The River Beatrice is a beautiful river ship and I had the opportunity to sail on her this past March. Condé Nast rated the River Beatrice #3 of the top 20 river cruise ships and after spending seven lovely nights on board, it was easy to see why.
On our first day in Budapest we were welcomed by many of the staff and crew, on board this beautiful ship that was to be our home for the next week. After a quick tour we decided to walk to the Buda side of Budapest and stroll along the Vaci Utca, the main pedestrian and shopping street.
We returned to the River Beatrice via the Chain Bridge in time for a Welcome Cocktail Party and dinner. Our stateroom on the ship had a French Balcony and was done in a soothing taupe and cream décor. 80% of the staterooms on the River Beatrice have French Balconies.
The Main Lounge had a dance floor and full service bar. This was the lounge used for information on the tours and our next port of call, nighttime entertainment as well as afternoon tea. The Captain’s Lounge at the back held the library and internet centre. Continental Breakfast was available here for early risers as well as later risers. The Sun Deck was a great spot to view the river while sailing away from port or to enjoy a latte with a good book or simply watch the world sail on by.
French Balcony Suite on River Beatrice
The next day we chose to do a walking tour in Budapest allowing us to explore the Central Market, located at the end of the central tourist area. This is a must see with over 200 stalls on 3 levels. As we were there close to Easter time, there were many Easter-themed crafts and decorations, making for a very pretty outing.
The Parliament buildings are among the oldest in Europe. They were started in 1885 and inaugurated for the 100th anniversary of the country but not completed until 1904.
On our way to Vienna we disembarked for a city tour of Bratislava. Bratislava Castle sits at the top of a hill by the River Danube. From here you can see 3 countries, Austria, Hungary and Slovakia. The New Bridge over the Danube has a flying saucer shaped structure that houses a restaurant called the UFO. Our tour ended in Vienna where the River Beatrice was docked for the evening.
New Bridge in Bratislava
In Vienna we did a tour called “See Vienna as the Viennese Do.” This was a tour of Vienna’s historic centre by foot and subway. Vienna is said to be the city with the most number of coffee houses and it was a must to try some Viennese coffee in a traditional coffee house and it certainly was an experience.
Schonbrunn Palace, former summer residence of the Imperial family has been in the possession of the Habsburgs for centuries, and is today largely in its original historical condition. Walking the halls and the beautiful gardens it’s hard to not imagine what it was like for Marie Antoinette to spend her summers here as a young girl.
Garden area behind Schonbrunn Palace
Durnstein, one of the smallest towns in Austria lies on a rocky ridge overlooking the Danube River. This is in the Wachau Region, one of UNESCO World Heritage sites. This area of the Danube is a very tranquil, winding sections through the hilly wine region and is must-see from the top deck of your ship. After a pleasant morning spent here we sailed on towards Melk. Some of the passengers were adventurous enough to ride the complimentary bicycles from Durnstein to Melk to meet the ship.
View of Durnstein Church on the Danube from the Durnstein Castle
Melk’s main attraction is the Benedictine Abbey. This was once the castle of Leopold III. In the 11th century he gave it over to the Monks who converted it into an abbey. The abbey still holds power as one of the few institutions that report directly to the Pope with no Bishop as middle man. It’s also a school for young girls in the region.
From the port of Linz we took a tour to Salzburg. This is the 4th largest city in Austria and is noted for its beautiful Alpine setting. It is also the birthplace of Mozart.
Hand painted eggs for sale at the Easter Market in Salzburg
Our last port was Passau where we spent the day walking the cobblestone streets. Passau is one of Bavaria’s oldest cities and is also known as the City of Three Rivers as it sits at the confluence of the Danube, Inn and Ilz Rivers. Some of the buildings are marked with the year and height where the flood waters have risen from the 3 rivers.
All too soon we had to say good bye to our friends and crew of the River Beatrice as we prepared to go home. Throughout the week the men and women working on the ship provided service always with a smile – no request was too large and no detail too small.
Sundeck on board the River Beatrice