Tamas Kocsis has just visited his 120th country – and he’s not finished yet
Uniworld cruise manager Tamas Kocsis has just visited his 120th country because he lives and breathes travel.
Tamas, who is in his sixth season with Uniworld, says his favourite destination is Budapest, in Hungary, and insists he is not biased because he lives there!
He said: “Yes, it is my home, but I used to dislike Budapest. It has only been in the past seven or eight years that it has become one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. It always had charm but now it has become more multicultural and a lot more open.
“This is probably thanks to the many international universities and students from all over the world who add to the colour of the city.
“Tourism has also developed and brings a greater variety of people, adding to the hustle and bustle of this magnificent old beauty.
“Even on two-week cruises from Amsterdam to Budapest most of our guests say the same thing – “Budapest was my favourite city”.
“It has wonderful architecture and atmosphere. People often compare Budapest to Prague and Vienna, until they get here and they soon realise it is not at all like the other two.
“People often know what to expect from Prague and Vienna, but I see cruise after cruise when people come to me and say “I had no idea what to expect”, and it becomes their favourite city. It probably helps that the Danube flows through the middle of Budapest and offers spectacular views of both sides: the hilly Buda and the flat side of Pest.
“Visitors also love the contrast of the pretty and the ‘run-down’ yet beautiful buildings. Plus, of course the unique ‘ruin pubs’.
“Don’t make the mistake of staying only one night in Budapest. You need at least three days and you must make time to visit one of the historic hot springs in the centre of town.”
Tamas, 38, who studied economics at university, says he does not have a favourite river.
He said: “Europe’s rivers are all so different and have their own beauty.
“The Danube has its wonderful natural wonders, while the Rhine has magical castles, and the beautiful Rhone is where I am taking my parents for a cruise very shortly so, yes, I love to holiday on the ships.
“The Moselle looks like a painting and I love to paint in my free time so I sometimes paint on the ship because I have plenty of inspiration from the places we visit.
“Cruise managers jump from ship to ship within the fleet so I get to work on all of our ships. I love that, because each one is a destination in its own right; they are all different, beautifully designed and they have their own soul.
“From the chic Ambassador to the flamboyant SS Maria Theresa, I have worked across the fleet so I have the chance to experience them all – and the different rivers.”
Tamas also has the opportunity to work with many of the teams.
He said: “Crews work together for a whole season but as cruise manager I move from ship to ship. Each team welcomes me as if I am ‘part of the gang’ and I really like that.
“As cruise manager I look after all the tours – confirming excursions, buses, guides and special requests, and I get out and about on ship to make sure everything runs smoothly.
“I socialise, and make sure guests have a great time and are up to date with events and excursions.
“Many of our shore-side experiences and tours are exclusive, from meeting Princess Anita von Hohenberg to a New Year’s Eve Gala dinner and show in Budapest. There’s also a private concert in Salzburg, with Elisabeth Von Trapp, the granddaughter of Maria and Baron Von Trapp, and these events make Uniworld unique.
“Actually, Uniworld stands out in every way. The best description is the company’s statement which I could not describe better: ‘No detail too small, no request too large’.
“Uniworld really lives up to this and I have witnessed this year after year. The finest details are implemented in every department, in service and throughout our ships.
“I am so lucky to be doing what I love – travelling! I visited my 120th country last year and I’m not finished yet.”
The waters of the Danube are spanned by graceful bridges joining the two halves of the Hungarian capital – Buda and Pest. In Pest, on the eastern side, is the riverside parliament building. It is one of the city’s grandest structures and a short walk to the Hungarian State Opera House, Heroes’ Square and the Museum of Fine Arts.
The Chain Bridge was the first to connect Buda with Pest in 1849. Take a ride on the Funicular from the bridge or walk up a path to the Castle Hill UNESCO World Heritage Site for great views.
TAMAS’S PERSONAL CITY FAVOURITES
■ Fisherman’s bastion
■ Central market
■ Cafe Intenzo
■ 360 bar
■ Ruin pubs
■ Gozsdu udvar, a courtyard of cafes and restaurants
■ The Gellert Spa