In 2000, I had driven alongside the Mosel (from Koblenz to Trier) and the Rhine north of Koblenz, and at the time I promised myself I'd go back and do the trip on the rivers...so this trip on River Harmony was a long-awaited fulfillment of that promise to myself, and this trip on the rivers did not disappoint! The Mosel was especially lovely, as was the pre-trip extension in Lucerne, during which we stayed at a lovely hotel in a good location and took two (optional) trips up into the Alps. Julia, my tour director for the pre-trip extension and the main river cruise, was absolutely the best: she is knowledgeable and honest in the information she shares, authentically interested in giving travelers the best experience she can, supportive and available and totally present to her travelers. (I did not do the post-trip extension as I had already been to Bruges twice, so I went to Amsterdam on my own, and Julia helped me set up the cab to the Antwerp train station and an Uber to eventually go to Brussels, to catch my flight home with my travel partner, that flight arranged by Grand Circle.)
My most significant observation and criticism is that there were numerous people on this cruise who had mobility issues that significantly slowed the group down, to the disadvantage of those of us who met the fitness guidelines for this trip; I do not believe that many of these people met the Physical Requirements standards on the GCT Romance of the Rhine and Mosel website...they DID have companions (usually spouses) traveling with them, but that really made no significant difference, as they walked with 1-2 walking sticks and very slowly. On one tour, in Bonn, with a local guide, that guide set off at a normal walking speed/pace, with Julia bringing up the rear of our group...and on two occasions, Julia had to come to the front of the group to ask the local guide to slow the pace so that the stragglers could keep up. That slowed all of us down and "deadened" the pace and, actually, the local guide's narrative, and totally de-energized the walking tour...I always felt slowed down by those with mobility issues, and even when a "gentle pace" group was formed, many of the slow walkers/people with mobility challenges did not join that group, whether because they or their spouses didn't want to miss anything that was on the general city tour. As I said, the slowed down pace and frequent stops to let people catch up or rest on their walking sticks "deadened" the walking tours--Julia handled all this with tact and grace, BUT still people who clearly had mobility problems significantly slowed everyone else down. I do NOT hold Julia at all accountable for this slowed pace, as she was helpless, given the number of mobility-challenged people (not only in our group but in the other two groups, as well) who are either in denial about their level of fitness for such a tour or are inconsiderate of the more able-bodied people who expect a tour with a "normal" pace. Several other travelers who met the Physical Requirements were as frustrated as I was...and I have no idea how this problem can be resolved. Perhaps there needs to be an additional statement in Physical Requirements at states it is not appropriate for people who cannot keep a normal walking pace and/or who need walking aids like a walking stick. It's harsh, perhaps, but those of us who meet the physical requirements should not be "penalized" by those who don't.
Thank you for reading this review...overall the trip was great, Julia was a model of the perfect tour director, but she was "handicapped" by some of the travelers who did not measure up to the physical requirements expected.
Response from AnnS, Manager
The cabin was excellent...I booked a cabin on the deck with balcony rooms and enjoyed having the balcony. I would do a cruise ONLY if I can have a balcony room. The cabin service was also great, with a very attentive cabin attendant, and I used the laundry service several times, and that was also great!