Having been on a number of different styles of cruises I jumped at the chance to take a river cruise. I have just recently returned from a river cruise along the Danube on board 5* Lord Byron which was absolutely lovely. As you may know from my website I have cruised small ships before and really like the lower guest numbers, getting to know people easier and having a nicer crew to guest experience as well.
At 110 metres long with a maximum of 140 passengers in 74 cabins and suites on 3 decks with a spacious sun deck on top complete with a whirlpool, putting green and giant chess set. This ship is beautifully furnished complete with a marble floored reception, polished brass and copper combined with hardwoods and lovely stylish furnishings. The dining experience in the restaurant was very nice with a range of buffet and a la carte meals that were all delicious. There is a less formal experience in the smaller Lido Restaurant at the stern of the boat offering a light lunch and breakfast and an a la carte dinner with doors opening on to the deck for an outside dining experience in good weather, you can also get hot drinks here all day. There is also a spa area and a sauna and steam room, plus an on board hairdresser. There are also board games, cards and books available and in the evening a pianist in the lounge bar. In Vienna we listened to a string quartet, which was excellent.
I had a cabin on the Ruby Deck with floor to ceiling sliding doors and a French balcony. The room was perfectly sized for two but there were larger suite options too for people wishing more space. There are also tea and coffee facilities in the cabins too.
We flew to Budapest and transferred on arrival to the ship, which was moored up in the most beautiful setting overlooked by the floodlit castle Chain Bridge which connects Buda to Pest. A late buffet dinner was available to us.
The next day we did a guided tour of the city, by coach and on foot with free time to explore the castle area in the Buda area of the city by ourselves. The guide uses a Walkman type device to talk to us all, enabling us to wander off and take photos too, keeping our attention with fun facts and information, especially at Heroes Square on the Pest side of the city with the past rulers statues.
After the tour it was back to the ship for lunch followed by a safety briefing and an overview of the rest of the cruise with specific information to our next stop Vienna. We then watched the world go by from the comfort of the lounge or sun deck. On one occasion we experienced a lock which was very interesting and technical, the gates being controlled centrally from a control tower. Rather impressively I thought was that our Ships Bridge dropped in to the deck to allow us access.
We arrived in Vienna in the early afternoon and had a coach and walking tour of the city with another knowledgeable guide. Vienna is another stunning city and very rich feeling both in culture and architecture with 92 museums to choose from. The ship had to berth on the outskirts of the city so the following morning a free shuttle was provided for those who wanted to spend more time in the city and I took the opportunity to visit the Spanish Riding school to watch a rehearsal - an amazing experience to see these amazing horses and riders perform. Before our flight home we had a little more free time to explore and to indulge ourselves in some of the wonderful coffee houses (there are over 2300 in the city).
The Lord Byron is operated by Riviera who are market leaders in the river cruise market with a range of 4 and 5* ships sailing on the Rhine, Moselle, Main, Elbe, Rhone, Seine and the Danube. I can highly recommend the experience and will be telling all my clients about it.