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Trip Report Danube Luftner Cruise on Amadeus Silver – Value below what we expected

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We booked a 14-day cruise for August 2015 through Gate 1 on Luftner’s Amadeus Silver from Amsterdam to Budapest. Because of low water, the first 5 days were a bus tour and we boarded the ship in Passau. This review is not about the substituted bus tour (which I will address in a separate posting). This review solely presents my comments and opinions about the 9-day cruise on the Danube from Passau to Budapest.

This was our 54th cruise, but only our 3rd cruise on a small riverboat. It is a given that riverboats do not have the amenities and choices that are available on the ocean cruises, but this cruise was the least nice of all our preceding 51 ocean cruises and 2 river cruises.

The cabin was fine in all respects. The temperature control for both cooling and heating was the best we ever had on any ship. We could make the room as cool or as warm as we wanted - in minutes.

Cabin size was 172 square feet, which I consider average.

We upgraded to a French balcony, but realized during the cruise that this was a waste of money. While the novel power-operated window worked properly, and a French balcony is an interesting concept, we soon learned that we did not want to open a cabin-wide window to hot air, humidity, bugs, etc. On a real balcony, you can sit outside with the door closed, which is not the case for a French balcony.

We did open the power window in the morning to check the outside temperature before leaving the cabin.

The ship’s public areas were okay but not as fancy as on our two previous river cruises. Riverboats have few amenities compared with ocean-going ships and therefore cannot be compared with them. The Amadeus Silver’s public areas were nice, but not as nice as we experienced with Viking River Cruises or on any other ship.

The food was wholesome and nicely presented. However, the value and selection of cuts and available food items were well below all of our previous 53 cruises. The breakfast offerings were unremarkable and seemed to be the same every day except for one item. The dinner offerings did not include any nice cuts of beef or lamb. The food was tasty for sure but no more than adequate, and only 2- to 3-star value at best, and not the 5-stars we have always received in the past.

The dining room seemed understaffed and the servers overworked. Service was unusually slow most nights. Two of the evening dinners were buffet style for which we had to serve ourselves. We never experienced this for dinner on any of our 53 prior cruises. This is not what a 4- or 5-star cruising should be about!

For three of the nine days (33.3%), we were docked more than an hour away from where we wanted to be. For Vienna, we docked in Nussdorf, a distant suburb of Vienna. As written in the Luftner daily program, to reach Vienna one had to walk about 20 minutes along the river, then walk 200 meters from a bicycle store to a tunnel, then through the tunnel to Nussdofer Platz, and then to the nearest tram stop. When we add the time waiting for the next tram, and the tram ride into the city, this trip took approximately 1 hour 10 minutes for just one direction.

To my count, there were 3 boats (two of Luftner’s) docked in distant Nussdorf, and 13 boats docked in Downtown Vienna. It turns out that (per a posted sign) Luftner owns the Nussdorf pier and property. Instead docking in Downtown Vienna, Luftner docks in the remote suburb of Nussdorf. This is cheap, cheap, cheap, and very inconvenient for ship passengers!!!

Luftner Corporate later wrote me that Nussdorf is a prime location because of its proximity to the wine areas. In my opinion, that is not true from a practical perspective. To get to the wine villages, we had travel into Vienna to board the hop-on/hop-off bus going to the wine area. Docking in Nussdorf is cheap and undesirable. I suggest that you search the Internet for the Nussdorf dock and/or Vienna docking and see what other people are saying about Nussdorf. Absolutely none of our fellow cruisers we spoke with on the ship wanted to be docked in Nussdorf.

The onboard entertainment consisted of a female singer and her accompanying pianist. They were okay. Local entertainment was only brought on board for one of the nine nights. This was the worst quality entertainment offerings we have ever experienced in 54 cruises.

This Luftner Amadeus Silver cruise had the lowest quality and value when compared to all of our 53 prior cruises. Overall, I rate the cruise we experienced to be about 2 to 3 stars, and the distant docking to be a terrible 0 stars.

Steve McEvoy
West Chester, PA, USA

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