October 13th 2018: apt river cruise amersterdam-budapest- 15 nights ama venita.
“A glorified bus trip with a gruelling schedule”
This apt river cruise should never have left amsterdam. Low levels of water, and continuing good weather forecasts meant the cruise was doomed for problems, and APT camouflaged the issue, well knowing the cruise schedule was going to be significantly affected
Apt river cruising -5 freedom principles applies-, none of which occurred on this journey-, began on saturday october 13th, with the ama venita boarded by 164 passengers. the ama venita was replaced by the ama- reina at engelhartszell on saturday 20 october near (passau) during this cruise journey.
On the 2nd day of the voyage the first schedule change occurred, with a diversion to nijmegen, then onto to cologne. At cologne, we were advised the ship could not proceed further, and it would be impossible to sail through the rhine gorge.
The schedule would change with 36 hours at dusseldorf, with passengers then to disembark, travel by bus to frankfurt (overnight hotel), procced by bus the next day to nuremburg (hotel overnight) and then re-board a new vessel at the passau area, and the normal cruise schedule 7 days into the cruise to re-commence.
However on boarding the new vessel at engelhartszell, moored for 36hrs, we were informed it was impossible to cruise from vienna to budapest, so again all would disembark at conclusion of vienna component, bus to budapest (hotel again overnight) and the cruise end.
Re the above new excursions replaced, most of the advertised ones, and one of the Premier events Candle light Dinner at Namedy Castle, became a luncheon visit, while en-route to Frankfurt
the journey began on a positive note, picked up at the airport by an apt agent, and whisked to the riverside in a lovely modern vehicle. We had paid for a P+ room on the 2nd level, with inside and outside balcony, room service and Porter attention
The first twinge of disappointment was noting the ship was parked between a numbers of others, a theme which was to apply from that day on. When in port (which was most of the time the apt boat was normally sandwiched between others, affording no balcony or view age opportunity, effectively negating any reasonable opportunity to observe the world from ones balcony).
When i say the view was impeded i am talking about a vessel as big as or bigger than our boat, within 12 inches of the viewing windows, and if this did not occur, the view was replaced by a concrete or similar wharf view.
Once on board, (our first dinner aboard) was served, while seated in the ships dining room, a large river boat, completely obstructed any views of the water. This issue is very significant, and from this experience and some post event research on the internet, if one is contemplating a river cruise, don’t bother to take a premium cabin, just not worth it,
day 2 freedom of choice touring took place as planned. very pleasant. That evening we were advised the ships schedule was to be changed with a detour to nijmegen and then onto cologne.
Day 3 Nijmegen
Day 4 Cologne
Advised that the boat could not cruise past cologne, there would be no full rhine cruise, and passengers would have to depart the ship at cologne, being bused to frankfurt (hotel overnight), and then bused again to nuremberg (hotel overnight) then to re-board a new vessel at engelhartszell.
Note this cruise ended with 10 pack/unpack components, 3 nights in hotels , long bus trips, new schedules and largely amended freedom of choice excursion options. Once on board the new boat, advised unable to cruise the vienna to budapest leg and would complete the cruise by bus and overnight hotel.
The changes in schedule, excursions, all detailed in the “Daily Cruiser” are in my possession showing a litany of changes, amendments, turning this trip into a glorified bus tour, with a punishing schedule
Cabin 207: our room with an inside/outside balcony was very pleasant with an excellent bathroom. Free internet and one’s own computer was a very nice touch, but reception marginal and affected significantly when parked amongst other boats, a frequent occurrence.
Room service and porter availability, took some sorting out, with all calls through reception in the first instance, and reception was not always clear that they were talking to a customer with room service and butler privileges. Apt needs to spell out the detail of what room service and butler service is, and for the reception desk to clearly identify the call has or does not have those privileges.
A nice boutique gym, but the television components of the equipment monitor, are starting to play up, and this component needs to be maintained by apt at regular intervals. Nobody aboard knew what to do about rectifying that issue.
The promised 2nd dining option italian fare served in the bella cucina restaurant did not exist. This requires a specific explanation.
The verde dining restaurant served breakfast, lunch and dinner, part buffet at breakfast and lunch with main course order options, and the evening, 5 course menu options. the food and service was sound, similar to large ship traditional dining cruising without the width of choice.
The upstairs’ river bistro lounge, offered a mini version of the lunch and evening menu downstairs, café style snacks available at set times. Pleasant, but very time restrictive.
Chefs table (28 guests) was excellent, similar in standard to specialist dining options on big ship cruising.
Room service: available to guests in the premier rooms. The continental breakfast options were very limited, but with request, items like some fruit were added, but nothing cooked was available. In the evening room service dining was available from the verde dining main menu.
ON BOARD DRINKS
The selection of available no cost wines, cocktails etc. Was excellent, and generous proportions. I am wine versed, and thought apt did an excellent job in this area.
Large and pleasant area, but due to the schedule issues, very rarely used.
No issues. Enthusiastic bar staff, waiter service geared to groups but over all a solid standard. Reception was adequate, room attendant’s service excellent, and once butler service clarified and identified, competent.
The focus on noro virus and similar ailments on big cruise ships was not a feature of this cruise. While there was the usual hand cleansing equipment, there was little attention in the daily newsletter or shipboard announcements, and no staff member, reinforcing the need to clean hands etc. At meal times or food events. The cruise was severely affected with many suffering from a cough and throat virus. A very senior couple embarked with severe symptoms of flu and there appeared to be little effort to have them quarantined or similar in their cabin. This is a difficult area to police, but I would recommend APT pay more attention to this