Security of docked vessels
Does the ship maintain a security watch at the gangway while the vessel is docked in the various cities? Are vendors that supply the vessel vetted so as to reduce the opportunity for an outside actor to do harm to the vessel or its occupants?
As to security on the gangway, no generally not. There is staff always at the front reception desk thru which everyone passes getting on or off the ship. I never saw anyone who looked like a security guard.
Not to alarm you, but there is also the chance that your ship may be double or triple stacked alongside another river cruise ship (Tauck or one of the other companies like Viking, AMA, etc). The reception areas & entrance doors line up so that passengers just walk straight thru until they reach the gangplank to the riverside.
You room is always locked and you either have your room keycard with you or you leave it with reception when going ashore. That way they know who isn't on board.
Yes, indeed, some things are soft targets. But you don't need to leave your home country to become a soft target. I always feel a sigh of relief when I leave some countries. But it's not going to stop me learning about the world and discovering where the good is in all nationalities.
Don't know about a security plan. And sadly, all "westerners" are targets these days. Most of the sights you'll be visiting are also "soft targets".
You can drive yourself nuts thinking about it. I worried about this a bit before booking our first Tauck river cruise. Then finally came to the decision that I wasn't going to live my life in fear and miss out on seeing the places I wanted to see. We're all going to die and its much more likely going to be a car accident while on a routine errand, from cancer/heart disease, etc. than a terrorist attack.
Prudence is one thing, missing out on what life has to offer due to fear is another.
I am at a loss to understand that anyone would disregard the safety of the workers on the boats, day in day out, as if their lives don't matter but an American Tauck travelers's life does.
Do you have the same concerns when you stay in a hotel overseas? Or, at least in Europe where the majority of the Tauck river cruises (especially for the trip in this thread) take place? Yes, the ships are "soft-targets" as are the hotels, restaurants, shops, theaters, etc. which you probably visit without a second thought. The fact these are ships is, perhaps, misleading. You can't highjack a river cruise boat and sail it to some safe haven while demanding ransom. While you could conceivably sink a river cruise boat, much of the travel is in man-made channels that are quite shallow...the top deck would most likely be above water.
There is a comparable level of security on board the river cruise ships as you'll find in a hotel in the same region.
I have, professionally, some insight into security and if you are highly concerned about the situation, I'd suggest another tour since this may weigh heavily on your mind.
I understand your perspective. I guess my bottom line point is that its a big world with lots of soft targets of which river cruise boats don't stand out any more, IMHO, than the other venues I mentioned. Attacking a large public facility like an airport or a subway system guarantees a lot of media attention which they seek. River cruise ships are pretty low profile and there are a lot of them.
My advice is to relax and enjoy the Christmas Markets. And drink plenty of Gluhwein!
I figure that every time I leave the Washington metro area, my security improves.
I remember Rome 1974. I remember Kent State and Sandy Hook, too. Sadly, there are crazies and evil people everywhere. That doesn't mean everyone is crazy or evil.
If you don't feel comfortable away from your home, that's probably how you will always feel. You are quite entitled to your view and I wouldn't presume to influence you. But perhaps it might be best for you to stay within your comfort zone.
That's the heart of it, right there.
I live about 3 miles from Sandy Hook Elementary School -- only reason my youngest wasn't there on the fateful day is that there is a town line between my house and the school -- it is actually closer to my house than the school she did attend. This is white collar, small town, upper income suburbia in CT. There is virtually no crime here, the median household income is around $100K, and the average home price is around $600K. That's part of why I live here. Look what happened.
There is risk in everything we do. The risk may be greater or lesser depending on any number of factors, and in the end each person must make their own mind up as to what they consider to be an "acceptable" level of risk. But regardless of the risk level, there are no guarantees in life. (See Sandy Hook.) Personally, I don't think I would travel to Egypt or Indonesia or several other places right now. A river cruise in Europe? Not even worried. But that's just where I draw my line -- everyone needs to make their own decisions.