Europe Cruise Review by Paul in Bucks
- Sail Date: July 2017
- Destination: Europe River
We had booked a cabin on the upper deck, which was marketed as a stateroom with a balcony. The balcony was not my definition of a balcony. You have a window which opens and which you can lean out of onto the metal safety barriers to stop you falling overboard. To my mind a balcony means something that you can walk onto. Try walking onto this and you would be in the river.
The cabin was small and a little cramped. The furniture in the cabin was cheap to put it mildly. Chipboard with a thin, plastic wood-effect covering. Also, some of the units did not fit together correctly.
The beds were very comfortable and there were plenty of pillows.
There were no tea or coffee making facilities in the room. Given that the bar was not staffed all day (despite being advertised as such) tea and coffee making facilities should be available in the room, or the bar staffed as advertised.
The cabin was clean upon arrival, as was the very cramped bathroom. However, the cleaning during the cruise left something to be desired. Small items left on the floor were undisturbed and finger marks on mirrors remained for the majority of the cruise. Also, towels were not properly replaced - twice we had to asked for shower towels having had dirty towels removed but not replaced.
The bathroom was small and very cramped. The wash basin was small, and the shower was tiny. Our shower head was broken, as was the pipe to the shower head. Despite being reported twice, this remained unrepaired throughout our cruise.
The dining experience was bizarre. The ship carries approximately 160 people. Everyone was called to meals at the same time, leaving some tables waiting for service for up to 45 minutes as the norm, although at one dinner we were left an hour before food service began.
The food was generally very good and well presented and despite their being no choice at meals, the ship was very good with dealing with dietary needs, provided they were given a few hours' notice. In fact, in some instances even notice at the table was not a problem.
The waiters and waitresses in the restaurant were like robots. There was little interaction with guests, and we were told by several members of staff that interaction with guests was a disciplinary offence. In my view, this does not give good customer service. We did come across one of the waitresses being disciplined for providing advice on the wine to choose with our meal.
The lunch would be better served as a buffet and not a three course sit down meal, but that is a personal preference.
The bar staff were good and generally friendly, although there seemed a reluctance to serve the free drinks (the cruise was all-inclusive, subject to certain premium drinks not being included).
The choice of wines and other drinks as part of the all inclusive package was good.
The excursions arranged by the cruise company were mixed. The excursion to Bucharest was badly planned. For a city with so much recent history and so much in the city to see, the excursion to a folk museum at the expense of not really seeing the city, seemed a waste. On the other hand the trip to Novi Sad and some villages close by was excellent.
The most memorable, and not for the right reason, was an excursion in Hungary. The guide was absolutely dreadful, and two of the three places chosen for visiting were just as bad. In fact, after a few minutes at the Paprika Museum we crept out for a walk around the town. The travel to the venues consisted of a constant commentary from the guide as to the crops being grown in the fields. Comments such as "On the left you see cabbages, on the right you see corn. We grow both here in Hungary" being made for 90 minutes do not help the stress levels.
The on board entertainment was reasonable and the quizzes were generally good fun. The musicians in the bar were very talented, particularly the violinist.
The announcements on board are vital to ensure that you are in the right place at the right time, yet there were a number of places on board where the announcements could not be properly heard - the rear bar on the upper deck and the front of the sun deck being two examples.
There were two matters that gave us real cause for concern. Firstly, there were staff members allowed to bring children on board. These were in the cabin next to ours and were noisy and disruptive. If staff are to be allowed to bring children on board they should be quiet and discrete. Fare paying guests have a right to enjoy peace and quiet.
If more worrying was an incident that happened to us and, we later discovered to other guests on the boat. On one occasion, upon returning from a morning excursion, we noticed that a wallet was missing. I accept that it should have been put in the safe, but what followed suggested that even this may not have been satisfactory. After reporting the incident to a senior member of cabin crew we found the wallet returned the following day following a morning excursion. I had some medication in the safe, and I used this immediately before leaving the boat for the morning excursion. On returning to the cabin just before lunch we opened the safe to find the wallet leaning against the medication. Nothing had been taken. We later became aware of other guests having money being taken from their cabin. However, upon complaining to senior cabin crew the money was returned in tact. Clearly, in our view, the cabin crew have access to the cabin safes, and use that access when they should not.
Overall, the cruise was enjoyable, but some simple, no cost, measures could have improved the cruise no end.
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