October Danube Cruise
We started the holiday with a two night stay in Bucharest, Romania, at the 5* Marriot hotel. This gave us the opportunity to see the city. There are many spectacular buildings notably the parliament building, reputed to be the second largest in the world after the Pentagon in the US. An unexpected bonus was an included dinner on the evening prior to joining the cruise ship. A walking tour of the old town is a must which was in walking distance of the hotel. After leaving the hotel we were taken by coach to the ship berthed at Fetesti. (Note that we were told that it is a ship not a boat!) Crew members were on hand to transfer luggage from coach to ship. Leaving at 17.00 we then cruised overnight arriving at St. Gheorghe at 08.00 the following morning. From here we took the ship's tour to Constantin, a pleasant resort on the Black Sea. Leaving at 15.00 we then continued to Hirsova arriving at 07.00 the following day. Here we were able to walk into the town. There was little of note architecturally but was interesting nevertheless. We then moved on to Giurgiu arriving at 09.00. but, as we were entering Bulgaria, this was just a 1 hour stop for customs checks. 1 hour later we were in Rousse . Again it was possible to do a self guided tour of the town. After a full day there we arived at Vidin at 14.00 the next day. This was a larger town and again easy to do a walking tour of the town. Overnight we moved on to Donji Milanovac still in Bulgaria arriving at 10.00. This is another place where the interest is in seeing former communist countries which may not then have been easily accessible. Leaving at 17.00 we then arrived in Belgrade,(AKA Beograd) the Serbian capital. at 03.00. Here it was better to do the ship's tour in order to see the city. There are no shore based tours available other than the 'HopOn-HopOff service found in many European cities. it was a pity that we could not have stayed longer as departure time was 15.00 and did not allow for any further free time. Arriving in Mohacs the following morning there was little of interest to occupy the 5 hours we spent there particularly as it happened to be a public holiday with most shops closed. The next stop was Kalocsa. From here we did a tour as there wes nothing of any interest locally. This tour took us to a farm producing paprika (yes really!) followed by a visit to a horse show. Here we were treated to a taste of a local liqueur and another local traditional dish - actually a slice of bread and dripping. The following day, arriving at 07.00 we were in Budapest , Hungary, for many, the highlight of the tour. Again a city tour is essential to see the main landmarks. Finally, although the cruise should have ended in Vienna, we were only allowed to go as far as Bratislava, Slovakia. However there was an included city tour in the morning before being taken back to Vienna by coach to catch flights home. On board, we had a French balcony room i.e. the middle grade. It was very comfortable and space was adequate., always kept spotlessly clean. The dining room comprised mainly tables for six but some of eight. Breakfast serves 07.00 - 09.00 in the main dining room was good with the option of light breakfast in the Panorama lounge (forward) 09.00 - 10.00 for late risers. There was a similar arrangement at lunch time. Wine, beer and soft drinks were included with lunch and dinner though this was not true of some packages. Service was excellent. Entertainment was limited to a keyboard player together with a singer. There was a small dance floor. On two nights there was a quiz. Overall this was a well organised cruise. It is a cruise more for seeing several different, formerly communist, countries and their architecture than for the scenery en route .
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