What Is River Cruising Really Like? Day 4 & 5
Changes to the schedule! That was the next couple of days held, and this is a great example on how every river cruise company is NOT the same and very important to pick the right one! Thankfully we are on Avalon Waterways. I think this is important to explain as one of the biggest complaints of passengers.
The water levels in the area we would be passing through the next couple of days were very low so there was a concern that the ship would not be able to make it through. If river boats cannot make it through, they will have to bus clients to the various scheduled stops and stay in hotels.This means packing up all your belongings and living out of a suitcase for the remainder of the trip.This is NOT what people expect when they book a river cruise or any cruise for that matter, so can be very stressful and disappointing.This can happen when water levels are too high as well.
Avalon’s ships are made in such a way that this seldom happens, however adjustments may have to be made which brings me back to our schedule changes.Water levels can only be predicted 12 hrs in advance so our Captain wanted to get through the lowest level area while it was still possible. This resulted in missing our Port in Passau, having our day excursions longer than usual, and meeting up with our boat in a port further up the river ( More on this at the end. )
So off to our excursions….
Day 4 – Wachau Valley
This is one of the highlights of the Danube – it has picturesque villages, vineyards along the meandering Danube.A stop at Gottweig Abbey then over to Durnstein where we were then treated to wine tasting at a 5 star hotel.Yes, locals often can be seen wearing traditional costumes (it is becoming more popular again) Then off to check out all the items they make from apricots which are bountiful in this region – apricot schnapps and drunken apricots were the favorites. Of course we also had to taste some of the local desserts, they tasted as good as they look. We met up with our boat in Ybbs not Passau as planned in order to have the boat go further as quickly as possible.
Day 5 – Salzburg or Cesky Krumlov
This was the crucial day to get through the canal as after this area, the water levels would not be a problem anymore.This meant a longer day sightseeing as we would meet up with the boat again once it got past the lowest area.While we were hopeful it would make it through, there was no certainty.
We picked Cesky Krumlov although seeing Mozart’s hometown and the backdrops used in The Sound of Music was also very appealing.Cesky Krumlov is the pride of Bohemia.This is a lovely town with a magnificent castle and have almost been
untouched by turbulence or wars as most other towns.So this was a great opportunity to enjoy insights into Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque culture during the town’s modest heyday between the 14th and 17th centuries.Interesting to note that Budweiser had it’s beginnings here and bears no resemblance to the mass product now made and consumed worldwide.
We were all elated to hear our Captain had made it through and we would be getting back on our Avalon “home away from home” again.
Interesting Findings & Tips:
- If you want to know where to eat locally, ask the staff on board.They know where the best deals are and are happy to share with you.Of course local guides can help as well but they do not generally eat in the tourist area so on board staff may be more real help there.
- There is a lot of walking in a day – bring good shoes! No new ones that haven’t been broken in yet, but good comfortable ones.
- The on board dress code is casual to smart casual.You can leave all your fancy dresses and suits behind which helps when packing as you don’t need as much.Men can take a jacket but it is not necessary.
- There is no self-serve laundry on board!You can send out a load to be done at a cost, otherwise take some traveling laundry soap and wash your essentials when needed.
- The cruise provides umbrella’s so while on board no worries about having your own.Of course if you are travelling before and after your cruise you may want to bring a small one.