Terry S. of Naples, Florida, recently returned from a back-to-back guided vacation and river cruise in Europe. Read about his experience and suggestions for fellow travelers.
I recently returned from two Grand European Travel vacations: Best of the Italian Lakes (Trafalgar) and the Enchanting Danube River Cruise (Uniworld) and wanted to share my feedback firsthand. To put my tours into perspective, I have traveled to 38 countries, to Europe 17 times, as well as to all 50 states. Most of my travel was independent or for business, but I have also been on about half a dozen land tours. And I am happy to report that my two GET tours exceeded all of my expectations!
Why I chose two back-to-back trips
Both of the vacations I did were on my “bucket list.” I had the time and resources, but from past travel experience I knew that it would take some time to recover from jet lag. I decided to combine the two trips to have more time to acclimate to the time change while also saving on airfare and the hassle of an additional trans-Atlantic flight.
First up: A tour of the Italian Lakes
“Awesome” is somewhat overused today, but it is the best way to describe the Italian Lakes and Alpine Region. The panoramic, majestic scenery was breathtaking, and the boat rides on Lake Maggiore, Como, and Garda allowed us to take in and enjoy all of God’s natural beauty. I especially loved visiting the town of Bolzano. It’s incredibly clean and beautiful with Swiss, Austrian, and Italian influences – I could absolutely live there!
Our Travel Director, Amedeo Tarquini, was a “proud Roman” who generously shared his outstanding knowledge of everything Italian, giving all of us a better understand of what we were seeing. The scheduled and optional excursions were great. These included a wonderful dinner hosted by an Italian wine-making family as well as a delicious Farewell Dinner in Milano near La Scala – both were fabulous!
Next: A luxury River Cruise
When my tour came to an end, I took a train through the Alps from Milan to Passau to reach my ship. The train ride was beautiful but I was pretty tired by the time I got there. When I arrived in a taxi, I was greeted by someone from Uniworld who was there to assist me with my suitcase. A gentleman escorted me down the plank to the ship, where I was offered a comfy chair and some food and drink. At that moment I thought to myself “wow, I’m in for a surprise!” I don’t think I’ve ever been treated that well, for that long, by so many people in my entire life.
The Enchanting Danube Cruise was, as the name suggests, truly enchanting. It was my first River Cruise and the experience was first-class all the way. Seeing the architectural beauty of three European Capitals without having to pack and unpack along the way was terrific. The floating hotel concept is a wonderful treat that is definitely worth repeating.
The scenery, food, wine, entertainment, and service were all exceptional! The variety of scheduled and optional land excursions also gave everyone enjoyable opportunities to get up close and personal with the local culture at each stop. One of my favorite highlights was a private Mozart-Strauss concert in Vienna, the City of Music. To my surprise, the entertainment onboard was also fantastic – there were piano players, singers, and local musicians performing every evening. I definitely plan on taking another River Cruise soon!
Finally, I would like to thank and compliment the staff at every step of my journey – they worked very hard to make these tours an enjoyable experience and a life-long memory. I would recommend taking two back-to-back GET tours to any fellow travelers – it will save you the added expense of another trans-Atlantic flight and double your enjoyment of traveling with Grand European!
– Terry Schultz, Naples, FL