Danube River Cruise Q & A

Q. What class of hotels are we staying in during the Crossroads Initiative Pilgrimage on the Danube and the Poland extension?

A.  For most nights on the main tour, we’ll be staying aboard the Riva, an Amadeus line ship, an elegant river cruise vessel where all food and drink with lunch and dinner, including alcoholic beverages, are included in the tour price (outside of lunch and dinner, there is a cash bar).  For the optional Poland extension and for the first two nights of the main tour, we stay in deluxe, superior, first-class hotels.  First two nights of the main tour are in Munich.

For names of the actual hotels we will be staying in on nights when we are not aboard the ship,  call Jane at Select International Tours 800-842-4842 or email her your query Jane@select-intl.com

Q. Will I have reliable Wifi access during this pilgrimage?

A. Our ship provides wifi to passengers.  Also, all of our land accommodations are in upscale, modernized hotels, so their wifi should be generally reliable, though wifi speed will vary.  If any of the hotels should have a temporary outage during our stay, there are often cafes with wifi within walking distance.  Sometimes our motor coaches are also equipped with free wifi.

Q. What flights will we be taking?

A.  Our tour company, Select International, will arrange group rates from New York or Newark and Dallas, along with several different US gateway airports to Munich with a return from Budapest.  Group flight pricing and schedules are published by the airlines 11 months from the return date, so won’t be available until December 2023; we will post the information as soon as it becomes available.   For questions about group airfare or arranging your own flights, contact Jane Allison at 800-842-4842 or email her jane@select-intl.com.  Select International is very accommodating in helping you upgrade, if you wish, to premium economy or business class based on availability. 

Q. What will our guides be like on this Tour of the Danube and the Poland extension?

A.  A tour of holy and historical places is only as good as your guide.   Many local guides leave much to be desired in terms of their knowledge, their ability to comment on the spiritual significance of a particular site for Christians, and their command of English.  Marcellino D’Ambrosio (aka “Dr. Italy”) has twin academic specialties that make him an extraordinary guide to Catholic Europe—he is an expert in secular European history and culture on the one hand, and in theology and Church history on the other.  Furthermore, his commentary, however informative, is always understandable and spiritually uplifting.  He will be assisted by local German and Polish-speaking guides as well.  We carefully look for local guides who are knowledgeable but also spiritual.  Their English is very good and clear.  It has taken us years to identify Catholic guides of this caliber — of the thousands of local guides available for tours, we select the cream of the crop.

Q. Will this Danube River Cruise be a tour or a spiritual pilgrimage?

A.  Both.  Though we will learn about the culture and cuisine of the places we are visiting, our focus will be on the saints and the Catholic history of the region, including how the Catholic Church built Western civilization with a special focus on the contribution of famous monasteries and convents.  We will have wonderful times of prayer, liturgy & music daily, with Mass in one of the chapels or cathedrals that we visit each day!   Each person who wishes will have the opportunity to serve as a lector in one of our special Masses.  But the information and insight you will get into the places we visit and the saints associated with them will be extraordinary.

Q. Who is arranging all the practicalities of the tour?

A.  Select International Tours is our US Tour company and they are available Monday – Friday to assist you.  They are a Catholic company that tithes with a special concern to support the Christian community in the Holy Land.  We have a dedicated tour manager for our pilgrimages – Jane Allison jane@select-intl.com 800-842-4842.   On the ground in Europe, Select International will be assisted by a European  company that knows the ins and outs of countries we are visiting.  Should any problem arise, we don’t need to call the States for help.  The local tour office will be in constant touch with us.

Q. Can I take your Danube River Cruise to Germany, Austria and Hungary but arrange for my own air transportation? I’d like to use Frequent flyer miles.

A.  Absolutely.  The price for the land only package is listed on the itinerary pages for the Pilgrimage. But remember, you’ll have to arrange for your own transfers from airport to hotel in Munich, and from disembarkation to the airport (Budapest).  Our tour company can help you with this.  Email Jane@select-intl.com

Q. What is the weather like in these countries and on the Danube in October?

A. Generally, temperatures on the Danube and the countries we’ll be visiting in October are on the cool side (typical highs in the 50s to upper 60s Fahrenheit), and nights may get rather chilly.  Sweaters and jackets are definitely in order, but an option or two for a warmer day would be a good idea.  We suggest layers, but plan on temps generally being on the cooler side.  If you are joining us on the Poland extension, weather will be even cooler there at the end of October and beginning of November.  And don’t forget to pack at least one pair of good walking shoes!  Formal attire isn’t necessary, we won’t have any formal dinners aboard the boat, so nice casual attire is all you need.  If you elect for the optional excursion on Day 8 (classical concert at the palace), you may want to bring something a little dressier, but it is not required.

Q. Is much walking required?

A. Generally much less than on other tours that we’ve organized, such as to the Vatican or Holy Land, for example.  Most of the time, our bus or ship gets quite close to the sites we are visiting.   People with canes and needing some assistance will do fine on this tour but we regret that those requiring wheelchairs cannot be accommodated.  If you are in doubt whether your state of health will allow you to enjoy this tour, call Jane at Select International 1-800-842-4842 and talk it over with her.  Personnel from Select International have sailed on the Amadeus line ships and visited all the sites.  They have intimate knowledge of the itinerary, and will give you candid advice.

Q. Tell me more about the ship that will be our home for seven nights.

A.  The Amadeus ships sail the Danube, Rhine and Main rivers.  Our ship, the Riva, is a beautiful new 2023 vessel that follows the award-winning model of the Amadeus line but offers even further innovative developments.  It is known for its generous public areas and spacious cabins: 12 large suites impress with an outdoor balcony and a cozy reading corner while the 67 exterior cabins (across 4 decks) feature mostly walk-out balconies or lowerable panoramic windows.  The Riva has numerous luxury dining and outdoor venues:  the elegant Panorama-Restaurant, the intimate dining lounge with highlight menu, the Panorama-Bar with dance floor, the classic “Café Vienna”, the glazed open-air “River Terrace” bar on the ship’s bow, the wellness area with massage, hairdresser and fitness room, as well as the spacious sun deck with relaxed lounge and outdoor restaurant.  

Q. What sort of reading should we do to prepare for this trip?

A.  There are many great resources that would help you prepare yourself to get the most out of the trip.  Thomas Wood’s book How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization would be a great read.  A biography of St. Stephen of Hungary, St. Elizabeth of Hungary, or Pope Benedict XVI would be awesome.   The movie directed by Terrence Malik on the story of Blessed Franz Jagenstatter, “A Hidden Life,” would be fabulous.  If you register for this tour, we will send you more specific ideas for background reading or watching several months before departure.

Q. Will daily Mass and Confessions be available on this pilgrimage?

A. Yes! Our group will have Mass daily in some of the most special and moving places in Europe.  Since we will have several priests traveling with us, confession and the Sacrament of the Sick will also be available for our pilgrims.

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