Prague Castle fairwell dinner with Tauck river cruises

My Review of “Blue Danube” River Cruise in Hungary, Slovakia, Austria, Germany & The Czech Republic

Blue Danube river cruise with Tauck review

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This was our final River Cruise itinerary to cover in Europe so we have now completed them ALL! 🙂

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We left the Danube River Cruise for last because it is one of the most popular to take (and according to our clients one of the most satisfactory) so we knew that we didn’t need to do this one first to give you the inside scoop, but just in case you haven’t been and are curious, then this review is for you…
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…to no surprise, our “Blue Danube” River Cruise with Tauck River Cruises did not disappoint!

(More curious about the “Tauck experience” than the itinerary? If so check out our picture & video gallery of this sailing to see our experience with Tauck & learn more specific details about what sets them apart from other lines… you can also Visit Here to see why Tauck is one of the top rated River Lines in Europe!)

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Here are the highlights of what we did and saw on this River Cruise itinerary including our insider tips and recommendations. 🙂

Tauck Joy review

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Budapest, Hungary

We have to admit, this time of year (mid April) is a little chilly but with gloves, a hat and warm layers, Budapest is still one of THE most gorgeous European cities to be seen both from the river and on land.

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Did you know that Budapest is divided by the Danube River into two distinct parts which they call Buda and Pest?

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Tauck gave us a very “Royal Welcome” to Budapest… and we are not joking about the Royal part!

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Our very first evening of our 2 night hotel stay in Budapest they took us to the stunning & elegant ‘Akademia Club’ for a welcome reception with flowing cocktails and an opulent dinner.

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Course after course, the food was delicious and on top of that, musicians serenaded our tables as we dined and we got to know our fellow guests. It was a memorable night and a very nice welcome!

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Have a look at a couple pictures from the evening…

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Personal review of our experience with Tauck river cruises

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“Pest” side of Budapest, Hungary

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The very next morning we explored Pest and took a panoramic coach tour of the city, snapped many pictures of Heroes Square (above) and the other fabulous sites and then enjoyed a walking tour to see St. Stephen’s Basilica & the Parliament Building below:

Tauck river cruise tour review

The highlight of that day for sure though was our visit to the inside of Budapest’s famous Opera House

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…what was a highlight for sure (as we didn’t know is was going to take place) was that two of their star performing opera singers came out and “serenaded” us with 3 beautiful songs as a little surprise. It was super special and gave us goose bumps!! 🙂

Opera House Tauck review.jpg

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Later on an optional afternoon tour was a “power” walking tour which we took. You always see something new when you explore with others who know the city well. So one of the guides took us on a great walk to areas we never would have found on our own!

Our hike/walk took us here up to “Budda Castle” where we are looking down into Budapest… what a view we had of the city, the Parliament Building & Budapest’s famous “Chain Bridge”!!

 

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“Buda” side of Budapest, Hungary

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Day two in Budapest we spent time on the Buda side, which is on the other side of the river from Pest.

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With so much to see up at “Castle Hill”, including the stunning views of the Parliament Building from “Fisherman’s Bastion” and an inside look at the “Matthais Church” (above) we worked up an appetite for our included lunch at a local Hungarian restaurant.

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Here we are at Fisherman’s Bastion…

Our Tauck river cruiseline review.

.At 4 pm we boarded the newest ship in the Tauck fleet called the “Ms Joy”!

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To see pictures of the Joy, videos of the staterooms & suites and to get more insight into our experience check out Our Pictures and Videos of Tauck’s Ms Joy. (Make sure to read the captions under each picture/video!)

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At sail away the Captain slowed the ship as we passed the famous “Parliament Building” so we could enjoy & snap pictures of this magnificent building.

.(we were so lucky to be so close as millions of visitors each year have to cross the river and walk a ways down to get views of it… we know as we did that when in Budapest last year! 🙂

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 Our review of the Parliment building with Tauck river cruises

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Cruising The Danube & Bratislava, Slovakia!

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At 6 am we went through one of the biggest locks in Europe that raises up 66 meters and the rest of the morning we whispered down the Danube River and relaxed in the comforts of our Suite & the ship enjoying the views and listened to commentary from a local expert about Bratislava… OH, THE LIFE!!! 🙂

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After lunch we took a guided walking tour of Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. We saw many Baroque Palaces and it’s medieval old town…

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Bratislava, Slovakia Tauck tours review

.… and Tauck took us for a treat at a local cafe where we had drinks and a traditional sweet called the “Bratislava Horn” which was yummy!!

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Bratislava “horns with Tauck river cruises

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That afternoon we took another “Power” Walking tour (optional- as is every tour) to Bratislava’s “UFO” viewing platform. You’ll see from the pictures below why they call it a UFO. 🙂  We had fantastic views of the city and beyond!!

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Bratislava to hike to their “UFO” review Tauck

Tonight after dinner a talented Slovakian folkloric band & dancers did a performance for us onboard that enhanced our cultural experience of the region!

Tauck rover cruise review
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.Vienna, Austria (2 day stay)

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Vienna is a perfect picture of romance and old European feel with spectacular architecture at every turn… enough to give you whiplash!

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Some famous residents of Vienna included Mozart, Beethoven and Sigmund Freud which you can learn about when you visit if you desire.

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With a mix of good & sad history, the city is fascinating to visit, particularly to see the Ringstrasse, Opera House, Hofburg Palace, Parliament, City Hall and so much more.

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We took a walking tour of Vienna this morning, have a look at our pictures…

Our personal review of Vienna, Austria with Tauck.jpg

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Then, for dinner we were taken to “Palais Pallavicini” for another spectacular evening filled with delicious fine dining Viennese cuisine and an entire evening of musical entertainment from top performers!

We are talking Opera, Ballet, a 7 piece Orchestra.

What an evening to remember… WOW!!

Here are a few pictures…


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Our final day in Vienna (it is April 25th and 70sF/20sC of sunshine) we had a choice of tours that included a tour of the Spanish Riding School, Hofburg Complex or Schonbrunn Palace.

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We choose a tour of the Schonbrunn Palace simply because it had a big garden for a nice walk about… very “Versaille-like”, gorgeous! 🙂

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TIP: The horse riding school… we heard from guests who attended was not very thrilling and you could not take pictures, just keep that in mind when making your decision.

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TIP: We walked about the Schonbrunn palace and didn’t know till afterwards that we could have payed a small fee to attend a strudel making demonstration in the Cafe. You can attend that on your free time after the Palace visit if you like… just let us know how it was, would you? But no bragging!! lol

TWO TIPS IN ONE: Take a picture of the daily schedule you receive each evening before you retire to bed, that way you have it with you all day and you can reference it whenever you want. No guessing! This serves another purpose too! When you look back at your pictures you will know which city or stop those pictures were taken because you’ll have the daily program picture taken first with the name of the stop on it. Brilliant, right??!! 🙂

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Durnstein & The Wachau Valley in Austria

Dürnstein is a small picturesque medieval port town on the Danube River which made it easy for us to hop off for a great walking tour of this gorgeous destination.

It is one of the most visited tourist destinations in the Wachau region!

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As you can tell, we like to stay active so we also took an invigorating hike up to the ruins of Kuenringerburg, a hilltop castle with fantastic views over the city. Apparently, it’s where Richard the Lionhearted was held captive at one point.

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We also got to see Durnstein’s 16th Century Baroque houses, the 13th century Romanesque church and t