My wife and I are experienced travelers and a couple of years ago we drove to Vienna and Budapest. This year we decided to take a River cruise there with Saga.
The trip started with a B.A. flight to Prague where we spend two nights in the Corinthian Hotel, We were met at Prague airport by the Saga representative and taken by coach to the Corinthian which was about 20 minutes from the airport. The Corinthian must be one of the best hotels in Prague, a tall modern building which is just across a plaza from the tube station. From here it is only three stops to central Prague. Please note that the map provided by the hotel is not much use. If you can get one from The Hard Rock Cafe you will find it much more useful.
After two days exploring the delightful city of Prague we were taken by coach some 200 miles to Nuremberg. There was a lunchtime stop at a MacDonald’s near the German border and a toilet break a bit further on. We arrived at Nuremberg about 4 p.m. and boarded the Filia Rheni 2 where we were shown to our 14M2 cabin with a balcony window. Space is quite limited in these cabins but that is probably due to the limited width of the riverboats which have to be able to pass through the numerous large locks on the Danube. Do not pack too much luggage or use really large suitcases because you have to store these cases under the bed. Aside from the size restriction the cabin was fine and the bed comfortable.
Our cruise was from Nuremberg to Budapest taking in Regensburg, Passau, Melk, Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest, with an optional trip to Saltzberg.. All very interesting places with (aside from Saltzberg) most attractions not that far from the boat. Mosdt of the sailing was done at night givin g time to explore places of interest during the day.
There were 108 passengers aboard the boat with 35 crew and 4 Saga employees. The ship was very pleasant and. unlike sea cruises, had a very intimate feel. I think that at one time or another we talked to all the passengers and got to know most of the crew. It was a very cosy and friendly atmosphere.
Because of the limited number of passengers there were no queues for anything and no problem going ashore when in port. Breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner were provided. These were generally of good quality but afternoon tea could have had more items that were not as fattening as the cakes provided.
There were some trips provided as part of the package and a number of optional ones available. These were mostly good and well organized but, of course, the guides tended to give too much information in order to justify their existence. A Saga guide accompanied each tour and the one we had, Ira from Holland, was great.. All the Saga employees worked very hard to make our holiday enjoyable and for this we must thank them.
The ship’s employees were also very good. Most of them were from Albania, Bulgaria and Romania plus one from Brazil. All were very good and spoke acceptable English. Our dinner waitress was the best English speaker on board and worked very hard to make sure that everyone was happy. We must also comment on the lovely chambermaid we had for our cabin (329) who did a first class job.
When we got to Vienna we had a free excursion to the city centre with free tea and cake at a hotel. After this we had free time until we returned to the ship for lunch. After that an optional excursion to Schonbrunn Palace was to be available. Unfortunately not enough people signed up for the trip so it was cancelled. This did not matter to us because we had visited it previously when we drove down to Vienna but the rest of the ship’s passengers missed out on one of Vienna’s main attractions.
I would suggest to Saga that it would have been better if people were taken to Schonbrunn Palace (which is about 10 miles outside the city centre) in the morning and then taken to the city centre for lunch and exploration before returning to the ship for dinner.
The evening entertainment on the ship was good. One night we had the entertainment director, Simon, doing a good Elvis impersonation. Another night a good talent competition for the passengers was provided… Yet another evening saw us entertained by an Austrian brass band. In general any music played was 50;s and 60’s pop but there was one night when this eventually degenerated into the dreaded disco rubbish. Thankfully it was short lived.
We have been on a couple of Ocean cruises and can honestly say that the river cruise provided a better experience. We think that Saga did well and would go with them again. We would, however, ask for later flight times. This flying at 7:30 in the morning is horrible because it means getting up about 4 a.m. and that is not fun.
Thank you Saga, your employees and the crew of Filia Rheni 2 for giving us a good holiday experience.