Having enjoyed our first ocean cruise two years ago, my wife and I decided to try our first river cruise, and booked this one through Titan Travel. Entitled “Three Cities”, the major stops were in Vienna (Austria), Bratislava (Slovakia), and Budapest (Hungary), cruising along the River Danube on the MS Serenade 1.
Having enjoyed the benefit of the door-to-door taxi service to Heathrow, we boarded the ship in Vienna, and were delighted that we had chosen to book a suite at the back of the ship, which had a little more room than other cabins, and a balcony. Being a Titan cruise, given their link to Saga, the age profile of the 100 or so passengers was “older”, but the stops we made, and the visits, were tailored to a mix of fitness levels.
On the first day, our cruise westwards took us to Durnstein (walking tour and wine tasting), Melk (a visit to the famous Abbey) and then on to Passau in Germany (city tour). The weather was fine and sunny, and the views along the Wachau Valley were stunning. The ship then turned back eastwards and stopped in Linz (tour on sightseeing train and then on foot) before returning to Vienna where we had a walking tour of the city, including a stop for coffee and the delicious Sachertorte! We very much liked the audio system we were provided with on the ship, and took with us on each visit, as it allowed us to hear clearly what the guide was saying without having to stand too close as he/she was talking. We felt that all the guides we had were very good – knowledgeable and giving clear information about each place.
From Vienna, we continued to Bratislava, and then on to our last stop in Budapest, with city tours in both. We enjoyed seeing all the places we stopped in, although Vienna was very busy. Our favourites were Durnstein, a smaller more intimate town, and Budapest, to which we may well return in the future to explore further. A highlight was an evening cruise up and down the river in Budapest, to best appreciate the city lights at night.
The benefit of a cruise, ocean or river, is obviously that you can experience new places almost every day, albeit mostly short-ish, taster visits that may – or may not – make you wish to return. We also enjoyed our meals very much, especially the 7-course Welcome Gala and the Farewell Dinners. If you took advantage of the earlybird breakfast (before the restaurant opened), then had breakfast proper, lunch, dinner and midnight supper, you’d never move from the ship! The meals were excellent, with wine included at lunch and dinner. There was an option of a ‘lighter’ lunch for those defeated by the quantity of food available!
There were only two drawbacks in what was otherwise a great holiday. Firstly, our cabin, which we liked very much, was noisy while the ship was cruising, as the engines are at the back of the ship. As most of the cruising was at night, this gave us problems sleeping. My advice would be to avoid the suites at the back of any river cruise ship! Secondly, the taxi service from Heathrow to home was not in a Titan car, as they use other companies at busy periods. To put it mildly, our driver was not up to usual Titan standards and we felt relieved to get home in one piece!
These two issues didn’t spoil our holiday, however, of which we have many great memories. We are already considering another in the future!
“Link to information about this cruise”:https://www.titantravel.co.uk/destinations/europe/a-tale-of-three-cities