A couple of weeks ago, I outlined my fear of cruises, which can be reduced to three bullet points: being stranded at sea, airborne diseases, and tank tops. I also indicated that I had been invited to be a part of a cruise as a member of the media, but not a huge-ship-Caribbean-type cruise, but rather a smaller ship river cruise through Eastern Europe.
The company hosting the cruise, AmaWaterways, is one of the leading such entities conducting European river cruises, which certainly helped allay any latent fears that I had about spending a week a float with a bevy of cruisers that I had never met.
The trip left from Budapest, and was scheduled to head north and west up the Danube River, briefly passing into Slovakia, then across northern Austria, ending in the tiny Bavarian town of Vilshofen in southeastern Germany, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) east of Munich.
I had arrived in Europe a week early with my wife, and we spent a few glorious days in Prague and another handful delightful days in Budapest. On the day before the cruise embarked, though, my wife returned to the U.S. as scheduled, feeling some odd need to be home to care for our children (I think they are two of them).
We had been in Budapest for three nights up to that point, and had seen much of what the city has to offer.
Sunday afternoon I headed up the Danube a bit, just north of Parliament, to check in on the AmaLea, one of the newer ships in the AmaWaterways line. The ship (decidedly not a “boat” which was the mistake I made when talking to the captain) was beautiful and impressive, without being ostentatious or intimidating.
My stateroom was on the top of three decks (mine was called the “Violin Deck”) and included a Queen size bed, flat-screen TV, bathroom with rain shower, and an outdoor balcony with enough space for two to sit comfortably. As expected, the room was small, but as Frank Lloyd Wright believed: rooms are meant for sleeping. If you are awake, you should be up and doing something, which was certainly the case on the AmaLea.
After finding my room, I explored the ship (not boat) a bit: there is a main lounge and bar, a couple of observation lounges, a modest fitness room, a fairly large dining room, and the top of the ship (not boat) has a sun deck, a heated pool, another bar, and a track. So there is really no reason to spend much time in the room.
That evening after dinner (which was quite good, I must say), we did a night cruise on the Danube. I can affirm, without much equivocation, that it was one of the more memorable hours I have spent in Europe (and I have spent a lot of time in Europe).
Here are a few of the over 100 pictures I took during the hour-long trip up and back down the river.