Trip Report - Rhine & Moselle Southbound May 13 departure

We're back from a lovely trip. Europe had a May heat wave, which took us a little by surprise because it was not in the forecasts when we were packing, and we wished we had brought fewer coats and more pairs of shorts! The good news is that we had very little rain and lots of sunny days. Our Tauck guide, who has done this trip many, many times and is from Germany said she had never seen the Rhine Falls before on a sunny day!

This is a good itinerary, but comes in second to The Blue Danube. As many others have noted, most of the destinations on this trip require bus rides, some of them very long (Luxembourg, Trier, Rhine Falls), which gets tedious. But the destinations were worth it in our opinion--you just have to be mentally prepared for it. We were spoiled on the Danube with the ship being docked right at the places we were visiting. The Moselle River valley was the big highlight for us--it is so scenic, and the way they plant those vineyards straight up the mountainsides is truly amazing. Our other favorites were: Canal cruise and visit with a family living on a houseboat in Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, De Hoge Veluwe National Park, Reichsburg Castle, Luxembourg, and Heidelburg Castle.

There are only two "dress up" evenings on this cruise, the castle dinner near Cologne, and the chef's signature dinner on board, which was on the evening after we visited Baden-Baden. About two-thirds of the men in our group wore a sport coat for both dinners, and half of those wore a tie.

There is so much to see and do in Amsterdam that Tauck doesn't cover and so I highly recommend arriving at least 2-3 days early. We went to Keukenhof Gardens, Haarlem, and the Van Gogh museum before the tour started, and the Anne Frank House and Zaanse Schans when we went back to Amsterdam at the end before flying home. All of those were fabulous and well worth doing.

A special note for Claudia about Zaanse Schans--It is a historical Dutch village circa 1850. The experience is similar to visiting Colonial Williamsburg or Sturbridge Village in the US. We went with a private guide booked through Viator because we were pretty tired by the end of our trip and weren't up for finding our own way there on the train. It turned out to be a great decision because he was so knowledgeable about the area and gave us all sorts of information we probably wouldn't have gleaned on our own, and we traveled in his air-conditioned car instead of sweating it out on the train. We saw how they make wooden clogs, learned all about cheese-making, and climbed up in a working windmill. It was a great way to spend our last day of the trip, and we also did our last bit of shopping there instead of at the airport--good quality items, especially Delft and cheese.

I'm happy to answer questions about this cruise.

Comments

  • Kalcat, thanx for the update on Zaanse Schans. It sounds fun. We'll have to consider the tour guide option when we get closer.

    I'm looking forward to the Danube and being docked near the sights. The only one on the Rhine/Moselle that was particularly bad was the day we went to Baden Baden. We were docked in an area that felt like a ship yard. Tried to take an afternoon walk and it wasn't particularly scenic or enjoyable in any way. We loved the Moselle and were fascinated by how they grew and harvested the grapes. Also Heidelberg and Strasbourg.

    Focusing on Ireland right now. Getting close.
  • edited June 2018
    Well, back to the Rhine. Thanks CalKat for the trip report. Looking forward to our trip in a couple of weeks. Hope we are blessed with weather as good as your's was. My wife and I have done the Danube - which we still look back on as one of our most enjoyable trips ever. We know the Rhine is different (more of the Rhine is industrial than is the Danube), but are really looking forward to it. Years ago (many), my wife and our two (we now have three) kids (very young) drove along the Mosel and had a wonderful time overnighting in small Gasthaus's. We did the Volga a few years ago (Moscow to St. Petersburg) and that rates well up there on the enjoyable scale also.

    I guess I'm resigned to lugging along a sport coat, although I can't say I'm thrilled about it.

    CalKat, is there anything you wished you had brought along, but didn't, or anything you brought along that you wished you hadn't?
  • edited June 2018
    We have found that the green book we have been sent for our upcoming Iceland trip is different than we expected. It made it appear that we get to see all the tours that we thought were optional choices. Then some time later we got the email from Tauck asking us to chose the optional tours, by that time we had discarded and forgotten all our original notes and research about whichever we would prefer to see.
    I haven't looked at the Ireland itinerary for a while but always thought it was not so good. I don't want to go to a Waterford crystal factory or see Belleek china, I want to see beautiful Ireland. My Grandfather being Irish and my mother spending a chunk of her childhood there, I have never been. When we were younger we were put off going because of all the violence we were seeing on the TV during the Troubles. Mr B has been several times on business, it's not at the top of his 'go to' list. I looked at a rival company's trip, it looks much better and covers way more, but having experienced them once, that was enough plus their cancelation policy is just to put the money towards another trip, so what if you cancel because of an illness that means you can't travel again! Also, you have to pay by check in total on booking to guarantee the price. I have never had to cancel a trip, but the time will come.
  • edited June 2018
    Wallaroo wrote:
    Well, back to the Rhine. Thanks CalKat for the trip report. Looking forward to our trip in a couple of weeks. Hope we are blessed with weather as good as your's was. My wife and I have done the Danube - which we still look back on as one of our most enjoyable trips ever. We know the Rhine is different (more of the Rhine is industrial than is the Danube), but are really looking forward to it. Years ago (many), my wife and our two (we now have three) kids (very young) drove along the Mosel and had a wonderful time overnighting in small Gasthaus's. We did the Volga a few years ago (Moscow to St. Petersburg) and that rates well up there on the enjoyable scale also.

    I guess I'm resigned to lugging along a sport coat, although I can't say I'm thrilled about it.

    CalKat, is there anything you wished you had brought along, but didn't, or anything you brought along that you wished you hadn't?

    The Rhine is more industrial than the Danube, as you say, but mostly that just means that you see a lot of barges carrying coal and gravel, which is very interesting because the barge captains seem to take their cars along with them and we had a great time figuring out how they get their cars on and off the barges. It is all still quite scenic. The only place that isn't scenic is where the boat docks for Baden-Baden.

    You can definitely get away without the sport coat if you want, since there are only two fancy dinners on this cruise. I think it really depends on the group; our group seemed to have a higher average age than some of our other trips. Also, the weather makes a difference. The forecast for our trip was to have temps mostly in 50's and 60's, so probably more people brought sport coats than would in summer. Overall, I would say this trip is less dressy than The Blue Danube, which had four fancy dinners.

    The forecasts were wrong for our trip. We ended up having weather mostly in 70's and 80's. So I wished I had brought a larger selection of warm weather clothes! My husband had thrown in one pair of shorts and wished he had two. We had to buy sunscreen on the boat, no big deal. I had toyed with the idea of not bringing my good Canon DSLR camera with telephoto zoom lens, but was glad I brought it--really no way to get the good castle shots with just an iPhone. I got way more shots with sunny, blue skies than I expected, as we had very little rain.
  • Wallaroo wrote:
    Any need for bug spray?

    We didn't need bug spray, but June could be different. You might throw some in, or there are many chances on this trip to visit and experience shopping in local pharmacies.
  • Hi CalKat -

    did the cabins on the boat have washcloths (notable missing in many European hotels).?
  • Yes, they have hand towels.

  • Ah, but do they have washcloths? ( not the same as hand towels - at least not in the U.S.)
  • edited June 2018
    Yes, we had washcloths on the MS Inspire!! They weren't hung on the racks with the towels, but instead rolled up and placed on the bathroom sink counter.
  • Sorry, I should have been clearer. Below is a link to the usatoday photo slide show with a shot of a Tauck bathroom showing the towels (it's the Category 6 stateroom).

    https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/cruises/2018/04/17/tauck-river-cruise-ships-europe-emerge-makeover/523375002/
  • Wow Claudia - Pretty awesome pics of a Tauck boat. They really have created a winner. I've never seen a riverboat with a two-deck high lobby. The bathrooms look fantastic. Looking forward to our journey (now I just hope Air France isn't too screwed up with their strike actions to get us to Basel on time).
  • USA Today also has slide shows of the MS Inspire and Savor. Loads of photos. You can really see the stateroom layouts and details.

    Have a great cruise.
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