Danube Holiday River Cruise with photos and Prauge Add on -Complete!

tink1970

DCL Platinum
Joined
Dec 29, 2012
Welcome Adventurers!

I had promised a couple of y'all on the Boards I'd write a bit about our Holiday Cruise since it's a bit different than the regular summer cruise. Since this is also my first river cruise and ABD, I'll also try to give my thoughts on those. Photos may be forthcoming, depending on many factors (basically whether I can figure out how to upload) although if I do post them it will be more of what might have been different on this cruise since many others have written prior TRs and are excellent photographers (also we have been in fog for most of the trip...and not just the jet lagged kind ;) ).

DH and I arrived in Budapest after flying and sitting in airport lounges fir 28 hours (loooong layovers due to Delta) around 1130 pm Wednesday. We were met by our driver and efficiently checked into the Budapest Marriott (no pic because-1) we were exhausted and dirty and 2) they are on other threads). We overslept and had about 30 min before we needed to check out and meet the Adventure Guides, so Thursday started with DH and I doing a Three Stooges routine :rolleyes:

We wandered around Budapest, and shopped a bit at the Christmas market, walked the Chain Bridge, and tried to stay warm. Around two, we were escorted to the ship by Betti and Veronika. (Note- our guides for this trip are Lead Guide- Janae, Betti from Germany, Stephanie from Germany, Veronika from California [but born in Hungary], Danny from California, Katerina from the Czech Republic and Giselle from Seattle.

First impressions of the ship were very favourable (apparently autocorrect is going to make the British spelling...I'm too lazy to argue with it). Simple, elegant decorations of the public areas as well as wreaths on every door. We crossed through the AMAStella and I noticed they had a different colour scheme to their holiday decor-red and gold versus our brown, ivory and gold. Kind of neat that there is variation. There are nice little touches in the dining rooms- not overwhelming but definitely says "hey, it's the holidays." Our room was not what we expected...literally. I'd booked late and had had to watch for a cancellation so it was a D next to the gym. Imagine my surprise when we were placed on the second floor in a cat AB. Nice bit of pixie dust, although for the first couple of days DH and I kept wondering if there had been a mistake and we'd have to pack up our stuff and move :)

The safety brief was about 45 minutes since it was not only a safety brief but introduction to the ship and crew. It was done as well as one of those things (aka mandatory fun) can be! We had another surprise- an invitation to the Chef's Table that night.I knew the Chef's Table was available but thought we had to schedule it...so took the decision of when to reserve it out of my hands. Fewer decisions-yipes! It was lovely, although the person checking us in was a wee bit confused and our table mates he called by our name, and the table next to us was given an anniversary cake although it was our tablemates' anniversary (they were completely cool about it but I could tell the husband was sad because he had specifically mentioned it). The tasting menu was good to wow this is awesome (short ribs!) and we had a very nice and relaxed dinner.

That night was the Rubik's cube demonstration which I skipped so I could change and the illuminations cruise. It was quite chilly outside by the passing of mulled wine and/or schnapps appeared to help. I consumed multiple hot chocolates since I'm not an alcohol drinker. After sailing under the Chain Bridge and oohing and ahhing retired to the room to watch from our windows and the TV (there is a bridge camera sort of like on the Dream/Fantasy). Finally, we went to bed.

Tomorrow with be the Equestrian Park and Tree Decorating!

Table decorations





Tree in the lobby
 
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sayhello

Have Camera, Will Travel
Joined
Oct 28, 2006
Yay! So glad to see you're reporting! Happy Holidays!! Looking forward to more of your report. And congrats on the pixie dust!

Sayhello
 

tink1970

DCL Platinum
Joined
Dec 29, 2012
So Day 2 started much the way Day 1 did, almost oversleeping and rushing around to make the bus to the Lazar Equestrian Park. We had skipped the earlier groups who had walked to the Central Market Hall (to quote my husband "I don't like deciding what to buy, I don't like browsing and I don't like to spend money...but I do like to shop." Confusing...yes to me too, so we opted out of that. Onto the Equestrian Park which had a driveway tour of the city of Pest on our way. I caught about half of it then napped. When we arrived we were told we would eat at noon and to go explore. Huh...not a lot of direction there. We were served a cheese biscuit and hot wine and water was made available. We wandered to the petting zoo, the stables, found a WC and briefly watched the other Adventures start the goulash-unlike the summer, the heat from the fire was welcome, although the ashes not as much. There was a demonstration of horseback riding styles and some of the performers were quite good while others seemed sort of annoyed to be out in the cold in front of a bunch of tourists. We then reconvened in a large hall and were served delicious goulash (made by the folks in the kitchen, not the outside batch). Unfortunately that was the appetiser, so when the platters of picked vegetables, potatoes, and meats were brought out, most of us were too full to eat. I was a bit distressed by the waste but Betti assured me that the food would be packaged and sent home with those working. I hope that's true...there was a lot of food left over on all tables. I also did note bowls of spaghetti at some tables with children-I don't know if that was for special diets or just the "kid friendly" version but thought I'd mention it :)

Upon return to the ship, there was about 2 hours left if people wanted to go into Budapest and shop at the market. The driver had also stopped in the City for anyone who wanted to go to St Stephen's Cathedral (our bus had no takers). I mention this because there is a lot of "Christmas Markets" mentioned in the brochures/itinerary and an hour here, an hour there was about all a serious shopper would get if they went to the Equestrian Park. I took a nap because, well, I'm on vacation and woke up in time to eat--my first time in the dining room between dinner at the Chef's Table the night before and sleeping through breakfast that day. I have the palate of a 5 year old, so I sort of surprised the server by ordering the kids' menu items-chopped raw veggies and chicken parmesan with fettuccine. It was just the right amount, and the broccoli was one little piece. Prefect :)

Side food note:For the parents of picky eaters, there seems to be an availability of cheeseburgers at lunch/dinner, as well as another entree or two. At lunch today there was the pizza of the day (cheese), plus during dinner time the Junior Adventurers can eat upstairs with the Adventure Guides and there appears to be chicken nuggets, burgers and another option every night (plus dessert...I always go upstairs to the kids food for dessert-the ice cream selection is better :) ). The teenagers usually eat at one of the two large 10 top tables at the front of the restaurant although there's always one stomping to follow their parents for Quality Family Time :rolleyes:

After dinner, we went up to the lounge to decorate trees. Three trees were naked, then had lights strung, then the boxes of ornaments came out and it was fun to sit and watch the littles and an adult or two go at it. They turned out pretty nicely, all in all (disclaimer: one tree had a big "hole" so some super anal person did "rearrange" a thing or two this am...shhhh...).

After a little more hot chocolate, I heard the bed calling (this will be a recurring theme, btw). As instructed, we set out a boot apiece so Santa could visit.

Tomorrow would bring a new country for us to visit (and overall, a new country since Slovakia turns 24 1 Jan 2017!).

Trees pre lights, pre decorations



Trees lit=




Now decorated and ready!

 
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  • tink1970

    DCL Platinum
    Joined
    Dec 29, 2012
    Day 3 "Now Imagine..."


    We (and by we I mean I...) was finally up in time to have breakfast-hooray! There is a nice buffet and some items can be ordered from the server-today's big to order item appeared to be waffles. They looked good but I was so psyched to have breakfast for the first time in 3 days I didn't want to wait :) Our boots each had a largish wrapped chocolate which looked like the Krampus (discussed last pm as well as the Christmas pickle tradition) which is amusing but not sure what the message there is (hmm??).

    It was cold (again/still) and foggy. This would obscure some of the points of interest on the tour but in no way detracted from it.

    We met in the lounge and went on the walking tour first- two groups (I think there were 5 total) went on old-timer buses to the Castle first then the walking tour. Anyway, it was quite thorough and I was happy to see the things I'd hoped to when preparing by reading Rick Steves' guidebook (which has been lost somewhere in the move but anyhow). The bronze statue of the man coming out from the sewer, Napoleonic cannonballs, and the second most narrow (per our guide) house in Europe (it was super cute, I sort of squealed as I saw it). I believe it was about an hour, maybe a little more. The streets were empty since it was Christmas Eve and very few shops were open. Our guide told us that this is a day of fasting for most people in Slovakia, so no eating for most but preparation of the traditional foods: cabbage soup, fried cod, and potatoes. Fish is considered not meat in the Roman Catholic thought so the traditional turkey or duck is served Christmas Day, whereas fish is the main for Christmas Eve. We then took a bus (old time-y red bus which was happily heated) up to the castle. "Now imagine if there is no fog, you could see Austria." We had 15 minutes to wander around the castle and I did the traditional WC visit. It did cost .80 Euro so I was happy I had some on me. After that comfort break, back to the boat. "Imagine if there is no fog, on the top of this building, where the coronations occurred, is..." and finally, "Imagine if there were no fog, there is a UFO at the top of this bridge, which you can take the elevator to and eat in the restaurant."

    We returned, ate the lunch buffet (mains were ordered and salad/bread/pho/dessert was on the buffet). The afternoon activity was helping the pastry chef decorate gingerbread for gingerbread houses. I was sort of looking forward to this, but I started feeling unwell and had to leave (note to self: dietary indiscretions need to be controlled on vacation). I did see some impressive sugar work by children as well as adults when I left the lounge. Hopefully they'll be put together and displayed but I haven't heard.

    Since I wasn't feeling 100% I napped. I know there were some activities for the Teens and Juniors (our cabin isn't too far from the lounge so we can hear joyous noises easily). We made it to dinner, labelled Special Christmas Dinner-salmon en croute or turkey with cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes and brussel sprouts. After dinner, there was Christmas carol singing and Santa Danny handed out gifts to young and young at heart (one was an ornament, another was a tree ornament thing). I have noticed that although it is also Hanukkah, no real mention or observation of such. Again, just something I noticed.

    So tomorrow is the entire reason (almost) we booked this trip-The Vienna Boys Choir. It is part of Christmas Mass so we must be up and out by 745. Since this is DH's main reason for being here, no way I'm going to get away with sleeping in. So off to bed and I'll let y'all know tomorrow. Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah from chilly, foggy Europe.

    Christmas Tree in front of Old Town Hall





    Window decor near Napoleonic cannonball

     
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    tgeorge

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 19, 2013
    Yay!! Thank you so much for sharing this experience with us. This particular holiday cruise is intriguing to me. I also want to do the Rhine cruise, but that itinerary I'd rather do the summer. I'm eagerly awaiting your post on the Vienna Boys Choir. That is the reason this holiday cruise is appealing to me as well.
     
  • tink1970

    DCL Platinum
    Joined
    Dec 29, 2012
    Merry rainy Christmas Day from Vienna!

    So we're back from our morning/lunch. This was an early morning so we were up and on the bus by about 740 (show time was 745). We had a short driving tour of the city which was nice (the only thing I wanted to see was Freud's house, not on the tour...ah well).

    We walked a bit from the Maria Theresa Platz past several large museums and statues until we got to the courtyard outside the Imperial (Hofburg) Palace, where our tickets were taken and we were directed to the seating area. My understanding was that this was in the Imperial Chapel (for the former royal family) and it was small but had viewing areas on several levels (they forbade photos during Mass so I just didn't take any photos out of respect). We were there about 30 minutes early and settled in. The chairs were small and wooden and it was a tight fit-the front legs were designed to slot into 2 squares on a piece of wood on the floor for uniformity, but the couple in front of us disregarded this, scooted back and made a narrow space even more narrow. The tickets were for actual seats so families who didn't have numbers next to each other were separated (the Adventure Guides gave tickets to families in sequence, I think they just were unaware of when the numbers "jumped" if that makes sense). I'd say 75% of our entire group attended, and it appears the unused seats were sold to others (mere speculation but I saw a long queue outside and the couple close to us were the first in line so that's just my deductive reasoning). While Disney labels this a concert, it is truly a Catholic Mass with an amazing choir. There was Communion, readings, I'm guessing prayers (not speaking German had me a little behind the eight ball on the service, to be honest). The choir would sing at expected times but it seemed more than a usual church service (DH says 8-10 songs, although some of those were short). They finished with Silent Night (which, to be honest, might have been the only song I recognised). It was lovely and according to DH (who is much more musically inclined than I) "a very good performance." Since this was the reason we came on the trip, I asked him if it was worth it...it was to him. I believe his only disappointment was not being able to see the performers. Honestly I don't even know where they were located. It sounds odd, but it was a tiny chapel and we didn't see much on the chapel floor other than the priests and an acolyte or two. According to the Vienna Ticket Office, the Choir is located on the 3rd floor organ gallery. Interesting to note that tonight's performance as well as next Sunday's Mass is sold out. They are a popular group :) So there is my brief review-I can give y'all any other information but bottom line-it was nice (to me) and very good to DH. I'm not sure if restless sleep and rainy cold weather influenced my mood so that's why I'm giving y'all both of our impressions...I want to be as fair as possible!

    After the performance, it was a bit of a zoo outside in the courtyard. Our guides offered to walk around the city centre (they can't officially tour due to legalities) or we could hit one of the little Christmas markets and take buses back. I really just wanted to find a WC which was a challenge since I can't read maps. Made a comfort stop (tip: don't try to use Hungarian Fiornt to pay instead of Euro, the poor attendant wanted to bean me), bought some gifts, then met Betti on the bus which took us to lunch. Lunch I thought was fine whereas DH was underwhelmed. We started off with dumpling soup then meat in a sauce (never caught the name) and something DH believes was potato-y and fried. It looked more schnitzel-like to me and since I wasn't sure, I just didn't eat it. We had decided earlier on to not continue to Schoenbrunn Palace since we were both tired from the early awakening and cold. Yep, Floridian whimps here! The manager called us a taxi and we were swiftly returned to our home away from home. The Christmas market in Vienna was cute and had a lot of interesting things, and I'm told the Schoenbrunn Palace's is even nicer. While I'd have liked to have seen it, I'm happy with the two we've seen so far.


    So that's it for our exciting day. There will be tea and holiday music in the lounge in a couple of hours, then a dinner buffet (I kind of like the way they mix up the meals between sit down and buffet, keeps things interesting). Tonight there are two evening programs: a wine and music evening or classical concert. My DH will attend the classical concert while I watch mindless tv or read. I'm really embracing this vacation mentality ;)

    Tomorrow we'll be doing a walking tour of Durstein and castle ruins and I'm not sure what the afternoon activity is.

    Merry Christmas!

    Random photo in Vienna- we didn't take a lot of photos due to the rain (pictured below :) ) and there were requests not to take photos during the Mass. But we were there!



    Nighttime Christmas concert at Schonbrunn Palace


     
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    tgeorge

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 19, 2013
    I can't believe you couldn't see them. That would be a disappointment (especially if you weren't aware of the fact). I'm glad that you both enjoyed it since it was a big factor in your decision to take the trip. Cold and rainy doesn't sound very pleasant. I think I'd almost rather have snow. You're not alone with being wimps in the weather. I'm originally from Wisconsin and currently live in Kansas City, and I can tell you that I'm not a fan of the cold either :-)
     

    tink1970

    DCL Platinum
    Joined
    Dec 29, 2012
    Tonia-I was really okay with not seeing them since I'm an auditory processor primarily; DH the surgeon, however, likes to see things. He's still on a post concert high-about to leave for the night time activity (another concert).

    I did notice a menorah was put out and it was cute to watch one of the Junior Adventurers instruct the crew in the proper arrangement and lighting of the candles (he was polite enough not to mention it should have been done at sunset). They seemed truly appreciative of his guidance. As a side note: the crew of the AmaViola has been nothing but professional and I'm impressed by them in every way.

    Danny has been giving us grief for missing Schoenbrunn Palace, it's sort of funny. I told him "eh, you've seen one castle you've seen them all (tongue firmly in cheek)." This was not well received :rolleyes1 I'm pretty sure we're going to see some more in the next three days.
     
  • tink1970

    DCL Platinum
    Joined
    Dec 29, 2012
    Day 5 Wachau Valley

    This am we had the choice of walking tours in either Krems or Durnstein. When we'd talked to Katerina while scheduling our preferences, I thought she said that the hike to the castle was gentle so we picked Durnstein. It was if you're in great shape, perhaps. I was huffing and puffing and actually perspiring. I can't imagine what walking up the hill and stone steps was like in the summer (well, I can...hot!). The views were lovely since the sun peeked out for a couple of hours this am. Not surprisingly, most of the shops were just opening or completely closed since this was December 26th in the morning. Since we experienced similar closings last year during the holidays, I was expecting it...does help save a little money if one can't buy much! We had about 45 minutes until the bus left so walked the town's main street, I looked unsuccessfully for an open toilette, and we watched Junior Adventurers skip stones in the Danube. The local guide mentioned the car park was usually full in the summer--today our five buses and two others were the only vehicles there. It was a nice morning despite my inadvertent work out ;)

    We got underway and went to the sun deck to watch the scenery...until the sun hid and it got cold and windy. At lunch we had lovely little villages and churches and we had a nice lunch and went upstairs to rest. On the itinerary there were two offerings for the afternoon in Melk-a tour of the abbey and Danube cultural activities. However, according to the Daily Adventurer, the tour to the abbey would be followed by a bus tour titled "Adventure on the Danube." I'm sure it sounds like DH and I are huge slugs but honestly, we didn't feel up to the Abbey. So we are in our room, reading and mourning George Michael's death (not a lot, we're not wearing black or anything, just watching Sky News and BBC and feeling old :I ). Tonight after dinner there will be live music in the lounge and tomorrow we'll sail to Linz where we'll indulge in a little Sound of Music sightseeing.

    I did speak to one of the ship's officers last night, who told me each ship chooses their Christmas decorations (decor and colour scheme), orders them and decorates while the tour group (in our ship's case the cruise last week) is out for the day and viola! ready for the holidays. He explained the thought behind the brown/ivory motif (trying to echo the browns in the wall paper and wood) and was very proud of it- "this is like our home so we want to treat is as such." Makes sense. Earlier DH and I had joked that we keep seeing new people on the cruise (or so it seemed). I'd noticed a couple of new faces before dinner and one of them was this officer's wife. Apparently she and some other family members drove into Vienna so they could spend Christmas with their family. Speaking a former military brat (and having been in the military) I was oddly touched that some family was able to do this on the holiday...raising my estimation of AMAWaterways higher.

    We ate with a family with gluten intolerance for those who have this and mom said other than a "rocky start" on the first day, she has been very pleased with not only the care shown but the food on the ship- in case anyone who has this was wondering :)

    So a short and sweet Day 5 report-I did actually take a photo or two so hoping once we're home in Pensacola I can post them. Of course, no real need since I just reviewed @sayhello's trip report and photos are hers are far superior!

    Happy Boxing Day!

    We climbed up this??!?

     
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    sayhello

    Have Camera, Will Travel
    Joined
    Oct 28, 2006
    I think it's wonderful that you and your DH feel free to go or not go on excursions as you wish. I know this was a concern of ABD's - that folks would feel like they *have* to do all the excursions. They've been trying to emphasize they are there for you if you want to go, but not required. It's your vacation, and I say, do what you feel like! (Especially after doing that Durnstein hike! I totally could not make myself do that in July!!)

    And thanks about the photo compliments. :) I should have another installment of my Trip Report up today!

    PS, I'd have been with your husband on the not seeing the Choir as they performed. I know the music is the important thing, but I've always liked to see the performers, too.

    Sayhello
     

    tink1970

    DCL Platinum
    Joined
    Dec 29, 2012
    Thanks sayhello! Looking forward to more of your photos :)

    We did end up going to the Story of Danube at 5:30. It was at a local hotel/restaurant which is privately owned. We broke up into four groups- first met with a fisherman and learned about fish in the Danube, rules land regulations and saw a couple very cold fish. Then to the jam making exhibit, with free apricot jam at the end, then wine tasting and education and finally learning a traditional dance. I mentioned to one of the other gentlemen on the tour that I like to pace myself and not needing to have a vacation after my vacation. I agreed with his assessment "might as well just go to Disney World if you're going to be exhausted." That said, I understand the need for some to do everything and see everything...that's just no longer for me. One of the littles was literally asleep sitting up during the demonstrations-I'm too old to want to be that tired!

    I'm excited about Salzburg tomorrow. We've not done much shopping and my Euros are burning a hole in my pocket!
     

    Skatetigger

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Dec 30, 2009
    Sounds like you are having a great time and thanks for posting. Betti was our guide in September for Central Europe trip and she is just awesome. We so wish we could have found a way to do this trip after talking to her about it but we're hoping to get on one at some point. We also have Steph on our Germany trip 6 years ago. We loved Vienna and enjoyed our day in Salzburg. Sorry the weather isn't cooperating :(. Looking forward to reading the rest of your trip report!
     

    tink1970

    DCL Platinum
    Joined
    Dec 29, 2012
    @Skatetigger-thanks, it's been fun but tiring (and cold) :) I agree, Betti is awesome-I love her sense of humour!

    Day 6...Mondsee Abbey and Salzburg

    Today there were two options-the Salt Mines or Mondsee and everyone meet up in Salzburg. We chose Mondsee not because we are huge Sound of Music fans, but because DH didn't want to do the salt mines (I probably would have chosen this...as did 120+ of the Adventurers). Since the majority were headed another way, we had a lovely group of only 21 and Jennae. We were super happy because she is, as DH put it "an awesome den mother." We had a drive to Mondsee and during this history and fun facts were presented and I really felt for the first time what the ABD difference was (now, mind you, I've skipped a few of the tours so perhaps this delay was due to that). Regardless, it was awesome to have her looking after us. The Abbey was lovely, our step on guide was knowledgable and we had time to walk around the beautiful little town. It started snowing while we were there which merely added to the ambiance. Then, off to Salzburg, which despite an exhaustive walking tour, was far more beautiful (to me!) than any other cities we've visited. We arrived at the restaurant well ahead of the other group, so we had more time to visit the St Peter's Cemetery (wow-this is a nice place to be buried!) and shop, shop, shop. There were still some markets which are now not called but another term which I sadly didn't hear because I was so busy multitasking (walking, looking and listening...hard work ;) ). There were several stalls with food, crafts, warm drinks and I was sad that I was too full after lunch to really experience some market food. Clearly a reason to return! We shopped, walked and waited for our group. I think shopping is always fun in Salzburg but again, suspect the markets make that even better. The weather cooperated by not snowing or raining, merely being a little chilly (some of the hardy folks even had jackets v coats and no hats on...so it was warmer than some days it seemed).

    At both of the churches there were still creches (up until 2 Feb per our guide) and decorations. Honestly, this is such a beautiful time to visit for the lights, decorations and spirit of the holidays. I asked Jennae the breakdown for this trip in case anyone is interested:

    147 total Adventurers
    11 Junior Adventurers (11 and under)
    25 Teen/Tween (12-18)

    Again, just in case that is something you'd like to know :)

    This was the longest day DH and I did thus far. I think it was worth it although I could have skipped about half the walking tour and spent more time in the markets. I was definitely happy we weren't in the other group, since we spent more time in Salzburg (and shopping, have I mentioned shopping ;) ). We didn't buy anything too exciting- a few of the hand painted egg ornaments, some chocolate salt and Mozart chocolates- yep the tourist things. But I was happy with everything we purchased and am excited about gifting them to friends and family. An interesting couple we sat with at lunch have done both of the holiday cruises-initially they were booked for this one (Vienna Boys Choir) but then they decided to do the first holiday one, too. The wife said there were some slight variations in the excursions and outings and didn't regret doing both. I think I could handle two weeks on this ship at the holidays, too!

    Tomorrow is Passau- I believe we have a walking tour in the am then a treetop tour in the afternoon. It's hard to believe we're almost done with our week on the ship, it really has flown by. Fortunately we have the Prague post days to soften the blow of leaving the ship :)
    Auf wiedersehen until tomorrow!


    Walking to Mondsee Abbey




    Mondsee Abbey



    inside the Abbey

     
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    Skatetigger

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Dec 30, 2009
    Yes Betti's sense of humor is definitely cool although hopefully she's not telling too many jokes. My husband did send her one so not sure if she's going to use it. :)

    That cemetery by the restaurant is definitely unique. It was amazing. Did you get the official Blue mozart chocolates :). We want to go back to Salzburg as we didn't have a lot of time there on our own. On the land tour we got to see Mondsee but only the church so I would have loved to learn a bit more. The salt mines were very cool also but we were lucky enough to get both on our trip.
     

    tink1970

    DCL Platinum
    Joined
    Dec 29, 2012
    Passau, day 7 (aka Shay sleeps for 12 hours straight)

    @Skatetigger-the blue, although we were given the red so when we return home plan on having a "taste off" I'm kind of interested to see if I can appreciate any difference, although a plane ride might be a disruptive variable

    DH went on the walking tour without me and said the local guide was very good. He (DH) actually wanted to return to the little town to take some photos so after I woke up and we ate lunch quickly, we ventured in again. It was lovely and a light snow did nothing to detract from window shopping and finding a souvenir for my girlfriend who was born in Germany and moved to Florida when she was eight. I told the shopkeeper the reason we were buying her present (a ceramic plaque that says something in German-sure hope it's what I think it says-LOL!) and she was very kind, sending her regards to my friend from her homeland. We took some photos (again, nothing of the quality of the awesome photographers of these boards!) and strolled back to the ship. We've packed all of our things, leaving out carry ons for our Prague post trip so I'm feeling a a bit sad but at least packing is (mostly) complete. There were two excursions offered today in the pm-a trip to a brewery and the tree walk. We thought we would do the tree walk but DH preferred to stay on the ship and I wanted to pack so here we are.

    I'm not sure there were any major differences between this day on the holiday trip and the summer itinerary. If one factors out the snow and Christmas decorations, pretty sure it's the same. That said, I enjoyed both :)

    I just wanted to jot down a few thoughts on the ship and Adventure through my filter:

    1) The first question I asked Veronica in Budapest was Is the ship Coke or Pepsi? In case there are other diet/regular soft drink fiends who need their fix. COKE! So while Coca-Cola Light isn't quite Diet Coke (and certainly not what flows through my veins- Diet Dr Pepper) it works. It can be had at all meals but is a bar charge other times (although I rarely saw the bartender other that at night literally tending bar so just fyi). Knowing now what I do, I would have brought more from Budapest since there was convenience store quite close to the Marriott. Live and learn.

    2) No bicycles out on the deck as during the summer; I'm sure it's a safely issue. I also don't think the pool was open-I could hear water in it but it was covered. Certainly not a big deal for me but just to know.

    3) It might have been mentioned in another tr, but there are two continental plugs on the desk and 2 USB ports next to the bed. It was nice to not have to worry about being charged.

    4) Laundry was done within a 24 hour period. We had a small load and it cost about 21 Euro. I always like to have some clean clothes when returning from home, but your view of value may differ. We also bought a stamp for 1.70 Euro so our ship bill was around 23 euro...much less than any DCL I've done! We spent about 19,000 Hungarian Forint ($64 approx) and were there and awake about 5 hours but that included lunch and souvenirs for about 3 people. Definitely reasonable, and I only mention because I had no idea how much to get prior to departure (I have 11,000 left so about $33 of cool looking currency). We spent exactly 30.50 Euro in Vienna (3 10 Euro souvenirs plus a potty stop), and Salzburg was around 75 Euro. Passau was about 6 Euro (clearly I buy little gifts). Obviously everyone's spending habits are different but it's nice to know a ballpark figure if you're two adults who aren't eating or drinking a lot and buying small gifts.

    5)There were some differences between the holiday and summer itineraries, please feel free to ask if I didn't cover them. While I freely admit I didn't participate in all excursions, it seems that this is a fairly low activity one. If you're more of a go, go, go kind of person this may or may not be your first choice. Again, only one person's perspective. Also I'm sure it feels much different with the summer heat v. the chilly/cold weather.

    6) Back to my addiction for a sec-the Tumi bags given in Delta One can hold 3 of the 4oz coke zeros from the Air France lounge (not sure if that's pertinent to anyone but was a life saver for us on the Budapest Three Stooges am).

    7) The food has been good to very good to excellent with only a couple of exceptions. I'm not a foodie by far but I've enjoyed almost everything. And cheese every night for dinner (as well as lunch on the ship)...heaven!

    8) Right now we are signed up for the Rhine Holiday Cruise. Honestly, although I enjoyed the guides there really wasn't a lot of time with them and it certainly wasn't as intimate as land based tours. The AMA staff was outstanding, and I'm not sure, other than the sailing demographics, what ABD on AMA offers that AMA does not (big picture, I'm sure there are some little differences but again, how significant?). One of our lunch table partners was a single mother and her teen son who have done several ABDs and next year they are sailing on the Rhine, at the holidays, with AMA (vice the ABD) so I'm not the only one who thought about branching out. However, since DD (who will be 17) will be with us if all goes well, I really think the presence of other families and teens is the selling point for me. If we ever sail again as a couple that might be different. I understand that everyone is different, and I came to this with an open mind (not true-very excited mind!) but that's the general impression. I think if my parents asked if they should do ABD I'd say no, do just the AMA versus if my brother and his family did-ABD definitely (the kids and the teens appeared to have a great time). Again, this is only my impression and you know what they say about opinions...everyone has one ;)

    We're headed to Prague tomorrow and I can only imagine how beautiful it is since I've looked at other reports and the photos look gorgeous!

    I'll try to get photos up when we return of holiday decor type stuff if I can figure it all out (so 50-50 chance). Thanks again for reading and your comments. Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas/Hanukkah/season of light and will have a safe New Year!

    Decor in Passau




    Creepy Krampus Candy...guess Santa Danny thought we were bad for skipping so many events!



    Thanks again for reading! Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy 2017!


     
    Last edited:

    tgeorge

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 19, 2013
    Great wrap up with your thoughts and nuggets of wisdom. I admit, I've thought that. Is going through and worth it or just book with AMA. I think ,for me, it would come down to the activities. The Rhine activities (summer) are very intriguing to me. Zip line, Mercedes/Porsche museum, etc., so, that could be enough to sway me towards them. However, for a holiday cruise, it probably isn't much different. Definitely worth looking into and comparing them. Enjoy the rest of your time in Prague and thanks for updating us on your experiences.
     

    carpenta

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 26, 2010
    Thanks for the great report. Prague is magical so I am jealous. Take a look at Tauck family adventures for the "kids" are a little older than ABD IMO.
     




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