Danube River Cruise FUN!

Danube River Cruise Fun!

After two months of group trips and travel bookings I am back and today I am going to share about one of my small group tours, the Danube River Cruise. This past April I had the opportunity to travel with my friend Vicky Turbak (TravelbyVicky) and bring 14 travelers with us from Budapest to Vienna.  

I love traveling in small groups. 

I first began putting together small groups when we were stationed in Germany from 2014-2019 and discovered I love helping travelers connect and introducing them to the cities I love and share the common bond of exploring.

We partnered with ®Riviera River Cruises. Aboard the MS William Wordsworth, they name their ships after English writers, pretty cool. This Danube River Cruise was a lot of fun. This elegant fleet of boats that sail along European waters has the same ethos as I do. Not a huge ship, well-trained staff, and local and regional tour guides, supporting local communities. Cabins are exquisite and comfortable with exceptional menus, on-board activities, gorgeous top decks to enjoy the spectacular Danube views. We absolutely loved the STAFF! They were professional, courteous and a lot of fun.

One of the reasons we choose Riviera River Cruises is the size of their ships, amazing reputation, British fleet (so you can speak the language) and affordable price point. European River Cruising can be the most expensive way to travel in Europe and we partner with Riviera because it is an unbelievable tour for the dollar.

We will also be sailing next SPRING in April along the Duoro Valley in Portugal for more information. CLICK HERE!

Early commitment deals ends August 15th and at the moment, superior drinks packages and cabin availability are high!

Our Blue Danube River cruise itinerary was awesome! We began our tour in the Hungarian city of Budapest (Bud-A-pescht) where we all met up a day before our cruise. We toured the city together and had an opportunity to enjoy some great eats at Dunacorso while enjoying amazing music. Already making friends. This is one of the perks that Vicky and I add to our trips, making reservations at EXCELLENT restaurants for the group!

If you have not visited Budapest, you are missing out. My second visit there and I am dying to return to see more.

We were able to hop on board a bit earlier because the rain was absolutely horrific in town. So, while we were waiting to check in, the staff on-board was lovely enough to offer drinks and appetizers.

Check out my latest VLOG on our CRUISE!


Esztergom is one of the oldest towns in Hungary, and a royal capital during medieval times. We enjoyed a guided tour of the famous basilica it was really stunning and incredible baroque architecture.

History was around every corner.

We also enjoyed walking through this town and did a bit of discovering on our own. Definitely a city on the rebound you can see where the communist control and economic recovery are still making there way. 

Good Eats!

We were able to find a famous bakery and chocolatier Szamos Mátyás Szamos first opened his store in Esztergom in 1986 and made the first brandy marzipan cherry here.

Chocolate and marzipan sculptures line the shop, it is small and seats were hard to come by so we purchased our trinkets and toured the town. 

TRAVEL TIP: Hungary is one of the countries in the EU that prefers if you use their currency. So I recommend upon arrival getting $200 worth at an ATM with your American debit card at a real bank, never get money at an exchange center or kiosk in the tourist districts, these are traps and charge high fees and bad exchange rates. 


This Slovakian fast-emerging city is becoming so vibrant. We arrived during a marathon/running race it was inspiring to see the overwhelming community and support. If you think you’ve heard about this town, it probably is because you have. Not new of the Danube River Cruise itinerary, but for new European destinations to explore. Bratislava, Slovakia is set along the Danube River and borders Austria and Hungary.

The influences can definitely be felt.  It’s surrounded by vineyards and the Little Carpathian mountains and is a haven for  hikers  and cyclists for its beauty and challenging trails. 

Our tour of the The 17th Century Bratislava Castle was  really impressive with its expansive views.

After our guided tour of the city we toured all over this imperial town and enjoyed some lovely pastries and drinks at the Kormuth Konditorei.

Good Eats!

Famous for their specialty coffees and hot chocolates with liqueurs, I enjoyed Cafe Vienna. OMG, it was so deliciousDrinks are served in historical porcelain and the design of this pastry shop is nothing short of a palace. You will love it. If you come with a group, it may be a bit of a wait and there is a €15 minimum to have a seat in the cafe. Totally worth it. YUM!

Dürnstein & Melk

Dürnstein is known for its ice-blue Benedictine Abbey and the views of the Danube it captures.

On our visit we were able to hike to the castle where Richard the Lionhearted was imprisoned and then died just outside the castle walls. The story telling up the hill was amazing. We woke early morning to make sure we had plenty of time to return to the boat for the guided tour of the town as well.

Another fun tidbit for Dürnstein is they are known throughout the region for their “Rabbitsh@#! This was hysterical, a local legend regarding rabbits, frozen in snow, people starving and in peril, rabbits to the rescue. A local shop hopped on that legend and created these incredible chocolates calling them “Rabbit sh@#!” They were quite tasty and funny.

We then sailed onto Melk, Austria where we visited anotherBenedictine Abbey which originally was a castle. And you can totally tell. Additionally, it was converted in the Baroque style during the 18th century and remains a monastic school and monastery still today.

The Abbey also hosts a 214-yard long gallery, but no pictures here. This ornate library with the many rooms is for especially enchanting to avid readers.

The Abbey also hosts a 214-yard long gallery, but no pictures were allowed here. This ornate library with the many rooms is for especially enchanting to avid readers.

Sailing along the Danube – Danube River Cruise Fun
Salzburg & Linz

As much as you would possibly want to in any trip, you just can’t “see it all.” This was the case with our stay in Salzburg & Linz, you have to choose.

The Salzburg crew hopped aboard a bus to take us inland from the Danube for a few hours to tour Salzburg. We stopped along the way in Mondsee, Austria. On a clear day, this lake village will have you hearing the sounds of music. However, our pop-in cafe stop was very overcast and cloudy.

Salzburg however did not disappoint. It never does. I have visited multiple times and just adore this city. Divided by the Salzach River both sides of the city boast its own history. The city of Mozart you can feel the influence all around you including his birth house. 

We had enough time to visit the Hohensalzburg Fortress, walk the old town, grabbed a pretzel of course and tried to visit the famous Augustiner Brewery. Unfortunately due to COVID impact the museum and restaurant were closed the day we tried to visit. So we made the best of it and found an amazing French Fry bar and grabbed some drinks and appetizers at Ludwig, Das Burger Restaurant very close to our bus stop. So incredible.

The Linz crew enjoyed a guided walking tour of this baroque city that has an absolutely incredible old town square. The fortress-like castle perches high above the city created by Habsburg Dynasty Emperor Friedrich III. Now an art museum, many took in a tour to see this fine collection of nineteenth and twentieth century art.

Vienna - Danube River Cruise Fun

Vienna will always be a favorite of mine. One of Europe’s great capitals we definitely got to see quite a bit. Unfortunately, the day we visited the rain could not have been more depressing. Boo!

So after what I think was a truncated city tour and we were sopping wet, we grabbed a bite to eat at Figlmüller one of the most delicious Austrian restaurants, YUM!

Good Eats!


Considered to be the home of the original Weinerschnitzel we just had to have lunch here! Check out the size of this schnitzel, we definitely split it!

Sisi Museum

Who is Sisi? She was considered a “free-spirit” and Emperor Franz Joseph fell for her radiating beauty and tenacious spirit. Betrothed to her sister, he followed his heart and got in a bit of trouble for it too. Oh, well he’s the Emperor. Married at 18, she was not a big fan of the pomp and circumstance her new life brought AND by the time she was 21, she was a mother of three.

Her story is quite captivating and the museum was very, very interesting. Seen today on Netflix’s The Empress you can get an idea of her life.

After dinner onboard we enjoyed some classical music arrangement that was quite elegant. I would recommend dressing up for this event.

Be sure you do don’t whisper or talk during the performance as it is treated like the Opera. I ticked a few Brits off, my bad. Oops! It wouldn’t be the first time. HA!


Returning to BudaoestI was so glad we got to spend so much time in this grand city. We ended up having a whole ‘nother day here, so Vicky and. I enjoyed a day at the spa!

The Széchenyi Thermal Spa is one of the most popular spas in Budapest and has one of Europe’s largest healing baths. The pools vary in temperatures between 64deg to 100deg Farenheit and there are saunas and steam baths too.

Yes, bathing suits are required. There are also “Beer Spas” available as well. These are actually really great for your skin. I’ve taken a few.

If you don’t choose the Spa, you might want to try the Parliament building. The largest building in Hungary, it will impress the most inquisitive architect around.

TRAVEL TIP: For both of these I would definitely purchase tickets in advance. Parliament tickets may be purchased a week out. The Spa is easily booked in advance, here is a link


River Cruising?

Here are a few of my thoughts on who makes a great European River Cruiser. A River Cruising sailer might be a first-time visitor to Europe and wants to be introduced to cities and culture they might not ordinarily see on a land-tour.

Also, River Cruising allows the sailor an opportunity to be introduced to cities and say, “O.k., I’m definitely coming back to stay longer.”

A River Cruise also takes the guess work out of transportation, dining and is a slower pace on board. Plenty of time to socialize and relax.

River Cruisers are foodies. Riviera offers excellent dining options and has regional and local cuisine available on board too.

Additionally, River Cruiser might be a bit older traveler who is interested in history, culture and letting the tour guide them. They also aren’t going to wake you up at the crack of dawn to make you go on a tour. River Cruise city tours are typically included, it is up to you whether you take them or not. You can go on your own as well.

Fine Dining

For more delights on the Danube River Cruise we were spoiled with breakfast, lunch and dinner. Oh, my goodness! You will be amazed at the options for your meals AND there is a little restaurant on board at the stern of the boat as well. Reservations are required (I recommend doing this the day you arrive.) They book up quickly.

We were able to arrange a private dinner meal for our group for one of our first nights on the ship. This was excellent we were able to connect with our group and learn more about each other.

What’s Included?

Ocean cruising is definitely different than European River Cruises, especially when it comes to inclusions.

When you book with a travel agent, we will typically quote you a price that includes port fees, taxes,etc. and in some cases drinks packages. Drink packages are typically separate on a River Cruise, however, with our upcoming PORTUGAL Cruise, we have a superior drink package included.


All the tours and excursions off the boat are included too. If there is a special tour that is not a part of the package (like Spanish Horses) on the Danube River Cruise, you would know way in advance, the price and what the ticket includes.

The tours and guides are all locals who specialize in their city or museum and I have to say some of the best I’ve met. Knowledgeable, interesting and fun with their storytelling and history.

On-board fun

Other inclusions are the on-board fun. We had an absolute ball with the staff from Riviera from the dining crew to the tour directors. Karen and Raoul our cruise directors were unbelievable. If they could provide you with assistance, they DID! On our Danube River Cruise, they created such an inclusive, fun atmosphere we couldn’t wait to join in.

On trivia/game night with the Brits was hysterical and only got a bit competitive but was all in fun and jest. We also had a great night of dancing to the 1980s and 1990s! You’ll have to watch the vlog for live details.

Traveling in Small Groups

Like I shared one of our favorite ways to travel is in these small groups. Although we were a part of a much bigger cruise, our group connected and enjoyed getting to know each other.

When Vicky and I travel with the group we are able to help with fine tune details and special requests before, during and after your experience. We also meet friends along the way who become fellow travel enthusiasts and friends.

If you are interested in joining us or are a solo traveler looking for companions, you are welcome. I will also be traveling to Scotland again with CIE Tours in May. A really amazing itinerary including castle stays!


a scotland dream
It’s always an adventure when you ©Travel with Wendy!
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