As Poslovni Dnevnik/Mladen Miletic writes, the Danube is known by many as the main artery of Europe, it’s the mighty river that both connects and separates. It used to be the border of worlds, and for some it is still to this very day. The Danube is sung about in the Croatian national anthem (Croatian: himna), it’s in the title of the most famous Strauss composition and in countless verses sung by the Pannonian sailor Djordje Balasevic, born in Novi Sad, Serbia, on the Danube.
The eternal inspiration of poets, painters and novelists, Italian writer Claudio Magris dedicated a famous novel to this river, following the flow of the Danube to the mouth of the Black Sea, revealing that there are still disputes among towns in southwestern Germany about exactly where the Danube originates.
All of the above is only a small part of the reason why at least once in a lifetime, it’s worth embarking on a voyage along the great river that flows through the far east of Croatia, in an area very few people from abroad ever visit or think of. The starting or ending point of the cruise, depending on the choice, is in the port of the Croatian hero city of Vukovar.
The Arriva travel agency has been organising river cruises for years, and following a pandemic-induced break, they’re now offering Danube river cruises – the Vukovar-Vienna route, as well as the even more eastern variant of Vukovar-Vidin (an ancient city in northwestern Bulgaria).
”We also offer cruises along the Rhine, but we don’t have any realisations for that yet this year. However, the Danube river cruises are more attractive to people precisely because of the departures being from Croatia, where we organise group departures,” explained Tamara Cerneka, the director of Arriva Travel.
”The specificity of the Danube river cruises and indeed most others is that passengers board at one port and disembark at another, which requires a transfer in one direction. That’s why group departures are more attractive. The first group of Danube river cruises organised by Arriva travel started this year on May the 27th, and by mid-June, we’d realised four departures,” Cerneka added.
Cruises, both those at sea and those along rivers, are still a segment making a more slow and cautious return following the global coronavirus pandemic. Travellers are still unsure and have their eyes fixed on autumn, afraid to book a cruise in advance for fear of new epidemiological measures being introduced as has been the case over the past two years.
Danube river cruises will certainly be a way for visitors to Croatia to spend time in a part of the country which is the bipolar opposite of the likes of Dalmatia with its rugged mountains, intense dry heat and crystal clear waters. It’s also wildly different to Kvarner and Istria, known for similar traits. Eastern Croatia, once the breadbasket of the country, heavily wounded during the Homeland War and now shamefully neglected and suffering from a severe demographic crisis, has a lot to boast about when it comes to its natural and cultural charms – this might just be the perfect way to see that.
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