“No Whine on the Rhine”
Cruise review of Swiss Emerald

dessertarian Swiss Emerald 5 No Whine on the Rhine
dessertarian
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Overall Member Rating
We just returned from a 13 day river cruise of the Rhine and Moselle. Tauck exceeded our expectations in many ways. Classy is a word that best describes the attention to detail that this tour provided. e.g, On our visit to the American Cemetery in Luxemborg, Tauck gave each passenger (96) a white rose to place on a grave. They paid the fees for visits to public toilets. One day they gave each passenger 20 euros each to have lunch in town. The guides in town and tour directors were excellent. Peter Tanner is an outstanding director. His sense of humor and historical knowledge made all his tours the most sought after for passengers. We sailed on the Swiss Emerald. The boat is small but not cramped and the Scylla crew were most accommodating and anxious to please. This is our first river cruise and our first experience with Tauck. I would not hesitate to travel with them again. On our tour, there were those who traveled w/ Tauck 14-21 times, proving passenger loyalty.

The cabin was small but adequate w/ the exception of the closet and storage space. There was only one chair w/ a small table or desk. Two people could not occupy the bathroom at the same time, nor was there enough space for two to walk at the foot of the bed. I am not claustrophobic, so this was not a problem for me, but also, we did have a big sliding glass door/window, no balcony. River cruising is much more stable and quiet than ocean cruises. e.g., I experienced no motion sickness in the 12 days. We had a large window, which was nice as the river views were interesting though not always spectacular, e.g., coal loading or light industrial sights, but then we did see the occasional castle. Passing through locks at night can be disconcerting. Some of the jolts were similar to earthquake shocks, so there was that initial feeling of experiencing an earthquake. The bathroom was small but the shower head was great. We did not suffer the usual water saving problem w/ the water pressure. We met a couple w/ the junior suite and they did not feel their room was that much larger than ours, though it was about 50% larger. The shower stall is tiled, so it feels less like some prefabricated compartment. The ship was clean and our rooms always tidied in a timely manner. The crew were hardworking and most accommodating of all requests.

River cruising is different from ocean cruises in that they are less frenetic and more intimate. Generally, the food on the Swiss Emerald was not outstanding, but it was always beautifully presented and obvious care was made to attend to differing dietary restrictions/demands. The ice cream was outstanding and worth every calorie. There is a casual dining option on the Lido deck but that needs to be expanded to include lighter fare options for evenings when one just doesn't want a multi-course meal. For our sailing, they instituted an Italian dinner option which was mediocre at best. It is a nice place to have coffee and watch the world go by, so dining there "al fresco" would have been a nice option, even if limited to sign-ups. It's something we suggested to Tauck in our review. Seniors should feel comfortable traveling w/ Tauck. For those less able to walk, they always had a bus that would drive as close as possible or modify the walking demands. The "quietvoxes" used for tours was excellent and those hard of hearing felt they were a godsend. There were approximately 10 ports, some of the smaller towns began to look alike, e.g., the usual cathedral or grave. Adequate time was given in the bigger cities, e.g., Basel, Stasbourg and Amsterdam.

Overall Ratings
  • Cabin
  • Dining
  • Embarkation
  • Enrichment Activities
  • Entertainment
  • Family & Children
  • Fitness & Recreation
  • Onboard Experience
  • Public Rooms
  • Rates
  • Service
  • Shore Excursions
  • Value for Money

Cabin review:

The cabin was small but adequate w/ the exception of the closet and storage space. There was only one chair w/ a small table or desk. Two people could not occupy the bathroom at the same time, nor was there enough space for two to walk at the foot of the bed. I am not claustrophobic, so this was not a problem for me, but also, we did have a big sliding glass door/window, no balcony. River cruising is much more stable and quiet than ocean cruises. e.g., I experienced no motion sickness in the 12 days. We had a large window, which was nice as the river views were interesting though not always spectacular, e.g., coal loading or light industrial sights, but then we did see the occasional castle. Passing through locks at night can be disconcerting. Some of the jolts were similar to earthquake shocks, so there was that initial feeling of experiencing an earthquake. The bathroom was small but the shower head was great. We did not suffer the usual water saving problem w/ the water pressure. We met a couple w/ the junior suite and they did not feel their room was that much larger than ours, though it was about 50% larger. The shower stall is tiled, so it feels less like some prefabricated compartment. The ship was clean and our rooms always tidied in a timely manner. The crew were hardworking and most accommodating of all requests.

Port and Shore Excursions

Port
On this Rhine/Moselle cruise, the smaller towns like Cochem, Bernkastel and Boppard seemed very similar. One doesn't need more than an afternoon or morning to explore the usual sites and souvenir shops. The only disappointing stop was Basel, but that was because it was Sunday and everything was closed. Strasbourg is a lovely town. I had been there before but never saw the canal area. Getting off the beaten track was a lovely surprise. The town of Baden Baden is also interesting and the stop there was adequate to explore the casino and town itself. We were not prepared to perhaps have our cruise shortened. The rivers are quite low now (September) and though we completed our trip, we were told others were canceled.

Published 10/19/09
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