VIP_Ships_Bow_VipsAs the Amacerto, AmaWaterways’ newest ship, slipped through a lock on the Main-Danube Canal connecting Europe’s Rhine and Danube rivers, passengers standing on the top deck watched the process in awe. Massive walls, mere inches from the boat, rose up around us as water drained from the chamber of the lock (used to manage water levels and make rivers navigable), slowly lowering us 20 feet or more so that the 82-cabin ship could pass through and continue its journey. Such a spectacular feat of engineering – both the canal locks and the ship’s precise design to sail them – would impress anyone.

We were onboard for Virtuoso’s annual Chairman’s Event, a trip recognizing 60 top agencies from the United States, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, South America, and Australia. More than 130 executives and their guests gathered in Budapest, Hungary, to set sail on a weeklong Danube river cruise that called on ports in Slovakia, Austria, and Germany. Ama Waterways, recently voted “Best Cruise Line” by Virtuoso advisors, hosted the sailing so that attendees could personally experience the biggest trend in luxury travel today: river cruising.

Many attendees had not sailed on a river cruise, and the response was overwhelmingly positive, from the new ship’s high-end décor and amenities to the quality of the food and service, to the excursions (all included) and the ease of being able to come and go as you wish. Here’s a sampling of our activities – and the special receptions honoring Virtuoso.

Budapest, Hungary: The cruise kicked off with an evening sail-away while the Pearl of the Danube glowed along its banks.

Bratislava, Slovakia: Some attendees followed a guide through this capital city, while others wandered into shops and pubs. Everyone gathered for a private reception with government dignitaries at the Primate’s Palace, the mayor’s home.

Vienna, Austria: Ama’s culinary excursion included a tour of a sparkling-wine cellar and a taste of the city’s famed Sacher torte. We also toured the Kunsthistorisches (fine arts) Museum (which can craft private visits for Virtuoso clients) and dined at the Hotel Imperial.

Dürnstein and Melk, Austria: Morning walking tours and wine tastings preceded an optional 20-mile bike ride to the next port stop. Who knew river cruising could be so active?

Linz and Salzburg, Austria, and Passau, Germany: The two-hour drive to Salzburg was worth the trip.

Regensburg, Germany: Choices, choices: a visit to the Audi factory, a sausage-and-beer culinary tour, walking, and biking were among the options.

Nuremberg, Germany: After crossing Europe’s Continental Divide, we visited Courtroom 600, where the Nuremberg Trials took place, and met with dignitaries at the Palace of Justice.

Look for a full report on the event – as well as river cruising tips from the advisors who attended – in the January/February issue of Virtuoso Life.


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