A Magnificent Europe River Cruise Experience
APT guests Heidi and Kelley Fry take you inside their first river cruise, sharing what they learned, what they loved, their thoughts on the food and some advice for anyone wondering whether river cruising is for them.
We joined the Magnificent Europe 15-day cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest in July.
What appealed to you about the Magnificent Europe cruise?
Only having to unpack once was a major selling point for me! River ship is just such a great way to travel, not having to worry about getting from one destination to another and returning to the same room every evening really appealed, also the cruise was very much at the right place, at the right time for us, we knew we wanted to explore Europe more extensively, and we knew we wanted to escape the Australian winter! Magnificent Europe ticked both those boxes.
Heidi: My parents went on the European cruise a decade ago, so we were aware of APT as an option for luxury travel.
Kelley: We like to support Australian companies, so the fact APT was founded in Australia and is still Australian-owned, meant it was top of our list for booking a holiday.
Which was your favourite town?
Heidi: We were given the choice between visiting Salzburg or the Czech Republic, and both discovered our favourite town! I elected to go to Salzburg, where my family are originally from. It is such a charming town with great shopping.
Kelley: I decided to hop on the bus to visit the Cesky Krumlov. We had a lot of freedom, so in addition to the tour, I was able to wander through the town, sample the local beer and even swim in the river. Perfect.
Kelley: It was more social than I was expecting, we were surprised how many people were eager to join us on a bike ride, and we were even invited to one guests’ birthday dinner onboard.
Heidi: I wasn’t sure about going on organised tours, assuming we would prefer to do our own thing, but the local guides had so much knowledge and directed us to some amazing sites we would have never found on our own.
Do you have a particularly special memory from the cruise?
Heidi: The night we left Vienna was memorable. We sat on the deck and watched all the lights of the city sparkle in the dark. Several other guests joined us, and the staff brought up drinks, before long we were laughing and having a sing along.
Kelley: One day we elected to do our own thing and went on a bike ride through the beautiful Austrian wine region. We stopped off at several wineries enroute and sampled local liquors and picked fruit.
Kelley: I was worried I would be bored! I had this idea we would be just sitting watching the scenery for hours, but that wasn’t the case. A lot of the cruising is done by night, and we were often on shore through the day exploring. As it turned out, our time on the deck was a great opportunity to talk to other guests and relax.
As an active couple, what was on offer for you on the cruise?
Heidi: We did everything on offer! There was morning stretching and dancing and we had access to the gym any time of day.
Kelley: The bikes onboard were also great, it meant we could take off into town or the countryside as soon as we were on shore without the hassle of finding somewhere to hire or collect a bike.
Heidi: The food was fantastic. We really liked the lunch options,. There were typically four choices for entrée, mains and desserts, and light options too, which was great if you wanted something delicious, but not too heavy mid-day. There was also a four-course meal available in the lounge if you wanted a more decadent option.
Kelley: Catering was always available, if you wanted to take a sandwich and snacks on a day tour – the APT staff would make that happen. It felt like there were never ending drinks options onboard too – there were often drinks on arrival when you returned to the ship from an excursion, and we often indulged in champagne and cocktails in the evening. I also liked that there were regional specialties like port on board if you fancied trying something local.
Who would you recommend APT to?
Heidi: I would honestly recommend an APT river cruise to anyone. We had five mother and daughter duos travelling together, one group of friends, solo travellers, and lots of couples.
Kelley: The great thing about an APT is you can do as much as little as you like. You can head out first thing and cycle 40 kilometres, or lounge in the sun with a book all day with a drink.
Do you have any advice for someone contemplating their first cruise?
Heidi: A river cruise is a great option if, like us, you find the idea of large-scale ocean cruising intimidating. With no more than 162 people onboard, the ship had an intimate feel and with land visible at either side, you felt very safe.
Kelley: For solo travellers, I wouldn’t worry about finding people to socialise with. We were constantly being invited to join couples for drinks and Heidi joined a group for a hike which ended up in a beer garden in Germany!
How would you summarise your APT river cruise?
Heidi: Luxurious travel, marvellous experiences, and lots of fun!
Kelley: For anyone who wants a quick overview of Europe it’s a great way to go – APT makes travelling easy and relaxing.
Images courtesy of Kelley and Heidi Fry