Tauck Danube River Cruise Review
There is only one word to describe my Tauck trip; AMAZING.
Previous to my trip I had only briefly heard of Tauck from other colleagues who had travelled with Tauck, so I was looking forward to experience it for myself.
Tauck are a tour company who have been around for over 90 years, the company way started by Arthur Tauck. He started off the company with Tauck Motor Tours. This was a travel company that would give birth to a new industry.
Their first tour was through the backroads of New England in 1925; it embodied the same successful formula which is still used by Tauck today: do the right thing. Craft a life-enriching travel experience; provide it at a single all-inclusive price; ensure there is great value for money; and rely on recommendations of satisfied customers to build a following and grow the business. Still to this date Arthur Tacuk Jnr will read the customers comment cards to help him improve his family business and keep the family values & tradition.
Tauck embrace the Mantra that ‘Travel can be life changing’. Every Tauck experience combines culture, education & entertainment. They also cater to a wide range of interests from history, culture & eco-tourism to exotics, adventurous & luxurious.
Tauck’s River Cruises are fully all inclusive, you pay one upfront price and everything is included from all shore excursions & cultural sightseeing (many which are private & exclusive to Tauck), gratuities, entrance fees (including public bathrooms), transfers & baggage handling. On board all Tauck’s river cruise ships they include 4 tour directors including 1 Tauck Cruise Director.
My Tauck Experience
We were to spend the 4-nights on board ms Treasures sailing from Budapest to Vienna. She is a member of Tauck’s Jewel Class ships and was built in 2011. Our cabin was a Category 7 suite which included brocade upholstery, roomy walk-in wardrobe with built in drawers, spacious marble bathrooms with a full sized tub & exclusive Molton Brown toiletries, 2 French Balconies with floor-to-ceiling windows that open to idyllic riverscapes.
We embark ms Treasures in Budapest, our river ship was docked just under the famous Chain Bridge. From the moment we pulled up at the cruise port, I experiences the 5* luxurious service that Tauck offers to all its guests. A member of staff took my suitcase off me straight away and I did not see it again until I arrived at my cabin. I was cabin number 316, which is situated towards the back of the ship on Diamond Deck.
Day One – Budapest
Once we had unpacked our cases we headed to the Panorama Lounge for a light lunch whilst we waited for the rest of the guests to embark. Once most of the guests had checked in, we all met in the Panorama Lounge where our Tour Director, Jeremy, explained what was happening for the rest of the day.
First up was a tour of Budapest, we explored both the Pest side & the Buda side. For every city tour Tauck include a local tour guide who escorts you around the city, whether it be by coach or by foot, Tauck ensure there is 1 tour guide for every 25 guests which makes the tour feel more intimate. The 1st half of our tour was by coach with the local tour guide explaining all about the City and the key features along the way. The 2nd part of our tour was the Castle Region or the ‘A Budai Varnegyed’. The Castle Region is famous for its medieval, 19th-century houses, churches, and public buildings. We were fortunate to experience the changing of the guards, which was amazing to see.
After our tour we were driven by coach back to the River Cruise ship. After dinner on board we sailed out of Budapest. Many guests on board went up to the Sun Deck, as it was dark we could see the Chain Bridge & the Parliament Building all light, and what beautiful sights they are to see as we where sailing away.
Day Two – Bratislava
Our 2nd destination was Bratislava, the Capital City of Slovakia. Our local tour guide met us at the cruise port as the walk into the Old Town of Bratislava was only a short distance. The History of this charming city began more or less as soon as we disembarked the cruise ship. In the Old Town on one of the building is a memorial plaque which is dedicated to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart as memory of the concert he played there at just 6 years old.
During our tour of Bratislava we had exclusive entry to the Primate's Palace or Primacilny Palac. In 1903 the Palace went under construction and during which there where a series of six previously unknown tapestries found behind a wall, depicting the legend of Hero and Leander and their tragic love. The tapestries were woven in the 1630s at the royal weaving workshop near London. There are also many statues in the Old Town. The 2 that I saw was the ‘Man at Work or the statue of Cumil. This statue has only been there since 1997 and many believe if you rub the top of his head it brings you good luck. The other statue was Napoleon's Army Soldier. This was situated in the Main Square. You can see the soldier leaning over the bench and the reason for this statue is to remind visitors of Napoleon himself. He visited Bratislava in 1805 and then in 1809 his army blew up the Devin Castle. Many tourists enjoy sitting on the bench with the soldier sat behind them and having a photo taken.
Once our tour concluded one of the Tauck Directors took us to a local cafe were we treated to a nice warm drink and a sample of local pastry. We then made our own way back to the ship to get ready for Dinner. There was also the option of stay in Bratislava to explore the City on our own. This evening we sailed out of Bratislava and past the main Castle which is isolated at the top of the hill.
Day Three – Wachu Valley & Durnstein
Durstein was the next destination on the list, we spent the morning sailing through the beautiful Wachu Valley with its picturesque landscape & vineyards formed by the Danube river.
Once we arrived in Durnstein you could either take a Tacuk Fit Tour, which is designed for the more active guests or you could explore the town at your own leisure. I choose to explore the town at my own leisure. We looked around the local ships, which sold a lot of Apricot products as this is a well know produce in Durnstein. Afterwards we had an exclusive Wine Tasting in a local winery. We tried a total of 5 wines, 3 White, 1 rose and 1 red. We were given the back ground of each wine before we all drank it. We were also given the details of each wine including the percentage and much it would cost per glass. After the wine tasting we embark the River Cruise ship for dinner. We sailed during the night to Vienna.
Day Four – Vienna
Last stop on our trip was Vienna, the destination I was most looking forward too. We took a coach around the ring roads, where once again our local tour guide told us of the history and key features along the way. The coach dropped us off at the Albertina Museum. Our local tour guide took us to the Hofburg Palace, which is famous for the emperor Franz Joseph and Empress Elisabeth lived. Our local guide showed us round the 22 rooms, they include the rooms of Empress Elisabeth, the bedroom, dressing room and a fitness room with its wooden fitness equipment. In the Imperial rooms you can also find Sissi’s own bathroom, which she had built in 1876. It was the first bathroom in the Palace, the rest of the family washed in a tub behind a folding screen. You can admire the famous painting of Sisi with stars in her hair. After our tour we could either explore Vienna on our own or head back to the ship.
Tauck Exclusive – Gala Dinner
This is evening was the part of my trip which I was most looking forward too. This was an evening at the Palais-Pallavicini. It is located between the Imperial Palace and the Spanish Riding School. This gala evening is a Tauck Exclusive and the only people will be at this evening are Tauck guests, this makes the evening more intimate.
Once we arrived at the Palace we saw the magnificent grand staircase which leads to the spectacular state rooms on the second floor. These beautiful rooms can accommodate up to 700 guests (standing) or 300 seated. We had a champagne reception upon arrival with a string quartet. We where then led into one of rooms. The room was just stunning with beautiful chandeliers on the ceiling and a lot of large mirrors. The Prince himself came in to great us, welcomed us to the Palace and gave us a little bit of a background on this stunning palace. The evening then began. We were treated to some amazing food and entertainment during our time in the palace. Entertainment included the string quartet which has greeted us earlier, ballet & opera singing. This whole evening and the palace was one of the best experiences of my life, one I will not be forgetting anytime soon. Our evening came to end and the coaches took us back to the River Cruise ship, seeing as this was our last night on board we were treated to a farewell disco.
Day 5 – Departure
Our time came to bid farewell to not only Vienna but ms Treasures. What an amazing 4 days I had, I was very sad to be coming home. Tauck literally think about everything; the day before our departure the Cruise Director left a an information sheet and Tauck luggage label outside of our cabin which included an allocated time for which I was to disembark and also the time my suitcase would be collected from outside my cabin ready to load on to the transfer coach. The disembarkation process was stress free and ran smoothly, a great start to the return journey to the UK.
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