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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(The remainder of this travel series is linked at  the bottom of the above index.)

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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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  • Harold McNeill

    January 15, 2021 |

    Wow, Graham, I was taken by surprise (but then again that’s not too hard). Having all you fine folks (my children by other fathers and mothers) would have been great. I’m hopeful that sometime in the not too distant future, we can reprise that trip. Perhaps we’ll just set aside a time for someone else’s landmark day, and we can surprise them. Love to you two. Harold

  • Graham and Nazanin

    January 15, 2021 |

    How could we miss this historic event my friend!!!
    Nazy and I were booked for that cruise Harold, we were looking so forward to it.
    We will be together soon! We both wish that continued unconditional love you receive from everyone to continue as you are that special someone that makes a difference in this world.
    Happy birthday sir, cheers!

  • Harold McNeill

    January 7, 2021 |

    Glad you found the site and that Dorthy enjoyed. I’ve added a lot of school photos in other locations linked to the High School Years stories. Cheers, Harold

  • Shelley Hamaliuk

    January 2, 2021 |

    Hi there, I am Dorothy Marshall’s (nee Hartman) daughter. Mom was quite excited when she discovered this site while surfing the net yesterday, so excited that she told me to have a look! She quite enjoyed taking a trip down memory and seeing old pictures of herself.Keep up the great work!

  • Harold McNeill

    April 14, 2020 |

    Hi Rick,
    Great to hear from you and trust all is going well. Our family members are all doing well but it must be pretty tough for a lot of people. I had once heard you were going to do some writing but never heard anything further. I would be most interested, but do you think the OB News have archives back to that time. Any link or information you could provide would be greatly appreciated. Did you keep copies? Regards, Harold

  • Rick Gonder

    April 14, 2020 |

    Hi Harold
    About 22 years ago I spent several weeks going through the OBPD archives. I wrote several stories that were published in the OB News. Feel free to use if they are of value to what you are doing.
    Keep this up, I’m enjoying it and it brings back memories.

  • Harold McNeill

    April 12, 2020 |

    Hi Susan,

    Glad you had a chance to read. I decided to update these stories by proofreading as there were several grammatical errors in many. Hopefully, many of those glaring errors have been removed.

    Many of the stories carry a considerable amount of social comment regarding the way the criminal justice system is selectively applied. Next up involves a young woman from near Cold Lake, Alberta, who was abducted by an older male from Edmonton. Her story is the story of hundreds of young men and woman who have found themselves alone and without help when being prayed upon unscrupulous predators.

    Cheers, Harold

  • Susan

    April 8, 2020 |

    Great read, Harold!…and really not surprising, sad as that may sound.
    Keep the stories coming, it is fascinating to hear them.
    Love from us out here in the “sticks”, and stay safe from this unknown predator called Covid.

  • Harold McNeill

    February 17, 2020 |

    Update:  Times Colonist, February 16, 2020, articles by Louise Dickson, She got her gun back, then she killed herself,” and,  Mounties decision to return gun to PTSD victim haunts her brother. 

    Summary: I don’t know how many read the above articles, but they contained the tragic details about young woman, Krista Carle’, who took her own life after suffering for years with PTSD. While tragedies such as this play out across Canada every week, the reason this story resonates so profoundly is that the final, tragic, conclusion took place here in Victoria. Continued in the article.

  • McNeill Life Stories Index to Police Notebook - McNeill Life Stories

    February 16, 2020 |

    […] Part I, Police solidarity and the push for amalgamation. Part II, Comparing police cultures and implementing change Part III, The past as a guide to the future Part IV The integration of police services […]