3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2009
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 ... Read More
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. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2011
My first river cruise, but have traveled a lot with Tauck, so I had the Tauck high quality/service expectations going into it, and they were met. They have a quality crew partner in Scylla and to the casual observer they seemed to work ... Read More
My first river cruise, but have traveled a lot with Tauck, so I had the Tauck high quality/service expectations going into it, and they were met. They have a quality crew partner in Scylla and to the casual observer they seemed to work well together. I've only been on a few small-ship cruises, but felt that the cabin size and storage space were more than adequate (though I travel with only a 22" suitcase and a backpack). The shower was excellent--good water pressure and no sharp edges on which to bang elbows. Good ventilation, too; could wash out "smalls" in the morning and they'd be dry by the end of the day. Tour was Tauck first class. Nice shore excursions most days, always with the option of staying on the ship, and often with the option to either return to the ship for lunch after a morning tour, stay in town for lunch and return at around 3, or even to head back into town for a quick visit after lunch. Very accommodating and flexible, with their own coaches (with bathrooms) and great drivers. My Highlights: Trip to WWII cemetery in Luxembourg, Baden Baden--nice sized town but not overwhelming, the amazing vineyards along the Mosel, the smaller towns along the Mosel (Boppard, Cochem, Bernkastel), the fact that there were no add-on charges, excellent food with wine included at dinner. Quality of Vox sound box. Tips/Notes: Fun to eat at least one meal back in the Lido bar; smaller, more intimate, able to see a lot off the stern. This ship will be moving to France for cruises there starting in the fall, and this tour will get the newest ship in the fleet. Some of the Scylla crew will join the new ship, some go w/the Emerald Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2014
We just returned from our 3rd Tauck trip and in the past we could never say a bad word about them - this trip sure changed that. The Tauck land portion was up to their usual standards, but unfortunately the Swiss Emerald was certainly ... Read More
We just returned from our 3rd Tauck trip and in the past we could never say a bad word about them - this trip sure changed that. The Tauck land portion was up to their usual standards, but unfortunately the Swiss Emerald was certainly not. The staff was very uncaring, and not at all what we expected. Our room wasn't cleaned several times during the cruise and when we complained the response was, in a word, surly. Service in the restaurant was very poor. Once they took your order you didn't see the staff again until the food was served, and then if there was anything you needed (like a 2nd glass of wine) you had to literally get up and go find someone. Also, the menu was very limited with only two choices of entree's most nights, no salads, and the only appetizer was of their choice. There are many other choices on the rivers in Europe but Tauck shouldn't be one of them.   Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2014
My husband and I and two other couples enjoyed The Taste of France Cruise on the Swiss Emerald May 4 through 12. We began in Paris with Tauck's included transfer from the airport to the hotel Intercontinental Le Grand. It is a lovely ... Read More
My husband and I and two other couples enjoyed The Taste of France Cruise on the Swiss Emerald May 4 through 12. We began in Paris with Tauck's included transfer from the airport to the hotel Intercontinental Le Grand. It is a lovely hotel right across the street from L'Opera. Our room was small (typically European) with large windows that opened in both the bedroom and bath. A huge buffet breakfast was included each morning. Wi-Fi and use of the internet was also included. We were part of the Taste of France sailing that featured many special food and wine activities. Included in Paris was a hands on cooking class. Our welcome dinner was at Fouquet's -- a lovely experience. Our Tauck Tour Managers Anne Peault, Veronika Finollo, and Lydia Adler were fabulous from the moment we met them. After a first class TGV train to Lyon, we boarded the newly refurbished Swiss Emerald. She is a beautiful small vessel. The common areas are elegant. Our small cabin was comfortable with a French balcony that made it seem larger. Our favorite part of the ship was the Sun Deck. The six of us spent every evening before dinner on that upper deck sipping cocktails watching the beautiful scenery and experiencing the locks. Food on board was excellent and I am known to have very high standards. There were many choices for all meals. The food in the small special restaurant, the Bistro was not as good as in the main dining room. Wines were also excellent. If we did not like one, we just asked for another. Service was great. After the first evening, the waiter always brought me the cocktail I ordered the first night. Note: the ship is owned and staffed by a Swiss company Scylla. They operate it to Tauck's standards. The included shore excursions in every port were super with a focus on food and wine. The special lunch and afternoon at the bull ranch in the Camargue was amazing. The unlimited chocolate tasting at Valrhona was a chocoholic's dream come true. The walk across the Pont du Gard and dinner on the terrace overlooking the ancient viaduct was really special as the cooking class at Scook. Absolutely everything was included. Yes, the experience was expensive, but worth every penny. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2014
Tauck's French Escapade River Cruise Review July 18-31, 2014. South to North Overview: This Tauck adventure features 4 nights in hotels, 2 in Monte Carlo and 2 in Paris. In between there is a 9 night river cruise on the Rhone & ... Read More
Tauck's French Escapade River Cruise Review July 18-31, 2014. South to North Overview: This Tauck adventure features 4 nights in hotels, 2 in Monte Carlo and 2 in Paris. In between there is a 9 night river cruise on the Rhone & Saone Rivers on the 118 passenger Swiss Emerald. This was a high end vacation with a first class river cruise and 2 first class hotels. A rail trip on the 200mph TGV connected us between Lyon & Paris. Booking: Our travel agent made all the arrangements thru Tauck including the extra hotel nights in Paris, plus airport transfers on both ends. We booked a year in advance in order to get one of the eight 300sf suites that the boat had. The other cabins were under 200sf. Two couples booked just the 9 night river cruise and did not do the hotel portions of the trip. Tauck accommodated them and did not charge them for those portions of the trip. Using a travel agent for this type of trip saves you time and hassle. Passengers: There were 106 passengers, mostly from the US. There were 2 couples from Malaysia and 12 Aussies. The passengers were mostly in their 60's & 70's with a few older and younger couples. There were 2 teenagers, who despite having to be with old folks all the time, seemed to have a good time. There were a few people who had walking difficulties, but they were able to participate in all the tours, although they skipped the buildings that had dozens of steps. The crew always had one tour for people who were slow walkers. The passengers seemed to all get along well. The ability to walk stairs is a requirement to be on this trip. Food & Beverage: All beverages (including cocktails, beer, wine, etc) from the bar were included in the cruise as were all the excursions. The only money you could spend on the cruise were from the gift store, for massages and laundry. Tips for everything related to Tauck were included. The food was amazing. I would compare it to Oceania Cruise Line ships. Dinners were 5 courses and presented very well. The wines were from the region and were great. Lunch and breakfast featured wonderful buffets or you could order from your table. Tour Guides: There were 3 tour guides who stayed with us from beginning to end and a Cruise Director on the boat, all excellent. Mistral Winds: Provance can have very strong northerly winds, ranging from 30 to 70mph, called Mistral Winds. We had strong winds (30mph) for several days, but they helped cool things off and keep the bugs away. Cabins: They ranged in size from 150 sf to 300sf. The large cabins get booked way in advance, with waiting lists in case someone in the large cabins cancels. The cabins each had 2 110v outlets that required a 2 prong Northern European adaptor to use. There were also two 220v outlets where you might need a bulky converter to convert to 110v to charge your camera batteries if your 110 outlets are in use. Apple products can be charged from a 220v plug without a voltage converter, as Apple has built their charging units to take 220v or 110v current. The beds come with a thick comforter and no separate sheet that so many hotels use today. We prefer a sheet and a blanket, which they switched to after I asked the room steward. Robes and slippers are provided in the cabins. Rain: It does rain in France. The ship provides large umbrellas for the passengers. You may need a small umbrella for your hotel days. A light raincoat with hood is very handy as the winds are sometimes too strong for the umbrellas. Entertainment: Don't expect much. There brought a few local acts for after dinner. There were a couple nights where the passengers played games organized by the Tour Guides which were fun. Prizes were awarded to the winning teams. Having after dinner drinks on the top deck was great if it wasn't raining. The lounge had a pianist who was excellent. Workout room: Small - 4 pieces of cardio equipment and. Few 2 LB dumbells. Bring your own resistance bands for weight work. You get plenty cardio on the walks and bike rides. Attire: Most dinners on the ship were Country Club casual, (nice shirt, no shorts). Most guys brought a jacket for the 2 or 3 special dinners. Lunch was casual, shorts were fine. Bring a light jacket that doubles as a raincoat with a hood for cool evenings on deck and wet touring days. The museums in Europe are all warm and humid. Wear short sleeve shirts and shorts and bring a jacket that you can tied around your waist. A fan is a good thing to bring along. The air does not move in these museums. Shoes: You'll need a good pair of walking shoes as most daily walks were over cobblestones with many steps, often without handrails. Lightweight sandals don't usually have the lateral support for the cobblestones. Laundry: The ship provided 1 day laundry service for a fee, not cheap, but it's better than dragging 14 days worth if clothes. The weather was sometimes humid, so you need to wash some cloths. The drip dry clothes could be washed in the sink dried in a day hanging in the shower. The cotton clothes took forever to dry. Air Package: We bought the air sea package and let Tauck set up the flights. Next time I'll have our travel agent book the flights. We had Delta flights from LAX to Nice via JFK. Coming home, we flew Air France & KLM from Paris to LAX via Amsterdam. I would have preferred a direct Paris to LAX flight. That would have saved about 4 hours. Tauck will still provide the transfers if you arrange your own flights. Bicycles: The boat had 11 bicycles, single speed, pedal brakes, not the greatest bikes, but we used them and got around fine. Jacuzzi: There was a 4 person jacuzzi on the top deck that couldn't be used while we were moving, due to low bridges, which required that the jacuzzi vanity screens to come down to clear the bridges. The jacuzzi was available in port. Day to Day Notes: Day 1 Sat - Arrival: We flew into Nice from JFK, an 8 hour overnight flight arriving around 11:45 am. We cleared immigration in under 5 minutes and then waited about 30 minutes for the bags. Passport control was quick. Once we collected our bags, we found the man with the Tauck sign and 8 of us settled into a van for a 30 minute ride to Monte Carlo. Tauck has a meeting room at the Fairmont, just past reception where you got your first daily program and instructions for the hotel stay portion of the trip. There was a welcome reception and dinner that night at 6:30pm for the Tauck guests. It was a great way to meet your fellow travelers. Fairmont Hotel: We checked into the Fairmont Hotel overlooking the Mediterranean Sea for 2 nights. Since we were in one of Tauck's highest suite, we got a hotel room right on the water, with an amazing view. On Saturday night, there was a 20 minute fireworks show that we could see from our balcony. Apparently, this was some kind of fireworks completion held on 4 Saturday nights during the summer. The fireworks are shot from a barge in the harbor that the Fairmont overlooks. The Fairmont normally charges $20/night for wi-fi. Since we booked the Fairmont and pre-paid the hotel bill thru Tauck, we got it for free. I had the Tauck tour guide go to the hotel registration deck to make sure that was the case, and it was. Day 2 Sun - Monte Carlo: After a free breakfast for Tauck guests on Sunday morning at the hotel, we boarded buses for a tour of Monte Carlo. They took us up to the old city for an orientation tour with great overlooks of Monte Carlo. We had free time to shop and then back to the hotel for lunch on your own. At 2pm we boarded tour buses to visit the Rothchild's palace and gardens, which was worth seeing, then back to the hotel by 5:30. Dinner was on your own in Monte Carlo on Sunday night. Monday morning, after a free breakfast, we boarded buses for a trip to Nice and then into Arles to board the Swiss Emerald around 5:30pm. Day 3 Mon - Nice: Tauck gave us a walking tour and then we had 3+ hours to explore the City and have lunch on our own. Nice has an impressive beach Promenade with an excellent bike trail along the beach. Bicycles could be rented at one of the many kiosks for a few Euros on a credit card. The drive to the boat in Arles was not terribly scenic, but the tour guides comments made the trip ok. We boarded the Swiss Emerald at 5:30pm. Embarkation: We arrived at the boat and were welcomed with champaign. We waited in the lounge getting to know each other. Small groups of passengers were led to the check-in desk and shown to their rooms. We met back in the lounge at 6:30 to meet the Captain and the staff. The Captain's Dinner was then served. Day 4 Tues - Arles: We had a morning walking tour of Arles, Vincent Van Gogh's home for 2 years. We had a bus ride to the Country to see a working ranch. The ranch family fed us lunch and then put on a show with bull's chasing young men in a bull ring. The bulls are not hurt. The bulls usually live a full life and die of natural causes in their 20's. Still, it was impressive to the bulls going after the young guys in the ring, who would jump over 2 walls when the bulls got close. The horns on the bulls were covered to protect the runners. Day 5 Wed - Avignon: In the morning We had a walking tour of the old portion of Avignon including the Pope's Palace. The walk included about 200 steps, but there was frequent places to sit and listen to the your guide thru the Vox system. We finished that tour about11:00 am and had time to explore the town before returning to the boat for lunch. After a wonderful lunch, we checked out 2 bicycles and helmets and rode a path along the Rhone. The trail was only 2 miles long. We then rode into the old City of Avignon, a city full of cars and not many places to ride a bike comfortably. At 3:30 we loaded up buses and went to the country side to visit a first class winery, the Pope’s former vineyard when the Pope resided in Avignon in the 1300's. We had a wine tasting and a country bus ride. After dinner, there was a duo doing French songs with accordion. Day 6 Thursday - Viviers: Local guides showed us how to play a French version of Bocce Ball, called Petanque. We played the game and had a refreshment and then walked the old town and visited the Cathedral. We were back to the boat for lunch. The boat sailed at 1pm and we spent the rest of the day cruising the Rhone northbound going thru a few locks and under some low bridges. Staff gave talks on the locks, on the French language and on Vincent Van Gogh's life. We had a few sprinkles in the afternoon and some wind, but very pleasant overall. A good day to be on the Rhone River. Day 7 Friday - Vienne: Tauck provided us with a 90 minute walking/tram tour of the old City of Vienne. The best part was the fantastic view of the Rhone River Valley from the highest point in the City. Our tour included 2 churches/cathedrals. We then had 1:45 minutes on our own. We checked out bicycles and explored the trail along the west side of the Rhone. The town is on the east side, so you take a pedestrian bridge across the river to get to the west side. The trail is basically south if this bridge and it runs for miles. The trail is separated from the adjacent street. At 12:15, the boat left Vienne for points north. We boated thru Lyon and turned into the Saone River, but did not stop in Lyon, as Lyon would be our last stop in a few days. Day 8 Sat - Chalon-sur-Saone: A walking tour of the City left the boat at 9:00 & returned at 11:30 . We skipped the walking tour and rode bicycles around the City, which was fun. At 1:30, there was a coach tour to the Country side to visit two wineries. We stayed in Chalon overnight. There was a crew talent show after dinner. It rained for short bursts today. Day 9 Sunday - Macon: We took a coach tour of Chateau de Cormatin at 8:15 from Chalon Sur Saone as the boat sailed north to Macon. We also visited the town of mid evil town Tornau. We met the boat in Macon after 1:00, followed by lunch on the boat. At 2:45, there was a walking tour in Macon, we rode bikes again. Since it was Sunday, not much was open. At 4:45, the staff explained how the Paris portion of the trip would work and asked us to sign up for which Museum we wanted to visit on Thursday. Most people chose the Louvre. Day 10 Monday - On the way to Lyon: We left the boat at 8:30 for a coach tour of the Abbey of Cluny, the National Stud Farm in Cluny, and then onto the Chateau de la Barge for lunch. We met the boat at 3:45 in Trevoux. At 4:30pm, we left for Lyon, arriving at 8:00pm, while we were having dinner. There was light to medium rain throughout the day. Navigation Note: We side tied to a river boat that looked just like ours run by Travel Marvel, named Excellence Rhone, carrying mostly Aussies. They had been stuck in Lyon for 3 days instead of taking the Saone River portion of their cruise. The company that manages that boat would not allow their Captain to go under the low bridges that we had just gone under twice on our cruise. Their daily tours still took them to the area that they would have seen had they sailed the Saone, but they had longer bus rides to get there. Plus they missed 3 days of River cruising. The passengers were not happy about that "Corporate" Decision. Tauck left that decision up to our Captain to determine if we would clear the lowest bridges, which we did by 6" or so. Day 11 Tuesday - All Day in Lyon: In the morning we had a coach tour of the old City of Lyon. The tour included a walk thru the spectacular Basilica on the hill over looking Lyon. This was the prettiest church we have seen so far on this trip. Following that we did a walking tour of the portion of the Old City near the Saone River and then back to the boat for lunch. At 2:30, the Tour Directors led walking tours of areas in Lyon where there was good shopping. Our Cruise Director led 7 of us on a 1.5 hour bike ride along the Rhone River including a bike ride thru a large City Park with a zoo and lagoon. It was an easy ride, no hills. Day 12 Wednesday. On to Paris! The ride on the TGV was fast and smooth. After we arrived, we waited at the train station while members of our group went to the bathroom, which took over 30 minutes as there were limited facilities in the train station, (please people use the toilet on the train!) We then boarded buses for a 3+ hour tour of Paris. There were 2 stops for pictures. We arrived at the Intercontinental LeGrand Hotel around 5:30. We were given our room keys on the bus, which was nice. Dinner was on our own. There were plenty of good restaurants within 5 to 10 minutes walk from the hotel. There were some complaints about the hotel, but we had no problems. Paris hotel rooms tend to be smaller than in America. Day 13 Thursday - a full day in Paris: We started with a breakfast for the Tauck group in a separate dining room in the LeGrand, then it was off to one of 3 museums for a 90 minute guided tour. You had to pick between the Louvre, the Orangerie or the Orsay. Most people chose the Louvre. Tauck provided buses to and from the museums. You could stay longer at the Museum, which we did at the Louvre. Since we all went in as a group, we didn't get an individual ticket, so we had to stay in the Scully section of the Louvre where the Mona Lisa and lots of the big name exhibits were located. Once you leave that section of the Museum, you had to have a ticket to get into the other sections, which we didn't have. We then walked over to Notre Dame Cathedral, about a 20 minute walk. We got there about 12:30 and it only took 10 minutes to get in, free of course. Later in the day, that line was much longer. You'll spend about 30 minutes in the Cathedral. You can walk around the outside easily to view this amazing building. The line to walk up the towers was hours long and you had to buy a ticket. Tonight was the farewell dinner at the fabulous and famous Fouquet on the Champs Elysees. Day 14 Friday: Tauck provides transportation to the airport in small groups as everyone is going home on different days and times. We stayed 2 extra days in Paris. There is so much to see in Paris that you need the extra days to see the sights and dine in French style. We just walked along the streets and picked a restaurant that looked good, and they always were. Ken's Paris notes & tips: Buy tickets to the major attractions from the concierge at your hotel before you go to avoid long ticket lines. We found no vendors on the streets that sold tickets to attractions like you see in New York or Las Vegas. Get the audio guides at the attractions, they cost 5€ cash each set. Guided tours are great, but the schedule for those tours doesn't easily line up with where you are. It's hard to hit a time specific for these tours given Paris traffic and your need to see as much of Paris as you can in a few days. Buy tickets for the L'Open Paris Hop on Hop Off, a double decker sighting seeing bus that allows you to hop on & off. (http://www.paris.opentour.com/fr/) We paid 38€ each for a two day pass. The one day pass was 31€. The concierge sold us the vouchers. This company has 4 routes, which covers a very large amount of the City. The "Big Bus" is cheaper but has only one route and covers a lot less of the City. It is wonder watching this amazing City from above the street level on the open upper deck. Everywhere you look in Paris, there is something worth seeing. Bicycle rentals are available all over the City in on-street kiosk style bike racks. The system is called Velib. Just put in a credit card, open an account and then pick your bike from the racks. The cost is only 1€ per hour. The bikes have 3 speeds, hand brakes, headlines, taillights, baskets and locks. There are many bike lanes and paths in Paris and most bike riders use the busy Paris streets without a problem. http://www.tripadvisor.com/Travel-g187147-c183666/Paris:France:Velib.Bike.Sharing.System.In.Paris.html If you go to Versailles, take a 1/2 day private tour including transportation from your hotel. Your concierge will arrange it. The tour guide can skip the lines. It takes about 30 minutes to get out to Versailles. You can take the subway to Versailles on your own, but the ticket lines are hours long. Doing the Louvre on your own is a long day. The lines are daunting. Get a guide who can skip the ticket lines. Do the Seine River Cruise on your own. The boats leave the docks every 20 minutes or so, and tickets are cheap and you can just walk up and buy them. The docks are located near the Eiffel Tower at the Bateau Mouches. Don't be intimidated by all the tour buses. During the summer, the lights on the buildings take effect around 10pm, if you want to see Paris at night. The last boat goes out at 11pm. The tour takes 55 minutes. Other folks reported that the Seine Dinner River cruises were great. http://www.bateaux-mouches.fr/en Do walk along the Seine River walkways. There are lower walkways and upper walkways along the streets over looking the river. There is a section of the lower walkway where the City imports sand every summer to create beaches with lounge chairs, umbrellas, Volleyball courts, dance floors, misters - all free. The Parisians flock to this area on nice days. Feel free to email me with questions at kentennis@cox.net   Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2014
We recently returned home from our 40th Anniversary adventure that included Tauck’s French Escapade from Paris to Monte Carlo. Everyone knows I’m a big Tauck fan and I found this cruise package to be up to their usual high standard but ... Read More
We recently returned home from our 40th Anniversary adventure that included Tauck’s French Escapade from Paris to Monte Carlo. Everyone knows I’m a big Tauck fan and I found this cruise package to be up to their usual high standard but I have to say the trip really fizzled at the end in Monte Carlo. More on that later. This was our first “Package Cruise” and I have to admit that I wouldn’t do anything similar in the future. If we can afford to venture out again it would be on a river cruise only deal. This adventure starts in Paris and Tauck put you up in the very opulent InterContinental Hotel le Grand where we were treated like royalty. The accommodation and meals were first class. Tauck’s three TD’s seemed to be everywhere and were always available to answer questions and point you to the right bus. Our time in Paris with all its included sightseeing was highlighted by our welcome dinner at Fouquet’s brasserie. Then it was off to Lyon via the very fast, high speed train. We travelled first class in airline type seats and Tauck even supplied us with chocolates on the journey. Then came the part we really wanted to do and that’s river cruise. Our boat the Scylla crewed Swiss Emerald has just undergone a re-fit and looked and felt brand new. The partnership between Tauck and Scylla is perfect with these vessels specifically built for Tauck. This cruise was fully booked yet with only 118 passengers aboard you’d never know. There is always room to sit and talk and this lack of crowding is one of the main reasons I prefer Tauck over other all-inclusive companies that pack 169 people into a similar area. This cruise covered both the Saone and Rhone rivers with history and grandeur at every stop. Whilst some itineraries, Tauck included, are specifically designed for either wine tasting, food tasting or history cruises this one gave us something of everything. On the Saone our first stop was at Chalon-sur-Saone and we had the first of our Tauck surprises. On our local walk through town in groups of around 20 Tauck included stops at a bakery where we were all given bags of the bakers various products to sample and at the end of the tour a stop at a local chocolate shop where we had a brief history of chocolate and then more samples than the average person could eat. By the time we got back on board the baker had joined us to show us how to make Croissant – more eating and best of all I now know how to tell the difference between a machine made one and one made by hand. That afternoon we went and sampled the wines at Chateau Chamirey and Chateau Rully. There would be an abundance of food and wine tasting still to come. There was the history of the Chateau de Cormatin, the medieval houses of Macon, the Cluny Abbey and the Haras Equestrian Centre, an outstanding lunch in the gardens of Chateau de la Barge all that before we reached Lyon on a mad Sunday. Why mad I hear you ask well there will probably be others here that can comment as well but on Sunday 31st August 2014 it seemed that every boat on the Rhone stopped at Lyon on that day. The parking area around the Basillca Notre Dame de Fourviere was packed. It seems that Viking, Avalon,AMA, Uniworld, GCT, CrosiEurope and Tauck picked this morning to hit Lyon. Travelling is fun and you never know who you’ll run into and sure enough we came across a couple from our home town of Mackay. We spent a coffee checking out each others choice of cruise line and I’m happy to say Tauck came out in front. Even though it was Sunday with all those boats docked in town you’d never know with most of the shops open for your business. The cruise down the Rhone gives you the opportunity to see Roman history almost everywhere but particularly in Vienne and Arles where the examples are magnificent. There’s the history of Avignon and the French Popes own vineyard the Chateauneuf du Pape where I tasted some of the best reds I’d drunk in all of France and even a Roman influence here as the cellars are part of the Roman system. AND then there’s Viviers the little village that time seems to have forgotten with its narrow streets and well preserved medieval houses. I’m very glad I got to see and explore Viviers even if I found I’m a lousy Petanque player. The highlight of this trip came almost at the end where you get to see a working bull and horse ranch in the Camargue. A Tauck exclusive. We were treated to an outstanding lunch and then a demonstration, a training exhibition really, of the art of bull fighting where the bull is never hurt and wins many of the competitions and thus the prize money. After the final dinner on board we left for Nice and our last stop Monte Carlo and this IMO was where the trip fizzled out. WE said farewell to our crew and were bussed to Nice where we had quite a few hours to explore this great city then it was off to Monte Carlo and the 5 star Fairmont Hotel. I quickly found that Monte Carlo is not for me. Not only is it full of very rich pretentious people of all ages it is very, very hilly and getting around on foot is very difficult. Our hotel the Fairmont was of similar ilk. It had a 400,000 Euro Ferrari on display in the lobby but it treats tour group people as if they all have leprosy. We didn’t eat with the regular clientele instead we were herded into our own room for eating. The breakfasts were deplorable with the only egg choice powdered scrambled eggs and the pastries on offer looked and tasted like leftovers. Even the Tauck farewell dinner which is usually of high class was very poor. I’m sure I’m not the only one who informed Tauck of these problems. I’m sure it would have been better to stay in Nice with a day trip to Monte Carlo. You are on a high, or at least I am, when I’m cruising on the rivers and leaving the boat is always a let down but to me leaving the boat to continue a tour was an anti-climax. I’m most likely in the minority here and my feelings should not deter anyone from considering this otherwise outstanding cruise. Tauck are truly all-inclusive from the Moet anytime you want it to having snacks delivered to your cabin. I realise others have their favourite river cruise companies but I’m afraid you’ll never convince me that you get more from your cruise than I got from mine. Read Less
38 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2015
We booked a French waterways cruise south from Lyon to Monaco. Poor weather interrupted the boat and prohibited the ship from sailing. We booked a category 7 cabin and added the additional stay in Paris. After the second day on the boat we ... Read More
We booked a French waterways cruise south from Lyon to Monaco. Poor weather interrupted the boat and prohibited the ship from sailing. We booked a category 7 cabin and added the additional stay in Paris. After the second day on the boat we were advised that we would not be able to sail, hence we began a "coach tour", Most definitely not what we had signed up for. We consulted with Tauck staff to ascertain what remedial options we had. They put us off for 3 days saying we would be leaving in the evening, no, we would be leaving in the morning, no. Etc. each day the coach travel became longer and longer until we were on buses for up to 7 hrs a day. Each day we inquired we were told to wait. Having purchased the Tauck insurance we felt we might have recourse, the stress and anxiety was overwhelming. Finally at 6 pm on Day 4 they announced an alternate arrangement that required we decide immediately and leave the ship by 8am. When we asked if we had other options we were told yes but they had no details as to what they were. What kind of answer is that? We were completely held hostage! Tauck provided little compensation, merely a 1500. 00 cruise credit towards future travel with an expiry date attached. Regardless of your trip investment everyone received the same compensation. Category 7 or category below water! Itinerary was not fulfilled and the customer service post cruise has been unresponsive and complacent. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2015
Excellent ship on French Waterways (Rhone) with Tauck. Once you are on the ship, everything is included (well, we don't ask for laundry, so can't comment on it). But all drinks (soft/hard/wine) are included. Food are excellent ... Read More
Excellent ship on French Waterways (Rhone) with Tauck. Once you are on the ship, everything is included (well, we don't ask for laundry, so can't comment on it). But all drinks (soft/hard/wine) are included. Food are excellent and tasty, available in dining room (menu for dinner/buffet for B/L) and Bistro for dinner with reservation. Lounge/Bedroom/Restaurant are beautiful and tastily decorated. Staffs are eager to please and speak English. Land excursion and guide are excellent, divided into smaller groups and usually one 'leisurely' group for those with limited mobility. The only area of improvement is the entertainment and presentation. But, with majority travellers at retirement age, people don't seem to mind. Read Less
15 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
My most recent trip in June was a disaster. This was my 3rd trip with Tauck. My first riverboat trip was 3 years ago and it was magical and wonderful, this trip was awful. The ship was worn and in dire need of updating. The hot tub ... Read More
My most recent trip in June was a disaster. This was my 3rd trip with Tauck. My first riverboat trip was 3 years ago and it was magical and wonderful, this trip was awful. The ship was worn and in dire need of updating. The hot tub was not working, nor was there any water in it. They ruined my blouse that I sent to laundry. The food was adequate but not good. The Riverboat part of our trip did not exist. The water was too high to safely float and get through the locks safely. We called Tauck day before leaving and they told us there was no problem with the water level. I understand that could happen, but we were put on buses the whole day from early in the morning for 8 entire days to towns that offered no value. They never gave us an option to return to the States or go to Paris early like other Riverboat companies did. The compensation they offered was insulting and inadequate. Tauck is supposed to be the best, and I paid a very high price for the best quality. I will never travel with Tauck again. Read Less
15 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
This cruise was not a good match for us. We have been to France many times, most recently in April of this year, always on our own, and are both reasonably fluent in French. What we thought would be a spectacular voyage along the Saone ... Read More
This cruise was not a good match for us. We have been to France many times, most recently in April of this year, always on our own, and are both reasonably fluent in French. What we thought would be a spectacular voyage along the Saone and Rhone was overall a disappointment. The trip started and ended with excellent transfers provided by Tauck, and our first encounter was at the Intercontinental Grand, accommodations which were below what we normally book. In Paris we started with dinner at Fouquets which was quite good, but oddly enough there was no pre-dinner gathering so we could get acquainted with our fellow travelers. The next day was a useless bus ride around the sights of Paris at the height of the rush hour, an odd choice for travelers who had all been to Paris. This was followed by a brief trip to the museum of your choice. The guide there was excellent, as were all of the Tauck guides and cruise staff. The next day the TGV train was fine and we arrived in Lyon and boarded our boat. The boat was excellent, state of the art and new, and our level 7 cabin was outstanding. There were only 71 passengers on the boat the advantages and disadvantages I will leave to the reader to contemplate. Service aboard the boat was quite good, but we soon faced our greatest disappointment: the quality of the food. There was almost always one, meat, one fish, and one vegetarian choice for dinner along with the usual backup of steak, salmon and chicken. One problem was the awful quality of the fish. Tilapia being served on a cruise that was $10,000 a person? Salmon that was farmed? Rolled cod that was made from small pieces of fish? We would not eat this at home; why should we settle for less on a luxury vacation? Most dishes were served in a variety of heavily creamed sauces, which we always try to avoid. While the fresh fruit was good, simple green salads were rare. Even the croissants for the next 9 days were awful. The drinks in the bar were good, as were the wine selections. While the buses were new and the drivers excellent, we would have preferred more walking and less riding in buses. These bus trips invariably started at 9 AM (unless they started at 8:30). When we asked why, we were told that people wanted to be back on the ship for lunch. Few of the trips were memorable, the exceptions to the ranch in the Camargue and sites associated with Van Gogh. Typical of the poor planning was the bus ride from where the ship docked in Avignon to Monte Carlo. We stopped for 2 ½ hours in Nice, about a mile and a half from the Matisse and Chagall Museums (why not there???) and told to walk around and to get lunch on our own. They never even provided us with a list of good restaurants. Being able to get along in French, we used Yelp to find a nice restaurant away from the tourist dives and had a lunch that was better than what we had on the boat. We checked in to the Fairmont in Monte Carlo and were given an ocean view room on the smoking floor; in fact all of the rooms that Tauck booked were on this floor. While the hotel was excellent, and the food in the restaurants was expensive but good; the Tauck farewell dinner was so-so. We did not take any of the Tauck activities, but enjoyed walking around on our own, visiting the Palace, Aquarium, and shopping districts. This Tauck river cruise was a bad match for us. We are better suited to an ocean cruise where relaxing sea-days, great food and evening entertainment are joined by days in ports where we can explore on our own. Read Less
ms Emerald Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 5.0 4.7
Dining 5.0 4.0
Entertainment 4.5 3.1
Public Rooms 5.0 4.4
Fitness Recreation 3.0 2.5
Family 4.0 2.5
Shore Excursion 4.5 4.6
Enrichment 4.0 4.5
Service 5.0 4.3
Value For Money 5.0 3.9

Find a Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click
Compare and book excursions for your next cruise