I initially was approached by my 89-year-old mother, who wanted to take one last trip before she would be unable. I offered to be her traveling companion, not realizing where she intended to travel. I had only been on one cruise prior, a Caribbean Cruise, on one of the larger vessels. So when she mentioned she wanted to take a river cruise, I really had nothing to base it on.
My first overall impression, exhausting! Too much planned time, not enough free time. Having to set my alarm to 6:30 every morning of my vacation did not sound like my idea of a vacation. We were constantly being rushed from one event to another, catching buses, trying to keep track of tour guides in crowds. It rained our entire trip, and blue umbrellas were everywhere. We were constantly told to keep track of the 'blue umbrella's, that was difficult at best. Not being able to speak the language, not knowing where we were heading and keeping track of my mother, dressed in black, in a sea of black, was not good, when you lost contact with the blue umbrella guide! As for the knowledge of the guides, they were EXCELLENT. I would have preferred more time to explore rather than feel like we were in a race to get to one place to the next.
Our mealtimes were pretty much set in gold, so if you wanted to eat a lite-fare early and then later, this would not be the case. The restaurant area was small, and the buffet line was always crowded due to the time constraints. If you arrived late, a lot of the items were already picked over or gone. My mother, who uses a wheeled walker, had difficulty getting items onto a plate and then move thru the line. So after the first few days, I would quickly eat first, then she would arrive and I would gather her breakfast or lunch items. Dinner at least was sit-down, and we were served. But I must say, overall, I was not impressed with the menu items. Fish was always overcooked and dry. Portion sizes were OK, but I am not a big eater. Sometimes nothing really excited me at dinner, because we ate at 6-7 pm, and I am usually a late afternoon dinner person. Lunch had a lighter fare served on the deck. We started using that for our lunch, to avoid the crowds in the restaurant area. I was quieter, more relaxing, and the views good. The staff that worked this area were always attentive and polite.