Cruise: Castles along the Rhine
Ship: River Ambassador
Dear Mr. Young,
My mother and I just completed the 9-day "Castles Along the Rhine" river tour from Amsterdam to Basel (June 6 - 14), and I couldn't have been more pleased.
To begin, although I had traveled internationally, a river cruise vacation was entirely new to me. I was trying to plan a trip to Germany for my mother (who is 84 years old) and myself and I didn't think a bus tour would be suitable for her, so I researched river cruising. I attended a Travel Expo sponsored by AAA in Foxboro, Massachusetts and enjoyed an audio/visual presentation about ...
Uniworld and its travel destinations that offered me the opportunity to ask questions about the experience. The concept of visiting Germany and touring some of its beautiful cities and towns without packing and unpacking at different hotels was very attractive.
This is the first trip I have planned that absolutely exceeded my expectations and lived up to its glowing marketing description. There isn't space here to list all the ways that Uniworld made our trip unforgettable, but I'd like to very briefly list the areas in which our tour on the River Ambassador excelled.
The staff: All staff members were professional, courteous, helpful and cheerful. The ship was immaculate and all services performed were of the highest caliber. The cruise manager, Rick Sprengers saw to it that all passengers fully enjoyed their tours every day. He attended to every detail and was very kind to the passengers who had some physical challenges (not my mother, who gets around just fine). The communication of each day's schedule and who to expect on tour was excellent. In short, the combination of capable and pleasant service made for a very relaxing vacation. Bonus: attentive but no intrusive service at all levels.
The food: My family is made up of true "foodies" we are all gourmet cooks and in fact my brother is a professional chef. The meal selection, preparation and presentation were outstanding. The service was excellent, and the minimally decorated white dining room with scenery at every window was calming and elegant. I was glad we were given a copy of the week's menus, and I admit that did take a few pictures of the meals at the table, they were so beautiful and appetizing. We fully enjoyed the complimentary wine with dinner. No four-star restaurant could have done better. Bonus: hot dishes (warm plates for buffet!) and cold ones cold.
Tours: The local guides were excellent and knowledgeable, interesting and eager to share the history of their towns. The AudioVox system is just the best invention! Everyone on the tour was able to hear equally well, and the tour guide could quietly point out features in churches without being disrespectfully noisy. The ways we toured: on foot, on a canal boat and on a bus enabled us to enjoy he best of the areas we toured and gave our legs and feet a break. The description of the tours as "active" is indeed accurate, though they are not unrealistically exhausting. We were tired enough each day to feel we'd earned our fantastic dinner but had enough energy to tour again the next day perfect! The optional dinner in Rudesheim was especially nice for my mother and me since we are of German descent and fully enjoyed the regional menu and the familiar band music. Bonus: My mom cried when she recognized tunes her grandparents had danced to when she was a little child (priceless).
The onboard entertainment: My mother and I took this river cruise for its focus on scenery, tours of history and culture, and cuisine. We were not looking for "night life." However, we very much enjoyed the local entertainers from Germany and France since they augmented the day's tours and offered further exposure to the art of the region. Charlie did a fine job also, making his keyboard sound like a full German "oompah" band for our day of castle gazing up on deck. Bonus: inviting, entertaining evenings with opportunity (but no pressure) for bar drinks.
Again, there is not enough room to detail all the ways that Uniworld and the River Ambassador staff delighted us on our trip down the Rhine River.
Overall, I think the most impressive thing is how relaxing the trip was, not because it was dull, but because there were "no worries". The smallest details were prepared for and addressed. Communication was such that we didn't have to figure anything out.
There was flexibility so we could explore towns and cafes on our own. The ship and its staff became familiar to us quickly so all we had to do was enjoy our travel and the local experiences. We never had to wait for anything.
Mary S. Schreitmueller
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