This was our fourth river cruise with Uniworld over the past couple of years. We like Uniworld because they always deliver on their promise of beautifully decorated rooms, great food, delicious wines and topped off with consistent exceptional on board service and first class pampering fit for a king and queen on every trip. The staff have always been 5 star plus, but on the Maria Theresa they were 5 star 3x plus. Uniworld cruises attract an educated class of travelers we have enjoyed meeting and sharing experiences. Meeting fellow Uniworld travelers on these journeys has always been the icing on the cake for me. Many are well traveled professionals and business people, whom I have enjoyed not just good conversation but even better life experiences. We have meet politicians to even Olympic Gold Medal winners on these trips, which always makes for good dinner conversation.
We flew into Munich, Germany two days early just so we could do a full day private bus trip through Viator to see Neuschwanstein Castle, Linderhof Palace and the Shirley Temple of Bavarian villages, Oberammergan. I was surprised to discover that Linderhof Palace interior has almost as many gold decorations, furnishings and beautiful chandeliers as Versailles, France. The gold organ is stunning and worth the price of admission. Checking off that bucket list places to see was already worth the trip so the voyage on the Maria Theresa was just icing on the cake.
Since we had arrived a couple of days early, Uniworld was unable to help us with the two hour transportation to Passau. My Pravlus travel agent Kymm was kind enough to get us scheduled with Blacklane transportation to the Maria Theresa from Munich. They picked us up on time, and delivered us to the ship. Our ride in that comfortable black Mercedes was so good, we feel asleep.
All the Uniworld ships are all different, but the Maria Theresa is like a floating museum of baroque beauty. It’s a floating palace fit for a king & queen! Lots of gold and mirrors to make you feel like royalty. Its pure luxury on the Danube. We were in 412, which is a balcony room. The balcony is not an outdoor balcony and may not be worth the extra price but made a great place to store and hide luggage (so did under the beds).
Our first day began with a walking tour of Passau, the City of Three Rivers. It was a cold and cloudy day, but our tour guide was so interesting that is was easy to ignore the weather. She took us to visit St. Stephan’s Cathedral, which was absolutely beautiful on the inside. The organ is the largest in Europe and we listened to 30 minutes of beautiful organ music. My wife found numerous shops to buy souvenirs so we were late returning for lunch. All the seats were almost taken in the dining area so we decided to sit at the table with a brass bell on it. No one was sitting there so we sat down. It was funny to see the reaction of the service staff when we made that decision. The server, who was in a black tux with tails bent over and whispered in my ear, “Sir, this is the Captains table, and only the captain and crew are allowed to sit here, however they have already had lunch so if no one says anything, you can continue to sit here”. Let me tell you, the service at the Captains table is the best on the ship and I highly recommend it if you can get away with it! It was the only time my wife and I were able to dine alone and we really enjoyed it, especially the wine. Certainly understand why the captain of this this ship is always smiling and happy.
We really enjoyed our excursion in Mondsee, Austria to see St. Michaels Basilica where Maria and Capt. Von Trapp were married in the movie, The Sound of Music. The church is absolutely beautiful. It was fun getting our pictures taken at the entrance of the row of trees the children were climbing in, though I was disappointed the trees had grown too tall for me to climb.
We decided on taking the full day excursion to Salzburg, Austria and were lucky enough to have Trudy as our tour guide. She was a beautiful voice and had everyone on the bus singing along with her various tunes to The Sound of Music. Again, it was a cold and cloudy day, but she made the trip so enjoyable that we did not even notice. We loved the Mirabell Gardens and enjoyed a quick tour of the Sound of Music Museum that we did during our spare time. The sun came out, so we were able to get some good pictures on the famous Sound of Music Steps and Pegasus Fountain. Seeing the home Mozart was born at was really neat.
Our stop and excursion in Melk was amazing. The Melk Abby, is decorated like a palace and has numerous beautiful and ornate rooms that reminded me of Versailles, France. The library is absolutely beautiful, and the open books are so precise and colorful, it’s hard to believe they didn’t use a printing press. Some of those texts took the monks a life time to complete and are truly works of art.
One of our excursions was a wine tasting in the Wachau Valley at Nikolaihof organic wines where they still use an old wooden wine press. This was one of the most informative and enjoyable wine tastings my wife and I have ever experienced in our travels. Highly recommend just for the wine!
In Vienna, Austria out favorite was not the beautiful St. Stephens Cathedral with the roof covered in beautiful tiles or all the historical buildings, but the Kunsthistorisches Museum! It was full of beautiful art by the masters, marble statues and solid gold treasures like the famous Benevenuto Cellini’s salt cellar. The tower of Bable by Pieter Brueghel was something to behold. The large Theseus Clubbing the Centaur at the entrance was my favorite statue. I needed two days to see everything this museum had to offer.
The Hungarian Parliament building was absolutely something to behold. It was decorated more like a palace than an assembly hall. Budapest is full of beautiful building and architecture. My wife really liked the shopping there because things were about 30% cheaper than Munich. Lots of beautiful places for pictures, especially at Buda Hill and the Liberty Statue of Freedom where you can overlook the city. We took the time to visit the House of Terror Museum that was full atrocities by the fascist and communist regimes that once controlled Hungary. Budapest looked to be booming since its left the control of the Soviet Union. Twenty five years into their young democracy, the Hungarians I meet were extremely optimistic and happy to be free. Capitalism is really working for the Hungarians who are willing to work hard to get ahead. Beautiful city full of beautiful people.
Our room was beautiful, pure luxury. Never heard the engine or felt the boat rock once the entire trip. Marble bathrooms and enough room for four large suit cases. The shower water pressure worked great and staff kept the room spotless. I felt like I was in a Four Seasons hotel the entire trip.
The cathedral was absolutely beautiful. I could have spend the entire day in their just photographing the ceiling. The organ had a deep rich sound and we really enjoyed the concert.View All 112 St. Stephen's Cathedral Reviews
We really enjoyed this excursion cause our guide was a delightful gal named Trudy who needs to be on a talent show. She had our bus singling Sound of Music songs to and from Salzburg. She was awesome! I highly recommend you ask for Trudy if you enjoyed the movie.
My wife and I have been to hundreds of wine tastings and this was the absolute best one we have ever visited. First, its in a beautiful location and still produces wine the old way without stainless steel. Everything is organic! They still use a very large and old wood press. The wine was delicious, along with the cheeses and spreads they served with it. The owner was very knowledgeable, funny and full of energy. First class job by Uniworld.View All undefined undefined Reviews
This museum is architecturally beautiful and some of the best art work I have ever seen displayed in any museum. Our guide was excellent and hate I can not remember his name. All the guides on this uniworld trip were 5 stars!View All undefined undefined Reviews
The Hungarian Parliament was awesome! I have never seen so much gold in any government building. Architecturally, Budapest is a very beautiful city.View All 85 Highlights Tour Reviews