Review: MS Johann Strauss
Cruise - River Cruise
Eight countries in three weeks!
64 people found this review helpful
We have just returned from the Amsterdam to Black Sea river cruise on the MS Johann Strauss. Any fears that we had picked up from previous reviews were soon dispelled.
The ship is well appointed and the cabins are spotlessly clean and well looked after.
The food was good to excellent and there was virtually no repeat of the menu over a 22 day cruise. The portion sizes were "sensible" and despite this my wife and I both added at least 7 pounds to our body weight.
All of the staff on board are well motivated and looked after our every need.
The cruise Director Cesar Perez is a true professional and dealt with situations as they arose with skill and clarity.
Before we set off from Scotland, our concern was that the Danube would be overflowing! The exact opposite was experienced. Water levels in both the Rhine and the Danube were critically low and were causing problems to most of the river cruise fleets.
We were fortunate to have on board MS Johann Strauss two very experienced captains to navigate us through the sand banks and other hazards, sometimes having to scrape along the bottom.
Anyone with a reasonable level of intelligence and expectation should always read the "small print" prior to booking a river cruise as the conditions specifically draw your attention the the fact that itinerary, ports of call, and hours of arrival are subject to change without notice. Water levels and weather conditions must be taken into account.
Before "beefing" about any changes, the passengers should have made themselves fully aware of clauses 7(h) to 7(n) which clearly set out Noble Caledonia's policy on such matters.
On the evening of day 10 of the cruise whilst in Regensburg we were advised that the water levels further down stream were at a critically low level, such that the MS Johann Strauss could not continue passage until they rose by several centimeters and as no rain was forecast in the foreseeable future, there was a possibility that we may have to wait in Regensburg for some time until water levels were more predictable, and that an alternative programme based on outings from Regensburg for the following day would be arranged. A shore excursion to Weltenburg and Kelheim was arranged, and we returned to the ship late afternoon to await an update on the water level situation. Had things not improved by the next day, a one night trip to Prague was suggested as an option for those who wished to go.
Sadly some of the passengers were getting mutinous and there was much talk of suing, compensation, etc all of which was most unreasonable and unrealistic given that it was not the fault of Noble Caledonia that water levels impeded passage onward.
During our enforced stay in Regensurg the Noble Caledonia team must have been working very hard as they had even identified flights home for those who were too impatient to await the situation on day 14 of the cruise when it had been indicated by the tour director that if we could not proceed by that time, then we would be sent home.
Fortunately it must have rained somewhere in the vicinity as the water levels went up a bit and the captain bravely and unexpectedly left Regensburg at 2am in the morning, gently scraping the bottom of the Rhine a few times on the way!
We moored at a point some 45 mins drive in a coach to Passau and those who wished could take advantage of this to get to Passau whilst the ship sailed to Passau when we could all get back on board. All of this must have taken a lot of extra organisation on the part of the cruse director, and effectively we had "caught up" on our expected ports of call albeit a day later than anticipated.
This did have a silver lining however as we arrived in Budapest a day later than anticipated which coincided with the Hungarian Feast of St Stephen. The arrival in Budapest around 11pm in the evening was magical with all of the buildings fully illuminated. The next evening we were entertained in a ring side seat of the Fireworks display as we were moored opposite Gellart Hill and able to catch a better than expected view of the festivities.
Water levels continued to give concern and we were updated every day clearly and succinctly by our tour director as to what further changes to our programme might be considered necessary as our sailing time to reach our final destination at the Black Sea had been curtailed by our "extra" night in Regensburg.
We got to our final destination on time but having missed a shore stop in Kalocsa.
Even the "mutineers" seemed to be happy with the outcome at the end of the trip, and nobody took up the option of cutting their holiday short and going home early! It was sad that the few souls who were due to join the ship at Vienna had been advised of cancellation, but at the time the decision was made when passage onward from Regensurg was unclear Noble Caledonia probably had no alternative to do otherwise.
Overall we thoroughly enjoyed the experience and would have no hesitation about travelling with Noble Caledonia again.
64 people found this review helpful
This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.
Silver Travel Advisor Recommended Partner: Noble Caledonia - Small Ship Cruises