We have just returned from our first river cruise on the River Empress. Our room was on the lowest level right beside the washers and dryers. One would think this was a poor location, not at all! Hardly any noise from the room next door. (mostly from people visiting each other outside the room in the hall) Location was very close to everything. Rooms are basically all the same and are very compact. We spend hardly any time in the room so that was not a concern. An important note, the temperature control in the room was excellent and very quiet.
A not on the washers and dryers. These were available to all travellers and detergent was free for the asking at the desk. Although the language could be changed to English on the units, this was not an easy task. Most of us just guessed.
I tend to get sea sick on an ocean cruise. I had no problems as all on this river cruise. What a bonus!
The lounge area and library were very comfortable. Main lobby clean and airy.
Staff extremely friendly and helpful.
The food was buffet at breakfast and lunch. There was something for everyone. I would have preferred a sit down meal for lunch as I found I ate too much with the buffet! Dinner always offered a pasta, meat, fish and vegetarian choice. Besides the daily choices, steak, chicken or salmon were always available. There was always cheese and crackers available after dinner as well and the cheeses were fantastic! Wine and beer were included with lunch and dinner and flowed freely. The German whites were outstanding as well as the German beer of course.
There was a station with 24 hrs coffees and tea. There were also cookies available here as well. Very nice touch! There was a fruit of the day and a bowl of fruit was also to be found in the area. In this area you could also have early or late breakfast items for those early risers or for those who slept in.
The internet was a bit sketchy at best but was free. Still much better than on the ocean cruise lines. Of course going through the many locks the signal was lost as well but can't be helped there. A pass code needed to be entered and was good for 2 hours. Codes were readily available from the front desk. TV very limited but then I did not come on the cruise to sit in my room and watch TV
The excursions were of a good length and at most ports you had a fair amount of time to browse on your own after. Some excursions offered a slow walkers group. There were a few extra excursions offered at a reasonable price and those that went said they enjoyed them. I personally only went on the beer tasting trip and thoroughly enjoyed it!
Captain Anton was at each port sending us off on our tours with a smile. He even sang a couple of times for us in the lounge.
During the evenings there was a piano player in the lounge. We were somewhat disappointed here. The crowd would just get going and he would either play something that was not dance music or go for a break at which point everyone tended to drift back to their rooms.
Several times during the two weeks we had local entertainment either right before dinner or after. For the most part this was quite entertaining and lasted about one hour.
This was our first river cruise after having taken several ocean cruises. I much preferred the small and more intimate atmosphere of the river cruise. We found it much easier to socialize with other travellers.
The scenery is wonderful on the river. We were able to spend a couple of days just sitting out and enjoying the quiet ride down the river.
All in all the very best cruise we have been on by far!