Normally we are independent travelers. Even on cruises we do the ports on our
own or hire a private guide. This was our first experience where the tours were inclusive. We chose this method as it was the most efficient way to see many countries that would have been less accessible on our own, plus doing the river cruise down the Danube covered Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania, all of the Eastern European countries we had the strongest interests in.
Overall we were glad for the mode of travel we chose for this particular trip, however I don't think we would do it again. Although the tours and guides were very well done and informative (with some lovely surprises in between), being forced to travel enmasse with a large group of folks was not appealing in the long run. In particular the demographics on this particular cruise were much older than we expected and we did not anticipate the slow pace of travel. Also, a lot of the tours included events we would never have chosen on our own (particularly shopping excursions) so some time was wasted in our opinion.
On the positive side, the MS Treasures was a beautiful cruiser, the staff was friendly, efficient and accommodating and the food was exceptional. Although at the end of the cruise we missed a day on the river due to the Danube being too shallow to continue on, Tauck made an impressive turn about to keep everything on schedule by shuffling buses and hotels without a hitch. Tauck is a very impressive company and does an excellent job for what their intended purpose is. They gave us an opportunity to see a difficult part of the world in comfort and ease. If you are still very agile and motivated, however, this type of tours may be a bit too stodgy. We enjoyed everyone we met as they were all well traveled and interesting, we just needed to move faster! May try Tauck again down the road when we are looking for a more leisurely experience.