We chose this trip because the Budapest/Amsterdam river cruise was a bucket list item and this particular cruise was advertised in our local paper at a considerable discount. Travel Marvel is not regarded as a luxury line but we certainly ... Read More
We chose this trip because the Budapest/Amsterdam river cruise was a bucket list item and this particular cruise was advertised in our local paper at a considerable discount. Travel Marvel is not regarded as a luxury line but we certainly had no complaints about anything on this ship. Our tour departed from Budapest on 30 April and arrived in Amsterdam on 14 May.
We arrived in Budapest two days early to allow for any flight delays and to have a look around and there is plenty there to keep anyone amused.
Embarkation, however, posed one challenge: We were given an address: Mahart International passenger Port, Pier 5 and this caused difficulty for our taxi driver as "Mahart" appears regularly along a fair stretch of the riverfront and the ports are not in order 1,2,3. After a long scenic drive searching we 'phoned Travel Marvel's ship 'phone and a Hungarian speaking employee put our driver straight. Turns out it was so close to our Hotel we could have walked there. Question?? Why did the address not add the simple direction "200 metres South of Liberty Bridge"?
Apart from that embarkation was simple. We just walked on board with our cases and paperwork and were pointed towards our cabin.
The cabin was on the top deck and compact but comfortable with a double bed, mirrored shelf which doubled as a writing desk at the foot of the bed, two side-chests and a fridge and T.V. in one corner. The two French doors could be opened so that although there was no balcony there was an uninterrupted view of the outside. The bathroom was compact with a shower enclosure, toilet and sink plus the usual noisy vacuum toilet. The wardrobes were in the entrance and were more than adequate. Everything was spotless and Didik, our Indonesian cabin steward, kept it that way.
The ship itself is compact with only 149 passengers and all the public areas are clean and well presented. The forward lounge has a small dance floor, musician’s stage, enough seating for everyone and, of course, a compact bar with enough booze choices to keep the most dedicated drinker happy. Beer and wine are complimentary with meals and there are two coffee machines outside the dining room dispensing quite respectable coffee at all hours
Food is a highlight. There are 8 chefs on board including one who whips up omelettes to order at breakfast. I also learned that the ship reprovisions every couple of days so that everything is as fresh as possible. As Willem, the Hotel Manager, said “only the best for our guests”.
Breakfast is buffet style with cereals, fruit, pastries, muesli, salad and hot dishes on offer. The hot food included the best scrambled eggs I have seen at a buffet and they keep the quantities small with regular top-ups to avoid “tired” food. There is also a selection of pastries and coffee served in the lounge for early and late risers.
Morning and afternoon tea are served in the lounge – sandwiches, cakes, soup and a variety of local delicacies – too easy to pile on the kilos if you lack self-discipline.
Lunch has three options – hot and cold buffet or special orders like pizzas in the dining room or lighter offerings – soup, sandwiches and cakes in the lounge. This was a popular option as three big meals a day is a bit much for many of us.
Dinner is a four course affair with soup, entrée, mains and sweets served by wasitcoated and bow tied waiters and most of us dressed up a bit for this although there was no formal requirement to. Local dishes from the various regions we passed through featured regularly. Boryana, the wine waitress, circled the room demonstrating amazing tray juggling skills while dispensing local wines, beers and special requests and managed to keep everyone’s thirst satisfied. The wait staff were almost all Romanians and were, without exception, efficient, fast and, as they got to know us better, friendly and engaging without becoming overly familiar. The service generally was on a par with the best I have experienced anywhere.
Cheri Coll, our cruise director was a Scottish gem and all the shore excursions ran like clockwork. The coaches were always spotless, on time and crewed by a driver and local English speaking guide, always with one coach and guide designated as “gentle walkers” for those with limited mobility. P.A. announcements and the daily guide ensured everyone knew the “all-aboard” times and a simple system of boarding passes with the cabin numbers on them ensured that the reception staff knew when everyone was back. A useful toy on the tours was the “Vox Box” – a compact listening device which enabled the guide to talk to us via headsets without the need to yell above the general noise.
Entertainment on board was limited – these are small boats so no singing and dancing extravaganzas – just a talented keyboard player with his synthesizer and electronic piano providing background music. As we passed through the Maine/Danube canal we were also entertained by visiting “lock-hoppers” who boarded at the locks, did their thing then hopped off at another lock, presumably getting back home the same way. These included a Bavarian trio, a couple of singers and one singing duo and a glass blower.
For people who like their electronic gizmos and social media there are two guest computers with internet connections available and the ship’s WiFi which was, like all ship WiFis, a bit hit and miss as to speed and availability. It didn’t worry us but if you really must have a fast and reliable connection at all times it would be best to arrange your own.
Disembarkation was easy. Passengers placed coloured tags on their bags according to which transfer service they were using, put them outside the cabins at the allocated time then waited in the lounge until the coaches arrived. For those of us making our own arrangements a local taxi company had a rep on board all of the last day in Amsterdam taking bookings for transfers to Hotels and we also booked our transfer from the hotel to the airport with him. His prices were quite reasonable.
Overall, we were very satisfied with our cruise and would have no hesitation recommending Travel Marvel to anyone. Read Less