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31 Travelmarvel Europe - River Cruise Reviews

In general we found the comments made on Cruise Critic by “Traveling Sketcher” to concur with our experience. Having been in a number of service industry businesses including a Cafe, we have some knowledge in regard to the concerns we ... Read More
In general we found the comments made on Cruise Critic by “Traveling Sketcher” to concur with our experience. Having been in a number of service industry businesses including a Cafe, we have some knowledge in regard to the concerns we observed during our trip. After raising a number of these concerns with staff members in a courteous and respectful manner and having them either ignored or dismissed there seemed little point in pursuing matters further during the trip. While in general the vessel presented well, the cabins were pleasant and comfortable the hygiene, food and drink quality and aspects of service left a great deal to be desired. On the third day my wife was taken ill with flu like symptoms and spent most of the next three days in bed. During that time it became obvious it was spreading among both passengers and crew. Disturbingly I noticed two of the restaurant staff, open mouth coughing while carrying food and drinks. There were a number of passengers that had to seek medical attention ashore including one transported by Ambulance. I thought I was fortunate that I seemed to get a mild dose of this ailment but the cough persisted. A week after our return I was taken very ill such that I had to have chest X rays, swabs and 3 courses of Antibiotics. We both still have a persistent cough three week after returning. While we agree the operator’s can’t control it if people come onboard with ailments we question whether it is entirely the case. The following observations could suggest this is not an isolated incident. 1) The Cruise Director devoted a very lengthy section of her welcoming address to illness and how medical assistance could be sort in a number of ways. 2) The Hotel Manager at the same event was most insistent the hand sanitizers (only 2 available) be used and that this would be policed rigorously, unfortunately this was not the case at all. 3) Very high dust loading in the cabin, each morning the cabinet tops were covered in dust despite being wiped clean daily. This may be ineffective or poorly maintained vacuum cleaners. The dust and the air-conditioners could be a carrier of viruses and bacteria. 4) The same appears to have occurred in June as stated in the Cruise Critic review, “To top off our experiences was the issue with ship hygiene. About half the ship had colds and a severe cough which spread rapidly, almost becoming an epidemic. Hygiene was not addressed by ship’s officers at any time, in fact was totally ignored, expect when they had to order doctors on board to treat those infected.” Restaurant 1) Food substandard to fair at best, soups in general were watery, flavourless such that after three tries could not face any further. 2) Appetizers were tiny pretences that were more plate decoration than anything. Example two shaved slices of meat about 25mm by 90 mm a small green leaf and some dressing. It had been sitting sometime as the meat had adhered to the plate. 3) Main meals seemed to be an attempt at nouvelle cuisine but with few exceptions were bland and appeared to be using second tier produce. Fish identified as Blue Whiting when served was part raw and some of the part that was cooked was very tough to cut never mind eat. 4) The staff tried to provide a reasonable level of service but seemed overwhelmed at times. In some instances did not or chose not to understand. Example of why raising concerns was pointless - Lamb rack 4 tiny pieces of meat described as medium rare but were predominantly raw. When mentioned to wait staff member the response was “Where I come from this is medium rare” 5) Flies were common in the dining room and no effort to control them was evident. Mentioned to Cruise Director with no result, drew to the attention of senior restaurant staff member, “We cannot control this” was the response. A small cockroach was also observed on the window sill in the restaurant. 6) Complaints seemed to be a source of amusement at times with staff and senior staff equally amused. 7) My wife prefers a dry white wine and at one evening meal she was offered a Riesling and asked if there was a dry alternative and was provided with one. A different staff member offered a Riesling refill and when asked for a dry white said there was none available. When asked if she could check the response was “You want me to go to the fridge and come back and tell you the same thing, what you had before was left over from Lunch service”. When we tried establish if there was any dry white wine onboard we were advised the Supervisor would have to be consulted. The wine was provided with an evident display of displeasure. Having travelled extensively this is the first time we wanted the trip to be over before it was finished. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
It upset me that I could not get a booking on that river cruise, the one always on television, when I reserved a 7 day Danube journey. I thought I was buying second best as the Sapphire was not owned by Viking but by Travel Marvel. I ... Read More
It upset me that I could not get a booking on that river cruise, the one always on television, when I reserved a 7 day Danube journey. I thought I was buying second best as the Sapphire was not owned by Viking but by Travel Marvel. I promised myself I would jump ship if it was too bad. But our first clue that we got it right was when a black Mercedes limousine arrived from the ship to collect us at the airport. Once aboard we were welcomed, processed and led into a spacious, clean cabin with our suitcases already on the beds. Our cabin lacked one essential - a full length mirror. Luxury continued as we met our Captain Vladimir and his Officers over a glass of champagne. Among them Milenko, the restaurant manager, who people said achieved such high standards by docking a waiter’s pay if there were a complaint. As a result the service was fantastic, special dietary needs were respected and the staff could not do enough to please. But that was true of all the 41 Middle European and Indonesian crew members. The Chef, conveniently married to the Hotel Director, offered dishes ranging from good to Excellent with occasional booboos like sorbet which melted between kitchen and table and an unrecognisable foie gras parfait. But the fish was always perfect, meat was to die for, desserts sublime and the wine offered with each dish was the perfect choice. So what was the fly in the ointment, the black spot, the disaster zone? There always has to be something not quite perfect. It was the Cruise Director’s communication style. Every day we left our floating palace on luxury coaches to visit Abbeys, mediaeval towns Roman Fortresses and to discover that the Salzburg hills are still alive with the ‘Sound of Music’. Each coach carried a trained guide who provided a high level of information both factual and mythical. To pull that off a Cruise Director has to have great organisational skills, the patience of Job and the ability to flexi-think. She had all those great qualities and looked after us so well. But with 168 passengers with a mean age of about 63 years and many with short attention spans, the Cruise Director’s hour long briefings about the next two to three days excursions or the Mann Danube Canal drew flak. As the sun sank below the yardarm, passengers expressed more interest in gin and tonics, glasses of Prosecco or taking a long shower than being given more information. As we left the Sapphire blissed out at the end of a great week, the next two week cruise passengers were arriving. They were greeted with the same charm and efficiency that welcomed us. We had chosen not second best but happily one of the best ships cruising the Danube. So if you want to experience the joys of a River Cruise, go Sapphire, go Travel Marvel. It will be worth every penny/cent. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
the saphire has been totally renovated last winter & everyone passed comment on the quality especially the new king size beds & the pillows . The food & wine were excellent & reflected the region we were in at the time. The ... Read More
the saphire has been totally renovated last winter & everyone passed comment on the quality especially the new king size beds & the pillows . The food & wine were excellent & reflected the region we were in at the time. The staff were effecient & friendly & the cruise director jode very efficient. We will certainly be booking with them next year as will a number of couples we met Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
After having done nearly 20 ocean cruises, and hearing so much praise about river cruising we thought we would enjoy an Amsterdam-Budapest river cruise. We booked APT Travelmarvel. What a disappointment. Overall it was disappointing and ... Read More
After having done nearly 20 ocean cruises, and hearing so much praise about river cruising we thought we would enjoy an Amsterdam-Budapest river cruise. We booked APT Travelmarvel. What a disappointment. Overall it was disappointing and definitely not value for money, although the scenery was interesting and the same as other ships experienced. The cabin was very adequate with floor to ceiling sliding doors and a surprisingly large bathroom, although naturally not as large as ocean liners. There was a fridge and safe in the cabin. There was only one dining area. The meals were average and although there was a very limited range of wine and beer at meal times, drinks at other times were not complimentary. Meal times were bedlam, particularly at dinner time. It was almost impossible to sit with friends and tables could not be reserved and other travellers rushed tables as soon as the dining room doors were open. Not that there is any problem dining with various people, some who were pleasant and some non-communicative and unfriendly. That is human nature. The waiters were very efficient and friendly, and the cruise director had incredible local knowledge of every port we visited. We did not feel there was enough free time at some stops and at others the stopping time was too short, and while local tour guides on the whole were very knowledgeable, several were downright boring. The novelty of the locks wore off after the first few. One of the major problems was NOISE. There were no quiet lounge areas where you could sit and talk with other passengers. The only lounge area seemed to continually have groups talking in the loudest of voices, making it difficult to concentrate on reading, using the internet or even engaging with other passengers. The local entertainment that came on board was superb, but after their show had finished the room seemed to be converted into a teen disco. Very loud disco music was played by the DJ/keyboardist. It was almost impossible as 60-70+ age group passengers crowded on to the dance floor solo (no partners required) and gyrated, yelled and threw their arms in the air. No conversations again were possible. And the more they drank the rowdier they became. So do no waste your money on a Travelmarvel river cruise which unbeknowns to us, was the bottom of the rung in the APT fleet. The bonus was that even though a poor cruise, it still went to most of the same ports as the more expensive cruises. From the people we spoke to, it appeared that those that enjoyed the cruise most were the noisy groups (majority) and those that had done little or no travel on ocean cruises. To top off our experiences was the issue with ship hygiene. About half the ship had colds and a severe cough which spread rapidly, almost becoming an epidemic. Hygiene was not addressed by ship’s officers at any time, in fact was totally ignored, expect when they had to order doctors on board to treat those infected. Even though there was hand sanitiser near the dining room, at no time was this mentioned or enforced and many passengers did not use it. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
We won this cruise through the Daily Mail and not having been on a cruise before we did not know what to expect. Travelmarvel took care of everything including ensuring that my wife, who is disabled and walks using two crutches, was ... Read More
We won this cruise through the Daily Mail and not having been on a cruise before we did not know what to expect. Travelmarvel took care of everything including ensuring that my wife, who is disabled and walks using two crutches, was helped with assistance through Manchester airport, Frankfurt and return from Budapest to Munich, full marks to them for that. At Prague we were met by the company reps. who escorted us to the coach which took us on a 4 hour journey to Vilshofen where the ship was waiting. It should be noted here that the normal port of embarkation is Nuremburg but lock maintenance did not allow the ship to get any closer than Vilshofen. Luggage was placed in the cabins whilst everyone was welcomed on board by the crew. The cabin on the ship was about the same size as a Travelodge hotel room with a very comfortable king size bed. Meal times were 'civilised' and the food was first class. A whole list of excursions were offered, some free and a few to be charged. The tours also catered for the disabled by ensuring that the group toured on an almost level route, nice touch. Evening entertainment was sourced via the area that we berthed each night. The ship travelled daytimes only when we were going through a picturesque part of the Danube which made the week more interesting. The crew were fantastic and looked after us all with professionalism and friendliness. The disembarkation went smoothly. Overall the whole experience was rated as totally organised without being obvious, totally relaxed with good food and comfortable surroundings. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
We would normally have embarked at Nurnberg but due to lock maintenance the ship was berthed at Vilsofen. A coach met us at Prague airport for a four hour plus journey to the ship. We found the cabins to be large enough, clean with ... Read More
We would normally have embarked at Nurnberg but due to lock maintenance the ship was berthed at Vilsofen. A coach met us at Prague airport for a four hour plus journey to the ship. We found the cabins to be large enough, clean with enough storage space. The whole ship was beautifully clean and well maintained. The service from all the crew whatever department they worked in was more than needed to be creating an atmosphere of 'family' rather than passengers and crew!? Plenty of excursions at the different ports we stopped at, some you pay for others included in the price, if anything, we found there was not enough free time to wander around. Needless to say the food was plentiful and excellent. Evening entertainment was fine with sing-alongs etc. but by it's sheer nature the ship is unable to put on lavish shows etc. Disembarkation again was carried out efficiently with transport laid on to the airport. Overall for my wife and I this holiday was totally successful with friendly crew, beautifully cooked food and a trip that we would certainly do again on a different route and hopefully with Travelmarvel! Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
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