We thought it time we tried a coaching holiday, having made many journeys abroad by air and by car over the years, but never by coach , so we decided on a river cruise with Shearing’s in early June 2011. Shearing’s rates were more attractive than some other river cruises advertised on the Danube.
The river cruise taken (between Linz and Budapest) offered a choice between flying from a range of airports, or travelling by coach from pickup points around the UK. There is no price difference whichever you chose.
5am on day one found us at Scotch Corner Services, about 15 miles from our home which we covered by taxi. By about 1.30 pm we were at a service area near Dover where it seems all pickup coaches arrived at much the same time and within about 40 minutes we were then allocated to different coaches according to our holiday destination. Transfer of suitcases was handled by the drivers with a bit of huffing and puffing. The 3pm P&O Ferry took on a large number of Shearing’s coaches for the crossing to Calais. Meal vouchers were handed out to those on our coach as we would arrive too late at our stopover hotel in Liege to take an evening meal. The cafeteria was therefore very busy, though waiting say 30 minutes avoided queuing.
Comments on the journey were made to our Twitter account http://www.twitter.com/buspasses though this was hindered by the limited availability of Internet access in the cities along the Danube. The only one found in Budapest was at MacDonald’s !
There is plenty of leg room on the coaches – ours was a 2011 registration and it was possible to relax more en route than on recent flights we have taken. Regular stops to stretch legs etc were taken every 2-3 hours.
We reached the hotel in Liege by about 8pm which was quite good, and needed to be up again at about 6am for breakfast and an early set-off for Linz, where we arrived at about 7.30pm.
The ship which is able to take about 110 people was excellent, service and cabins comfortable and the places visited very interesting. We had expected cabin sizes to be a bit small but were pleased with the amount of space and the comfort of the room including shower room. Beds were folded up into the wall by the crew during breakfast, and the process reversed during evening meal. Those who had flown had set off a day later than us, leaving at early hours from various airports, and flying in to Munich or Vienna. Talking to fellow passengers on the cruise ship who had flown, they had arrived in early or mid afternoon. i.e. more than a day less travelling time, and the same applying for the return journey. Some mentioned the transport from Munich taking about 3 hours to get to Linz.
River Bus on Danube at Budapest
Around 2/3rds of passengers had chosen to travel by coach, many of whom were regular Shearing’s customers.
The cruise itself we felt were excellent with some beautiful and interesting places visited. The tours at each stop were of varying value for money – driving through a busy city like Budapest to have parliament/museum buildings pointed out was the least enjoyable aspect.
Some amazing discounts on the cruise we were taking came through on email late on, and are still available for 18th June – see http://www.shearings.com/special-offers/river-cruise-special-offers
including at half the price we paid for 21st and 28th June. I notice on these that air travel is not available.
Whilst mentioning the above I should mention that the above has been written entirely independently, we are not on commission from Shearing’s !
Comments on your experience with coaching holidays will be very welcome.