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APT - Danube River Cruise

Day 1

An early start to get off to Manchester airport for this well anticipated trip! Although Manchester wouldn’t be my first choice to travel from, a quick change at Birmingham saw me arrive well in time for my lunchtime flight and to meet the rest of the travel Agent group I would be travelling with. A smooth check in, followed by quick boarding onto Austrian airlines OS464, a small plane with just a 2 x 2 configuration which is apparently quite usual for flights to Vienna. A short flight (just over 2hrs) had us landing.

Arriving in Vienna around 16:25, we quickly collected our bags and headed out of the airport for a quick transfer to the Port to board. I was so excited to see the ship! After a previous trip on board a Riviera River Ship I couldn’t wait to see the differences/similarities between the two – I was not disappointed once on board, although it was dark when boarding the inside was spectacular! Time for a quick turnaround for dinner which was well needed, and a wonderful nights sleep helped by a small rumble of the engines just before midnight setting us off on our journey.

First impressions of the Travel Marvel Vega ship? – Stunning! I just knew I was in for an amazing week ahead. Sinking into my super comfortable bed I was actually quite apprehensive about sailing due to being terribly boat sick on a cruise once but the feeling of gently cruising along the river was so relaxing I quickly fell asleep and slept soundly.

Day 2

When awake I hopped out of bed and loved the fact that we had now docked in Durnstein. Apparently, we had docked just before 7am and I didn’t even wake (honestly that bed was so comfy!!)! My French window gave me a spectacular view of the river which I admired as I read through the day’s itinerary. The itinerary is posted under your cabin door each morning so you can plan your day and I was really looking forward to my first trip off ship – But first breakfast!

I headed up the stairs towards the restaurant, my cabin was on deck 2 the restaurant and lounge are on deck 3 which is also where you embark/disembark – A huge choice of breakfast, I got to know the lovely Jennifer on the omelette station quite well! If it is not on the buffet then the chef will make it for you! Poached eggs on toast for example could be ordered from your table. Although the buffet breakfast was mainly self-service, tea and coffee was served to you at the table.

After Breakfast we had the chance to get off the ship to look around the beautiful Durnstein. I opted to join Federico & Elena (the entertainments team) on a walk up to the ruins of a castle where King Richard The Lion Heart was imprisoned in 1192. On the way back down I spent some time shopping and pottering around the town, quick hot chocolate stop when back on board before lunch as we set sail for our next destination – Melk!

Lunch today was in Mc Geary’s Irish pub, located at the rear of the ship, a selection of lighter bites such as Panini’s, pies, salads and soups with drinks included. You could of course choose to eat in the main restaurant as well for lunch but I wanted to have a good look around as well. After lunch I got myself up on deck, to take in some of the stunning scenery on our way through Austria. I even had time for a dip in the hot tub on the top deck as The Vega made her way through the Wachau Valley passing through vineyards, castles and villages with commentary by Kevin, our cruise director, in all the public areas.

After a gorgeous few hours relaxing we docked into Melk at 3pm, we then joined a local guide for a tour through the magnificent Melk Abby. The Abby is an active Benedictine monastery, and has been since 1089. It sits majestically atop a rocky outcrop overlooking the Danube River. My pictures really do not do this Abbey justice, It really was spectacular, after the tour we walked back to the ship through the town stopping for a wine and to take in the beautiful town in the night time.

Another quick turnaround in time to meet in the lounge for pre dinner drinks with live music from Federico & Eleanor followed by dinner in the main restaurant. The food on board was unbelievable, a good choice for each 4 courses at lunch & dinner, afternoon tea each day, late night snacks (10pm) 24hr tea, coffee and hot chocolate, a choice of breakfasts – from early risers, to main breakfast to late risers - plus brunch on most days too! You really will not go hungry.

The service on board was second to none and the wines served with dinner were beautiful – of course it would be rude not to try the white, red and prosecco! Every evening is finished off with entertainment, tonight was a quiz with Federico & Eleanor.

Another over night sailing tonight, which is quickly becoming my favourite, nothing quite like being cosy in my beautiful cabin bed with the quiet, gentle hum of the engine and the thoughts of sailing onto to our next destination.

Day 4

Once again, we arrived to dock without me knowing! I was up early for breakfast with a full day ahead of me, today there were two options to choose from for a full days excursion. We were off across the border to the Czech Republic, the other option was a trip to Salzburg. Starting the day with one of Jennifer’s spectacular omelette's I grabbed another cappuccino on my way back to my cabin where I gathered all my belongings and headed out to jump on the extremely comfortable coach – with head rests, a toilet and a coffee machine no less! We met our local guide on board and she chatted to us on the journey before we arrived and headed off on the 2hr city tour of Cesky Krumlov. This beautiful Czech town is home to more than 300 historical buildings, and a famous castle complete with gorgeous gardens, courtyards and its very own resident bears!

APT uses local guides here and although I often shy away from group tours I was captivated with every single word, as our guide effortlessly reeled off facts and fascinating stories as she led us round the site.

After our time in Cesky Krumlov we headed back to the ship in Linz and had time to walk into the city to experience the first set of Christmas markets, a quick glass (maybe 2!) of Prosecco to get in the mood for our Bavarian themed night on board tonight, dinner and drinks into the night entertained by the world famous Bavarian Devils!

We stayed in Linz overnight so guests had the option to stay in Linz and dine out, just need to make sure you are on board before midnight!

Day 5

Due to set sail at 7am I slept in and took advantage of a nice lie in, well needed after my Bavarian evening! A full English breakfast (plus an omelette from Jennifer!) perked me up and I headed up on deck with my coffee to take in the views while we sailed. We were headed into Germany today and sailed through the Jurnstein lock, on the border of Germany, something I was particularly keen to see.

After some sweet talking with the captain at dinner the previous evening a few of us headed up top to see him, reminding him he had promised us we could sit in his chair and steer the ship! Captain Rudy was a man of word and let me take his chair (ok, so we were at a standstill in a lock at the time!) and we chatted about him becoming a captain and his life on board.

It was a wonderful lazy morning watching the world go by until lunchtime, which was spent back in McGeary’s bar, we arrived into the old town of Passau at 3pm.

On arrival in Passau we were all ready to walk off our lunch and headed off the ship to meet our local guide for a lovely walk through the old town and a fabulous surprise Christmas market where we spent some time enjoying my new favourites - Gluwein, German sausages and shopping before boarding the ship for cocktails and dinner with Rudy the captain followed by Movie Charades with Federico & Eleanor.

Day 6

Last day today! Amazingly organised on departure day by the cruise director and the staff on board. Last night we were given coloured tags to pop on our luggage and leave outside our door early this morning, next to be seen at the airport! I headed off to breakfast for my last omelette of the week, and meet the rest of the group. As we were missing lunch on board today there was the most amazing sandwich station set up in the lounge so you could take a packed lunch with you, I opted for salami, cheese and salad with some Mayo in case you are interested! I grabbed some cake, declined a banana and grabbed a quick coffee before departure.

At 8:45am we hopped onto the coach to head off to Augustinerstrasse (Nuremburg old town) with a quick bathroom stop at a chocolate factory (where I brought far too much!) we got back on the road to visit spectacular Nuremburg, full of so much history & of course get our last fix of Christmas markets with time to shop, and enjoy lunch out!

After lunch (and of course another beer & Gluwein!) we met our local guide to walk off the sausage on a tour of Medieval Nuremburg which of course played a pivotal role for the Nazi’s in World war II, taking in ended we headed to the famous Zeppelin fields and Palace of Justice for a very sombre tour.

A transfer from Nuremburg saw me head to Munich airport munching my packed lunch on the way! On arrival we had a smooth check in and a late flight home from this absolutely fantastic trip!

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