APT is the only river cruise operator on Europe’s waterways to offer Royal Collection European River Cruises which feature five-star vessels, tailored sightseeing programs and money-can’t-buy exclusive experiences.
On its best selling 15-day Magnificent Europe river cruises, which sail between Amsterdam and Budapest, guests will enjoy three exclusive Royal Invitations delivered to your luxury suite.
The first is a visit to Namedy Castle, home of Princess Heide von Hohenzollern who is the godmother of the AmaReina, one of APT’s luxury purpose-built river ships.
The castle, converted into a full castle complex in 1890, is on the banks of the Rhine River and on the day I visited, Princess Heide was waiting on the front doorstep to welcome APT’s guests into her home.
The evening starts with a champagne reception in the beautiful gardens before passengers go behind-the-scenes for a tour of the castle. Only a few rooms are off limits so this tour is as close to royalty as many of us will ever come. The night finished with a banquet in the Hall of Mirrors and a piano recital.
The second royal experience is an exclusive performance by members of the Mozart Boys’ Choir at the City Palace of the Liechtenstein family in the centre of Vienna. Even if you are not a lover of classical music, this is a night of romance and Strauss that you will remember forever. The sumptuous surroundings, the sounds of clinking champagne glasses, and the stunning performance of the choir combine to whisk you off into a world from another time.
While in Vienna you should also make time to visit the Naschmarkt _ the city’s biggest open-air market. There’s no need to sit for lunch. Instead, you wander in search of gastronomical delights. There’s more than 120 stalls selling a plethora of foods. Everything is fresh. Everything is available to be tasted pre-purchase. And there’s plenty of local beer to help wash it down.
The train journey, the third and my favourite royal experience, from Passau _ in Germany_ to the Austrian town of Linz takes just under two hours.
In days gone by Kings and Queens would ride on trains like the “Majestic Imperator Train de Luxe” to their summer houses.
For railway buffs the Majestic Imperator, with its white linen and silver service, ticks all the boxes.
The train is a recreation of the one used by Franz Joseph I and Sisi (Elisabeth of Austria) to travel from Bad Ischl to the seaside town of Opatija on the Adriatic coast.
The original train ceased to operate at the end of the First World War with the collapse of the House of Habsburg and the Austrian Empire. Thankfully photos and designs were preserved and that was all railway specialist Gottfried Rieck needed to bring the past back to life.
The historical carriages are filled with personal artworks that once belonged to the imperial family. And at the end of the journey you are in the beautiful city of Linz.
APT’s Royal Experience is not just these three events though. It _ that feeling of being treated like royalty _ runs through everything the company does from the day you book your holiday to the day you return home and it is a key element of why APT receives a 98 percent guest satisfaction rating.
APT takes the stress out of travelling with its airport transfer service. You won’t be left alone at the arrivals hall. You will be transferred by luxury air-conditioned coach to your ship and the APT team will be there too at the end of your cruise to wave goodbye to you at the airport.
While the Amsterdam to Budapest journey is still APT’s most popular selling river cruise, the company has Europe covered, from Central Europe to the Rhône and Saône, Seine and Bordeaux regions of France, and the Douro in Portugal.
APT’s state-of-the-art river ships are like floating fully-inclusive five-star luxury hotels. Apart from buying internet access you won’t have to open your wallet at all once you get on board. The floor-to-ceiling windows in most suites offer guests an unrivalled view of life along the river. The cabins are large with ample hanging space.
On every cruise you will enjoy APT’s outstanding sightseeing programs which include special Signature Invitations – once-in-a-lifetime moments crafted especially for guests. APT also offers its hallmark Freedom of Choice™ sightseeing inclusions which offer guests the choice from an extensive range of sightseeing options, for guests to personalise their journey, at no extra cost.
This story first appear in a Travel Associates publication.