Day 2 - Melk and Danube cruising
We woke up quite early so cancelled our wake up call and after showering went up on deck to watch us coming in to Melk. It was a grey and foggy morning and we could see Melk Abbey rising out of the mist. Breakfast was good and hearty, with a nice selection of meats, cheeses, breads, pastries, muesli and an egg station. A number of varieties of sausage were also available for the German guests! No baked beans however! I had a selection of sausages, just to try of course, followed by a yummy cheese and ham omelette . By the time breakfast was finished it was time to disembark and head for the bus for the short drive to Melk Abbey. They had organised an English speaking bus for us Brits and we piled on and were soon at our destination. Melk Abbey is still a working abbey complete with monks and is also a school. As we waited in the courtyard for our guide, the grey skies showed signs of clearing , fingers crossed. Our guide arrived and they had arranged for us to have a private tour, just for the English speaking guests. Before boarding I was concerned with how they would deal with the dual language, however so far it's been handled very well indeed! Our guide took us around the abbey and explained the history of this vast building complex. We then had free time to wander around the splendid gardens, and by this time the clouds had all vanished ad the sky was a brilliant blue, the sun was shining and it must have easily been in the high 20's.
Back on board the ship we left for a scenic cruise down the Danube and through the Wachau Valley. The stretch of the Danube from Melk to Kreme is called the Wachau and is considered to be one of the finest landscapes of Europe. It is mostly because of the Wachau area that many people prefer the Danube to the Rhine. For centuries, wine growing and tourism have been Wachau's main business. As we cruised along the river we passed castles and historic buildings, including sailing by beautiful Durnstein. I have been to Durnstein a few times before so it was lovely to see it from the river, and we will stop there on our way back. The sun deck was full as it was such a nice day and the waiters kept us refreshed with glasses of the local beer! As we passed various monuments, the cruise director gave a commentary in German, punctuated every now and then with English.
Lunchtime was a help your self selection of salads and soups from the buffet area, and a main course selection of carbonara, vegetarian paella, or chicken. I went for the freshly prepared carbonara at and it was delicious. Desert was an apricot dumpling . A local delicacy possibly, and very good.
After lunch it was back up on the sun deck for a bit of sun bathing, followed by a safety briefing for all the passengers where we had to don our life jackets! The whole ship was completed in 6 minutes, a record they said, I bet they say that on every cruise! The sun was incredibly hot, about 30 degrees, but the breeze created by the ship was most welcome.
We had to clear the top deck as they had to lower all the parasols as we had a few very low bridges ahead of us, so we went around to the front of the ship to view our progress. Ms Mozart is the largest ship on the rivers of Europe, and as such even has a wrap around outdoors promenade area, where you can walk around the entire ship! This gave us a great vantage point right near the bow to watch as we made our way under these two very low bridges.
Once we we had passed the top deck was back open and the deck staff quickly re assembled the deck parasols and other shaded areas.
In the evening it was time for a the captains welcome party, and the cruise director introduced the senior officers, chef and of course the captain! Quite a few of our other guests had really dressed up, suits, ties, one guy even had a tuxedo! That's was a bit too much really for a river cruise, shirts and tie I feel is more an adequate, but hey, it's nice to know that if you want to really dress up you can.
Captains dinner was a seven course affair, with a spicey amuse bouche to start, followed by Gaspachio soup and a choice of rabbit, fish or veggie option, and a very nice mushroom gnocchi too. After the meal we retired to the main lounge to be entertained by Milo and his unique interpretations of popular songs on his organ. After a night cap cabin 232 was beckoning so it was off to bed.