Danube River Cruise - Travel Info
As time draws closer to your Danube River Cruise you may have many questions about life on board and various aspects of the cruise. We will address some of those questions on this info page. Let this page be a resource for you to view any new information on your trip, along with the Travelogues you will receive in your email.
Day of Departure
Everyone will be on board a flight arriving into Budapest with a First Supply employee. They will be with you to make sure that things go smoothly for you upon arrival and that you get to your transfer location easily. In your Personal Itinerary Guide you will find arrival procedures and maps for once you arrive in Budapest. The AMA Waterways desk is located in Terminal 2A near the information desk, between the two exits. They will have that desk staffed from 7:30 am-4:30 pm on October 21st for your arrivals and you will check in with them to secure your transfers to the ship. The transfer to the pier is about 35-40 minutes through Budapest and so sit back and enjoy the ride.
Security, Passport Control & Customs
Your passport is needed throughout the cruise so make sure it is not packed in your checked luggage. For an international travel it is important to be at the airport two hours prior to your departure time as you may experience long delays going through security. You will check your luggage through to your final destination and then upon arrival in Budapest will pick it up again. You will go through customs and immigration upon arrival in Budapest and will need your passport at that time. For those of you changing planes in Europe before arriving in Budapest you will NOT go through customs in those transfer airports; it will only be done upon arrival at your final destination. You will have a representative from First Supply with you on every arriving group flight into Budapest and they will be there to help you throughout the customs and immigration process.
Money / Currency
The currency used on board the ship is the Euro. Any purchase you make on board will be in Euros and at the end of the cruise you may pay your account off in either cash (Euros) or via credit card. The majority of the countries you will visit use the Euros as their currency except for Hungary and the Czech Republic (if you are extending to Prague). In the countries that do not have the Euro as their official currency you may still pay for items you purchase in Euros however you will receive change back in local currency. You may exchange US Dollars for Euros in limited amounts on board the Ama Lea at the front desk. There is no ATM on board the ship but you will find them in the all the ports of call. Of course you can use your credit cards/debit cards all throughout Europe however there will be times when you need Euros for purchases such as in city market, or small bakery, etc. We suggest that you arrive in Europe with a few hundred dollar’s worth of Euros in your pocket so you are ready to go. Most banks carry foreign currency and so you should be able to easily get some before you depart. It is wise to give them some advance notice just in case they need to order the currency in. You may also exchange money at the airport in the international terminals both in the US and upon arrival in Europe.
Please Note: If you need to use a bathroom when touring there usually is a nominal fee to use the public toilets. Please make sure to have some Euro coins in your pocket “just in case”.
It is important to let your bank know what countries you will be traveling in and the dates you will be abroad so that there are no issues when using your credit or debit cards. Visa, Mastercard and Discover are the most widely accepted cards in Europe. You can use American Express as well but it might be limited as the fees for using that card are more costly for some shop owners and they may opt not to accept that card if it is a smaller shops/boutiques. Just be prepared with a back-up card if you normally use American Express for your charges. One last note about credit cards is that in most cases when using a credit card you will be asked to show your passport or identification when you make a purchase. Just make sure to have something with you for ID at all times.
The most important thing we can say about your personal safety while touring is to use common sense and here are a few suggestions.
Leave unnecessary jewelry at home - no need to be flashy.
It is strongly advised to avoid “logo” wear if possible. We like to wear logo items but that will just draw attention to the fact that you are not from Europe. As much as you like to “represent” it is better to leave the Badger, Packer, Brewer shirts at home!
Don’t keep all your money all in one spot. In the event that you lose your wallet, etc. you don’t want to be left with nothing. Divide money/credit cards between spouses and utilize the safe in your stateroom. Also, consider wearing a money belt.
Keep a low profile, respect local customs, and try to visit local establishments rather than international chains (restaurants, etc.). Learning a few words of German will not hurt either.
Make a copy of your passport (and credit cards) and keep it separate from your original. In the event you need to get a replacement, it is much easier if you have this with you.
Avoid walking alone at night, stay with a small group if at all possible.
When out in a restaurant/bar don’t leave your wallet and cell phones lying about. If you have a purse or backpack with you loop it around your leg or a chair leg while sitting down, as it will be more difficult for someone to grab it from you.
Stay away from large crowds or demonstrations if possible. This could easily be a smokescreen for theft.
Make sure all important items on your cell phone/iPad/tablet are backed up to the “cloud” in case you were to lose one of those items.
Dining on Board
All of your meals are included on board the ship. For breakfast and lunch you may order from the menu or partake in the buffet. At dinner it is ala carte from the menu only. You will find that the meals are inspired by the city/region/country that you are in. Dining times vary each day based on arrivals and departures into the ports. In the daily cruise newsletter you will receive it will tell you the dining times for that day. For those of you with special allergies or food requests they have been given to AMA Waterways. Please confirm with your wait staff as you dine that they have noted what you need. A list of these will also be given to the First Supply employees on board with you should you have any trouble with this. For those of you who don’t have a specific allergy but just are more conscious of your food choices, the menu will specify more heart healthy choices for you. In the afternoon you will find a light “tea” in the lounge with finger sandwiches, desserts, etc. and there is also a small late night buffet around 10pm or so in the lounge. If you are on board at the time and hungry for a snack, you are welcome to join in.
Alcohol On Board
Your ship is equipped with a full service bar and should have most any kind of beverage that you are looking for. As mentioned before, beer and wine are included during lunch and dinner and then outside of those times you responsible for your own purchase. The beer and wine on board are regional beers and wine so do not expect to find a domestic brew such as Miller, Budweiser, etc. Each night before dinner is the Captain’s Cocktail Hour where there will be various complimentary alcoholic beverages and soda available to you. You are encouraged to join in with all the guests before you gather for dinner. There is no room service on board the ship but you may take any beverage you purchase from the bar back to your stateroom.
There are some things on board the ship that would be at your own expense and those include spa or beauty salon charges, purchases in the gift ship, beverage purchases outside of wine/beer/soda from lunch and dinner and any tips for your individual tour guides. The gratuities for shipboard staff are included as part of your package but if you wish to give an additional gratuity for a staff member that was really outstanding you are free to do so. There are a couple of optional tours that are not included with the package that you may wish to participate in and those are in Vienna. One is the Schonbrunn Palace & Gardens Tour and the other is the Mozart & Strauss Concert. You may sign up with the ship for these tours once you are on site and the charges for these tours will be put to your onboard ship account. Although the gift shop on board does have some sundry items it is good to make sure you have batteries, SD Cards and film with you for your cameras as that might not be readily available to you.
The key to packing for this cruise is comfort! The most important thing is comfortable walking shoes, as you will be doing quite a bit of this. Make sure your shoes are well broken in to avoid blisters and sore feet with brand new shoes! The dress code on board the ship is very casual especially when you are off touring. Please pack what you are comfortable in and keep in mind you’ll need a jacket as the temperature will be in the 60’s most of the time. Plan on bringing a windbreaker jacket or something with a lining as it will get cool on the top deck especially later in the day. We even suggest a pair of gloves should you be up on top deck in the evening as it will be cool as the sun goes down. Depending on the type of tour you choose you may be outside the whole time and so therefore dress appropriately for that tour. For dress at dinner it is not fancy however dress slacks and a collared shirt are appropriate for men in the evening. Dresses or skirts are NOT necessary for women but if you are comfortable wearing them and would prefer that you are certainly welcome to do so. Otherwise a nice pair of slacks and blouse work perfectly.
Tipping & Gratuities
As part of your package, your onboard ship gratuities are already covered however; you may wish to individually tip various crew members at the end of the cruise for any exceptional service. Gratuities are NOT included however for your individual day tours. It is customary to tip your local guide and motorcoach driver at the rate of 1-2 Euros per person per guide/driver per tour. Again if you felt the guide went out of the way for you or really went above and beyond then feel free to tip additionally. Those tips you would give to your driver/guide at the conclusion of each tour (in cash).
Smoking (including e-cigarettes) is not permitted anywhere inside of the ship; only at the rear of the Sun Deck will you find a small smoking area. Please adhere to this policy.
Your stateroom is equipped with individual climate control units for comfort. For safety reasons the use of travel irons are prohibited on board the ship however clothes may be pressed for you for an additional fee. Each stateroom will have a telephone that can be used to call the front desk or other staterooms. Calls also may be made from ship to shore but you will find this to be very expensive. All charges for these type of calls will be billed to your onboard ship account. Your bathroom is equipped with a hair dryer and spa-quality toiletries including soap, body wash, shampoo & conditioner and body lotion. There is a safe in each stateroom for your personal use. It should be large enough to hold a small laptop or tablet along with other items. Larger items can be stored in the ship’s main safe at the reception desk if yours does not fit.
The electricity/current on board is 220v with. You will need a European Adapter and/or converter for any electrical appliances you bring with you. Stateroom bathrooms are equipped with electric shaver outlets and it would be wise to bring along a multi-port USB charger for use in the stateroom. High-speed Internet is provided on board the ship with free Wi-Fi service. Each stateroom with have an on-demand entertainment system with movies, travel videos, English language news, sports, satellite TV and music channels. Personal Audio “Quietvox Devices” are located in your staterooms. Bring this with you on all of your shore excursions as this is your listening device to hear your guide speak to you. You will receive a Daily Cruiser Newsletter each day in your stateroom. This will be your guide to the activities of the day including times and descriptions. It is good to bring this with you daily as it also has your cruise manager’s name and number along with the ship telephone numbers should you become lost.
Phones in Europe
Your cell phone will work in Europe if you have an international package with your cell phone provider. Please check with them before departing. Many carriers may allow you to temporarily add an international package but all carriers are different. Please check with yours well in advance if you wish to try and use your phone while in Europe. Please keep in mind that roaming charges would apply.
Facilities on Board
You will find a small fitness center on board as well as a beauty salon/spa. Reservations are required for spa or beauty treatments and you will make them with the front desk. Any charges associated with that will be put on your onboard account. There is a laundry service on board and you’ll find a fee schedule in your stateroom. The ship does have a gift shop on board with sells accessories, souvenirs, gifts and a limited selection of personal and toiletry items. There is also a small pool and whirlpool on the Sun Deck that will be open weather permitting.
Crew Talks and Shore Excursion Info
You will find daily crew talks in the lounge regarding your upcoming shore excursions and the destinations in general. Although not mandatory, it is a great gathering point and you’ll find there is great information provided.
For more information about life on board please refer to the Frequently Asked Questions and the Prepare for your Cruise section on the “My Cruise” portion on amawaterways.com. You will also be receiving a full document packet from AMA Waterways that will include answers to these questions and more and guides books of your destination to take with you.