Do men and women come away with different impressions when they travel?
We asked Phil Hawkes and Nicole Tujague to tell us about their recent Danube River Cruise and see whether the sexes have a varying view of river cruising…
“Well I travel a lot, mainly in Asia and Europe and I write a few travel articles for print and online media. But I’d never been on a cruise… in fact avoided them because who knows what you’d expect with a large group stuck together on a ship!
Anyhow, I thought maybe a river cruise on a small ship would be a good test to start with, just to put a foot in the water so to speak [but not literally] and luckily my wife agreed.
We researched several cruise operators, went to Expos and a couple of travel agents and chose a 7-night Danube River cruise on Gate 1 Travel. They seemed to have a good track record, an excellent value proposition and moreover were about to launch a brand new ship in April 2016. To my mind this was a big attraction because of the prospect of enjoying everything shiny and new.
So we met the Gate 1 rep at Munich Airport, together with a large group of our prospective fellow passengers. They all appeared to be pretty normal, very chatty, mostly Americans, who always have a lot to say, especially about politics!
Unfortunately there had been a lot of heavy rain in Germany leading to flooding just before our arrival, so our cruise started further down river at Passau, instead of at Regensburg as planned. The upside of this was that we spent 2 nights on the ship at Passau, and got to know this little town [including the laundromat] pretty well.
Gate 1 Travel put on a day tour of Regensburg for everyone, so we didn’t miss out on this charming historic city. In fact, all the cities we stopped at…Vienna, Bratislava and finally Budapest…were absolutely charming and there was a city tour included in each place. These were conducted by delightful local guides and although the “group flag” regime ruled, it was actually the most effective way to be “educated” in the history and culture of the region.
Would I do another river cruise? Probably yes, maybe the Rhine… or even the Volga from St. Pete to Moscow. And unexpectedly, I enjoyed the company of the other cruisers as well as the excellent food which put us all together at meal times, making new friends over a glass of regional wine.” Phil Hawkes
“Exhausted by our trips of one to two nights in each place, the thought of unpacking for a week yet still visiting a new location each day was very appealing. What was unexpected for me about the Gate 1 Danube cruise was the standard of luxury we experienced. A seriously divine bed, great cabin lighting, huge TV screen, large mirrors and a bathroom that ticked all the boxes for the travelling woman. Occasionally I just lay in bed watching the amazing scenery pass by.
There were many areas on the boat to escape the other passengers or to just sit and enjoy the sights. The food and wine were exceptional as one would expect, but again the standard of the dining experience did not let us down. My biggest concern was not eating too much, but it was easy to choose wisely from the huge variety of fresh and local dishes. I just love the fact that each evening meal offered à la carte dining with beautiful wines included.
There is nothing so romantic as drifting into the cities such as Budapest. You experience a stress-free encounter with time to soak up the sights from many viewpoints. You sail under famous bridges and at every turn a new historical site catches your breath. Swap traffic, congestion and arguments over maps and let the captain skilfully guide you to your next destination – priceless!
Yet, the cruise is not without excitement, there were locks to navigate, weather to accommodate and the thrill of the activities on the water. River cruising in Europe is a special type of luxury travel that is in a class of its own.” Nicole Tujague
See Gate 1 Travel’s full range of Europe River Cruises here and take advantage of Book By savings.
Photos by Nicole Tujague