January 06, 2024


Ep. 380 - Rolling on the River - The DCL Duo+ Sails the Danube with Adventures by Disney

Hosted by

Brian Sam
Ep. 380 - Rolling on the River - The DCL Duo+ Sails the Danube with Adventures by Disney
DCL Duo Podcast: A Disney Cruise Line Fan Podcast
Ep. 380 - Rolling on the River - The DCL Duo+ Sails the Danube with Adventures by Disney

Jan 06 2024 | 01:51:07


Show Notes

Join us as we share our first ever Adventures by Disney experience; a River Cruise aboard the stunning Ama Viola down the Danube from Germany to Budapest, Hungary. It's a Christmas Markets river cruise with all the top-notch Disney service we've come to love. From our time onboard, the food, the fabulous adventure guides, the amazing excurions and the sites in all of the cities we were able to visit -- we're discussing it all. Is an ABD river cruise or adventure for you and your family? Come hear all about the experience to help you decide. All that and more on this super-sized episode of the DCL Duo Podcast.

If you want to join the DCL Duo Inaugural Podcast Cruise aboard the Disney Magic for her three-night sailing on June 19, 2024 from Ft. Lauderdale to Nassau and Lookout Cay, you can head over our to our booking page at My Path Unwinding Travel to secure your room today!!

If you are looking to book your next Disney Cruise, then head over to My Path Unwinding Travel so Karen and her team of expert travel professionals can help you find the perfect vacation for you and your family.

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Speaker A: So I want to take a slightly different tack here. I have gone back and forth with this in my own mind. Like, would I do this kind of trip again? Welcome back, everybody, to this week's episode of the DCL duo podcast, brought to you by my path, unwinding travel and seeing am we're on a river. [00:00:26] Speaker B: We are. We're on the Danube to be exact. [00:00:28] Speaker A: And where are we docked? [00:00:30] Speaker B: We are in Einhartzel, Austria. We were supposed to start our tour in Wilshopen, Germany, but unfortunately the Danube water levels are actually just too high. That that dock was not even visible. It was covered with water. So we had to go to Einhartzel, Austria. And so we were transported over here via bus. We boarded the beautiful Ama Viola, which is a river cruise ship. She holds 160 something passengers. We have apparently 155 passengers on board. There were a couple of very last minute cancellations. She's a beautiful ship. I would say immaculate. Like, I think Disney cruise line ships are clean. This ship is immaculate and elegant. What do you think, Brian? [00:01:17] Speaker A: Well, I'll give my thoughts on the ship a little later, Sam, but we need to rewind because we skipped way ahead in this adventure. So we arrived into Munich this past Thursday at 730. In the morning we were greeted by an adventure guide. Just to kind of give you a sense, we are on an adventures by Disney Trip. Adventures by Disney is the luxury end of touring with Disney. So they do land based vacations, they do river cruise vacations. They have the around the world trip with the private jet experience. So the high end of Disney travel, I would say this adventure that we're on is a river cruise for the Christmas markets. As Sam said, it was supposed to leave out of Wilshofen, Germany, but we had our embarkation port moved on. Us weren't notified about that until after we arrived in Germany. Actually, I think it was late on Thursday evening when we arrived that we got an email from adventures by Disney that the embarkation port was changing. More on that maybe in a second, but we were put up by Adventures by Disney at the Westin grand, greeted by adventures by Disney, not the guides, but by transportation from the airport to get us to the Westin grand in Munich. We talked a little bit about our stay in Munich over on our Patreon channel. So we have a special feed for our patreons where we do some bonus content just for them. So if you want to hear more about what we got up to in Munich for the two days that we were there, you can head over and join our [email protected] dclduo but on Saturday around noon, we were back at the Weston grand for a departure to the ship at 01:00 p.m. It was a two and a half hour bus ride. It was supposed to be about a two hour bus ride from the Weston to Vilshofen, but we instead came to idolhartzen Einhardtl Sam was correcting me, so arrived at the beautiful Amaviola. Sam said she is a gorgeous river cruise boat. We'll have some pictures and videos up online so you can see the difference between what an ocean going liner looks like and a river cruise looks like. It's basically a very long barge. The front end of the boat. We have all of the common spaces for the most part. So a lounge, the dining room, the main entry and exit way on the back of the boat is a chef's table restaurant that we'll be experiencing later this week and we'll talk to you about that. Up on the third deck is kind of promenade area, a pool, which we will not be using. It's probably the size of a hot tub, actually, but we're going to go check it out later just to see what it looks like. There is somewhere on the ship an exercise center because we have met the head trainer on board. Although many people have chuckled, they are not doing stretching at 06:00 in the morning on this adventure with the head drainer. But some common spaces, a small store, that sort of stuff. So the lounge is kind of the hub of the ship. So lots of seating in here. They have food and snacks out throughout the day and the bar. And then everyone migrates downstairs one level for dinner or lunch, depending on the time. And Entertainment is also conducted in the lounge. So anyway, it's kind of the hub of the ship and that's where we're sitting right now as we record when we got here. Boarding is much easier than anything you've ever experienced on Disney Cruise line. We basically walked into the lounge, had some drinks, there were some snacks out circulating, and they brought our luggage on board and took it right into the staterooms once all the luggage was on board, I think we waited here for probably 15 to 20 minutes while they got all the luggage off the buses into the staterooms. And then they started calling us up, essentially floor by floor, since we're on the third floor. We were first up, I think we were probably fifth or 6th to check in. Basically, we given a key card, they take our picture and our passport information, and then we were guided to our room by one of the staff on board the ship. Our room is lovely, I think. Sam. [00:04:46] Speaker B: Yeah, let me just say it's very small. So for those who are used to Disney cruise line spacing, it's much smaller than that, but it's beautiful. It's very well decorated. It's very efficient. There is a decent amount of closet space. There's not really any drawer space, but there is shelving space in the closet. And the bathroom is tiny, but completely, perfectly, efficiently made. Basically, the entire room is very efficient, but it's very small. And we brought too much luggage. [00:05:18] Speaker A: Yeah, and the luggage barely fits under the bed, but we managed to stow all of our stuff. Most river cruise ships, the rooms will accommodate two, but because adventures by Disney has partnered with almond waterways, these ships have been sort of built to accommodate families. So our room will actually sleep three. It has a queen size ish bed, perfectly comfortable and nice. And then there's a chair which imagine sort of a sleeper pull out couch, but just cut down the middle, maybe even a little bit more than the middle. It's maybe slightly smaller even than a single bed, but it's a chair that pulls out, has a thinish mattress on it, but fine for Nathan. He's perfectly comfortable in it. And they folded away during the day, so we have a bit more space. Our room does have a small balcony, which not all the rooms do. So our room has a small balcony. It's considered both an indoor and outdoor balcony. So there's a balcony space where there's two chairs you can sit outside. And then the space where Nathan's sort of sleeping chair is, is another kind of indoor. I think they call it a french balcony or something like that, where you can kind of sit and watch the water go by in the colder months. But the room is lovely. First evening on board, we have the welcome reception. So all of the adventure guides come. All of the staff from on board the ship, I should say the officers, heads of department come introduce themselves. And yes, on a river cruise, we have to do a muster drill. So the captain gives his speech. They show how to put on your life preservers, give some safety tips for around on the ship, shows where the alarms are, what the mustard alarm will sound like, and all of those sorts of things. So is a mustard gel. It's in person, but it's held in a lounge with drinks. So that's already a step above what you have to do on Disney cruise line these days. Then the adventure guides put on a little sort of show to talk about all the different activities and information and sort of basics of being on the adventure and what we needed to know about. There's a whole system of getting colored cards in the morning, depending on what excursion you're doing. And then they align those colored cards to the colored paddle of power, they call it for adventures by Disney. And that gets you back on your right, correct buses, all that sort of stuff. So anyway, they give you a bunch of basic information and background on ABd. And then after that, we had a little Oktoberfest celebration. They brought in some musicians to play some Oktoberfest songs and do some dancing and teach some dancing to folks, which was a lot of fun. It was supposed to be about an hour. It turned out to be about a half hour because of the delays in sort of getting us here, the bus is having to come further. Everything was kind of running a little bit behind, but still lovely, lovely little October fest celebration. Lots of free beer, wine, champagne circulating the room, bavarian pretzels, since we were supposed to start in Bavaria in Vilshofen. So nice little start to the evening. And then, Sam, we headed downstairs for dinner. You want to talk a little bit about the dinner situation? [00:07:55] Speaker C: Sure. [00:07:55] Speaker B: The dining room is self seated, meaning you select essentially where you want to sit, although the servers will kind of guide you to help you find a table that will accommodate your size party. You can sit just your party or you can sit with another party. Depending upon the size, the tables, I think the maximum table was like, most of them are like four, six, maybe. There's a couple of eight tops. By the time we got there, we actually sat at a six person table, but it ended up just being the three of us. The food was lovely. Very, I would say, upscale. Know the titles and descriptions might be similar to what you see on Disney cruise line, but the quality is, I would say, more fine dining than what Disney cruising main dining is. Let me be clear. It's not Remy or enchante. It's not tasting menu food, but it is definitely a finer level of dining. They do have some kids food, though. So Nathan had a hamburger, and I think tomato soup is his starter. Brian and I both had a shrimp cake starter, and then we both actually ordered fish sea bass dish. That was lovely. We were so full that we ate some cheese for dessert, but couldn't eat one of the regular desserts because it was just like so much food. Oh, and wine is included with dinner. So there's a choice of red and a choice of white. We had white wine and I will say that our glasses never got even close to half full or half or even close to empty. Because the. I don't know if she's a sommelier, but the wine steward, sommelier, whatever her title is, literally came over and was refilling our glasses, like every 5 seconds, including our water glasses. So it's a much smaller, more intimate experience. There is only one dining seating, so everybody's in the dining room at the same time. Unless you are eating at the chef's table, which is, I think, more of a tasting menu experience. As Brian said, we'll do that later in the experience. [00:09:52] Speaker A: Yeah, I got to echo. The food was fantastic. I would say the service is top notch at Disney cruise line level, maybe slightly even above because they have fewer tables that they kind of have to deal with. I'd also say it's fine dining from, like, the plating and visual perspective of the food is very well done. I thought it was. The food was delicious last night. Breakfast was great. This morning we had lunch. We'll talk about in a second. So food has always been good, but your only options for food on board really are that kind of main dining room, the chef's table at dinner. And then they have kind of called an express version of breakfast and lunch that they serve in the lounge. We've not experienced that. We've just done the ala carte so far. So if we do experience that, we will be sure to let you know after dinner. Last night, we did come back up to the lounge. They had some brought in some, I would say operatic singers from Salzburg, actually. And they did some both traditional german songs, austrian songs, as well as Christmas carols, of course. They sang Eidelweiss, which was just beautiful and lovely. Sam and I had a chance to get up and dance the minuet. They called for some volunteers, actually, the lovely woman came over and asked if I would dance with her. And I said no, but I would dance with Samantha. And so she agreed to teach us the minuet together. And so we danced the menuette with another couple. Actually, there were two couples up there. And so had a lovely time, a lovely evening. And at that point, things just kind of winded down. Ship kind of winds down at 1030 because you're up early for adventures. So with the adventures by Disney river cruise, you have your morning where you select something, or they have the whole ship doing something together, and then you have your afternoon. And so most days you're kind of picking something to do in the morning or joining the group activity in the morning. And then picking something to do in the evening. Maybe there's choices, right? So, for instance, this morning we were up at 630 to get showered and ready and we were at breakfast at seven. Nice ala carte breakfast. I had a salmon bagel, Sam had a sort of egg breakfast, and Nathan had some oatmeal and some bacon. It was all very delicious and hot, fresh. I thought it was really lovely breakfast. Then we came up to the lounge by about eight to meet the adventure guides. The entire ship was doing the same tour this morning, so we were bust over to Pasau, where we were supposed to be docked. That was our first stop after Vil Chauvin was Passao, but we are downriver from Pasau, so they bust us over there. It was about a half hour, 45 minutes bus ride tops, to Pasau, where we met some tour guides who were in period costumes and they did a walking tour of Pasau. One of the nice things from the ship is that they have these assistive listening devices, so they give one to the guide wherever we're going, and then we wear one around our neck with headphones. And so as the tour group kind of spreads out, we can still hear all the instructions and the history and everything quite clearly. You've probably seen these in like museum tours and stuff, but they're in all the staterooms of the ship, so you just bring them with you. But had a lovely, lovely tour, learned a lot of the history. Sam wants to share some of what she experienced. So, Sam, I thought that our tour. [00:12:41] Speaker B: Guide, Maria, was fantastic. She really taught us a lot about pass out. And I think the thing that was a real highlight for me was the way she did it was very interactive. So each of us got to be essentially a different character in the story or in a story of Pasau's history. So at one point I was a thief who got kind of strung up chained to a building and know horse feces and other things thrown at me. At one point, Brian was a plague victim when the doctor came to treat him. The doctor then, of course, got sick and died. Nathan was actually an inanimate object. He got to be a boulder or essentially an old style cannonball when the bishop was trying to quell any resistance from the townspeople who wanted to overthrow his dictatorship. So really interesting, a really fun way to do it. After the tour, we headed to marzipan making class, which I would say was more marzipan modeling class. So we were essentially were in a confectionery store where we got to have a little piece of pink colored marzipan, which is essentially an almond and sugar paste. And we got to model them into little pigs, lucky pigs specifically. It was really fun. It was a cute activity. Everybody essentially, from the ship got to do these two things, the walking tour and then the marzipan modeling class. But we did it in groups, so we weren't all at the same place at the same time. And then following that marzipan modeling class, we got to just have some time on our own. I'd say we had about 40 minutes to walk around Pasau on our own. And it was kind of perfect timing because the Christmas market in Pasau was just opening for the day. It was opening at eleven. I think we finished our tour, maybe 1040, 1050. And we had just under an hour to really walk around the market, do some shopping before we headed back to our buses to head back to the ship. As Brian mentioned, we did have lunch on board the ship. People who were doing a brewery tour, which was a different excursion than what we had for the afternoon, they stayed in Pasau and had lunch on their own. So basically, adventures by Disney gave them each a stipend for lunch. I believe it was about 25 euro per person. And they went and have lunch on their own. And then they met up for transport to their brewery tour. Whereas those of us who were doing what they called the treetops Christmas market all came back to the ship to have lunch for lunch. They had two options. It was an October fest kind of, or bavarian themed lunch. But we went to the restaurant where we ordered off the menu. But we were given starters that were all bavarian food. So they had a white sausage, they had a fried calamari, they had some ham or prosciutto type cured meat. And Nathan had a chicken noodle soup and a Mac and cheese off the kids menu. He said the Mac and cheese was as good, or almost as good as Mickey's Mac and cheese. It was definitely a fancier Mac and cheese than what they serve on Disney cruise line. But he seemed to really enjoy. In fact, I think he ate all of his Mac and cheese. And Brian and I both ordered essentially what they called the sandwich of the day, which was a ham and cheese sandwich on a pretzel roll with a bavarian mustard and some gerkins and of course, french fries. So really nice lunch. And then I'll let Brian talk about what we did after lunch. [00:16:16] Speaker A: Yeah. So after lunch we joined a tour that was going to. It was called the Treetops tour. And so in the summertime, they would take you up to this, which is essentially, I think, like a state park almost up in the mountains from where we're docked. And they would do like, ropes courses and things like that, but in the winter it's too cold and that stuff is closed. And so instead they have a Christmas market tucked into this forest. And so we bust up the winding roads up to this wooded, forested area. Got off, walked about ten or 15 minutes into the forest. And there was kind of a large Christmas market there. Very rustic, sort of like being at campground kind of thing. But they were serving all kinds of fun. Punch and glue, wine. And Nathan had some potato tornadoes, which were kind of fresh made potato chips on a stick, basically. And then I tried some toast with some cold potato on top of it. I've got to ask one of our adventure guys, Joshua, who lives in the area, if he knows what that was. But it was good. Not sure I'd seek it out again, but it was good. Wandered around, looked at some of the handcrafts, stood by some open fires for warmth. We had about two and a half hours on our own at this Christmas market. The name of the Christmas market, Sam is telling me, is Wald Weinoct. And so it was really interesting. It was probably one of the more unique Christmas markets. We experienced it. Today was the last day of the market itself, so also kind of an opportune time to go see it. I would say for me, of the activities of the day, this was the weakest. Just because two and a half hours on our own at this market and the freezing, freezing cold in the middle of the forest was a little much, but enjoyed seeing it. I wish it had been maybe an hour shorter or that they had had kind of like at least a half hour to 45 minutes kind of guided tour. I don't know why this market exists in the middle of the forest. I don't know if there's any sort of history or tradition to it, and would have been interesting to learn that and understand that they did have some lovely entertainment at the market. They had a massive stage and they were having carol singers and things like that up there. So it was a nice time overall. We were freezing by the time we got back, but hopped back aboard the buses and came back to the ship, dropped off our stuff, grabbed the recorder, and now are sitting in the lounge recording this part of the show. I think Sam wants to bring Nathan in to talk about some of the things we've experienced. So let's head over to Nathan before we wrap up. [00:18:29] Speaker B: Day two here, Nathan, I need your review of first, let's talk the ship and our stateroom. What do you think of it as compared to, like, Disney Cruise line? [00:18:40] Speaker D: I think they're about the same, but smaller. [00:18:44] Speaker B: Yeah. What's missing, though, on the river cruise that you have on a large Disney cruise ship? [00:18:50] Speaker D: The kids club. [00:18:51] Speaker B: Yeah. Is that a little bit of a bummer? [00:18:54] Speaker D: Yeah. [00:18:55] Speaker B: Let's talk about what you did at the Christmas markets this afternoon. Did you try a new treat at the Christmas market in the one that was in the forest? [00:19:04] Speaker D: Yeah. [00:19:04] Speaker B: Tell me, what was it called? [00:19:06] Speaker D: Tornado potato. [00:19:08] Speaker B: And tell me, can you tell me what it is or describe it to me? [00:19:11] Speaker D: It's a potato chip in a spiral shape on a wooden stick. [00:19:16] Speaker B: And what did you think of it? Was it tasty? Was it icky? How would you describe it? [00:19:21] Speaker D: It was good. It tasted like a long potato chip, but some parts were soft that didn't taste good. [00:19:27] Speaker B: So the better parts were the parts that were crunchy, is what you're saying? [00:19:31] Speaker D: Yeah. [00:19:31] Speaker B: What have you thought about the food on board the Amaviola river cruise ship? [00:19:36] Speaker D: It's good. [00:19:37] Speaker B: What did you think about your hamburger last night and french fries? [00:19:42] Speaker D: They were okay. [00:19:45] Speaker B: All right. Not as good as Disney cruise line hamburger, definitely. Okay. What about the Mac and cheese you had today for lunch on board the almola? [00:19:54] Speaker D: The same as Mickey's Mac and cheese? [00:19:57] Speaker B: Yeah. It didn't taste the same. But you're saying it was equal in yumminess, is that what you're saying? [00:20:02] Speaker D: In tastiness. [00:20:04] Speaker B: In tastiness. Okay, so you really liked the Mac and cheese today? [00:20:08] Speaker D: Yeah. [00:20:09] Speaker B: That sounds great. What are you looking forward to on this cruise? Are you looking forward to any activities tonight? [00:20:15] Speaker D: Yeah, I'm looking forward to the pickle hunt and the junior adventurers buffet. [00:20:21] Speaker B: Yes. So tonight, Nathan is going to get to experience a couple of activities we're going to do, I think, a pickle hunt on board. They're also going to be doing a Christmas tree decorating. So we may or may not participate in that. We'll kind of see how it goes, play it by ear. And then Nathan is going to go to have dinner with the junior adventurers, which is going to have a buffet up here in the lounge. While Brian and I head to the dining room for dinner. Nathan, I forgot to ask you about pasau. That was where the town we went to this morning and how we did the tour when you were the. I'll call it a cannonball. And then we did the marzipan modeling. We made those lucky pigs. What part of the day did you like the best, would you say Mars pan making? What did you like about it? [00:21:05] Speaker D: It was fun to get to sculpt a pig. [00:21:08] Speaker B: Yeah, I thought that was pretty fun, too. All right, well, thank you, Nathan. We appreciate your opinion. I think our listeners always appreciate hearing from you. [00:21:16] Speaker A: Yeah. So we'll wrap it up there. We're headed into dinner, actually, headed into a little cocktail hour and a briefing on the day's activities for tomorrow. And we'll be back tomorrow, hopefully in the afternoon, to talk to you about those, but have dinner tonight that we're looking forward to. And some more entertainment coming on board. Some. It sounds like classical guitar players are coming on board this evening and. Yeah, more to come. Thanks for listening. All right, we are back, and as much as we had intended to record each day of the trip, this trip has been jam packed activities, morning, afternoon, and in some cases, evening. Actually, in every case, evening. And so we are actually on our last day in Vienna, which means we only have one more full day left on board tomorrow in Budapest before we disembark. So got a lot of ground to cover because we did a lot of stuff. So we last left you. We had been discussing the treetop markets, and we were getting ready for dinner on our second evening, if we can believe that. Had a lovely dinner in the dining room, I'd say, as we said earlier in the show, the food on board has been fantastic. Just top notch all the way around. I think Sam tried some consume. We both had a stuffed chicken dish that was very, very good. Enjoyed it. They had guitar playing in the lounge that evening, so they have entertainment in the lounge every evening. They've also had late night bites every night at 1030. We've only experienced that once, which we'll talk about in a minute. But they do have snacks out at 1030 if you're still hungry, which is hard to imagine, given the amount of food out on this ship. I did want to say they don't have, like, snacks in the lounge during the day. So if you are on the ship, there's not a lot available to eat in the lounge. They do a tea time from four to five every day, but there's no snacks really sitting out. They have, like, water and some cookies and some unsweetened iced tea. The bar isn't manned necessarily all day. It's just manned kind of at certain times when they know it'll be busier. So finding food in between kind of set snack and meal times is a little tricky. [00:23:08] Speaker B: But coffee and tea is available because they do have a coffee machine that you can self serve, like lattes, espresso, that sort of a thing. [00:23:16] Speaker A: So, as I said, they had guitar playing that evening in the lounge. We were exhausted after our travels and the first day on board and touring in the city, so did not stay up for the guitar playing. We heard great things. All the entertainment on board has been fantastic. But we called it an evening and went to bed and woke up the next morning in Lintz, Austria. [00:23:35] Speaker B: So our day in Lintz started, of course, with breakfast on board, the beautiful amaviola. Pretty much every day we've had the sit down breakfast. They also have, I'll call it an express breakfast buffet up in the lounge. But the sit down breakfast is quite good and also quite efficient. Like, it's served pretty fast, so you can order your eggs or your waffle or whatever, and they bring it fairly quickly. The one thing. This was the earliest morning. So we met in the lounge at 07:40 a.m. We were headed on the Salt mine and Salzburg tour, which meant we went first to the salt mine, which is actually at the border of Austria and Germany. Most of it is in Austria, but part of the underground tour in the mine is actually in Germany. And so we spent most of the beginning of the morning there, and then we headed into the city of Salzburg, where we got a tour. I will say this was a fantastic excursion. If anyone who's listening ever does the Danube river cruise, whether on ama, waterways or another cruise line, I highly recommend doing the Salt mine tour. This was also a full day, so we were out the entire day. So the morning was the salt mine. Then we headed to lunch at what I would call a brewery restaurant nearby. And that was actually really good. It was a large buffet. The one thing I would say is there were a couple of people with some fairly significant dietary restrictions, gluten free and other allergies, and there was not much available for particular. One of the guests that we had been hanging out with that day, they ended up making her an unbreaded schnitzel, so she was able to have some meat, but other than that, all she had was potatoes. So really on the ship, I think they're great with dietary stuff. But around in Europe, I would say just harder with certain dietary restrictions. [00:25:32] Speaker A: I just want to go back to the salt mines for a minute because I want to echo what Sam said. That is like a don't miss attraction. If you are ever in the area, I'd say within an hour or two drive of it, it is spectacular. So we got there, we had to put on special suits. We rode this miners train into the mountain. And, I mean, you were literally in an abandoned salt mine. Abandoned is the wrong word because it's well maintained, but a no longer functioning salt mine. So you ride this, like, miners train in. It looks nothing like an actual train. It's more like a log boom that you're straddling on wheels. And it wheels you into the salt mine. Takes about two to five minutes to get into the mountain. From there, you start walking in these tunnels. They take you through all of these really interesting exhibits so you can learn more about salt mining and its impact on the region. You get to go down these fun miner slides. There's actually a lake inside the mountain. And you get to do, like, an informative little boat ride through the lake with all of these light shows and things like that. You cross the border between Austria and Germany twice under the mountain. And for reference, you're at one point, I don't remember what the deepest point was, but it was like 200 meters or something underneath the mountain. You're down in, like, prehistoric mining pieces or prehistoric mining tunnels. And then a lot of people asked on our instagram because we posted a ton of photos about the experience, like, okay, so you got into the mountain. How'd you get out? That's the boring part. That was just an escalator up to the top. They did have a fun little gift shop that had, like, fun little salt artifacts in it, and you could buy salt and stuff like that. It was really, really well done. It was a great mix of information, interactivity, fun little things. Was comparing it to, like, the mine train, the seven dwarves mine train at one point, big Thunder mountain, pirates of the Caribbean. And I gotta say, the adventure guy that we had, Danny, was hilarious, because when we started the boat ride, he sort of kicked it off in the back with dead men, tell no tale. So anyway, it was really, really fun. Nathan, what did you think about the salt mine tour that we did when we were docked in lint? [00:27:27] Speaker D: It was really fun. [00:27:28] Speaker A: What did you like most about it? [00:27:30] Speaker D: The slide. [00:27:31] Speaker A: There were two slides, right? Did you like the longer one, the shorter one? [00:27:35] Speaker D: The longer one. [00:27:36] Speaker A: You also picked up a little collectible from the salt mine, right? [00:27:39] Speaker D: Yeah, I picked up a rock from around 600ft under the ground. [00:27:44] Speaker A: Yeah. So Nathan was pretty excited about that salt mine tour. As Sam said, we had a nice buffet lunch at a restaurant in town, and from there we headed into Salzburg, which is, as its name suggests, a city built by salt so it was the beneficiary of all the salt being mined in and around the area. So create a lot of wealth and built the town up. It was a lovely, lovely little town. We did a walking tour and then had some free time on our own to explore some Christmas markets. What did you think of Salzburg, Sam? [00:28:11] Speaker B: I thought Salzburg was beautiful, definitely, I would say, like a rich little city, not just rich in money, but rich in history. It's, of course, the birthplace of Mozart. So we got to see where Mozart's original birthplace home was. And then we, of course, got to see where his home was that he lived in. A little bit later in life. We also got to see where Christian Doppler's home, who discovered the Doppler effect. So that was another cool thing, as well as see some stumbling stones on the ground that were more recently in history put in, which are these little. I'll call them, like golden plaques that are to commemorate different groups of people who were victims of the Holocaust. And so it's sort of a nod to the history of Austria, of course, being conquered by the nazi regime. So a town really full of history. We also saw the garden. That was where part of the sound of music was filmed. Of course, the sound of music has a lot of roots in Salzburg. Anyway, it was, I would say, a great day where we also got to hit up some of the Christmas markets as well. So a really nice day after finishing up our time in Salzburg, when we transferred via bus back to the ship for dinner. [00:29:29] Speaker A: Yeah, I just want to say Salzburg reminded me the most of, like, Venice, where these alleyways you could peel off of so big main streets where you could kind of know shops and things like that. And you could peel off into an alleyway that was connected by Galleria. It was just a really quaint, quaint little town to visit. The old town area was quaint and nice to visit. So definitely a fun little trip, but a long bus ride back to where we were docked in Lintz. I think it's interesting because we saw none of. So, like, we were docked in Lintz, but we didn't do anything in Lintz, which is something I want to talk about a little later, show my impressions of river cruising overall, but got back to the ship and it was time for sip and sail. So every night on the cruise, they do an hour before dinner, they do a sip and sale menu. And so there's a drink of the day and some other drinks that are on the house. Liquor, beer, wine, soft drinks, all sorts of stuff that you get for that hour is just on the house. And so they've had different drinks of the day throughout the cruise. They had not a seabreeze, but a bay breeze, I think it was called. They've had, you know, just fun drinks for sip and sail. Time for everyone to come together in the lounge before dinner and chat and talk before we all take over the main dining room. So it was a really lovely evening for dinner that evening, we had a dinner that was to celebrate the french heritage of Ama waterways. They are a member of the Shen de Rotissures, which is a fine dining club and recognizes fine dining, restaurants. And you become a member of the Shen and basically you get invited to these special dinners all over the world. So my parents were members of the Shen at one point and took some trips to some of their dinners and things like that. So really celebrating french cooking, we had a really lovely dinner that evening. French dinner. So they had onion soup. They had cream of saffron, smoked salmon. Appetizers they had for main course. The star of the show was a mustard crusted rack of lamb with thyme sauce, zucchini, creamy artichokes, and potato grotten. They had crepe suzette for dessert. Meanwhile, I think this was this evening they had the kids dinner, the first kids dinner. Sam's nodding yes. So three times throughout the cruise, they've brought the kids together to do dinner together so the parents can eat in the dining room, just adults. And so let's ask Nathan about that. Nathan, what do you think of the kids dinners on board? [00:31:48] Speaker D: They're fun because you get to hang out with other kids. [00:31:52] Speaker A: What kind of food do they have? You eat at the kids'dinners? [00:31:55] Speaker D: Like, what's available usually fries, burger and spaghetti. [00:32:02] Speaker A: So not crep suzette? [00:32:03] Speaker D: No, but they do have ice cream for dessert. [00:32:06] Speaker A: And do they do fun activities during the kids dinner to keep you entertained? Do they do movies or games or anything? [00:32:11] Speaker D: Like do? Yeah, sometimes they'll do movies or games or something fun. [00:32:18] Speaker A: So, yeah, Nathan, it's a way for the kids to come together and make friends. And Nathan seems to enjoy doing those kids dinners that night. So I think we mentioned earlier on the show, but in case not just about every night on the cruise, they've done something or they've tried to commemorate one of the adventure guides kind of traditions, family traditions. So every night at dinner, for instance, one of the adventure guides, I think we said this celebrates the feast of the twelve fishes. So they have a fish dish on the menu that commemorates her tradition. We did movie night on this third night of the cruise to commemorate one of the adventure guides traditions. Normally, they would watch Mickey's Christmas Carol, but we watched. [00:32:55] Speaker B: We watched frozen. And if we hadn't had enough, dinner at the Shinduro Tesora dinner, of course, there was popcorn and there was a hot chocolate bar with marshmallows, which was actually Danny, one of our adventure guides. His tradition was the hot chocolate bar and, of course, candy and snacks. So there was a ton of snacks and, of course, frozen being played in the lounge. The movie started, I want to say, around 930. So we didn't stay for the whole thing. We stayed for maybe an hour of movie night and then went to bed. Just one thing I want to mention. In addition to the holiday movie night and these traditions, we've been getting stockings. We have a stocking on our door that the crew, I think it's actually the adventure guides put on. And so every night, we've been getting some kind of treat in our stockings. So the night before movie night, we got in our stockings, movie tickets, which were telling us, announcing the movie night, along with some little candy canes and some Hanukkah gelt, just to sort of kick off the holiday gifting. And then I think the second night, we got a nice little wooden ornament. The third day or third night, we put out our shoes for St. Nicholas day, and our shoes ended up with big St. Nicholas chocolates in them. And then the fourth night, or I guess this was the fifth night, because there wasn't anything. The first night we had, our stockings were filled with some kind of wafer chocolate from a local company, memen, I believe it's called. I think it's an austrian chocolate company. So every night, we've been given some kind of a gift in our stockings for the holidays. And actually, tonight, we will have a gift exchange amongst the passengers. So we were all given €10 to go buy a gift, and there will be, like, a white elephant gift exchange. But moving on, after we went to bed on the night in linst, we then sailed to milk, also in Austria. So we arrived in milk in the morning. And, Brian, what did we do? Oh, in melk. [00:34:58] Speaker A: So in milk, we had the opportunity to go to a benedictine abbey. We decided to sleep in, because what they did is they said that they were going to take a group to the abbey, and then that group was going to go onward to a story of the Danube experience in Melk. But they would have buses that would take folks sort of midmorning over to the same story of the Danube experience, kind of wanted to go see the abbey. They didn't allow any sort of filming or photography inside the abbey. And I misunderstood the description about the abbey. I thought that it was going to be a bunch of kind of like seminars on fishing and some other things, which turned out to be what we did at the story of the Tanube. And so I really wanted to go to the abbey and tour the abbey and hear the history of the abbey, but I misunderstood the description. So we opted to sleep in instead and skip the abbey. I'm sure it's beautiful. Beautiful. It is one of the few benedictine abbeys in the area. It's now been, as I read up, on the history of a decommissioned. Because a lot of the abbots had died off. But beautiful, beautiful abbey. We could see it from the ship. So we got up kind of late after sleeping in, had some breakfast, again as a sit down breakfast, and then hopped a coach over to, I'm going to forget the name of it, but this small palace and milk, where we rotated kind of from station to station to station, small groups, and each station was a blast. So we started off with Sam's telling me the palace was named Schlossleberg or something along those lines. It looked more like a mansion than a palace in my mind, but nice, nice place. Basically, we rotate through different stations. As I was saying, the first station we did was about was dancing, actually. We did some austrian dancing, have some great video of Sam and Nathan dancing, and we put some up on our instagram. But we learned some traditional austrian dancing as a small group, which is a lot of fun. Each of these stations took about maybe 2025, maybe 30 minutes at the most. After dancing, we moved outside to learn about the tradition of fishing and fish cooking in the area. And so we talked about the kinds of fish that come out of the Danube and how they're prepared, and we got to taste some smoked trout or some smoked trout that they were making over a fire pit that they had caught the day before. It was delicious and interesting to hear about the history of fishing there. After that, we went into the kitchen, and we met a nice woman who was making fresh apricot marmalade. And Nathan got to help out. He got to stir the marmalade and the sugar together in the pot and cook it down. So learn the process and the ingredients to make apricot marmalade, which is a specialty, I guess they call it apricot jam, but it's marmalade because it has the skins in it, but it's a traditional dish that they make here or in milk? In and around milk, because they grow lots of apricots. They have apricot trees down by the river. So learned how to make some apricot jam. Got some apricot jam to take home with us, which was a nice little treat. Everyone loved Nathan's cooking skills, so that was a lot of fun. After we did the apricot jam, then we moved into wine tasting, because the wine valley here, the river valley, is home to many, many wineries, a lot of really delicious white wines. So we had some lovely white wines to taste and then learned a bit, a little bit about each of the wines. After tasting the wines, obviously any good ride ends with a gift shop. So stopped in the gift shop, got some apricot brandy or apricot, actually, apricot schnapps, and then picked up a bottle of one of the wines that we really enjoyed. And then it was back to the bus and back to the ship. But before we get back to the ship, Nathan, do you remember the tour we did with the apricot jam making and the fish and all that stuff? What did you like most about that? [00:38:36] Speaker D: Getting to stir the apricot jam. [00:38:39] Speaker A: Did you like the taste of the apricot jam? [00:38:41] Speaker D: It was okay. [00:38:42] Speaker A: What about learning about fishing and stuff? Did you enjoy those educational things? Yeah, he says, with kind of a smirk on his face. I think he's saying that because he feels like he has to say it. What about the dancing? Did you have fun dancing? [00:38:53] Speaker D: Yeah, but it was tiring. [00:38:55] Speaker A: Was tiring. You had a hard part with, like, a spin that you and mommy had to do, right? [00:38:59] Speaker D: Yeah, but Mike kept going counterclockwise when you had to go clockwise. [00:39:04] Speaker A: There you have it. So anyway, it was back on the bus and back to the ship for some lunch on board, it was all aboard at 01:00 p.m. The Amaviola, because we actually got to do some sailing down the Danube during the day. So most of the time that we've been on the ship, the boat has sailed from port to port at night. So all aboard has been as late as one in the morning. And the ship is not moving super far, so they can do all of their sailing at night. The ship like this. We can pull up alongside the dock at 08:00 a.m. And be off at 815. We haven't seen a customs official here, but basically the crew just gets off, plugs the ship in, ties it up and we're ready to go. I don't know how it works exactly on the river, but I'd love to find out. But we do most of our sailing at night. And this day, we got to sail during the day. And so we got to see some sights along the Danube. We passed some just amazing castles and small towns. And got to see vineyards and plateaued farming. And just all kinds of really interesting stuff. Other boat traffic. And then we ended up docking in cremes. So docked in Cremes. Sam wanted me to point out that while we were sailing, they also had some activities on board. They had an ice cream party for everyone. And they also did some gingerbread cookie decorating, which they've done a couple of times on the ship. But gingerbread cookie making, that Sam and Nathan did. Sam, how was the gingerbread cookie making? We really didn't do the ice cream social, but it looked like delicious ice cream with lots of toppings. But how was the gingerbread cookie making? [00:40:29] Speaker B: It was quite fun. You got to choose which kind of gingerbread cookie you wanted to decorate. So they had, like, hearts, they had trees, they had gingerbread men, which is what Nathan and I both chose. And they had all kinds of icings and candies. So that you could decorate in lots of different ways. So we were at a bunch of tables. We were in, actually, the room where the chef's tasting dinner is held, which holds maybe 20 people. And so that's where we were all set up for gingerbread decorating. It was quite a fun time. We did not keep our gingerbread cookies. They told us that the cookies were not the best tasting cookies. And so it was just, we wanted to decorate, take a picture. And then we were kind of all done with it. [00:41:09] Speaker A: Yeah. So, in cremes in the afternoon, we had an opportunity to do basically one of two things. One was an excursion that would take bus us about ten minutes back upriver. We sailed past the ruins of Dernstein Castle. In a small town called Dernstein. And has an old roman wall running from the castle down to the city. It's lovely, lovely ruins for historical purposes. But we've gotten on a bus and gone ten minutes back toward that and done a guided tour. Dernstein is a very small town. And so we were told that no Christmas market to speak of, no shops open or anything like that. And so we instead opted to get off and walk into the town of Remy on our own. And explore kind of the Christmas market. I'd say Cremes is fairly underwhelming as compared to some of the other cities we've been in. It's a very small town. And I keep meaning to ask our cruise manager what people who live in cremes do. Are they commuting into Vienna or to Salzburg or to one of the other cities? And this is like a bedroom community of that town. It looks like a lot of very nice buildings and homes, but the streets felt mostly empty. Not a lot of people around. The Christmas market was really just kind of like a long street with shops. And there were some stalls here and there serving glue wine, and some handicrafts and things like that. Saw a couple of lovely churches. But basically we spent probably about an hour and a half off the ship. It was about a ten to 15, maybe 20 minutes walk into town, walked around town and then I think, stopped for a glass of glue wine and came back to the ship. Stopped at a little park right off the dock for Nathan to spend some time swinging and getting his wiggles out for 15 minutes in the freezing cold and darkness. But, hey, that's what we got to do. So, yeah, crimson was fairly underwhelming, but I'm not sure Dernstein would have been much better for us. From there, it was back on the ship for another sip and sail and then dinner in the dining room. Actually, no. We had dinner that night at the chef's table. So should highlight so that Nathan had another kids, another junior adventurers dinner. And should highlight that there's a chef's table on board. It is included. Everyone can dine at the chef's table once during their sailing. And so it's on the back of the ship, away from the main dining room. It had, I think, maybe four smaller tables and one large table. And basically it's a prepared, fixed course menu that's different than what's being served in main dining. And it's supposed to highlight sort of the amazing skills of the chef on board. It was a good dinner. It came with wine. Pairing wasn't a different wine for each course. They actually asked if we just wanted to pick white or red for the dinner. And we opted, we said, can we just have some of both to taste with the food? The food was excellent. I will say this, I'm not sure it was all that much better than what we were getting in main dining, other than kind of the adventuresomeness of it or the presentation was obviously very nice. But yeah, the food quality was just as good as what you get in main dining. It was more that. It was more inventive and the service was just maybe a little higher end, and the presentation was just a little higher end. I will say, though, and I think Sam would echo this impression, but I'll ask her in a second. It was a little too fast for my taste. I think that they really stepped up the pace so that the chef's table would complete at the same time as main dining. Because the kids are on board and they can't roam the ship unaccompanied, and they couldn't keep them in the lounge or the adventure guides all night. I suspect if you were on a regular cruise, it wasn't abd that chef's table dinner is much more paced out, but this one felt super rushed. It also felt like they would normally pair wines with each course, and in this case, they just kind of, like, gave you a glass of red and white wine and you drank it as you saw fit, and they would refill it. So, delicious food. I would love to see what it was like on a regular river cruise without the ABd component to it, to see if it was a little bit better paced. I don't know. Sam, what did you think of our time in cremes and the chef's table? [00:44:51] Speaker B: I have to agree with you on cremes. A little underwhelming. There were some Christmas market stalls on sort of the main thoroughfare, the main shopping street, but there wasn't like, a real Christmas market like we've seen in the other towns that we visited. So not as great of a spot for us to tour around and didn't seem to have a ton of regular stores that we wanted to shop in. But as far as the tasting menu, I actually really enjoyed it. We had another family that we sat at a table with. It was a quite enjoyable meal. I agree the pacing was a little fast for a tasting menu, but I didn't mind so much because we did have to meet back up with Nathan since he was at the junior adventurer buffet. And so, you know, one of the things I would sort of say, and to compare this to large ship cruising, this is a big difference with large ship cruising, and at least small ship cruising on the Amaviola, is that kids can't be left unattended. I mean, you can run to the bathroom for a few minutes with your kids sitting in the lounge, but you can't be hanging out in one place in the ship and have your child hanging out. Even in your stateroom. They don't allow it. They don't really want children unattended on the ship. It makes sense, but it's a little bit frustrating. And I say it makes sense because they don't have this kind of security that you do on a large cruise ship. Somebody could easily walk off the ship without or walk to the next ship over that is docked, rafted next to us without tapping in or tapping off. It's very easy to walk on and off the ship sort of, let me say, unnoticed. So the security measures are just not the same as they are in a large cruise ship. [00:46:27] Speaker A: Yeah. And I'll just add there. The other thing, too, is they don't have all of the kid protections. It'd be very easy for a kid to get out on a balcony, very easy for a kid to climb up and go over a balcony, very easy for a kid to go over on the top deck. Just lots of spaces that aren't as monitored or locked down as you get on a large cruise ship. And so I think very easy for a kid to get in trouble pretty quickly. So understand the rule, and they have to draw a line somewhere, no matter how mature or well behaved or responsible your child is. So we get it. It's just been a little bit of a different experience, what we get on sort of Disney cruise line. [00:47:03] Speaker B: Yeah. And because there's no kids club, you can't leave your child on board and you go off the ship. So that's even if your child wants to be in the stateroom asleep, you cannot do that. So that's just one difference. So one thing I wanted to mention about this night, this night when we were in the Wakau Valley is there is a Minnie mouse that is given out by the adventures. By Disney adventure guides. Yes. She's from the Disney store in Munich that no longer exists. So she's wearing a nice little cute durn doll. And if you've been following on our instagram, you've already seen her. But it's given out each night by the adventure guides to a family. That family is expected to take Minnie wherever they go and to take pictures of her at all of their locations. So she's kind of like a flat Stanley if you've ever seen that flat Stanley project through your child's school. But, yeah. So you take pictures of her wherever you go. So we got Minnie awarded to us that night. So Minnie actually came with Brian and I to the chef's tasting. Nathan did not want to be responsible for Minnie at the junior adventure buffet, and so she got to enjoy the chef's table. She got to enjoy some late night music in the lounge. We had a wonderful musician Victoria marks, she was a singer, and she know everything from pop to rock to old standards, and she was wonderful. She got a bunch of us up and dancing. She got some of the kids singing along with her to Jingle bell rock. And, of course, minnie did some dancing herself. So really fun. Again, late night snack available in the lounge at 1030. After the performer, we did not stick around to eat it. We were so full. And as I mentioned, St. Nicholas night happened. That was actually that night where we left a shoe for each of us outside our door for St. Nicholas to leave something in our shoes. Now, St. Nicholas night, I believe, happens on. It's either December 5 or 6th, depending upon which country you are in. Germany versus Austria. They do it on different nights, and that's actually the night where St. Nicholas, kind of like our Santa Claus, comes and visits houses and leaves them presents. The Christ children, or kinder Christ, I believe they're called, are who comes and leaves gifts on Christmas Eve. And the Austrians, and I believe the Germans as well, open Christmas presents and do sort of their Christmas thing on Christmas Eve, not on Christmas day. Christmas Day is sort of a lazy day, but a lovely day in the wakow valley. And so we went to bed, and we woke up in the beautiful city of Vienna, which is the largest city, of course, in Austria. If you haven't heard of Vienna, you've been living under a rock again, a place also famous for Mozart. He spent a very large part of his life in Vienna, even though he was born in Salzburg and spent his early childhood there. [00:50:02] Speaker C: We met again. [00:50:03] Speaker B: It was an early ish morning. This was about 08:00 a.m. So we had breakfast on the ship, and again, in a sit down breakfast, we met in the lounge, and we all embarked on a bus tour of Vienna first, and then a visit to the famous Schun palace at the Shunbrun palace. We got to do a couple of different stations. We were essentially broken up into multiple groups so that we would rotate which activity we each did over the course of the visit. We started with the marionette show, which we got to go into a marionette theater. So marionette, think puppets with strings. [00:50:42] Speaker C: La Pinocchio. [00:50:44] Speaker B: But let's think about strings of, like, 20 strings. These puppets are incredibly detailed. The handlers or artists are incredibly good at what they do at a short demonstration before the show, and then we got to see maybe a 15 or 20 minutes marionette show, and then we got a little bit more of a demonstration, and I'll call it like a marionette museum after. [00:51:07] Speaker A: Yeah, and when Sam says a marionette show, this was not like a kids marionette show, like a story. It was a ballet set to, I think, music from Mozart, actually. It was almost like I'm forgetting the name of the play where the main characters are kind of dreaming and the forest comes alive kind of thing, that they had marionette horses and marionette butterflies and marionette people, and just like, it was really well done. And at the end, they told us it was just three people that were controlling everything that was going on on stage, which was unbelievable. I kind of want to get Nathan's impressions of the marionette show. Hey, Nathan, what did you think of the marionette show that we got to see yesterday and the whole marionette kind of museum we got to take a look at? [00:51:49] Speaker D: It was cool. [00:51:50] Speaker A: What did you like about it? [00:51:51] Speaker D: It was cool how it was hard to tell that it wasn't, like, real. [00:51:57] Speaker A: Did you get to. You got to play with a marionette for a few minutes after, right? [00:52:01] Speaker D: Yeah. [00:52:01] Speaker A: What did you think of that? Does it seem hard to control the marionettes? [00:52:04] Speaker D: Yeah. [00:52:05] Speaker A: All right. Yeah. [00:52:06] Speaker B: I want to echo what Nathan just said there. After a while, or really actually, after just a few seconds and seeing the butterfly movements, which were at the very beginning of the show, you really forgot you were looking at puppets. You thought you were looking at, like, I don't know, a tv screen or something. It was so good. So we all got to actually play or handle a marionette a little bit after, as I mentioned, minnie Mouse was with us, so Minnie Mouse got to interact with a Mozart puppet. Actually. It was really quite fun. Following the marionette visit, we actually got to go inside the palace to check out the exhibits or the rooms that are still intact or have been preserved from the Shunbrun palace, where it was a queen. Maria Teresa ruled over essentially the Holy roman empire for quite a long time. So this was her palace. While we were visiting the palace, Nathan got to go with the adventure guide and two other kids over to the children's museum, which he said was really fun, and he got to dress in some period costumes there. [00:53:07] Speaker A: Let's ask Nathan since he's sitting here. So, yesterday, you got to go to the children's museum at showroom palace. What did you get to do, and what did you think about the museum overall? [00:53:15] Speaker D: Well, we only got to do one thing. We got ten minutes to dress up, and then we took a picture with everyone. [00:53:24] Speaker A: Was that fun? [00:53:26] Speaker D: Yeah. [00:53:26] Speaker A: All right. So, yeah, ten minutes of costuming and some photos. But Nathan had a good time touring the palace was really interesting. It's touring a palace. The most interesting part for me were the rooms were extraordinarily ornate, some of the most ornate rooms I've seen. And also learning that Maria Antoinette, Maria Teresa's. She was the daughter, one of the daughters of Maria Teresa, and they married her off to King Louis the 13th, 14th, whatever it was, as a way to build alliances with France at the time. And so there were all of these paintings of Marie Antoinette as a young girl, which was just really kind of interesting to see. So after the palace tour, it took about, I don't know, maybe a half hour, 45 minutes for the palace tour. We met back up with Nathan, and we had some time on our own. So we wandered the Christmas market that was just outside of Sean Broom palace, picked up a pretzel, had some glue line, explored some of the arts and craft stands. As Sam mentioned, one of the things that we're doing on board is a gift exchange. And so we used the opportunity to tour the Christmas market to find at least one or two of the gifts that we're going to use in the gift exchange this evening. So after we wandered the market, we headed over to strudel making. We had a strudel demonstration. So went down into a cafe, they had strudel and coffee out on the table that we could sample and have something nice to drink and a big, healthy piece of strudel, I should say. And then a chef demonstrated how they make the strudel from everything, from rolling out the dough and using special claws and things like that to get the dough rolled up and how to make the filling, all that sort of stuff. So it was an interactive, a little bit of an interactive strudel making with some strudel tasting. Learned that while Strudel is heavily associated with this region, it is not in Vienna. It is not endemic to this region. It was something that actually was it Maria Teresa tasted on her travels and brought back to Vienna. And so there is a traditional viennese apple strudel that involves apples, cinnamon, sugar, rum, raisins, and this pastry, this traditional viennese strudel. So delicious strudel. I don't think Sam liked it as much as I did, but still an enjoyable experience. After Strudel making, we got back on the buses and we had sort of two options. We could either take the bus all the way back to the ship and have lunch on board and then get off in Vienna to wander the town for a bit if we wanted to, or we could just have the bus drop the bus was making a stop at Steven's plots, and we could get off the bus and start wandering Vienna and do lunch on our own. We opted to get lunch on our own, so got off the bus and headed to a restaurant that was recommended by the adventure guides called lugak. Wandered in. We didn't have a reservation, so we sort of sat in a bar area, tried some local food. I say that I'm not sure that Sam's food was all that local. Oh, yeah, that's right. Sam had a goose soup that was on special, was a special of the day. And so she tried some goose soup. I tried some viel goulash, creamy viel goulash, which is a Vienna and austrian recipe. Both I thought were delicious. I thought Lugeck was a great restaurant recommendation from the adventure guides. I don't know, Sam, did you enjoy your meal at Lugek? [00:56:32] Speaker B: I thought it was delicious. I actually really liked your goulash and the. What do they call those? The dumplings. It was more like a spetzel, but it was like a kind of a plain dumpling or plain spezzle that was served with your meat goulash. And I thought both your meat goulash as well as their speczzle were both delicious. Mine, my goo soup was also good, but it was just not quite as hearty as yours. And I have to say, nathan had a really nice portion of just a grilled chicken and french fries, so I definitely ate a couple of his french fries, so it was a nice lunch. After lunch, we decided to hit up a couple of Christmas markets. So the two that we went to was Weinach's market at Stephen's plots or St. Stephen's Cathedral. And then we went to art Advent at Carl's church, which is St. Charles church. I would say we really liked the art advent at Carl's church, which was more of an artisans market, a craft market, instead of sort of the traditional Christmas market. So it just had a little bit more unique arts and crafts type stuff. [00:57:38] Speaker A: Yeah, I thought the Stevens plots Christmas market. I mean, a lot of the Christmas markets are selling stuff that it's made in and around Austria, but it looks like stuff you could get made in. Know, it's wooden toys, puzzles, snow globes, and things. Know, we've seen variations of back at home, so it's not all that unique. Whereas the Carls Platts market that we went to or the Carl's church market that we went to felt like a lot of local artisans and handicrafts. So really, really enjoyed wandering that market. Had some punch, which is something else you can get apart from glueine. So had some punch and wandered that market. It was a pretty good walk. So had a nice walk after lunch and a nice walk back to Stevens plots after browsing that market, walked down kind of the main shopping street that's all decorated and lit up for the holidays. They do some really fantastic decorating here in Europe for the holidays. So walked back down the main street, met up. They had bus shuttle buses running every 30 minutes for a couple of hours to get folks back to the ship if they wanted to wander Vienna. So met up with one of the shuttle buses, and it was time to head back to the ship in time for sip and sail and early dinner. We had dinner at 530 last night because we had an evening activity, so we had a scheduled morning activity on your own time, dinner on the ship, and then an evening activity. And there were two choices for the evening activity. One was to see a traditional, sort of classical music concert in Vienna. Required dressing up a little bit nicer. It was also 3 hours long with an intermission, and we decided that was probably not going to be the thing that Nathan really would enjoy. And so we opted for the second thing, which, in retrospect, I'm not sure that it was anything that Nathan really enjoyed, but he also just kind of brought his phone and his headphones along and watched some tv, which is, we went to a traditional austrian winehouse. Now, I thought this was going to be like white wine tasting in Austria, but they were very quick to point out this was not going to be wine tasting. Yeah, this was going to basically was a wine tavern. So they bring carafes of low, er, alcohol white wine, and you fill mugs with your wine, and you sit and you drink wine and eat bread and have some spreads on it. And it's like a night out at a beer hall in Germany. So drank lots of really delicious house table white wine, had some bread and spreads, and met some of our fellow adventurers. And we spent about two ish hours there, kind of closed the place down, and then it was back on the bus for some carol singing on the way back to the ship. Now that we were all in the festive mood. So sang all the way from the winehouse back to the ship, and then we were back on the ship by about, I think it was ten or 1030 in the evening and just in time for some late night snacks. And then it was off to bed. And thankfully, this morning in Vienna, as we're recording was a sleep in morning, which means we got an entire extra hour of sleep last night, which was really, really nice. So got up this morning, had breakfast, and then there was an organized trip for everyone on the ship to the Roth house, which is basically the town hall or town square here, where they have a big Christmas market with a ferris wheel and a double decker merry go round, and a big ice skating. And I don't want to call it ice skating rink, but an ice skating trail. So it's paths of ice that kind of wind around together, and you can kind of skate through the ice trail, basically. And so there was an ice skating excursion. So Nathan and Sam laced up their skates and did some ice skating this morning in the town square. I wandered around with the camera, getting some video of the different attractions and the ice skating and the Christmas markets, and wandered some stalls, had some punch to warm up a bit. And once they finished up ice skating, we decided to partake of a very viennese activity, which is we headed to a viennese coffee house. Viennese coffee houses are recognized as part of viennese culture by the United nations, as a sort of protected part of viennese culture by the United nations. So it's very typical in Vienna for folks to spend some time in a coffee house, having a nice cafe during the day. And they are not rushed. You do not take your coffee away. You sit, you enjoy your coffee. You have conversation on these very lovely spaces around town. So tried the coffee house. We actually ended up having lunch there. Instead of just coffee and cakes, I had some fabulous wiener schnitzel. Sam had a lovely ham and cheese, toasty. And Nathan was up for some plain pasta with parmesan cheese, which is one of his favorite things to eat right now. And so did end up having. Both of us ended up having a coffee. Sam had a kind of espresso, hot chocolate coffee that she seemed to really, really enjoy. I had a latte after my schnitzel, which was delicious, I should say. The schnitzel also came with a fabulous viennese potato salad that was really, really nice. And so I thought it was a great meal, a great little respite. I don't know what Sam thought. [01:02:27] Speaker B: This was a fantastic find. So this is the cafe Lantman. Landtman. It is famous, apparently, it's a famous cafe. It is a little bit pricier than most of the cafes. And so the food is a little bit more expensive. The coffees are a little bit more expensive, but it was just a fabulous meal. As Brian mentioned. It was also right across from rathouse plots, which is the plaza where city hall sits, and this Christ Kindle market, which is the market where the ice skating had been. So it was really great location and easy from where we had just come from. And it was fantastic because the food was fantastic. Now, we did forego heading back to the ship for lunch in order to go to this cafe, because one thing that we haven't mentioned is, in Vienna, nothing is rushed. When you sit down for a meal or a coffee, it is leisurely. So if you want to get in and out, you cannot really go to a sit down place like sit down coffee shop or a sit down cafe or restaurant. If you want something that's going to be quick service, you need to do, like a takeaway or like a McDonald's or something like that. Like a fast food. It's just not the culture here for them to rush you out. So many of the folks from our ship were headed back on, basically the bus, noon back to the ship to have lunch, and then they could venture out on their own, or they could just stay on the ship because all aboard was at three and we were going to be leaving, which 03:00 is actually ten minutes from now. So we're going to be headed out of the city of Vienna and to Budapest, where we will arrive tomorrow morning. But this was one thing where I'd say adventures by Disney, kind of. I'm going to give them a ding because they didn't have shuttle buses going back and forth back to the ship. You either went on the shuttle at noon back to the ship, or you had to find your own way back. Now, we are brave travelers, and so we are comfortable with either using an uber or using the subway. And we ended up using the subway to come back to the ship. But we wanted to spend some more time out, so we actually hit up another Christmas market, the alt winer Christ Kindle market at Fryoung. So this was somewhat on the way back, before we hopped on the subway or the uban in order to get back to the ship. One thing I'd also note is the food in Vienna is just fantastic. We went to these two restaurants. I wish we had gotten to eat more food in Vienna. We did have a wiener schnitzel for dinner on board the Amaviola last night. That was okay. It was good. But the one that we had at Cafe Lanceman today was just fantastic. [01:05:03] Speaker A: Yeah. And just a couple of things to add there quickly. So the cafe, I would say too, even though it's expensive. Like, the portion of shuttle we got was gigantic, so it was easily shared by Sam and I, and probably even too much for just the two of us. And they were lovely, lovely to Nathan, the waiter was fantastic. So just all around, a great, great find. I wanted to comment, too, on the shuttle bus situation. I think it would have been super easy for Disney. Say, look, we're going to have one bus that leaves at the end of ice skating to get everyone back to the ship in time for lunch. And we're going to have one more bus that picks up at a predesignated spot later in the afternoon. So if you want to come back to the ship on our dime, you need to meet that bus to get, you know, look, ended up not being a huge deal for us to get the subway tickets, but I think probably there were some people who were deterred from spending any more time in Vienna because they just didn't want to deal with the hassle of trying to get back to the ship on time. And I will say, as much as the river cruises dock in the cities where our cruises docked in Vienna, it's not walkable to the area where you'd want to go visit Christmas markets. There's, like a big island between us and that side of town that would take easily ten or 15 minutes to walk across just to get to the start of the area where you would start walking to get to some of these Christmas markets, which are themselves another ten to 15 minutes. So that's a lot of walking, especially for the age demographic on board and the profile of traveler who's on board. But before we wrap up here, I did want to ask our friendly guest, Nathan, what did you think of the ice skating today? It was a lot different than the ice skating you did in Munich. [01:06:30] Speaker D: It was really fun, and I finally started learning really well how to ice skate. [01:06:36] Speaker A: Yeah. So you had a great time? You had a great time doing the ice skating? [01:06:38] Speaker D: Yeah, I had a great time, yeah. [01:06:40] Speaker A: Can you describe for folks what the ice rink was like? [01:06:42] Speaker D: It was kind of like an eight, but it had these big sections and cutoffs in between. It was more like a bunch of circles. [01:06:53] Speaker A: Yeah. So a lot of interconnected and intertwining paths, right? [01:06:56] Speaker D: Yeah. And they all had set directions. [01:06:59] Speaker A: And unlike the one in Munich, this one did not have the bears or penguins for you to lean on. Right. You had to hold on to kind of wooden fencing if you wanted to stay upright and didn't want to skate. [01:07:09] Speaker D: Yeah. They did have a practice area, though, that was a small square with, like, these seal things. [01:07:16] Speaker A: Well, it sounds like Nathan had a great time. We had a good time in Vienna so far. Well, I guess we're wrapping up here, Vienna now. As we get ready to pull away, we've got to wrap some Christmas gifts for the gift exchange tonight. They're celebrating Christmas on board. We have Christmas dinner this evening, and then we will be in Budapest tomorrow and have a full agenda in Budapest with full day tours. Actually, one thing, we're supposed to be doing a food tour tomorrow, but they had too many people subscribe to it, so we've opted for some on your own time and talk about that a little bit when we get back. But full day in Budapest tomorrow, and then we are disembarking the amaviola the following day. And so we'll talk about how the disembarkation process works. And we're off to the Budapest airport to fly to London Heathrow for an overnight before we head onward to Honolulu. So a little bit more to come here from Budapest and this evening's activities, and we will be back. Hey, DCl duo fans, you know, we get the question all the time. Should I use a travel agent to book my next Disney Cruise or should I just book with Disney directly? And I'm going to tell you, if you have that question in the back of your mind right now, you should stop what you're doing and head over to mypathunwinding.com slash DCl duo. The folks over at Mypath unwinding provide an amazing service. They are so knowledgeable and so friendly. We rely on them ourselves to book our family vacations and they provide an amazing service. And the best part is you don't pay anything extra for it. Disney, other tour providers and other cruise lines have built the cost of their commission into their pricing. So if you're booking directly, you are just paying that money back to the provider when you could be spending it on the kind of service you would get from Mypath unwinding travel. You've heard from their agents on our show. They are so knowledgeable, so giving of their time. They know so much about Disney Cruise line, sailing, concierge, other cruise lines, other all inclusive vacations and adventures by Disney that if you have a vacation in mind, they are the ones to book it for you. So again, head over to mypathunwinding.com slash dclduo so they know we sent you their way. Thanks, mypath unwinding, for sponsoring the show. And with that, back to our episode. All right, we are back and unfortunately we are at home. We had hoped to record this segment of the podcast while we were traveling from Budapest all the way to Honolulu, or at least while we were in Honolulu, but we all got the flu. Well, we found out we have the flu now that we're at home because we've been sick for a little while. I actually wasn't feeling great starting on the last couple of days of the river cruise, but thought I had just caught sort of a mild cold, but we wound up in Hawaii. We all came down with it. Unfortunately, your favorite guest, Nathan, is still under the weather, so I don't know that we'll get much more from him on this show. He's trying to recover from the flu. I'm mostly over it now and Sam is working on it, but you can probably hear it in our voices. We've still got a little congestion. That said, we wanted to wrap up this review of our abd river cruise. We wanted to be sure to get it out for you all because several people have asked when you'll get to hear about our experience. And so when we last left you, it was Friday evening, which was going to be Christmas on board the ama viola. And we were getting ready to wrap our gifts for the gift exchange that evening. Lots of Christmas activities on board. I'm going to let Sam talk through most of them because, spoiler alert, I decided to call it a day early that night or I went to bed early. So missed some of the after dinner Christmas activities because I wanted to get some rest because I felt like I was coming down with something. And lo and behold, I was. But, Sam, do you want to pick up with folks what we did on Christmas evening aboard the Amaviola? And we also did some afternoon sailing that day through some locks and past Bratislava and. Yeah. So you want to talk through folks what happened that afternoon on board after we left Vienna? [01:10:49] Speaker C: Okay, so as Brian mentioned, we did get to sail the Danube that afternoon for several hours. We got to go through some very large locks. It was actually quite cool seeing us go down, I think, about maybe 40 or 50ft in one lock. We also had afternoon tea on board the beautiful amaviola. And then in the dining room. It was time for Christmas dinner. Now, of course, this was December 21, so this was an early Christmas dinner. But they had a special dinner planned for that night where we had, as always, multiple courses. But one of the main course options was, of course, a traditional roast turkey dinner. So we all had dinner in the dining room. It was lovely. Of course, multicourse, as always. I had, I think, a consume. I think I had a steak. And, of course, we had dessert as usual. And then following that was sort of the get together for Christmas in the lounge. And as Brian mentioned, there was a gift exchange. So we were all. I think I mentioned earlier in the show, we were all given €10 to go buy a gift at the Christmas markets or wherever, out and about. And we wrapped our gifts that afternoon on board. And then the gift exchange after dinner was basically, we all gathered in the lounge. They broke us up into groups. Each group went and grabbed a present that was not one that you had brought. And then they told a story where we moved the gifts from right to left, depending upon what was happening in the story. And Donald went right because he was trying to go see Mickey, but when he got to Mickey's house, he turned left. So that sort of a thing. And then when we ended, whatever present was left in your hands was yours. And if it was a present you bought, then you would exchange it with one of the guides. Additionally, the crew of the Amaviola came and sang some Christmas carols to us, which was quite funny because they were singing in English. And for most of them, their first language is not English. And I'm not sure that the songs that they sang for Americans were ones that were well known to them, but it was really fun to watch them all sing for us. And then, of course, the jolly old elf himself, Mr. Santa Claus, came on board to deliver gifts to all of the little boys and girls, and, of course, all the big boys and girls on board. So everyone was able to take pictures with Santa, as well as the two angels that came with him. Was really cute because the presents were all little, like, stuffed animals that were on the waterways, tagged presents. And so Nathan got a little stuffed snowman and two little stuffed bears, because the staff, who were the angels, just kept giving us more and more presents. But it was a really lovely evening. I'm sorry Brian missed it because he was obviously not feeling well. But it was a nice Christmas Eve spent on board, even though it wasn't actually Christmas Eve. We headed to bed pretty soon after that because we were all tired and we knew we'd have a big day for us in the city of Budapest the next day. [01:13:59] Speaker A: As Sam mentioned, we were up early the next day because I wanted to be up on deck, despite feeling a little under the weather, to see the sail into Budapest. Budapest has been on my bucket list of cities to visit ever since I was in college and a mentor and professor of mine mentioned time he had spent there and how beautiful the city was and that it was definitely kind of a top city for him to experience in Europe. And it certainly did not disappoint. Our sail in was gorgeous, unlike some of the other cities that we stopped in, where the dock on the river, either the city was very small or the dock on the river was a little bit outside of the main city area. The Danube cuts right through the middle of Budapest. It's actually, I guess, two different cities that join together at some point. And so there's a Buddha side and a pest side, and that's where the name comes from, Budapest. And so we docked right in the heart of the sort of downtown area of Budapest, about a ten minute walk from the central market on the pest side of things. Had a gorgeous sail in, lots of great views of the buildings, early morning as the sun was coming up, gorgeous bridges across the river there between the two cities. And so just really great. I highly recommend, if you're taking a river cruise into Budapest, to be up on the top deck to watch that sail in, because it was certainly worth the wait. That morning we started, as we had typically done with our ala carte breakfast and then we met up in the lounge rather late. 09:30 a.m. It was a late start for us in Budapest, but as we mentioned earlier in the show, we were supposed to be doing a food tour, but they had oversubscribed the food tour and so we decided to give up our spot on the food tour because we weren't sure if Nathan would really enjoy it. I think this is one other ding I had for adventures by Disney. We don't. Unlike on ocean cruising, we don't choose our shore excursions in advance, although there was some ability through the website to do that apparently kind of meant nothing. They had no numbers coming into the cruise itself and so we did not choose our shore excursions until we got to the hotel in Munich and they provide us with some documentation and a link to a Google form of all things that we needed to fill out for our party. Choosing our different shore excursions and when people chose their shore excursions, everyone seemed to want to do the food tour and no one seemed to want to do the other tour that day. And so they were oversubscribed, way oversubscribed. I ding adventures by Disney for this because it seems like something they could have handled by more advanced planning if they'd known that the number of people who wanted to do the food tour was as many as it was. Perhaps they could have taken it in a morning and an afternoon tour or something, but just seems like it's a little odd to wait until a couple of days before to ask people what their shore excursion choices are going to be, because then you have no real ability to adjust and plan. One of the guests on board, I did want to comment, one of the guests on board actually mentioned to us that one of his pet peeves about adventures by Disney is unless you use an iPhone and have a Google account, you're really kind of stuck. The iPhone component is that the adventure guides do a lot of the pictures, will do most of the pictures on their own iPhones or the iPhones, I guess maybe Disney has given them. And so at the end of the cruise, when they want to give pictures or trade pictures, they're always looking to airdrop things. And he is just like, I don't really want to do that. And he was a very private person. And he also said that he didn't have a Google account and wasn't going to sign up for one just to fill out forms for adventures by Disney. So he was okay. His family was able to sort of do the forms for him and he talked to the adventure guides. But is a good point that if you don't have kind of a smartphone, especially an iPhone, and you don't have a Google account, it seems like it could be a little difficult to do some of this stuff if you don't want to sign up for it. And I recognize most people will have smartphones, especially iPhones and Google accounts, but just wanted to flag that for folks if they don't. That said, we originally had decided we were just going to do some time on our own in Budapest, but then changed our minds and signed up to do a second tour that they had offered, which was a trip to the Lazar equestrian park. So the whole ship started its day by getting off and walking the 15 minutes to the central market. And then we were given maybe 20 or 25 minutes to just look through the central market, which p s not enough time to explore that market. It is two stories. It is packed on the first floor with all kinds of interesting food stalls and foodstuffs. Hungary and Budapest are known for. They had caviar that was very inexpensive. Budapest is a part, or say, Hungary is a part of the European Union, but they're not on the EU common currency, the euro. They're still on their local currency, which we think is called the foreign. And so it was about 1000 foreign to $3. And so you could buy a ten of what would cost you caviar. That would cost you $150 or $200 here in the US for about $25. PS, we couldn't bring it home because it has to be refrigerated the whole way. They're also known for their foie gras. They produce foie gras in Hungary and you can get it very inexpensively there if that's something that you're interested in. And then paprika. Paprika is a big product that you buy in Hungary that they make locally. They also have some great wines in Hungary, notably a dessert wine called Tokai. So we did do some shopping in the market. We wanted to pick up my mom a bottle of Tokai because it's one of her favorite dessert wines. But we only had about 25 minutes to explore the market, so we didn't get a lot of shopping done on the morning time. We just kind of browsed around. I grabbed a coffee, Sam ran across the street to a Starbucks, actually, to get a mug from Budapest. And so after the 25 minutes, it was off to a bus ride of about 45 minutes or so to this Lazar equestrian park. I will say this excursion was fun. Wasn't like my favorite excursion that we did, the equestrian park. Hungary is known for horse riding and I would say almost like circus, like acrobatics with horses, highly trained horses. And so the point of the visit to the equestrian park was we got to one see kind of a petting zoo, although we weren't really allowed to touch any of the animals. So it wasn't a petting zoo, it was more just a zoo of small hungarian animals, like rabbits and dogs and things like that that were from Hungary. We then went into a large equestrian center and sat in the stands and watched various kinds of hungarian horse riding. They had a guy that was standing on the back of two horses. It was a five horse chain that he was in and showing us that they could stand on these like five horses and run around the rinks. They did some arrow shooting from, or some archery from horseback. They did some carriage racing on horseback. It was interesting to see. I don't think it was like amazing or super wow for us, but really interesting to see. I think Nathan probably enjoyed that part of it, although I think he enjoyed seeing the animals a bit more. We were then given a traditional hungarian lunch. And I will say this was the star of the excursion. It was tons and tons of food. I mean, the amount of food that they were hauling away from the tables, and we couldn't even begin to eat. It was unbelievable. We had an amazing soup. It was a traditional hungarian fish stew, lots of paprika in it, because that was the theme of the day in terms of spices. We got to try a new kind of paprika paste that is a specialty in Hungary called strong. Steve learned that you can buy it on Amazon, but we ended up picking up some from the market at the end of the day. Very, very spicy. Great to add into all kinds of things. I brought some home and have been adding it into chilies and soups and other kinds of food that we've been eating this week. And it's delicious. Dangerous, can be very, very hot if you get the extra hot version. So go sparingly if you decide to try some. But I think it's delicious. And then we had just a smorgasbord of meats and salads and pork knuckle stuffed chicken, wiener schnitzel or some kind of schnitzel. It probably wasn't wiener schnitzel, but some kind of schnitzel sausages. I mean, it was so much food. Yeah, Sam's reminding me he had duck. Just tons of food. So that was really for the Lazar equestrian park. I think the lunch was really the star of the show. And actually, the adventure guides prepared us for that fact that the lunch was going to be massive. So had a great lunch, wonderful lunch. Plenty of wine flowing throughout the lunch. So again, alcohol kind of included with the lunch. We then got back on the bus and we drove back into town, and we had the option of either going right back to the ship or again, they were going to make a stop in the middle of town at one of the Christmas markets, and we could get off and wander the Christmas markets and wander around town and make our own way back to the ship. On the way back, it was raining pretty good. We got a break in the weather right as we were pulling up to the Christmas market. So initially, we thought we were going to head back to the ship, but then we decided, no, we'll get off because it looks like the weather is breaking. And then we got off, and within five minutes, it was raining again. And so we did not spend much time in the Christmas market in Budapest. We instead decided to go back to the central market because there were some things we really wanted to look for to buy as souvenirs. I wanted to get some of the strong Steve paste that we had had. We went to get a bottle of Tokai from my mom, as I mentioned earlier, wanted to get an original Rubik's cube, which we did. And also Nathan had wanted kind of a hat thing. That he had seen a friend of his have. That we went looking for in the market. So we made our way back to the central market. Quite a long walk from where they dropped us off over to the central market. But did make it over there. Did buy some souvenirs. And then walked back along the riverfront. Very cold at this point. It was dark out and very cold. But walked back across along the riverfront to the ship. So we could make it back in time for dinner and some nighttime activities. But, sim, let me hand it over to you to talk about the nighttime activities. And if you had anything to add from our time in Budapest. [01:23:10] Speaker C: Well, the only thing I would add from our time in Budapest. Is that we just didn't have enough time. To do a bunch of other stuff we had wanted to do in Budapest. So, for example, I would have loved to go see the shoes. Which is a holocaust memorial in Budapest, right on the waterfront. But it was kind of the opposite direction from where we were heading back towards the ship. So that was not really something we had time that we could do. Another thing I really wanted to do was they have a pinball museum in Budapest. That I think would have been really cool for us to get to visit. Next time we go to Budapest, I would like to visit. And they also have, I think, the single largest synagogue. Or one of the single largest synagogues in the world in the jewish quarter. So I would have liked to go in there as well. We did pass by there, so we were able to see it. But it's apparently a museum they have to pay for entry to. So we really needed some time to be able to explore if we were going to go do that. As you know, just really some things I would have loved to do in Budapest that we didn't get to do. But then when we did get back to the ship, as Brian mentioned, actually, before dinner was a farewell cocktail in the lounge. Where we got to really officially say goodbye to our adventure guides, take a picture with them. And the crew all came out to be introduced. The officers had been introduced at the beginning of the sailing. But this time all of the crew members came out and were introduced. And it was kind of amazing to see how few crew there actually were. For example, I think in terms of dining room servers for the entire ship. I think there were only, like, six of them for the entire ship, for stateroom attendance. Again, for the entire ship, I believe there were only like four or five. There were only three bartenders servers on the whole ship. For officers on board, I believe there were only three senior officers and then like three officers below them. So like six maritime crew, basically, for the entire ship. So that was just pretty amazing. So it was a really nice opportunity to be able to kind of clap for them and thank them for this wonderful cruise. To thank our adventure guides for this wonderful cruise. And then, of course, we had our farewell dinner, which was not any different than other dinners, but it was a know, of course, seated dinner in the dining room. And then following dinner, we had a farewell surprise in the lounge. Now, for those of you who haven't been on an adventures by Disney tour, if you don't want to be spoiled, fast forward through this part. But if you've been on one before or you don't mind being spoiled, basically that means you're going to have a slideshow at the end of all adventure by Disney Adventures. [01:25:58] Speaker A: Yeah, and I don't think this is actually too much of a spoiler, Sam, because we've talked about it with other abds, but keep going. Yeah. [01:26:03] Speaker C: So anyway, we actually got two slideshows. One is one that's sanctioned by adventures by Disney, and one is one that the adventure guides kind of do on their own. And I say that because the adventure guides actually share the sanctioned one with us. As Brian mentioned, they can airdrop it to people on board, which is what they did after. But the other slideshow, they don't airdrop because it's technically not one sanctioned by the company. And the one that's not sanctioned by the company is a slideshow of Minnie's adventures on the adventures by Disney trip. So, as I mentioned earlier in the show, there was a day that we got to take Minnie with us wherever we went, and we were tasked with taking pictures of her at different locations. Well, we shared all those photos with the adventure guides, and at the end of the cruise, they put together essentially a PowerPoint slideshow that showed us what Minnie had been up to across the entire week on the Amaviola and in of all of our locations. As one of the guides told me on the down low, not all of the guests who had Minnie did as good of a job as we did in taking pictures of her everywhere. So even in the slideshow, there are pictures we took of Minnie on our day with her that were shown on different days of the cruise, even though they were clearly taken by us. But the second slideshow, as I mentioned, is the sanctioned one, and that is a slideshow. Basically everyone. So the adventure guides, as Brian mentioned, are taking pictures of us and all the other guests throughout the cruise, as well as themselves, as well as the locations that we're going. And they put together this wonderful slideshow that really captured as many people as possible in as many different locations as possible, enjoying themselves throughout the week long adventure. They shared this slideshow with us and then they gave us the website for which within 48 hours, they would have uploaded pictures that they had taken on their phone. It ended up being a little bit longer than 48 hours. I think it ended up being like. [01:27:57] Speaker B: Three or four days. [01:27:58] Speaker C: But basically all of the pictures that they took are available to us on a website. [01:28:03] Speaker A: Yeah, it ended up being more like a week and a half, but yes, I checked every day and it took quite a long time. I don't know if that's the adventure guides or it just takes a while for Disney to actually sync everything up, but got a ton of photos I still have to go through. I'm going to try to go through and identify the photos of just us and put them in a separate folder because they give you kind have all the photos that they've taken of everyone, which in some ways is nice, in other ways it's a little creepy, I think, to have all these pictures of other people, some of whom we know and some of whom we don't. But anyway, so it's a fabulous way to wrap up the cruise. Which leads us into the debarkation. Now, debarcation off of a river cruise, very different than an ocean cruise in some ways. You still pack up your luggage and you still set it outside your room, but you don't set it outside your room necessarily the night before. In fact, they don't want your luggage in the hallway any more than 2 hours before your actual sort of departure time off the ship, the way that they assign the departure times. The cruise manager had a big board up at his desk that clearly he reuses from cruise to cruise with different colored luggage tags and then basically names, cabin numbers and names that were assigned to different debarkation times and buses to the airport or local hotels or taxicabs and that sort of thing based on when they needed to get off the ship and when their flights were. So folks started actually debarking the ship at 330 in the morning in Budapest the following day for 06:00 a.m. Flights that were trying to make basically Budapest. You can't fly direct anywhere in the US, so you were having to connect through Budapest into places like Paris or Amsterdam or London. And so they were trying to catch those flights that would connect to us flights at 06:00 a.m. So they were off the ship by 330, which means they were setting their luggage out by like 130 in the morning. They did provide breakfast for everyone, which was impressive. They didn't do seated breakfast for everyone, but they did have breakfast in the lounge and express breakfast for everyone, starting at like 03:00 in the morning, so people could get something, some coffee and something in their stomach on the way to the airport, which I thought was really impressive for such a small crew to pull off. We had a flight to London, where we were laying over for the night to then fly onward to La and Honolulu, so we did not have to debark as early as others. Thank God we ended up leaving the ship. I think it was around 09:00 in the morning, which was completely reasonable. Budapest airport, very, very small. So actually, we showed up and had to wait for the American Airlines or the British Airways counter to open up, and then we're through security and into an airport lounge in probably ten or 15 minutes. So very small airport, which was very nice, very quick trip to the airport. It was only like 2025 minutes from the ship to the airport. They haul all of your luggage off the ship because the ship is down low against the river and you have to walk up an embankment stairs to get to the bus. They actually have some conveyor belts that haul it up the stairs, and then they drag it all over to the bus. And you identify their luggage, your luggage. They load it up in the bus for you. So it's very quick and easy. Basically, we had breakfast scanned off, and we're on the bus in about five minutes to head to the airport. So very, very efficient, which is not surprising, given the size of the ship. So that wraps up the river cruise component, I think. I want to wrap up the show, though, with a couple of things. One is, I realized as I was listening to the prior parts of the show that we did, we didn't really discuss what was included and what wasn't in the river cruise, and I want to just be very clear around what was and what wasn't included. So our river cruise fare did not include our airfare. There are ways for you to purchase your airfare through adventures by Disney. We bought separately, but the cruise did not include that. What the cruise fare did include was obviously sort of our cabin, our transfer from the munich airport to our hotel, transfer from the hotel to the ship and transfer from the ship to the Budapest airport. It included all the tours that we've talked about. None of those tours cost anything extra. There's no fee for shore excursions beyond what you may spend incidental on the excursion itself. So if you were picking an adventures by Disney Shore excursion that was offered morning, noon or night, that was all covered, including the transportation. Any admission into these places like Schoenburn palace had a ticket price. The marionette show had a ticket price. We never paid for anything when we were on the excursion itself. Any food on the excursion was also provided by adventures by Disney. There were a couple of times where there was lunch on your own, where adventures by Disney actually provided people with euros to get their lunch. I would say that was not necessarily the norm. The few times that we got lunch on our own or chose to sort know, stay past the excursion and go get lunch, we had to pay for that out of pocket. So obviously any food in the cities not included. Buying souvenirs at the Christmas markets, glue, wine, all that sort of stuff, it was not included. Food on board the ship was included. I know earlier in the show we mentioned that it was a little difficult finding snacks in between meals outside of the tea time that they had. But we did notice on the last day they had a toppas menu out and so if you were in the lounge in between normal meal times and outside of like the tea time, you could order tapas items from the menu. I do believe those were an extra charge. I don't believe that that food was included. Drinks during the sip and sale were all included, but drinks outside of the sip and sale, like soda or any sort of alcoholic beverages from the bar on board were not included. Iced tea, coffee, water was always available in the lounge free of charge. But if you wanted an alcoholic beverage or a soda or something like that, you'd have to pay for it. Outside of sip and sail, I should say beverages at lunches and dinners on the ship, and even most of the lunches and dinners, I believe off the ship were all included at the wine house. When we went, the wine was all included at all the lunches. We usually got, I think two alcoholic beverages per adult. So when we went to the beer hall and had the buffet lunch outside of Salzburg could have had two beers included. Wine was included at the lunch at the equestrian park, all of that sort of stuff. So all that's included tips are also all fully included, including for the adventure guides. There's no tipping of the adventure guides. We didn't see anyone tipping them. We asked our travel agent about it and she said no tipping of the adventure guides was necessary. I hope that was right. But the crew tips were all included, so there's no additional tipping that we saw going on. So really what you're responsible for is your airfare, getting there. Any meals that you want to have that aren't offered on board the ship or through an excursion, souvenirs, any tours that you want to do that aren't the tours that are being offered sort of those kinds of things. So it's a fairly all inclusive vacation, I should say. Drinks on the ship were not out of line. I had a couple of sodas and bought a couple of mixed drinks. I mean, it was a rounding error on the cost of the overall vacation, the amount that we spent on beverages on board. So I don't think it was significant. [01:34:38] Speaker B: One thing I just want to remind. [01:34:40] Speaker C: People, when Brian's referring to sip and sail, that is 1 hour prior to dinner. So it's that hour before dinner. That's when drinks were basically all included. [01:34:50] Speaker A: Except on the last night it was 2 hours. They were gracious to give us 2 hours of drinks. So normally you were going to get about one drink during that period of time given the number of people they had in the lounge and the number of servers they had available actually serve the drinks. So it's really a pre dinner cocktail hour is what I would call it. So lots of stuff included this vacation. I want to be clear, not inexpensive per person adventures by Disney. You're going to pay a premium on top of a river cruise. I'm not going to give the exact figure here that we spent, but let's just say it was north of 25 and south of $30,000 on the river cruise experience itself outside of the airfare to get us there and back. So it is not an inexpensive vacation I did. Before we get into sort of talking about pros and cons and value and final impressions of the river cruise, I did want to say one more thing about the river cruise. This was a Christmas markets river cruise. And after Sam and I got home, it sort of struck me. And as we were talking, none of the excursions except for really one and maybe part of another and some free time like the Christmas markets aspect of this was not kind of adventures by Disney leading you to Christmas markets and giving you history and touring you through them and that sort of thing. You were doing really city tours or historical tours or things like that, and then exploring the Christmas markets on your own now we got ample time to do that. We saw lots of Christmas markets, but I think I did have an impression going into this cruise that it would be a lot of pulling up to a city, getting off the boat, exploring the local city's Christmas markets and getting back on the boat. And that's not what this was. This was a lot of walking. It was a lot know, half day tours sandwiched around lunch and or all day tours that had you off the boat the whole time. Lots of walking. Nathan was a total trooper for the amount of walking and touring we did on the sailing. It is a lot of walking. And the Christmas markets were kind of an added activity on top of all the other touring. I think I really would have liked to have seen a bit more of a guided, understanding, discussion set of tours aimed at the Christmas markets because that's what we wanted to see. For those of you out there who don't know, Christmas markets in continental Europe are very, very big thing. They're all over the major cities. It's not usually like one market. It's like tons of markets around the different. You know, the thing you do is you go to the stalls and you shop for little curios and gifts to give to your friends and family. There's always a bunch of glue wine stands that serve both glue wine and alcoholic punches and other alcoholic hot alcoholic beverages. Usually some beer out there, but you get those. You collect the mugs from the market. So we have like. It's a popular souvenir at Christmas time, are the mugs from the various Christmas markets. So we have some really cute mugs that we collected and brought home with us from the Christmas markets. I think at the end of the day, we saw plenty of Christmas markets, but I would have liked to have understood the history of them a little bit more. The tour that we did into the treetops Christmas market, I still don't know why that market exists. And it's a very unique market and I'd love to know the history of it. And we had adventure guides with us there, so I was unclear why we didn't sort of spend some time there doing that. I think I said that earlier in the show. So if you have an expectation that these ships are going to stop, you're going to get off in the city that you're docked in and see the Christmas markets. That's not really what's happening outside of Vienna and Budapest, really. We were docked someplace and then being bussed to a major city. That might be an hour, 2 hours, two and a half hours away and being given some time, in addition to the other touring to see the Christmas market. So if you're thinking about doing this and you're really focused on those Christmas markets, you might think know is adventures by Disney kind of the right way to do it? Which I think leads into this conversation around Sam. I've been doing a lot of talking here. What did you think about this cruise and the value of it and some of the pros and cons of it and maybe who it's for? [01:38:37] Speaker B: So I want to talk about this. [01:38:39] Speaker C: In terms of who this river cruise is for and maybe who it's not for. I think that's probably the easiest way to talk about sort of value and worth and that sort of thing. So first I want to say this is for adults without children or families with older children. I believe there's a minimum age of five, but actually a recommended age of eight for children, I would say, but with the caveat for both of those groups. You need to be a traveler who wants everything taken care of for you, meaning you don't have to be very adventurous. You do have to be willing to walk a lot, but you don't have to be very adventurous in your food, you don't have to be very adventurous in your type of touring. And everything is essentially planned for you. Soup to nuts, right? You do not have to plan anything on your own, except maybe your flight to the city and your flight home and maybe a night at the hotel. But you can even do all of that through adventures by Disney. So a lot of this you can basically outsource everything from plan. So that brings me to who this is not for. This is not for the super adventurous traveler who wants to go out on their own and find all of the off the beaten path nooks and crannies and the traveler who likes to plan everything themselves, because this is not that. [01:40:00] Speaker B: Every day you had. [01:40:02] Speaker C: I mean, you could go out on your own, but then why would you? Because you paid, essentially, for these amazing curated excursions that adventures by Disney has put together for you. So I'd say Ryan and I are kind of in between these two groups. I wouldn't say we're super adventurous travelers, but we don't need everything sort of planned out for us. And we would have, I think, liked in several of these places to be able to do some things that were a little bit more off the beaten path and have some experiences that were maybe not so pre planned and have a little bit more free time. So while we had a wonderful time, and this was completely worthwhile. I would say, from the sense that we didn't have to do any planning. We basically showed up and everything was planned for us. I think there would have been a more economical way to do this for us as a family. Well, certainly there would have been a more economical way to do this as a family. And then we might have been able to do some experiences on our own fairly easily with only a little bit of work. So, that being said, to me, this was a wonderful vacation because I didn't have to plan anything and because everything was curated, and because all these excursions were really fantastic. And I think for people who are a little bit hesitant to travel out on their own, this would be a great way to travel. And it's also for people who don't like schlepping their luggage from place to place. [01:41:24] Speaker A: So I want to take a slightly different tack here. I have gone back and forth with this in my own mind. Like, would I do this kind of trip again? I want to say, I think there's actually kind of another group of people or a slightly different way to describe the group of people. I think this is for. I think this particular trip was also for people who wanted to try river cruising but have a small child, right? Look, most of the time you go on a river cruise, it's going to be two people per stateroom. I think we mentioned that in the show. So a family of three or four is not going to be able to do a river cruise without buying two rooms, which is very expensive. It can be $5,000 a person just to get on the ship. I do think that there is for the river cruising aspect of this. If you've been wanting to try river cruising, you're not sure it's for you and you have a kid. The nice added benefit was things like the adventure guides taking the kids away for dinner three nights, the adventure guides taking the kids over to a children's museum for a portion of a tour. Some of the tours, I think, were aimed at kind of some of the family things, like the Marionette show. Or if you're asking a venture guide for a restaurant recommendation, they know you have a kid in front of you, so they're not going to send you someplace that's not going to be friendly to that. And lots of the activities were also just family activities in these places. You're probably not going to go on a Jack the Ripper tour in London with adventures by Disney. Maybe you will, I don't know. But it's these family friendly activities. So I think there was something to one being able to get on a river cruise with only one room to have the adventure guides there to help us. Loved the local adventure guides. I want to pause and just say, I don't think we've given enough sort of praise to the adventure guides that we had. So Danny, who was one of our adventure guides, is fantastic with Nathan. He's worked with autistic kids in the past. And so was always, like, talking to Nathan and trying to get Nathan to sing with him and act with him and do just all kinds of fun things. Jillian was our primary kind of lead adventure guide. She was really good at keeping everything organized and just really, really fabulous. Shannon was a fantastic adventure guide that we had. And we didn't spend as much time with her, but went on some of the tours with her. And she was also great. I mean, these adventure guides are on long bus rides with you, trying to keep you entertained and give you information. And we had two local adventure guides. George, who was from Hungary, and Joshua, who lived in the. And so, you know, you go to ask Joshua for a lunch recommendation. He's the one who told us about lugek, right? He prepared a sheet of recommendations because it's a city he lives in. Same thing, George. You know, I had some questions about Hungary, and George could answer them because he's been there. He lives there. He knows the city. And so venture guides were really kind of what I think you're paying for, both to help with the family aspect of it, the kids, and also give you those great local recommendations. Not to say that someone like the ship manager on board, John, wouldn't also have great recommendations as he's in and out of these cities every day. But those adventure guides are there to kind of give you that added level, added touch. Now, all that said, sam, is like, I think the best value that you get out of adventures by Disney is if you're going someplace where you're just not comfortable planning a vacation on your own. I'd argue a river cruise might have been that for us before we took this one. Now I'd feel a little bit more comfortable kind of understanding what it is and maybe planning one on my own. But if I'm going to go to Egypt, if I'm going to go to China, if I'm going to go really anywhere in, you know, these, what I'd say non english speaking countries that have very different local customs. I don't know where the best hotels to stay or the best areas of town are because I've never been before. I think there's a huge amount of value in adventures by Disney for me. I think the lowest value that adventures by Disney have would be know I'm going to London. I've been to London a ton. I don't need adventures by Disney to visit London. I don't need adventures by Disney to find a dude ranch know Montana for me. I can know browse websites and do my own research to do that. I think the adventures by Disney West coast kind know adventure that they do in and around Disneyland and San Francisco, that's amazing for the backstage aspects of it. Some of the European Adventures by Disney, I think are also going to be pretty amazing for some of the really special things you can do, like the one that goes to Italy, you get to go into the Sistine Chapel privately and lay down and you can talk in the Sistine Chapel, which if anyone out there has visited the Sistine Chapel knows is a huge no no when it's open to the general public. So I think that there are tours and places where people might want to go that they're not comfortable with. Then I think there's a huge value, especially if you're a family with a kid and you want to make sure that everyone's going to have a great time. So do I think it's worth it? Yeah, I do think we got the value out of this. Was it exactly what I expected? No. Were there some places where I thought adventures by Disney could have potentially done a little bit better in relation to what I paid? Yes. Would I do this particular river cruise again? Yes. But I may not do it with adventures by Disney next time, now that I know what it is. But I would absolutely be thinking about using adventures by Disney if we were going to go on an african safari or to Egypt or to China. And I think we're already sort of thinking through, like, what's the land based abd that we want to do in a few years? I don't think for us this is something that we met families on this cruise who had gone with adventures by Disney like, 15 times. And I'll tell you, Disney Cruise line seems to be the absolute gateway into getting people into adventures by Disney. So lots of experienced Disney cruisers on this Abd who had then started down the path with Abd and done it many, many times. I don't think that's us. I don't think that we're going to do 15 of these in our lifetime. I think we're probably likely to do maybe five or six of them over time, but I would use them to go to some far flung places that I'm probably not going to plan on my own just because I just don't have the time, patience, or understanding of where I'm headed to really make that a reality. So that's where I come down on it. Thought it was a fabulous vacation. Sam, I want to ask you, would you do it again? Would you do this again, knowing what you know? [01:47:05] Speaker C: Oh, absolutely. 100%, yes. I would do this river cruise again if I had to do a redo and you asked me, like, rewind time. Absolutely. Would do this again. But I also would do other river cruises with ABD. But I think more likely, as you mentioned, I would more likely do a land based trip with ABd in someplace that is more. Well, someplace particularly non english speaking and more exotic where we might not feel. [01:47:33] Speaker B: As comfortable doing the planning. [01:47:35] Speaker A: Last thing I'm going to say as we wrap up is we did ask Nathan shortly after the river cruise how it rated for him. And since he can't join us, since he's still recovering, I just wanted to share. He rated it a seven and a half out of ten after some consideration, and he said that his favorite parts of it were definitely the salt mine tour, which I know we talked about earlier in the show and loved making the apricot jam. He loved doing that. He loved the rock he got to bring home from below the salt mines. He loved the ice skating that he got to do on the trip. Now, beyond that, I think he saw it as a lot of walking. But I do want to compliment our son. He was an absolute trooper throughout. And I'm so glad that we then took him to Hawaii so he could get some rest. But I will say for all of you out there, don't ever fly from Europe to Hawaii. That's my last thing I'm going to say. It was awful. I'm glad we went because we were meeting up with some dear friends of ours in Hawaii to spend the week for the Christmas time. So glad we did it, but probably we'll ever do that again. So with that, we will wrap it up here and just say thank you out there for listening. I know this is a long episode, but a lot of you wanted to hear our full thoughts on the river cruise. So there they are. Thank you for listening. We really, really appreciate it, and we will see you next time. [01:48:49] Speaker B: See you real soon. [01:48:54] Speaker A: Well, a big thank you to all of you out there for listening this week. We really, really appreciate it. Please be sure to subscribe to the podcast so you can keep getting great content from the DCL duo each week. We'd also love it if you'd head over to Apple Podcasts and leave us a five star review. If you hit those five stars, that's great. 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Thanks again for listening and we'll see you next time for another fabulous Disney adventure with the DCL duo. Good night. One.

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