Tag Archives: river cruising

Cruising the Danube

What I love best about river journeys is just cruisin’. Watching the river glide past, reflections, trees, birds, other boats, tiny settlements, distant hills, clouds. That photo up there was taken as we followed a curve in the river. The water was like molten silver, and the sun was hidden behind a thin veil of cloud. Gorgeous.

We were on our way to Passau, where most of the passengers would get off and catch the Majestic Imperator, Emperor Franz Joseph’s Imperial train, up to Salzburg. Needless to say, we’d done the trip in 2015 (all explained here) and you might say we were all Sound of Music’d out. Eight of us elected to stay on board, either because they were recovering from illness, or because they wanted a break from the relentless pace of sight-seeing. Our tour director told us that the stretch from Passau to Linz, where the Salzburg visitors would rejoin the ship, was one of the prettiest along the Danube.

Mist burning off the castle at Passau

The day dawned misty, as it had for the past week, but it burned off quickly, with a brilliant blue sky. Soon we were off, sailing between forest-clad slopes through a series of bends and curves. This probably used to be a bit like the steep slopes of the Rhine Gorge thousands of years ago. There were still some rocky promontories here and there. Unfortunately, the wind picked up, an icy blast whistling across the water, so I only ventured out to take photos a few times, and there wasn’t much in the way of reflections. A few weeks later these slopes would be a picture of gold and russet. Here and there I caught a hint of the glories to come.

That evening after our fellow travellers had rejoined us we were treated to a spectacular sunset, with the ship, and the river, in just the right place to generate a magnificent display. This would have to be my favourite picture from the whole trip.

Tomorrow we cruise to Melk, the Wachau Valley, and Durnstein.

Sunset reflections with ducks

 

 

Europe 2016 – a river cruise with Scenic

AMZU1-2017MAINWe joined Scenic’s Scenic Jade at Amsterdam along with one hundred and nineteen other passengers for a fifteen day cruise on the Rhine and the Moselle, back to the Rhine and up to Basel in Switzerland. It’s seven hundred and forty-two kilometres as the crow flies, but the rivers wind around a bit. Most of the passengers were Australian, but there were a few Americans, Canadians, Brits, and a couple from New Zealand. The crew was mainly Eastern European. I don’t think anybody lives in Romania anymore. The captain, the cruise director, and half the hotel staff were Romanian.

You might recall we did a European river trip last year, on APT’s Amavenita. You’ll find the blog posts here. Given that, it’s pretty obvious we’ll be comparing ships ‘n trips. So let’s look at the ships. Here’s Scenic’s explanation of their ships and here’s APT’s. As I explained last trip, the size of the river boats is dictated by the locks, so Scenic Jade is the same size as Amavenita, and the two ships are set up in a similar way – three decks, most passengers on deck two and three, sundeck above with collapsible fittings for getting under low bridges, restaurants and bar up the front. We’d made a last minute change to our booking, moving from the second deck up to the third, because we’d get a better laundry service. I can see you rolling your eyes. Laundry is just about the only extra you have to pay for on the ships. And it costs. Washing a t-shirt will set you back €4.20. That’s around AU$6.30.  You can hand wash your smalls of course, but drying them is not always easy. We had a special deal last year, where we could have two items each washed and pressed each day for free, which was great. We expected to get a similar deal from Scenic, but we misread the T&Cs. There are some advantages to being on deck three, but not all cabins get free laundry.Scenic Jade

Anyhow, we ended up in the last cabin before the really posh suites on deck three, above the engines. We figured that if the really posh suites were directly above the engines it couldn’t be too much of an issue.

cabin

Not much room between bed and chair

However, we did have a little less room than in the normal balcony suite. If I sat at the desk posting pictures to FB on my laptop, it was a very tight squeeze to get between the chair back and the bed.

shower

A very fancy shower

Apart from that, the room was perfectly adequate, with a great shower where you could wash under coloured lights, using a variety of nozzles. I suspect we might have appreciated it more when we were younger. 🙂 Certainly the location forced a bit of exercise. It wasn’t too much short of a hundred metres from our room to the public lounges, a trip done around six times a day.

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Scenic Jade’s lounge

We both preferred Scenic Jade’s dining room, set up with tables and chairs, whereas Amavenita had cubicles with couches around tables. It looks nice, but it’s not so practical for older folks and buffet meals. All food and drinks are included in the price of the cruise, the only exceptions being a few special beverages like Johnny Walker blue label. We had to settle for JW black, or Chivas, or a single malt. Breakfast and dinner are served as a buffet spread, supplemented with specials if required. Dinner was ala carte. Not that anyone went hungry on either trip, but for us APT offered more variety, and the food was better quality. APT’s chefs matched menus and wines to the region in which we were travelling, and the ‘light lunch’ options (soup and sandwiches sort of thing) were more to our taste.

The trip to Europe from Australia is no picnic, so it’s a good idea to break the journey, or to arrive early to acclimatise to the change in time zones and seasons. We arrived early, and took the opportunity of seeing a little more of the Netherlands than just Amsterdam. I tell you a little about our trip to Leiden.

So – on to the journey.  Next time.