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23 Tauck River Cruise Reviews

This trip was regrettably not a good fit for our family for so many reasons - first of all, ever see the movie "Out to Sea"? That is a perfect representation of the bombastic, overbearing cruise director - annoying and ... Read More
This trip was regrettably not a good fit for our family for so many reasons - first of all, ever see the movie "Out to Sea"? That is a perfect representation of the bombastic, overbearing cruise director - annoying and patronizing personality who was harshly unaccommodating. He shrilly bellowed announcements over the intercom into your stateroom at 7:15am sharp every morning - that could not be overridden, despite him saying they could be. The ship was filled with out of control kids who would run down the hall and on the deck playing tag and hide-and-seek until 10:00pm every night, sounding like a herd of elephants were stampeding over your head. They also turned the very small Jacuzzi into their private wading pool - there was no way we were going to risk getting in that. And if this isn't bad enough, apparently some of the cabin crew had sticky fingers because we lost a very expensive and sentimental necklace, a brand new scarf, and an heirloom hair brush from our stateroom at the end of the trip. Also keep in mind the ship itself is extremely regimented and they heard you like cattle onto buses and give you zero flexibility - it took all the leisure out of the experience. On a positive note, I do want to note the maitre d's, bartenders and some servers in the restaurant were wonderful. Board at your own risk - if any of the above sounds enticing to you, good luck with your holiday. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
Our travel agent said Tauck was the Mercedes Benz of River Cruises. We were picked up in Amsterdam by a chauffeured Mercedes. I was expecting a small tour bus or van. We stayed in a loft room which we thought all in all had as much room as ... Read More
Our travel agent said Tauck was the Mercedes Benz of River Cruises. We were picked up in Amsterdam by a chauffeured Mercedes. I was expecting a small tour bus or van. We stayed in a loft room which we thought all in all had as much room as other rooms and more storage under the loft balcony. I did not have to pull out my wallet except when we bought postcards etc from the small gift shop on board. When they say all inclusive they go so far as paying for the pay toilets on our excursions. I was impressed with our 3 on board tour directors who really helped out. We were at Heidelberg Castle with at least 2 other cruise lines and they were in total chaos trying to follow just one tour guide.. Food was excellent, service superb, nw ship was very clean. Travelers and there were many who said once you use Tauck it is difficult to use anyone else. Its true this was our first trip we up the Rhine and Moselle, we just signed up for the Blue Danube Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
Itinerary-Cruising the Danube from Budapest to Bucharest First time taking a trip of any kind with Tauck and we were very happy with the overall experience. This was an inclusive trip with two pre-cruise nights in Budapest at the Ritz ... Read More
Itinerary-Cruising the Danube from Budapest to Bucharest First time taking a trip of any kind with Tauck and we were very happy with the overall experience. This was an inclusive trip with two pre-cruise nights in Budapest at the Ritz Carlton Hotel and two nights post-cruise at the JW Marriott Bucharest. Tours and welcome dinner/farewell dinner events were also included during both segments of the journey. We have done many traditional cruises with smaller ship cruise lines such as Windstar and SilverSea and only one previous river cruise with Aqua Cruises on the Amazon. After this trip we are excited to try river cruising again. Tauck is extremely professional and detail oriented. This particularly itinerary required quite a few bus trips from the ports along the way so that might bother some cruisers but we were so anxious to do this itinerary that we were willing to do that. We loved seeing this part of the world-it was incredibly eye-opening and educational and the special experiences like the private tour of Ceausescu's Palatial Parliament Building followed by a special dinner accompanied by a string trio was unique and exciting. We had a 300 square foot suite which was super comfy and well appointed. Loved the walk-in closet and the bathroom although we did not use the bathtub except for drying hand washables. The french balconies were lovely-floating along the Danube with doors open while reading, relaxing or doing yoga was such a treat. Food was good and we especially enjoyed the yummy breakfasts. The crew was outstanding, from the front desk people, bar servers and wait staff, to the excellent masseuse on board. Carlos our cruise director was wonderful. We had three excellent Tauck guides, two of whom were from countries we visited on this cruise. The guides rotated busses so it was a treat to get to know all of them. There were cultural activities on board which enhanced the overall experience and contributed to our knowledge of the region. These included documentary films, folk dancing and classical music. On our "sea day" cruising the Iron Gates of the Danube, the guides took turns narrating the sights and this was played over the ships PA system. Overall, I highly recommend cruising Budapest to the Black Sea with Tauck and we would be happy to go with them again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
We booked a French waterways cruise south from Lyon to Monaco. Poor weather interrupted the boat and prohibited the ship from sailing. We booked a category 7 cabin and added the additional stay in Paris. After the second day on the boat we ... Read More
We booked a French waterways cruise south from Lyon to Monaco. Poor weather interrupted the boat and prohibited the ship from sailing. We booked a category 7 cabin and added the additional stay in Paris. After the second day on the boat we were advised that we would not be able to sail, hence we began a "coach tour", Most definitely not what we had signed up for. We consulted with Tauck staff to ascertain what remedial options we had. They put us off for 3 days saying we would be leaving in the evening, no, we would be leaving in the morning, no. Etc. each day the coach travel became longer and longer until we were on buses for up to 7 hrs a day. Each day we inquired we were told to wait. Having purchased the Tauck insurance we felt we might have recourse, the stress and anxiety was overwhelming. Finally at 6 pm on Day 4 they announced an alternate arrangement that required we decide immediately and leave the ship by 8am. When we asked if we had other options we were told yes but they had no details as to what they were. What kind of answer is that? We were completely held hostage! Tauck provided little compensation, merely a 1500. 00 cruise credit towards future travel with an expiry date attached. Regardless of your trip investment everyone received the same compensation. Category 7 or category below water! Itinerary was not fulfilled and the customer service post cruise has been unresponsive and complacent. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
This was a great ship with great people. The staff was fantastic and the other passengers were delightful. Our cabin was excellent. Our ship carried 122 passengers and I think it might hold 130 maximum. Other similar sized ships will carry ... Read More
This was a great ship with great people. The staff was fantastic and the other passengers were delightful. Our cabin was excellent. Our ship carried 122 passengers and I think it might hold 130 maximum. Other similar sized ships will carry up to 220 passengers in the same space. We stayed at the Tauck-recommended hotel in Basel (our point of embarkation). The hotel is nice but sterile. We much preferred making out own arrangements on the other end in Amsterdam. We stayed at the Estherea Hotel and it was delightful. Onboard, the internet was somewhere between terrible and non-existent. The food was average at best. We rarely docked in any town that was mentioned in the cruise itinerary. If you take this cruise, you should count on spending 2-3 hours on a bus everyday if you want to see what they advertise. On several nights we were docked in industrial harbors. Scrap metal is not what I wanted to see out of my very nice cabin. Unfortunately, if you don't get on the bus (at 8:15 to 9 am virtually every day) you will not see the sight for the day. A few times there was something to see right off boat but not what I went on the cruise to see. The buses are nice and the drivers are excellent and amazing, I just did not expect to spend so much time each and every day on a bus. Also, because we were not docked in the main towns, it was very difficult to spend extra time in a place that was interesting. Most of the tours were a little superficial to me and often I felt the guides were filling if the space because of time constraints. Unfortunately, they filled with fluff instead of the massive amounts of history available in this area. I have to admit, I do not think this tour was a good fit for me. I am 55 and I think the average age on board was closer to 75. Most of these people are retired and do not need to keep in touch with business, at least occasionally, while on vacation. There was a wide variety of food but it was the same for breakfast and lunch everyday (with a very few exceptions). One passenger made a comment about it feeling like the movie Groundhog Day. I talked with the chef about the food and they tried to make me special meals (the staff really wants to please) but they just do not have the equipment or something to make it happen. I think the food is probably very healthy but it has very little flavor. I had soggy fish and dry tough meat and sometimes I had warm, medium rare ultra-lean beef that tasted like nothing. The waiters and table service were excellent. Unfortunately, I am afraid that the Rhine River is oversold. There are too many boats and people at all of the sights so you can't get close, you can't enjoy and it is all just touristy. There were a couple of times there was on board entertainment and it was nice. We had a dinner in a castle where we were too cramped together to make it comfortable. Likewise, the wine tasting event had us packed check to jowl for another excursion. I would miss both of those if given the option to go back. There was a daytime castle tour that my wife took that she said was excellent. Most of the tours and destinations were nice. It simply took too much time to get to and from them to make it enjoyable. Disembarkation went well. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
We recently returned home from our 40th Anniversary adventure that included Tauck’s French Escapade from Paris to Monte Carlo. Everyone knows I’m a big Tauck fan and I found this cruise package to be up to their usual high standard but ... Read More
We recently returned home from our 40th Anniversary adventure that included Tauck’s French Escapade from Paris to Monte Carlo. Everyone knows I’m a big Tauck fan and I found this cruise package to be up to their usual high standard but I have to say the trip really fizzled at the end in Monte Carlo. More on that later. This was our first “Package Cruise” and I have to admit that I wouldn’t do anything similar in the future. If we can afford to venture out again it would be on a river cruise only deal. This adventure starts in Paris and Tauck put you up in the very opulent InterContinental Hotel le Grand where we were treated like royalty. The accommodation and meals were first class. Tauck’s three TD’s seemed to be everywhere and were always available to answer questions and point you to the right bus. Our time in Paris with all its included sightseeing was highlighted by our welcome dinner at Fouquet’s brasserie. Then it was off to Lyon via the very fast, high speed train. We travelled first class in airline type seats and Tauck even supplied us with chocolates on the journey. Then came the part we really wanted to do and that’s river cruise. Our boat the Scylla crewed Swiss Emerald has just undergone a re-fit and looked and felt brand new. The partnership between Tauck and Scylla is perfect with these vessels specifically built for Tauck. This cruise was fully booked yet with only 118 passengers aboard you’d never know. There is always room to sit and talk and this lack of crowding is one of the main reasons I prefer Tauck over other all-inclusive companies that pack 169 people into a similar area. This cruise covered both the Saone and Rhone rivers with history and grandeur at every stop. Whilst some itineraries, Tauck included, are specifically designed for either wine tasting, food tasting or history cruises this one gave us something of everything. On the Saone our first stop was at Chalon-sur-Saone and we had the first of our Tauck surprises. On our local walk through town in groups of around 20 Tauck included stops at a bakery where we were all given bags of the bakers various products to sample and at the end of the tour a stop at a local chocolate shop where we had a brief history of chocolate and then more samples than the average person could eat. By the time we got back on board the baker had joined us to show us how to make Croissant – more eating and best of all I now know how to tell the difference between a machine made one and one made by hand. That afternoon we went and sampled the wines at Chateau Chamirey and Chateau Rully. There would be an abundance of food and wine tasting still to come. There was the history of the Chateau de Cormatin, the medieval houses of Macon, the Cluny Abbey and the Haras Equestrian Centre, an outstanding lunch in the gardens of Chateau de la Barge all that before we reached Lyon on a mad Sunday. Why mad I hear you ask well there will probably be others here that can comment as well but on Sunday 31st August 2014 it seemed that every boat on the Rhone stopped at Lyon on that day. The parking area around the Basillca Notre Dame de Fourviere was packed. It seems that Viking, Avalon,AMA, Uniworld, GCT, CrosiEurope and Tauck picked this morning to hit Lyon. Travelling is fun and you never know who you’ll run into and sure enough we came across a couple from our home town of Mackay. We spent a coffee checking out each others choice of cruise line and I’m happy to say Tauck came out in front. Even though it was Sunday with all those boats docked in town you’d never know with most of the shops open for your business. The cruise down the Rhone gives you the opportunity to see Roman history almost everywhere but particularly in Vienne and Arles where the examples are magnificent. There’s the history of Avignon and the French Popes own vineyard the Chateauneuf du Pape where I tasted some of the best reds I’d drunk in all of France and even a Roman influence here as the cellars are part of the Roman system. AND then there’s Viviers the little village that time seems to have forgotten with its narrow streets and well preserved medieval houses. I’m very glad I got to see and explore Viviers even if I found I’m a lousy Petanque player. The highlight of this trip came almost at the end where you get to see a working bull and horse ranch in the Camargue. A Tauck exclusive. We were treated to an outstanding lunch and then a demonstration, a training exhibition really, of the art of bull fighting where the bull is never hurt and wins many of the competitions and thus the prize money. After the final dinner on board we left for Nice and our last stop Monte Carlo and this IMO was where the trip fizzled out. WE said farewell to our crew and were bussed to Nice where we had quite a few hours to explore this great city then it was off to Monte Carlo and the 5 star Fairmont Hotel. I quickly found that Monte Carlo is not for me. Not only is it full of very rich pretentious people of all ages it is very, very hilly and getting around on foot is very difficult. Our hotel the Fairmont was of similar ilk. It had a 400,000 Euro Ferrari on display in the lobby but it treats tour group people as if they all have leprosy. We didn’t eat with the regular clientele instead we were herded into our own room for eating. The breakfasts were deplorable with the only egg choice powdered scrambled eggs and the pastries on offer looked and tasted like leftovers. Even the Tauck farewell dinner which is usually of high class was very poor. I’m sure I’m not the only one who informed Tauck of these problems. I’m sure it would have been better to stay in Nice with a day trip to Monte Carlo. You are on a high, or at least I am, when I’m cruising on the rivers and leaving the boat is always a let down but to me leaving the boat to continue a tour was an anti-climax. I’m most likely in the minority here and my feelings should not deter anyone from considering this otherwise outstanding cruise. Tauck are truly all-inclusive from the Moet anytime you want it to having snacks delivered to your cabin. I realise others have their favourite river cruise companies but I’m afraid you’ll never convince me that you get more from your cruise than I got from mine. Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
Tauck's French Escapade River Cruise Review July 18-31, 2014. South to North Overview: This Tauck adventure features 4 nights in hotels, 2 in Monte Carlo and 2 in Paris. In between there is a 9 night river cruise on the Rhone & ... Read More
Tauck's French Escapade River Cruise Review July 18-31, 2014. South to North Overview: This Tauck adventure features 4 nights in hotels, 2 in Monte Carlo and 2 in Paris. In between there is a 9 night river cruise on the Rhone & Saone Rivers on the 118 passenger Swiss Emerald. This was a high end vacation with a first class river cruise and 2 first class hotels. A rail trip on the 200mph TGV connected us between Lyon & Paris. Booking: Our travel agent made all the arrangements thru Tauck including the extra hotel nights in Paris, plus airport transfers on both ends. We booked a year in advance in order to get one of the eight 300sf suites that the boat had. The other cabins were under 200sf. Two couples booked just the 9 night river cruise and did not do the hotel portions of the trip. Tauck accommodated them and did not charge them for those portions of the trip. Using a travel agent for this type of trip saves you time and hassle. Passengers: There were 106 passengers, mostly from the US. There were 2 couples from Malaysia and 12 Aussies. The passengers were mostly in their 60's & 70's with a few older and younger couples. There were 2 teenagers, who despite having to be with old folks all the time, seemed to have a good time. There were a few people who had walking difficulties, but they were able to participate in all the tours, although they skipped the buildings that had dozens of steps. The crew always had one tour for people who were slow walkers. The passengers seemed to all get along well. The ability to walk stairs is a requirement to be on this trip. Food & Beverage: All beverages (including cocktails, beer, wine, etc) from the bar were included in the cruise as were all the excursions. The only money you could spend on the cruise were from the gift store, for massages and laundry. Tips for everything related to Tauck were included. The food was amazing. I would compare it to Oceania Cruise Line ships. Dinners were 5 courses and presented very well. The wines were from the region and were great. Lunch and breakfast featured wonderful buffets or you could order from your table. Tour Guides: There were 3 tour guides who stayed with us from beginning to end and a Cruise Director on the boat, all excellent. Mistral Winds: Provance can have very strong northerly winds, ranging from 30 to 70mph, called Mistral Winds. We had strong winds (30mph) for several days, but they helped cool things off and keep the bugs away. Cabins: They ranged in size from 150 sf to 300sf. The large cabins get booked way in advance, with waiting lists in case someone in the large cabins cancels. The cabins each had 2 110v outlets that required a 2 prong Northern European adaptor to use. There were also two 220v outlets where you might need a bulky converter to convert to 110v to charge your camera batteries if your 110 outlets are in use. Apple products can be charged from a 220v plug without a voltage converter, as Apple has built their charging units to take 220v or 110v current. The beds come with a thick comforter and no separate sheet that so many hotels use today. We prefer a sheet and a blanket, which they switched to after I asked the room steward. Robes and slippers are provided in the cabins. Rain: It does rain in France. The ship provides large umbrellas for the passengers. You may need a small umbrella for your hotel days. A light raincoat with hood is very handy as the winds are sometimes too strong for the umbrellas. Entertainment: Don't expect much. There brought a few local acts for after dinner. There were a couple nights where the passengers played games organized by the Tour Guides which were fun. Prizes were awarded to the winning teams. Having after dinner drinks on the top deck was great if it wasn't raining. The lounge had a pianist who was excellent. Workout room: Small - 4 pieces of cardio equipment and. Few 2 LB dumbells. Bring your own resistance bands for weight work. You get plenty cardio on the walks and bike rides. Attire: Most dinners on the ship were Country Club casual, (nice shirt, no shorts). Most guys brought a jacket for the 2 or 3 special dinners. Lunch was casual, shorts were fine. Bring a light jacket that doubles as a raincoat with a hood for cool evenings on deck and wet touring days. The museums in Europe are all warm and humid. Wear short sleeve shirts and shorts and bring a jacket that you can tied around your waist. A fan is a good thing to bring along. The air does not move in these museums. Shoes: You'll need a good pair of walking shoes as most daily walks were over cobblestones with many steps, often without handrails. Lightweight sandals don't usually have the lateral support for the cobblestones. Laundry: The ship provided 1 day laundry service for a fee, not cheap, but it's better than dragging 14 days worth if clothes. The weather was sometimes humid, so you need to wash some cloths. The drip dry clothes could be washed in the sink dried in a day hanging in the shower. The cotton clothes took forever to dry. Air Package: We bought the air sea package and let Tauck set up the flights. Next time I'll have our travel agent book the flights. We had Delta flights from LAX to Nice via JFK. Coming home, we flew Air France & KLM from Paris to LAX via Amsterdam. I would have preferred a direct Paris to LAX flight. That would have saved about 4 hours. Tauck will still provide the transfers if you arrange your own flights. Bicycles: The boat had 11 bicycles, single speed, pedal brakes, not the greatest bikes, but we used them and got around fine. Jacuzzi: There was a 4 person jacuzzi on the top deck that couldn't be used while we were moving, due to low bridges, which required that the jacuzzi vanity screens to come down to clear the bridges. The jacuzzi was available in port. Day to Day Notes: Day 1 Sat - Arrival: We flew into Nice from JFK, an 8 hour overnight flight arriving around 11:45 am. We cleared immigration in under 5 minutes and then waited about 30 minutes for the bags. Passport control was quick. Once we collected our bags, we found the man with the Tauck sign and 8 of us settled into a van for a 30 minute ride to Monte Carlo. Tauck has a meeting room at the Fairmont, just past reception where you got your first daily program and instructions for the hotel stay portion of the trip. There was a welcome reception and dinner that night at 6:30pm for the Tauck guests. It was a great way to meet your fellow travelers. Fairmont Hotel: We checked into the Fairmont Hotel overlooking the Mediterranean Sea for 2 nights. Since we were in one of Tauck's highest suite, we got a hotel room right on the water, with an amazing view. On Saturday night, there was a 20 minute fireworks show that we could see from our balcony. Apparently, this was some kind of fireworks completion held on 4 Saturday nights during the summer. The fireworks are shot from a barge in the harbor that the Fairmont overlooks. The Fairmont normally charges $20/night for wi-fi. Since we booked the Fairmont and pre-paid the hotel bill thru Tauck, we got it for free. I had the Tauck tour guide go to the hotel registration deck to make sure that was the case, and it was. Day 2 Sun - Monte Carlo: After a free breakfast for Tauck guests on Sunday morning at the hotel, we boarded buses for a tour of Monte Carlo. They took us up to the old city for an orientation tour with great overlooks of Monte Carlo. We had free time to shop and then back to the hotel for lunch on your own. At 2pm we boarded tour buses to visit the Rothchild's palace and gardens, which was worth seeing, then back to the hotel by 5:30. Dinner was on your own in Monte Carlo on Sunday night. Monday morning, after a free breakfast, we boarded buses for a trip to Nice and then into Arles to board the Swiss Emerald around 5:30pm. Day 3 Mon - Nice: Tauck gave us a walking tour and then we had 3+ hours to explore the City and have lunch on our own. Nice has an impressive beach Promenade with an excellent bike trail along the beach. Bicycles could be rented at one of the many kiosks for a few Euros on a credit card. The drive to the boat in Arles was not terribly scenic, but the tour guides comments made the trip ok. We boarded the Swiss Emerald at 5:30pm. Embarkation: We arrived at the boat and were welcomed with champaign. We waited in the lounge getting to know each other. Small groups of passengers were led to the check-in desk and shown to their rooms. We met back in the lounge at 6:30 to meet the Captain and the staff. The Captain's Dinner was then served. Day 4 Tues - Arles: We had a morning walking tour of Arles, Vincent Van Gogh's home for 2 years. We had a bus ride to the Country to see a working ranch. The ranch family fed us lunch and then put on a show with bull's chasing young men in a bull ring. The bulls are not hurt. The bulls usually live a full life and die of natural causes in their 20's. Still, it was impressive to the bulls going after the young guys in the ring, who would jump over 2 walls when the bulls got close. The horns on the bulls were covered to protect the runners. Day 5 Wed - Avignon: In the morning We had a walking tour of the old portion of Avignon including the Pope's Palace. The walk included about 200 steps, but there was frequent places to sit and listen to the your guide thru the Vox system. We finished that tour about11:00 am and had time to explore the town before returning to the boat for lunch. After a wonderful lunch, we checked out 2 bicycles and helmets and rode a path along the Rhone. The trail was only 2 miles long. We then rode into the old City of Avignon, a city full of cars and not many places to ride a bike comfortably. At 3:30 we loaded up buses and went to the country side to visit a first class winery, the Pope’s former vineyard when the Pope resided in Avignon in the 1300's. We had a wine tasting and a country bus ride. After dinner, there was a duo doing French songs with accordion. Day 6 Thursday - Viviers: Local guides showed us how to play a French version of Bocce Ball, called Petanque. We played the game and had a refreshment and then walked the old town and visited the Cathedral. We were back to the boat for lunch. The boat sailed at 1pm and we spent the rest of the day cruising the Rhone northbound going thru a few locks and under some low bridges. Staff gave talks on the locks, on the French language and on Vincent Van Gogh's life. We had a few sprinkles in the afternoon and some wind, but very pleasant overall. A good day to be on the Rhone River. Day 7 Friday - Vienne: Tauck provided us with a 90 minute walking/tram tour of the old City of Vienne. The best part was the fantastic view of the Rhone River Valley from the highest point in the City. Our tour included 2 churches/cathedrals. We then had 1:45 minutes on our own. We checked out bicycles and explored the trail along the west side of the Rhone. The town is on the east side, so you take a pedestrian bridge across the river to get to the west side. The trail is basically south if this bridge and it runs for miles. The trail is separated from the adjacent street. At 12:15, the boat left Vienne for points north. We boated thru Lyon and turned into the Saone River, but did not stop in Lyon, as Lyon would be our last stop in a few days. Day 8 Sat - Chalon-sur-Saone: A walking tour of the City left the boat at 9:00 & returned at 11:30 . We skipped the walking tour and rode bicycles around the City, which was fun. At 1:30, there was a coach tour to the Country side to visit two wineries. We stayed in Chalon overnight. There was a crew talent show after dinner. It rained for short bursts today. Day 9 Sunday - Macon: We took a coach tour of Chateau de Cormatin at 8:15 from Chalon Sur Saone as the boat sailed north to Macon. We also visited the town of mid evil town Tornau. We met the boat in Macon after 1:00, followed by lunch on the boat. At 2:45, there was a walking tour in Macon, we rode bikes again. Since it was Sunday, not much was open. At 4:45, the staff explained how the Paris portion of the trip would work and asked us to sign up for which Museum we wanted to visit on Thursday. Most people chose the Louvre. Day 10 Monday - On the way to Lyon: We left the boat at 8:30 for a coach tour of the Abbey of Cluny, the National Stud Farm in Cluny, and then onto the Chateau de la Barge for lunch. We met the boat at 3:45 in Trevoux. At 4:30pm, we left for Lyon, arriving at 8:00pm, while we were having dinner. There was light to medium rain throughout the day. Navigation Note: We side tied to a river boat that looked just like ours run by Travel Marvel, named Excellence Rhone, carrying mostly Aussies. They had been stuck in Lyon for 3 days instead of taking the Saone River portion of their cruise. The company that manages that boat would not allow their Captain to go under the low bridges that we had just gone under twice on our cruise. Their daily tours still took them to the area that they would have seen had they sailed the Saone, but they had longer bus rides to get there. Plus they missed 3 days of River cruising. The passengers were not happy about that "Corporate" Decision. Tauck left that decision up to our Captain to determine if we would clear the lowest bridges, which we did by 6" or so. Day 11 Tuesday - All Day in Lyon: In the morning we had a coach tour of the old City of Lyon. The tour included a walk thru the spectacular Basilica on the hill over looking Lyon. This was the prettiest church we have seen so far on this trip. Following that we did a walking tour of the portion of the Old City near the Saone River and then back to the boat for lunch. At 2:30, the Tour Directors led walking tours of areas in Lyon where there was good shopping. Our Cruise Director led 7 of us on a 1.5 hour bike ride along the Rhone River including a bike ride thru a large City Park with a zoo and lagoon. It was an easy ride, no hills. Day 12 Wednesday. On to Paris! The ride on the TGV was fast and smooth. After we arrived, we waited at the train station while members of our group went to the bathroom, which took over 30 minutes as there were limited facilities in the train station, (please people use the toilet on the train!) We then boarded buses for a 3+ hour tour of Paris. There were 2 stops for pictures. We arrived at the Intercontinental LeGrand Hotel around 5:30. We were given our room keys on the bus, which was nice. Dinner was on our own. There were plenty of good restaurants within 5 to 10 minutes walk from the hotel. There were some complaints about the hotel, but we had no problems. Paris hotel rooms tend to be smaller than in America. Day 13 Thursday - a full day in Paris: We started with a breakfast for the Tauck group in a separate dining room in the LeGrand, then it was off to one of 3 museums for a 90 minute guided tour. You had to pick between the Louvre, the Orangerie or the Orsay. Most people chose the Louvre. Tauck provided buses to and from the museums. You could stay longer at the Museum, which we did at the Louvre. Since we all went in as a group, we didn't get an individual ticket, so we had to stay in the Scully section of the Louvre where the Mona Lisa and lots of the big name exhibits were located. Once you leave that section of the Museum, you had to have a ticket to get into the other sections, which we didn't have. We then walked over to Notre Dame Cathedral, about a 20 minute walk. We got there about 12:30 and it only took 10 minutes to get in, free of course. Later in the day, that line was much longer. You'll spend about 30 minutes in the Cathedral. You can walk around the outside easily to view this amazing building. The line to walk up the towers was hours long and you had to buy a ticket. Tonight was the farewell dinner at the fabulous and famous Fouquet on the Champs Elysees. Day 14 Friday: Tauck provides transportation to the airport in small groups as everyone is going home on different days and times. We stayed 2 extra days in Paris. There is so much to see in Paris that you need the extra days to see the sights and dine in French style. We just walked along the streets and picked a restaurant that looked good, and they always were. Ken's Paris notes & tips: Buy tickets to the major attractions from the concierge at your hotel before you go to avoid long ticket lines. We found no vendors on the streets that sold tickets to attractions like you see in New York or Las Vegas. Get the audio guides at the attractions, they cost 5€ cash each set. Guided tours are great, but the schedule for those tours doesn't easily line up with where you are. It's hard to hit a time specific for these tours given Paris traffic and your need to see as much of Paris as you can in a few days. Buy tickets for the L'Open Paris Hop on Hop Off, a double decker sighting seeing bus that allows you to hop on & off. (http://www.paris.opentour.com/fr/) We paid 38€ each for a two day pass. The one day pass was 31€. The concierge sold us the vouchers. This company has 4 routes, which covers a very large amount of the City. The "Big Bus" is cheaper but has only one route and covers a lot less of the City. It is wonder watching this amazing City from above the street level on the open upper deck. Everywhere you look in Paris, there is something worth seeing. Bicycle rentals are available all over the City in on-street kiosk style bike racks. The system is called Velib. Just put in a credit card, open an account and then pick your bike from the racks. The cost is only 1€ per hour. The bikes have 3 speeds, hand brakes, headlines, taillights, baskets and locks. There are many bike lanes and paths in Paris and most bike riders use the busy Paris streets without a problem. http://www.tripadvisor.com/Travel-g187147-c183666/Paris:France:Velib.Bike.Sharing.System.In.Paris.html If you go to Versailles, take a 1/2 day private tour including transportation from your hotel. Your concierge will arrange it. The tour guide can skip the lines. It takes about 30 minutes to get out to Versailles. You can take the subway to Versailles on your own, but the ticket lines are hours long. Doing the Louvre on your own is a long day. The lines are daunting. Get a guide who can skip the ticket lines. Do the Seine River Cruise on your own. The boats leave the docks every 20 minutes or so, and tickets are cheap and you can just walk up and buy them. The docks are located near the Eiffel Tower at the Bateau Mouches. Don't be intimidated by all the tour buses. During the summer, the lights on the buildings take effect around 10pm, if you want to see Paris at night. The last boat goes out at 11pm. The tour takes 55 minutes. Other folks reported that the Seine Dinner River cruises were great. http://www.bateaux-mouches.fr/en Do walk along the Seine River walkways. There are lower walkways and upper walkways along the streets over looking the river. There is a section of the lower walkway where the City imports sand every summer to create beaches with lounge chairs, umbrellas, Volleyball courts, dance floors, misters - all free. The Parisians flock to this area on nice days. Feel free to email me with questions at kentennis@cox.net   Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
We just returned from an amazing land and River Cruise "The Blue Danube" onTauck's new river boat the MS Savor. We've done many ocean cruises including Oceania, Celebrity, RCL, and Holland and a previous land tour with ... Read More
We just returned from an amazing land and River Cruise "The Blue Danube" onTauck's new river boat the MS Savor. We've done many ocean cruises including Oceania, Celebrity, RCL, and Holland and a previous land tour with Tauck. The trip was outstanding due to to the following: We had never traveled on a river boat before but loved the idea of doing a land and river cruise all in one tour. The land portion was not an add on so everyone traveled the length of the trip enabling us to keep our fabulous tour directors throughout the trip (Sabina Straley, Karei Cernosed, Joeri Happel and on the ship Steve Marcant). The hotels provided by Tauck Kempinski Hotel Corvinus in Budapest and Marriott Prague were excellent. The breakfast as the Kempinski is the best buffet breakfast we've ever had including freshly made jams, bread etc. The MS Savor only the 2nd sailing and staff provided outstanding service. The ship is beautiful and we had a CAT 1 cabin which worked for us. We loved looking out the windows at water level. The bathroom is small but very well designed. The shower door can stay open inward while using the bathroom providing more room. We enjoyed the food on the boat although no where near the quality or choice that Oceania Cruises can offer. The Itinary is fabulous. We loved the big cities Budapest, Vienna and Prague as well as the smaller stops. We cannot have enough good things to say about Tauck. What made the trip so fabulous was the precision planning and their ability to respond to our every need plus the fabulous experiences that they were able to provide including: - Dinner at the Academia Club in Budapest with entertainment. Our best meal on the cruise (Veal). - Dinner in a Viennese palace. Setting was elegant but nothing special about the food. - Dinner in the princely Lobkowicz Palace. (worth going on the cruise for the historical history) Every stop on the river was met by fabulous tours, and pampering. The Tauck directors went above and beyond to assist us even when we had free time to walk around the towns on our own. They saved us so much time versus touring on our own having already purchased the tickets, arranged the guides and buses and providing experiences that we had options to attend. They even added activities once they learned what our interests were including a lecture on the ship on the Jewish History of Europe and a visit to an old Jewish Cemetary in Bratislava (conducted by Joeri) We also enjoyed using the new bikes on board riding along the river. I needed my bike adjusted and within minutes they had someone from the boat with tools to do the adjustments. Buses used by Tauck were not overcrowded. They had more transportation than needing making sure they were not filled to max so we would be comfortable. If traveling to this part of the world, I recommend this as a top of the line way to see the area.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
We have been on one previous Tauck Tour (Machu Picchu & Galapagos) and loved it. That was with a very small and physically active group. We decided to book a 12 day river cruise on the Rhine (Amsterdam to Basel) together with another ... Read More
We have been on one previous Tauck Tour (Machu Picchu & Galapagos) and loved it. That was with a very small and physically active group. We decided to book a 12 day river cruise on the Rhine (Amsterdam to Basel) together with another couple with whom we often travel. Overall, the trip was good but different from what we expected. First the many positives - The ship (MS Inspire) is brand new and very nicely appointed. The hot showers work great. Bed very comfy. The engines are very quiet and the ride is so smooth it was usually difficult to feel the ship was moving. Definitely no sea-sickness issues. As expected the Tauck staff was fantastic! All the guides (Bettina, Cindy and Mark) were very friendly, well informed and always helpful. Bettina is German and her narratives and background stories were very interesting and insightful. The wait staff and rest of the crew (Scylla not Tauck) were also always helpful and very pleasant. The other passengers (total 120) were mostly from the USA, very interesting and fun to get to know. The dominant age range was 65-75. Amsterdam is a great city to visit. Tauck choose the Grand Hotel Sofitel for our pre cruise night and it was very nice. Day 1 Board MS Inspire about 3:30 Day 2 Canal tour of Amsterdam (on small canal boat) was very nice. Visit the Rijksmuseum - excellent. Day 3 Nijmegen, Holland - 1 hr bus trip to De Hoge Veluwe National Park and Kroller-Muller Museum. Second largest Van Gogh collection in world. Beautiful grounds with many sculptures. Reboard in Dusseldorf - not much to see. Day 4 Bonn walking tour of Bonn not so good. Lunch at Grand Hotel Steigenberger was very good with excellent views of Rhine/City. Day 5 Cochem on the Mosel River is a beautiful little town. Visit Reichsburg Castle - excellent. Bus to Schlagkamp Winery in Senheimis for wine-tasting with cheese and cold cuts - Fun - but winemaker's talk was a bit too long! The views on both sides of the Mosel are beautiful with many vineyards. Day 6 Bernkastel a small very pretty town. Then a long bus ride to Luxembourg City. Most of the old walls/ruins have been destroyed/removed so it is a nice modern city. But we did not think there was all that much to see. Shopping good. Then went to the American Memorial Cemetery in Hamm, Luxembourg which is very moving & powerful. George Patton is buried here and most of the dead are from the Battle of Bulge. Day 7 Still in Bernkastel. Took bus to Trier, the oldest city in Germany. This was the best little city we visited so far! Has an enormous Roman Gate - Porta Nigra - and a great market square and cathedral. Day 8 Boppard is a very pretty little town with large Roman ruins. Fun to ride bikes through the town. Many half-timbered houses. Take the lift (Sisselbahn) to top of hill for good views of the "big bend" of Rhine. Boat then sailed to Oberwesel via the Middle Rhine Valley with many impressive castles and past Lorelei's narrows. Great views! Took bus to Castle Reichenstein which although dating to 11th century was all rebuilt about 100 years ago and is now much too commercial. Beautiful views from roof but the "medieval dinner" with lute music, etc. very "corny", very loud and too long. Day 9 Worms. Took bus to Heidelberg (about 1 hr). Heidelberg Castle was very impressive. Then lunch at Hotel Zum Ritter was very good. Brief walk in old town then bus to meet ship in Mannheim. Day 10 Plittersdorf. Bus to Baden-Baden (30 min) which is a lovely Spa town that dates from Roman times. Beautiful Casino and many upscale shops/baths/apothecaries but not too many historical sites. Day 11 Dock in Kehl, Germany across Rhine from France. 30 min bus to Strasbourg. Bus tour of more modern city which was excellent. Drove past Parc de l'Orangerie with many tree top storks. Then walking tour of old city was excellent. Notre Dame is amazing with its wonderful stained glass, and amazing astronomical clock and overall construction. Wonderful lunch at La Corde a Linge along the Ill in Petite, France. If you get back to the ship and the weather is nice grab a bike and ride toward the right. After the pavement ends a very nice gravel nature path goes for several miles with interesting fish, birds, etc. Day 12 Basel. Arrived on Sunday and most shops closed. The old town, Cathedral and town hall were interesting but really only takes about 1.5-2 hrs. Several good museums. But if you have an option take the bus ride to Lucerne. The ship passes through many(30+) locks which are quite interesting. Our personal favorite stops in order of preference: Strasbourg Amsterdam Trier Mosel River Vistas Middle Rhine River/Lorelei Vistas Heidelberg old town and Castle Cochem/Reichsburg Castle Baden-Baden Boppard De Hoge Veluwe National Park and Kroller-Muller Museum Bernkastel American Memorial Cemetery Hamm, Luxembourg Luxembourg City Basel Bonn Dusseldorf Negatives - The ship was very new - great - except the staff was also new with many trainees still in the learning phase. We expected great meals and they all did look beautiful - presentation was excellent - however, the taste was generally mediocre. Most people we spoke with were also disappointed with the quality of the food. Some meals had to be returned, which I have only done once before in my life. The soups were very good. The desserts were fair at best we mostly stuck to ice cream. But the food quality definitely improved as the trip progressed and perhaps the staff is rapidly getting better. The optional dinners in Arthur's were usually much better - eat there at least a few times. The staff was very attentive to everyone's special food needs. Internet access is free but very spotty and very slow. Our biggest disappointment was the relatively long bus rides to visit most of the interesting cities/towns. We mistakenly assumed that the ship would dock within beautiful cities along the Rhine and Mosel but this was not the case. Most days we took 45 min - 1 hour bus rides to the places we visited. Our tour also skipped Cologne and its cathedral which we would have loved to see. Not sure why since we stopped at several ports with little interest. Would rather have spent more time at the better stops. Also the first 3 days traveling in this direction are through industrial Rhine and not picturesque. Glad we went in the direction from Amsterdam to Basel or our trip would have gone from good to great to poor vis a vis the scenery and ended on a down note (although Amsterdam itself was excellent). Overall a good but not great trip. I think that with tweaking by Tauck and Scylla, it can become a much better trip. PS I wrote this review before “seeing the posting by “tonir1025” and it is amazing how similar our reviews are. And we both have gluten dietary issues!   Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
My husband and I and two other couples enjoyed The Taste of France Cruise on the Swiss Emerald May 4 through 12. We began in Paris with Tauck's included transfer from the airport to the hotel Intercontinental Le Grand. It is a lovely ... Read More
My husband and I and two other couples enjoyed The Taste of France Cruise on the Swiss Emerald May 4 through 12. We began in Paris with Tauck's included transfer from the airport to the hotel Intercontinental Le Grand. It is a lovely hotel right across the street from L'Opera. Our room was small (typically European) with large windows that opened in both the bedroom and bath. A huge buffet breakfast was included each morning. Wi-Fi and use of the internet was also included. We were part of the Taste of France sailing that featured many special food and wine activities. Included in Paris was a hands on cooking class. Our welcome dinner was at Fouquet's -- a lovely experience. Our Tauck Tour Managers Anne Peault, Veronika Finollo, and Lydia Adler were fabulous from the moment we met them. After a first class TGV train to Lyon, we boarded the newly refurbished Swiss Emerald. She is a beautiful small vessel. The common areas are elegant. Our small cabin was comfortable with a French balcony that made it seem larger. Our favorite part of the ship was the Sun Deck. The six of us spent every evening before dinner on that upper deck sipping cocktails watching the beautiful scenery and experiencing the locks. Food on board was excellent and I am known to have very high standards. There were many choices for all meals. The food in the small special restaurant, the Bistro was not as good as in the main dining room. Wines were also excellent. If we did not like one, we just asked for another. Service was great. After the first evening, the waiter always brought me the cocktail I ordered the first night. Note: the ship is owned and staffed by a Swiss company Scylla. They operate it to Tauck's standards. The included shore excursions in every port were super with a focus on food and wine. The special lunch and afternoon at the bull ranch in the Camargue was amazing. The unlimited chocolate tasting at Valrhona was a chocoholic's dream come true. The walk across the Pont du Gard and dinner on the terrace overlooking the ancient viaduct was really special as the cooking class at Scook. Absolutely everything was included. Yes, the experience was expensive, but worth every penny. Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
We booked a river cruise with Tauck based on reviews from friends and the new longship. Pluses: The MS Inspire is a beautiful ship. The lobby and common areas are beautiful and spotless. We booked a little late and the only room available ... Read More
We booked a river cruise with Tauck based on reviews from friends and the new longship. Pluses: The MS Inspire is a beautiful ship. The lobby and common areas are beautiful and spotless. We booked a little late and the only room available was a Cat. 3 on the bottom deck with the steps up to the large windows. We loved the room, but we heard very loud noises all night, as if toilets were being flushed right outside our door. Although this is a minus, I spoke to Steve, our tour director, and he immediately offered us another room on the middle deck. From them on we didn't hear anything and slept like babies. The Scylla crew was wonderful, very helpful and friendly. Steve was a terrific tour director. Carrie, Mark and Lacey were on top of their game, Minuses: This is not a cheap cruise, but we felt the food was maybe a B. We were expecting real gourmet fare, but it fell a little short. For example, we started out with local German wines, but by the last night we had Chilean and South African wines. We were not that far from France - really? The portions were on the small side which was fine for me but my husband could have gone for seconds, never offered. I will say that the soups were outstanding! And the staff was very accomodating to my gluten allergy, going out of their way to ensure I had GF bread and dessert. Now for the not so good news: except for the cathedral in Cologne, we should have skipped Dusseldorf and Cologne altogether. The cities are dirty and have no charm, the local guides were awful (Reiner) and we did not enjoy it at all. We had 2 off the boat excursions, and the meals were terrible at both places. Lunch took way too long and our pork was inedible, dinner at the castle was not much better. We joked that we were at Medeival Times with corney entertainment and bad tourist food. We made the most of it and actually had a good time with our new friends from the boat, but we should have toured the castle, had a drink and snack, and eaten on the boat - OR had a better caterer! Fortunately the stops improved after that - from Koblenz on the cities were charming. Strasbourg and Baden-Baden were wonderful, I wished we skipped the earlier stops and expanded those stops to a day each. The cruise during the middle Rhine was awesome, looking at all the castles. And Luzerne was the best of all - a great city, good shopping, and the trip up to Mt. Pilatus was the best day of the trip - up the mountain in cable cars, down on the cog wheel train - the most beautiful views. I think that people who take the cruise from Basel to Amsterdam will be very disappointed since the trip gets worse from south to north. Overall - given the premium price, I am not so sure we will book another river cruise with Tauck. Although we ldid love the benefits of river cruising - unpack once, see many cities, and enjoy the relaxing feeling of floating down a calm river. Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
We just returned from our 3rd Tauck trip and in the past we could never say a bad word about them - this trip sure changed that. The Tauck land portion was up to their usual standards, but unfortunately the Swiss Emerald was certainly ... Read More
We just returned from our 3rd Tauck trip and in the past we could never say a bad word about them - this trip sure changed that. The Tauck land portion was up to their usual standards, but unfortunately the Swiss Emerald was certainly not. The staff was very uncaring, and not at all what we expected. Our room wasn't cleaned several times during the cruise and when we complained the response was, in a word, surly. Service in the restaurant was very poor. Once they took your order you didn't see the staff again until the food was served, and then if there was anything you needed (like a 2nd glass of wine) you had to literally get up and go find someone. Also, the menu was very limited with only two choices of entree's most nights, no salads, and the only appetizer was of their choice. There are many other choices on the rivers in Europe but Tauck shouldn't be one of them.   Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
We stayed at their top level suite on the third level. The room was nice and decent amount of room. The tours and guides provided very good information and were overall very good. The staff took good care of us and our only real issue was ... Read More
We stayed at their top level suite on the third level. The room was nice and decent amount of room. The tours and guides provided very good information and were overall very good. The staff took good care of us and our only real issue was the food was just subpar and not what we expected at all. Tauk is promoted as a quality luxury river cruise but the food was very poor quality. We have cruised on Silver Seas, Crystal and we dine out at least two days a week with a wide palate. The quality of the ingredients was not fresh and it seemed to an attempt to cook more American dishes rather than using fresh local ingredients and cook more local fare. We had consistently poor lunch and dinner meals with one evening so bad that our entire table sent the main veal dish back as it was just plain bad with the meat looking grey in color. Salads listing grilled fresh artichoke hearts were straight out of the can uncooked and bland. We met many other guests complaining about the food. Many of those other guest ended up dining on the same boring chicken or cheap 1/2 inch steak as the other options were so bad. We plan on trying Tauk one more time as they offer a trip to the Holly land but if the food is this poor again then we will have to look for another option. Their food really was a shock as they promote themselves more like the Silver Seas for river cruises but so far they are barely above a Uniworld or Viking river cruise which compared to an ocean cruise line are more like cheap Celebrity cruise ships. One other complaint is that quality hotels and restaurants generally tell sick employees to go home and not work but at Tauk they had a tour person very sick with a cold whom got me and many other guests sick with a terrible cold during our precious vacation. That might be expected on a low end cruise line but I thought Tauk was higher quality? We plan on trying them out possibly one more time due to they offer a tour to the Holly land but if the food is this poor that will be our last Tauk cruise. Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
we returned home to the states after 14 days on the tauck swiss jewel, sailing from basel to amsterdam. we have over 100 days on both seabourn and silversea, and prior river cruises on the danube, the douro and others as well. we were ... Read More
we returned home to the states after 14 days on the tauck swiss jewel, sailing from basel to amsterdam. we have over 100 days on both seabourn and silversea, and prior river cruises on the danube, the douro and others as well. we were very pleased with this tauck cruise. we have never traveled with tauck before and did not know what to expect, but they were great. the shore excursions were led by excellent local guides, so that we left learning much about strasbourg, heidelburg, cochen, etc. most memorable were the visits to the museum near arnhem which has a recreation of the house to house battle in its basement. unforgettable. we liked going from south to north on this cruise. it's the way the rhine flows and the sailing was smooth and uneventful. we found the entire cruise to be flawless...and we don't often say that. we are now considering budapest to bucharest, which we have not done yet. Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
Writing this in our hotel overlooking the Danube before we leave for dinner at the the Academe Club (courtesy of Tauck) on the last night of our trip. By way of background, my wife and I have cruised usually twice a year since 2001. We ... Read More
Writing this in our hotel overlooking the Danube before we leave for dinner at the the Academe Club (courtesy of Tauck) on the last night of our trip. By way of background, my wife and I have cruised usually twice a year since 2001. We have sailed with Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, and Windstar before this trip. We are from Texas and so naturally have hit the Caribbean a lot, but we have also been to Tahiti (Windstar) and the Galapagos (Celebrity). We also done a driving tour through Iceland (Nordic Vistor) last year. This was our first River Cruise and my first time to Europe (my wife had been here 40 years ago with her family). We chose Tauck based on a recommendation from a former travel agent as well as recommendations from passengers on a Windstar cruise on our most recent cruise to the BVI. Little did we know that we are probably hooked for life. For those that are not familar with river cruising on the Danube, there are numerous crusie lines that operate here, including Viking, Uniworld, AMA, etc. The boats are very similar overall style, being very long with a maximum of four decks to allow the boat to clear some of the lower bridges in the upper part of the Danube (literally going into the Wachau valley, you could lay on a lounge chair on the top deck and touch the bottom of a bridge.) In several ports, the boats tie up next to each other, so you have the opportunity to walk through the lobbies of the other boats on the way to and from shore. So from a cursory glance, they look the same. So, the simple question - if they all have basically the same boats and go to the same ports (in our case, Passau, Dirstein, Bratislava, and Budapest), why spend the extra money for Tauck. The answers are as follows: 1) All inclusive - the only add on was your bar bill at happy hour and our understanding is that Tauck is moving to 100% inclusive next year. All our on shore tours, dinners (see below), etc. were included. 2) Organization - each city offered a tour with a local guide in the morning and then free time to shop and tour on your. All of our guides were excellent and include many of their personal experiences living the city. Our guide this morning told us of her father's participation in the 1956 Hungarian Uprising, for which he was imprisoned for over six years. 3) Extras - in our first night in Prague, they sponsored a tour and dinner at the Lefcowicz palace overlooking Prage. In Vienna, we had a reception at the Palla Palavicci next to the Hapsburg Palace, serenade by 16 members of the Viennese orchestra and a young lady from the opera. Seranaded today at the end our tour of the Budapest opera house. IT IS THESE EXCLUSIVES THAT REALLY SET TAUCK APART. 4) Directors - we had three tour directors for 120 people, plus a cruise director while on board. All very experieced, which made they whole experience seamless I could go on, but I have to get ready for dinner. In short, try them - you will not go back to any other cruise line!!! Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
We were not going to travel this spring! we had taken a driving adventure this winter and drove 9,000 miles and decided to stay home. But our friends were doing another Tauck river cruise and at the last minute one couple was unable to go ... Read More
We were not going to travel this spring! we had taken a driving adventure this winter and drove 9,000 miles and decided to stay home. But our friends were doing another Tauck river cruise and at the last minute one couple was unable to go due to illness and we decided, with twenty four hours notice to take their place. I couldn't believe the travel agent was able to get everything booked and ready to go in that short of time, much less that we managed to pull it together on our end! The joy of being retired. When we arrived at the airport the ticket agent said the Brussels baggage handlers were on strike so we best not try to check any luggage. I ran to the gift shop and bought a small bag and we threw open our suitcase and took the bare necessities only. We called our daughter to come pick up our bag and flew off to Chicago and on to Brussels. we arrived in Prague late the next night. We joined our group one day late at the Marriott in Prague. right from the start the trip was just as wonderful as our previous Tauck river cruise through Belgium and Holland. The accommodations on the boat were fabulous, thanks to the fact that our friends who couldn't go had booked a suite! The food was very good and even excellent at times. But most of all, we so appreciated the knowledgeable Tauck guides who informed us of the history of everything before we even saw it. now you must understand, we didn't even know where we were going! We knew we were flying into to Prague and out of Budapest but that was it! we trusted our friends and mostly we trusted Tauck! We had learned the basic history of the Danube countries in school but we really knew so little! it was almost embarrassing to be so naive on the Hapsburg Empire and the rich and deep history of the Jewish people in Europe. The entire trip was beautiful and educational. There wasn't a day that seemed repetitive or boring in any way! the local guides that were hired to give us walking tours of each town were also excellent and very knowledgeable. The only problem we had with any guides was an occasional issue with understanding their English. Vienna was probably my favorite city, mostly because of the fabulous music we were treated to. Prague and Budapest were both wonderful surprises as we had such little expectations. But we really loved sailing on the Danube and stopping at small towns along the way. it was a beautiful and memorable trip that I am very glad we were able to do! Tauck took very good care of us the whole way and made the trip seem easy. The hotels they put us in we're top notch and every detail was taken care of. the old adage, "You get what you pay for," was really true. We only hope we are able to do many trips with Tauck! Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
We had a great time on this Tauck River Cruise. The whole intent of this trip was to go to Holland to see the flowers in the spring. We decided to add a river cruise to our trip. We planned our trip to arrive 3 days prior to the cruise ... Read More
We had a great time on this Tauck River Cruise. The whole intent of this trip was to go to Holland to see the flowers in the spring. We decided to add a river cruise to our trip. We planned our trip to arrive 3 days prior to the cruise and booked our own hotel and flight. Much to our surprise, Tauck arranged for our transfer from the airport to our hotel. This was just the first instance of exceptional service that we received. After our 3 days pre-cruise, we arranged for a taxi to take us to the cruise port. The Swiss Sapphire is a beautiful ship. The decor was very classy without a lot of glitz. Upon check in we were told to wait in the lounge where a light lunch was being served. After a short wait our room was ready and we were shown to it. The room was small but certainly livable. We had a small balcony that you could put one foot on and lean out the sliding glass door but not any bigger than that. There was plenty of storage and our suitcases fit under the bed. The group areas of the ship consisted of the lounge, lido, dining room and the outside decks. The lounge had a piano player every night who was fantastic. Most of our time was spent there. Every night there would be a briefing on the next days events. The dining room had a mix of tables for 4 or 6 and was open seating for all meals. Lunches were buffet with dinners being 4 course meals with choices of meat, fish or vegetarian every night. You could also choose steak or chicken instead during dinners. Breakfasts were buffet also but you could order eggs any style or pancakes or waffles too. The lido was in the rear of the ship and had a delicious cappucino machine and cookies available all the time. During the morning there was continental breakfast available. At lunch one of the chefs made stir fry but there was also a panini machine and salad and soup in the lido. Dinner was italian but it had to be reserved and we didn't experience it. The staff was truly wonderful. The food was consistently very good to excellent. Every stop we had private local guides take us to the city and tell us about it. The guides communicated through a box everyone wore with an earpiece. They worked very well. The bus drivers were amazing and drove us through areas that a bus shouldn't have fit but did. The Tauck guides kept everyone organized and really did an exceptional job. Most nights there was some kind of outside entertainment in the lounge like a German band or string quartet. There were also several nights spent on excursions. We had booked the same hotel Tauck uses for after the cruise by ourselves. We were driven there in a bus with everyone who had booked through Tauck. After our 3 days post cruise we were again taken to the airport by a Tauck driver. There were so many extras that were included and unexpected it is impossible to list them. Examples include cookies on the bus when leaving a city, water bottles in the lounge for everyone to take with them on excursions and special meals in local restaurants. I could not recommend Tauck more. This was our first organized tour although we have taken many ocean cruises. We would not hesitate to take a trip with them again. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
Normally we are independent travelers. Even on cruises we do the ports on our own or hire a private guide. This was our first experience where the tours were inclusive. We chose this method as it was the most efficient way to see many ... Read More
Normally we are independent travelers. Even on cruises we do the ports on our own or hire a private guide. This was our first experience where the tours were inclusive. We chose this method as it was the most efficient way to see many countries that would have been less accessible on our own, plus doing the river cruise down the Danube covered Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania, all of the Eastern European countries we had the strongest interests in. Overall we were glad for the mode of travel we chose for this particular trip, however I don't think we would do it again. Although the tours and guides were very well done and informative (with some lovely surprises in between), being forced to travel enmasse with a large group of folks was not appealing in the long run. In particular the demographics on this particular cruise were much older than we expected and we did not anticipate the slow pace of travel. Also, a lot of the tours included events we would never have chosen on our own (particularly shopping excursions) so some time was wasted in our opinion. On the positive side, the MS Treasures was a beautiful cruiser, the staff was friendly, efficient and accommodating and the food was exceptional. Although at the end of the cruise we missed a day on the river due to the Danube being too shallow to continue on, Tauck made an impressive turn about to keep everything on schedule by shuffling buses and hotels without a hitch. Tauck is a very impressive company and does an excellent job for what their intended purpose is. They gave us an opportunity to see a difficult part of the world in comfort and ease. If you are still very agile and motivated, however, this type of tours may be a bit too stodgy. We enjoyed everyone we met as they were all well traveled and interesting, we just needed to move faster! May try Tauck again down the road when we are looking for a more leisurely experience. Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
This was my second trip with Tauck and my wife's third. Choosing an extra day in Brussels pre-trip and one in Amsterdam at the end gave us just the right amount of time to get ready for the trip and ready to renter the real world. ... Read More
This was my second trip with Tauck and my wife's third. Choosing an extra day in Brussels pre-trip and one in Amsterdam at the end gave us just the right amount of time to get ready for the trip and ready to renter the real world. Dealing with the airlines misdirection of her suitcase, the Tauck people managed to get it to the boat on sailing day. Many thanks to them for the assistance. We thought the boat was excellent - service, food, accommodations were all just what was expected. The tour organized excursions were well done with the exception of getting lost on the way to the Kinderdijk. There also was some confusion on the location of drop off and time of pick up in Haalem. There was a good balance in time on tour and free time. I chose the Ghent option to view the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb. My wife went to Brugges. She was a bit disconcerted in the slow pace of the tour and that not enough time was spent along the canals and old town. Maastricht was a highlight in that we visited the American War Cemetery on July 4th. Lunch at Chateau Neercanne was delightful. We found the framed memorial of he signers of the EU treaty which took place there. We actually sailed past Venlo to dock in Cuijk - a delightful little town with an interesting art exhibition mixed in and around the cemetery behind the church. The Floriade was exceptional to see. We had the whole day there and then took a back road through rose fields on the way back to the ship. The Easter Island statue along the way had everyone stumped, but later research showed it to be in memory of Jacob Roggeveen, a Dutch explorer who discovered and named it. The asparagus statue was interesting. In Arnhem we docked directly in front of the bridge discussed in the Cornelius Ryan book. We chose the visit to De Hoge Velue National Park and the excellent Kroller-Muller museum and its collection of Van Gogh paintings. The cheese farm and Kinderdijk were excellent visits, with the exception of getting lost. The sand dunes of the North Seas were totally unexpected and the visit to the Delft factory very interesting. We then sailed into Amsterdam overnight and arrived in port under a rainbow. Great view approaching the city. We chose Haarlem and the Franz Hall Museum which we enjoyed, but the confusion on bus locations cut time off our visit. The afternoon was spend wondering Amsterdam and the Anne Frank with presale tickets. If you plan to visit the Anne Frank house, make reservations over the Internet way before you go. Tickets are hard to come by an the line never shrinks. The early morning trip to Aalsmeer flower market was amazing. It is worth the effort to get up early. The Rijksmuseum and canal cruise are great. We chose to stay in that area to visit the Van Gogh museum which is just down the street and that area is a far from the ship as you need to go in Amsterdam. The walk back to the ship would be about 20 minutes without stopping. The extra day at the Sofitel went well for us, but some of our companions had issues getting there from the ship - the coordination of the shuttles left something to be desired. Airport transfers to the hotel the next day went perfectly. Overall the scope, pace and excursions of the trip was excellent and we realize this was a special itinerary for the Floriade this year. However, the normally excellent coordination between guests and staff was a bit lacking. Some guides had never been to some of the stops, times and places were not precise between the three coaches, and getting lost, while an adventure, should have not taken place. Highlights: Finding the Willow Man inside he Floriade was a real treat. Maastricht is a hidden gem which we absolutely fell in love with. The American war cemetary on July 4th was very moving. Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
We took a Tauck river cruise from Prague to Budapest on the Swiss Jewel. While this is a review of that cruise, we have a special focus. Gale has limited mobility, and the majority of the off-boat tours were done with her in a transport ... Read More
We took a Tauck river cruise from Prague to Budapest on the Swiss Jewel. While this is a review of that cruise, we have a special focus. Gale has limited mobility, and the majority of the off-boat tours were done with her in a transport chair pushed by her husband Bob. The chair has a thick cushion, which was critical for comfort. It has 12" foam wheels in the rear and 6" removable wheels in front. It collapses easily, and was stored in the reception area of the boat. Gale was able to move easily throughout the boat using her Canadian crutch, and took advantage of the elevator to get to the lounge and dining area. She also had to walk on and-off the boat, since the gang-plank was too narrow and steep for the chair. Also, there were times when two or three boats were docked next to each other, and this required going through (or up and over) one or two boats. The busses also have 4-to-6 steps, and the seats are not so easy to get into and-out of. That said, the trip was a wonderful experience, and the cobblestones the price of admission. Here is a non-typical tourist view. Our reviews of private time in Prague, the hotel, and two great restaurants (Imperial and Amade) are on TripAdvisor. Prague: The Hradcany Castle district has some of the worst cobblestones seen, and the walk was difficult. However, by cheating a bit and walking on the grass we were able to keep up with the tour. Also, the (wonderful) Tauck staff made arrangements all along the way for us to go in side doors to hidden elevators. Because of this, we missed very little of the tours. The Tauck dinner at the Lobkowicz Palace the first full day of the trip foreshadowed the special treatment we were to get throughout the cruise. The Lobkowiczes fled Prague just before WWII and did not return until the Soviet Union collapsed in 1989. The current scion, Boston born and bred, hosted the wine reception with a 40 minute review of the palace's history, followed by a private tour of the museum, followed by a private dinner in the Palace. If in Prague, do not miss this site. The third day of the trip was a killer. Bags packed by 7 AM, three-hour bus trip to Regensburg Germany, long tour over rough streets, boarding the boat and unpacking, dinner, and collapsing in bed late. Day was a blur, so no memory of Regensburg to share. We woke up in Passau, and in spite of the hills and cobblestones had a good touring day. These stones were smaller and flatter, and there was an HP entrance to the cathedral. Our small group tours with some great local guides were followed by on-board Austrian entertainment. Passau was in West Germany, so did not have the grayness we would see in areas controlled by the Soviets. Ironically, its Southern location, right on the Austrian border and next to Czechoslovakia, meant it was ignored and avoided much of the Westernization that the rest of Germany experienced. Tour day five was supposed to be a tour of Salzburg, but it was cold and very rainy. Given the long bus ride to and from Salzburg, she who would have to sit in the chair through all the rain made the right choice and stayed on the boat. The other passengers said that, given the rain and the crowds, we did not miss much. The next day was a delight, as the boat moved through the beautiful Wachau Valley to Dernstein -- a beautiful little town on the banks of the Danube. The countryside included terraced vineyards, ancient buildings, quaint villages, and beautiful post-rain lighting. The walk from the boat up to Dernstein was steep, and pushing the chair up the incline was a lung busting adventure. But the tour by another delightful local guide was worth it. The local Augustinian monastery was human-sized, and it (and the surrounding sights) fascinating to see and hear about. The delights of Vienna are well known, and need not be written about here. The city center is a 20-30 minute bus trip from the boat, and all touring sites are fairly easy to get to and around with the chair. Of note, Tauck had another of its private dinners, near where those horses dance, with spectacular music, opera, and ballet as entertainment. Oh, my! On the afternoon of the 2nd day in Vienna we departed for Bratislava. Upon arrival in the morning, we started with a riveting talk on life in Slovakia from the late 30's on by the head of the local tour guides. Bratislava was a nice surprise -- interesting to see and very easy to see. Still cobblestones, but the smaller, flat-topped ones for the most part. The cruise portion ended in Budapest. Can we tell you what hell Buda is for both parties riding and pushing a wheelchair? Some parts are wheelchair accessible, but most of the tourist areas feel like they left the rubble from the WWII bombings in place and expect people to deal with it. Pest, on the other hand, is very easy to move about. Not only flatter and smoother, but more accommodations for chairs. From the Marriott hotel in Pest, we had the benefits of the great view of the river and the hills of Buda, along with the ease of moving about the modern Pest. The visit to the State Opera House (requires two short sets of stairs before access to the elevator) ended with another Tauck treat -- beautiful music and opera from balconies at the top of the staircase. Our farewell dinner had, yes, more wonderful music as part of the Tauck treat. Lessons learned: it may not take a village, but it takes a boat-load of people to make for a wonderful trip. There was a large crew to keep the boat running, the food cooking, and the pusher's scotch glass full. There were four Tauck staff who managed all the events, and gave some wonderful and knowledgeable lectures on the boat and busses which enhanced all aspects of the trip. There were a different set of local guides at each stop, who usually gave very knowledgeable and fun tours. All told, the staff made a nice trip a wonderful trip. We made some friends on the trip among the other guests, and will keep in touch with them. But, all helped out at different points and none felt we slowed them down. When the front wheels of the chair got jammed going over a curb, someone was there to pull us out. When Gale was too tired to climb the steps, several lifted the chair and carried it down. When the view was blocked, people moved automatically to allow the chair through. Among the joys of the trip was the sad realization that we saw a few others in chairs, and a few struggling with dual crutches over the stones. What was a temporary problem for us must be a daily challenge for the residents. Thanks to Tauck for taking a risk and letting us go. Note that the other cruise companies would not accept chairs. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
After 5 days in Paris pre-cruise, we landed in Amsterdam on an overcast, rainy day but the weather got better as the holiday went on. Our Tauck representative was in Arrivals waiting for us and within minutes he had us aboard a Tauck ... Read More
After 5 days in Paris pre-cruise, we landed in Amsterdam on an overcast, rainy day but the weather got better as the holiday went on. Our Tauck representative was in Arrivals waiting for us and within minutes he had us aboard a Tauck coach which we would find out later would be one of three Tauck coaches that followed the boat to the Austrian border and on our way to the MS Treasures. On arrival at the dock we were met with umbrellas and escorted aboard. It only took a few minutes for our paperwork to be completed and we were shown our cabin 209 on Ruby deck. Now I have to admit that before we booked our cruise the only thing that worried us was the size of the cabin 150sq ft. Our fears were misplaced. The cabin is so well designed that its size became irrelevant. There is a huge amount of storage space and the bags fit nicely under the bed. The bathroom is beautifully appointed with the most modern equipment but to be fair it is only a one person at a time bathroom. During our first meeting with the Tauck staff on board it was explained to everyone that Tauck is a Tour company and not a river boat company. The ship is owned and crewed by Scylla. They have some 17 boats cruising the rivers of Europe and 4 of those have been designed to accommodate the wishes of Tauck. There were only 4 Tauck staff on board our cruise director, Steve and 3 Tour Directors, Nicole, Glorija and Jeremy. The big advantage of having one tour director for every 30 or so passengers would become very apparent in the days to come. We discovered that there were 106 passengers, a little under the maximum capacity of 118, made up of 88 from the U.S. 2 from Bermuda, 4 from NZ, 6 from Canada and 6 of us from Australia. From our first outing to our last you could go out with the guides or if you preferred, as some did, you could stay onboard the boat as it relocated from time to time. Having 3 tour directors as well as a cruise director must give Tauck a huge edge over those companies that dont. We never felt left out of any activity nor could we possibly get lost as our TDs appeared to be everywhere with anything you needed. Tauck employ the finest local guides at every port of call on the rivers. They all spoke perfect English, had a wealth of knowledge yet communicated to us in a light and warm manner. The voxes we used were light and easy to use and it enabled us to stop for a photo opportunity and still listen to your guide. There were excursions everyday, sometimes two and if we needed a coach to take us up a mountain to see a castle or cathedral the Tauck coaches would be waiting for us. We got to know the 3 drivers very well and it was sad to see them leave us after we crossed the border into Austria. It is very difficult to single out any particular excursion as being the best because they were all professionally handled but the night at the Palais Pallavicini for our dinner and concert was simply amazing. This is Taucks signature evening on the cruise and I believe its what makes Tauck stand apart from its competitors. Were not foodies but we never had a meal onboard that was not to our liking. The choices at all meals were extensive so youd have to be pretty picky not to find something you liked. Breakfast and lunch were primarily buffet style but at breakfast there was the egg station where you could have your eggs as you desired and at lunch there was always a chefs suggestion on the menu. Dinner was always a la carte and the choices varied every evening. If you wanted lighter fare or an intimate dinner there was the Lido at the stern of the boat. We and a couple of our new found friends ate one evening in the Lido and it was like having a private dinner on a yacht. In all we rated the food as top class. On one occasion we were to all eat in town and Tauck gave us each 20 euros for our lunch. That was a huge surprise. Now we do know a bit about wine and we were delighted to find that we were served different wines every night. We were eager to taste the differences from the wines we have in Australia and although I can say I didnt fall in love with every wine we drank we did find significant differences in all the local wines and came home very happy for the experience. Taucks choices were excellent. At the end of the cruise wed made many new friends and it was sad to say goodbye but Tauck took us to the Hotel and the next morning ensured we got to the airport. This type of service will be hard to match in the future. There are a number of companies that claim to be all inclusive but do they do this? They included a free nights accommodation at the 5 star Le Meridien in Budapest because we were first time travellers. You received 2 free nights if you were a frequent Tauck traveller. Tauck includes all gratuities for everyone. They include all transfers whether you booked your air with them or not. You can drink all the non-alcoholic drinks you like all day every day absolutely free. They even have a fridge in your cabin that they stock with your drink requirements and re-stock it every day. You can drink all the beer you want at lunch and dinner and all the wine you want at dinner. In fact if you didnt want a pre-dinner drink then your bill at the end of the trip would have been zero. If you feel like a snack in the afternoons they will provide you with your choice of freshly baked pretzels or a plate of cheeses and fruit or a plate of sweet cakes or even a big bowl of ice cream all included and delivered to you anywhere on the boat. Tauck provided us regularly with what they call a Tauck lagniappe (a Tauck surprise). We had many surprises over the course of our trip my favourite being a Gondola ride over the vineyards and country side of Rudesheim. Another was a wine tasting in a cellar in Rothenberg. Now on this occasion a couple of people became claustrophobic in the cellar and had to leave and to their surprise one of our ever present TDs appeared to give them each 5 euros so that they could enjoy a glass of wine upstairs and much more. The one incident that will always stick in my mind as the ultimate in all inclusive was after an organ recital in Passau a lot needed to go to the toilet. In Europe most public toilets require a 50cent coin. Instead of having to find one in your pocket or purse a lovely Tauck TD was standing there giving out 50cent coins. Now thats all inclusive service. We found Tauck to be the most professional company weve ever travelled with and the staff on board Treasures was faultless. It may take us 3 or 4 years to save up enough to visit Europe again and if we do well certainly go with Tauck again. They are simply the best. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
My first river cruise, but have traveled a lot with Tauck, so I had the Tauck high quality/service expectations going into it, and they were met. They have a quality crew partner in Scylla and to the casual observer they seemed to work ... Read More
My first river cruise, but have traveled a lot with Tauck, so I had the Tauck high quality/service expectations going into it, and they were met. They have a quality crew partner in Scylla and to the casual observer they seemed to work well together. I've only been on a few small-ship cruises, but felt that the cabin size and storage space were more than adequate (though I travel with only a 22" suitcase and a backpack). The shower was excellent--good water pressure and no sharp edges on which to bang elbows. Good ventilation, too; could wash out "smalls" in the morning and they'd be dry by the end of the day. Tour was Tauck first class. Nice shore excursions most days, always with the option of staying on the ship, and often with the option to either return to the ship for lunch after a morning tour, stay in town for lunch and return at around 3, or even to head back into town for a quick visit after lunch. Very accommodating and flexible, with their own coaches (with bathrooms) and great drivers. My Highlights: Trip to WWII cemetery in Luxembourg, Baden Baden--nice sized town but not overwhelming, the amazing vineyards along the Mosel, the smaller towns along the Mosel (Boppard, Cochem, Bernkastel), the fact that there were no add-on charges, excellent food with wine included at dinner. Quality of Vox sound box. Tips/Notes: Fun to eat at least one meal back in the Lido bar; smaller, more intimate, able to see a lot off the stern. This ship will be moving to France for cruises there starting in the fall, and this tour will get the newest ship in the fleet. Some of the Scylla crew will join the new ship, some go w/the Emerald Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
We had waited a long time for our special Tauck River Cruise having booked many months in advance and having reviewed on-line brochures for most of the main river cruise lines. Our departure was a smooth one and the flight was without ... Read More
We had waited a long time for our special Tauck River Cruise having booked many months in advance and having reviewed on-line brochures for most of the main river cruise lines. Our departure was a smooth one and the flight was without problems (except for major delays passing through security in Frankfurt). We arrived in Budapest on a clear, sunny day, collected our luggage and looked for the Tauck representative who was meeting us (even though we were arriving a day ahead of the official beginning of our tour and staying at a non-tour hotel for one night. There he was holding a sign with our name on it. He walked us and 2 other couples on our cruise to the private shuttle to take us to our hotels. We walked our luggage the short distance to the Intercontinental hotel the next morning thinking that we would check the luggage and check in later in the day. Nope - Tour Directors were already at their table in the lobby; we were greeted with friendly words and smiles, checked in and had our luggage in our room in about 10 minutes. Wow - became our favorite word for the attitudes, knowledge and friendliness of the Tour Directors for the next 12 days. We had an amazing Welcome Dinner at the Budapest Academy of Sciences the first evening, toured Pest and Buda via buses with Tour Directors in charge and local guides at some places (Opera House, Castle Hill). On the second day, we boarded the boat mid-afternoon, were welcomed on board by Cruise Direct Lynn Hardcastle, provided our room keys and found our luggage already in our cabin. We were met by our room steward, Giorgio, unpacked and made our way to the lounge for orientation by the Captain and staff. The Captain was a hoot - so clever and funny and visible throughout the trip. We had a wonderful welcome reception and dinner that included beautifully presented full course meal with wine flowing throughout dinner (complimentary every evening during dinner).A full description would be too long to include here, so I'll just include the highlights. The beauty of Budapest and then the countryside as we cruised away was just the beginning of a lovely way to see some of the best parts of 4 countries (Hungary, Austria, Germany, and Czech Republic). The excitement (that never waned) of watching the Captain take us safely through multiple locks with little room to spare at times was one of the new experiences. Sailing through the Wachau Valley after visiting lovely Durstein was spectacular, especially when we passed the Melk Abbey. Surprise stop for coffee and local pastries on the only slightly rainy day that we encountered in Bratislava was so much fun and much appreciated. Fantasizing about Julie Andrews running across the meadows in the Austrian Alps as we passed the meadows on our way to Salzburg and seeing the fountain where Maria played with the Trapp children in the Mirabel Gardens and visiting Mozart's birthplace in Salzburg. Two days in Vienna, the organ concert in Passau's magnificent St. Stephen's Cathedral, sausage lunch in Regensburg are just a few of our special memories. But most important was the way we were treated all the time and by everyone on the staff. The Tour Directors - David Lane, Jeremy Shifferly and Fero Bakos - were incredible. They made a great team - knowledgeable and presenting great lectures in the lounge, problem solving every day with ease and grace, telling stories while in transit to inform us and pass the time while traveling. We felt like we were leaving good friends when we said good-by. Lynn and her staff on the boat were always ready with something to drink and a cool towel when we returned to the boat after excursions, reception desk staff were friendly and always ready to meet needs, cabin was always clean and bathroom sparkling when we returned to it each day. Bartenders learned our favorite drink quickly and within a day of boarding and called us by name (especially, my DH and how he likes his martinis). Food was plentiful and good - a bit on the high fat/too much salt side for us, but delicious most of the time. Buffets in the AM and for some lunches were presented beautifully and more than ample. Highlights were the welcome dinner and farewell dinner. Lighter food was available in the Lido Bar area but we didn't find it to our taste. Although we certainly loved the coffee/ hot chocolate machine!Entertainment was 'folkloric' - several times local entertainers were brought onboard to present local music and dances and well appreciated by all. One night, there was a hilarious staff show featuring the captain and one of the reception staff as an elderly couple getting into a bed (made with sundeck lounges and bedding)...very funny!! Local guides used microphones and each guest had an Audio-vox with headphone. We loved all of the guides that we had (guests were divided into 3-4 groups with one guide to a group) except one who walked and talked too fast for some of the guests. Guides were s so proud of their hometowns and very knowledgeable about the history and relevant sights. Excursions were very interesting and there was adequate time to take the guided walk and also have some free time to explore on our own. We learned so much - I feel like I've just passed a course in Central European history. And the pictures!! I can't even count how many I took - there was something that screamed for a picture to be taken at every turn. What a beautiful part of Europe. Disembarkation was easy and well organized. We left our luggage in the hallway outside of our room and next saw it in our room in Prague. Our tour ended with a bus ride to Prague from Regensburg and two days at the Prague Marriott (we added an additional day at that end as well so we had 3 full days to see and learn to love this city in the Czech Republic. Two Tauck tours and a private tour that we arranged for our extra day (plus an orientation walk by our Tour Director, Fero, when we arrived in Prague). On our day of departure, we were told to leave our luggage in our room and come down to the lobby at 7:30 AM to meet our ride to the airport. The bellman at the hotel had a list of times people were leaving and automatically went to the room and had our luggage in the lobby before the car came. We had a last look at Prague as we drove to the airport. As we got out of the car, we were met by a Tauck representative with a cart who walked us to the correct line for checking baggage. Our last works were - They think of everything!! Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
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