While ocean cruising offers bright lights, and big time entertainment, river cruising can be more intimate and a more personalized experience. Join CP Travel Ambassador Vik (Vikas) Bhatnagar as he takes us to Eastern Europe to Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria onboard the Avalon Passion.
What specific cities and /or countries did you visit? Zagreb/Croatia, Belgrade/Serbia, Vidin/Bulgaria, Bucharest/Romania, Transylvania/Romania
What was your favorite memory from this trip? Eastern Europe has been on my bucket list for a while! It was more than what we expected, despite the scorching heat because of the heat wave in Europe. The best part of course was being on the River Cruise - a floating hotel of sorts - which could take us from country to country as we lay in bed or sat on the deck seeing Europe pass by!
Top excursions and landmarks/sites to visit: Croatia is absolutely gorgeous and highly recommended!! While Zagreb was great as a historic city, the real gem was Zadar (a coastal town that boasts of the best sunsets in the world!) and Krka Falls, which is just 3 hours from Zagreb. Bucharest, Romania, also known as the "Paris of the East", truly lived up to it's name. The opulent parliament building built by Ceausescu was the highlight.
Transylvania, Romania, home of Dracula's Bran Castle and the gorgeous Peles Palace. Belgrade, Serbia was more 'happening' than I expected.
Were there any standout restaurants or foodie must-haves on this trip? Most food was served on the ship and Avalon Waterways did a stupendous job with it! However, Zagreb has awesome restaurants on the happening and pedestrian friendly Tkalčićeva Street that has a variety of restaurants, suitable to any palate! Bucharest was pretty much the same way and offered some great Romanian and Italian and Greek choices.
How would you describe the people and culture of this destination? Any interesting cultural lessons? In my experience, the people in Eastern Europe can come off as being slightly abrupt without meaning to. While the folks in the service industry were super-nice and friendly, the average Joe on the street can come across as slightly curt to the American culture. Lot of history in the area and the residents are proud to show it off!
What is something people would be surprised to learn about this destination? Belgrade was much more advanced than we thought it would be! The real beauty lay in the hidden towns of Vidin, Lepinski Vir instead of the big cities and the river cruise was the right way to tap into that beauty!
Top 5 Tips and recommendations for this trip:
- Spend more time exploring Croatia. There is so much to do and see there.
- If you are in Romania, spend time in Bucharest just walking around. Do not miss the parliament
- Transylvania is not far from there - but know that the castles, even though beautiful, are not large - they are much smaller than expectation.
- To fully explore the Eastern Europe region in its glory, a river cruise is highly recommended.
- Take guided tours wherever possible to soak in as much history as you can!
Did you travel via cruise ship? If so, please describe the experience and some of the standout features that you ere excited about. Yes, we traveled via a river cruise with Avalon Waterways!! This was undoubtedly the best way to explore the area. With a capacity of 128 passengers (we had only 51 passengers though in the recent-post-Covid world) – the Avalon Passion truly lived up to its name. As guests we experienced the passion for new discoveries aboard this home-away-from-home to find two full decks of Panorama Suites, featuring wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling panoramic windows that create river cruising's only open-air balcony, spanning 200 square feet.
On board, we enjoyed exemplary service from the crew with free Wi-Fi access, complimentary computers in public areas, a fitness center with state-of-the-art equipment, an elevator, and an expansive Sky Deck with shade system, premium lounge chairs, whirlpool, deck games, and the delightful Sky Bistro for al fresco lunches of light grill fare. Fancy cocktails and dinner were served in the beautiful dining room of the Avalon Passion as the ship set off sail in the evening to our first destination!
What makes this destination a must-see in your opinion? For it's rich history (Bucharest and Bulgaria) and untouched beauty (Croatia!!) To read his full blog on this once-in-a-lifetime trip, you can read it here.
To book you rown intimate getaway to Croatia via a river cruise, contact a local Cruise Planners advisor near you!