CroisiEurope Riverboat Michelangelo, Venice
Everyone we talked to told us how great the riverboat cruises are. We searched for cruises from Venice and came up with Croisieurope with stops at Padua, Verona and Bologna. Perfect! we said. We had no idea that the amount of time traveling on buses would exceed the time spent cruising on the river. With the exception of Venice, itself, we would spend a couple of hours to get to the site, about 2 hours on a tour and another couple of hours returning to the ship. Would we have paid $600 a day to spent 3 to 5 hours on a bus every day? If you count the time spent waiting for the bus we can stretch that out to 6 hours or more. Sitting on a cement curb breathing diesel fuel in a bus parking lot for 45 minutes wasn’t wasn't a solitary event. I guess we should have looked at a map. At two junctures everyone had to get off the boat and onto a bus while the boat traversed the Adriatic Sea. The Adriatic is too rough and the Michelangelo is too small to allow passengers. We got on and off a bus so much I started to think I was back at Girl Scout camp. Very little time was spent actually cruising. Most of the time we were tied up to a pier.
In a word, terrible. At breakfast the steam table eggs and sausage were cold, as was the coffee. After a few days I got up early so I could be in the dining room when it opened. But at 7:15 in the morning it was all as cold as it had been at 8:30 in the morning. Don’t think you’re going to dine on filet or lobster on Croisi. Veal shoulder and fish couscous is what you’ll get—the cheapest cuts of meat, fatty, stringy, tough or all of the above. After three days I was ravenous and ready to eat the napkin. The only other Americans on board wanted to leave the boat after the first dinner on board and they requested a refund (no way). At one meal we were served what appeared to be raw bacon. Our table mates, four Brits from the Midlands assured us it was cured meat, safe to eat and that they quite like fat. I switched to vegetarian, which seemed to cause some consternation. You’re supposed to make a declaration at the start of the cruise and to stick to it. But the plate of bright orange pureed sweet potatoes wasn’t much more appealing than the raw bacon. I ended up eating an inordinate amount of cheese and bread. I was always under the impression that the French ate well. I am revisiting that notion. They did serve very nice tomatoes.
In a word, none. It has been in the high forties and low fifties with a brisk wind. Crossi did not supply lap robes on the sun deck. We managed to keep from freezing by sitting on towels. The last time I used towels like this was in 1976 in a Moscow hotel. The deck chairs are cheap and uncomfortable. There is a wastepaper basket in the bathroom but none in the cabin. I asked for one but no luck. I considered myself lucky to get a box of kleenex when I asked because it may well have been the only box of tissues on the boat. There is wifi, but you have to sit in the salon, where the receiver is, in order to connect and, of course, it is painfully slow.
I wouldn’t have thought it possible to fit a sink, toilet and shower in a space that small if I hadn’t experienced it up close and personal. No one expects ship cabins to be spacious. But I began to question my sanity when I thought about spending four grand to spend a week in a room the size of prison cell.
What’s good about it?
Free wine and plenty of it. (You’re gonna need it.) If I think of something else I’ll let you know.