Shore excursion

Cruising the Danube is picturesque but Jeff Stevens, of Melbourne, also enjoys some "samples" from the local vineyards.

WHAT

Day tour of the Wachau Valley.

WHERE

Southern Austria, via the port of Emmersdorf.

THE SHIP

Jeff cruised with his wife, Carol, and two other couples on MS Amadeus Elegant (amadeuscruises.com), available in Australia through Trans World Travel (twt.com.au) and other cruise specialists. The trip was 14 nights from Amsterdam to Budapest.

THE EXPERIENCE

"The Wachau Valley is a beautiful wine-growing region with vineyards on both sides of the Danube River.

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"The wonderful thing about doing this tour is that we later passed through the same area on the boat and we were able to identify places we had visited.

"The shore excursion started with an early bus tour through the Wachau Valley. We then walked about a kilometre along the Danube riverfront, with the vineyards behind us.

"I managed to sneak off to sample some apricot liqueur; it was a bit early in the day but they had samples out so I gave it a try and ended up buying a bottle.

"We spent time in the towns of Durnstein and Melk, where we did a tour of Melk Abbey, then went to a restaurant in Emmersdorf for wine tasting.

"We were given three local wines to try, with large glasses as 'samples'. We particularly enjoyed one of the gruner veltliners and bought a couple of bottles to take with us.

"It was only nine euros [$12] a bottle, which we thought was very reasonable.

"We were glad for the opportunity to walk back to the boat; a very pleasant walk through a forest area."

VALUE FOR MONEY

Jeff and his travelling companions opted for a package that included shore excursions but the Wachau Valley and wine-tasting tour can be booked separately from about $65 a person.

"We did every major tour that was offered during our 14-day cruise," Jeff says. "A lot of the towns were similar but each had a slightly different character and it was always good to get out and have a look around."

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