We had never been on a river cruise and since "Travel With Alan" offered a special, we thought we'd try river cruising. First we were notified that the ship could not make it into Amsterdam due to low water so we'd stay in a hotel for 2 days and bus into Cologne. Since it was only a 3 hour bus ride, we thought ok, no problem. The hotel was called The Room Mate. Upon arrival we were to be greeted by a cruise rep. and taken to our hotel. That's sort of what happened. The Rep was there but we had to walk our luggage to another location, wait for a couple, who never arrived. Then a driver showed up and we had to walk to another location. I'm a slow walker.....after being told this, he grabbed my bags and expected all of us to keep up. That's 5 people cause the van wouldn't hold more.....rest of the people had to stay at the second location and wait. He didn't drive to the door, we had to go all the way to the back of the parking garage. It was cheaper than to park near the door. We arrived at 2:30 and our room wasn't ready....after 14 hours on planes and in airports, that's the last thing we wanted to hear. After 1 1/2 hours our room was ready. I had to ASK them to carry my luggage to my room. The room was clean, I'll give it that. Keep in mind we're expecting to be on a cruise ship not a hotel. We were bused to a river boat the second day to take a tour of the Canals. The tour guide could not be bothered with questions.....just told us the history of Amsterdam. Getting back to the hotel, I went downstairs to see about a Windmill Tour only to be told it was only offered the first day not the second. Day 2 found us on a bus to Cologne. It was hot, Cathedral was beautiful but we chose not to do a walking tour. Found out later that was wise. Back onto the bus to get to the ship. We got there around 4:30 or so.
The ship was a pleasant surprise. The rooms were nice with full ceiling to floor windows. We could open them to bring the outdoors in but it wasn't a balcony that I thought we had. River Cruising was wonderful, you're right there on the shore almost. I could talk to the people who were on the shore fishing or camping or just watching. Bathrooms were much nicer than on a cruise ship with a glass door shower. I didn't find the food for dinner as appetizing as I thought it should be. My husband had steak almost every night because he could find anything he liked. One night we were offered Prawns but it was 1....albeit large but 1 Prawn. Entertainment was lecturers or a bit out of our taste. There was an Oompa pa band one night and a singer (we didn't enjoy) and another singer (we didn't bother to go hear) Service....they cleaned the rooms daily, we ask for breakfast to our room 3 times and got nothing. The boats didn't dock near much of anything and if the cruise company didn't provide it, there was a lot of walking to get to anything to see. a couple of times they did bus us into town because it was docked miles away.
Shore excursions were a joke......walking tours and if you saw something you liked the tour guides would say, well you can come back once the tour is over. Why, I'm right here but if I didn't stay with the tour, I'd have to find my way back to the ship. The upper deck was not available most of the time because the ship needed the rails lowered to get under the bridges...this was kind of a bummer....would have been nice to sit on the upper deck as we sailed.
Then came the bombshell......we'd get to Regansburg and no further due to low water. Europe was in the midst of a drought that was 3 months old. Now, I ask you, 3 months??? IMO they should have cancelled the entire cruise but NO, they chose to BUS us everywhere and put us up in hotels. I'd always wanted to do a land sea cruise but NO MORE. The buses caused us to rise EARLY and have breakfast (who eats at 6:30) then get on a bus with EMERGENCY bathrooms only. Some of the tour guides on the bus were very nice and told us a bit, then let us view the scenery or sleep. Others wouldn't shut up. We'd bus somewhere, get out and walk places and back on the bus. The first hotel was the Marriott in Passau..clean rooms with a bathtub so deep a lot of the cruisers wouldn't attempt to get in. My 6'1" husband found it difficult...I had him help me in and out. We stopped at Melk and saw the Abbey and had a wonderful lunch. The Abbey is beautiful and worth seeing. Back on the bus to Vienna where we stayed at the Hilton. Very clean and nice hotel. Both the Marriott and the Hilton delivered our luggage to our room in a very timely manner. We chose to see the Lipizzenar Stallions instead of a walking tour. The Concierge got us the tickets and taxi as well as other helpful information They were marvelous. Upon arrival back at the hotel, we ask about a couple more things to do only to find they were MILES away from where we were. This time we ask the Avalon Rep who didn't know much about Vienna except where things were. She couldn't help much at all. We chose to go to the City Park across the street walk a bit and then people watch. We did have a piece of Sacher Torte and it was everything we thought it would be. 2 nights in Vienna which was nice....no unpacking and packing. Next we bussed to Budapest. This hotel was the Intercontinental and I can't say enough good about this hotel. We enjoyed the room, the location and the Concierge. The tour in Budapest was very nice and we had a great guide in Lazlo..I know I spelled that wrong. The food in most of these places was Buffet and you can't expect a lot from that type of dining. We didn't get lunch money (we were told they were going to do this) until the first day in Budapest..in Euro....guess who's not on the Euro. Avalon has said they are going to refund 100 per cent of the cruise portion for 5 days...….guess we'll see if they really do. One positive note our cruise director Tony, worked his butt off and tried to be every where at once. He was a shining moment in an otherwise difficult time.
Really nice cabin....full ceiling to floor windows which you could open. No screens.....people had trouble with bugs flying in. So close to shore, you had to keep them shut unless you were up and dressed. Glass door on the shower and a nice counter space. Comfortable beds.
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