Start of a great Danube River cruise

Trip Start Jan 01, 2014
Trip End Dec 31, 2014

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Flag of Hungary  , Budapest,
Sunday, November 10, 2013

NOTE: I'm going to complete this blog on the Danube Cruise before I work on the Rhine and Mosel cruise that I completed only three days before this trip, because my memory of the most recent trip will be fresher in my mind.    My primary goal is to provide some information about the destinations visited, and present some interesting photos of the sites, architecture, people, foods we ate and drinks we drank (mostly wine), and what we saw and experienced.

This seven day cruise is called "Great Capitals & Vintages of the Danube" by AMA Waterways.   We embarked in Budapest and disembarked in Vilshofen.  We toured Cesky Krumlov, a UNICEF World Heritage Site, that's unique in every way, and a beer party in Vishofen with the town mayor and beer queen before we proceeded to Prague where we stayed for three nights.   We visited four countries during this cruise and land tour; Hungary, Austria, Germany, and the Czech Republic.

Welcome, or "willkommen" as they say in that part of the world.   

Nov 10: Today was the travel day from SFO to Frankfurt to Budapest - arriving one day later.
This was my forth trip to Budapest, but I always seem to see more about the city I visit more than once.  Twice on land tours, and twice on river cruises, I still have a desire to revisit many of these cities.  Of coarse, most of the major sites are revisited, but it also includes seeing other important sites and buildings at those same locations previously visited.  

This one with AMA Waterways was very special, because of all the cruises I have done including Crystal Cruises, whether on rivers or the seas, the service quality on AMA Waterways wins the Gold Seal Award as the very best in the industry.  Not only are the staff more friendly and personable - but ready for small talk as they rush from patron to patron to do their jobs, but the owner makes himself available to all on the ship by sitting at tables around the dining room during meals and at special events held in the lounge and on tours.  

On most ships, you're lucky to see the captain a few times during a one week cruise.  On AMA Waterways, the captain is seen daily.  

The message from Rudi Schreiner, the President of AMA Waterways.
When we founded AmaWaterways ten years ago, our motivation was to provide the most exceptional river cruise experience. Our company has grown substantially and our commitment to excellence continues to thrive. AmaWaterways leads the way in river cruising thanks to our fleet of customized ships, expansive amenities and personalized service. Our pioneering features include offerings such as French balconies, complimentary in-stateroom Internet, WiFi access, award-winning dining plus guided bicycle tours.
We’re extremely proud that our fleet of vessels has grown to twelve. New for 2012 is the 164-passenger AmaCerto, our largest and most imaginative ship. Inspired by classic luxury yachts, she features our exclusive twin balcony staterooms, multiple indoor and outdoor dining venues, a heated swimming pool, a stunning glass elevator and much more. The AmaCerto joins an award-winning fleet in Europe that includes the AmaVerde, AmaBella, AmaDolce, AmaLyra, AmaDante, AmaCello and AmaLegro.

Nov 11: Since this is a "wine cruise," we were served wine (as much as we could drink) and or beer during lunch and dinner, and we had the owners of Honig Winery, Michael and Stephanie, (from Napa) present several wine lectures and tastings.  We also visited several wineries during the cruise, and most were interesting and unique in their ambiance and taste.   

The Danube valley between Melk and Krems offers the landscape of steep terraces of vineyards that features Gruner Veltiner and Riesling wines.        Gruner Veltiner (white) wine is Austrian and goes well with light vegetables like asparagus and artichoke, but also with cheese - IMHO. 
Our arrival on the ship was a bit early, so we had to wait until our staterooms were ready. However, the restaurant was serving lunch, and the lounge also had snacks, and the bar was open.   I ran into Chris from our cruise last March in Portugal, and he offered to buy me a drink.

Since it was a long travel day, we went to bed early after the introduction of the boat staff and cruise line President, Rudi Schreiner, welcomed all aboard.

NOTE: You can enlarge any picture by clicking on it.

Map of Buda & Pest

Nov 12, Tues: Today was our Buda and Pest city tour and onboard wine lecture and tasting.
BUDAPEST was occupied by the Celts in 3rd century BC, and emperor Augustus increased into the northeast in the 1st century AD.  Different tribes conquered the area until the Magyar tribes in 1000 AD their first king,1 Istvan (Stephen I) King Stephen was crowned.  The country became part of the Habsburg Empire, and in 1873, the Austrians granted conciliation to Hungary that allowed them to establish their own government. The Red Army took control of Budapest in 1945 after 75% of the city was destroyed. 

The Ruszwurm Coffee House is the city's oldest confectionary.   This is where some of us had some beer and wine.

We departed Budapest after the tour and lunch.


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