Old World Prague & the Blue Danube
The good, the bad and the best
This was our 12th GCT experience, and our third river cruise on GCCL. A comprehensive, detailed and multi-faceted trip into the past, especially for those of us like me, born in Europe between 1938 and 1945.
Our PD, Lukas, a Czech whose pride in his country was evident, did justice to it and to the other East European countries that we visited: Hungary (Budapest), Slovakia (Bratislava), Austria (Vienna, Salzburg, Durnstein, Melk) and Czech Republic (Cesky Krumlov and Prague). He was definitely one of the very best PD's we've ever had. Knowledgeable, professional, funny, resourceful, kind and always cool.
For travelers with walking difficulties (I have osteoarthritis and walk with a cane), beware that every tour off the ship is a WALKING one -- except when we went to Salzburg, and to Prague from Linz, when we took a coach. However, for those same passengers, the ship was equipped with an electric chair rail to reach the upper deck, which the inside elevator didn't. It was a true blessing, because we had fantastic weather for 90% of the cruise, and spending time on the deck was a real treat.
The food was very good for the most part. Especially the soups and the desserts. But beware of the "free wine" now available in 2015 at lunches and dinners. You don't have to be a wine expert to instantly wonder why on earth GCT served such lousy wine -- red or white alike. I wound up buying my own directly at the bar (you can buy it by the bottle, and they'll keep your bottle in the fridge with your cabin number on it).
The crew were, as usual, wonderfully friendly, helpful and courteous, ready to go out of their way any time to make you happy. Although I must admit that I am not comfortable with crew members calling me by my first name right off the bat. I would suggest they are trained with asking the passengers, from the first moment, whether they want to be called "Jane", or "Ms. Doe".
Possibly could have used a little more free time, or a slower pace. And I don't really care for the Whispers, which, while they serve their purpose, allow the guide or PD to move along at their own pace, without giving much thought to the gaggle of us who are trying to catch up while at the same time handling their cameras. And when you hear the guide or PD say "Here" or "There", you don't necessarily know what he/she is talking about, since you might be 200 yards behind!
Our favorite spots were Budapest at night from our upper deck, the village of Cesky Kremlov (a little jewel), the concert in Vienna, and the old Town Square in Prague. But every site, every venue, every square, was way too crowded already. It makes you wonder what places are left in the world to explore and enjoy without feeling submerged in a mob scene.
Finally, I, as well as my husband and the people who were traveling with, had the uncomfortable feeling throughout of being herded like cattle. There were three colored groups, yes, but they always were and went together all the time and everywhere. So the final effect was that of a group of 120 passengers. I don't know how it can be remedied, but that's the way most of us felt.
✔ Yes, I recommend this trip.