This trip started in Vienna, journeying down the Danube aboard ‘Mozart’, stopping at Melk and Dürnstein before returning to Vienna. The ship was smoothly run gently gliding on the calm river, so you can enjoy watching the pretty riverside villages drift past, backed by rolling hills and lush vineyards. There was always a ripple of excitement when we stopped at a lock, manoeuvring carefully through the sluice gates.
Often spotlighting the more off-radar destinations, the river cruise from Vienna stopped at towns that you perhaps wouldn’t on a day trip from Vienna – allowing you to go further into your destination. The guiding was excellent too, with small groups of around 12, we explored Melk’s cathedral and in the tiny town of Dürnstein we tasted unusual wines and had free time to wander. These small-scale explorations felt rooted in the local environment and culture – I would have liked to continue on to Bratislava if it had been possible on this trip.
Another surprise was the spacious and luxurious feel to the interior of the ship. Although you wouldn’t have more than around 160 passengers on board at any time, there are plenty of places to relax like the rooftop bar and garden, wrap around walking deck, cigar lounge and spa with indoor pool, steam and sauna and gym which opens out onto the back of the ship for picturesque views of your surroundings.
There are two crew members for every four guests, plus you have your own butler, which sounds grand but is in fact incredibly handy when you need information quickly, some clothes ironed, want to dine in your suite or just fancy a cold drink to your cabin. The ambience on board is informal, so no need for stuffy dress codes and being a small vessel also means that docking is quick, allowing you to disembark with ease, and return to the boat whenever you feel inclined – the ship is always just a short walk away.
The bedroom suites and private living spaces aboard Mozart were suitable impressive. There’s a feeling of space and light and surprising amount of homely comfort from carpet, plush sofas, fireplaces and artwork on the walls. Bathrooms are large, with walk-in showers; some like the Penthouse Suite, Mozart and Owner Suite have bathtubs as well.
The colour scheme is muted and pared-back, creating a calming ambience to watch the river go by. With Nespresso machines and champagne to help yourself to, all suites (apart from the Harmony Suite) have Juliette balconies to let the fresh Austrian air in. Unlike cramped cabins on large cruise ships, you actually enjoy spending time in your luxurious Riverside Cruise suites.
On board Mozart, all your food and drinks are included, and crew members work hard to get to know your likes and dislikes. I appreciated the all-day café where you could get a delicious barista-style coffee and the barman quickly learnt my favourite aperitif! There is also a sommelier on board to help you select the right wine for your meal – we enjoyed the Austrian sparkling white wine.
The food is of a very high standard, cooked from scratch by chefs in the extensive galley. We enjoyed Austrian classics such as Weiner schnitzel, pickled herring and sauerkraut, plus there’s a fine dining restaurant where you can indulge in a seven-course tasting menu. Breakfast comes with homemade Austrian cakes and pastries plus cooking stations for freshly cooked eggs. I was grateful for the ship’s bikes you can borrow to work up an appetite for the next delicious meal.