Danube and 'Romantic Road'
Summer 2014

Saturday 26th July

Usually when we have a really early start like today's (taxi at 5.30am!) it means a long day's travelling. However, today's flight from Heathrow to Budapest was a mere two and a half hours – a short hop for us!

Budapest's airport seems to have only about thirty flights a day, but we got caught up in such a queue at Passport Control that maybe two planes had arrived at once. And because so many people were caught in the queue the bags couldn't be delivered to the belt because so many of them weren't being collected yet. However, we still arrived at the 'Viking Delling' at about 2pm local time, in time for lunch.

Our cabin
Our first impressions of the ship were very positive. The Delling hadn't even been launched when we booked this holiday before Christmas, so it's brand spanking new. It's very sleek and low in the water. It's an impressive 443 feet long and has 180 passengers, mainly from the USA and Canada, but with a contingent of Aussies and a dozen or so British passengers. Surprisingly, there are no other Europeans on board.

There are two decks with passenger cabins, with a sun deck above. There are crew quarters pretty much at the waterline, with windows set high in the walls above head height, and I think that the kitchen's down there too. Apart from chairs and recliners the sun deck also has a tiny four hole putting area for golf fanatics – more like crazy golf, really – as well as a herb garden that supplies the kitchen with fresh ingredients. But from Passau to the end of the cruise in Nuremberg the whole deck has to be levelled so that the Delling can pass under various bridges – even the ship's bridge can be lowered until very little of it protrudes above the deck.

At the bow of the ship there is an open air café where we had lunch, and immediately behind it is the main lounge where the talks and various other entertainments take place. The windows are glass from floor to ceiling and from end to end, so the views are wonderful. The main restaurant is on the deck below, and like the rest of the ships has a very modern, airy feel.

After lunch we went out for a walk across the chain bridge that links Buda and Pest. We only stayed out for about an hour and came back to unpack, set up WiFi access and generally settle in before Cocktails at 5.15pm. They do a mean Caipirinha that I'm sure I'll be having again, but couldn't come up with a Bellini for Gill because they didn't have any Peach Schnapps – she had to settle for a Kir Royale.
Make your own tea and coffee
The 'Delling' seen from the chain bridge
On the chain bridge
At 6pm we had a presentation from the Programme Director about life on the ship in general, and at 7pm we went to dinner. There is no fixed seating, so it's a bit of a lucky dip as far as table companions are concerned. We struck lucky when we completed at table of six with two American couples. They were good company and made very interesting conversation. The meal was really very good, but having had lunch yesterday with Carly in a new, leading edge restaurant in Bethnal Green, our expectations might have been a little high! What was really nice was having your wine glass topped up on a little-and-often basis with very nice, complimentary wine.
Looking across the Danube to Parliament
Looking across the Danube to Parliament
Looking across the Danube to Parliament
After dinner, there was local musical entertainment in the main lounge. There was a traditional Hungarian band - two violins, double bass and cimbalon (a sort of horizontal stringed instrument that is played like a xylophone) and half a dozen folk dancers in national costumes. They were very entertaining and went down well with the packed audience,

The Programme Director had said earlier that we should take our cameras up on deck after dark as so many of Budapest's beautiful buildings are illuminated at night, so that's what we did. We had a strong sense of déja vu as our mooring and the gorgeous night-time view around us is almost exactly the same as the view we've seen so often on Viking's TV adverts during the ITV Murder Mysteries series.
In the lounge for evening entertainment
Traditional song and dance
The chain bridge at night
We're getting up early in the morning to have breakfast before a guided walk in Budapest. While we're away from the Delling it will sail further up the Danube and we'll be taken by coach to meet up with it again at lunchtime.

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Danube Cruise [27th July]  [28th July]  [29th July]  [30th July
[31st July[1st August]
Romantic Road
[2nd August]  [3rd August]  [4th August]  [5th August]
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