Our Review of our “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” then the itinerary? Then check out our picture & video gallery of this sailing to see our experience with Tauck and learn more specific details about what sets them apart from the other lines)

 

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

 

Tauck Joy review

 

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

 

“Pest” side of Budapest, Hungary

Dudapest with Tauck river cruisereview.jpg

 

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

 

Opera House Tauck.jpg

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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

/Users/nancysmacbookpro/Desktop/Budapest with Tauck river cruise review

 

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.

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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)

 

Vienna, Austria with Tauck.jpg

 

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! 🙂

 

Schonbrunn Palace visit Tauck river cruises.jpg

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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 the Durnstein Monastry.

 

Dürnstein is also a well-known grape growing area which you see as you go down the river further and look into the valley. So naturally, we attended a wine tasting at Late Klosterkeller cellar and learned about the Wachau Vineyards as we sipped the delicious aromatic wines. Shawn is getting ready for a tasting here…

 

wine tasting in Durnstein with Tauck

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In the afternoon the captain sailed our ship down the Danube very slowly so we could see one of the most scenic parts of the river- the Wachau Valley.

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We sat back, sipped Baileys and hot chocolate (very tasty combination if you have not tried- it’s a must!!) snapped LOTS of pictures and just enjoyed the views. Have a look…

 

 

.TIP: The Wachau Valley grows apricots, so look for treats to take home with apricots in it. Maybe one of the wines from the wine tasting cellar… maybe? 🙂

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Salzburg, Austria OR Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic

Today we stopped in Linz, Austria and had a choice to go to one of the above destinations. We decided to relax as we needed a break in between our 5 weeks of traveling during this trip (we did a “Tulip Time” River Cruise with Avalon right before this trip with Tauck and an “Oceania” Cruise right after) but here is a bit of information about these two charming towns for you…

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Salzburg, with it’s views of the Eastern Alps, is where parts of The Sound of Music was filmed so you can see some of those sights as well as stroll it’s narrow lanes, old squares, unique palaces and so much more.

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The “Salz” of Salzburg stands for salt because the city had mined it here for centuries. This city is also home to the famous drink Red Bull, one of the highest selling energy drinks in the world.

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Salzburg is also the birthplace of famed composer Mozart and has a museum displaying his childhood instruments. Tauck takes you here for a visit.

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A trip to Cesky Krumlov
, a mini version of Prague they say, is a small city in the South Bohemian Region of the Czech Republic.

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It is a UNESCO World Heritage site because it is so well preserved. 

And with a river that runs through it, it makes this city even more charming and it’s valleys are dotted with well-preserved medieval buildings.

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You will get to see the 13th century Krumlov Castle that has a mixture of medieval, Renaissance and Rococo designs.

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Either option you choose above— you will have a wonderful tour that day!

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Engelhartszell, Austria

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What a treat this morning!

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We visited, in small groups, a local home in Engelhartszell, Austria which is a small town along the river.

 

The families are so happy to have you visit so they can tell you the history of these beautiful homes that were built in 1300 and 1600 and passed down over the generations.

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The house we visited was built in 1601 and seven generations have lived in this home. With the fascinating long history in this home it was amazing to see the original woods and carvings as they were from so very long ago! We had an incredible visit. 🙂

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.This afternoon we took an optional 18 mile/30 km bike ride and met up with the ship in Passau, Germany. It was a 2 hour bike ride along the river and quite scenic. If you are in decent shape we would highly recommend it, but again, it’s optional!

Tauck bike tour with Tauck river cruises.jpg

It was cold & wet that day as you can see from our attire but those who participated still had a great time! 🙂

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Vilshofen & Regensburg, Germany

 

Regensburg, Germany tour with tauck river cruises.jpg

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Over night we stayed in Vilshofen, Germany and straight away the next morning we said our goodbyes to the beautiful “Tauck Joy” ship and the amazing staff and then we traveled to Regensburg, Germany (above) to visit this exciting city before traveling on to our final destination- beautiful Prague.

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Regensburg’s city center brings you back to medieval times and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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Tauck treated us to Bravarian Sausages at this Historic Sausage Kitchen of Regensburg (that was originally built in 1135 AD) which is the oldest continuously open public restaurant in the world!! Today it serves 6,000 sausages to guests daily and we highly recommend you try it!!

 

Historic Sausage Kitchen of Regensburg with Tauck

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We arrived by bus to Prague at 5pm as scheduled and checked into the lovely Four Seasons Hotel.

Four Seasons Hotel Prague with Tauck river cruises.jpg

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Before having the night to ourselves, Tauck did a short orientation walk about so we would be acquainted with Prague. We couldn’t wait to explore this spectacular city!!

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Prague, Czech Republic

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Prague truly is a fascinating city with rich history! No wonder it is the fifth most visited city in Europe.

Prague in the Czech Republic with Tauck river cruises

 

.It is the capital city of the Czech Republic and is nicknamed “the City of a Hundred Spires,” because it’s Old Town Square & Jewish Quarter holds many architectural buildings with high arches including the colorful baroque buildings, Gothic churches and the medieval Astronomical Clock (it is the third-oldest astronomical clock in the world) which gives an animated hourly show.

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The pedestrian Charles Bridge that was completed in 1402, is lined with statues of Catholic saints, it oozes history and is one of “those” bridges you just have to walk across and back, see it below…

St. hCharles bridge in Prague in the Czech Republic with Tauck

 

.TIP:  Prague is a busy city and the Charles bridge is packed with people normally, so we took some sage advice and got up a little earlier and went straight to the Charles Bridge before 8am (which was steps from our hotel) so we could have the bridge to ourselves to enjoy the scenery and snap a couple pictures. Seeing the crowds later, we are SO glad we did that first thing before breakfast & the start of our daily tour…

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…with Tauck you had a choice to take a Jewish Quarter walking tour or a Walk Through the Centuries Tour. Either one you choose if fine but we (and a few other guests) decided to “go on our own” and explore ALL those areas without commentary.  Having the time to spend together just the two of us was nice to do on our last day as well.

St. Charels bridge Tour with Prague in the Czech Republic with Tauck

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After lunch we met up with the group for a walk about the Prague Castle grounds & for a private “back door” viewing of the Strahov Monastery & Library. It has the most beautiful library we have EVER seen and how special we felt to have the privilege of a visit inside while other visitors could only pier in from a roped off door….

Prague Castle Library Tauck river cruises.jpg

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.Tauck bid us farewell by providing “yet another” memorable evening.

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We had dinner overlooking the city of Prague at the stunning Lobkowicz Palace at Prague Castle while a quartet played for us.  We had a delicious meal and took a walk about the castle afterwards to see the items recovered from the war.

 

Our experiences in Prague Castle fairwell dinner with Tauck.jpg

 

We were sad to say goodbye to our new friends because our experience was so amazing but we look forward to taking other tours with Tauck in the future as they offer so many choices such as river cruises, multi-generational land tours & themed event tours all over the world.

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If you would like to inquire about a river cruise with Tauck or any other River or Ocean line or have more questions don’t hesitate to call or email Shawn anytimehe is more then happy to help you plan your next memorable vacation.

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If you would like to learn more, check out Our Blue Danube Pictures and Videos where you can see the inside of the ship, videos of the staterooms and so much more! We added a lot of thorough captions under each picture.

 

We appreciate you!

 

Nancy & Shawn
Your Trusted Cruise Experts!

 

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