Quiet relaxation is the name of the game on Travelmarvel Diamond. Not much time is scheduled onboard as the days are consumed by port visits, whether on shore excursions or independent exploring. A couple of mornings are spent sailing, where passengers will adjourn to the Sun Deck or the smaller deck at the bow to see the sights. A highlight is the Rhine Gorge, a 65-km stretch from Koblenz to Bingen, to view numerous medieval castles and the Loreley Rock. The cruise director presents a commentary that is broadcast to both decks and the lounge. A two-hour glass-blowing presentation and lecture is held once per cruise, and live music and trivia is held in the lounge.
A free shore excursion is offered every day, except one. In Amsterdam it's a sightseeing boat ride along the canals and it's usually a walking tour in other ports. At some destinations, it is necessary to reach the main attraction, such as a palace, by coach. Passengers are divided into small groups, depending on the walking pace they prefer, and can listen to the guide's commentary via a QuietVox headset, which makes the audio accessible even if you're a few metres away.
In Miltenberg, Travelmarvel organises the opportunity to have coffee and cake with a local in their home. In most cases, the host is a woman who wants to practise her English while learning about a typical German lifestyle. Passengers are split into groups of six to 12 and dropped off at different houses for 1.5 hours.
When the ship is in Passau, passengers can choose from one of two extra-charge excursions to either Salzburg, Austria, or Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic. Those who do not wish to pay or participate in these tours can spend the day at their leisure.
There are four other optional excursions, priced from 49 to 78 Euro, called Select Experiences. These include: a half-day visit to the medieval walled city of Rothenburg and its Christmas village; a classical music concert at the Eschenbach Palace in Vienna; a morning tour of the Schonbrunn Palace and Gardens in Vienna; and a full-day tour to Bratislava, Slovakia.
Tours are well organised with good guides and often allow some free time afterwards to do some shopping or have a wander around. Most passengers take advantage of the experiences on offer, but it is fine to stay onboard the ship, borrow a bike or do your own thing in each port -- as long as you make it back in time.
Daytime and Evening Entertainment
Entertainment is light and limited but most passengers seem to enjoy the simplicity. Aside from a glass-blowing demonstration (see Enrichment below), two fun events are held onboard. The Vista Lounge near Bamberg serves fruhschoppen (the local version of brunch), which includes one free beer, five different types of sausages, sauerkraut and pretzels. Another Bavarian Day sees a live oompah band performing music on stage, with free beer, wine and soft drinks.
On most evenings a young British singer and guitarist couple perform cover songs, largely from the 1950s to 80s, which quickly fills the dancefloor. Film and music trivia nights are held for small teams to compete for prizes. There is one guest entertainer, a local singer named Lindsay Hamilton[CG1] , who sometimes brings her teenage daughter, whose sweet voice should not be missed.
Travelmarvel is not the cruise line for people who enjoy daily lectures and workshops. Local history and politics are lightly covered on most shore excursions but onboard learning is minimal. The 14-night European Gems itinerary features commentary about German history and the castles along the Rhine Gorge. On the approach to or from Miltenberg, a glass-blower named Hans Ittig hops onboard to talk about his family's successful business making glassware, Christmas baubles and other trinkets, such as the famous Sparrow of Ulm. After the two-hour presentation, in which he makes various items and performs tricks with the flame, passengers can buy his decorations.
Vista Lounge: The ship has only the Vista Lounge, located on the Rhine Deck above the restaurant. IT is used for reading during the day, viewing the scenery through its floor-to-ceiling windows, and quiet chatting. At night, almost everyone comes upstairs after dinner, so it gets quite lively. Around 10 people can sit on stools around the circular bar where efficient bartenders provide more personalised service. The rest of this spacious lounge has lots of small tables and freshly upholstered, comfortable chairs, but a handful of people had to stand up when it was full for the pre-dinner talk by the cruise director. There is a small stage and a dancefloor for the nightly entertainment. Drinks are reasonably priced. For example, a glass of house wine is 5.50 Euro; mixed drinks and cocktails are 5.80; and beer is 3.40 (300ml) to 4.60 (500ml).
The Sun Deck has plenty of seats and tables for all passengers but not enough of the area is shaded. Some of the blue canvas deck chairs have an inbuilt head shade and several have attached mini-tables and ashtrays. There is no pool or hot tub, and it is closed for much of the cruise when the ship is passing under long stretches with low bridges. Most people come up on this top deck for the cruise director's commentary while cruising through the most scenic, castle-heavy section of the Rhine Gorge. An alternative open-air viewing area is a spacious deck at the bow, adjacent to the lounge, with wooden tables and chairs. A smaller standing-only area off the reception is sometimes used by smokers.
Helpful staff at the reception desk, near the ship's entrance on the Danube Deck, can assist with questions, shore excursion bookings, printing and postage services, Wi-Fi passwords (valid for 14 days of free Internet) and souvenir purchases from the gift shop. A limited selection of toiletries and basic pharmacy medicines are also sold onboard. There is no self-service laundry on Travelmarvel Diamond but clothing can be washed, dried and pressed for a fee per item and returned within 24 hours.
The fitness room, which is around the size of a cabin, is located on the lower Moselle Deck. It is poorly equipped with a few very light weights, an old rowing machine, stationary bike and treadmill. Bicycles are available for passengers to use ashore at no charge, although this was not allowed in cycle-crazy Amsterdam. There is a small hair salon for cuts and blow-dry services but no spa treatments.
Travelmarvel is not aimed at families and ships have no children's facilities or programs. Kids under eight years of age are not permitted on Travelmarvel tours and cruises. Those aged eight to 17 must share a cabin with an adult who accompanies them at all times.
* May require additional fees