Riverboat ride reveals luxury
has been a riverboat captain for the past eight years and before that he had close to two decades on the sea.
Despite all the whiz-bang technology at his fingertips in the wheelhouse, Dutch-born de Bruijn has a Stanley split level on the ledge as an old-fashioned measure to make sure everything is shipshape.
It can be easy to forget you are on a ship, especially in your cabin and bathroom, unless you are someone who notices the gentle rocking of the boat over the dim hum of the ship’s engine when it sets off.
My room had a private balcony from which to watch the picturesque Danube scenery. Inside there was personal internet access, in-room movies and music and a mini bar. The boat has a good-size lounge and piano bar, with an actual bar. There is a library to provide something to read on the sundeck, an onboard gift shop, an elevator between decks and 24-hour reception.
A downstairs restaurant serves a hearty breakfast, a three-course lunch and four-course dinner, plus snacks in between if you still feel peckish, including pastries made daily in the onboard industrial kitchen.
Most holiday-makers on board, paying from $ 6245 each, are in the 55 year-plus age group and either retired or taking a holiday from work, free of the responsibility of kids. ( The price includes meals, tours and transfers.)
River cruising now accounts for 50 per cent of the revenue for the family-owned APT. The company, born in 1927 as a bus company during a tram strike in Melbourne, has a fleet of seven river cruise ships.
Although it takes just under three hours by road to travel from Budapest to Vienna, this ship takes a couple of days to make the same journey and includes a stop at the charming Slovakian capital of Bratislava.
De Bruijn makes it look effortless but the route and departure and arrival times in each port have been carefully planned a year in advance to take advantage of the opening and closing times of the 68 locks on the 1811km journey between Budapest and Amsterdam. The first lock just outside Budapest feels like a giant parking lot on water. Four river boats and a few smaller craft manoeuvre in between concrete walls. The doors behind us close and the space fills with water, lifting the boats 80m until they can pass over the other side.
The general routine is the ship travels overnight and you awake in a new city each day.
A new idea being tested by APT is to offer golf tours. On this journey there are four days where guests can forget sightseeing and play 18 holes of golf with former pro golfer and contestant Lucas Parsons.