Sally Blyth sails from Budapest to Passau aboard the Amadeus Queen
Why we were sailing:
I'm a tour leader with Maher Escorted Tours and this river cruise was part of a wider Russia/Baltic States itinerary that covered 32 days.
Ship info: Owned by Lueftner Cruises, a family-run company based in Austria. She was launched in 2018. A simple layout with stylish, understated and comfortable decor.
The stats: 135m long, 11.4m wide, four decks, 69 staterooms, 12 suites. Max speed 25km/h.
How many passengers? She can carry 162, with about 50 crew members.
Price: From around $2600
Fellow passengers: An eclectic mix of all ages from Holland, Hungary, UK, Japan, China, Canada, USA – plus 17 of us from NZ. Also a group of 60 Israelis who were rude, unfriendly and arrogant to other passengers and crew. We didn't let their shameful behaviour spoil our fabulous trip but we did wonder why they bothered going on the trip to sit around being grumpy and bad-mannered.
Itinerary: We boarded in Budapest and enjoyed a spectacular evening city cruise, then journeyed to Bratislava, Vienna, Durnstein, Melk, Linz, Regensburg and Passau, where we disembarked. Billed as their Classical Danube Cruise, it's an eight-day trip in a fabulous floating hotel with an excellent itinerary. We covered 893km and went through numerous locks along the way.
Cabins: Staterooms have panoramic windows that open, and large wardrobes. The suites have balconies. Rooms are well equipped with plenty of storage space. A multi-channel TV with a "front camera channel" enables you to watch the scenery from bed if so inclined, day and night. Bathrooms are compact, stylish and surprisingly spacious, with an excellent shower. Note — cabins on the lower Haydn deck have small windows and no fridge.
Food and drink: Exceptional. The restaurant serves four- and five-course lunches and dinners to a very high standard. There is also a light lunch option upstairs, buffet style. We had the "wine with dinner" option; it is local, very good, changes daily and flows freely. Other drinks are at own cost. Afternoon tea is served at 4pm and there's a tea/coffee/snack station in the Amadeus Club. Breakfast caters for early birds as well as late risers. The wait staff are friendly, obliging and highly professional. Most of them are also very entertaining, with a great sense of humour. (They needed it with the demanding Israeli group on board — one of whom threw his salad on the floor because it had no tomato.)
All cruise ships great and small: Advice from the experts
Entertainment: A local folklore song-and-dance show on the first night is worth going to, as is the Bavarian band that comes on board in Regensburg. There's an "Around the World" quiz night, a Bavarian lunch and a raffle night. The Amadeus Duo provided a laidback soundtrack in the bar after dinner each night.
Facilities: A covered swimming pool, fitness room, beauty/hair/massage salon, library and shop. There are plenty of spaces to sit and relax. The top deck is the place to be to watch the world go by in sun or shade, and there's a small deck up front too. Cycles are available at no charge and there's an early morning exercise group for the energetic. I had a haircut on board which cost $70, and was very happy with the result. Wi-Fi is available at $15 per day or $60 for the full week (on two devices).
Service: Outstanding. Senior staff were visible, active and helpful. The hardworking and always cheery crew hailed mostly from Romania and Indonesia.
Excursions: A wide range, including city tours, walking tours, visits to abbeys, palaces, churches and concerts. There is a (conservative) coding system to identify the level of vigour required for each excursion. Well-organised and informative, but you can also discover the destinations on your own and are able to walk into town at most destinations.
Overall impression: Superb in every way, the perfect end to a busy European trip. Ideal for anyone who wants a relaxing week on a river, especially mature travellers. Highly recommended.