Savoring France Trip Report April 6, 2022…Buffet Dinners!

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Comments

  • My comments were general, itineraries do have to be looked at. My complaints are the opposite, too much time spent on the boats!

  • I have been mostly on land trips - often with long bus rides with interesting information from the TA and stops along the way. I have also done 1 river cruise (Amsterdam-Basel) and 1 small Pondant boat (Japan). My minor irk was that especially on the river cruise, we spent much time going back and forth to the boat for lunch! I suppose it had to be this way because (1) the meals were included and (2) usually there was a morning option and afternoon option. But many travelers weigh the pros and cons - select the type of trip that works for them! I am one of those who enjoys hearing the TA’s commentary while enjoying the view! The bus rides on land tours are a conveyance - to move you to the next spot!!

  • I enjoy everyone's comments here. I have done 42 Tauck tours in the past, but nothing since 2018, land tours or boat cruising, all pre-pandemic, due to knee replacement surgeries. I have scheduled to repeat one Tauck tour in Dec. 2022 (Christmas Markets on the Danube riverboat cruise). So I am quite interested in hearing everyone's experiences now, both land tours and riverboat cruises. It seems from what I have been hearing there have been quite a few changes over the past few years in Europe. It is what it is, I guess.

  • edited April 15

    Claudia, I'm not a big carnivore, did not grow up with a lot of meat, but sorry to hear you loathe roast lamb, or is it all lamb for maybe animal welfare reasons? I'd take a lamb burger over a hunk of beef any day; even in the most expensive European cities gyro stands provide an affordable tasty meal. I think Tauck now usually offers a non-meat alternative, esp. if arranged in advance.

  • Marketart, I'm not a vegetarian or a carnivore, I just don't like the taste of most lamb. My SIL does an excellent marinaded charcoal grilled lamb, but all others I've tried I hated. I agree Tauck is much better at giving options now but this was 2014 and there were none for that dinner. It's not like I starved that night after days of eating eating eating.

    I hope Scylla gets their staffing and supply chain issues solved soon. They were fabulous on our 2019 Budapest to Amsterdam cruise.

  • Claudia, was your Rhine, Moselle cruise with Tauck? I did that with Uniworld and there wasn’t much bus time at all and many ports were walkable from the ship. Must have been different stops.

  • edited April 15

    Can anyone give some feedback on the excursions? Can you choose to do both excursions each day? Also, any suggestions for camera lenses to take on the excursions? My wife and I are traveling on this trip in September. Hopefully things will be a bit better.

  • There were 3 days where you had to choose excursions. Most days had AM and PM excursions and you could do both.

  • When I was on Danube and Rhine riverboat cruises with Scylla boats with Tauck in 2018 and earlier, the crews were mostly from lands in the Central Pacific area; they were great then and I was hoping that Scylla would bring them back. Claudia, were any of those crews on the Scylla boats you traveled on from that area, i.e. Central Pacific lands? Just curious.

  • I dug out my green book on Rhine/Moselle cruise (2015) and once we left Amsterdam the only stops with walkable port areas were: Remagen walked to museum next to the bridge, Bernkastel on the Moselle and Boppard on the Rhine. In Boppard we took the opportunity to ride the chair lift to the hill top. Very fun. Everything else required bus time. For Baden Baden and Basel the dockage was in somewhat industrial areas. That was 7 years ago so some things may have changed.

    As for crews, it's been mixed between eastern European and Asian. We've always been impressed with their crews. Funny thing was when we realized the people serving hot appetizers at happy hour were also our room attendants. The first river cruise goes by in a blur then later ones you start figuring our details.about how the ship operates.

  • On the Savoring France that I just completed the crew were from Cyprus, Romania and Bulgaria and they were excellent.

    Claudia, sounds like the Amsterdam to Basel w Tauck was very different from my Uniworld itin..

  • Mike the Elder--We will be on the May 8 Savoring France tour. I expect to take my new iPhone 13 Pro with its 3 cameras, plus a Fujifilm APS-C body with 18-135 lens, giving it the equivalent of a 27-200 mm lens in 35 mm speak. If I survive COVID and rich food and wine on the trip, I'll let you know how it went.

    Everyone-- thank you for trip reporting and feedback. That's the value of this forum. I'll try to do my part and report on my trip. One tidbit already: the U.S. Embassy has warned us of civil unrest in many French cities this weekend due to protests against fascism. I expect there will be more unrest after the French presidential election on April 24, regardless of the winner.

  • tomh, I remember a charming steward from Singapore, super-friendly and gracious, but cannot place exactly which cruise. I recall summer cruises staffed with Eastern European students. There is usually quite a mix of nationalities aboard.

  • RickS_ I have a trip to Portugal coming up on the 27th, and debating on just using my newer iPhone 12, and leaving my good camera gear at home. Or lugging the camera gear, since it's a great one. I'm on the fence, going towards just the iPhone. I've traveled a lot but never did a tour. I'm only bringing on carry-on going over. Tough decision!

  • edited April 16

    On a PBS AMA Waterways cruise, Lyon to Arles 2011 with Burt Wolf, we mostly walked into town. So no bus issues, but we did have to contend with a vessel on its last voyage and headed to the junkyard & a lovesick Mr. Wolf without his new young wife; let's just say he was not the ideal guest tour director to have onboard. 🙃

  • Thank you all for the info on some of the crews that you recently traveled with aboard those Scylla boats. It sounds as though the crews were not a problem, but maybe whomever was in the kitchens aboard some of those boats with the food. Interesting to know for future reference.

  • Mike the Elder…there is usually a tour of the town/city that everyone goes on in the morning followed by a choice of excursions in the afternoon. Tomorrow in Viviers, we are docking mid morning, so you have a choice of two excursions that will last perhaps longer and include more. In Paris, we had more free time allowing you to customize on your own but a very good city tour on your first full day.

  • Tom, the U.S. isn't in some bubble where only we have staffing and supply chain issues. The European tourist industry is trying to recover from almost 2 years of no or little business. Fyi, the kitchen staff is part of the ships "hotel" staff along with the bartenders, waiters/waitresses, cabin attendants and reception staff. They along with the people who actually make the ship move are the crew. I fully expect Scylla ships will return to their outstanding pre-covid performance.

  • edited April 17

    I have only had one river cruise during COVID times and I experienced the same level of service as I did during pre-COVID times. Moreover, I don't concern myself with or even think about the nationality, ethnicity, gender or any other "label" prescribed by some to others. All I care about is receiving the stellar level of service that Tauck has always given me.

  • We were on the Rhine and Moselle river cruise last September and the crew were absolutely wonderful and the food was just delicious like many of our previous cruises before COVID.  Every country right now is having a difficult time.  Also, I must add that complaining about food and staff right now just shows how spoiled we are when one thinks about what is happening to the people in Ukraine.

  • Not appreciating being judged as spoiled or callous when I have reasonable expectations for Tauck to maintain quality of food, service and Covid safety. The Ukraine war is not related to this discussion.

  • We are all spoiled including me! Just be grateful!

  • Gourmet Gal, I totally agree with you and I have done 42 tours with Tauck prior to 2019.

  • You (Gourmet Gal) mention the dining “hall” at Chateau d’Uzes. Pre Covid-fall 2019 we had cocktails and champagne in the forward/entry courtyard then dined in the rear courtyard under lights strung throughout the trees. The entire experience that evening - live chamber music trio and the food/wine and service were among the highlights of that tour. For me it was well worth the bus excursion with informative commentary and scenery along the way. The bus ride afterward in the dark to return to the Emerald however did not allow for scenic observation. Obviously bus travel allows for a different experience compared to cruising a river. The Chateau D’Uzes experience was far better in every respect to my Tauck dinner August 2021 at Casa de la Seda in Barcelona that did not require travel by bus through countryside. The dining hall there was stuffy, malodorous, and had a damp feeling. The explanation of the silk trade prior to diner was interesting but much too lengthy. I looked at maps prior to reserving my upcoming June Douro “cruise”. Distance-wise there will be far more bus travel compared to river cruising…. from Lisbon to Porto, excursions in the Douro Valley, and finally from the Portugal border to Salamanca and then Madrid. I hope the scenery and commentary make the bus travel worth the “cruise”. So far the forum commentary is positive regarding the Douro plus Lisbon & Madrid “cruise”.

  • Patrice - Please review your Lisbon to Madrid tour on this forum when you return. There has already been one very comprehensive review which was positive and encouraging. We are on this trip next year so a few other reviews would certainly be welcome by us. Thanks in advance.

  • Patrice, funny about Chateau d’Uzes. My DH and I agreed it was the worst dinner other than the 2 buffet dinners and our least favorite excursion. It did not compare to the wonderful dinner, concert and dancing we experienced in Vienna with Tauck. The food at the Chateau was really so-so and we did not dine outdoors but in what used to be the kitchen. Yes, the music was a nice touch but the whole experience was nothing special and we thought if Tauck eliminated it from the tour it wouldn’t be missed. The highlight of the tour was the lunch at the bull ranch in The Camargue. Such generous hosts and the food, even though very casual was delicious.

  • Patrice, I am booked on the shorter Douro cruise in the fall and will be driving ourselves from Lisbon to Porto with stops along the way. The difference between the French/German rivers and the Douro is there is no sailing at night so we will at least have some relaxing, scenic time onboard during the day. I heard the bus rides along the Douro were not that long.

  • edited April 20

    Yes, the two longest bus rides on the Douro cruise are from Madrid to the Portuguese border, with a stop in Salamanca and then from Porto to Lisbon, with a stop in Coimbra. The topography is quite different on each ride. I enjoy bus rides since it affords me the opportunity to watch the scenery roll by as I anticipate the next portion of the tour.

    For those who reacted favorably to my Nov 2021 review, thank you. I, too, look forward to reading more reviews since it is always beneficial to gain another perspective. Safe travels to all.

  • Bus ride from Madrid to Porto with a stop in Salamanca? I thought it was Madrid to Barca d'Alva.

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