Andy Mossack's Tauck Danube River Cruise
What can I tell you about Tauck River Cruises…
I like to refer to them as the Rolls Royce of river cruising… their attention to detail is mega, with a huge emphasis on personalised service and unique experiences. As a family business that has been trading for 90 years, Tauck truly are experts at what they do!
BBC Radio’s Late Show travel specialist, Andy Mossack, recently travelled along the Danube with luxury river cruise line, Tauck, from Budapest to the Black Sea.
On an eight day Danube River Cruise Mossack had the opportunity explore Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania. Of course, there are various river cruise lines operating itineraries along the Danube… so why choose Tauck?
With the highest staff-to-guest ratio on Europe’s waterways, Tauck truly put their guests first, going way above and beyond what’s required.
Did I mention that Tauck river cruises are all inclusive – there are no hidden costs… everything is included in the upfront price of your river cruise, from meals and drinks, to excursions and staff gratuities – of course with the exception of anything you choose to buy ashore and any spa treatments you treat yourself to on board.
What does an eight day river cruise along the Danube entail when you travel with Tauck?
Upon arrival at the airport you’ll be greeted by a friendly Tauck representative who will guide yourself and other Tauck guests to the car/coach in which you will be transported to the river boat.
Embarkation is simple, as Andy Mossack expressed himself, “the boat awaits and a pleasant surprise is the lack of paperwork as we board; A name check and passport handover is all I need to get my cabin card, a refreshing drink and a cold towel. My luggage is already in my cabin”.
Typically the first day aboard is relaxed and informal, you’re free to do as you please, whether that be aboard or ashore… ensuring you’re on board in plenty of time for the boats scheduled departure! On the first evening guests typically meet in the main lounge, the cruise director takes this as an opportunity to introduce himself and his fellow staff before you’re invited down for dinner in the restaurant.
Dinner is a relaxed affair, the restaurant operates an open seating plan and so you’re free to sit where you like and with whom you prefer; a great opportunity to meet your fellow guests. The first dinner aboard seems to have left an impression on Mossack, who comments “dinner is a delightful four course adventure of flavours and choices. My goose liver brulee, tomato and basil strudel soup, roasted veal tenderloin and gratine of forest fruits were all washed down with some impressive Hungarian Cabernet.”
After dinner, don’t expect a grand show and an evening full of entertainment. Remember you’re aboard a small river boat, roughly 361 feet long, holding 130 guests – there is no room for a theatre. Evenings aboard will most likely be spent in the bar and lounge, accompanied by a pianist, relaxing with a drink and getting to know your new friends.
One great pleasure of river cruising is that you’ll sail most commonly through the night, awaking in a new destination each day. And of course, travelling with Tauck you’ll be offered a choice of shore excursions at each port of call… all of which are included in the price of your river cruise of course!
Day two of Andy Mossack’s Danube river cruise was spent in Pecs, Hungary. Here guests have the choice to enjoy a city tour by coach, visiting Pec’s 11th century cathedral, the UNESCO protected early Christian Necropolis of Sopianse and the Synagogue… not to mention lunch at the Polgar Winery in Vilany – a highlight for Mossack, “we eat a remarkably good traditional Hungarian lunch down in the huge vaulted cellars; cold plates of homemade salamis, hams and sausages with graves cream, and a choice of roast pork chops, roast duck or Boeuf Bourguignon. Of course, tasting a selection of eight different wines is also gratefully received.”
The next day it’s on to Croatia, spending the morning in Vokovar for a walking tour of the town followed by a short coach journey to the small village of Laslovo, where you will meet some locals before returning to the boat for lunch and a few hours of cruising along the Danube to Serbia. Late afternoon the boat will arrive in Novi Sad and this evening, after dinner, guests are given the opportunity to join the locals for a walk through the old town – as Mossack says ‘it’s a perfect opportunity to soak in a bit of local colour.'
The third day of the cruise is spent in Belgrade, Serbia. This morning you have the choice to take a city tour and learn of the local history and culture. The evening that you’re in Belgrade, guests are invited on a ‘Tauck Exclusive’ – Tauck offer their guests ‘Uncommon Access’, granting you access to behind-the-scenes cultural experiences on inclusive shore excursions - you’ll have dinner at Belgrade’s White Palace, Mossack describes as “a magnificent compound… literally fit for a king and queen”, before returning to the boat for a night cap in the lounge.
Day four starts slightly different to the previous days, as the boat will not be in dock when you awake – in fact, today you will be scenic cruising through The Iron Gates and in the words of Mossack “spending most of that time with your mouths open”. Why? The Iron Gates are extremely impressive – a definite highlight of this Danube River Cruise itinerary!
The fifth day aboard again starts with a morning of cruising before arriving at Ruse, Bulgaria. Here there are a choice of excursions; guests may visit the Rock Churches at Ivanovo or take a walking tour of Ruse.
The next day the journey along the Danube comes to an end as the boat docks in Cernavoda, where guests have one last night aboard the ship. From here guests may enjoy a tour of Constanta followed by a trip to the beach or you may choose to explore the city in your own time. I highly recommend you’re back on board for the farewell dinner; the cruise director and his fellow staff usually have a surprise show in store!
Day six, it’s time to say goodbye to the ship and crew as you head to Bucharest for two nights at the JW Marriott. Here there are organised Tauck tours available to choose from, or you may explore Bucharest in your own time. Not to be missed is the final exclusive dinner at the People’s Palace, as Mossack highlights “this is a perfect moment to bid farewell to all my new friends…This gigantic building is the last in a long list of truly memorable experiences and surprises which Arthur Tauck called lagniappes, or gifts, the unique differentiators which Tauck has been providing for over 90 years. It’s an impressive record and I totally understand how the company has nurtured its veteran repeaters.”
Copyright 2015 www.tripreporter.co.uk. Author: Andy Mossack.
Andy Mossack's full write-up can be found at TripReporter.co.uk