For leisurely travel between Vienna and Linz, or eastward across the border into Slovakia or Hungary, consider taking a Danube boat. DDSG Blue Danube Schifffahrt offers a diverse selection of pleasant cruises, including trips to Melk Abbey and Dürnstein in the Wachau, a grand tour of Vienna's architectural sights from the river, and a dinner cruise, featuring Johann Strauss waltzes as background music. Brandner Schifffart offers the same kind of cruises between Krems and Melk, in the heart of the Danube Valley.
Most of the immaculate white-painted craft carry about 1,000 passengers each on their three decks. As soon as you get on board, give the steward a good tip for a deck chair and ask him or her to place it where you will get the best views. Be sure to book cabins in advance. Day trips are also possible on the Danube. You can use boats to move from one riverside community to the next, and along some sections, notably the Wachau, the only way to cross the river is to use the little shuttles (in the Wachau, these are special motorless boats that use the current to cross).
For the cruises up and down the Danube, the DDSG Blue Danube Steamship Company departs and arrives at Reichsbrücke near Vienna's Mexikoplatz. To reach the Reichsbrücke stop, you walk two blocks from the Vorgartenstrasse stop on the U1 subway toward the river. The DDSG stop is on the right side of the Reichsbrücke bridge. There is no pier number, but you board at Handelskai 265. Boat trips from Vienna to the Wachau are on Sunday only from May to September. The price is about €20.50 one-way and €27 round-trip. There are other daily cruises within the Wachau, such as from Melk to Krems. Other cruises, to Budapest for instance, operate from April to early November. The Web site has dozens of options and timetables in English. For cruises from Krems to Melk, contact Brandner Schifffahrt.
Brandner Schifffahrt (07433/259-021. www.brandner.at.)
DDSG/Blue Danube Schifffahrt ( 01/58880. www.ddsg-blue-danube.at.)
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