River Cruise Possibilities

River cruising has become wildly popular in recent years. For good reasons. Here are just a few.

• Intimate ship size. Typically under 200 passengers on board.
• Unpack just once. Even though you may visit a different town or village each day, you needn’t pack again until the end of the trip.
• Very little motion. Rivers are intrinsically calm with a nearly level surface, eliminating any anxiety about seasickness.
• Port Proximity. Ocean cruise ports may be hours away from points of interest, most river ports are immediately in the heart of the city.
• Included excursions. Typically, these are basic overview walking tours. Others may be offered, some for additional fees.

Because of the popularity, the river cruise lines seek to distinguish themselves from each other by offering special interest themes, off-the-beaten-path itineraries, and deluxe onboard amenities. Take a look.

From Avalon Waterways
Hike, bike and explore your way through the picturesque and historic marvels of the world. On these interactive and dynamic cruises, Avalon gives you opportunities to spend time with locals to learn about local customs and the traditions with hands-on activities.

From Crystal River Cruises
Crystal Cruises has inaugurated the second Rhine-class riverboat to its Crystal River Cruises brand. The Crystal Mahler was christened by American volleyball star and godmother Lauren Barfield in Germany.
The christening took place during a handover ceremony at the MV WERFTEN shipyard also attended by cruise line executives, local dignitaries, and Crystal parent company Genting Hong Kong guests. Barfield—who is currently playing for Genting-sponsored SSC Palmberg Schwerin—blessed the ship and broke a bottle of champagne over its bow.
The Crystal Mahler will embark on seven-, eleven- and 16-day sailings on the Rhine and Danube Rivers. It will visit ports in the European countries of Austria, Germany, Slovakia, Netherlands, and Hungary.
The Rhine-class ships will carry 106 guests in all-suite, all-balcony accommodations featuring an unrivaled crew-to-guest ratio.
Amenities include suites with walk-in closets and dual vanity bathrooms, butler service for every guest, ETRO robes and slippers, iPad use, 42-inch HD TVs with streaming films, free Wi-Fi and Nespresso machines. Other features are a spa and fitness center, the signature Palm Court and Michelin-inspired dining in the Waterside Restaurant, Bistro Café, and Vintage Room.

From Viking River Cruises
This 8-day cruise from Avignon to Lyon (or the reverse) highlights the most celebrated regions of France, exploring the Roman ruins of Arles, the fabled Beaujolais vineyards, the UNESCO World Heritage Site at Lyon and more.

New and popular themes from AmaWaterways

Wellness

Wine

From Uniworld Boutique River Cruises

Journey through the “cradle of civilization.” Uniworld’s boutique river cruise and tour in India showcases astonishing sights along the country’s most acclaimed river, as well as must-see destinations in Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur—the “Golden Triangle”—one of the most culturally-rich areas of the subcontinent. From New Delhi to Kolkota, this 13-day itinerary is a stage for unforgettable cultural experiences. Meet the proud, generous and good-natured Indian people. Taste their amazingly complex and delicious cuisine. Discover India’s Islamic and colonial heritage in Delhi, and pay tribute to the legacies of Gandhi and Mother Teresa. Experience the spectacle of Jaipur’s color-saturated bazaars, and gaze in awe at the resplendent Taj Mahal. Quintessential India, delivered in Uniworld’s incomparable style. Take a look at Uniworld’s newest destination video—a alluring peep at the adventures that await in India!

From CroisiEurope
A unique river cruise itinerary. South of Spain : the Guadalquivir and Guadiana rivers with Altantic Ocean connection

Appealing? Want to plan a river cruise for 2017 or 2018? I would love to make this happen for you.

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  • How’s The Food?

    That’s one of the first questions our clients ask when we discuss a new-to-them river cruise line. Some clients are worried that there will only be “foreign” foods with too many sauces. Others are concerned that the selections will not be authentic regional dishes. Happily, the menus satisfy most guests. There will be a variety of choices but if they won’t suit, passengers can opt for one of the “always available” entrees which may include a fish, poultry or beef dinner.

    To give you an idea of the food served, here are recipes from popular river cruise lines.

    From Uniworld Boutique River Cruises:

    Manhattan Transfer
    From summer through fall, Bucharest’s markets present a parade of seasonal fruits. None is more Romanian than the sour cherry. The tasty berry garnishes this classic Manhattan made with rye whiskey and vermouth. You might try it in an Old Fashioned, too. Find this cocktail onboard the River Duchess on the Highlights of Eastern Europe itinerary or make it at home!

    Manhattan

    INGREDIENTS:
    • 6cl (2.03 fl oz) straight rye whiskey
    • 3cl (1.01 fl oz) sweet vermouth
    • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
    • 1 sour cherry
    PREPARATION:
    Build over ice in a mixing glass. Stir and strain into cocktail glass. Garnish with a sour cherry.

    From AmaWaterways:

    One of the most delicious aspects of traveling is to indulge in the incredible cuisine of the places you visit. Inspired by French velouté soups, this rich and flavorful cream of Chardonnay soup is made and paired with Chardonnay, of course. Leeks at the peak of their freshness and the bright sweetness of white grapes combine with butter and cream to create the perfect springtime comfort food. You can serve it as an appetizer or make it the star of the meal, served along with rustic French bread. Chardonnay Soup

    CREAM OF CHARDONNAY SOUP

    Try this recipe for Cream of Chardonnay Soup that’s often served onboard AmaWaterways ships. Chardonnay contributes the most richness of any dry white wine commonly used for cooking. For rich, creamy soups, wine can provide a welcome note of freshness and contrast – almost like a squeeze of lemon or an extra layer of flavor. The creamier a soup is, the more full-bodied a wine it can take.
    INGREDIENTS:
    3½ tablespoons of unsalted butter
    ½ cup onions, chopped
    ½ cup white leeks, chopped
    1 cup white flour (or wheat flour)
    2 cups Chardonnay
    10 ½ cups vegetable stock
    1 ½ cups of heavy cream
    1 ½ cups of white grapes
    ½ cup of fresh parsley, chopped
    Salt to taste
    Pepper to taste

    PREPARATION METHOD
    • Wash produce thoroughly
    • Chop onions and leeks into small cubes and set aside
    • Peel white grapes, remove seeds and slice
    • Wash parsley, chop and pat dry

    Use a large pot on medium heat to sautéed onions and leeks with butter until golden, then gradually add in the flour to thicken. Pour 1 cup of Chardonnay and all of the vegetable stock. Season with salt and pepper and let the soup simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Strain soup through a mesh cloth and add in the rest of the Chardonnay. Add heavy cream to soup. Garnish with warm grapes and parsley before serving.

    Makes 10 servings.

    From Viking River Cruises:

    French Gougères Cheese Appetizers

    Gougères are among the most popular hors d’oeuvres in France. A traditional specialty of the Burgundy region, gougères are often made with Gruyère cheese. You can also use other cheeses (such as parmesan) to add an extra depth. Enjoy these with a glass (or two) of good French wine.
    Ingredients
    • 1½ C water
    • ½ C unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
    • 1 tsp (5 g) salt, divided
    • 1½ C flour
    • 6 lg eggs
    • 1 C (130 g) grated Gruyère cheese, packed
    • ½ C (90 g) good quality parmesan cheese, packed
    • ½ tsp (2 g) fresh ground pepper
    • ½ tsp (2.5 g) salt
    Directions
    Place one oven rack in top third and a second rack in bottom third of oven; preheat to 400°F (204°C). Line two rimmed baking sheets with lightly greased parchment paper. In a 3- or 4-qt saucepan over medium heat, bring water, butter, and half the salt to a simmer, stirring until butter melts. Add flour all at once, stirring rapidly with a wooden spoon until mixture forms a smooth, thick paste with no lumps. Remove pan from heat; allow mixture to cool until it feels just warm. Using a hand-held mixer, beat in one egg at a time until all are incorporated. Stir in cheese, pepper and remaining salt. Drop spoonfuls of dough 3 inches apart onto prepared baking sheets. Bake until dough is puffed and golden brown, about 30 minutes, swapping the position of baking pans halfway through.
    • Prep time: 16 minutes.
    • Cook time: 30 minutes.
    • Makes 10 servings.

    Wiener Zwiebelrostbraten Wiener Zwiebelrostbraten

    Wiener Zwiebelrostbraten might not exactly roll off your tongue, but it will melt in your mouth. The name, pronounced VEE-ner TZVEE-bell-roast-brotten, literally means “Viennese roast beef with onions.” Very popular in Austria and Bavaria, this recipe enhances the beef flavor of the sirloin steaks through slow oven braising with that staple of Viennese cuisine, beef stock.

    Ingredients
    • 4 T butter
    • 2 med onions, peeled & thinly sliced
    • 1 tsp (2⅖ g) sweet Hungarian paprika
    • 6 8-oz boneless beef sirloin steaks, pounded ¼-inch thick
    • Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
    • 3 T(44 ml) vegetable oil
    • 4 C (946 ml) beef stock or consommé, fresh or canned, boiled down to 2 C (473 g)
    • ½ C (60 g) sour cream
    Directions
    Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). In a large cast-iron skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Sauté onions until light brown, stirring often; add paprika; cook another minute. Remove onions from pan; set aside. Season steaks with salt and pepper. Add vegetable oil to same skillet and add steaks; brown on both sides. Turn off heat, add beef stock to skillet, arrange onions on top and cover. Bake until tender, about 2-2½ hours. To serve, place steaks on a pre-warmed serving platter with onions arranged on top. Cover loosely to keep warm. Return skillet with remaining liquid to high heat and bring to a boil. Stir in sour cream; immediately remove from heat and pour over steaks. Serve immediately.
    Serving Suggestion
    This dish is traditionally served with roast potatoes or buttered parsley potatoes; you can garnish with crispy fried onions if you like.
    • Cook time: 2-2 1/2 hours
    • Makes 6 servings.

    From Uniworld Boutique River Cruises: Uniworld Desserts

    Mrs. Tollman’s Signature Honeycomb Ice Cream

    1 cup corn syrup
    8 oz granulated sugar
    1 tablespoon white vinegar
    1 tablespoon baking soda
    1-quart premium vanilla ice cream

    Dissolve the syrup, sugar, and vinegar over a medium heat. Turn the heat up high and boil until the syrup turns to a light caramel.
    Take the pan off the heat and quickly stir in the baking soda, then pour the mix into a high-sided baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper and greased with butter. Leave to cool and harden: do not refrigerate!
    Once hardened, this brittle, crunchy slab becomes your honeycomb base.
    Slightly soften the vanilla ice cream in a chilled ceramic bowl. Carefully break the honeycomb slab into various sizes, none more than 2cm square, and quickly fold half into the ice cream.
    Pour the ice cream into a desired ice cream mold or back into the original ice cream container and freeze again.
    Keep the remaining honeycomb in an air tight container for topping when serving.

    Sound appealing? Want to plan a river cruise for 2017 or 2018? I would love to make this happen for you.

    Need more information? We service many of our clients entirely through email:

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  • Rhine River Must-See Sites

    Viking River Cruises’ captivating Rhine Getaway itinerary is a popular choice for first-time river cruisers. Between Amsterdam’s colorful canals and Basel’s majestic Swiss Alps, this 7-night/8-day journey uncovers the heart of the celebrated Rhine River. It’s one of Europe’s legendary rivers, from imposing cathedrals and ancient hilltop castles to noteworthy cities and medieval villages to the Black Forest.

    Take a look at the highlights:

    Karine Hagen, Senior Vice President, Viking Cruises, comments, “Every time I visit Cologne, Germany, the striking profile of the city’s enormous Cologne Cathedral takes my breath away. This towering structure is one of the Rhine’s greatest treasures, and I was recently invited to its rooftop to go behind the scenes—or perhaps I should say “into the rafters”—to witness the constant attention given to its continual restoration. There, high above the city, Assistant Architect Jörg Sperner and I explored a world invisible from the ground: a forest of magnificently carved spires, hidden sculptures, fantastic gargoyles and imposing flying buttresses. Inside, doorways normally off-limits led to a narrow passage with breathtaking views of the cavernous nave below and stunning stained glass windows. I’m happy to let you know that Jörg and his team of architects have invited Viking guests to experience this very same vantage point of the Cologne Cathedral, an exclusive experience. Should your clients join one of our most enlightening itineraries, the 8-day Rhine Getaway, I hope they do as I did and enjoy a safe, bird’s eye view of one of Germany’s most beloved religious structures, the venerable Cologne Cathedral.”

    Explore the history of this ornate architectural masterpiece. Towering over the Rhine, the majestic Cologne Cathedral has been a beacon for pilgrims from around the world for centuries.

    Another stop along the Rhine Getaway itinerary is the iconic Marksburg Castle. Meticulously chiseled into the slate bedrock of a mountain peak, Marksburg has long stood as one of Germany’s most imposing castles. Step back into the Middle Ages with Karine as she explores the core of this prominent stronghold.

    Appealing? Want to plan a Rhine River cruise for 2017 or 2018? I would love to make this happen for you.

    Need more information? We service many of our clients entirely through email:

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  • or by phone – 800-372-1963

  • Viking’s Holiday Magic

    As we watch summer fade into fall, it’s time to plan to celebrate the holidays in old-world style. Viking River Cruises’s holiday sailings offer the most memorable gift you could imagine: in-depth cultural enrichment in Europe’s best loved river ports. Perfectly planned itineraries abound with Yuletide magic, the ideal way to experience Europe’s picturesque atmosphere and charm. This is the most festive time of year to cruise these waters as glittering lights and finery adorn Europe’s streets. On board your home away from home, the discovery continues with cultural enrichment activities designed to keep you fully immersed in the holiday riches of Europe—delicious regional cuisine, destination performances, festively decorated ships, and onboard lectures. Celebrate the season with Viking, and you’ll also enjoy Viking Inclusive Value. One price includes so much from meals and beverages to shore excursions and Wi-Fi.

    Europe’s Christmas Markets with Viking River Cruises
    Europe’s Christmas markets are where the romance and spirit of the holidays come alive. It’s not just the markets that have all the magic of the holidays, but Viking ships are adorned with extra shimmer and sparkle as well. Explore some of the fairy tale settings of Europe’s Christmas Markets.

    Interested in learning more about our European Christmas markets cruises? Visit us at: Viking River Cruises

    Viking for the Holidays: Danube Waltz

    Celebrate the holidays with the cultural traditions of Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary. Enjoy art, architecture, history and charming Christmas markets in European destinations including Passau, Vienna, Salzburg, Bratislava and Budapest.

    Viking for the Holidays: Romantic Danube

    This popular 8-day holiday cruise lets you discover Danube delights in Hungary, Austria, and Germany. From historic Budapest to beautiful Vienna to medieval Regensburg, experience the holiday season like never before.

    Gingerbread and glühwein are traditional treats that are enjoyed during the holiday season.

    Traditional Gingerbread with Chef Walter Simon Snr.

    Spiced and nutty in flavor, these traditional German Christmas cookies resemble soft gingerbread. Enjoy them at home or give as a gift—either way they fill your home with delightful aromas while baking. Taste these and many other holiday treats on one of our late fall or winter cruises along the Rhine or Danube.

    Ingredients:
    Cookies:
    One-half cup honey
    One-half cup molasses
    Three-quarters cup brown sugar (packed)
    One egg
    One tablespoon lemon juice
    One teaspoon lemon zest
    Two and three-quarters cup flour
    One-half teaspoon baking soda
    One teaspoon ground cinnamon
    One teaspoon ground cloves
    One teaspoon ground allspice
    One teaspoon ground nutmeg
    One-third cup candied citron (diced)
    One-third cup hazelnuts (chopped)

    Icing:
    One cup sugar
    One-half cup water or milk
    One-quarter teaspoon vanilla extract
    One-quarter cup powdered sugar

    Directions:

    Cookies:
    Combine honey and molasses in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Remove from heat; stir in brown sugar, eggs, lemon juice and lemon zest. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and all spices. Add the molasses mixture and mix well. Stir in citron and hazelnuts. Cover and chill overnight.

    Preheat oven to 350°. On a floured surface, roll out a small amount of the chilled dough to one-quarter-inch thickness. If dough is sticky, use more flour when rolling. Using a cookie cutter or a glass, cut round cookies out and place them on a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Place baked cookies on a cooling rack and brush icing while still hot. You can decorate with slivers of nuts or candied citron or other dried fruit. Or if you prefer, you can drizzle with melted chocolate. Store in a sealed container with a wedge of apple or orange to retain moistness.

    Icing:
    Heat sugar and water or milk with vanilla in a small saucepan, but do not boil. Remove from heat and stir in powdered sugar. If icing becomes crystallized, reheat and add water or milk as needed.

    Makes 8–10 servings.

    GLÜHWEIN (HOT MULLED WINE) GLÜHWEIN (HOT MULLED WINE)
    Around the Christmas season, public houses in nearly every European town offer mulled wine as a delicious antidote to the season’s chill. To warm up on a stormy evening or put yourself in a celebratory mood, you can make your own glühwein at home
    Ingredients
    4 qts dry red wine (e.g., zinfandel, pinot, burgundy)
    1 C white sugar (more to taste)
    1 pt brandy
    12 whole cloves
    1/8 tsp allspice
    1/8 tsp mace
    1 qt dry white wine
    1 orange
    1 lemon

    Garnish
    6 cinnamon sticks
    1 orange, sliced

    Directions
    Pour red wine into a 3-gal pot (or larger) and begin gentle heating. Add sugar and spices. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Add brandy and white wine, slices of 1 orange and the lemon. Steep for 1 hour over low heat. Serve hot and garnish with orange slices or a cinnamon stick.

    Cook time: 1 hour

    Makes 12-15 servings.

    If you are considering a Festive Season river cruise, please feel free to send me an email or call me so we can discuss your vacation plans in detail.

    Need more information? We service many of our clients entirely through email:

  • Click Here To Email Us

  • or by phone – 800-372-1963

  • Danube River Cruise Highlights

    Many of you have never taken a river cruise, are curious to try one, and ask me which itinerary is best for first-timers. Of course, I’ve loved them all but I often suggest the one I started with in Europe: the Danube River. Clients who love history, architecture, art, and diverse cultures are going to love a cruise down the Danube. Blending Eastern and Western Europe, you can look forward to seeing ancient cities and Roman ruins, enjoy outstanding cuisine, wine and beer, and encountering eclectic experiences.

    Take a virtual tour of iconic sites and unique opportunities with Viking River Cruises.
    Then contact us to plan the ideal river cruise for you.

    Embark on a Journey of Discovery - 3 - TastefulJourneys

    Romantic Danube Itinerary from Viking River Cruises
    During this 8-day journey, encounter the grand cities and quaint villages along the celebrated Danube River. Explore both sides of Hungary’s capital, traditional, hilly Buda and cosmopolitan Pest. Witness Vienna’s imperial architecture and tour medieval towns in Austria’s Wachau Valley. Savor the tastes of authentic dishes, learn about local legends and understand why Strauss immortalized the “Blue Danube” in his waltz.


    Cafe Demel, Vienna’s famed coffeehouse
    While visiting Vienna with Viking River Cruises, enjoy a leisurely stop at one of the city’s famed coffeehouses. The Demel has been creating delicious treats for over 200 years; choose from cream cakes, tea scones, apple strudels, Sacher tortes and cakes. Sip your coffee, enjoy a sweet treat, and indulge in the company of great friends and a beautiful café!


    Vienna’s Famed Lipizzaner Stallions
    Go backstage at Vienna’s famous Spanish riding school and discovers a world of elegance, discipline and remarkable skill. It’s the world of the Lipizzaner Stallions!


    Nuremberg Trials
    In 1945 at Nuremberg’s Hall of Justice, allied powers gathered seeking accountability. Today Courtroom 600 is one of the most visited sites in the city. Learn about the historic war crimes tribunals that took place here as the entire world looked on —and consider seeing Courtroom 600 for yourself.


    Explore More: Budapest, Hungary
    Budapest, once hidden behind the iron curtain, is a delight for the senses. Known as the “Pearl of the Danube”, the city of Budapest is renowned for its beauty. Highlighting five of Budapest’s most popular attractions, take a quick tour through this magnificent city.


    Cooking: Goulash with Agnes
    Gather fresh ingredients in the Budapest Great Market Hall and then prepare a traditional Hungarian dish, hearty goulash.


    Cooking: Wienerschnitzel with Toni Morwald
    Master chef Toni Mörwald is Austria’s most recognized chef. He learned from numerous grand chefs around the world, and at the age of 22 was awarded his first Gaultet Millau toque. Chef Mörwald is the proprietor of Michelin-starred restaurants, hotels and a catering business. He has dedicated himself to the training of more than 300 professional chefs, many of whom who hold the top jobs in some of the world’s finest restaurants. Watch as he shares his kitchen with Viking Cruises® Sr. Vice President Karine Hagen and shows how to prepare wiener schnitzel, the national dish of Austria. He begins by slicing the veal and lightly pounding veal cutlets flat. He then adds salt, pepper and sunflower oil. The cutlets are dusted with flour, dipped in egg, placed in breadcrumbs and browned to perfection. Chef Mörwald adds parsley-buttered potatoes and a lemon slice to complete the presentation. In the hands of a master chef, the signature specialty of Viennese cuisine is ready to be enjoyed in just five minutes. Viking Cruises itineraries are thoughtfully developed to immerse you in the cuisine of each destination so you can learn about different cultures through food. And Viking Cruises chefs feature regional cuisine and always available American classics in multi-course meals.


    Cooking: Bratwurst with Tom Schmechtig
    Learn about the variety of German cuisine including sausages, pretzels and more.


    If you are considering an Danube River cruise, please feel free to send me an email or call me so we can discuss your vacation plans in detail.

    Need more information? We service many of our clients entirely through email:

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  • or by phone – 800-372-1963

  • French Wine Experiences

    White Wine Tasting

    If you’ve got a passion for outstanding travel experiences and unforgettable wines, why not make 2016 the year you visit some of Europe’s most famous wine regions? On Châteaux, Rivers & Wine cruise explore incomparable Bordeaux, arguably the most famous wine region in the world.

    Viking River Cruises

    Viking River Cruises

    The Châteaux, Rivers & Wine itinerary explores the region’s opulent culture including its 18th-century merchant mansions, Gothic churches, celebrated Quarter Saint-Pierre and, of course, France’s largest controlled wine region with its Médoc, Saint-Ėmilion and Graves collections.

    The Wine Regions of Bordeaux
    Bordeaux, France is home to the world’s most prized wines. Learn about its many different regions and appellations with Karine Hagen of Viking.

    Bordeaux’s Sublime Red and White Wines from Viking River Cruises
    Delve into the essence of the region’s most popular wines with a local expert.

    Bordeaux’s Clairet & Rosé Wines from Viking River Cruises
    Introduce yourself to some of the hidden gems of Bordeaux. You’ll learn the subtle differences and why the French treasure these wines each summer.

    Truffle Hunting
    Ever wonder how rare and delicious truffles are found? Join Karine Hagen of Viking River Cruises in Bordeaux, France as she learns how dogs are trained to unearth one of the world’s great delicacies. On Viking’s Châteaux, Rivers & Wine river cruise, a visit to a working truffle farm is one of the many optional excursions you can enjoy.

    Sauternes – The Sweet Alternative from Viking River Cruises
    Enjoy a glimpse into this intriguing sweet wine. Karine Hagen takes a closer look with one of Sauternes’ local experts.

    If you are considering an wine themed river cruise in France, please feel free to send me an email or call me so we can discuss your vacation plans in detail.

    Need more information? We service many of our clients entirely through email:

  • Click Here To Email Us

  • or by phone – 800-372-1963

  • River Cruise Recipes

    At this festive time of year, many river cruise lines share the best-loved holiday recipes of their passengers. Here are a few of our favorites.

    From Viking River Cruises:

    VIENNESE HOT CHOCOLATE
    This recipe comes to us from Reiner Marks, who prepared this drink aboard Viking River Cruises ships in Europe many times. Reiner has fond memories of how much our guests enjoyed the drink, which he says “tastes delicious.” Enjoy! Viennese Hot Chocolate

    Ingredients
    3 C of low-fat milk
    7 oz premium dark chocolate, grated
    1 T granulated sugar
    1 C heavy cream, chilled
    1/2 tsp vanilla extract
    1 T confectioner’s sugar

    Garnish
    Cocoa powder or chocolate shavings

    Directions
    In a sauce pan, gently heat 1 C of milk with grated chocolate. Simmer over low heat until all chocolate has dissolved. Combine remaining milk and granulated sugar in another saucepan and gently heat, whisking until all sugar has dissolved. Add chocolate mix to sugared milk and continue simmering over low. In a bowl, whisk heavy cream and vanilla together on high slowly adding confectioner’s sugar until peaks form. Remove hot chocolate from heat and divide into cups. Place a generous dollop of whipped cream on top of each. Garnish with a pinch of cocoa powder or sprinkle with chocolate shavings and serve.

    Makes 4-6 servings, depending on mug size.

    GLÜHWEIN (HOT MULLED WINE)
    Around the Christmas season, public houses in nearly every European town offer mulled wine as a delicious antidote to the season’s chill. To warm up on a stormy evening or put yourself in a celebratory mood, you can make your own glühwein at home.

    Ingredients
    4 qts dry red wine (e.g., zinfandel, pinot, burgundy)
    1 C white sugar (more to taste)
    1 pt brandy
    12 whole cloves
    1/8 tsp allspice
    1/8 tsp mace
    1 qt dry white wine
    1 orange
    1 lemon

    Garnish
    6 cinnamon sticks
    1 orange, sliced

    Directions
    Pour red wine into a 3-gal pot (or larger) and begin gentle heating. Add sugar and spices. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Add brandy and white wine, slices of 1 orange and the lemon. Steep for 1 hour over low heat. Serve hot and garnish with orange slices or a cinnamon stick.

    Gluhwein - Hot Mulled Wine Cook time: 1 hour

    Makes 12-15 servings.
    Continue reading River Cruise Recipes

    And The Winner Is. . .

    Each year Cruise Critic’s international team of editors announce Cruise Critic Editors’ Picks Awards based on the lines and ships they feel best represent excellence in each of the designated categories. This is the first year Cruise Critic’s editors have selected a full list of winners exclusively for river cruise lines. Here is a list of “Best” voted in key categories.

    Best River Cruise Line
    Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection
    What does Cruise Critic love most about Uniworld? “With the launch of S.S. Maria Theresa, following 2014’s S.S. Catherine, Uniworld has proven its new-builds are the most beautiful and lavish in river cruising. Each of the line’s ships is unique — not just in decor and style but in features and layout. Uniworld also forges new itineraries, adding Bordeaux last year and India’s Ganges in 2016, and its shore adventures are always innovative.”
    Uniworld River Cruise Specialist

    Best New River Cruise Ship
    S.S. Maria Theresa, Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection
    ss Maria Theresa Lobby

    Why? “Named for royalty, Uniworld’s S.S. Maria Theresa is regal in its opulent 18th-century decor, a floating homage to the former Austrian empress. ss Maria Theresa Concierge Desk The onboard experience incorporates Champagne with breakfast, a tiled pool with floral mosaic backsplash and the floating notes of a Viennese waltz with afternoon tea service. Besides indulgent dining and an elegant atmosphere, this is one of the prettiest ships out there.”

    Best River Cruise Line Shore Excursions
    Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection
    Uniworld Guided Excursion Rationale? “Uniworld takes this category for the breadth of its shore excursions. Besides offering complimentary tours at a variety of activity levels, the line also gives passengers the opportunity for special behind-the-scenes tours and experiences, such as truffle hunting in France or an after-hours illumination of St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice.”

    Best River Cruise Line for Dining
    AmaWaterways
    AmaWaterways River Cruise SpecialistReason voted best? “A member of the prestigious La Chaine des Rotisseurs, AmaWaterways is distinct in that — no matter what the meal, from casual breakfasts and sun deck grill parties to elaborate, multicourse dinners — quality is consistent. AmaWaterways Cooking Class Culinary styles reflect modern trends, and there’s an emphasis on fresh ingredients and menus that reflect the region where you’re cruising.

    Best River Cruise Line for Active Cruisers
    AmaWaterways
    AmaWaterways Bicycle Excursion Explanation: “AmaWaterways has always been at the forefront of offering higher-energy excursions; they were among the first to have bicycles onboard for passengers to use in port. The line, which partnered with travel company Backroads in March 2015, has since added more immersive, active itinerary experiences, such as expert-curated road biking, as well as hiking and walking tours for every pace.”

    Best River Cruise Line Cabins
    Avalon Waterways
    With unique Open-Air Balcony® you’ll be able to open the giant wall-to-wall windows and invite the outside in, any time of the day or night, come rain or come shine. Watch:

    Best River Cruise Line Itineraries
    Viking River Cruises
    Viking River Cruises Asia Cruise Critic says, “With its Longships, Viking River Cruises has long been a force on major rivers like the Danube and Rhine, but the line also offers an array of itineraries in Asia, Egypt and lesser-known parts of Europe. Standout destinations include Myanmar, Portugal and Bordeaux. We especially love the unique, complimentary tours, such as chocolate fondue-making and Tai Chi lessons.”

    Best River Cruise Line for Value
    Emerald Waterways

    Emerald Sky
    Emerald Waterways®
    Explanation: “Available in Europe, Emerald Waterways packs a lot of inclusions, such as complimentary shore excursions and transfers, prepaid gratuities and free beverages (including wine and beer at lunch and dinner) at a lower price. Other innovations include an indoor pool, which transforms into a movie theater at night and, in some cabins, a floor-to-ceiling window that drops down halfway.”

    Which river cruise line should you book? Give us a call and we’ll match you to the line that best suits your preferences. If you are considering a river cruise, please feel free to send me an email or call me so we can discuss your vacation plans in detail.

    Need more information? We service many of our clients entirely through email:

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  • or by phone – 800-372-1963

  • River Cruising Advisement #1

    The weather.  It can’t be predicted.  It can’t be guaranteed.  So, when is the best time to take a European river cruise?

    Uniworld Germany Rhine Valley

    September is the most popular time to take a river cruise in Europe, but also the most expensive. You’ll find lower prices during the months of November, December, March and April. The snow melt from the Alps swells Europe’s rivers in late April and May, at times so much that river vessels cannot sail under the ancient low bridges. June, July and August typically have the warmest weather but the ports are most crowded. And, severe heat and drought in the summer can cause water level to drop too low for river boat navigation. The fall usually means the end of the drought, but rains begin and the rivers start to swell again.

    OK, so what do the river cruise lines do?

    River cruise lines have developed a couple of alternative plans when rivers become impassable. One is to turn the remainder of the cruise into a bus tour, with passengers reaching destinations by bus and staying overnight in hotels. This is a solution Avalon Waterways®, a division of Globus® has successfully implemented. Otherwise, the vessel can operate day trips from a central docked location so the ship remains the passenger’s hotel. The ship then resumes its course when water levels return to normal.

    The other is to exchange ships à la Viking River Cruises. In cases where a line has two or more ships running the same river, often in different directions, passengers might be bussed around a high-water stretch and board a sister ship for the rest of the sailing. Since many riverboats have identical layouts, passengers can typically retrieve the same cabin number on the new ship with minimal hassle.

    Only in extreme circumstances will the cruise be cancelled entirely.

    Tauck® European River Cruising has dealt with the issues of water levels by developing an amusing animation video called Meet Europe’s “River Gods.” The video makes clear that sometimes the river gods are in a surly mood and they don’t want anyone traveling in their realm. But the video explains that your vacation will not be substandard since appropriate land arrangements will be substituted. Tauck® is prepared for the unexpected along Europe’s waterways

    Water levels can impact any river cruise. The best advice is to choose a river cruise line that is also experienced in land touring or has many ships along the rivers that can be swapped if a section of the river becomes impossible to negotiate.

    If you are considering a European river cruise, please feel free to send me an email or call me so we can discuss your vacation plans in detail.

    Need more information? We service many of our clients entirely through email:

  • Click Here To Email Us

  • or by phone – 800-372-1963

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  • Czeching Out Prague

    The culture-packed capital of the Czech Republic, Prague, is a popular land add-on Danube and Elbe river cruises. Romantically titled ‘The City of a Thousand Spires’ Prague claims some of the finest churches in Europe, dotted along cobbled passageways, classical opera houses and medieval bridges – and all safeguarded by a formidable fairytale castle. Its blend of historic monuments, interactive museums, hidden gardens, exceptional restaurants, cavernous breweries, lively markets and spirited jazz clubs ensure there isn’t a dull moment in this bohemian city.

    Prague Astronomical Clock3

    Viking River Cruises offers a delightful itinerary called Elegant Elbe which includes an overnight stay in Prague with an included panoramic tour of the city, a UNESCO site and the famous Hradcany Castle. Viking descripes the journey, “Discover the natural beauty of former East Germany’s dramatic landscape on an Elbe River cruise. Tour the opulent palaces of Saxon monarchs and stroll through beautifully landscaped gardens; sail between the dramatic sandstone cliffs of Germany’s Saxon Switzerland. Marvel at the baroque splendor of Dresden and see how Meissenware porcelain is produced. Walk in the footsteps of Martin Luther in historic Wittenberg and learn about the Protestant Reformation. Your journey is bookended by one night in multicultural Berlin and one night in graceful Prague. An elegant experience indeed.”

    Prague is especially proud of its favorite beverage: beer. In 1466 just off Prague’s Old Town Square, a tiny micro brewery first opened its door. On the same spot today, Ladislav Vesely continues the centuries-old tradition of making the finest Czech beer.

    During free time, explore Prague’s rich Jewish history in the former Jewish Ghetto. Follow Karine of Viking River Cruises in Prague, as she visits the oldest synagogue in Europe, where generations have worshiped since 1270.

    If you are considering an Elegant Elbe river cruise, please feel free to send me an email or call me so we can discuss your vacation plans in detail.

    Need more information? We service many of our clients entirely through email:

  • Click Here To Email Us

  • or by phone – 800-372-1963