We leave Munich for Vilshofen to board the AmaViola. Adventures by Disney teamed up with AmaWaterways for their Danube River Cruise for the holidays. I was excited to get the day started as this would be the start of our holiday!

The bus was full and it wasn’t long before our Adventure Guides had us all mingling amongst each other. They made the journey seem short as they introduced themselves and what this tour would look like for all of us on board. It wasn’t long before we arrived at the docks to board the AmaViola.

The riverboat was stunning. We didn’t have to worry about our luggage as ABD would take care of all that for us. We just made our way inside and the Ama crew were ready to assist us. We had our photos taken for security purposes and we were welcomed into the main parlour for drinks and hors d’oeuvres. Greeted by fellow guests and crew, it wasn’t long before we were making friends.

Before dinner we went to check into our room. We had just started to unpack when a knock came at the door. It was Rachel, our cruise director, offering my parents an upgraded room for their stay. It was, after all, their 40th wedding anniversary. They happily accepted and I could not have been more pleased myself! A massive room all to myself for the cruise….yes please!

They told my parents to leave their things, and the Ama crew would make the switch for them. Besides, it was time to celebrate Oktoberfest! The party had already started so we made our way across the dock to enjoy some pretzels and beer. There was traditional german music being played by a live band with singers and dancers. I enjoyed watching everyone dancing, or attempting to dance to the music. They would pull guests up and teach them the traditional folk dance, Schuhplattler.

The evening was winding down and it was time to head back to the boat for our big meeting with the crew. It was the general sort of meeting for safety information and ABD explaining how things will flow seamlessly for us this week, so on and so forth. We were already cruising at this point, making our way to our first port in Passau. By morning, we would be docked and our adventure would truly begin!

Before going to bed though, we were told to leave a shoe outside our door that night. That it was a tradition to do so, and a gift would be left for us to find in the morning. As I walked back to my room that night, the corridor was lined with shoes from every room. Everyone hoping to get their present placed in their boot. I made sure to leave mine out as well. What did we all get in our shoes you ask? Well, it was giant chocolate Santa. I could hear some of the kids in the morning as they opened their doors, excitedly telling their parents what they had gotten.

I woke with excitement myself, but not for the chocolate Santa. We were docked in Passau and I couldn’t wait to start exploring the city! I jumped out of bed to pull the curtains back, thrilled to see the city from my balcony. The curtains go back and there’s a cement wall as far as I can see. Confused, I go out on the balcony and the wall literally goes up past the 3rd floor above me. Damnit all! I should have taken the upgraded room upstairs! I’ve got no view! Here’s hoping this isn’t a common theme the rest of the trip.

Breakfast was not to be missed. They had a buffet full of food, anything you could imagine, they had. Or you could order from the menu. We sat at Table 25 because it was the first table we grabbed. Our new friends, Mary and Charlie, joined us as well. Filled with coffee, pastries and more, we were ready to take on Passau!

Also known as the “Three Rivers City,” Passau is home to the world’s largest cathedral organ in the St. Stephen’s Cathedral. Located in the heart of Old Town, St. Stephen’s is the towns highest point. We left the boat and met with a local guide who would take us through the city and eventually lead us to our first cultural activity. His interactive tour of Passau was truly remarkable! I thoroughly enjoyed listening and participating in his tour.

Our first cultural activity was marzipan making. We were taught from a local chef from Cafe Simon. He made it look so simple. We were tasked with making a marzipan pig, as the pig is a symbol of good luck. Let’s just say mine looked sorta like a pig….sorta. 😆After our attempt at marzipan, we were able to freely roam Passau on our own. We weren’t due back to the AmaViola for a few hours, so we decided to make our way back to the Christmas Market. It was set up in front of St. Stephen’s Cathedral in the heart of Old Town. It was beautiful despite the weather. It had been overcast and a bit rainy during our walk. But it really didn’t dampen the atmosphere of this beautiful city.

As night fell, it was time to make our way back to the boat. We made it with just enough time to freshen up for dinner. Our new friends had already snagged Table 25 and we spent the evening eating, drinking and getting to know each other. Turns out, she works for Disney! Needless to say, we got along just fine.

Well our first day was in the books. It felt like a dream being here in Passau. Having never heard of the city, I was happy to have been able to visit. I’d like to think I’d come back here one day. Maybe in the spring or summer. Although it would have been magical with just a bit of snow on the ground. I guess I shouldn’t be too picky. Back home in Canada, they were in a deep freeze. I’ll settle for the mild temps of Europe I suppose.

Stay tuned for our next port, Linz, and with it, Salzburg. The hills are alive…

Until next time…

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