FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif. -- The war in Kosovo is over; Yugoslavia is
lurching toward democracy and the Serbian city of Belgrade soon
will be ready for cruise passengers.
A portion of the Danube River in Serbia -- which is part of the
Yugoslav Republic -- was clogged by debris from bridges that had
been destroyed by bombs, but efforts by the European Union to clear
the waterway are nearly complete.
Several European-chartered ships plan to stop in Belgrade on
their Danube itineraries, where tours of Belgrade and a visit to
the fortress of nearby Novi Sad are scheduled.
In the U.S., Value World Tours, based here, plans to resume its
five-country Danube cruises from Vienna through Slovakia, Hungary,
Serbia and Romania.
Value World president Samo Toplak acknowledged that some Serbs
might harbor anti-American sentiment as a result of the NATO
bombing that damaged the city in spring
"But this is cosmopolitan city. Most of the population is
university educated and followed the war [in Kosovo] on the Web --
they don't buy into the anti-American propaganda that was spread
during the war," he said.
Toplak, a native of Serbia, added that while some Serbs might
resent the U.S. government, "there is no resentment toward American
He also noted that during Value World's daylong stop in Serbia,
"cruise passengers are on an escorted sightseeing tour and are not
wandering around the city on their own."
Value World charters the Balkan Beauty, built in 1968 with small
cabins ranging from 98 to 110 square feet. The ship has modern
amenities such as air conditioning, two dining rooms and an evening
Prices for the package start at $1,298, cruise only, for 11
Departures might be offered as early as May 21 and 31, Toplak
said, depending on how the clean-up effort in the Danube is
"We'll know by March," he said.
Six definite dates are available Aug. 16 through Oct. 1.
Eninco, Calif.-based Uniworld said it plans to reintroduce its
southern Danube itinerary, similar the program offered by Value
World, in 2002.
Other cruise lines such as Viking River Cruises and Peter
Deilmann Cruises will have ships this year that pass through Serbia
without making port calls.