Everyone we talked to said 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 time spent in 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 even unusual. 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 many times it reminded me of 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. You will not 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 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 meals, 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.