minds! uni-passau-bike.jpguniwld-melk.jpguni-passau-end-trip.jpg If I only had a bike–          Melk                         Prosit!