Salzburg Germany vacationI recently enjoyed the opportunity of sailing on the Romantic Danube Cruise with AMA Waterways. This was my second River Cruise with AMA and won’t be my last.

We started our adventure with a few days in Munich, Germany. What a vibrant city full of culture & history. We stayed at the Le Meridien Hotel which is perfectly located adjacent to the train station and walking distance to the Marienplatz which is where you can see the New Town Hall, Old Town Hall, the Column of St. Mary, and the Glockenspiel Clock Tower. While in Munich we took a hop on & off city tour which is always a great way to get oriented to a new city. We also enjoyed a day trip to the beautiful city of Salzburg and another day on the Romantic Road stopping at Harburg Castle and Rothenburg, one of the best preserved medieval towns in Germany.

After our stay in Munich we took the train to Vilshofen where we boarded the AmaCerto for our 7 day cruise on the Danube River. We had a lovely stateroom including plenty of space and a French balcony which we were able to open and enjoy the striking views and fresh air. Our first evening we enjoyed a welcome dinner onboard and then we were treated to a traditional Okotberfest Celebration on shore with live music & dancing. Back on board the ship we found our sign-up sheet waiting in our room so we could choose our included tour choices for the entire cruise.

When we have gone on cruises before we have gone with Family. It is nice traveling with others you know but it is also nice traveling with just the two of us because we get to meet more people. I think cruising is a great way to travel and is actually about the least expensive way to travel when you think of everything you get. There is something for everyone, Great Food, Movies, Music and dancing, Karaoke Fun, amazing Production Shows, other entertainment and many other fun activities, depending on your interest. This is the first time we have gone to all the shows in the evening. My personal favorites were Magic to Do and Colors of the World.

We traveled in October, which was a perfect time not too hot or too rainy and cold for the different places we went.

Our Cruise started and ended in Los Angeles, and the Itinerary included San Francisco, Monterey, San Diego, Ensenada and two days at sea.

For some, getting in touch with nature can be a spiritual experience. The beauty and wonders of the world can definitely be therapeutic to all of us.

I have often heard that a cruise is a perfect vacation because you can do as little or as much as you please. We have always tended to be on the busy side. We have gone to trivia games, karaoke, shows and more. Our most recent cruise on the Ruby Princess to the Mexican Riviera was different. We spent a lot of time relaxing. I learned a few tips to make this an enjoyable vacation also.

First, splurge on a balcony cabin. On Princess, the Caribe deck has balconies that are larger with a partial covering. They are especially nice when there is a bit of weather. We had breakfast on the balcony every morning. We sat out as we arrived and left ports. We were able to see the stars at night as well as sunrise and sunset. The balcony provides a unique view to your cruise.

Glacier Bay cruiseFor some, getting in touch with nature can be a spiritual experience. The beauty and wonders of the world can definitely be therapeutic to all of us.

My recent Alaskan cruise to Glacier Bay on Holland America’s Eurodam had an amazing effect on calming my anxiety. From the time the ship left Seattle until its return to Puget Sound a week later, I was in awe of the vastness and natural beauty of America’s largest frontier. The islands, waterways, passages and tundra of the Pacific Northwest are truly majestic. The miles and miles of mountaintop ice fields, waterfalls, salmon-filled streams and glaciers of Alaska are the most incredible masterpieces of nature that I’ve ever seen.

The week’s most precious moment occurred when our captain negotiated the ship to within a few hundreds yards of John Hopkins Glacier inside Glacier Bay. Everyone on the ship was silent as the massive ice structure popped with new cracking, hoping to see a large chunk calve into the cold waters below. When it finally happened, a chorus of awes was heard echoing across the water. My friend’s wife, in the balcony next to me, turned my way with tears in her eyes.

"That was one of the most exciting things I’ve ever seen,” she said. “Almost spiritual."

uniworld river cruise kathy hirstI recently had the wonderful opportunity of taking one of the premier river cruise experiences, Uniworld River Cruises. I have sold many Uniworld Cruises to my clients but had never had the opportunity to enjoy this product myself. We chose the Burgundy and Provence itinerary though Southern France. We arrived via Amsterdam in Marseilles. Uniworld transferred us in a very nice small luxury van to Avignon where we were met at the dock by a steward who checked us in. There were no long lines involved, which was welcome after a long flight a car ride. Our stateroom was a bit small but I realized that this was due to the very large, pillow top king mattress. Most river cruises I have taken have smaller, very firm beds so this was very welcome since I love a good night sleep. Even though our stateroom was small it was very well laid out and had lots of storage either in large drawers, closets or under the bed.

Our evening was a briefing by the very lively cruise director Tania who told us about our week, excursions, the ship and what we could expect. The following day we were treated to a wonderful tour of Arles. This is a beautiful town with an amazing coliseum and lots of beautiful architecture and shops featuring local Provencal pottery and linens. That afternoon we were given free time to explore Tarascon and the stunning castle.

The next day we were back to Avignon to tour the town and see the Pope’s place. The tour was very captivating and the history of the palace and town was enthralling. That afternoon we were able to take a kayak ride down the Gardon River. It was a very hot day and this was extremely welcome. The scenery around the river was incredible with families enjoying the last of summer on the banks. Cruising under the roman aqueducts was so scenic.