Weird and wacky shore excursions such as the medieval sport of falconry, visiting Dracula’s Castle in Romania and making your personal blend of Cognac are being offered by enterprising river cruise lines.
Increasingly, river companies are investing in new experiential excursions to attract passengers looking for unique experiences.
European Waterways is offering a Birds of Prey excursion where passengers can enjoy the medieval sport of falconry at the Chateau de Commarin while cruising on the boutique barge Le Belle Epoque in France.
Passengers will be able to get up close and personal with hawks, owls and eagles, all under the watchful eye of a trained falconer. When the birds return to their nests, guests will meet Count Bertrand de Vogue for a private tour of the building. Visit www.europeanwaterways.com
Viking River Cruises
Viking Cruises on its Chateaux, Rivers and Wine cruises, take passengers to the famous brandy-making town of Cognac where they can blend their own Cognac at Camus, the largest and one of the last remaining family-owned producers in the region. The tour starts with a tasting of various Cognacs in the cellar, before they mix their own blend which is then bottled, labelled and encased in a wooden box so that they can relive their experience when they are back home. They also get to meet the head of Camus and learn the art of cognac making that has been in the family for five generations. Call Viking at 138747.
From one spirit to another kind of ghoulish spirit, Viking also offers a three nights, pre-cruise tour to Romania’s mysterious town of Transylvania where they will visit Dracula’s Castle, officially known as Bran Castle. The landmark citadel, built in the 14th century and used by Saxon and Walachian kings, is the best known of several locations linked to the Dracula legend. For instance, it was used by Vlad Tepes or “Vlad the Impaler” as his headquarters for his incursions into Transylvania. The castle has Gothic and baroque furnishings and decorative arts on display. Call Viking at 138747.
Tauck’s Blue Danube river cruise itinerary between Budapest and Vilshofen in Germany has a family excursion to Devin Castle in Slovakia where kids can take part in medieval games, a knight tournament and watch a fencing demonstration. On their return to the ship in Bratislava, they can go for an interactive scavenger hunt through the city’s pedestrian-only Old Town and watch a knighthood ceremony. See tauck.com.au
Crystal River Cruises
Take a snow shoe hike through the Bavarian Forest. You’ll be guided by an expert park ranger through a wintery blanketed landscape. The snowshoes have been utilised by the Germanic people who have lived in this part of the world for centuries. The park ranger will take you out for a couple of hours before you sit down and enjoy a hot drink while marvelling at the snow-capped trees and mountains. See crystalcruises.com