Steamboats' review from the week before ours is well done and generally accurate. As she noted, our week was about half US, a few other English speaking, and the rest Germans. There wasn't much mixing between English speaking and German speaking -- though our impression was that we should all be very embarrassed at our skills in the US in almost any non-English language, given what we encountered both on the ship and in the cities and towns -- they're VERY good at English! Many of the Mozart staff are new and still working out the networks. Many of them are quite experienced, both with Deilmann and with other lines. I also (unfortunately) had to see the doctor once and she was VERY thorough. The charge was better than reasonable for a careful exam. (I'm ok and still recovering from what seems to have been just a severe sore throat/cold -- nothing major.)
Agree with Carmen's age range -- I would say the Steamboats family was probably much younger than any other passenger. I don't think there were many, if any, under 50 our week. Only one or two needed wheelchair assistance from time to time, but folks should be aware that this is not an "accessible" boat and the shore trips really are not accessible either; though a few places have ramps and elevators, it's not something to be expected. (I think there are some websites out there that provide guidance on this aspect of travel.)
Money: We took NO Euros with us. Used the ATMs in the airport or in cities or towns (even some of the small towns we visited had ATMs). The credit card exchange rate (which J has printed already) was about U$S 1.22 per Euro. I just checked my bank account on line. I got 200 Euros two different times in Munich. Airport cost was U$S 243.07 and bank ATM cost was U$S 244.98 -- so either there was an ATM charge or the rate was different or something. No problems getting Euros. No problems using them anywhere we went, including Bratislava and Budapest. No need for other funds. One exception: world famous chocolate/pastry shop in Budapest wouldn't take Euros, so J used credit card. Just be alert: we used a credit card for high-end art/souvenirs (and a lovely little 1-year old size vest for the grandson) in Budapest (Am Ex, I think it was) and later noticed on the receipt that there was a 20% add-on for using it -- and it wasn't a small purchase, either. So before using a credit card, ask if there's a surcharge. A few folks even accepted U$S!
Weight gain: Neither of us gained ANYTHING during this 2 week period. And we ate well and enjoyed every bite! Of course, we didn't sit around in front of a computer all day the way we do here. It was a very very busy period of time. If you're not in shape to walk and climb a lot of steps, start getting ready for it now! There is no exercise room on board and I'm not sure the pool is useful for swimming -- it's pretty small. There is a wrap-around deck that's -- 120 meters, I think she said.
Food: The food on Mozart was outstanding. We can't say enough good about the variety, quality, and presentation of the food itself, as well as the service in the dining room and bar. Just superb! No special meals/treats are needed. There's always something good on the menu or on the buffet.
Drinks with meals: still/plain water (not bottled), tea, coffee. Others are paid for as you go. Tea ordered in the bar/lounge also is a charge.
Tours: With very minor exceptions, all tours were handled very very well. Bus was comfortable and tour guides very good. Only exception was the city tour in Salzburg -- too many people on one mini-bus and person in the middle seat (3 across) could see nothing. Could have used fewer jokes from the tour guide but his English was very good and the information, like all the other guides, very interesting and helpful. This was too much of a drive-by tour for us but it did give us an idea of what to see when we go back. I would probably skip that and pick my own things to do in more depth. In addition, the evening dinner and concert at the castle were not handled like the other trips. Having one of the guests serve as the person holding a group voucher didn't work too well. (Alert: LOTS and LOTS of steps there!) Salzburg is a very walkable place and we spent time on our own in both old and new sections. (J will address this in his review, I think.)
If you need a taxi, I think the staff at the reception desk will call one for you. We saw someone waiting for a taxi and she told us they had done this.
There were LOTS of places for postcards and gifts everywhere we went. Big cities, small towns, little villages (e.g., Melk and Duernstein). Plenty of opportunity to get postcards and picture guidebooks. We also visited the synagogue in Budapest (largest in Europe -- gorgeous), which had guidebooks and gifts available. Look for them in English -- most places have them. Mozart reception desk also had a map of the Danube in English -- reasonable cost.
As Steamboats noted, photos were taken for the captain's welcome reception. We didn't bring ours home. No other onboard/dockside photos.
No evidence of an advance future cruises rep or frequent guest program. No evidence of an end-of-cruise sale in the on-board shop.
There was a group playing music in the lounge at various times and a small but sufficient dance floor. Good varied music. People did use the dance floor.
The two formal nights: men dark suits, women dressy outfits (but not evening gowns, as Steamboats noted). Most other evenings men wore jacket, shirt, and tie (ok, slacks of some sort also ) and women either nice slacks and tops or skirts and nice tops or dresses. Casual nights (first and last) were no ties for men (unless they wanted) and more casual for women (but not capris or shorts -- mostly slacks or skirts). I didn't see many folks wearing jeans on this cruise. Most folks did not wear sneakers either -- walking shoes worked fine. It was generally too cool for shorts during the day but I wouldn't have been comfortable in cathedrals and such in shorts even in summer -- probably inappropriate.
Tips: We tipped at the end. Can't be added to the room bill. They had blank envelopes and a tip box for the "behind the scenes" folks. We tipped the waiter, assistant waiter, drinks waiter (a bit more, perhaps, because he was so helpful, including in Budapest, where he took J along to the liquor store and helped pick things), and cabin stewardess, and put something in the tip box. We had something also for the shore excursion manager (he came through for us and I have to say that we weren't easy for him to deal with). We also had a treat from Virginia for each of them and some others. We also tipped all the tour guides (and they got the Virginia treat also).
The real problems were communication. The US office didn't share with the home office or the boat staff what they had sold us as a classical music package and there were a lot of folks disappointed in this regard. They also didn't get things coordinated too well in a few cases. We'll work out what wasn't resolved off line -- we had a great time, Mozart is lovely, the staff are very very good, and nothing can diminish that.
By the way, we got to a few more places than Steamboats' week. Bus from Munich to Vienna for the start (as Steamboats noted). Then Duernstein by boat. Back to Vienna. Then Budapest by bus for overnight (we saw how flooded the docks were there!). Bratislava by boat. Melk by boat. No stops in Esztergom or Grein. Disembarkation in Passau. I think the river was going down so the next few weeks should be more on the boat.
J will be more thorough. I just wanted to get up some notes on specific questions people had before Jag leaves (I hope they haven't left yet).
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