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 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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  • Mike Fedorowich

    September 1, 2023 |

    I have gone through the above noted text and have found it quite informative.
    I am a former member with several law enforcement agencies from across Canada.
    I worked in the First Nations service under the authority of the RCMP with the over sight of the OPP. My law enforcement service was conducted under the authority of the Nishnawbe – Aski Police Service in North West Ontario the Louis Bull Police Sevice in Hobbema AB, the Kitasoo Xaixais Police Service in Northern in side passage on Swindle Island, the Lac Suel Police Service North West Ontario and the Vancouver Transit Authority Sky Train Police Service. I’m presently dealing with an RCMP member for falsifying a report against me for a road rage event. Court case is finished and the charge was dropped but I have an on going complaint with the member and have forwarded to the WATCH DOGS IN OTTAWA FOR the RCMP review and consideration. I believe the said officer is in violation of his oath of office and should be held accountable for falsifying his RTCC all the while dragging me through the court system here in Nanaimo. RCMP continue to stonewall the appeal but Ottawa and the crowns office are still looking into the matter. if your able and find the time or the interest in this very brief introduction, I would very much like to speak with you and would be grateful to hear any wisdom that may come across from your end. I served with First Nations Police Services for ten years in isolation and six years with Transit Police out of New West Minster. I do value and appreciate any time you could spare to chat for a bit on this particular subject matter. Respectfully with out anger but an open mind, Mike Fedorowich Nanaimo BC 250 667 0060

  • Harold McNeill

    February 28, 2022 |

    Hi Robert, I do remember some of those folks from my early years in Cold Lake (Hazel was my aunt and our family spent many fond times with Uncle Melvin, Aunt Hazel and Family. I knew Lawrence and Adrian. Having read a half dozen accounts it is clear their were many false narratives and, perhaps, a few truths along the way. I tried my best to provide an even account from what I read. Cheers, Harold. (email:

  • Robert Martineau

    February 25, 2022 |

    Its been a long time since any post here, but its worth a shot. My Grandfather was Hazel Wheelers brother Lawrence, and son to Maggie and Adrien. Maggie Martineau (nee Delaney) is my great grandmother. The books and articles to date are based on the white mans viewpoint and the real story as passed down by the Elders in my family is much more nefarious. Some of the white men were providing food for the Indians in exchange for sexual favors performed by the Squaws. Maggie was the product of one of those encounters. Although I am extremely proud of my family and family name, I am ashamed about this part of it.

  • Julue

    January 28, 2022 |

    Good morning Harold!
    Gosh darn it, you are such a good writer. I hope you have been writing a book about your life. It could be turned into a movie.
    Thanks for this edition to your blog.
    I pray that Canadians will keep their cool this weekend and next week in Ottawa. How do you see our PM handling it? He has to do something and quick!
    Xo Julie

  • Herb Craig

    December 14, 2021 |

    As always awesome job Harold. It seems whatever you do in life the end result is always the same professional, accurate, inclusive and entertaining. You have always been a class act and a great fellow policeman to work with. We had some awesome times together my friend. I will always hold you close as a true friend. Keep up the good work. Hope to see you this summer.
    Warm regards
    Herb Craig

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Hi Dorthy, So glad you found those stories and, yes, they hold many fond memories. Thanks to social media and the blog, I’ve been able to get in touch with many friends from back in the day. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Well, well. Pleased to see your name pop up. I’m in regular contact via FB with many ‘kids’ from back in our HS days (Guy, Dawna, Shirley and others). Also, a lot of Cold Lake friends through FB. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Oh, that is many years back and glad you found the story. I don’t have any recall of others in my class other than the Murphy sisters on whose farm my Dad and Mom worked.

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Pleased to hear from you Howie and trust all is going well. As with you, I have a couple of sad stories of times in my police career when I crossed paths with Ross Barrington Elworthy. Just haven’t had the time to write those stories.

  • Howie Siegel

    November 25, 2021 |

    My only fight at Pagliacci’s was a late Sunday night in 1980 (?) He ripped the towel machine off the bathroom wall which brought me running. He came after me, I grabbed a chair and cracked him on the head which split his skull and dropped him. I worried about the police finding him on the floor. I had just arrived from Lasqueti Island and wasn’t convinced the police were my friends. I dragged him out to Broad and Fort and left him on the sidewalk, called the cops. They picked him up and he never saw freedom again (as far as I know). I found out it was Ross Elworthy.