Viking’s Romantic Danube is one of the top Danube river cruises, whether you are traveling as a couple or with a group of family and friends.
In a previous post, we compared the ocean and river cruises, which individually offer unique experiences. One’s choice is primarily dependent on personal inclinations and preferences. We like the more intimate ambiance a river cruise offers as we explore historical sites, experience local culture, and wonder at natural beauties. It maximizes the whole trip as there are no days-at-sea unlike ocean cruises, and can bring you to varied destinations -from quaint villages to metropolitan centers.
The River Boat
We had an enjoyable experience cruising the Danube River with Viking Tor. This riverboat has four decks with a 190-passenger capacity. Key features of the boat include:
- 95 comfortable outside staterooms which include 7 Veranda Suites and 2 Explorer Suites
- The suites have two full-size rooms with a veranda off the living room & a French balcony
- All staterooms are equipped with 40″ flat-screen TV with infotainment system
- Sun Deck with shaded sitting area, organic herb garden, putting green & walking track
- Aquavit Terrace & Lounge, an indoor/outdoor viewing area at the ship’s bow for al fresco dining
- Viking Lounge & Bar with floor-to-ceiling glass doors
- Restaurant with floor-to-ceiling windows for panoramic views
- Elevator from Middle to Upper Deck
- Free Wi-Fi
- Ecologically friendly hybrid engines producing fewer vibrations for a smoother ride
Viking Tor is one of the company’s longships they use for European river cruises. Check out below for a quick video tour of Viking Longships.
The Weather and Sailing Conditions
We always choose to travel during the shoulder season. For this particular trip, we traveled in October when there were fewer crowds especially in the places of interest.
The weather during this time of the year is perfectly cool and comfortable. The sun was up for most of the duration of our trip but we were prepared for some rain based on our pre-trip research. Luckily, we only got intermittent drizzles when we were at Regensberg and on our way to Salzburg.
We packed light, but we made sure that we had the right gear, one of them being nice rain jackets.
The Danube river and its tributaries were calm as we cruised along. On top of that, the longboat’s hybrid engines produced fewer vibrations for a smoother ride. Our stateroom was at the lower deck, yet we hardly felt any vibrations.
The Cruise Itinerary & Excursions
Our cruise started in Germany and ended in Hungary (the cruise could go the other way around). We flew into Frankfurt and were supposed to have a connecting flight to Nuremberg, which, unfortunately, ended up being canceled due to the delayed arrival of our aircraft from its earlier flight.
We were initially disappointed and anxious that we would miss our riverboat. Fortunately, the airline company arranged for a coach to take all the passengers on that canceled flight to Nuremberg. It was a two-hour coach ride that turned out to be a blessing as we enjoyed a peek of the scenic countryside.
We embarked at Nuremberg, the second-largest city of the German federal state of Bavaria, and is one of Germany’s most renowned and intriguing cities.
Nuremberg is famous for its historical landmarks such as the Kaiserburg Castle, its Old Town, and the lively Market Place. During World War 2, the city was almost completely destroyed and it was amazing to see how it was restored to serve as a memorial for the war. The city teemed with Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque architecture with cobblestone-paved roads.
We met an exciting group of people during our first dinner on the boat after the day’s tour – a geologist from Texas, a nurse from Mayo Clinic, and a real estate broker from California. We ended up sharing the same table with this lively group for the rest of the cruise, enjoying regionally-inspired cuisine, and recounting each day’s highlights.
Regensburg, a Bavarian city on the Danube River in southeast Germany, is known for its well-preserved medieval core. This medieval city situated at the northernmost point of the Danube River has one of the largest groupings of 13th- and 14th-century church spires, towers, and patrician houses north of the Alps. We were in awe as we joined a walking tour through the scenic city the morning we disembarked.
After the walking tour, we strolled along the streets, explored the local shops, and later met up with a friend who lived two hours away from Regensburg. We then drove to Weltenburg Abbey, renowned for the dark ale brewed here by monks since 1050. Before we headed back to the boat, we visited a genuine Bavarian beer garden.
Passau and Salzburg
Our next port was the city of Passau known as the Three Rivers City as it is situated where the Danube, Inn, Ilz Rivers meet. The cruise included a guided walking tour to explore the city’s narrow streets through Old Town and a visit to the Baroque St. Stephen’s Cathedral, among others.
We decided to forego the walking tour of Passau and opted for the full-day Salzburg excursion instead. A coach took us on a journey into the beautiful countryside until we reached Salzburg, the setting of the film The Sound of Music.
Krems and Wachau Valley
Our next port was Krems an der Donau. It is an Austrian town of almost 24,000 inhabitants and is the fifth-largest city of Lower Austria, around 70 kilometers west of Vienna.
After breakfast, we set off for Göttweig, a working Benedictine abbey, and a Baroque architecture masterpiece. An impressive ceiling fresco greeted us as we entered the abbey, one of the largest in the world. The monastery owns many of the vineyards along the Danube.
After everyone was back on the boat, we cruised leisurely through the captivating Wachau Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, enjoying the views of quaint towns and castle ruins along the way.
Next on our route was Vienna, Austria’s capital that lies in the country’s east on the Danube River. The city’s artistic and intellectual fame was shaped by some of its famous residents that included Mozart, Beethoven, and Sigmund Freud.
Our cruise included a city tour that took us along the Ringstrasse, which replaced the city walls in the mid-19th century. We also visited and viewed some of the city’s baroque architecture, which included the world-famous Opera House, St. Stephen’s Cathedral, and Hofburg Palace. After a quick lunch at the boat, we joined an optional tour that visited Schönbrunn Palace, the Habsburgs’ summer residence, and considered the “Versailles of Vienna.”
Our disembarkation port was Budapest, Hungary’s capital. Its two districts, the hilly Buda and the flat Pest sit on both sides of the River Danube, connected by the 19th-century Chain Bridge.
Included in our cruise was a morning panoramic tour of the city. It started in Pest, the modern district of the city admiring the various buildings and taking a lot of the Hungarian history courtesy of our guide. We then crossed the Danube and explored the traditional Buda side before we returned to the boat for a refreshing lunch.
We had free time in the afternoon so we took a power nap to have more energy to continue exploring the sides of the Danube. We logged more than 10,000 steps during that stroll that allowed us to come closer to the Budapest Parliament Building and the Shoes on the Danube memorial.
Viking’s Romantic Danube exceeded our expectations of it being one of the top Danube river cruises. This 8-day cruise took us to 3 countries (Germany, Austria, Hungary) that included metropolitan centers, quaint villages, and beautiful countrysides, with each port of call offering a unique experience.
Look out for our succeeding posts that will provide more details on each destination. Meanwhile, if you have insights or comment on this topic, we invite you to leave them through the comments section below.