October 2015 - AmaSerena to Europe
The beauty of the Danube was truly experienced on the Ama Serena cruise this fall. My husband and I are experienced travelers and opted to join the sail in Vilshofen and tour Switzerland and Prague independently. We started our journey in Switzerland visiting Geneva, and Zurich. The United Nations tour was the highlight of Geneva. The train ride to Zermatt was easy and Zermatt is charming. We boarded The Glacier Express and spent a beautiful journey to St. Moritz viewing the ice cape mountains. From St. Moritz, we boarded the train to Zurich which an easy ride. In Zurich, we biked the city enjoying the beauty of the international city.
A quick flight to Prague from Zurich delivered us at our hotel, The Palais ArtHotel. A spectacular boutique hotel which catered to our every whim. Prague captured our imaginations. Beautiful city. We dined and shopped throughout the city. Even attended a Mozart opera dinner. The hotel arranged for a driver to take us from Prague to the boat in Vilshofen. We stopped along the way at the enchanting castle, Cesky Krumlov. Our accommodations in Passau (Vilshofen) was a quiet, small hotel overlooking the Danube.
We boarded the Ama Serena mid-day. A warm welcome from the crew and immediate access to a room began our journey. The room was spacious with an oversized queen bed, modern up to date bathroom, desk, two chairs, and ample closet space. The Serena is a new boat and had all the amenities to ensure a perfect sail. The boat's meeting and social salon was designed for maximum viewing of the Danube. At night, the salon offered entertainment, lively bar, and snack station.
As the newest ship in the fleet, our crew was handpicked and delightful. We are experienced cruisers but have never experienced a Captain more "hands-on" with crew and guests. He even joined the passengers for disco night, dancing up a storm. The cruise director, Katja was our social coordinator, arranging multiple excursion options. As a Budapest resident, Katja knew the ins and out of each stop along the way.
Our fellow travelers were younger than the traditional luxury cruisers. I believe it was due to the offering of complimentary bikes and walking poles at each stop. The crew encouraged and created a warm, easy system for blending and meeting our fellow travelers. We met fantastic couples who we will share more travel experiences with over the years.
The walking tours in Vienna really allowed you to understand the city, visiting the Cathederal, museum, and palace. The weather was sporadic with showers on several days but it did not deter the pleasure of the journey. We enjoyed the wonderful wine tasting dinner at a small winery and viewed an explanatory movie of how the wine is harvested and crushed.
The highlight of the journey was the city of Budapest. An evening arrival introduced us to a magical and romantic city drawing dramatic visions when lit at night. Our city tour provided us with a detailed history of the city, the economics of today and during the communist regime. The finale was the evening cruise up and down the Danube with the historical palaces, majestic churches, and parliament lighted for maximum effect.
The majority of the cruisers opted to stay at the Sofitel and experience an additional day of touring in the impressive city. My husband and I stayed at the newly opened Hotel Aria. This was the perfect end to a perfect vacation. The hotel is one of the finest in the city offering an unique experience with each room dedicated to a famous singer. The rooftop bar and sundeck is one of the few in the city.
We had a thoroughly perfect vacation even with the uneven weather. Thank you Luxury Only for opening up a new experience for us.