The River Duchess: Let’s talk about the ship

One thing we have learned about river cruising is that it is very tour-intensive. On our trip we had tours every day but one and most of them departed by 9 a.m. So I have been writing a lot about what we saw and did but not so much about the ship experience itself. So, let’s backtrack a bit and talk about the lovely River Duchess. This river ship is one of 12 in the Uniworld Boutique …

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Bratislava, Slovakia, is perhaps the world’s newest capital and it is polishing its image

  BRATISLAVA, Slovakia – The River Duchess left Vienna, Austria, at 3 a.m. this morning and traveled about 40 miles down the Danube to another country. In fact, a very brand new country: Slovakia.Over its long history, this small country has been ruled by many powers, including 400 years under the Hapsburgs, but is best known to most Americans as the Slovakia part of Czechoslovakia. That country was formed in 1918, after World War I, and was …

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Vienna adventure: A trip to the Naschtmarket via the underground

  VIENNA, Austria —Yesterday was our second day in Vienna and during the morning we had a fun adventure. Our cruise manager, Bart Roelofs from Holland, invited all who wanted to join him to go to the Naschtmarket in Vienna. This is one of the city’s premier food markets and is easily accessible by the subway. With Bart leading the way, some 60 of us traipsed across the pedestrian bridge near our ship, over the highway, to …

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Our first day on our first river cruise…we stay in Vienna, Austria

VIENNA, Austria– Check off another city on my to-visit list. The lovely city of Vienna, Austria. I had never been to this famous city of Strauss, Mozart and Beethoven and so was pleased to learn that we were going to spend a couple of days here at the beginning of our river cruise. Yesterday morning we flew from Amsterdam to Vienna and boarded Uniworld’s River Duchess at about 1 p.m. Everything went perfectly, from the airport pick-up …

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Tomorrow we begin our Uniworld river cruise: The Imperial Capitals of Europe

We have crossed the Atlantic Ocean on the Queen Mary 2 and spent two days in Amsterdam and a day at Floriade, the world horticultural exhibition located about two hours outside of that city in Venlo. (www.floriade.com) I will be writing about those is upcoming posts. However, tomorrow we fly from Amsterdam to Vienna, Austria, where we board the River Duchess for the beginning of a two-week river trip. It begins with a few days in Vienna, …

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Shipmates: Cruise director known for hair accessories

I’ve been on cruises where they had classes in napkin folding. I learned how to turn a simple dinner napkin into a candle, a fan, a tuxedo or some other fancy shape. I’ve also learned towel art on cruise ships. Cruise directors and cabin attendants would demonstrate how to create an elephant, swan, monkey or numerous other critters out of white bath towels. But a scarf folding class on the Grande Caribe was a first for me. …

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Shore Excursion – Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville

The handwritten notes on cheap lined paper gave me chills. Dated Jan. 26, 1947, they are the words scrawled by Hank Williams for his classic, “I Saw the Light.” Then there’s the more-than-half-century-old suit — the one decorated with musical notes on the sleeves — that I’ve seen in so many photographs of the legendary Hank. At the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, visitors come face to face with the greatest names in county music. …

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Shipmates: Surprise overnight stop brings fun fishing

Carol Schreck had never been fishing in her life. But when the Grande Caribe made an unscheduled stop at a lovely marina known for its many fish, Carol decided to give it a try. She pulled in a whopping two fish – a smallmouth bass and a catfish. “It was beginner’s luck,” Carol said modestly. Her prize catches were released back into their watery home. Although the Grande Caribe was due to dock and spend the night …

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Shipmates: Foot cast doesn’t stop cruise for Smithsonian tour leader

A 12-day cruise on the Grande Caribe from New Orleans to Nashville was a dream trip. And Toni Thomas was so ready to start on the wonderful journey. But a few weeks before her departure date, Toni felt a twinge of pain in the side of her right foot. Thinking it would go away, Toni ignored the discomfort. “Then it got worse and starting hurt more and more. I knew I had to go the doctor,” she …

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Shipmates: ‘Volunteering’ to be a chef

A Blount Small Ship Adventures cruise can be full of pleasant surprises. For passenger Billy Burdell of St. Simon Island, Georgia, “volunteering” to be a chef’s helper during a shipboard cooking demonstration turned into a lot of stirring. “You have to stir it constantly,” Chef Michael W. DeVidts instructed as he showed Billy how to make pralines. “I am stirring,” Billy replied, keeping his wooden spoon moving as the sweet syrup began boiling. A Creole favorite, pralines …

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