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Cruising the Danube on the Newly Christened Viva Two

The Danube river was instrumental in the evolution and settlement of Central Europe. Taking a river cruise is a chance to learn about the history of this region and admire the castles, fortresses and other

The Danube river was instrumental in the evolution and settlement of Central Europe. Taking a river cruise is a chance to learn about the history of this region and admire the castles, fortresses and other historic architectural gems along the river’s bank. 

 

In early May I was fortunate to take a week long Danube Cruise on the recently christened Viva Two. For those of you who are not familiar with Viva Cruises, they are a five-year-old river cruise company based in Dusseldorf, Germany. Their parent company is river boat builder Scylla so, although the Viva brand is new, they are no strangers to the river cruise industry having built boats for some of the best known river cruise brands. Viva Cruises, whose motto is Enjoy the Moment, is led by cruise industry veteran, COO, Andrea Kruse.

 

Viva Cruises started out 5 years ago doing off-season charters of several of the Scylla made ships. Originally catering to a primarily European clientele, as they grew and started launching their own ships, Viva set it sights on the U.S.market. They now have a sales and reservations office in Florida.

 

Highlights of the Viva Two

The newly built Viva Two was christened in late March and is very similar to the Viva One which launched a year ago. The ship holds 190 passengers in 95 cabins including 8 suites. Most cabins feature french balconies with triple sliding doors, providing an open air feel with unrestricted sight lines. 

 

There are 3 dining options including the main restaurant, Riverside, which serves a buffet breakfast and a la carte lunch and dinner. Moments on deck one is a smaller, more intimate venue. Breakfast here is a choice of buffet with omelette station or a served breakfast with lunch and dinner also being served. The bistro, located at the stern of the ship, is the smallest venue with a capacity of 30 and serves lunch and dinner. It is also the perfect spot for small, private groups or meetings. Reservations are required for dinner in Moments and the Bistro.

 

The main deck of the Viva Two features plenty of lounge chairs and tables with shaded areas mid-ship. The forward section of the deck has tall glass walls to break the wind and the rear section of the deck has a small heated pool and astroturf area. The ship’s dozen or so bikes are also stored in this area. Take note that your clients should reserve a bike in advance. Down below on deck one there is a small but well equipped gym with a spa area featuring a steam room, sauna and showers. This area can be reserved for private use. A small massage room rounds out the spa offerings.

 

Sailing the Danube on Viva Two

Our sailing began in Vienna and visited the ports of: Esztergom and Budapest in Hungary, Bratislava in Slovakia, and Krems, Linz and Engelhartszell in Austria. 

 

The cruise departed from Vienna the evening of the first night and arrived at our first stop, Esztergom, the following morning. From here we took a short bus ride to the town of Szentendre known for its baroque architecture, churches, colorful houses and narrow, cobbled streets. The main square, Fő Tér, and the alleyways around it are lined with art galleries, museums and shops. After a walk around town it was time to return to the ship and proceed to our next stop, Budapest.

 

Budapest – Brilliant Nighttime Arrival

While each of the ports we visited had its charms, there is nothing quite like sailing into Budapest at night. The city’s many castles, fortresses, churches and government buildings are all lit up in white lights, making for a fairy-tale entrance to the city. After arrival, we embarked on a pub crawl tour, taking the Metro to the lively Kazinczy street in the heart of Budapest’s Jewish Quarter. Here we visited Szimpla Kert, the first and one of the most popular “ruin bars” in the Hungarian capital. Here, you’ll find a unique atmosphere with multiple bars scattered over two floors, great street food, an avant-garde art gallery, and an open-air theater. 

 

The next day we took Viva’s shore excursion – Architecture meets Culinary – Tram, Culture & Tasting. This combined tram and walking tour took in the highlights of this beautiful city and ended with a typical Hungarian dessert and coffee in a traditional coffee house. 

 

Bratislava, Slovakia

The following afternoon we arrived in Bratislava for a city tour with beer tasting excursion. Bratislava is located near the border triangle where Slovakia, Hungary and Austria meet, and has always been considered a melting pot of different peoples and cultures. The old town, which is well worth seeing, has largely been able to preserve its Gothic-Baroque style. Here you can also clearly feel the change that has been promoted in recent years; everywhere people are busy restoring the old building facades. In addition to a walking tour, we had the opportunity to taste Slovak beer.

 

Krems, Austria

Day 5 of our cruise was a stop in the lovely city of Krems. This is a great spot to take one of the ship’s bikes out for a ride along the river bank and through the town. For the adventurous, try a 30-minute bike ride to Durstein in Austria’s stunningly scenic Wachau Valley. From there, hike up to Durstein Castle ruins offering amazing views of the Danube river. 

 

Much of Krems old town walls remain intact so walking around them and exploring the old town center is a great way to see the town and experience the local culture. This region is known for apricots and drunken apricots (apricots soaked in brandy) which are found in most shops, along with local wines.

 

Linz and Salzburg Austria

Upon arriving in Linz we took an hour coach ride to the quintessential European town of Salzburg. Perhaps best known as the hometown of the Van Trapp family of Sound of Music fame, the city is divided by the Salzach River, with medieval and baroque buildings of the pedestrian Altstadt (Old City) on its left bank, facing the 19th-century Neustadt (New City) on its right. The Altstadt birthplace of famed composer Mozart is preserved as a museum displaying his childhood instruments. We had a traditional Austrian lunch of wienerschnitzel at the oldest restaurant in the world – St. Peter Stiftskulinarium. www.stpeter.at/en/

 

Our final stop on the cruise was Passau, Germany where the Danube is joined by the Inn river from the south and the Ilz river from the north. Here we took a walking tour through picturesque alleys, past St. Stephen’s Cathedral with its world-famous organ, the prince-bishops’ residences and the town hall with its high-water marks.

 

Viva currently has 9 ships sailing the Danube, Rhine, Moselle, Main, Rhone and the Seine rivers as well as the Baltic Sea. During the “off season” they also operate shorter length wellness themed cruises. They provide an all-inclusive product so your clients will know exactly how much their cruise will cost. Their all-inclusive product includes: full board with breakfast buffet, lunch, dinner (multi-course gourmet menus served at the table) and snacks with free choice of table and flexible meal times. All day cold and hot non-alcoholic drinks, as well as a select choice of alcoholic beverages are included. High Tea is served once per trip with a selection of homemade scones with clotted cream & jam, sandwiches, other treats. There is a well-stocked, and daily replenished, minibar in the cabin. Wifi on board is free and tips for the whole crew are included.

 

For more information visit www.viva-cruises.com/en-us or call 833 YES VIVA (+1 833 937 8482)

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