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Samantha’s Danube Adventure with APT TravelMarvel on new ship Polaris

Wednesday 26th Jul 2023

One of our cruise specialists, Samantha, got to sample one of APT TravelMarvel’s amazing itineraries on one of their stunning new ships, Polaris, and she had the time of her life! Keep reading to find out more.

Our Group River Danube Our Group Cesky Krumlov Stiftdgymnasium, Melk French Balcony Cabin TravelMarvel Polaris Bikes Parked by The Ship True North Lounge and Bar

Day One

After meeting my fellow passengers and a very smooth flight from Manchester, our lovely TravelMarvel ship, Polaris, was waiting for us in Vienna. To say the ship stood out from the crowd would be an understatement, from the outside, she appeared modern and sleek, and I was curious about what lay inside. I was not disappointed as the contemporary design was carried throughout the ship. I felt instantly at ease thanks to the smart, natural furnishings and tasteful artwork.

My cabin was on the middle deck and had a superb French balcony; with the press of a button, the entire glass wall smoothly dropped to half height, providing stunning panoramic views. The cabin was well-equipped, with a queen bed and plenty of wardrobe and storage space. The shower room was spacious and included complimentary toiletries, a dressing gown, and slippers. The cabin also had a TV, a mini-bar, a safe, and a hairdryer - essential for us ladies!

Dinner was served at 7.30 p.m. in Constellations, the ship's main restaurant, which always features regional specialties. You can go to the True North Lounge for a lighter buffet option, which we did on one occasion. McGearey's Bar is an Irish pub that serves traditional pub fare - a very unique feature for a river cruise ship. Lunch and dinner are always accompanied by local wine, beer, and soft drinks, regardless of your choice of venue.

Exploring on Shore Excursions River Danube Cesky Krumlov Sightseeing in Cesky Krumlov The Group Enjoying the Local Cuisine Local Shop in Cesky Selfies in Cesky Krumlov Melk Abbey

Day Two

We headed to bed at a reasonable hour after a fairly hectic first day in preparation for day two of our Danube adventure, and at midnight, the ship set sail for Durnstein, our first port of call on this 3-night trip.”

The TravelMarvel Polaris docked only a 15-minute walk from the Durnstein Centre, making it an easy stroll for all walking abilities. This riverside town is one long road lined with beautiful small shops, bars, and restaurants nestled in vineyard-lined hills. There are side streets off the main street that serve traditional Austrian fare, more particularly apricots, which are a regional speciality. You can buy everything apricot themed, from soap to schnapps - of course, I had to try the latter because it would have been rude not to!

We set sail for the afternoon excursion to the picturesque town of Melk after returning to the ship for lunch. Our knowledgeable local guide accompanied us to Melk Abbey, one of Lower Austria's largest and most beautiful abbeys. The Benedictine monks have been living and working in the Abbey since 1089, and it was an honour to be able to explore their magnificent home. You arrive at the end of the tour in the most beautiful church, we took part in a silent moment of reflection that brought tears to my eyes.

Day Three

We arrived in the picture-perfect town in the neighbouring Czech Republic, Cesky Krumlov, after a two-hour coach ride. Cesky, I suppose, is best described as a mini-Prague. The historic town centre, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is dominated by a massive castle (complete with live-in bears - yes, real bears!). We went to town after touring the castle. Every time you turned a corner, there was a new shop or café painted in a different colour of the rainbow. With flowers surrounding the entrances, you could easily spend hours deciding which shop to visit to purchase the famous macaroons or more apricot schnapps! When your feet need a rest, visit the Vltava River, which runs through town. Sit down at one of the lakeside restaurants and unwind with a glass of wine and a plate of local goulash. You can see why this is my new favourite place, one that I will definitely return to one day, hopefully soon.

On our last evening together we were treated to a feast of Bavarian food in the dining room, followed by traditional music and dancing with a local Bavarian Oompah band - extremely entertaining, especially after a few glasses of complimentary beer - and so to bed!

Day Four

With a free morning and a few sore heads, we decided to unwind on the sundeck and soak up the last few sun rays in the outdoor jacuzzi. After a fantastic carvery lunch of gammon, pork and all the trimmings, it was time to say goodbye to our many new cruising friends and board the plane for our return to normal life.

In my 19 years at Blue Water Holidays, I've done a lot of cruising, from the Mekong to the Arctic, and I can honestly say that this APT cruise was one of my most memorable. Wonderful people, a fantastic ship, and amazing, breathtaking destinations.

River Danube I shall return!

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