We have just returned from the "Romance of the Rhine", cruise on the MS Inspire, run by Tauck. After four land tours with Tauck we decided to try a river cruise. When Tauck says all inclusive they mean it. From the time we ... Read More
We have just returned from the "Romance of the Rhine", cruise on the MS Inspire, run by Tauck. After four land tours with Tauck we decided to try a river cruise. When Tauck says all inclusive they mean it. From the time we arrived at the hotel in Basel to the time we left the hotel in Amsterdam we paid for absolutely nothing. Sure on some shore excursions we decided to have a meal on our own rather than return to the ship for lunch and that was on us. But even in Lucerine, where lunch was not included in the day long trip, Tauck gave each passenger 20 Eros to buy lunch on their own!
The MS Inspire was a great ship with lots of space for the relatively small number of passengers (130 compared to Viking 180, on the same size ship). We had one of the new Loft cabins on the lowest deck. If I took another river cruise offering a loft cabin I would jump at it. The cabin was always full of light, the large two deck windows created the impression that you were in a much larger cabin. In the loft area the two chairs and large table made for a great place to have our morning coffee while watching the river flow by and reading the NY Times on our iPads. The bathroom was much larger than most ocean going ships and had an enormous amount of storage space.
Food is always subjective, but we found the quality of food was high and the variety (at lunch and dinner) changed everyday. Each portion of food was on the small side, but after a five courses meal, with unlimited wine, and rolls we were always stuffed. Dinning room seating was excellent with a wide variety of seating options. The most impressive part of the dinning room was the service. Every time I reached for the coffee pot I was caught by a very attentive waiter who beat me in an attempt to fill my cup. The friendliness of the entire crew was simply amazing and a total surprise given that gratuities are all a part of the Tauck all inclusive program.
We saw a large number of Viking Cruse line boats of the Rhine, but none were as beautiful inside and outside than the MS Inspire. Perhaps one of the glaring differences took place during shore excursions. To start all excursions are a part of the cruise cost including several that included meals. All excursions included several options such as walking on your own, taking a bus back to the ship for lunch and returning afterwards to the city being visited, or just remaining the city until the last minute. In Strasbourg four of us decided to remain in the city, others chose to return to the ship and then go to Baden Baden for a second excursion that day. Tauck provided buses for each option and a tour guide. In our case a separate bus was sent to pick the four of us up and the guide to return to the ship at 2:30 PM! We also noticed that every Tauck excursion included a city guide for 12 to 15 of us. We could not help but notice that the Viking tours were one guide to 40 passengers, a real mob scene!
After seven days it was difficult to leave the MS Inspire in amsterdam after such a wonderfully orchestra adventure down the Rhine. The Drinks, food, crew, tour guides, facilities, and attention to detail at every step was so amazing throughout this tour. My only advice to those thinking about this trip is go a day early and stay a day late. I suggest this because we found that to take in all of sights, sounds, and beauty of Basel and Amsterdam required extra time. Read Less