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Why we want to go on an eight-day Emerald Waterways river cruise through Europe


Why not, is the question!  Starting in the German state of Bavaria from Nuremberg, we would board a state-of-the-art ship, and over the next eight days meander down the romantic Danube River to our destination, Budapest. 

Starting the cruise with a Cocktail Reception and a Welcome Dinner to meet fellow passengers, crew and the captain, would set the tone for our adventure.  Indulgent travel on one of Emerald Waterways custom-built Star Ships, Emerald Star and Emerald Sky, includes a heated swimming pool with a retractable roof that transforms into a movie theater in the evening!  Cabin design allows guest to push a button to transform their panoramic floor-to-ceiling window so the top of the window drops to create an open-air system.  And best of all, the fare includes all onboard meals, wine and beer with lunch and dinner, Wi-Fi on board, and shore excursions on most days.  Meticulously planned menus are available at the ships' main dining room, Reflections.  Alfresco dining is offered on The Terrace at breakfast and lunch.  Traveling on a moving hotel means unpacking only once, another plus of cruising.

Sailing along the Danube, under the cliffs of the Danube Gorge, our second day leads us to Waltenburg Abbey, the oldest monastery in Bavaria.  Touring the Abbey, sampling the areas famous dark beer, and exploring the highlights of Regensburg, the day ends with entertainment provided by a traditional Bavarian Oompah Band.  Lively folk music and German beer, need I say more!

Overnight the ship travels to Passua, the “Three Rivers City”, situated at the confluence of the Danube, Ilz and Inn.  Walking over the cobblestone streets, we can view the Oberhaus Fortress built in 1219.  An opportunity to visit St. Stephen’s Cathedral is also in the schedule.  This baroque church built in the 1600’s, towers over the city, and is home to Europe’s largest pipe organ, with 17,000 pipes. 

A visit to Austria’s wine-growing region starts the following day in Melk.  A guided tour of the 900-year old Benedictine Melk Abbey is highlighted by Italian architecture, gold leaf walls and fresco ceilings.  Later, the ship sails through the Wachau Valley and on to Vienna.     

A morning sightseeing drive along the Ringstrasse provides an introductory overview of all this fabulous city has to offer.  As home to the world-famous Vienna Opera House, the home of Sigmund Freud, and over 27 castles and 150 palaces, a free afternoon allows guests to explore a small slice of the exciting city on their own.  An evening trip for a Viennese concert is even available, if we want to take advantage of this optional excursion.

Perhaps we’ll experience a sliver of our Slovak heritage (Alan’s half-Polish and I’m half-Czech) as the ship sails into Bratislava.  As the capital and largest city in Slovakia, the morning tour of the Old Town, with its historical buildings, is followed by a home-hosted afternoon tea with a local family.  The day ends with the Captains Gala Dinner.

Moving on to Budapest, the day starts with a guided tour of one of the continent’s most beautiful cities, home to many UNESCO World Heritage Sites.  A fabulous traditional Hungarian Farewell Dinner, complete with folk dancing and music finishing out the day.  After breakfast the next morning, guest depart the ship.  So sad.  So much history, architecture and culture in eight days, wonderful.

Having experienced ocean liners, with hordes of guests, and scary amounts of water surrounding the ship (when you’re in the middle of the Pacific or similar), the intimacy offered by sailing with Emerald Waterways, sounds incredible.  With a maximum of 182 guests, the shoreline never out of sight, sumptuous food and gorgeous views from the Sun Deck while cruising along the Danube, I repeat, the question is not why, the correct question is why not? 

 JohnnyJet.com is hosting a contest to win an 8-day Emerald Waterways European cruise in 2015. You have until April 25 to submit an entry, get additional info here- Johnny Jet Blogger Contest

                          





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