A great chance to see six countries in Eastern Europe
from the comfort and
convenience of a luxury river ship
Join a small group of 'Travel Insiders' and share the
enjoyment of a very different style of vacation on the custom
built luxury river boat
Amalegro (sister ship
Glide by beautiful scenery and visit ancient towns as we travel through places
most westerners never get to see in Romania, Bulgaria,
Serbia, Croatia, Hungary and Turkey.
Maybe you've cruised on a
gigantic ocean cruise ship before. Our Black Sea Discovery river
cruise is very different.
The custom built and brand new river cruiser, Amalegro,
(launched in March 2007) has only
making for a much more personal and less institutional
The river cruise experience is
very different in many positive ways to a traditional ocean cruise. You
never have rough seas, and you're always treated to beautiful
views out your cabin window, never just empty ocean.
Note : We can offer you
an across the board 5% discount on all cruises operated by
Amadeus Waterways. So if this special
tour doesn't suit,
have us arrange whichever other cruise you'd prefer.
Note : This cruise is not
being offered by ourselves in 2008 (our next one will be 2009),
but we can help you choose one of these cruises and save you 5%
contact us for more information.
skip down to the booking form
About the Cruise/Tour
Like a traditional cruise,
this is a fully inclusive cruise, and - better than a
traditional cruise - it includes a generous amount of shore
touring as well. You won't have to pay extra for your
shore touring as we visit the lovely towns and cities as we
cruise around the waterways.
The cruise of course
includes three great meals a day, plus various other snacks,
on-board entertainment, as well as generous opportunities to
sightsee, both from the boat as it cruises the river, and while
ashore during the many stops. You typically have time to
participate in a provided tour and also to sightsee and
shop on your own.
A nice extra feature is free
wine provided with every dinner.
While all meals are available on the vessel, you'll also be able
to experience other dining opportunities ashore if you wish.
Similarly, the on-board entertainment can be supplemented with
visits to clubs and bars and shows ashore - the vessel
will sometimes stay in port until late at night, allowing you a chance to
experience towns by day and by night.
The complete cruise/tour
from Budapest to Istanbul starts off with two nights at the
Sofitel Hotel in Budapest before we board the Amalegro,
and then at the end of the cruise we continue on by coach,
spending one night at the Iberostar Sunny Beach resort on the
Black Sea, then three nights at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in
River Cruising - the only
practical way for this itinerary
How else would you expect to
travel through the countryside in places such as Romania and
Croatia? There really is no other convenient or
reliable way of seeing these countries.
In addition, river cruising is simply and
absolutely the most comfortable and convenient way to travel
around Europe. Unpack your bags and get
comfortable in your lovely large cabin and you not need to repack or
transfer until the end of the cruise - this in itself is
probably all the convincing you'll need!
I've experienced every
possible type of travel, and I'm a 100% convert. River
cruising is the best way to see Europe. Try it,
and you'll be sure to agree.
Why Cruise in October
Experienced travelers know
the best time to travel is always either side of the peak
October sees lower airfares
and less crowding in the places we'll be visiting. The
days are cooler than mid summer, but that can sometimes be a
bonus - there's less chance of being uncomfortably hot in places
that are unlikely to offer air conditioning (although of course
Amalegro is fully climate controlled).
In Istanbul daytime
temperatures average around 70° (but can occasionally go as high
as 90°) and at night it averages around
50°, with 2.1" of rain for the entire month - perfect for
our travels. It will probably be 5 or more degrees cooler on
the European side of the Black Sea.
The tour starts in
Budapest on Friday 12 October. This means you
should leave the US on Thursday 11 October (or sooner) so as to
arrive in Budapest on Friday 12th (or sooner).
The tour ends in Istanbul on
Thursday 25 October. You can plan to fly home from
Istanbul on that day, or you can extend on beyond then as you
Usually if you start your
return home from Istanbul on a given day, you'll get home to the
US on the same day, so if you return on Thursday 25th, you'll
get home the same day, also Thursday 25th.
Information about Amadeus
Our first Travel Insider river
cruise, in 2004, was with Viking
River Cruises, and the experience was excellent in almost all
respects. In 2006, we used Amadeus Waterways, both for our
Russian River Cruise in July
and for our Christmas Markets cruise in December. This was not because we dislike
Viking, but simply because we believe Amadeus offers a
better itinerary, and better value product.
This perception isn't just a
coincidence. The founder and head of Amadeus, Rudi
Schreiner, first worked for Uniworld (another fine cruise
company) and then was President of Viking River Cruises from
2000 until the end of 2002, when he left to found Amadeus, with
Amadeus first appearing on the market in 2003, and growing
steadily every year since then. Rudi was largely
responsible for the excellent operations at both Uniworld and
Viking, and now he is taking everything he has learned and
applying it in his own company, with outstanding
His ships are as good or better
than any others you'll find on the rivers and canals of Europe,
and are (of course) also very new. As the newest company in
the market, he is having to work harder to win business, and is
doing so by offering great itineraries, lots of inclusions, and
great values. I've spoken with Rudi and he impresses as a
sensible and perceptive gentleman.
Our expectations have been borne out
in reality. Amadeus provided an excellent quality product,
with wonderful ships and friendly helpful crew on both our 2006
featured cruises. They are
an quality company and we're pleased to confidently continue
our partnership with them again for this cruise, our
Russian River cruise, and our
Christmas Markets cruise in 2007.
In 2004, Amadeus was still new
and largely unproven, so we chose the safer option of Viking. Now, in 2007,
Amadeus is a proven quality
operator, both in the marketplace as a whole, and with us in
particular. We are
confident you'll agree that Amadeus Waterways is an
Because Amadeus is still relatively
new, there are few independent reviews of their cruises. Here
are three :
on this site (scroll down a bit to get to the review)
...the Amadagio exceeded our
highest expectations. Amadeus Waterways claims that the
Amadagio is the most luxurious ship on the European
waterways today and this is true.
The hips don’t lie - one outstanding feature was the variety
of meals served for lunch and dinners with outstanding
desserts. The crew was very helpful, friendly and
Tom Ogg writes about his
experience with Amadeus on a different itinerary and says in his
conclusion (I agree with everything but wonder how they managed
to get 11 hours sleep a night!)
Joanie and I didn’t know if
we were going to like our river cruise or not. Many of our
friends told us that we wouldn’t for a variety of reasons.
They were too structured for us (we are well known for our
aversion to structured events), there is nothing but older
folks on a river cruise, or we would be bored out of our
minds. One friend that has taken several groups on river
cruises warned us against taking off on our own.
Here is the bottom line. We
liked it a lot….and here are the reasons. First, we went our
own way on purpose and no one said anything to us
whatsoever. We knew where the boat would be and when to be
there and that is all that counted. In fact, the cruise
manager would tell us special things we could do in some of
the towns that turned out great. Don’t discount river
cruises if you are the type that likes to go your own way.
Second, we loved the intimacy of the ship. With only 120
passengers we got to know quite a few people very well.
Joanie and I met a couple from Vail, Colorado that were
wonderful people that I am sure we will evolve a friendship
with. We were going to meet them for dinner in Paris, but
Joanie became ill and couldn’t make it. Folks that like
river cruising are well traveled, successful, bright and
interesting people and Joanie and I enjoyed the people we
met…all of them. I can’t say I have ever had the same
experience on a larger ship. Third, we loved the uniqueness
of the ports. About the only way to see the same ports would
be via a motor coach tour. Which would you rather do? Sit in
the sun on the river drinking a glass of wine while the
scenery drifts by, or sit in a motor coach trying to catch a
glimpse of that castle that is hiding behind the trees.
Finally, yes, it was boring.
There were no discos, no casino, no theme parties, no
production shows, no tender tickets, no lines, no bar
hopping, none of that. It was so boring that Joanie and I
got more rest than we have ever had. We averaged almost 11
hours of sleep a night. The entire cruise was so relaxing,
that we are having a hard time reentering our normal lives.
I will take boring any day! If you haven’t considered a
river cruise, take another look, you might just find it as
enjoyable as Joanie and I did.
Connie and Darwin write of their cruise on the same
itinerary with Amadeus
If you have never been to Europe, or even if you have, a
river cruise is the way to go. Your hotel travels with
you. It is so relaxing and you really get caught up in
the atmosphere and are intoxicated with the scenery, even
without beer or wine. We have been back a few weeks
now, and I still have vacation head. I would go back
in a heartbeat. During our cruise we celebrated our
anniversary and I whispered to my husband during the
fabulous sparkler-laden layer cake that paraded out, “How
are we ever going to top this?”
About the Amalegro
Our cruise ship for this
brand new (launched in March 2007), having been custom designed to meet the special
needs of the Danube, enabling it to operate in less favorable
conditions than many of the other boats (ie when the water
levels are 'too high' or 'too low').
The boat is long but narrow.
It is 360' long and 37.4' wide, and cruises at 15.6 mph.
This might seem like a slow speed, but it is faster than most of
the other cruise boats, enabling the boat to get between towns
faster and giving you more time sightseeing.
Dining is single-seating and
with no pre-assigned tables, so you can move about as you wish
from meal to meal. Amadeus even provides a generous amount
wine with your evening meal each night.
Smoking is restricted to the
outside Sun Deck only.
Our cruise has been marketed
to English speaking people and the official language
on board is English. This means you won't have the
inconvenience of having to listen to every announcement being
repeated in four or five different languages, and you can
conveniently talk to your fellow guests (and likely soon to be
new friends) on board.
Cabins on the Amalegro are the largest of
any cruise boat - a massive 170 sq ft each. The 154 sq ft
cabins on the earlier Viking cruise seemed spacious, and the 170
sq ft cabins on Amalegro are even more marvelously roomy and
The cruise is offered in
five cabin grades plus there are four suites as well.
There are 69 cabins and four suites on
three decks, and all are well equipped with a/c, bathroom and
shower, phone, flat screen television, internet access,
hairdryer and safe. The television has both local and
satellite channels, a bridge-cam channel, and an evening
All five grades of cabin are
very similar in terms of size and amenities. The main
difference is the deck the cabins are situated on.
picture (of the identical sister ship Amadagio) clearly
shows the three accommodation decks. The top deck and the middle deck have floor
to ceiling sliding doors and 'French balconies' (a very small
space outside the sliding door), but the lower deck just has
The most important
difference though is not the style of window, but rather the
height above the waterline. There is a big difference in
perspective and view between the top deck (suites and A category
cabins) and the middle deck (B and C category cabins), while on
the lowest deck (D and E category cabins) the floor is actually
below the waterline and your windows and eye level is only a
foot or so above the waterline. On this deck, with even
the slightest amount of bank on the sides of the river, you'll
not see anything other than the water and bank from the bottom
deck, and there may be a bit more water and machinery noise on
that level too.
When moored, if your cabin
is on the dockside rather than the outboard side, the lowest
deck cabins will have a view blocked by the dock, the middle
deck cabins may have a limited view, and the top deck cabins
will usually have a view above the dock level.
These differences are much
more profound than in a massive cruise ship where even the
lowest deck is still a long way above the waterline. Of
course, if you do choose a D or E category cabin, you can spend
the days in the public areas and enjoy the views from there, but
if you can justify the extra cost to go up a deck or two, the
chances are you'll be very pleased you did.
Suites are 255 sq ft, cabins
are 170 sq ft.
Tip : Choose the
least expensive cabin type on the deck you'd rather be on.
There is no added value in choosing a D cabin in favor of an E
cabin, or a B cabin in favor of a C cabin.
Note that the cruise is
almost full - there is one only B cabin remaining.
Per person pricing for the
cruise is as follows :
Cruise Only (Budapest to Rousse)
Cruise and Land in Budapest and to
Cruise, Land and Air (estimate ex
Extras and Inclusions
Port Taxes are $84 per
Single rate is 150% of the
above per person share twin rates for cabins or 200% for a
junior suite. A guaranteed single share program is
also available for category B cabins (see below).
Air can be arranged for you
by us through Amadeus or you can make your own arrangements
as you wish.
Air fares can be quoted from most cities in the US.
Rates include two Travel
Insider cocktail parties on board Amalegro
You can pay for your tour using a
credit card with no credit card surcharge.
A $200 per person
non-refundable deposit is required to confirm your participation
and to hold your preferred grade of cabin on
this cruise, and the balance is due 90 days prior to departure.
Single Guaranteed Share
If you are planning to
travel by yourself, but would prefer to avoid the single
surcharge, Amadeus offer a guaranteed twin share program with
another person of the same gender, in their category B cabins.
Alternatively we will make a
best effort to connect you with another single Travel Insider
group member, but can't guarantee to find someone compatible.
What about the Air Fare?
If you buy the Amadeus
airfare, they include transfers from the airport to the cruise
ship when you arrive into Budapest and then from the hotel to
the airport when you depart from Istanbul. These transfers
are convenient, but require you to arrive on the exact day the
tour starts and leave the exact day the tour ends. They
can easily be arranged by yourself when you
arrive at the airport as well (ie taxi), so should not unduly influence
your airfare planning.
We suggest you check to see
if you can use any frequent flier miles you might have for this
travel, and/or check to see what the best fare you can get on
your favorite airline is, then compare it to the Amadeus rate
and make your decision then.
You are therefore free to
make your own arrangements, any way you wish, to travel to
Budapest and then
home again from Istanbul, and you can of course make extra
stops and arrive earlier or stay longer. You can choose whichever
carrier has the best fare and the best schedules for you, and
you can also choose a carrier that you wish to earn miles with.
We'll be pleased to answer
any questions you might have about arranging your air
transportation, of course.
Tip : Ask for an
air included quote when you know your itinerary. Then with
that space held, see if you can get a better deal or more
convenient flights, or perhaps frequent flier tickets. As
long as you cancel your Amadeus arranged flights before you send
in final payment, you can do this without penalty.
Which cities to fly in and out
This might seem like an
obvious issue, but remember that Europe is very small and so if
you can't get convenient flights (or fares) on your preferred
airlines to and from the obvious cities at the start and end of
your tour, consider flying in or out of nearby airports and then
using a train to get between that airport and the city you need
to be in.
For example, consider flying
in to Vienna and taking a short 2¾ hour
train ride from Vienna to Budapest.
On your return, however,
you'll probably need to fly out of Istanbul - there are no
obvious other major airports nearby.
Need More Information?
If you've a question or need
more clarification, go ahead and ask. Click for Live
Chat Help (if we're online) or
send us an email, or feel free to call us at (206)337-2317.
We generally recommend you
should protect against the various types of losses that may
occur while traveling.
Amadeus Waterways offer a
policy that covers you for trip cancellation and interruption
costs, medical costs, trip delay, and baggage delay or loss.
This is $199 per person. The premium is payable with your
To add an extra trip
cancellation premium that will allow you to cancel for any
reason at all, add another $30. With this add-on premium,
if you cancel for a reason not covered by the main policy,
Amadeus will refund you as much of your payment as is covered by
their usual policy, and give you a voucher to be redeemed
against future travel any time in the next year for the balance.
for a new page with more information on the Amadeus travel
How to Extend or Vary this Tour
There are many ways you can
extend or vary this tour. You're of course free to add anything
you like, before or after the cruise.
We recommend you consider
arriving into Europe at least a day before the cruise starts, so
as to give yourself a day to resolve any problems that may occur
such as missing/delayed flights or losing luggage.
are planning to arrive early, you might want to consider flying
in to Vienna and spending extra time in Austria, then taking a
train to Budapest to join the tour on Friday 12 October.
One other option is to take
the cruise immediately prior to this cruise, which starts in
Prague on 4 October (leave the US on 3 October). That way
you cruise from Prague to Budapest and then immediately join the
cruise on from Budapest to Istanbul.
If you have more questions, please don't hesitate to ask.
We're here to help ensure your experience is as good as
Tour Terms and Conditions
standard terms and conditions
apply to this tour.
In addition, please note
these extra terms :
1. The 90 day
payment due date is considered to be Thursday 12 July.
2. US citizens require a
current passport that will not expire for at least six months
after the date of their planned return back to the US in order
to be admitted to Europe. They do not require any European visas. Citizens of other countries should check with the
airline that will transport them to Europe to determine what
passport and visa requirements may apply.
3. Tour price is
subject to change prior to full payment being received.
4. Terms and
conditions of the cruise line (Amadeus
Waterways) also apply.
The Travel Insider is
licensed by the State of Washington as a seller of travel -
registration number 602 036 247.
25 Jan 2007, last update
08 Jan 2013