It’s “arrivederci” Venice and “Buongiorno” Budapest (or more appropriately Üdvözöljük as the Hungarians would say), as Travel Weekly’s Uniworld tour changes not only rivers but countries.
With the Venice leg sadly over, I’ve arrived in the Hungarian capital to board the fabled Danube Flow tour that takes in 10 cities over eight days, all starting in Budapest and concluding in the south-east German city of Regensburg with Bratislava, Vienna and Passau among the highlights along the way.
The cruise falls under the brand’s new “U by Uniworld” strategy, a recent initiative to entice those born after 1980 over to the merits of river cruising by offering cheaper options to the company’s Uniworld brand. Yet, fear not, the U brand is not age restrictive and is happy to accommodate all and sundry.
Heading the “U” charge are two new refurbished ships aptly named “A” and “B” (formerly Uniworld’s River Ambassador and River Baroness ships). The former handling the Danube run, the latter in charge of U by Uniworld’s Seine River action.
Obviously, I’m doing the Danube, so there’s the “A” waiting patiently under Budapest’s picturesque Elizabeth Bridge.
Newly painted in a striking black livery, the ship is an intimidating 135-metres in length and can carry as many as 120 passengers.
Eight-night packages are well priced at around the $A2000-mark (dependant on room type and if you choose the unlimited booze option). Room options include 26 standard balcony staterooms, 29 studio rooms and even rooms with bunks to allow for triple occupancy.
And to entice the youngsters, the cruise includes DJs, morning yoga, mixology classes, silent disco parties (where ravers listen to their own choose of music via headphones) and the super funky rooftop Ice Bar.
Food’s included, however, is limited to breakfast and dinner (with lunch typically at the day’s port of call).
The eight-night cruise does include free excursions, however, guests are encouraged to take up the paid options, too.
As an interesting approach, all passengers are connected via the messaging app WhatsApp for tour news an updates and, as this reviewer discovered, enables you to share holiday snaps with total strangers.
Sadly, due to the earlier connecting flights and A’s departure times our time in Budapest is short (a mere three hours) before the vessel needs to set sail for the next port of Bratislava. Yet, still enough time to climb the steep stairs to the famed Buda Castle and Fisherman’s Bastion area.