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Trip Report Gate 1 Cruise on Luftner’s Amadeus Silver – Substituted Bus Tour

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We booked a 14-night cruise through Gate 1 from Amsterdam to Budapest on Luftner’s Amadeus Silver. Just before we left for Europe, we were told that because of low water, we would receive a 5-day substitute bus tour and then join the ship in Passau for a 9-day cruise on the Danube. Our cruise review was previously posted a short while ago.

When told about the substitute bus tour, we were offered the opportunity to cancel and get a refund of the cruise fare, but neither Luftner nor Gate 1 would refund the $2000+ airfare that was purchased as part of the package. This was the first unhappy surprise.

Luftner did not provide Gate 1 or us information about the hotels until the day after the go/no-go decision had to be made. Thus, we were forced to make the important go/no-go decision without knowing the qualities or locations of the hotels that Luftner was substituting for the cruise ship. This, in my opinion, was unfair unless the hotel ratings and locations were truly equivalent – and they were not!!!

Luftner claims at least twice on its website that the Amadeus Silver is a 5-star hotel. That is a major reason why we booked this cruise.

As it turned out, not one of the substituted hotels was or is rated 5 stars. For instance, the Amsterdam hotel was the Courtyard Atlas Arena, for which the star ratings range from 3.0 stars (Trabber Hotels) to 3.5 stars (hotels.com and Venere.com) to 4.0 (Trip Advisor and Expedia).

This hotel’s location is terrible and way out in the suburbs and far from Central Amsterdam. The nearest train station is 10 metro stops away from Central Station. Walking to the station, buying a ticket, waiting for the next train (Sunday headways) and riding to the City Center took approximately 1 hour each way. This was a terrible way to spend our free day in Amsterdam. This hotel was a bad substitute for the cruise ship and its normal Amsterdam dock/pier.

The Hotel Kongress in Bamberg is widely rated to be 3.0 and 3.5 stars, and well below 5 stars. We disliked this hotel because of extreme heat and discomfort in both the room and in the hotel hallways. The hotel staff admitted that that these conditions were ongoing problems.

In summary, none of the substituted hotels is rated 5 stars as is the ship. Two hotels are rated “a solid” 4 stars, and two of the hotels are rated significantly lower than that.

Luftner substituted lower quality hotels and did not tell us the hotel names or locations until after the go/no-go decision had to be made. This was very unfair.

The substituted meals for the five days were all below cruise-ship standards. All five dinners were served buffet style and not the fine sit-down dining experienced on cruise ships.

There were a number of other downgrades we received while on the bus tour when compared with what we would have received on the ship.

Low water is an Act of God and/or something that cruise lines cannot prevent. But was the downgrading of our vacation necessary, or was the downgrading something that Luftner could have avoided?

During the cruise, we met a few Viking River Cruises (VRC) tour guides and cruise passengers. Those booked all the way from Amsterdam to Budapest (in either direction) were being accommodated by ship all the way. They were being bused around the low water in a single day while touring interesting places in between. While they had to pack and unpack once, they were receiving all of their nights on the water and on two equivalent ships, and no nights in a hotel.

Since returning home, I contacted VRC and they confirmed what I was told. VRC protected their passengers using what they call “ship swap,” and busing the passengers around the low-water area. VRC said that their cruise schedules are set up to minimize passenger impacts because of low-water conditions, and that is what they did in this case.

It is obvious to me that VRC planned and intended to take as best care of the VRC clients as possible, and that Luftner was not prepared for the low-water conditions, and that Luftner did not take prudent steps to minimize impacts on its clients!!!

In summary, I believe that Luftner treated us very unfairly and poorly. Gate 1 told me that they petitioned Luftner to provide some amends for these and other issues that we experienced and reported, but that Luftner refused to provide any adjustment. Apparently, Gate 1 has no leverage or clout with Luftner!? In any case, Gate 1 blamed Luftner for all the problems we reported.

(Gate 1 did provide a pro rata refund of the cabin upgrade (French balcony) we paid because it was something not received during the 5 land days.)

Steve McEvoy
West Chester, PA
samcevoy@aol.com

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