Q – My husband and I are on our mid 70’s and still active. We are more nature-oriented travelers and love hiking and national parks. We dd one cruise with National Geographic up the Columbia River. But age is catching up with us and we need a more leisurely trip. My husband is Slovakian and is interested in a river boat that visits Bratislavia. We see that Viking and AMA Waterways both stop there.
We are looking for the line with the longest stay and a private tour guide so we can get the most out of the stop. WE have done some genealogy studies and know something about this families in Slovakia and their immigration tot he USA in early 1900. We live in Florida and would like to do this trip sometime in August-September-October next year. We are more casual people and we don’t know if the dress up in the evening on some of the lines will be too much for us? Any advice for us would really be appreciated.
A – If you are going to do a river cruise you will see that they don;t vary much in the time allotted to the day in Bratislava. It is, essentially, one full day. It may be possible for you to book a private guide in advance through your travel consultant. Ideally, you would prepare a careful document two months prior to your departure outlining the places you want to see and things you want to do during your day in-country so the guide can adequately prepare for your visit, perhaps even arranging for family visits.
But we want to urge you to think seriously about spending a week in Slovakia. It is a surprisingly beautiful country and your husband will not feel rushed. He needs to visit some of his family still there. You can do a week int he country with private guides for about what it would cost to do a river cruise of the same length. The dollar is strong right now against the Euro, the currency of Slovakia.
We would suggest you look closely at Viking if you do the river cruise, perhaps turning this into a two-week land/cruise vacation. We are concerned that your husband will just feel that a day in port is totally inadequate to get a feel for his heritage and a real sense of place. This should be a custom-designed vacation.
As to dress. If men are not willing to don a sports jacket in the evening while in Europe, they should stay home until they mature enough to travel.