This trip surpassed my expectations - big time. I have cruised extensively and hadn't really considered a river cruise since Viking 10 years ago, from Moscow to St. Petersburg. That was a wonderful itinerary. River cruising has come a long way since then....the ships are far more comfortable.
First off - let's get one thing out of the way: the decor of the Maria Theresa. It's like Liberace had a fever dream -- very Hapsburg brothel. Not to everyone's taste to be sure, but it grows on you. And being only two years old, it is very high tech (iffy wifi notwithstanding) and well thought-out.
I beg to differ with a previous reviewer who said that most of the walking tours could be done sans tour guide. True enough. And I usually eschew tours. But since they were included, why not? Glad for that - they were generally excellent, and the blue tooth technology allowed one to wander away from the local guide and still hear the commentary. And there was free time to do more exploring on your own from time to time, such as Day 2 in Vienna or Passau by night. Groups were kept small.
Kudos to all the staff, who were approachable and and informative. The spread sheet given out at the start of the cruise, with each stop showing available tours, was just what was needed. We were immediately able to book tours for the entire week. The cruise director, Jeonji (sp?) was herself from Budapest, and she was simply outstanding.
The one tour we paid extra for was the Ruins Pub tour in the former Budapest ghetto - and it was a lot of fun and worth the money.The food was really good. They did a fine job of including regional specialties whenever possible, and some were spot-on, such as the Wiener schnitzel and sausages.
Last but not least: even the weather cooperated. The 20 mile bike ride from Melk to Durnstein was rain-free, and seeing the Maria Theresa pass us as we picnicked on the Danube was a treat. Arrival in Budapest was on a brilliantly sunny (and windy) morning. Gorgeous. And that night the captain sailed the Danube to see the illuminated city at night.
Cabin 207 is one of those with a small window at the top of the wall - no view per se. That being said, it was roomy enough and quite comfy - loved the TV hidden in the mirror. And the bathroom was great: heated floor and towel rack much appreciated. One thing about being on the bottom deck: the cabin was right near the small cafe where snacks and cappuccino were available most of the day.
We had an excellent walking tour with Dorothea, although in hindsight I would have liked to learn about Anna Rosmus, who discovered Passau's unsavory Nazi past about 17 years ago and was the subject of the film "The Nasty Girl."
We departed from the tour at the Upper Fortress and walked down ourselves - a great jaunt.View All 218 Walking Tour Reviews
It was great to have a tour of the opera house, and the old town, with Sylvia. However the highlight was a tour of the organic farm Koeglerhof, generously provided by the owner, Klaus. Lunch at their restaurant was delicious, and four organic ciders were tasted. Yum.View All undefined undefined Reviews
What a delightful and beautiful small town! After the 20 mile bike ride here from Melk, we opted to walk around for a couple of hours. The views of the Wachau Valley from the ruins of Kuenringer Castle, where Richard the Lionheart was imprisoned, are spectacular adn not to be missed.
Our Vienna Do as the Locals Do tour, with Regina, was just right. Early entry to the fabulous Kunsthistorisches Museum with a quick overview of its treasures. Coffee at Griensteidl. Sausages at Zum Goldenen Wurstel.View All 183 Walking Tour Reviews
Informative and fun walking tour of this small capital with Dagmar. I had heard a few negative things about Bratislava from friends who'd been there. Prague it ain't - but it was worth the half day we had there, and a lot has been done to spruce up the old town.
Ferenc was a top notch guide for this walking tour, which also included a subway jaunt to a local indoor market away from the tourist center. Tram rides were also used to and from the Easter market in the city center, in front of the famous coffee house Gerbeaud. We did not return to the ship with Ferenc, having decided to climb Gellert Hill for the spectacular views. Glad we did.View All undefined undefined Reviews