Final Thoughts, Backroads Danube River Cruise Full Ship Celebration
On Days 3 and 5, we took early morning rides before seeing the fairytale city of Český Krumlov and bustling Vienna. That’s the beauty of this Danube River itinerary. Sandwiched between the starting point of Prague and the end in Budapest, you can spend time in world-class cities, yet the bulk of the biking is in the countryside, pedaling through farmland or vineyards. It’s a fantastic combination and you cover so much ground, 5 countries in 8 days.
Backroads took over the entire AmaWaterways ship on this cruise. Translation: Only bikers were allowed on the ship. It also means that the Backroads trip leaders run the show and they were phenomenal. Malcolm has 23 years of Backroads experience under his belt and I was amazed at his ability to change the itinerary, even at the last moment. When water levels were too low to go further east on the Danube past Budapest, we had to skip our last morning of biking and, instead Malcolm had buses and guides waiting for us to tour Budapest. He was also a fantastic DJ, leading two epic dance parties during the week, featuring the best of 70s and 80s music. Lee should be in stand-up comedy, every line out of his mouth a witty joke. Loved the whimsy and sheer joy of Alex, especially when dancing. Stephan knew every bike route like the back of his hand and was often cheering me on during those hard uphill climbs. If it wasn’t for Jenn, I’d still be biking in Austria, lost on some route. She was always there to direct me in the right direction and answer all my questions. Fantastic group of trip leaders, the crème de la crème at Backroads!
More than half of the passengers on the cruise used e-bikes, which really wasn’t necessary after Day 2, when we had few uphill climbs unless you craved them. Most of the biking along the Danube River was relatively flat on bike trails.
My kids, Jake and Mel, ages 26 and 24 respectively, loved the cruise. The biking was challenging, the rural landscape was stunning, and the sightseeing and dining in the cities exceptional. Unfortunately, there was just one other family with kids their age aboard the ship. There was a younger group of 35 who pulled out at the last minute due to the war in Ukraine, but tourism was thriving in all cities, including Budapest. The only signs of the war were some refugees we met from the Ukraine. That left the average age aboard the cruise in the early 60s, which is not far from the usual demographic aboard a river cruise. My hope is that a younger generation will sample these Backroads itineraries because it’s really a wonderful bike cruise. You’re rarely on the boat, except for cocktail hour, dinner, dance parties, and sleeping. The rest of the time you’re meeting up with the ship after your bike ride. It’s an exciting way to see a good chunk of Europe.