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Danube River Cruise - Viking River Cruises

Bucharest to Nuremberg European River Cruise - From the Black Sea to Bavaria

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Our New Home on the Viking Pride

Viking Pride at the Dock in Linz, Austria
Linz (c) Linda Garrison
Arriving via bus in Linz before lunch, we had a welcome aboard drink to meet the Viking Pride crew. Joe, Simona, and Marek, our Neptune program managers, accompanied us from Vienna, but we had a new captain, hotel director, and other staff on the Viking Pride.

We couldn't help but notice (and laugh a little) at some of the subtle differences in the two ships. For example, the cucumbers were sliced rather than chopped, and our bathroom door was much heavier.

Although we were happy to be "heading in the right direction", the captain warned us that we might now be stuck in Linz, since there were very low bridges upstream. If the Viking Pride could not sail under them, we would have to take a bus to Nuremberg for disembarkation.

Linz, Austria - European Capital of Culture

Linz - Main City Square - Hauptplatz
Linz Main Square (c) Linda Garrison
After settling into the new cabins, which looked just like the old, we had lunch and took a walking tour of Linz. River ships dock very near the old town, so we could stroll into town and explore the fascinating streets, shops, and cafes. The sun finally came out for the first time in days, which we all took for a good omen.

Linz is only the third largest city in Austria, but it has numerous museums and cultural centers, with three new cultural sites located right on the Danube River. In 2009, Linz was named a European Capital of Culture.

Our time in Linz was short, but over dinner, several passengers commented on how well planned our move and tour of Linz had been executed. Viking certainly got an A+ for the transfer process.

Passau - City on Three Rivers

Inn River in Passau, Germany
Passau Germany on Three Rivers (c) Linda Garrison
The Viking Pride plowed upstream through the muddy waters of the Danube, reaching Lindau in the early morning. The park where ships normally dock in Passau was flooded, so we used buses to ride the four miles from Lindau to Passau. Here was another example of Viking management having to modify our schedule due to the floods--arranging for buses when passengers normally just walk from the dock to Passau.

Passau was as delightful as I remembered. We all paid very close attention to the flood marker, noting that this "minor" flood (the worst in six years) would not even warrant a mark.

Most passengers took the walking tour and attended the organ concert at the cathedral. We did the tour, but split off on our own for more free time in Passau.

Sailing from Passau Upstream

Dracula on the Viking Pride
Dracula, One of Eastern Europe's Most Famous Citizens (c) Linda Garrison
Time was running out. We had two ports left and only one day. The ship had one very low bridge to pass under, and the captain was not sure if the river level would go down enough the next day.

He laid out the plans. We would sail as far as possible towards Regensburg during the night. The next morning, buses would meet the ship and transfer us to Regensburg for a half-day tour. We would then ride the buses to Nuremberg, where we would have lunch and a short tour. Finally, we would rejoin the ship "somewhere on the Danube". The "somewhere" depended on the height of the river and how quickly the ship could sail upstream. It sounded exhausting.

That evening, Marek gave an excellent presentation on Romania's most famous citizen - Dracula.

Regensburg - Oldest City on the Danube and World Heritage Site

Regensburg on the Danube River in Germany
Regensburg (c) Linda Garrison
We were very appreciative that Viking management went to extraordinary efforts to hire more buses and schedule a lunch in Nuremberg for our group.

The bus ride to Regensburg was not as long as expected, although I fondly remembered previously docking just steps away from the stone bridge in the old town.

Everyone loved Regensburg, and we were there on a festival day, so the streets were packed with visitors, musicians, and kiosks selling all sorts of wares. We had another informative walking tour, with the highlight being at least five wedding parties. A Saturday in June is a popular choice! With over 1000 historical buildings and no bombings during World War II, Regensburg's World Heritage Site designation is easy to understand.

Nuremberg - Important Bavarian City from Medieval Times to World War II

Old Town Nuremberg
Old Town Nuremberg (c) Linda Garrison
We arrived in Nuremberg in time for lunch at a traditional brew house. The restaurant even had vats of beer in the dining room! It was great fun, and we enjoyed the sausages and beer. After lunch, we toured Nuremberg, taking in the sites linked to World War II such as the Nazi Party Rally Grounds and the Nuremberg trials courthouse. Our guides gave us free time in the old city, and many of us sampled a gingerbread cookie in the square. It started raining again, and I wondered how far the Viking Pride had been able to travel up the Danube.

After an exhausting day, the buses were quiet on the way back to the ship. The good news was that the Viking Pride had made it under the lowest bridge, with 2 inches to spare! It was time to pack for home.

Heading Home from the Viking Pride and the Danube River

Viking River Cruises - Eastern European Odyssey Itinerary Map
Eastern European Odyssey Itinerary Map Courtesy of Viking River Cruises
Although the Viking Pride had squeaked under the bridges, we still had about over an hour's ride to the Nuremberg airport the next day. Our group had traveled through the heat of Romania, the cold of Hungary, and the seven-day rain. In spite of the weather, the cruise was marvelous.

The complicated changing of ships and tours were well-planned and executed, and the efforts of Viking River Cruises to make our cruise a great one will always be appreciated.
 
As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary cruise accommodation for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our ethics policy.

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