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-   -   Tauck is 6 stars -- perfection -- but never again (https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2522170)

bitob July 16th, 2017 05:38 PM

Tauck is 6 stars -- perfection -- but never again
 
We are back from our first and last river cruise and I was asked to post and reflect on the experience.
We did a 14 night Amsterdam to Budapest cruise on the Tauck Esprit. The ship was only 2/3 full which of course was a big plus. Tauck did a fabulous job.

Tauck staff was amazing
Ship was gorgeous and ship's staff provided A+ service.
Food was out of this world.
Lots of ethnic specialties and local wines available
Local guides were superb
Special events -- e.g. private opera performance at a gala dinner in Vienna -- were over the top.
We enjoyed our fellow cruisers very much.

BUT

We find river cruising far too regimented for our tastes. Be here at this time; there at that time.
We usually only book private guides when we cruise and tour in groups of 6 or 8. This river cruise reminded us of how much we detest bus tours with 25 plus people. After the cruise we hired a private guide in Budapest who took us to a small town on the outskirts. That was great.
The tours go to the usual places -- palaces, museums and churches. Not our kind of travel. We want to experience something other than landmarks. We have seem too many palaces, museums and churches.
The scenery was gorgeous in some places but ugly in others. There is plenty of industry along the Rhine.
There was nothing to do on the ship. Found it rather boring.
We like sea days. A port a day is no longer for us.
The cabins are ridiculously small. We booked a mini suite and I immediately regretted not booking the larger suite. We like to cruise in a large suite with a butler.

If river cruising is for you -- and I know many who love it - then I cannot say enough good things about Tauck. Best of the best. But you won't be seeing us on board.

Hope this is helpful for those considering river cruising.

JohnKen3 July 16th, 2017 06:07 PM

I can relate to your comments. I felt exactly that way after my first river cruise on Uniworld. River cruising is not for everyone. It is very different from ocean cruising. It is all about out the stops.

It can be about doing your own thing. At the smaller stops, go for a bicycle ride along the canal. Many cruise lines like Uniworld provide bicycles and Crystal Cruises provides e-bikes for the more.....lazy?

Don't feel obliged to go with an "included excursion" just because it is complimentary. Do what you want to. If that means getting your own guide at the large stops, then do. In Vienna, there is so much to do that I find cruise lines do not include so we do our own thing.

I have seen more elderly guest get the front desk to arrange for taxis at some of smaller stops to drive them around so they could explore on their own instead of going on the coach. You need to invest in doing your own homework here in working out what to see. On the other hand, you have Cruise Critic where many are eager to offer suggestions. Never short for an idea or two.

River boats have small rooms. You should have been warned about this. This is a key point to look out for now that you are in the know. Always get the largest suite you can afford to.

As I said, I too initially felt river cruising would not work for me. For various reasons, I gave the Crystal Mozart a go and I was sold second time around. I did pay a Penthouse Suite and would not go to any size smaller. Crystal do provide butler to all their staterooms so it becomes nothing more than glorified room service but the offering is there. They are on duty and a phone call away.

I will concur there is nothing much to do on board most vessels while it is sailing. It is about sitting on the top deck taking in the view if the weather permits. It may not always been pretty but it is a moving landscape to observe. They do not keep you occupied in the same way ocean ships do.

bitob July 16th, 2017 06:40 PM

To me it makes no sense to organize and pay for my own shore excursions when I am paying for them already. Towards the end we just wandered on our own

But we have never travelled on an organized tour. A river cruise is an organized tour on a boat. Just not our thing

I knew cabins were small and I was advised the basic cabin would be fine. I didn't listen and went for the mini suite. Even that was insufficient for our needs

I doubt we will try again.


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portofinoitaly July 16th, 2017 07:31 PM

Bitob,
I agree with everything you said. We did have the larger full suite on our recent Tauck cruise Prague to Budapest. The space made the difference.

Our last evening in Budapest, we decided to forgo the "event" and walked about a block down from the Four Seasons to a local restaurant and had the most wonderful dinner of local cuisine while dining al fresco. A few glasses on local wine and an early turn in made our day.

They do it 6* but river cruising is not for us either.

Got2Cruise July 16th, 2017 07:58 PM

I think another thing to consider is the length of the cruise. 14 is too long for a first river cruise. Perhaps a week Cruise with pre and post stays at a world class hotel with private guides would be another option. Also understand the ports. If the small charming towns are not in your wheelhouse, one needs to choose the itinerary carefully.


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cormike1 July 16th, 2017 08:41 PM

I really think that if you had done your homework and asked lots of questions, used this website, etc. you would have been better informed and NOT booked a river cruise! You can easily read the river cruise reviews and realize that you are "toured" all together on excursions, you can look at the cabins and read the size and see the layout. People have actually posted pictures of the cabins on the river cruise ships and the ocean cruise ships. If you had read the itinerary before you booked your cruise you would know exactly what you were going to see and go to. How can you do a river cruise and say that "Palaces, Museums, Churches" are not your thing.....what is your thing to see other than the cities and the attractions within the city and surrounding area. What kind of different experience" were you looking for? You certainly can't control the scenery and there are ugly parts of every city you see all over the world so why should cruising along the Rhine be any different. With all the social media around today you can find out anything you want just by searching, reading and asking questions. Sorry you had a disappointing experience.

Hoyaheel July 16th, 2017 09:02 PM

River cruises aren't for everyone. I did lots of research, knew exactly what to expect, had a lovely river cruise but still decided it's not my cup of tea at this stage of my life. My reasons vary slightly from the OP - I prefer diy travel and find river cruises too expensive because tours are included. Sure, I can diy, but I've already paid for the tour, so....

It's ok to do your homework, know what to expect, and still not enjoy a river cruise....Sounds like OP went in with an open mind, had a lovely experience that just isn't what s/he wants again in the future....

Gourmet Gal July 16th, 2017 11:30 PM

Being too regimented seems to be your biggest complaint. Just wondering, how many ports involved bus rides? I'm on this same cruise this fall. Good to hear that Tauck was first rate!

scluvsrain July 17th, 2017 01:20 AM

I'm on this same cruise - but the reverse itinerary in a little under 3 weeks from now. Same ship too. It's my first river cruise so I was very happy to read your excellent review of the ship and Tauck.

I normally do ocean cruises and spend loads of time pre-planing tours so as to avoid most ship sponsored tour, but sometimes it's nice to just be a "sheeple" and let someone else do the leading.

As for cabin size, to me everything is tiny in Europe but I don't mind. As long as my feet fit on the bed and there is a toilet and fresh towels, I'm good to go.

Nothing to do on board? Sounds great! That means more time to sit and gaze at the passing scenery or relax with a glass of wine and a good book.


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bitob July 17th, 2017 06:44 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by cormike1 (Post 53553039)
I really think that if you had done your homework and asked lots of questions, used this website, etc. you would have been better informed and NOT booked a river cruise! You can easily read the river cruise reviews and realize that you are "toured" all together on excursions, you can look at the cabins and read the size and see the layout. People have actually posted pictures of the cabins on the river cruise ships and the ocean cruise ships. If you had read the itinerary before you booked your cruise you would know exactly what you were going to see and go to. How can you do a river cruise and say that "Palaces, Museums, Churches" are not your thing.....what is your thing to see other than the cities and the attractions within the city and surrounding area. What kind of different experience" were you looking for? You certainly can't control the scenery and there are ugly parts of every city you see all over the world so why should cruising along the Rhine be any different. With all the social media around today you can find out anything you want just by searching, reading and asking questions. Sorry you had a disappointing experience.



You make laugh while you insult me and you don't know me

Of course I did my homework. I knew what to expect. I wanted to see if the experience of cruising down a river with (not so) lovely scenery would compensate for the organized tours and the rest of the experience. I have friends who rave about river cruises. It is not for us

Insulting people or making assumptions about whether they did homework is bad manners. Shame on you





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bitob July 17th, 2017 06:49 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Gourmet Gal (Post 53554251)
Being too regimented seems to be your biggest complaint. Just wondering, how many ports involved bus rides? I'm on this same cruise this fall. Good to hear that Tauck was first rate!



Most. Some were very short rides. Or you got a bus tour of sites before arriving at the destination for the tour


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bitob July 17th, 2017 06:50 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by scluvsrain (Post 53554629)
I'm on this same cruise - but the reverse itinerary in a little under 3 weeks from now. Same ship too. It's my first river cruise so I was very happy to read your excellent review of the ship and Tauck.

I normally do ocean cruises and spend loads of time pre-planing tours so as to avoid most ship sponsored tour, but sometimes it's nice to just be a "sheeple" and let someone else do the leading.

As for cabin size, to me everything is tiny in Europe but I don't mind. As long as my feet fit on the bed and there is a toilet and fresh towels, I'm good to go.

Nothing to do on board? Sounds great! That means more time to sit and gaze at the passing scenery or relax with a glass of wine and a good book.


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You will love tauck. Enjoy


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bitob July 17th, 2017 06:51 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Got2Cruise (Post 53552710)
I think another thing to consider is the length of the cruise. 14 is too long for a first river cruise. Perhaps a week Cruise with pre and post stays at a world class hotel with private guides would be another option. Also understand the ports. If the small charming towns are not in your wheelhouse, one needs to choose the itinerary carefully.


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We refuse to unpack and pack for less than 14 days. Our ocean cruise minimum is around 21 days


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HBCcruiser July 17th, 2017 07:31 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Got2Cruise (Post 53552710)
I think another thing to consider is the length of the cruise. 14 is too long for a first river cruise. Perhaps a week Cruise with pre and post stays at a world class hotel with private guides would be another option. Also understand the ports. If the small charming towns are not in your wheelhouse, one needs to choose the itinerary carefully.


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We are going on our first Tauck river cruise - Seine with Paris and London - which includes pre and post stays at hotels. How do you book private guides? Do we do that through Tauck? We will have lots of free time to explore so any suggestions greatly appreciated.


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bitob July 17th, 2017 08:07 AM

I don't think you need guides for Paris or London. Easy to do on ur own unless you want to leave the city

Cruise critic ports of call board and trip advisor are good places to start. I would just get a good guide book


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HokiePoq July 17th, 2017 08:09 AM

Reminds me of what the guide said to us on the Discover Scuba excursion: What some people discover is that they don't like scuba!
River cruises are not for everyone. Overall I've found ocean cruises cheaper and more relaxing.
However, I found a river cruise a great way to see places one cannot see on ocean cruises and way more relaxing than the bus tours we've taken. Yes, you do ride on a bus to excursions, If this is intolerable along with the small cabins, one shouldn't do another one. River cruises are also a lot more physically demanding. I ended up with an aching foot and joints from all the walking tours but no weight gain!
I agree with the person who said included tours were paid for and that it doesn't make much sense to do one's own thing on a river cruise. If you want to do your own thing, perhaps flying in and having a private guide is the way to go.
We did that precruise in Transylvania when we couldn't get the Viking precruise and it was the highlight of our trip.

bitob July 17th, 2017 08:21 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by HokiePoq (Post 53555707)
Reminds me of what the guide said to us on the Discover Scuba excursion: What some people discover is that they don't like scuba!

River cruises are not for everyone. Overall I've found ocean cruises cheaper and more relaxing.

However, I found a river cruise a great way to see places one cannot see on ocean cruises and way more relaxing than the bus tours we've taken. Yes, you do ride on a bus to excursions, If this is intolerable along with the small cabins, one shouldn't do another one. River cruises are also a lot more physically demanding. I ended up with an aching foot and joints from all the walking tours but no weight gain!

I agree with the person who said included tours were paid for and that it doesn't make much sense to do one's own thing on a river cruise. If you want to do your own thing, perhaps flying in and having a private guide is the way to go.

We did that precruise in Transylvania when we couldn't get the Viking precruise and it was the highlight of our trip.



We spent two weeks in Romania with a private guide. One of the best trips we have ever taken. Bucharest is nothing. It is the countryside, the gypsies and the Dracula stuff that is fabulous


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CPT Trips July 17th, 2017 10:45 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by bitob (Post 53555695)
I don't think you need guides for Paris or London. Easy to do on ur own unless you want to leave the city

Cruise critic ports of call board and trip advisor are good places to start. I would just get a good guide book


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Absolutely agree. As far as leaving the city, say for Versailles, Hampton Court, or Windsor, you can probably get all the help you need to supplement your guidebook from the Orel front desk or concierge.

Roz July 17th, 2017 11:06 AM

Thank you for your review. I happen to really enjoy river cruises, but your post will help others who are considering a river cruise or are on the fence about it. The review was very even-handed and realistic.

On Uniworld I found the walking tours, specifically for the active walkers, to be smaller and involved no or very little bus travel.

As far as ocean cruises being a better value, I agree. Economies of scale river cruises can't compete with.

Roz

Hoyaheel July 17th, 2017 11:31 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Roz (Post 53556847)
On Uniworld I found the walking tours, specifically for the active walkers, to be smaller and involved no or very little bus travel.

I think the issue of bus/no bus has much more to do with the specific ports you visit, where your ship must be docked for that port (which can even vary by week on the same ship!) and time of year (eg if you have water level issues).

The most you can do is read reviews from past visits to that port to see if normally you are at a dock within walking distance or not. But know that can change at the last minute as docking is under local control, not the ship/captain/cruise company.....

That said, every tour we did on Avalon involved walking. Sometimes we had to take a bus to get from the boat to the town where the walk began, but...We didn't do anything that was bus only. I'd say for our itinerary a little less than half the ports were accessible by walking from the boat into the old town/area of interest (NUE-BSL itinerary).


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