AMASonata sets a new standard of luxury in river cruising Photo courtesy of AMAWaterwaysLuxury European river cruising onboard the AMAWaterways’ newest ship Sean Flynn July 13, 2016 5729 Luxury European river cruising onboard the AMAWaterways’ newest ship – AMASonata An insider’s look at river cruising through photos I had the opportunity to sail on the beautiful AMASonata at the end of April on AMAWaterways’ Gems of South East Europe itinerary. As much as I loved my spacious stateroom, the in-cabin internet service, the decadent gourmet cuisine, the phenomenal service on board, when you return from a trip such as this one, people want to hear about where you’ve been. This seven-night cruise sailing south from Budapest, Hungary to Bucharest, Romania is not one that immediately comes to mind when people speak of river cruising; nonetheless it was a fascinating trip. Our cruise began in Budapest on an unusually cold and rainy day but that didn’t stop most of us from climbing to the top deck for a unique view of the city at night. The sites along the river side are brightly illuminated, including the Hungarian Parliament. Day 1: The Hungarian Parliament was one of many illuminated buildings in Budapest Photo by Sean Flynn The following day brought much nicer weather as we travelled to Pecs in Southern Hungary. The greenery and the flowers were a welcome sight compared with the Montreal that I left behind. One of the sites that we visited was the Turkish mosque in the centre of the city. The building was long ago converted to a Catholic church but this was the first of many symbols of the Turkish influence that we would encounter from centuries ago along the lower Danube. Day 2: Originally built as a Turkish mosque, this building in Pecs, Hungary was long ago converted to a Catholic church Photo by Sean Flynn Our next day included two stops with a morning spent in Vukovar, Croatia, a city that was heavily damaged during the wars of the early nineties, with stark reminders present within and around the city. In the afternoon and evening, we were in Novi Sad, Serbia site of the Petrovaradin Fortress, constructed with many layers of defences, including a maze of underground tunnels. The highlight of our day in Belgrade, Serbia was a nighttime visit to a shipyard where the newest addition to the AMAWaterways’ fleet, the AMAKristina, was christened by one of the co-owners of the cruise line, Kristin Karst. At the conclusion of a wonderful night of speeches and music and a meal of traditional Serbian cuisine, there were fireworks to mark the occasion. It was a privilege to be invited to this special event. Day 4: Spectacular fireworks closed out an evening of fine Serbian cuisine in Belgrade Photo by Sean Flynn One of the highlights of this itinerary is cruising through the Iron Gates where the Danube narrows and deepens creating a picturesque gorge between Romania to the North and Serbia to the South. Sometimes, you’ll even find the hills looking back at you. Day 5: Rock sculpture at the Iron Gates where the Danube narrows and deepens creating a picturesque gorge between Romania to the North and Serbia to the South Photo by Sean Flynn From Vidin, Bulgaria, we made our way south into the countryside to see the Belogradchik Fortress, built directly into the imposing rocks that served as a natural barrier. Day 6: Vidin, Bulgaria, we visited the Belogradchik Fortress, built directly into the imposing rocks Photo by Sean Flynn The final day of our cruise was in Bucharest, Romania, and it was also Orthodox Easter Sunday. This proved beneficial for us as the streets were quiet and that made our travel to the city quick and easy. A highlight of any visit to Bucharest includes the Palace of the Parliament, a reminder of Romania’s communist past and the hubris of its leader, Nicolae Ceausescu. Day 7: Bucharest includes the Palace of the Parliament, the second largest building in the world, with only 9% in use Photo by Sean Flynn The next day was the day of our return from a thoroughly enjoyable and memorable voyage to Eastern Europe. It had been an eventful cruise with many touring opportunities that gave me a lot of insight to the history and people of this region but there’s always more to see and thus a reason to return. That’s the beauty of travel. Gourmet meals make every night an occasion in the Sonata’s elegant dining room Photo courtesy of AMAWaterways Sean Flynn is a co-owner with his sister Kelly Flynn of four CruiseShipCenters stores located in Beaconsfield (514-630-9600), Dollard Des Ormeaux (514-421-7006), Dorval (514-556-3115) and a downtown location on rue de la Montagne (514-848-9791). For more information, please visit: www.cruiseshipcenters.com Related
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