Tauck river cruises are all about in-depth cultural connections to the destination, connections made through a well-thought-out tour program, operated every day the ship is in port. Options are interesting and varied, from a city walking tour of Cologne to a morning excursion into De Hoge Veluwe National Park for a pre-opening private tour of the renowned Kroller Muller Museum, with its breathtaking collection of Van Goghs.
A "Discovery Briefing" occurs each night in the main lounge before dinner, during which one of three Tauck tour directors previews the next day's activities. In some cases, a local guide comes onboard in the morning, prior to going ashore, to share some additional tidbits of regional or cultural interest. Information sheets summing up local attractions and independent touring options are provided the night before each port day.
Tours keep to a tight schedule without feeling rushed or rigid. Guides utilize the Quietvox wireless audio system on walking tours; they speak into a transmitter, and the sound is picked up by each person's individual receiver and earphone, a great way to be less obtrusive when touring on a busy street or in a museum. The systems are color coded, so if you want to be with a certain group, choose the same color-coded system, or mix it up to tour with different passengers each day.
After a full day of touring, most passengers tend to be mellow, although there is always an entertainment option for those so inclined. In the evenings, a pianist typically plays both classical and easy-listening favorites in the lounge, and sometimes musicians come aboard when the ship is in port, like a jazz trio that entertained in Amsterdam. The ship also hosts folkloric performances in port by local musicians and dance troupes when appropriate.
ms Treasures Public Rooms
Editor Rating Public Rooms 5.0
The two natural gathering spots for passengers onboard are the Panorama Lounge and the Lido Bar. There's always something going on in the lounge. It's a natural congregating point, the place for lectures, tour departures and any live entertainment. There's a small library of destination-related books and daily international news briefs. There are board games and puzzles to borrow, as well, and a Nintendo Wii for virtual sports-playing, although we never saw anyone using it.
For cocktails and as an alternative place to dine, passengers gravitate to the intimate Lido Bar, with its indoor/outdoor seating options. There is one Internet-connected computer station there that's free to use. Wi-Fi, also free to use, is available throughout the ship. Both are accessed via a username and password available at reception, but the connection can be spotty depending on location. Between Cologne and Amsterdam, it worked just fine. Some e-mail carriers like AOL and Comcast may not be available.
You come onboard through the main lobby, with its 24-hour reception desk and small gift shop, which carries a select few personal items. There is an elevator between the Ruby and Diamond Decks, as well as a 12-step staircase between each of the decks.
ms Treasures Spa & Fitness
Editor Rating Spa & Fitness 5.0
The topside Sun Deck is equipped with plenty of comfy lounge chairs, shaded areas, an oversized chess game, and a smattering of tables and chairs. Although the deck has no room for a pool, a small hot tub is accessible 24 hours a day.
A small spa and 24-hour fitness center -- not always a given on a riverboat -- are located on the first deck. The fitness center features four treadmills, three stationary bikes and two rowing machines, as well as some light hand weights. There is one treatment room for massages, with late appointments available for busy port days.