Exploring the Wachau Valley on the Viking Vilhjalm river ship

ABOARD THE VIKING VILHJALM — Early in the morning, my Viking Longship arrived in Krems, a small Austrian village on the banks of the Danube. Red roofs, a bulbous turret and a yellow clock tower rising above the town greeted us. Viking cruises offers an exclusive visit to the Benedictine Abbey of Göttweig, a working monastery that’s been in existence for more than 900 years. The monks live, work and worship from a hilltop overlooking postcard-pretty Wachau …

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Vienna: Hapsburgs, Lipizzaners, Mozart and Strauss

ABOARD THE VIKING VILHJALM — The Hapsburgs ruled the Austro Hungarian Empire from Vienna using their fortune to build Baroque palaces, churches and museums across the city. Those buildings form the core of what is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Vienna’s rich history and culture continue to dance —like its famous waltzes — sweeping you in and maintaining your interest. My Viking Danube cruise provided a day with many opportunities to touch and taste the capital of …

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Bratislava: Exploring behind the former Iron Curtain

ABOARD THE VIKING VILHJALM — The Viking Viljhalm cruise makes a stop in Bratislava, Slovakia, a country where people now travel freely. Until the early 1990’s, Slovakia was part of Czechoslovakia and under communist rule, closed off to the world behind the “Iron Curtain.” Bratislava, the capital city, lies at the strategic crossroads between Budapest and Vienna. In the 10th century, it was part of the Kingdom of Hungary. In 1536, what is now called Bratislava became …

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Budapest: Exploring the Pearl of the Danube

ABOARD THE VIKING VILHJALM — Budapest has well earned its nickname of the “ Pearl of the Danube.”  The Danube River waltzes through the city core, dividing the old city on the west – – Buda – – and its younger sibling – – Pest – – on the opposite bank. Viking justly named its river cruise the Danube Waltz, accentuating the river’s music with a daily complimentary tour and a variety of optional excursions. I started with …

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Arrival in Budapest for the Viking Danube Waltz Cruise

ABOARD THE VIKING VILHJALM — Overnight flights leave most travelers tired and groggy, a feeling I experienced upon arrival in Budapest. Clearing customs quickly, my travel partner and I met the Viking Cruise representatives at the baggage claim exit. They escorted us to a bus that delivered the group directly to the Viking Viljhalm docked on the Danube River. The mighty waterway, famous for the Straus Waltz, splits the enchanting capital of Hungary with Buda on one …

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Viking River Cruises present the Danube Waltz

My cruise from Budapest, Hungary to Passau, Germany will pass through four European countries over eight days, with six included guided excursions. I’ll take a non-stop flight from Philadelphia to Budapest, and then embark on the Viking Vilhjalm, a Viking Longship with streamlined Scandinavian design and understated elegance. My home for the next eight days will include a 205 square foot Veranda Stateroom with a floor-to-ceiling sliding glass door opening to a full-size veranda.  It also includes …

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Getting Active, Learning New Skills, Experiencing History – All on an Active Discovery on Avalon

Approximately 5.7 million people took a river cruise in the past three years, a number that has more than doubled since 2009, according to data from Cruise Lines International Association. The overall appeal remains the same – the lazy pleasure of putting yourself completely in the hands of someone who will coddle you while steering you through new adventures. But river cruising is no longer a passive or unrefined experience. River cruise lines are developing programs that …

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American Duchess Cruise: Chef’s notes on menu add to dining pleasure

ABOARD THE AMERICAN DUCHESS – When Executive Chef Jeff Warner entered the American Duchess dining room wearing his white jacket and tall white hat, he received a happy round of applause. He certainly deserves it. The food on my cruise is scrumptious. Not only is the food delicious but the menus are also a pleasure to read. Not just for the cuisine choices but for the little tidbits that are on every menu. Jeff lists “Chef Suggestions” …

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American Duchess Cruise: Singing the blues at B.B. King hometown museum

AMERICAN DUCHESS – A tractor mishap helped put the career of a renowned bluesman in high gear. If not for the 1946 accident, the world might never have heard of Riley King. Of course, we got to know him as B.B. King. “Because of that accident, Riley King left Indianola for Memphis,” said Robert Terrell, Director of Operations for the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center in Indianola, Mississippi.  “Memphis is where he got his nickname …

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American Duchess Cruise: Roller skating Elvis, paddlewheel guitar, much more on new boat

ABOARD THE AMERICAN DUCHESS – A singing Elvis on roller skates. Romantic “popera” (popular opera) made famous by Luciano Pavarotti and Sarah Brightman. A 1960s-sock hop. And country music ranging from Loretta Lynn to Garth Brooks. Entertainment on the American Duchess is never boring. The multi-talented singers and musicians seem to be able to cover all genres of music – along with dancing, joking and audience interaction. Before and after dinner, cocktail music is played by the …

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