Crystal Mozart is first luxury river ship to go ‘live’

Less than two months after embarking on her maiden voyage from Vienna, Crystal River Cruises’ Crystal Mozart has launched live view cameras – a river industry first – from three vantage points aboard the luxurious vessel. Travelers seeking a glimpse of the enchanting medieval villages, expansive landscapes and stunning cities on Crystal Mozart’s route along the Danube River, can now select the “Live Views” option on Crystal’s newly redesigned homepage, and enjoy real time views of the …

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Gems of Southeast Europe cruise day 7: Beautiful Bucharest still struggles to recover from communism

ABOARD THE AMASONATA- As we cruised south toward the Black Sea from Budapest this week it was obvious to us that all of the cities we visited along the way are still suffering in a variety of ways the effects of communism and multiple wars, and are still in transition to normal democratic life. We called our excursion cities a bit ragged. Until we got to Bucharest. Gorgeous old buildings from the late 1800’s, broad boulevards lined …

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Gems of Southeast Europe cruise day 6: Off the beaten track in Vidin, Bulgaria

ABOARD THE AMASONATA – It is Saturday, so it must be Bulgaria. And if you didn’t happen to see a sign informing you that, you could tell by the way the locals here answer your questions.  If they nod their head up and down, it means “No.”  If side to side, “Yes.”  Just the opposite way you would expect, and about the opposite of anywhere else in the world, so the AMAWaterways crew warns us to learn …

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Gems of Southeast Europe cruise day 5: In Romania, it feels like Norway

ABOARD THE AMASONATA – For those who take a cruise for the scenery, today was the highlight of the week.  Instead of cities and wineries and fortresses and war monuments, we are heading into the “Iron Gates,” the most spectacular section of the Danube River. The Iron Gates are a beautiful set of gorges with the Carpathian Mountains on one side and the Balkans on the other.  The Danube here represents the border between Romania and Serbia …

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Gems of Southeast Europe cruise day 4: A 30-year Building Project Promises Hope to Belgrade

ABOARD THE AMASONATA – One would think that Belgrade, a city that has been destroyed no less than 40 times over its 2300- year lifetime, might give up and call it quits. To some extent it looks like it has. It’s not a pretty town. Passengers on our riverboat did not sign up for this cruise because they wanted to visit the vistas of Belgrade. But there’s life here still. The cruise manager had a variety of …

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Gems of Southeast Europe Cruise day 3: Along the Danube: Many Languages, Many Conflicts

ABOARD THE AMASONATA – The 49-member crew of this Danube-floating riverboat represents a mini-United Nations. In total, there are:  twenty Romanians, seven Hungarians, seven Bulgarians, two Filipinos, six Serbians, two Croatians, two Bosnia-Herzegovanians — and four crew members from distant Indonesia (including the chef). And they all get along swimmingly. Which is not the case – to put it mildly – with the countries we are visiting in this war-torn, ethnically-conflicted part of Europe. According to the …

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Gems of Southeast Europe cruise day 2: A family success story, turning one river boat into twenty one

ABOARD THE AMASONATA – Dining at the Chef’s Table on this elegant AMAWaterways riverboat is a special treat. Dining at the Chef’s Table with the husband and wife who launched the first AMAWaterways ship fifteen years ago — and now own a multimillion-dollar company with 21 of these luxury riverboats — is an extra special treat. Not to mention that Rudi Schreiner and Kristin Karst are delightful dinner companions. Where there was only one riverboat at the …

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Gems of Southeast Europe cruise day 1: A river boat stateroom is not your father’s cabin

ONBOARD THE AMASONATA-Remember the time when taking a cruise meant living for a week in a room the size of a travel container for your pet? When getting to the head meant first moving your suitcase out of the way? I do. How times have changed. Our stateroom on the third level of our AMAWaterways riverboat is, in Trumpian terms, H-U-U-G-E. When my husband and I took possession of it this afternoon we felt like we were …

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Preparing for Gems of Southeast Europe cruise with AmaWaterways

In just seven nights of cruising on the Danube River, our “Gems of Southeast Europe” April river trip will touch five different countries:  Hungary, Romania, Croatia, Serbia and Bulgaria.  It will begin in Budapest, called  “the Paris of the East” and end in Bucharest, termed “the Little Paris of the East.” In between those two well-known historical towns, we will make stops in Pecs, Vukovar, Novi Sad, Belgrade, Vidin and Giurgiu. Our lovely vehicle of travel is …

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Cruising the Lower Danube River, incongruities from Bucharest to Budapest on Emerald Waterways’ Emerald Dawn

Despite the familiar credit card labels pasted on shop doors and ATMs, none of my American cards worked in modern Bucharest, Romania. Across the Danube River, in Bulgaria, crumbling factories and houses remain eerily empty more than 25 years after the fall of the Iron Curtain. Up the river toward Hungary, Serbia’s capital city of Belgrade is bustling with thriving businesses that sit next door to jagged metal and concrete hulks of bombed out buildings from war …

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