Blue Danube Eastbound Sept. 24, 2015 to Oct. 4, 2015

My wife and I will be arriving in Prague (from Michigan) a few days before the September Eastbound Blue Danube Riverboat Cruise begins. We would like to meet fellow travelers beforehand and possibly do some local sightseeing together and are wide open for suggestions. Also, we would love to read some do's and don'ts about the cruise from anyone who has previously experienced it. We've been on numerous large ship cruises and several other Tauck Tours but this will be out first riverboat cruise. Richard & Alana.

Comments

  • Do - read the packing list for this cruise since it has 3 nights where dress is slightly more formal
    Don't - get carried away and over pack on dressy clothing - one nice outfit will do for all 3 - no one cares if you wear the same one each time

    Do - for other nights, dress for dinner as dressy as you like
    Don't - expect others to dress up - most will likely wear the same clean, casual clothing they spent the day in - it's so much more fun being up on the sun deck or in the lounge visiting than down below dressing up

    Do - read past posts on this cruise's sub-forum as well as other cruises - lots of good information there
    Don't - expect it to be the same as a large ship cruise - river cruise ships don't have the range of space or shipboard activities available as big ships - most of the time and focus will be on the daily excursions off the ship and the amazing food/drink/service on board

    Don't - need to tip
    Do - remember the names of crew members or TDs who you think stood out and mention them in the critique sheet at the end of the cruise

    Biggest do - have a fabulous time!
  • Claudia, you're the best! Thanks to you, we just started skimming over the sub-forum posts and are already picking up lots of information. (We did have a good chuckle about the guy who wants to swim and dance on the Danube). I'll dig deeper into the forum the next few days but we're already happier about reading several riverboat cruise tips. Thank you very much.
    Richard
  • Hi All,

    Claudia -- Thanks for the great tips!

    Richard and Alana, I hope you have a fantastic time! If you have any specific questions about the itinerary or anything, let me know. I think Claudia handled the general stuff very well!

    -Tim
  • Richard and Alana,

    I took the Westbound Blue Danube trip starting in Budapest and ending in Prague from July 8th to July 19th, 2015. What I learned is that the Tauck provided tours only encompass about 1.5 to 2 hours of the day with the exception of the days when there is travel time via motorcoach like to Salzburg and in your case Regensburg.

    I did not do proper planning to fill the remainder of the day and unfortunately came out of the trip feeling like I did not do the cities and towns we stopped in justice. It is my one regret.

    I did hear other passengers talk of scheduling private tours and many people were interesting in shopping and most tours wind up near shopping districts - so others seemed satisified.

    The river boat was absolutely glorious - it was immaculate and the staff was wonderful.

    I met alot of wonderful people and shared in some great conversation.

    It was a great trip and you will have a lovely time.
  • edited August 2015
    lbholden wrote:
    Richard and Alana,

    (I took the Westbound Blue Danube trip starting in Budapest and ending in Prague from July 8th to July 19th, 2015. What I learned is that the Tauck provided tours only encompass about 1.5 to 2 hours of the day with the exception of the days when there is travel time via motorcoach like to Salzburg and in your case Regensburg.

    I did not do proper planning to fill the remainder of the day and unfortunately came out of the trip feeling like I did not do the cities and towns we stopped in justice. It is my one regret.)


    i have never taken a riverboat cruise. Is the information above talking about the Family Riverboat cruise, or is it talking about the Regular adult cruising! I can understand if it is the family one because I just looked at the itinerary where every afternoon is free to do what you like, which when Tauck accepts children of age 3 years upwards even though they recommend children should be 8 for this trip, I guess is reasonable.
    Surely the regular river cruising encompasses more Tauck directed touring than this, can someone confirm? I understand that one should also enjoy being on the boat site seeing along the way and that Tauck usually schedules some free time on a tour for self exploring but I would hope it was more than this. I know the boats offer little entertainment and I hoped that I would not be stuck on a boat with 120 people for so much of the time. Thanks in anticipation of some true facts.
  • [Surely the regular river cruising encompasses more Tauck directed touring than this, can someone confirm?]

    British, the mix of directed tour time, bus time, and free time really depends on the particular cruise. And even within it, each day is different. Example, on the French Waterways the first full day in Lyon and the last full day in Valence, there were multiple tours and some bus time which resulted in fairly busy days without much free time. On the other hand, in Arles and Avignon, there were walking tours from the boat to the town that lasted about 2 hours with the guide then we were cut loose with provided maps to do as we chose.

    Each night you got a full page write-up about the next days location and of course the Cruise Director and TD's were always available to help you figure out options. On lighter days the TD's had planned talks in the lounge on subjects like Van Gogh, French culture, how to tie a scarf, etc. They also took a group on a bike ride in Avignon.

    I'm glad every day wasn't jam packed with "organized" activities. It's nice to have a little time to yourself to just stop and enjoy being there. It's especially nice in the ports where you can easily walk from the boat to sights. It's the opposite of that old movie "If its Tuesday it Must be Belgium" where the tourists are constantly herded.

    Hint - When you're looking at a cruise itinerary, note where the map shows a yellow line. That indicates more than a short bus ride.

    Reading up on each location ahead of time is a great idea but I say so cautiously. It turned out on our cruise that some of the stops we enjoyed the most were the ones we didn't know much about. Happy surprises abound on a Tauck river cruise.

  • edited August 2015
    TauckTim wrote:
    Hi All,

    Claudia -- Thanks for the great tips!

    Richard and Alana, I hope you have a fantastic time! If you have any specific questions about the itinerary or anything, let me know. I think Claudia handled the general stuff very well!

    -Tim

    Tim, I do have a question about currencies: Would it be advisable to purchase a small amount of local currencies prior to arriving in Prague? If so, which currencies (for other countries) would you recommend we purchase?

    Here's a question for other travelers on the same cruise: Would anyone be interested in joining my wife and me on booking a private tour in and around Prague before the Tauck tour begins? Also, we would possibly be interested in booking private tours while visiting other cities (while on tour) as was recommended by the traveler from a previous post.

    Richard

  • edited August 2015
    Thanks Claudia for clarification, then the river cruises obviously operate in a similar way to the land tours.. I usually do research for every location but also often surprised by stumbling on an unexpected something. The tour directors do provide suggestions as usual too and lectures . Then that provides a perfect mix. So future River cruises should remain on my hope to do list! Thanks
  • I did do some research of places to see and do and yes, Tauck did provide wonderful listings of additional sites and things to do outside of the tours during our free time and they discussed these very things during the briefings the evening before you arrive at a destination. They also provided Maps and even marked on the Maps the locations of the sites they recommended.

    It all sounds perfect right ? - I mean how can you go wrong with all of that information being presented to you.

    What I struggled with was actually physically getting from site to site. Just because you have a Map doesn't mean there isn't some level of struggle to find the destination. We even used GPS on our phones and plugged in addresses and listened to the instructions of where to turn right and left. It seemed that the sites took longer to get to than we anticapted and many times we just ran out of time because we needed to be back on the boat at certain time before it headed off to the next destination.

    We were uncomfortable using cabs and other modes of transportation due to language barriers. Many people did speak English - but many people did not and personally I don't want to be that obnoxious American that expects everyone to speak English.

    I am not bringing this up to be a wet blanket on anyone's trip. I only mention my experience because while some people are very good at rolling with the punches others are not. I set my touring expectations of this trip to be on a level of my other European trips and I should not have.

    I know my comments sound like I had a terrible time on the trip. I really did not. I loved every minute of the trip - just wish I could have made more out my free time. I felt like most of my free time was trying to find various sites than actually enjoying the sites themselves.
  • edited August 2015
    I must admit that very fortunately I am not a solo traveler and do depend on my husband's and my team work when we are on tour to see sites. I do sometimes have to get around on my own. This past May, I found myself in Madrid site seeing alone while my husband was working. Our hotel was a 30 euro ride away from the site seeing areas. Can't remember now whether I was 3 or 4 days on my own. I cannot speak Spanish and it was a bit disconcerting since pretty much everywhere we have visited these past few years have been places that were originally British colonies, so everyone spoke English. Here are my tips. I read up about all the places I wanted to visit, I had a good map, I had my cell phone that enabled me to also see maps and get spoken directions for me. I got in a taxi with my little guide book and pointed to the place I wanted to go, I did not need to speak at all, though of course I did speak with most of the taxi drivers, some who had very little English. Most importantly, I had a card from the hotel with the address and phone number on it, so when I was ready to go back there, again, all I had to do was show the driver the card. I did some walking between sites when I figured it was not too far, but generally when we have limited time, we do use taxis to maximize our time at sites even though in an ideal world it would be nicer to walk to get a feel of a place. At one point I thought maybe I was a little lost, so I got a taxi. Everything was fine and I felt proud of myself without his Lordship being with me. I am sure you were not the only ones who were nervous and that maybe since there is such a big number of people on the river cruises that you could not have picked out a couple of people after a few days who seemed to know what they were about who might have loved you to tag along with them. You could have also spoken to the tour director about your concerns and maybe they could have arranged for a few small groups to go somewhere together. Sometimes we like to be all romantic and so go places on our own and sometimes we like and enjoy other people's company, I am sure everyone is the same. Hope this helps you for future trips!
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