Is Tauck River Cruises worth the $$$?

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#1
481 Posts
Joined Jul 2005
Hi - we are doing research for our first river cruise. There seems to be a large difference between them and say Uniworld and Viking. Is it worth the extra money? I like the fact that everything is included, since on our numerous ocean cruises it was always the surprise at the end that would be depressing.
Also, any tips on the differences between ocean and river would be great. We love ocean cruising but wanted to try the smaller ships so you can see more of the area. Thanks for any advice!
#2
Greenville, SC, USA
51,787 Posts
Joined Apr 2000
"Worth It" is a very subjective question. Many travel with them, so they must feel the answer is yes. Others go with different lines.
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Paul
#3
2,895 Posts
Joined Jan 2010
I have sailed with both Uniworld and Viking. All things being equal, I'd choose Viking again.

Be aware that not everything is included on all the lines. For instance, you might still have a bar tab.

I'm not sure how to compare ocean and river cruising for you. They are very different animals. On a river cruise you sail with (generally) around 150 people. The sailing is slow and typically all shore excursions are included. It could be a walk around town or a bus tour somewhere. You might return to where the boat left you off, or your bus might meet up with further up or down the river.

As for picking Tauck over the other lines -- I have never traveled with them but they definitely have an upscale reputation. Maybe the food is better. Maybe the accommodations are more luxurious. This is definitely something you'll have to decide for yourself.
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#4
Mackay Australia
786 Posts
Joined Jan 2010
This is such a subjective question and I expect you'll get many subjective answers like mine. We are Australian and came across Tauck during our "search" for a European river cruise that we took last September. We finally settled on Tauck for a number of reasons. It was, except for what alcoholic drinks you had at the bar, totally all-inclusive. We didn't want any monetary surprises at the end of our cruise so we disregarded all those cruise lines that had "optional tours" and gratuities to be paid because as Australians who are not used to tipping it meant that we could scratch those problems off our list. At the time we booked the Australian dollar was quite strong so in essence Tauck was actually cheaper than many other companies in Australia. We really enjoyed all that Tauck offered us and they far exceeded all of our expectations. We are not foodies but loved the food. We do appreciate wine and enjoyed the vast choice of regional wines. The service was impeccable and with only 108 passengers and 4 Tauck Staff onboard we were well looked after on all our tours. If we are fortunate enough to be able to afford another river cruise we would choose Tauck.

All that said after reading many posts here on CC it seems that very few people, no matter what company they choose, have a BAD river cruise. All the river cruise companies offer a holiday of a lifetime and may I suggest that you do heaps of research on exactly what you want from your holiday and choose the cruise line that best suits your wants and needs.
#5
Saint Simons Island, Georgia
11,712 Posts
Joined Jul 2010
Originally posted by dcl1710
Hi - we are doing research for our first river cruise. There seems to be a large difference between them and say Uniworld and Viking. Is it worth the extra money? I like the fact that everything is included, since on our numerous ocean cruises it was always the surprise at the end that would be depressing.
Also, any tips on the differences between ocean and river would be great. We love ocean cruising but wanted to try the smaller ships so you can see more of the area. Thanks for any advice!
There are other river cruise companies like AMA and Vantage worth considering. I have done both and they are great.
#6
United States
36 Posts
Joined Mar 2012
Originally posted by Ozjohnno
This is such a subjective question and I expect you'll get many subjective answers like mine. We are Australian and came across Tauck during our "search" for a European river cruise that we took last September. We finally settled on Tauck for a number of reasons. It was, except for what alcoholic drinks you had at the bar, totally all-inclusive. We didn't want any monetary surprises at the end of our cruise so we disregarded all those cruise lines that had "optional tours" and gratuities to be paid because as Australians who are not used to tipping it meant that we could scratch those problems off our list. At the time we booked the Australian dollar was quite strong so in essence Tauck was actually cheaper than many other companies in Australia. We really enjoyed all that Tauck offered us and they far exceeded all of our expectations. We are not foodies but loved the food. We do appreciate wine and enjoyed the vast choice of regional wines. The service was impeccable and with only 108 passengers and 4 Tauck Staff onboard we were well looked after on all our tours. If we are fortunate enough to be able to afford another river cruise we would choose Tauck.

All that said after reading many posts here on CC it seems that very few people, no matter what company they choose, have a BAD river cruise. All the river cruise companies offer a holiday of a lifetime and may I suggest that you do heaps of research on exactly what you want from your holiday and choose the cruise line that best suits your wants and needs.
So does this mean that Tauck does not own the ship, nor are they responsible for the crew & service host staff?
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#7
Mackay Australia
786 Posts
Joined Jan 2010
Originally posted by ras619
So does this mean that Tauck does not own the ship, nor are they responsible for the crew & service host staff?
The ships are owned and manned by Scylla, a Swiss company and 5 of their boats are designed for and leased by Tauck. The maximum number of passengers is 118. There are around 17 Scylla boats cruising European waterways. They are truly superb vessels and their captains, crew and staff are of the highest quality. As we were told at our first get-together on board, Tauck is a touring company not a river cruise company. Tauck provide a Cruise Director and three Tour Directors for the 100 or so people on the cruise.
#8
481 Posts
Joined Jul 2005
I am sorry, yes worth is suggestive. We were just surprised at the difference in price between Tauck and Viking, Uniworld and others. But it does include most of the things that cruise lines make money over so in the end it is probably a wash in price. We are new to these cruise lines and wanted input, which is why CC is the best. Thanks for all of the opinions. I will make sure next time I make a better question for the post.
#9
Sugar Land, Texas
120 Posts
Joined Apr 2011
We too are looking into river cruising in 2013. Most companies are having a prepay deal until July for reduced fee and air (on some). Problem is you have to pay the full amount up front. Make sure you understand the cancellation policies. There are advantages to getting airfare through the cruise company, one being transfers which may be difficult if you are new to a country. A downside is you may not be able to use your mileage since they select the carrier. In reading I learned some of the rivers are wider hence they can tour the new "longboats" and hold say 200+ passengers compared to smaller, possibly older ships with about 150-175. All have hotel packages you can add onto at the beginning or end. Although we have yet to do a river cruise I have spoken to several people and can pass this advice onto you. There is a big difference compared to ocean cruises with many decks, theaters, pools, dining times, not to mention the thousands of passengers. River boats are much smaller, breakfast and lunch are buffet with usually one dinner time. There may be an option for that meal to eat outside but not every ship has that. The entertainment is geared for the more relaxed, older traveler. The tours are included but are more educational and historical and less physically active. Lots of walking apparently but most companies try to accommodate less abled passengers. Some ships do not even have an elevator so check that out if stairs are an issue for you. Just like any cruise ship where the ship travels is your biggest decision. We knew we wanted Prague and Berlin so we have selected Viking and just need to decide what date.
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04-10-2012 Celebrity Infinity
#10
FL
14,384 Posts
Joined Jul 2003
Whether it is worth the extra is an individual decision.

Tauck is one of the most upscale and most inclusive river cruise lines and has a very good reputation.

For us, the additional cost is not worth it as we are not interested in the end to end experience they offer. We are independent travelers so participate in very few of the included excursions, and Tauck seems to include more than most other lines. We book our own hotels before and after, private tour guides when in major cities of particular interest, and our own transfers. We never book optional ship sponsored excursions as we prefer to plan our own time our own way and really just do not care to be in a group.

For us, we want comfortable accommodations and itineraries with extended port stays and overnight stays. We enjoy having bikes available and a fast walkers options, should we decide to participate in an included excursion.

We can get all of that with AMA and some of it with the other lines in that premium category, ie, Avalon and Uniworld.

It all comes down to the type of traveler you are and what your priorities are for the trip.

For us and our travel style, Tauck would not be worth it.
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143 cruises since 1964, 15 on the river.
Looking forward to:
Le Lyral, The Adriatic, September 2017
MS Joy - Magic of Advent, December 2017
Crystal Esprit, February 2018

Amadeus Provence, November 2018
AmaKristina, Christmas Markets, December 2018
Scenic Eclipse, April, 2019

Our river cruising history:
Avalon Luminary B2B- Christmas Markets, 2009
Avalon Affinity - Christmas Markets 2010
Avalon Panorama - Danube New Years Cruise, 2011
AmaDante -Vineyards of the Rhine and Moselle 2012
AmaCerto - Budapest to Nuremburg, 2013
AmaBella - Tulip Time, 2014
AmaDagio - Provence, 2014
AmaReina - Holiday on the Rhine 2014
SS Catherine - Provence 2015
AmaSerena Christmas on the Rhine, 2015
Scenic Diamond, Bordeaux, April 2016
AmaVida, Douro, August. 2016
AmaSonata, Romantic Danube - Oct. 2016
Joie de Vivre, Paris and Normany - April 2017
#11
california
1,505 Posts
Joined Mar 2011
We've done river and ocean and the tipping is the same. You have your included tours......but you tip your tour director, bus driver and the local tour guide. Keep small bills with you always for these inviduals. The tour director is tipped at the end.
That is the nature of the cruising beast and these people work like no one else would want to especially when we were in China on the Yangze on Viking. Our tour director for those 10 days earned every last cent dealing with situations individually as well as a group. She was focused and performed miracles.
The Yangze on Viking was the most incredible experience that we could NEVER get on an ocean liner. That experience at times left a person breathless and in awe! Ocean and river are two different beasts but how the staff are payed is the same!
#12
more or less in TX
10,419 Posts
Joined Jul 2006
I would try a small boat/river cruise in Australia before making a decision on booking an expensive river cruise elsewhere. Why? Well, the small boat/ river cruise way of travel with one dinner seating, limited entertainment and a smaller group of passengers may not be for you.

People who travel on river cruises tend to be older. That may or may not suit you.

Choices of what and when you eat may be limited.

I enjoyed my time on small boat cruises in Australia but no so in the USA. The Australian defination of hospitality taste. We had a great deal of fun in Australia.
#13
FL
14,384 Posts
Joined Jul 2003
Originally posted by PennyAgain

I enjoyed my time on small boat cruises in Australia but no so in the USA.
The river cruises in this discussion are in Europe, not the USA.
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143 cruises since 1964, 15 on the river.
Looking forward to:
Le Lyral, The Adriatic, September 2017
MS Joy - Magic of Advent, December 2017
Crystal Esprit, February 2018

Amadeus Provence, November 2018
AmaKristina, Christmas Markets, December 2018
Scenic Eclipse, April, 2019

Our river cruising history:
Avalon Luminary B2B- Christmas Markets, 2009
Avalon Affinity - Christmas Markets 2010
Avalon Panorama - Danube New Years Cruise, 2011
AmaDante -Vineyards of the Rhine and Moselle 2012
AmaCerto - Budapest to Nuremburg, 2013
AmaBella - Tulip Time, 2014
AmaDagio - Provence, 2014
AmaReina - Holiday on the Rhine 2014
SS Catherine - Provence 2015
AmaSerena Christmas on the Rhine, 2015
Scenic Diamond, Bordeaux, April 2016
AmaVida, Douro, August. 2016
AmaSonata, Romantic Danube - Oct. 2016
Joie de Vivre, Paris and Normany - April 2017
#14
Maryland
686 Posts
Joined May 2005
We chose Tauck for our first (and so far only) riverboat cruise to celebrate our 30th anniversary. We were on the young side but there were 2 other couples about our age and almost everyone on the trip was very mobile. We did Prague to Budapest, although you spend 3 days in Prague and then are bused down to Regensburg where you board your boat. It was expensive, but it was also the most perfectly run trip we have ever taken, land or sea. The boats are leased exclusively to Tauck and are designed to their specifications. You have a "cruise director" and 3 "tour directors" employed by Tauck and the rest of the staff is employed by the Swiss Company who owns the ship The cruise director stays on the boat while the tour directors actually tour with you. You will also be split into smaller groups with local guides for the individual towns.
All excursions are included, and you often have choices of destinations. We had 3 "special" dinners with music, 2 in palaces and one in the Budapest Academy of Sciences, an exclusive private club. At the Intercontinental in Budapest, all the rooms for Tauck guests faced the river with a view of the Palace and the Chain Bridge. Lots of great little extras, like access to places not open to the general public, a "surprise" concert just for our group at the Budapest Opera House and little treats provided along the way by the guides. Additionally, the food on board was excellent and I cannot say enough how helpful the Tauck staff was.
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Cindy and Joe
#15
Long Island, NY
107 Posts
Joined Jun 2005
We have booked a Tauck river cruise for next spring. We decided on Tauck after price comparisons between AMA, Uniworld and Tauck. Uniworld was very similarly priced with Tauck and after figuring out any additions to AMA their price was maybe $1000 at the most less.

My point is get some prices from your travel agent and figure out what additional you need to add for each cruise line. Have fun with the planning.
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Tauck; Amsterdam to Budapest; April 2013
Radiance of the Seas; Alaska; July 2000
Prinsendam; Baltic Sea; July 2004
Maasdam; Carribean; November 2005
Amsterdam; Hawaii; March 2006
Veendam, Transatlantic;August 2007
Zaandam, Alaska; July 2008
Noordam; Mediteranean; Sept 2010
Veendam; Bermuda; May 2012
#16
2,151 Posts
Joined Feb 2007
lucinjo, Imo you couldn't have described the Tauck experience any better. The extras, the surprises and of course the exemplary service provided by Scylla under lease from Tauck makes their cruise a great value.
DW and I wished, however, they had extended their France itineraries since we had to switch to Uniworld to get what we wanted. Not to say we're disappointed but IOO T auck is the best
#17
south burlington,vt.
3,929 Posts
Joined Dec 2008
We are sailing in Tauck in a couple weeks on the Danube. I will report back after we return home. But Tauck already has given us a free pre or post hotel stay on our next Tauck trip we booked for 2013. Nice.
#18
Camano Island, WA
858 Posts
Joined Sep 2003
We are booked on Tauck Budapest to Amsterdam 10//9. This will be our first Tauck cruise. We were initially booked on the same itinerary on AMA. We then did a cost comparison. When we considered all the costs included in the Tauck price that were extras on AMA we estimated that Tauck was less than ten percent more expensive than AMA. We decided the small difference on Tauck was worth it. We plan to post a review after our Tauck adventure.
#19
Los Angeles, CA, USA
3,208 Posts
Joined Aug 2002
Hi Island Cruiser and grand isle joe,

When we were taking a Rhine/Moselle river cruise two years ago, we did a spreadsheet and included everything for Tauck and AMA. Tauck came out to be $50 more than AMA. We had a zero balance on our account when we left the ship. Tauck really cares about their customers. The free nights at their four and five star hotels are really a big saving as well as free pick up and return to airport even if you book your own air fare. See if one can get that at AMA, Viking, Uniworld, etc. We had to pay AMA for pickup and return to airport on our Russian trip.

Have fun. Report back here.

Sheila
#20
michigan
801 Posts
Joined Apr 2007
Originally posted by lahlah57
We've done river and ocean and the tipping is the same. You have your included tours......but you tip your tour director, bus driver and the local tour guide. Keep small bills with you always for these inviduals. The tour director is tipped at the end.
That is the nature of the cruising
But not on Tauck- ALL tips are included. Even to tour guides. That is what I have gleaned from poring over their brochures and reading blogs.