I was over the moon to be invited on board the MS Treasures for the 2015 Tauck Academy. I’ve also wanted to try River Cruising and this was the perfect opportunity, as well as gaining professional accreditation.
As a child, I was a dancer and imagined dancing the waltz with my beloved grandfather in a Viennese palace with live music. I couldn’t take grandad, but knew he’d be with me in spirit all the way.
I flew into Budapest the night before and stayed at the Hotel Zenit. Just a short walk along the beautiful Danube riverside to the pier, this is a stunning hotel.
I was met by lovely staff who took my cases and greeted me with a refreshing cocktail and a light lunch. MS Treasures is absolutely stunning. It’s a Jewel Class ship holding no more than 118 guests. Similar sized riverboats with other companies hold up to 160 passengers, so you can see how much extra space you’re getting and extra attention from already fabulous staff.
We picked up our ‘Vox’ and met for a tour of Budapest. The Vox is a terrific idea. You tune into the relevant channel to listen to your tour commentary. It was great for me, as I could wander around looking for fabulous photo opportunities and still hear the guide sharing their extensive knowledge of the area.
Prior to 1872, two settlements, Buda and Pest, lay on either side of the river. It’s easy to see the difference between the 2. The Buda side is very hilly, whereas Pest is very flat and set off by the spectacular Parliament Building.
Budapest is a spa city with over 100 thermal and mineral springs dating back to the 1500s. It is full of wide boulevards and plazas, surrounding by stunning architectural marvels.
I really enjoyed the walk back to the boat. It provided amazing views and some fabulous photographic opportunities (and also worked up an appetite for dinner!)
Before dinner, we gathered on deck as we sailed away from this beautiful city, with commentary from the wheelhouse.
In the morning, we entered the Gabcikovo Lock. It was simply awesome to experience the magnificent MS Treasures being lifted 65 feet! WOW!
After a morning studying, we departed for a walking tour of Bratislava. I wasn’t sure what to expect and was pleasantly surprised by the beautiful courtyards and variety of architectural styles.
The evening entertainment was from ‘The Funny Fellows’, a local band playing music from the 1920s – 1940s. My cheeks ached from laughing and singing.
Durnstein and the Wachau Valley
The Wachau valley is absolutely stunning and so picturesque. The morning mist cleared to reveal a beautiful landscape and we slowly sailed by, accompanied by commentary from the wheelhouse. It was a wee bit chilly on the top deck, so staff brought blankets and hot chocolate. It’s an experience I’ll always remember. The fresh Danube air, relaxing in comfort and warmth in a beautiful part of Europe.
We disembarked for a walk to the beautiful town of Durnstein, well known for its wineries and a popular stop in the Wachau Valley. It’s also renowned for its apricots and the friendly shops sell a variety of goodies using this popular ingredient.
After a fun wine tasting, we returned to MS Treasures for a lively and absolutely hilarious game of ‘The Liars Club’, led by the Cruise Directors.
One thing on my tick list has always been to have Sachertorte in Vienna, so I was rather excited about today.
We had a coach tour first, followed by a tour of the Imperial Apartments in the Hofburg Palace. I was fascinated by the story of Empress Elisabeth of Austria and Emperor Franz Joseph. So much so, that I was straight onto Google on arrival back at the ship.
After the tour, I headed straight to the Sacher café and enjoyed a yummy slice of the original Sachertorte with a cup of Sacher coffee. It did not disappoint.
What an absolutely beautiful city. I could have stayed much longer and intend to return.
Tauck’s difference is that they take you to places other companies cannot. We were incredibly privileged and lucky to have dinner at the elegant Palais Pallavicini.
We were greeted by Prince Eduardo himself before enjoying a lovely dinner accompanied by beautiful ball gowns and a musical performance celebrating the legacy of Mozart
Back on MS Treasures
Earlier in the day, we sat our final exam, so tonight was the awards ceremony and celebration. I received a fabulous trophy for the office and it’s now sitting here with pride.
We danced the night away, and I can quite honestly, hand on heart, say I haven’t laughed so much in a long time.
What fabulous organisation. We disembarked smoothly and swiftly. Every single thing was planned to perfection. I was quietly hoping that it wouldn’t and I’d be able to stay on the boat a few more days. ;-) Lots of new friends to keep in contact with. I’m not someone who cries easily, but I was rather tearful on the way home. I’ll be back!
If you are interested in hearing more about Tauck and the fabulous trips on offer, they don’t just offer river cruises, they have a massive portfolio. What you CAN expect on every trip is 100% commitment from every member of staff, who ensure you enjoy every single moment – and then some! You don’t have to put your hand in your pocket for anything as it’s entirely all-inclusive. The only thing you’ll pay for is souvenirs to take home.
Give me a call on 0191 432 6570 or email email@example.com if you’d like me to book you on this amazing experience.