Imagine a floating, mini version of your bedroom and bath; clothes conveniently accessible in closets and drawers; colorful original artwork in every room and corridor; trained, friendly, multilingual staff and crew at your beck and call; mouth-watering cuisine to excite your palate, such as local horseradish soup with chives, wiener schnitzel, mustard soup with Riesling and dill, sacher torte and apricot centered dumplings with vanilla sauce; complimentary regional wines with dinner; an upper deck boasting a giant chess set, shuffleboard court and cushioned lounge chairs; slowly passing by panoramic views of medieval castle ruins, lovely churches both grand and quaint, gothic and baroque architecture and lush forests ablaze with fall colors; nightly entertainment in an elegant lounge with Zoltán Kocsis at the piano, the musical antics of the Wiff and Hanzhanz Ensemble or the haunting melodies of the fujara, a Slovakian contrabass whistle; bartenders rivaling Cheers serving up your heart’s desire along with daily specials such as Deep Blue River and Harvey Wallbangers; and to top it all off, a dashing captain in charge of all this wonderment.
This is river cruising. And as long as you’re imagining, you might as well imagine the best: Uniworld’s River Beatrice with Capt. Tom Buining of Amsterdam at the helm.
“You have to be a little bit crazy to do this for 35 years,” he will tell you. “You’re on duty 24/7 with maybe six hours of sleep each night. I do it because it’s in my blood. My grandparents and both my parents were river captains, and I love it.”
His love for his ship is apparent as we tour the engine room, the sophisticated water filtration system, the amazingly concise and efficient kitchen, laundry facilities and state-of-the-art radar. I discover during our tour that Buining has a U.S. connection. Working his way up the naval hierarchy, he worked as a sailor on the St. Louis-based Mississippi Queen for a year and a half, calling it one of the most magnificent ships he’s ever seen.
“The ship is the captain’s responsibility; the weather the passenger’s responsibility,” he joked as we made our way to the upper deck on a cold, foggy fall morning.
Uniworld Boutique River Cruises is a leader in river cruises, offering more than 500 departures and allowing you to choose from more than 20 countries throughout Europe, China, Egypt and Russia.
An intimate ambiance of 130 guests on average and an outstanding crew are just a couple of the reasons Uniworld Boutique River Cruises has earned so many awards — Travel + Leisure’s “World’s Best Top 10 Small Cruise Lines” and Conde Nast Traveler’s “Gold List,” two of several awards. Click here for more information.
With so much to do on board, I almost forgot — this particular floating hotel, the River Beatrice, will take you to Budapest, Bratislava, Vienna, Durnstein, Melk, Salzburg and Passau, where well-versed, English-speaking local guides will enhance your onshore visits.
Stay tuned for more on these stops — some of the most beautiful, most picturesque cities of Europe.