We just returned from the Danube Riverboat Cruise (Smartours), aboard the Kleine Prinz (The Little Prince).
Since it is priced so reasonable, we questioned how complete the cruise package would be. It greatly exceeded our expectations. There were many tours, much entertainment included, all extremely good. We joined on most of the optional tours, except for the Schonbrunn Palace and a tour in Vidin, which included unusual rock formations.
For the Schonbrunn Palace, we went on our own. I had a map with a subway map and it was easy to follow. We wanted to spend more time in Vienna, not return to the boat for Lunch, so this worked out well for us. It isn't very expensive to join that tour, this just fit our wandering around on our own and eating in a local bakery. The tour in Vidin wasn't included in the original itinerary & we wanted to spend more time in the market and shopping, so skipped that tour as well. The people who went with it, enjoyed it, but said there was climbing involved, so should be for the very able bodied. They did enjoy the ride in the countryside.
The tour to a local Serbian home, Belgrade stop, was so much more than I expected. It was a favorite of everyone.
The food, broad riverboat, was beautifully served and delicious. The variety was amazing. The chef served dishes local to the area, much more than we expected. There was entertainment many nights on the cruise + the 2 nights that we attended optional concert in Vienna & folk dancing which was excellent. There was more folk dancing included on the riverboat, but I am glad that we also went on the optional tour.
The staff works very hard and we tipped the maid and the waitress with extra local currency which we didn't spend + $50 in one dollar bills which we took along. I am sure they would have preferred euros, but took the dollars with a smile. There is also a all inclusive tip at the end of the tour for the staff and another for the guide. They deserve every cent they get. Be prepared as that should be in cash.
The entire group of Americans and Canadians got to know each other quite well and we usually met in a cabin, eventually 2 cabins, when there were so many of us for local wine before dinner. The bar was very reasonable & we all met there after dinner. We all exchanged email addresses & now are sharing photos. About half of the guests were an Amreican/Canadian mix and the remainder Norweigans. Many of us visited with the Norwegians, nice group of folks!
Our tour director was Dusan, the best that I have ever had. We had wonderful local guides also. One young lady was a Dr., had just worked a night shift, 12 hour, then guided us. Another was a teacher, who was our guide between classes. Another was a law student, will graduate in Dec. Talk about able, witty and intelligent crew! Wow, we were impressed!
We learned so much about the political matters, past & present governments, a true eye-opener.
All in all, wonderful 2 weeks! I would love to do it all over again, especially if Dusan was my guide! You'll never find a better cruise for the money. It is a 5* beyond doubt.
Gone on many cruises, but this was first riverboat