We decided to try a river cruise and bring no expectations with us allowing us the chance to be very open minded about our experience. We had been asked to try this type of travel by long time friends. Both of us have traveled extensively both abroad and stateside.
The concept of starting the trip with two nights at a hotel was appealing as it greatly reduced the chance of missing the beginning of the cruise should there be any travel delays. The hotel was top notch and the transportation from the airport to the hotel very comfortable as they used small transit vans and not big buses.
As for the cruise personal we had mixed feelings. Carel (sp) was very welcoming and very well informed. Monica (sp) was also knowledgable but her demeanor was at times harsh. Anita, fairly new to Tauck, was making a very good effort to welcome all. Her initial commentary on the first leg of the trip was somewhat choppy and when she referenced Neuschwanstein Castle as the Disney castle we couldn’t believe what we heard.
All in all these were minor issues and the guides did a great job of taking care of all the guests.
As for the ship the rooms were very well appointed and very comfortable. The meals provided were excellent as were the staff members. On several occasions there was musical entertainment brought on board. They were also excellent.
Things that were not to our liking but totally out of control by Tauck. The river is so busy now with over 600 river cruises (according to our cruise directors) that the journey feels more like being on a highway. The fact that you can’t open your drapes because there may be a ship parked next to you created a feeling of being very closed in. Because the ship only has one main lounge and one very small lounge there isn’t a lot to do when you’re sailing. Since we didn’t have great weather for being outdoors we weren’t able to use the top deck very often.
The entertainment is definitely geared to a much older crowd. The pace is very slow and that may not appeal to certain groups.
The day touring often consisted of riding on a tour bus to a destination and then being in groups with “vox boxes” where there was a local guide describing the area we were seeing. The local guides were good in general. Often the groups were 20 people in size which was larger than we would have liked. We understood this to be a historical tour and although the guides were informative the tours at times were somewhat long winded and we preferred to leave the tour and just experience the area.
Our final thoughts about the river cruise. Tauck excels at this type of cruise but it’s not the type of cruise that we would choose to do again. The ship is very small, there are now too many ships on the river, the typical guest is quite elderly, the onboard activities weren't very interesting for guests younger than 70. We're definitely not group tour individuals. We prefer to explore on our own. If you want a very planned experience with a lot of group tours than this would probably be to your liking.
Well appointed but very small due to it being a very small ship. For much of the cruise you have to leave your curtains drawn as the traffic is heavy on the river and when docked you are likely to have other ships docked next to you. This makes your room seem very small.