Life Aboard the River Beatrice 2/7

Written by Harold McNeill on April 13th, 2012. Posted in Travelogue


River Beatrice Photo

Photo: Garth, Esther, Lynn and Harold relax in the dining room of the River Beatrice. While the surroundings were elegant and the service exquisite, it was not many meals into the cruise before everyone had the feeling of being among family and friends. With complimentary local wines and beer served at both lunch and dinner, the atmosphere was certainly lively.

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It would be difficult to grow up with the affluence that permeates life in North America, particularly as presented on TV and in the movies, without at least once wondering what it might be like to live aboard one of the many superyachts sprinkled throughout the harbours of our nation, a yacht upon which you could invite family and friends and where you would most certainly meet others from the four corners of the earth? Ah, it could happen to you and could happen soon.

On board the River Beatrice, you will be presented with the finest cuisine, choice wines and entertainment representative of the cities and countries through which you will travel. You will be hosted both by a knowledgeable, friendly onboard crew and by others just a just short, chauffeured ride away in local restaurants, wineries, theatre or tourist attractions. At each stop, you receive preferred entrance and VIP treatment. For most this would be no more than an idle dream, but in the new world of ‘boutique’ river cruising, it is no longer the exclusive domain of celebrities or the super-rich.

From the moment we boarded the River Beatrice in Budapest, we knew this cruise would bring special memories not only of the countries we would visit and the extraordinary sights we would see but, and most importantly, the people we would meet along the way.

While the more expensive staterooms provided premium services and extra space, even in the least expensive, passengers received first class treatment. The dining room and two lounges (one forward and smaller aft) provided an elegant, but comfortable atmosphere.

Photo (hdm): Lynn relaxes in our spacious, well-appointed room on the upper deck. A sliding glass door opened to an outer railing on which one could lean to savour the passing scenery. 

What was also soon to become evident, and which was to make every aspect of our trip so very special, was not only the professionalism but also down-home courtesy of the men and women of the crew.  Under the gentle guidance of Captain Tom, a master mariner descended from four generations of Dutch Seaman, it was clear that Uniworld, a family owned and operated a company of more than 50 years standing, has made customer satisfaction a core value. What was equally clear, was that the service provided was not just a matter of company policy, it flowed from the hearts and minds of the men and women crewing the ship.

Onshore, tour guides from local communities added immensely to the flavour as they sought to pull away from the veneer of ‘tourism’ by providing a friendly, informative look at the place they called home. This included both the good and the bad. With plenty of opportunities to walk the streets on our own, we found the citizens and business persons, young and old, with whom we shared a coffee or a meal, to be equally cheerful and helpful.

The following photographs provide just a few examples of our experience while traveling along the Danube on the River Beatrice.

LINK to other travel stories posted by Lynn and Harold McNeill

Photo Essay on River Beatrice

River Beatrice Tours

Photo (hdm): Captain Tom Buining, Hotel Manager Mario Mirao and the effervescent Cruise Manager, Mirela Varga, greet passenger with a glass Champaign. Each evening during the cocktail hour in the lounge that preceded dinner, Mirela provided everyone with an outline of our itinerary for the following day.

The relaxed atmosphere on board was exemplified by the Captain as he was often available for a photograph and a few words about his seafaring experience. From a family of mariners, he clearly loved his job within the Uniworld family.

With a crew of nearly fifty plus an additional ten or twelve tour guides on shore, each of the 120 passengers were certainly provided with attentive service.  Meals would be provided in your cabin if you so wished and coffee service was available 24 hours a day. The lounge would remain open until the last guest decided it was time to retire. This usually included Lynn and Esther.

It never possible to get Lynn up singing at home, but match her up with Esther and throw in a little of the upbeat nightly music provided by Zoltan, and she was off and running.

What is your pleasure gentlemen?  As Garth and I can attest, there is nothing better than being on good terms with the bartenders.

With nightly music, drink and entertainment the lounge was always a popular place to wind down after a hard day checking out the local tourist hot spots along the Danube. One of the very neat things about a river cruise is always having your hotel room accompany you to the next stop in your travels. In a little less than three weeks (Seatle to Europe and return) we only changed hotels (River Beatrice being our floating oasis) four times, including the two overnights at a Best Western in Seatle.

We honestly thought Elvis was dead, but we found out he was alive and living in Australia with his wife.  He joined the River Beatrice and his secret remained until one day Esther and Lynn smoked him out.  Here they ply him with roses as a touching symbol of their eternal love of his music.

Lynn and a couple of admirers.

It was a short hop from the bar to the dance floor as we nailed our favorite spot.

These friendly smiles greeted passengers every morning and by the second day these gentlemen knew many of the personal preferences of many. With all the late nights in the lounge, it was a good thing someone remembered what we liked in the morning.

Each morning we would find the River Beatrice snuggled up to a jetty in a new city or town from which point we would be off on a new adventure.

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Comments (4)

  • Esther Dunn
    April 17, 2012 at 4:35 am |

    Agreed…Truly wonderful company and staff!!

  • Cathy Wassermann
    April 17, 2012 at 4:21 pm |

    Hi Harold and Lynn,

    What great memories. Lynn we were all such Dancing Queens.

    I tried to email you Lynn but the email address on Helene’s form did not work. Please send me your email address.

    Cathy Wassermann Vision2000 Georgetown

  • Lynn McNeill
    April 18, 2012 at 1:00 am |

    Hi Cathy, Great to hear from you. My email is lynnmcneill@cruiseshipcenters.com. I would love to hear from you. Trust all is well at your end. It was so great to meet you… Lynn

  • marian
    November 26, 2013 at 11:36 pm |

    Yes, I’m glad that you had a wonderful trip aboard River Beatrice, and always appreciate the effort of the crew, paying a tip, but what a shame that this hotel manager Mario ,always can not refrain from stealing tips money, that your entire work crew rewarded !!!!…everybody knows this, but no one says anything for fear of losing your job !!!!….

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  • McNeill Life Stories How to Game an Election - McNeill Life Stories

    September 18, 2019 |

    […] The Federal Conservatives and Seymour Riding Association complied but one day later those memes will be shared by every third party social media site and by thousands of supporters where the message will be taken as a statements of the fact.  Five years from now those memes will still be circulating. (Link here to background on the SNC Lavalin matter) […]

  • Harold McNeill

    August 21, 2019 |

    For those who followed the earlier post about the cost of ICBC Auto insurance coverage in British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba (linked in comments) here is another follow-up article.

    This article again confirms earlier assertions that public-private insurers such as that which ICBC provides, is among the best in Canada in terms of rates and coverage. A link is provided in the original story.

  • Harold McNeill

    August 16, 2019 |

    Many thanks for reviewing the article Elizabeth. There are so many areas of our society in which populism carries the day, although I think what is happening with the ICBC is that groups having a vested interest in private insurance would dearly love to dislodge ICBC from their preferred position. That being said, I think was a good move to have only portions of the insurance coverage in BC being held by ICBC and other portions being made available through private enterprise.

  • Elizabeth Mary McInnes, CAIB

    August 15, 2019 |

    It’s a breath of fresh air to see a resident of British Columbia look to review all the facts over believing what is reported in the news or just following along with the negative stigma of the masses. Your article truly showcases that with a little reform to ICBC’s provincial system – British Columbia could be a true leader for other provinces in Canada. Very well written article!

  • Harold McNeill

    August 13, 2019 |

    August 13, 2019. The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), a private enterprise group not unlike the Fraser Institute, is again on the campaign trail. They state ICBC rates are the highest in Canada, but, thankfully, Global BC inserted a section indicating the Insurance Bureau cherry-picked the highest number in BC and the lowest numbers in AB, ON and other Eastern Provinces. If you take a few minutes to check reliable sources you will find BC rates, are the lowest in Canada.

  • Andrew Dunn

    May 14, 2019 |

    Thank you so much for all your help thus far Harold, aka. Tractor guy! I could not have done without you!

  • Harold McNeill

    April 25, 2019 |

    I find it interesting to contemplate how a small community evolves in general isolation from the rest of the world. We have a similar situation in the northern communities in Canada to which access is limited. The inclusion of the world wide web and mass media has changed things, but these communities are still left pretty much to their own devices when it comes to personal interaction.

  • Harold McNeill

    March 19, 2019 |

    Hi Dave. Not that I am aware and I have a fairly comprehensive family tree for the McNeill side of the family. I will pull it up and scan. Cheers, Harold. Great chatting with you and I will give Ben a nudge.

  • Dave Cassels

    March 16, 2019 |

    Were you related to Guy McNeill who owned the Bruin Inn in St. Albert in the late 40’s or early 50’s? Guy was a close friend of my father-in-law who was the first President of the Royal Glenora Club. My phone number is 780 940 1175. Thank you.

  • Harold McNeill

    March 15, 2019 |

    So glad you found the story and enjoyed. Indeed, they were memorable times. I did a fair amount of searching but never managed to contact any of the Murffit kids. However, it was neat to make contact with the Colony and someone I knew from back in the day. I have enjoyed writing these stories from back in the 1940s and 50s and have made contact with a lot of friends from those early years. I will give you a call over the weekend. Cheers, Harold