First view of our boat

We woke to a sunny but bitterly cold day – 5deg for most of the day.

Today we left Prague and went by coach, which was nice and warm, to Passau on the German/Austrian border where we would board our boat, the A-Rosa Donna.

First view of our boatOur first view of the A-Rosa Donna (at the back)

We had a guide on the bus who repeated the troubled history of the Czech Republic which had been ruled by a number of Empires and, most recently, by the USSR. Many of us had noticed the amount of road building taking place and she told us of the devastating floods of 2002. In fact, the area where our hotel was situated was the worst affected in Prague. At the time it was a derelict area which had not been reformed after the fall of Socialism. The Vtlava River, which runs through Prague, rose over 10m causing extensive damage. The area was rebuilt and modernised.

Prague Penta Hotel 2Entrance to our hotel in Prague in the refurbished area

Boats and buildings on the riverSmall boats and a restaurant on the Vtlava River

At 10:30 we left the hotel and were really excited as we were on our way to board the boat. We were off to cruise a part of the Danube little knowing what frustrations lay ahead of us. The coach ride was very pleasant and the scenery beautiful. We saw quite a bit more of the Czech Republic than expected as regular detours had to be taken due to road construction. We could also see that it was getting colder as, at one time there were actually flakes of snow. As we climbed the Ore Mountain range there was more and more snow on the ground. Very grateful for the warm bus!

Shortly before we arrived in Passau to board the boat, our guide phoned through to let them know that we were approaching Passau. We had a bit of a laugh as we watched the driver take the bus up one street and down a parallel one and then left, u-turn and turn right again. He wasn’t lost but they were all 1-way streets and it was the only way to get to the harbour. We arrived there at 14:30 with planned boarding from 14:00 and departure at 17:00. We were told to wait on the bus while a member of the A-Rosa Donna staff came across to greet us. A young gentleman duly came on board and told us that we could not board the boat until 16:00 because the boat was being cleaned as they had arrived late from their previous cruise.

A Rosa rep saying boat not readyThe A-Rosa Donna representative 

The driver and guide needed to return to Prague so we all had to alight into a freezing wind and when we enquired where to wait we were told ‘on the pier’! In the meantime our luggage was being taken on board by their staff. What made many of us really angry was that the guide knew of this delay when she phoned them but was “too scared to tell you”. Berthed next door to the A-Rosa Donna was a sister boat, the A-Rosa Riva and their Hotel Manager or HM (equivalent to a Purser, 2nd to the Captain) asked why we were standing on the pier. When he heard he invited us to sit and wait on this boat. Our guide than came in and said that the Captain of the Donna had agreed to pay for us to have tea, coffee, soft drinks and sandwiches. She then bid us farewell as she and the driver had to return to Prague. Well, the HM of the Donna may have said that it would be OK but, when we tried to order any of these drinks, we were told by the barman and the Maitre d that they knew nothing of this. Another gentleman, Richard and I went and chatted to the HM of the ship on which we had be given a warm place to sit. He said that he too had not been told of this plan although he would be happy with it. After another 20 mins or so we were told that there were sandwiches in the dining area for us so we went through and were surprised to find that there were just lunch leftovers. Having had nothing since breakfast we ate those and while sitting there at 15:45 we saw a member of the Donna come on board with 2 large trays of sandwiches! Not much use when we were leaving to board our boat.

Once booked in to a very nice cabin, the window of which was less than a metre above the water, we went up to the lounge to watch as we began to move and thus, cruise. Great excitement. As the first couple of days passed 2 things which had a detrimental effect on our cruise reared their heads. Firstly, word quickly got around that the ship had not arrived late but that there had been a ‘tummy bug’ on the last trip and they were trying to clean it out. Sad to say they did not and a number of passengers and crew went down with it this time as well.

Other side of our cabinOur cabin with the rose 

The second thing was that there were 2 distinct groups on board. Our group of 30 and a group of about 80 from a club in Madrid. The Spanish group had already decided not to mingle with us. They had their own guides and pre-booked excursions and activities. This was particularly sad for the Cruise Manager who had arranged a number of excursions but required at least 10 persons for most of them. With at least 1 excursion per day planned and only 30 people on board most had to be cancelled due to insufficient bookings. With each excursion costing in the region of 35 Euros it was very expensive for any one person to do more than 2 at the most.

And so the sun set over the Danube as we silently made our way toward Vienna.

Sunset 3The sun sets over the river