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6 Grand Circle Amsterdam Cruise Reviews

The Springtime beauty of the Great Rivers of Europe mingled with the excellent and caring of the River Rhapsody staff made for an amazing trip! From airport to airport and every river in-between, safest travels without any worries. ... Read More
The Springtime beauty of the Great Rivers of Europe mingled with the excellent and caring of the River Rhapsody staff made for an amazing trip! From airport to airport and every river in-between, safest travels without any worries. The dining and hotel staff were patient, gracious and went above and beyond every day. I traveled with my Mother, at 50, I was the youngster among the passengers... And had one of the best travel experiences of my life. I wouldn't recommend this cruise line for wee children but for families and friends travelling in a group I would recommend it. I'm personally planning on returning to the Rhapsody for the Springtime 2021 trip or the Christmas 2020 trip. I'm sure all of the Grand Circle ships have great staff, but the Rhapsody staff made me feel so comfortable, as I was alone after dinner often and early morning since my Mother was sleeping. I felt like I was always safe, welcome, taken care of in every professional way possible. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
I wanted to take this cruise to experience the Christmas markets and to view firsthand the Christmas experience along the Rhine River. It was absolutely amazing. The markets are spectacular and the Rhapsody offered so many rich musical ... Read More
I wanted to take this cruise to experience the Christmas markets and to view firsthand the Christmas experience along the Rhine River. It was absolutely amazing. The markets are spectacular and the Rhapsody offered so many rich musical experiences. The service and the leadership on this boat are incredible. From the Captain to the Hotel Manager to the crew itself, the entire focus is on the comfort and enjoyment of the guests, and they are all involved. There is a unique hospitality that surrounds the guests and that is especially apparent in the marvelous food that is served three times a day as well as the numerous special parties and celebrations. The best thing, I guess, for me was that I was able to buy all my Christmas presents on this trip. Of course, I shopped at the Christmas markets, but I also shopped in the ships' gift areas. Frankly, I found a great many things for myself. I plan to take this cruise again this coming Christmas. There are so many guests that take this trip year after year. That would be heaven. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
We chose this cruise because we have to go somewhere in March (July, Sept. and also Dec.). It turned out to be a delightful choice. After spending 6 days on our own in Amsterdam, we boarded the Grand Circle Cruise Line's River Aria ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we have to go somewhere in March (July, Sept. and also Dec.). It turned out to be a delightful choice. After spending 6 days on our own in Amsterdam, we boarded the Grand Circle Cruise Line's River Aria river boat for a trip up the Rhine River, then the Main River to the canal that takes boats over the European Continental Divide to the Danube (it is blue in parts). Although I've spent a few years in Germany, traveling on a well run river boat gave me an entirely different perspective. My best part was waking early and going topside to watch the low fog tainted shiny glass canal rush towards our bow as white geese lazily paddled in lines along the dim grass banks. Another memorable experience was riding smoothly in a 400+ foot boat as we rode across a wide riven and watched a long line of cars pass under us a hundred plus feet below going at least 50. The boat was nicely appointed and the crew friendly, efficient, and accommodating. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
We love cruising but always felt the port cities did not give us an adequate representation of each country; therefore, we decided to try a European river cruise. We chose Grand Circle because it came highly recommended by a fellow ... Read More
We love cruising but always felt the port cities did not give us an adequate representation of each country; therefore, we decided to try a European river cruise. We chose Grand Circle because it came highly recommended by a fellow passenger on a prevous Princess cruise, so we followed up by reviewing their website (www.gct.com) as well as the websites for their competitors. We felt Grand Circle was an excellent value, and we couldn't have been more pleased with our trip. The food & dining room service was excellent, as was the presentation, and compared favorably with the food & service we have received on our numerous ocean cruises through the years. The weather was amazing which hightened our enjoyment, but all four of the Program Directors made sure that our every need was met: they were our tour guide, and our friend by the end of the cruise. Example: one of the Program Directors had a passenger that fell, broke three teeth, and split her lip. The Program Director took her to the dentist in town, stayed with her, and made sure her bills were taken care of. Additionally, this same PD received two calls in the middle of the night during our cruise, and she again went with each passenger to the hospital, made sure they were well taken care of, and brought them back to the river boat after their release. There is nothing we could have asked that was outside their job description. All rooms are 160 square feet, and come with adequate storage space. The beds are individual and cannot be made into a queen, but they were very comfortable."The Great Rivers of Europe" included the following ports: Amsterdam, Cologne, Koblenz, a dinner out in Rudesheim, Heidelberg, Wertheim - where we had a home hosted "Kaffee Klatsch" with a local German family, Wurzburg, Rothenburg, Bamberg, Nurnberg, Kelheim/Regensburg, Passau, Melk, and Vienna. The pacing of each day was up to each passenger, with time each day to see as much/little of each town as you chose after a morning city tour lead by your Program Director. One thing we were not aware of until we got onboard: there is a massage therapist and a small workout area with two treadmills, a weight maching, a hot tub, and a sauna. Actually very nice, with a shower in the area as well. The after dinner entertainment was OK, so often we just went up to the Sun Deck to relax as we sailed through 66 locks during the entire voyage. Because there were only 158 passengers on board, disembarkation was very easy. Everyone got color-coded information to attach to their carry-on bag(s), and we didn't need to have the bags out until the morning we left. The staff loaded your luggage on the minivan taking us to the airport and, again, a Program Director was there to help with check-in, language issues, etc. After this excellent experience, we look forward to another cruise with Grand Circle. Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
The summary of this review is that the trip was WONDERFUL. This was our third Grand Circle trip (previously with OAT to Machu Picchu/Galapagos Islands and GCT to South Africa, but our first river cruise) and we have had three GREAT ... Read More
The summary of this review is that the trip was WONDERFUL. This was our third Grand Circle trip (previously with OAT to Machu Picchu/Galapagos Islands and GCT to South Africa, but our first river cruise) and we have had three GREAT experiences. As with the other two trips, the difference on this trip was the Program Director and the Staff. They truly reflect the high standards maintained by Grand Circle, which in our mind make the difference. The Itinerary We had read a lot on various forums about the Danube Markets, but little about the Rhine Christmas Markets. What a nice surprise to see markets in almost every stop despite our early trip. Only in Nijmegen (where they don't have markets) and Mainz (where they weren't open yet) did we not see markets, though they varied in size in various towns. We made up for that, however by shopping in other stores in the towns which many times had better prices and selections than the markets themselves. We found the best prices for our needs in the small stores in Heidelberg (Steins, Nutcrackers, & Smokers) though we managed to buy something in every town without much trouble. We followed our philosophy of buying something if we really liked it when we found it, because we have too often in the past said we'd get it later and couldn't.....and we didn't regret this approach as we rarely found cheaper prices. Our guide, Steven Martinot, was very helpful and thorough in recommending which town might have a particular souvenir, and which store/restaurant/bar might suit our needs. We arrived at the airport in Amsterdam about 9:30am and were on the ship by 11:00. One of the Program Directors met us and escorted us to the bus for the transfer to the Ship. We were docked centrally near the train station and in the afternoon set off to walk to the Anne Frank House, some shopping, and the obligatory stroll through the Red Light District. Amsterdam is an easy and safe city to get around in (we had been there before) so we went off on our own. We skipped the optional tour in Nijmegen the next day to the Holocaust Museum in favor of some relaxation (that jet lag is rough) but heard from those that went that it was a moving experience. Our walking tour was the first of many strolls through various river towns which highlighted the history and architecture of the area. The use of the provided individual receivers allowed us to hear our guide perfectly throughout the trip. After a brief walking tour in Cologne (where we experienced our only drenching rain and wind) we were given free time to visit the Cathedral or to browse the markets. There were several different Christmas markets in Cologne, and we finally got to leisurely visit them when the rain diminished and we returned after lunch, but it is NO fun at all to visit the Christmas Markets in drenching rain, no matter what protective clothing you bring!! It was a good first lesson, however, as we learned that those "water-resistant" parkas we brought really just resisted the water for a little while and there was no substitute for long underwear, rain pants, waterproof rain jackets, and LAYERS of clothing. Toe warmers and hand warmers came in handy as well!! Each day we stopped at another town along the way, stopping very close to town except in Strasbourg where the street cars were convenient and easy to use. Koblenz, Mainz, Heidelberg, Speyer, Baden-Baden, Strasbourg and Kayserberg were all wonderfully scenic stops. The two additional optional tours, Rudesheim and Heidelberg were well worth the modest cost. The walking tours were generally not strenuous, though definitely involved walking on cobblestone streets and uneven pathways. They varied in length, were generally slow-paced, and were usually a mile or two at the most. On-ship entertainment varied from a local children's choir to magicians to the chef teaching the making of German stollen. A musician performed every evening and at special events to assure constant entertainment. The tour was generally fast paced if you wanted to do everything, with something to do most of the time (especially shopping), but individual choices could slow this considerably by balancing the free-time activities. Most days we were eating breakfast by 8am and ready to tour by 9am. Usually, a half day was available for voluntary activities such as shopping or lounging. The Crew The entire staff of the ship was wonderful. We have never been on a ship, large or small, that had an entire staff (from the Captain and Hotel Manager to the Engineers, cabin stewards, or other staff) that ALWAYS seemed to sincerely care about making our trip perfect. We NEVER experienced a hint of poor service or uncaring people just going through the motions. Rather, each person without exception treated us as valued guests. We seldom saw our cabin steward (though when we did he always asked about how he could help us further); we would go to breakfast or dinner, and magically when we returned our cabin was always spotless and refreshed. At mealtime, despite our changing tables, so we didn't always have the same wait staff, they quickly knew our names, and the idiosyncrasies of our choices. I had two wonderful massages on the ship (yes, they have a masseuse!!!). The cost was about what you would pay at home, and less than half the charges you might see on a large cruise ship. I highly recommend you try to get one....a great way to get over that jet lag!! We have never had a more accessible Captain on any trip. We first met him at the Safety briefing which was the most thorough I have ever experienced. Throughout the trip, he was available, personable, and truly interested in the passengers. He even participated in the crew show (not to be missed, by the way), and not just to give a speech!! Likewise, the other senior members of the staff were always attentive and accessible. On any tour, the Program Director provides the glue that brings it all together. We again were blessed with a superb Program Director, Steven Martinot, who consistently shepherded us through the tour. As on all tours, there are different personalities of our fellow travelers that require different amounts of attention (perhaps we are one of those too). I have never seen a tour director more consistently patient with everyone, and truly interested in pleasing everyone. A truly remarkable person. This service level and extraordinary standard of excellence with its staff is the quality that separates the Grand Circle experience from the rest. The Ship The cabins were comfortable, though small. There are good videos on the GCT website that clearly show the cabins, but the nice surprise was the roomy bathrooms. In looking at cabins on the first day before people moved in, it appears they are all about the same with a small amount of space deducted from the cabin to provide the narrow balcony. Our shower (201) was large and covered the width of the bathroom (probably close to 4'x3') while others had corner showers that seemed a bit smaller, but certainly adequate. The pull-down beds were VERY comfortable and even though I am over 6', and large, I was absolutely perfectly relaxed. The sofas were adequate for sitting, but too narrow to lay down on, so we ended up leaving the beds down all the time. Two movies showed continuously on the TV (many were Christmas movies, though we saw Casablanca and Patton on two nights as we went to sleep!!); there was also news and other channels as well. The ship was exceptionally clean and the decor was pleasant, though not brand new. However, it did not show signs of wear or deterioration at all. The lounge was very comfortable as were all of the facilities on the ship. A small area off the main lobby, and the library provided quiet spaces that could be used as well. Obviously, in the winter, the sun deck serves primarily the smokers on the ship. A three-sided covered area behind the wheelhouse provided some protection from the wind and the elements, but obviously required heavy coats. On the day we sailed a particularly picturesque section of the Rhine, the dining staff provided homemade hot chocolate in this area as we all enjoyed the afternoon on the river. The Food The food was wonderful! We've cruised on over 20 large ships, and traveled extensively, and found the presentation, preparation, and variety to be very good. For Breakfast, every day omelets or eggs were available for custom preparation, a special preparation was available from the kitchen, and all of the normal breakfast foods -- pastries, meats, waffles or pancakes, juices, and fruits -- were provided on the self-service buffet. At lunch, this same buffet line (actually two similar lines) contained a wonderful salad bar, usually at least 3 prepared sandwich options, several hot options, and other self-serve sandwich options. Many days a custom pasta dish was prepared to your individual taste. Again, an option from the kitchen was available to order as was a hamburger and French fries!! We always started with soup which was delicious. Varied desserts options were always provided. Dinner started usually with an appetizer, soup and salad followed by a choice from two or three entrees. These included a wide variety of dishes including vegetarian options, turkey, duck, chicken, fish, lamb, pasta, and beef. Also, standard options of Grilled Chicken Breast and Salmon were always available with a baked potato. Two dessert options were offered. In short, only the pickiest eater couldn't find something to eat each night. And of course, red or white wine was provided on a complementary basis at dinner. Coffee, Tea, or Hot Chocolate were available on the ship 24 hours/day. Cookies or snacks were provided in the lounge in the afternoon and evenings. The first day, 5 bottle or 7 bottle wine packages were offered at a discount (bottles ranged from about 13 Euros and up) and soft-drink packages were also offered. Generally on the ship, prices were reasonable and seemed to be less than those charged for comparable items on large cruise ships. The Challenges Yes, there were VERY minor irritants along the way that could be improved upon (have you ever been with 140 people in any event that hasn't had some irritant?) As with any tour, a little flexibility and a sense of humor are needed. The most important of these was the inability to reserve a table for meals in the restaurant. When traveling with 4 in our group (tables were mainly for 6), it became a challenge to get 4 seats at the same table.....the recommendation from the Program Directors was to send someone early to stand in line and "hold" the seats! Thus, for every lunch or dinner, my wife or I was generally somewhere between 10th and 15th in line (I refused to go more than 15 minutes early) necessitating one of us to miss the port talk or other pre-meal activities. Actually, despite an otherwise wonderful trip, my wife has said she won't go on another river cruise unless she can reserve a seat in the dining room. The number of people who were always in line to reserve a table indicates the significance of the problem (we had groups of up to 30 on the trip). One night, the Manager actually gave the Captain's Table to a late arriving group that made a big fuss (perhaps this is a hint for future travelers). I gather they recognize this is a problem, but haven't found a way to accommodate it. Whenever a minor problem occurred (for example our toilet kept running), it was only a few minutes after reporting it that the issue was resolved. Our cabin bathroom tended to have a slight 'sewer' smell occasionally. I suspect it was a problem of not retaining water in the shower trap (I think it is a common 'boat' problem), but it was never so overwhelming that it was offensive. Plumbers were on board at two ports, and they were cleaning "kitchen fat" out of the pipes (at least I think that's what the limited English of the plumber said) and following this the smell disappeared. Special Suggestions We ended up with 3 suitcases (2 big, 1 medium) to get all of our different sweaters, raingear, snow gear, etc. to the ship. We also included a duffle bag for overflow when we bought too many souvenirs. Now we could do this as we did our own air, and were allowed 2 bags each, but suffice to say we had four full bags going home! In fairness, though, I could have left one sweater and two sweatshirts at home, and if we had taken advantage of the onboard laundry, easily stayed within 1 bag each (until we bought souvenirs!!). Those nutcrackers and steins and stuffed animals etc really do take a lot of room!! Fortunately, two suitcases just squeezed under the couch on each side!!! Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
Background Information My wife and I are in our mid-fifties. This was our first river boat cruise. We have cruised 9 times before (8 Caribbean & 1 Panama Canal). This was our 3rd trip to Europe. The first 2 were "on our ... Read More
Background Information My wife and I are in our mid-fifties. This was our first river boat cruise. We have cruised 9 times before (8 Caribbean & 1 Panama Canal). This was our 3rd trip to Europe. The first 2 were "on our own" style vacations. Travel to Port of Embarkation This proved to be the most challenging part of our trip. Our flight from St. Louis was delayed by 2 hours because of weather. We were concerned that we might not make it in time for our connecting flight in Chicago. Not to worry, our flight from Chicago to Amsterdam was delayed by 24 hours due to mechanical difficulties. United Airlines did provide us with food and hotel vouchers as well as a credit to be applied to a future flight. Ship Info The River Rhapsody is a small ship designed to travel European Rivers. There were about 120 passengers on our cruise. There are three decks and a sun deck. There is a lounge, dining room, and a small exercise room. The staterooms consist of two double beds (not convertible), a bathroom, desk, and storage space. We found the room to be adequate for our needs. There is a safe in each room. Electricity is European so you might wish to bring an adapter. Service The service was the best I have encountered on any cruise. Everyone seemed to be fluent in English and all announcements were in English. This is a "cash-free" ship which means you provide your credit card information at time of embarkation and simply charge your on-board expenses(optional excursions, drinks & souvenirs) to your credit card. You will be given a detailed statement at the end of your cruise. All shipboard expenses are in US dollars. You will need a small amount of Euros for local purchases. We took e200 and came back with money left over. Shore Excursions This is really the heart of this cruise. Amsterdam Since we were a day late in arriving, we did not have much time in Amsterdam (about 4 hours). We did take a tour (included) of the Red Light District. Cologne In the morning we had a shipboard lecture on Germany Today and the Cologne Cathedral. In the afternoon, we had a walking tour (included) of the old city and then had some time to wander around by ourselves. The cathedral is truly magnificent. Note: unless you are an expert do not try to take pictures inside the churches and castles. They are too dark. You might wish to rely on postcards. Koblenz In the morning, we had a walking tour of the old city (included) and wandered around by ourselves in the afternoon. There is a huge statue of Kaiser Wilhem I mounted on a horse. This is a must see. Mainz In the morning, we cruised along the most beautiful section of the Rhine. Most of the river castles are located here as well as the famous Lorelei Rock. In the afternoon, we took a walking tour (included) of the Old City of Mainz. This is the city where printing was invented and the Gutenberg Museum is well worth the time to visit. In the evening, we took the optional tour to Rudesheim for a winery visit and dinner at a local restaurant. Heidelberg Today was an optional tour to Heidelberg. Since we had been there three years ago, we opted to stay on the boat. If you have not been there, it is well worth the added expense. Wertheim This is a charming small German town. There is an included walking tour. In the afternoon, we had the opportunity to visit the home of a local German family. It was interesting to see how they lived. Wurzburg We did a tour of the Old City. Of particular interest are the Cathedral and the Residenz, one of the Bavarian King's Palaces. Rothenburg We did the optional tour here and it is well worth the money. This is Germany's best preserved medieval town. Of particular note here are St. Jacob Church, The Christmas Museum, and the Museum of Punishment. Bamberg We did a walking tour of the city (included) and a sample of the local delicacy "smoked beer." I tried it. It must be an acquired taste. A must see is St. Martin Church in the university district. Nuremberg We did an included tour here. We saw the Nazi Congress Hall, the Nazi Rally Grounds, and the Palace of Justice made famous by the movie "Judgement at Nuremberg." In the Old City, there are several churches worth visiting, as well as the "Beautiful Fountain." Kelheim Here we took an optional tour of Kelheim & Weltenburg. At Kelheim, we saw the Liberation Hall Monument and at Weltenberg we visited a Benedictine Abbey. The beauty of the abbey is worth the visit. Regensburg The main attraction here are the churches and they are all close. First the cathedral, second the "old chapel," and finally St. Joseph. Passau The main attraction here is the Cathedral. It contains the second largest pipe organ in the world (the first is the Mormon Tabernacle). Melk Abbey This is a large and very impressive abbey. Don't miss the chapel here. Vienna We arrived late and most of the attractions were closed. Dining There are three set open seating dining times. Breakfast (buffet), Lunch (combination buffet/menu), Dinner (set menu). There were limited choices, but the food was well prepared. Fellow Passengers The average age was 60+. No Children. Tipping 10-12 dollars per person per day for staff 4-6 dollars per person per day for cruise directors 2 dollars for 1/2 day excursions for local guide 3 dollars for full day excursions for local guide Same for local bus drivers. Summary This cruise is intended for people looking for an educational/cultural experience. It is an excellent value. Read Less
Sail Date June 2007
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