We had a great time on this Tauck River Cruise. The whole intent of this trip was to go to Holland to see the flowers in the spring. We decided to add a river cruise to our trip. We planned our trip to arrive 3 days prior to the cruise and booked our own hotel and flight. Much to our surprise, Tauck arranged for our transfer from the airport to our hotel. This was just the first instance of exceptional service that we received.
After our 3 days pre-cruise, we arranged for a taxi to take us to the cruise port. The Swiss Sapphire is a beautiful ship. The decor was very classy without a lot of glitz. Upon check in we were told to wait in the lounge where a light lunch was being served. After a short wait our room was ready and we were shown to it. The room was small but certainly livable. We had a small balcony that you could put one foot on and lean out the sliding glass door but not any bigger than that. There was plenty of storage and our suitcases fit under the bed.
The group areas of the ship consisted of the lounge, lido, dining room and the outside decks. The lounge had a piano player every night who was fantastic. Most of our time was spent there. Every night there would be a briefing on the next days events. The dining room had a mix of tables for 4 or 6 and was open seating for all meals. Lunches were buffet with dinners being 4 course meals with choices of meat, fish or vegetarian every night. You could also choose steak or chicken instead during dinners. Breakfasts were buffet also but you could order eggs any style or pancakes or waffles too. The lido was in the rear of the ship and had a delicious cappucino machine and cookies available all the time. During the morning there was continental breakfast available. At lunch one of the chefs made stir fry but there was also a panini machine and salad and soup in the lido. Dinner was italian but it had to be reserved and we didn't experience it.
The staff was truly wonderful. The food was consistently very good to excellent. Every stop we had private local guides take us to the city and tell us about it. The guides communicated through a box everyone wore with an earpiece. They worked very well. The bus drivers were amazing and drove us through areas that a bus shouldn't have fit but did. The Tauck guides kept everyone organized and really did an exceptional job. Most nights there was some kind of outside entertainment in the lounge like a German band or string quartet. There were also several nights spent on excursions.
We had booked the same hotel Tauck uses for after the cruise by ourselves. We were driven there in a bus with everyone who had booked through Tauck. After our 3 days post cruise we were again taken to the airport by a Tauck driver. There were so many extras that were included and unexpected it is impossible to list them. Examples include cookies on the bus when leaving a city, water bottles in the lounge for everyone to take with them on excursions and special meals in local restaurants.
I could not recommend Tauck more. This was our first organized tour although we have taken many ocean cruises. We would not hesitate to take a trip with them again.