13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
Itinerary-Cruising the Danube from Budapest to Bucharest First time taking a trip of any kind with Tauck and we were very happy with the overall experience. This was an inclusive trip with two pre-cruise nights in Budapest at the Ritz ... Read More
Itinerary-Cruising the Danube from Budapest to Bucharest First time taking a trip of any kind with Tauck and we were very happy with the overall experience. This was an inclusive trip with two pre-cruise nights in Budapest at the Ritz Carlton Hotel and two nights post-cruise at the JW Marriott Bucharest. Tours and welcome dinner/farewell dinner events were also included during both segments of the journey. We have done many traditional cruises with smaller ship cruise lines such as Windstar and SilverSea and only one previous river cruise with Aqua Cruises on the Amazon. After this trip we are excited to try river cruising again. Tauck is extremely professional and detail oriented. This particularly itinerary required quite a few bus trips from the ports along the way so that might bother some cruisers but we were so anxious to do this itinerary that we were willing to do that. We loved seeing this part of the world-it was incredibly eye-opening and educational and the special experiences like the private tour of Ceausescu's Palatial Parliament Building followed by a special dinner accompanied by a string trio was unique and exciting. We had a 300 square foot suite which was super comfy and well appointed. Loved the walk-in closet and the bathroom although we did not use the bathtub except for drying hand washables. The french balconies were lovely-floating along the Danube with doors open while reading, relaxing or doing yoga was such a treat. Food was good and we especially enjoyed the yummy breakfasts. The crew was outstanding, from the front desk people, bar servers and wait staff, to the excellent masseuse on board. Carlos our cruise director was wonderful. We had three excellent Tauck guides, two of whom were from countries we visited on this cruise. The guides rotated busses so it was a treat to get to know all of them. There were cultural activities on board which enhanced the overall experience and contributed to our knowledge of the region. These included documentary films, folk dancing and classical music. On our "sea day" cruising the Iron Gates of the Danube, the guides took turns narrating the sights and this was played over the ships PA system. Overall, I highly recommend cruising Budapest to the Black Sea with Tauck and we would be happy to go with them again. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2013
we returned home to the states after 14 days on the tauck swiss jewel, sailing from basel to amsterdam. we have over 100 days on both seabourn and silversea, and prior river cruises on the danube, the douro and others as well. we were ... Read More
we returned home to the states after 14 days on the tauck swiss jewel, sailing from basel to amsterdam. we have over 100 days on both seabourn and silversea, and prior river cruises on the danube, the douro and others as well. we were very pleased with this tauck cruise. we have never traveled with tauck before and did not know what to expect, but they were great. the shore excursions were led by excellent local guides, so that we left learning much about strasbourg, heidelburg, cochen, etc. most memorable were the visits to the museum near arnhem which has a recreation of the house to house battle in its basement. unforgettable. we liked going from south to north on this cruise. it's the way the rhine flows and the sailing was smooth and uneventful. we found the entire cruise to be flawless...and we don't often say that. we are now considering budapest to bucharest, which we have not done yet. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2012
We took a Tauck river cruise from Prague to Budapest on the Swiss Jewel. While this is a review of that cruise, we have a special focus. Gale has limited mobility, and the majority of the off-boat tours were done with her in a transport ... Read More
We took a Tauck river cruise from Prague to Budapest on the Swiss Jewel. While this is a review of that cruise, we have a special focus. Gale has limited mobility, and the majority of the off-boat tours were done with her in a transport chair pushed by her husband Bob. The chair has a thick cushion, which was critical for comfort. It has 12" foam wheels in the rear and 6" removable wheels in front. It collapses easily, and was stored in the reception area of the boat. Gale was able to move easily throughout the boat using her Canadian crutch, and took advantage of the elevator to get to the lounge and dining area. She also had to walk on and-off the boat, since the gang-plank was too narrow and steep for the chair. Also, there were times when two or three boats were docked next to each other, and this required going through (or up and over) one or two boats. The busses also have 4-to-6 steps, and the seats are not so easy to get into and-out of. That said, the trip was a wonderful experience, and the cobblestones the price of admission. Here is a non-typical tourist view. Our reviews of private time in Prague, the hotel, and two great restaurants (Imperial and Amade) are on TripAdvisor. Prague: The Hradcany Castle district has some of the worst cobblestones seen, and the walk was difficult. However, by cheating a bit and walking on the grass we were able to keep up with the tour. Also, the (wonderful) Tauck staff made arrangements all along the way for us to go in side doors to hidden elevators. Because of this, we missed very little of the tours. The Tauck dinner at the Lobkowicz Palace the first full day of the trip foreshadowed the special treatment we were to get throughout the cruise. The Lobkowiczes fled Prague just before WWII and did not return until the Soviet Union collapsed in 1989. The current scion, Boston born and bred, hosted the wine reception with a 40 minute review of the palace's history, followed by a private tour of the museum, followed by a private dinner in the Palace. If in Prague, do not miss this site. The third day of the trip was a killer. Bags packed by 7 AM, three-hour bus trip to Regensburg Germany, long tour over rough streets, boarding the boat and unpacking, dinner, and collapsing in bed late. Day was a blur, so no memory of Regensburg to share. We woke up in Passau, and in spite of the hills and cobblestones had a good touring day. These stones were smaller and flatter, and there was an HP entrance to the cathedral. Our small group tours with some great local guides were followed by on-board Austrian entertainment. Passau was in West Germany, so did not have the grayness we would see in areas controlled by the Soviets. Ironically, its Southern location, right on the Austrian border and next to Czechoslovakia, meant it was ignored and avoided much of the Westernization that the rest of Germany experienced. Tour day five was supposed to be a tour of Salzburg, but it was cold and very rainy. Given the long bus ride to and from Salzburg, she who would have to sit in the chair through all the rain made the right choice and stayed on the boat. The other passengers said that, given the rain and the crowds, we did not miss much. The next day was a delight, as the boat moved through the beautiful Wachau Valley to Dernstein -- a beautiful little town on the banks of the Danube. The countryside included terraced vineyards, ancient buildings, quaint villages, and beautiful post-rain lighting. The walk from the boat up to Dernstein was steep, and pushing the chair up the incline was a lung busting adventure. But the tour by another delightful local guide was worth it. The local Augustinian monastery was human-sized, and it (and the surrounding sights) fascinating to see and hear about. The delights of Vienna are well known, and need not be written about here. The city center is a 20-30 minute bus trip from the boat, and all touring sites are fairly easy to get to and around with the chair. Of note, Tauck had another of its private dinners, near where those horses dance, with spectacular music, opera, and ballet as entertainment. Oh, my! On the afternoon of the 2nd day in Vienna we departed for Bratislava. Upon arrival in the morning, we started with a riveting talk on life in Slovakia from the late 30's on by the head of the local tour guides. Bratislava was a nice surprise -- interesting to see and very easy to see. Still cobblestones, but the smaller, flat-topped ones for the most part. The cruise portion ended in Budapest. Can we tell you what hell Buda is for both parties riding and pushing a wheelchair? Some parts are wheelchair accessible, but most of the tourist areas feel like they left the rubble from the WWII bombings in place and expect people to deal with it. Pest, on the other hand, is very easy to move about. Not only flatter and smoother, but more accommodations for chairs. From the Marriott hotel in Pest, we had the benefits of the great view of the river and the hills of Buda, along with the ease of moving about the modern Pest. The visit to the State Opera House (requires two short sets of stairs before access to the elevator) ended with another Tauck treat -- beautiful music and opera from balconies at the top of the staircase. Our farewell dinner had, yes, more wonderful music as part of the Tauck treat. Lessons learned: it may not take a village, but it takes a boat-load of people to make for a wonderful trip. There was a large crew to keep the boat running, the food cooking, and the pusher's scotch glass full. There were four Tauck staff who managed all the events, and gave some wonderful and knowledgeable lectures on the boat and busses which enhanced all aspects of the trip. There were a different set of local guides at each stop, who usually gave very knowledgeable and fun tours. All told, the staff made a nice trip a wonderful trip. We made some friends on the trip among the other guests, and will keep in touch with them. But, all helped out at different points and none felt we slowed them down. When the front wheels of the chair got jammed going over a curb, someone was there to pull us out. When Gale was too tired to climb the steps, several lifted the chair and carried it down. When the view was blocked, people moved automatically to allow the chair through. Among the joys of the trip was the sad realization that we saw a few others in chairs, and a few struggling with dual crutches over the stones. What was a temporary problem for us must be a daily challenge for the residents. Thanks to Tauck for taking a risk and letting us go. Note that the other cruise companies would not accept chairs. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2011
We had waited a long time for our special Tauck River Cruise having booked many months in advance and having reviewed on-line brochures for most of the main river cruise lines. Our departure was a smooth one and the flight was without ... Read More
We had waited a long time for our special Tauck River Cruise having booked many months in advance and having reviewed on-line brochures for most of the main river cruise lines. Our departure was a smooth one and the flight was without problems (except for major delays passing through security in Frankfurt). We arrived in Budapest on a clear, sunny day, collected our luggage and looked for the Tauck representative who was meeting us (even though we were arriving a day ahead of the official beginning of our tour and staying at a non-tour hotel for one night. There he was holding a sign with our name on it. He walked us and 2 other couples on our cruise to the private shuttle to take us to our hotels. We walked our luggage the short distance to the Intercontinental hotel the next morning thinking that we would check the luggage and check in later in the day. Nope - Tour Directors were already at their table in the lobby; we were greeted with friendly words and smiles, checked in and had our luggage in our room in about 10 minutes. Wow - became our favorite word for the attitudes, knowledge and friendliness of the Tour Directors for the next 12 days. We had an amazing Welcome Dinner at the Budapest Academy of Sciences the first evening, toured Pest and Buda via buses with Tour Directors in charge and local guides at some places (Opera House, Castle Hill). On the second day, we boarded the boat mid-afternoon, were welcomed on board by Cruise Direct Lynn Hardcastle, provided our room keys and found our luggage already in our cabin. We were met by our room steward, Giorgio, unpacked and made our way to the lounge for orientation by the Captain and staff. The Captain was a hoot - so clever and funny and visible throughout the trip. We had a wonderful welcome reception and dinner that included beautifully presented full course meal with wine flowing throughout dinner (complimentary every evening during dinner).A full description would be too long to include here, so I'll just include the highlights. The beauty of Budapest and then the countryside as we cruised away was just the beginning of a lovely way to see some of the best parts of 4 countries (Hungary, Austria, Germany, and Czech Republic). The excitement (that never waned) of watching the Captain take us safely through multiple locks with little room to spare at times was one of the new experiences. Sailing through the Wachau Valley after visiting lovely Durstein was spectacular, especially when we passed the Melk Abbey. Surprise stop for coffee and local pastries on the only slightly rainy day that we encountered in Bratislava was so much fun and much appreciated. Fantasizing about Julie Andrews running across the meadows in the Austrian Alps as we passed the meadows on our way to Salzburg and seeing the fountain where Maria played with the Trapp children in the Mirabel Gardens and visiting Mozart's birthplace in Salzburg. Two days in Vienna, the organ concert in Passau's magnificent St. Stephen's Cathedral, sausage lunch in Regensburg are just a few of our special memories. But most important was the way we were treated all the time and by everyone on the staff. The Tour Directors - David Lane, Jeremy Shifferly and Fero Bakos - were incredible. They made a great team - knowledgeable and presenting great lectures in the lounge, problem solving every day with ease and grace, telling stories while in transit to inform us and pass the time while traveling. We felt like we were leaving good friends when we said good-by. Lynn and her staff on the boat were always ready with something to drink and a cool towel when we returned to the boat after excursions, reception desk staff were friendly and always ready to meet needs, cabin was always clean and bathroom sparkling when we returned to it each day. Bartenders learned our favorite drink quickly and within a day of boarding and called us by name (especially, my DH and how he likes his martinis). Food was plentiful and good - a bit on the high fat/too much salt side for us, but delicious most of the time. Buffets in the AM and for some lunches were presented beautifully and more than ample. Highlights were the welcome dinner and farewell dinner. Lighter food was available in the Lido Bar area but we didn't find it to our taste. Although we certainly loved the coffee/ hot chocolate machine!Entertainment was 'folkloric' - several times local entertainers were brought onboard to present local music and dances and well appreciated by all. One night, there was a hilarious staff show featuring the captain and one of the reception staff as an elderly couple getting into a bed (made with sundeck lounges and bedding)...very funny!! Local guides used microphones and each guest had an Audio-vox with headphone. We loved all of the guides that we had (guests were divided into 3-4 groups with one guide to a group) except one who walked and talked too fast for some of the guests. Guides were s so proud of their hometowns and very knowledgeable about the history and relevant sights. Excursions were very interesting and there was adequate time to take the guided walk and also have some free time to explore on our own. We learned so much - I feel like I've just passed a course in Central European history. And the pictures!! I can't even count how many I took - there was something that screamed for a picture to be taken at every turn. What a beautiful part of Europe. Disembarkation was easy and well organized. We left our luggage in the hallway outside of our room and next saw it in our room in Prague. Our tour ended with a bus ride to Prague from Regensburg and two days at the Prague Marriott (we added an additional day at that end as well so we had 3 full days to see and learn to love this city in the Czech Republic. Two Tauck tours and a private tour that we arranged for our extra day (plus an orientation walk by our Tour Director, Fero, when we arrived in Prague). On our day of departure, we were told to leave our luggage in our room and come down to the lobby at 7:30 AM to meet our ride to the airport. The bellman at the hotel had a list of times people were leaving and automatically went to the room and had our luggage in the lobby before the car came. We had a last look at Prague as we drove to the airport. As we got out of the car, we were met by a Tauck representative with a cart who walked us to the correct line for checking baggage. Our last works were - They think of everything!! Read Less
Jewel Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 5.0 0.0
Dining 5.0 0.0
Entertainment 5.0 0.0
Public Rooms 5.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 5.0 0.0
Family 1.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 5.0 0.0
Enrichment 5.0 0.0
Service 5.0 0.0
Value For Money 5.0 0.0
Rates 5.0 0.0

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