This is a review of our May 28-June 18, 2005 Grand Circle Travel (GCT) "Great Rivers of Europe" cruise/tour on the Rhine, Main, and Danube, sailing from Amsterdam to Vienna on GCT's M/S River Melody. The trip included three days before the cruise in Brussels and three days after in Vienna. Most of this review is about the ship, as you will spend over half the time aboard. The ship's features and services shouldn't be compared to an ocean liner, but are more similar to a Mississippi River cruise on the Delta Queen. This is our 14th cruise, including two river cruises and the two GCT trips.
AIRLINES The GCT airline service was not convenient; our total travel time was more than 16 hours a 6 a.m. (PDT) flight from LAX to Washington D.C. with a five hour layover, arriving in Brussels at 7:30 a.m. (Central Europe Daylight Savings Time) the following morning. (Brussels is nine hours ahead of Los Angeles.) The flight to Brussels was on a United 767 with individual TV screens in the seatbacks; the outside rows were two seats wide. The return flight was on a Lufthansa 747 taking only 14 hours -- but we were jammed in like sardines, with no individual TV screens, and the outside rows were three across. And there were no pre-assigned seats from LAX to Washington D.C. or from Vienna to Frankfurt. Our previous GCT flights to Europe were on Delta and very good - non-stops LAX to London and Paris to LAX, with individual TV screens, and two seats wide. In the future, we will arrange our own flights and not use GCT.
SHIP CABIN There was plenty of storage space for large suitcases under the two single beds (there are no larger beds in any cabins). There were two closets about two feet wide for hanging clothes, and two sets of two drawers. However, when the bed was folded down, the two drawers were difficult to reach -- they were deep under the bed and you had to sit on the floor to reach them. The cabin's mechanical key locks were recently removed, leaving a one-inch open hole in the door. The old locks were replaced by a plastic keycard arrangement located above the holes.