River Adagio, from Budapest to the Black Sea, Aug 18-30, 2017
The River Adagio is an older ship, but kept in very good shape. All cabins are 160 square feet with two beds that fold out from opposite walls with a narrow, permanent table in between. I traveled solo, so I found the cabin quite sufficient.
This was my first river cruise and first time with Grand Circle and I couldn't be more pleased. I chose this itinerary as, other than Budapest, it was completely new to me. I was lucky in that our weather was excellent (sunny and in the 80s-90s almost everyday).
The ship holds about 160 passengers and we were divided into four sightseeing groups, each with its own Program Director, who co-ordinate the daily activities. After breakfast we usually had a bus or walking tour and returned to the ship for lunch. After lunch there was usually a walking tour and some free time for shopping or further exploration. We returned to the ship in late afternoon and had a port talk (about the next day's destination, schedule and activities), followed by dinner and then either an activity (karaoke, bingo. trivia contest) or a folk performance. If you chose to participate in all the activities, you were kept busy from about 8 am to 10 pm! They pack in a lot. There was only one full cruise day and it's of the most scenic part of the Danube passing the rock sculpture of Decibelus and going through the Iron Gates (locks).
Grand Circle emphasizes "learning and discovery." They hire local guides for every stop who talk about their country's/city's demographics, geography, history, culture, economics, etc. Our four program directors were from Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania. The crew and the staff of the River Adagio was mostly from the Balkans, too. The meals onboard ship also reflected the cuisine of the countries visited. So, although the guests are predominantly American, Grand Circle creates a culture-rich experience in many other ways.
In addition, Grand Circle arranges a family visit in which groups of about ten have lunch in a local family's home and visit with them to learn about their lives. Grand Circle also arranges special talks at various stops along the journey. We heard from a man in Budapest who helped the refugees flowing into Hungary two years ago. In Serbia we heard from an older man who told us what it was like to live under communism in Tito's Yugoslavia. In Bucharest we heard from a man who took part in the 1989 revolution which overthrew the dictator, Ceausescu. We also heard a talk by a young woman who is part of the Roma community.
The meals and service onboard were delicious and excellent. Breakfast was a large buffet with a wonderful variety of traditional breakfast foods. Lunches and dinners were full service meals with several courses and several choices, mostly with a local flavor. They did their best to accommodate special diets. Wine and beer flowed freely with lunch and dinner. The staff and crew were very friendly, always reminding you to have a good day or meal.
Grand Circle caters to an older clientele (50+). Most are seasoned travelers who want more than a quick overview of the places visited, a big shopping trip or a fancy ship. They have developed a very loyal following who act like an arm of their marketing department.
The River Adagio is an older ship, but kept in very good shape. All cabins are 160 square feet with two beds that fold out from opposite walls with a narrow, permanent table in between.The cabin was on a lower deck with a small window at water level. I traveled solo, so I found the cabin quite sufficient.
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