Overall, the cruise was a big disappointment.
1st river cruise after more than 20 ocean cruises. New boat, but of course very small. Upgraded rooms (double balcony, full size shower) only about 200 square feet. However, clean, modern, adequate air conditioning. Arrived at dock approximately 6 hours before embarkation. Staff was outstanding, allowing us to wait on board until checkin. Location of dock in Amsterdam was not conducive to exploration of the immediate neighborhood (industrial warehouses, mounds of rotting garbage, homeless, extensive graffiti). However, 15-20 minute walk would get you to the old town historic area. Mostly elderly guests (average age approximately 75 plus. We are in our early 50's).
On board, dining choices were fine. Staff was again outstanding. We are not a fan of open seating, but most of the time the same tables were available (with the same staff). Breakfast and lunch were buffet style, with some menu only items. Any/all alcoholic beverages were included at meals and Happy Hour. Otherwise, pay as you go. Extremely scaled down menu available in the lounge at lunchtime. Do not expect any onboard activities on a ship this size. Following dinner, music/dancing is available in the small lounge. On three nights, outside entertainment came aboard, but after 1-1.5 hours, they were rushed off.
Little about the experience matches the brochure. The Rhine is an industrial river. Aside from a single day passing through the Rhine Gorge (and seeing many castles you cannot visit), the shore is dotted with warehouses and businesses. Because of the heat, very few guests could use the top deck. However, the small pool was an oasis. At no port could you walk off the boat and easily access the town/village/city. A 30 to 90 minute bus ride was required for most excursions, with a mostly unorganized guide babbling in disjointed stream of consciousness. Following the tour, you were given 1-2 hours to explore the area, then it's back on the bus. In one port, guests were allowed off at 9:00 am and the ship sailed at 1:00pm. Overall, an extremely structured cruise, with little time for getting to know the towns.
Do not take the cruise in the summertime. Blistering hot in each port. Most shops and restaurants are not air conditioned. I can hear the complaints of "spoiled americans", but for the cost or the trip, and where we live (New Orleans), we were looking forward to a break from the heat. Many active shore excursions (biking, active hiking) were cancelled by the tour guides due to the heat. Each excursion visited a cathedral or castle/fort, but most of the tours consisted of small tourist shops filled with Chinese manufactured trinkets. Shopping is definitely off the list, with prices ranging from 2-3 times the cost in the U.S.
Post-cruise travel to Luzern was the best part. Skip the boat and stay there for 7 nights. Zurich is just another large city. Nothing special.
In conclusion, do not expect the history filled, romantic getaway described in the literature. Though not the "voyage of the living dead" of an Alaska cruise, it's very close.
Clean, modern, large bath with full shower. "French Balcony" a marketing gimmick; just an extension of the room with large windows.
Extremely hot. Seemed like the Tour de France...very fast riding with no time to see the scenery.View All undefined undefined Reviews
Very nice evening, but extremely hot and humidView All undefined undefined Reviews
Quarterly "street market" filled entire city center.
Nice castle tour. Beautiful town.View All 181 Heidelberg Castle Reviews