Jane McDonald reveals her top tips when packing for cruises
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Jane McDonald believes: “There’s a cruise to suit everyone, no matter your tastes”. Hitting three countries on two Danube cruises, the singer and TV presenter had a fabulous time.
She boarded the Maria Theresa ship, named after Marie-Antoinette’s mother and commented: “It’s like a private yacht”.
Starting her adventures in Budapest, Jane explored a bit of the city and discovered highlights, such as the central market and the baths.
The Szechenyi Bath is the biggest thermal bath in the city, and one of the biggest natural hot spring bath in Europe.
The beautiful place was “absolutely packed” when Jane visited, and she was “not ready to disrobe and play chest with old men”, so she took it all in from the sidelines.
Back on the ship the next day, she enjoyed breakfast in bed – “cruising is all about doing the things you’ve always wanted to do but never have time for” – and got a massage.
While she’d “never been stood on before”, she thinks this was “one of the best experiences I’ve ever had as a massage”.
Through the Hungarian countryside and on to Vienna, the boat sailed along the Danube, the second-longest river in Europe that goes from the Black Forest all the way to the Black Sea.
In Vienna, Jane looked for a dress to wear for a meeting with a princess.
She settled on a traditional dirndl, a dress that the shopkeeper said “every woman looks fantastic [wearing]”.
Jane, and the viewers, also learnt the very important placement of the bow on the dirndl: “If you wear the bow on the left side, you’re available, I’m talking about your love life. If you wear it on the right side, you’re not available,” the shopkeeper explained.
Vienna was a hit with Jane, who felt “like I’m in a film, like I’m going to burst into song and swing around a lamppost”.
Her next stop was meeting Princess Anita, who she worried “may think I’m bonkers”.
It all ended up being lovely, with no princess being offended. Crisis averted.
Jane sailed through Austria and on to Germany, where the ship stopped in Passau.
And back in Budapest it was, for a second boarding, this time on the luxury ship Amaverde.
After a quick excursion in the footsteps of Empress Sissi and a steam train ride, Jane explored her new room, which boasted two balconies.
She took us around the ship and declared: “The chef is the most important person on the ship, sorry captains!”
A stop in Bratislava, the Slovakian capital, was followed by Mohacs in Hungary, the setting for an annual festival to chase away the winter.
While the festival was not on when the ship stopped, it didn’t stop Jane from having a quick look around.
Amaverde next docked in Belgrade, Serbia, where Jane learnt about history and regretted not having “listened more at school”.
After her tour of the city, Jane said: “Belgrade is a city of regrowth and rebirth, and I’ll definitely come back.”
The ship next sailed through the Iron Gates, a series of gorges that create a natural border between Serbia and Romania.
After checking out, there was one more stop for Jane: Dracula’s castle in Transylvania.
While many would not think of going to this part of the world for a holiday, Jane thought it really was worth checking out.
She said it was a beautiful part of the world: “Get here if you can”.
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