This was our second Tauck river cruise, the first one being from Milan to Amsterdam on the Rhine and it was wonderful! This cruise however was terribly disappointing for a number of reasons. First, and this of course is no one's fault, was the weather. It rained for most of the days, but that's neither here nor there. Second, the time spent on buses from the docks to the various excursions was excessive. The buses were comfortable, but if we had wanted to book a bus tour we would have done so. More importantly, it seemed we had very little time to just "hang out" in the ports and get a feel for the towns as we had on the previous cruise. In fact, due to spending four hours on the bus round trip for the excursion to Salzburg (of "Sound of Music" fame) we barely had time for a nice lunch before we needed to meet back at the bus loading area. Thirdly, unlike the previous cruise which had excursions that varied from wine-tastings to museums to rides on the tram above the Rhine, this cruise seemed to focus on history over and over again. It was the same story: oppression by the Austrian Empire, the Nazi's and the Communists with a slightly different spin depending on the country we were in. It was fascinating and compelling the first couple of times but after that, it got old. More variety in excursions and the focus of the native guides would have much appreciated. The cabin was by far the biggest nightmare, however which will be reviewed below. All in all, this cruise fell well short of our expectations and we were severely disappointed.
Let me begin by saying simply, do NOT stay in this cabin as you will regret it. We had been in a Cat 6 "French balcony" (that means you can open it but not stand on it) on our previous cruise. Shipmates showed us their loft cabin on the first deck and we thought it was pretty cool so we decided to book that style for this cruise. It was right next to the beauty salon which we figured wouldn't be a problem since it would be closed at night. And true to our expectations - we loved the loft! That is, until it was time for bed. I'll admit, I'm a light sleeper and always use a white noise app on my phone, but my husband is a veteran who is deaf in one ear and sleeps like a log no matter where we are. Between the noise below us from the kitchen moving the dishes back and forth, the ship banging into the tendered boat next to us and most of all, the vacuum style toilets, sleep was impossible - I mean 'bed shaking' impossible! I looked to see about moving the next morning and was told we could move, but at a cost of $2200 (list price) for an upgrade. The following night, we were no longer tendered to another boat and we waited till 11 for the kitchen noise to stop, but there was absolutely no end to the periodic toilet flushing noises. We decided that the pipes must converge under the stateroom as we had never heard any level of noise like this in any other cabin. To make a long story short, we finally moved and paid for the upgrade after the third night when my husband caught a serious cold and was running a fever. Let me be clear: we were NOT looking for a free upgrade! We were simply trying to seek some compensation (as in the form of a cheaper upgrade cost) due to the impossible sleeping conditions. As I said, we loved the loft - but if you can't sleep in your stateroom, there's very little point in staying there.
The most disappointing aspect was the Tauck response to all of this. Our cruise director, was a pompous jerk who informed me that "Arthur Tauck himself wouldn't be able to get a free upgrade" if he presented the same dilemma. Again, that wasn't what we were asking for. When we moved to the second deck, he asked the steward to flush the toilet next door so that we could see that it would be just as loud. It wasn't of course - and I knew it wouldn't be, having had a room the previous year on their exact same style of ship. From that point on, we slept like babies for the rest of the cruise, but the whole ordeal left a really bad taste in our mouths and also left us questioning if Tauck's philosophy is truly how they feel about their guests or just catch phrases for their brochures. We'll let you be the judge.