Ever thought about taking a relaxing river cruise? Caroline Usmar experienced life on board the ‘leading lady’ of River Cruise Line’s premier cruise collection, the ms Serenity, and wasn’t disappointed…
From the moment I st
epped on board the Serenity I could see the clever design that was behind her – she was stylish, modern and everything was tastefully appointed. It was easy to see why others enjoy cruising on her and why she is billed as a ‘floating 4 star hotel’.
The lobby was incredibly spacious, far bigger than you would imagine and the reception committee was there to welcome you on board. Along with a circular glass lift servicing all guest floors and the middle sat the spiral staircase, adding a glamorous touch to something that was already rather impressive.
After checking in and being taken through the safety procedure I was taken to my cabin on the promenade deck. As I opened my door I was immediately drawn to the outside view, amazing as all I could see was the Parliament of Budapest through the top-to-floor glass doors. The cabin itself consisted of twin beds, (which were put away each morning), wardrobe with safe inside, dressing table with hairdryer, a TV showing not only British TV, but a channel dedicated to showing you the view of the river when you were travelling, a couple of chairs and table which had an array of information about the cruise ship and the places you would visit.
The bathroom was yet another treat. I wasn’t expecting it to be so big. It had everything you would need including some lovely smellies and along with the large mirror it made the room feel alive and larger than it actually was. The attention to detail was superb.
After the full exploration of my cabin was complete it was time to investigate more of the ship. I made my way down towards the main bar area and again noted the stunning panoramic view. In this area, you could spend the afternoon enjoying a cup of coffee or glass of wine whilst playing some board games.
I had arrived in time for lunch. The dining room can accommodate all 120 guests quite comfortably. As you walk through there are tables of all sizes and again great views either side through the panoramic windows. At the end of the dining area was the buffet, with a vast selection of cold meats and salads on offer for starters, followed by soup, various hot main dishes and then desserts (hot and cold). There was plenty of choice for all types of diet. The buffet choice is only on days when there is an excursion straight after lunch. A normal lunchtime meal would normally consist of a 3-course meal, which you would chose at breakfast.
I was shown to my seat by my waiter and given the drinks menu – what a choice!
After lunch I met my fellow travellers and we headed off on our Budapest sightseeing tour. This took approx. 3 hours and we visited most of the major sites including Heroes’ Square, Andrássy Avenue, Opera House, Buda Castle district, Mathias Church and Fisherman’s Bastion.
If you do not wish to venture out on the tours, there is plenty to do on board. Not only do you have the bar area, as mentioned earlier, but there is a sundeck on the top which is the full length of the cruise ship. There are plenty of places to sit with friends and chat over drinks or even have a quiet game of chess.
On arrival back to the cruise ship I had time to take a shower and get ready for my dinner, again the main was chosen at lunchtime. This time it was a 4-course meal. The staff servicing are exceptional and they try to know everyone by name as you have the same waiter for your entire stay.
In the evening when available you can go on optional tours or be entertained in the bar. On this occasion I was visiting a local folklore show, where the dancers and singers gave you a traditional Hungarian evening along with goulash and wine. After, we taken to the highest point in Budapest so we could take some lovely night time photos and get an amazing view of the city at night.
After this fun-filled packed day I was looking forward to my cabin on my return, but this did not happen as many passengers went for a nightcap before retiring to bed!
The next morning after a good night’s sleep, I made my way down to breakfast. There is everything from a continental to a full English to enjoy. Again the waiters were on hand to serve the tea, coffee and toast.
As this was only a whistle-stop tour for me I had to depart after this and wave goodbye to my fellow voyagers as they were departing to travel down to their next port of call to Bratislava.
Some of the little touches that made my cruise so memorable was the daily programme delivered to my room the night
before along with my bed turned down and a chocolate left on my pillow, the staff for being friendly and attentive (nothing was too much trouble) and the and the disembarkation gift and note.
In all I had a wonderful time on my 1st river cruise and can genuinely say that for guests who enjoy 5-star ocean cruising, it is the perfect partner for those wishing to sample river cruising.
River Cruises on board the ms Serenity start from as little as £379 per person for 4 days and cover destination from the Danube to the Dutch Bulbfields. To find out more about an affordable river cruise on board the ms Serenity, visit our website.