From the moment we boarded the brand new river boat (christened on April 3rd) MS Inspire in Amsterdam until the farewell dinner at the Hotel Amigo in Brussels, Tauck lived up to its reputation as a premier tour and river boat operator.
The boat has the largest cabins in the river cruise market including 300 square foot suites on Deck 3 and loft cabins on Deck 1. The bathrooms in the cabins are roomy and appointed as well as any luxury hotel. The showers are equipped with rain heads, hand held showers and shower seats. The bath products are Molton-Brown. The sink is Villeroy and Boch. Each cabin has a Nespresso machine and a mini bar which is stocked daily.
Breakfast and lunch are available in both the main dining room and in a lighter version in Arthur’s. Dinner is served in the main dining room and some nights they had a steak house concept in Arthur’s. You could always order from the lite bites menu and have it delivered to your cabin or to a table in the Panorama Lounge. The food is varied and very interesting and they will accommodate any requests.
The boat has a small fitness area, a beauty salon, spa and massage room. On the sun deck, they have a hot tub and a place to dine outdoors when the weather permits. There is also a small store. Prices for the personal services and store items are lower than on any of the large ships I have been on. My 50 minute massage cost only 52.50 euros and Heni, the Indonesian masseuse was as good as any masseuse I have used.
The main area for meeting is the Panorama Lounge. This is a large comfortable room and the bartender was excellent. He is aware of the demographic he is serving and knows the proper way to prepare every drink. This lounge is where cocktail hour is held and where the Cruise Director and Tour Directors could give updates and discuss the next day’s activities. After dinner, there was music by a pianist with an exceptional repertoire. One night the Cruise Director had us do a trivia battle of the sexes.
I must mention here that Tauck River Cruises are all inclusive. There are no surprise charges or alternative tours with an additional fee.
Let me tell you about the little things that stood out during our trip from Amsterdam to Brussels.
1) At the American WWII Cemetery at Magraten, our tour directors gave everyone flowers to place on graves
2) On one day we were to meet the boat at a dock after we finished our touring and shopping. The boat was not there yet when we arrived in the vicinity so we all stopped at a sidewalk café and the tour directors paid the bill for everyone.
3) In Nijmegen at the end of our walking tour, we were introduced to herring Dutch style and invited to try it. Again the tour directors paid the bill
4) In Brussels we had about three hours from the time our walking tour ended until we could check into our hotel, so the tour directors gave everyone 20 euros for lunch.
5) Warm hand towels and a refreshing beverage greeted us on every return to the boat.
All of the tours were well organized and in most cases they utilized local guides. We had Vox listening tools so that we did not miss anything and the Vox fit into a charger in our cabin.
We were very lucky that the Netherlands had had a mild winter, because of this we got to see the Keukenhof Gardens in full bloom. This is an impressive place for anyone who enjoys beauty especially living beauty.
We had a private dinner at the Flanders Field Museum in Leper. The dinner followed us spending time viewing the exhibits after the museum was closed to the public.
The Delft Porcelain factory tour was enlightening. It is now easier to know if a piece of Delft just comes from the city of Delft or is Delft style as opposed to being crafted at the Delft Porcelain Factory.
We had a lovely lunch in the wine cellar at Chateunappe. The chateau is on the border of Belgium and the Netherlands.
A very interesting morning was spent doing a farm visit and a windmill visit. Another tour took us to the Delta Project which shows the way the North Sea is held back from being able to flood the Zeeland.
We got to visit art museums, war museums and the Red Star Museum which showed the transport of immigrants from the Netherlands to America.
These are just a few of the tours. You can do them all or just select the ones you want and then walk around the cities that the boat is docked near.
Our Tour Directors were Joeri, Yener and Sofia. They are knowledgeable and interesting.
They let us know what we were going to see and the history behind it.
Our bus drivers were at each stop waiting for us and they made navigating the narrow streets and roads look easy.
I have to mention that the staff on this boat was friendly, efficient and always ready to fill requests. This is everyone from the Captain to the Housekeepers.
Tauck is definitely not all talk. Most of the passengers we spoke with have taken more than one Tauck cruise or tour. They all agree that you always get your moneys worth when you book with Tauck. I have to say that I can understand their feeling.
Written by Toby Snyder, Assistant to Linda Allen