Felt aspects of cruise-tour not up to par

This item appears on page 34 of the August 2009 issue.

My husband, Tom, and I took the “Danube Discovery Cruise” with smarTours, Sept. 24-Oct. 7, 2008, as well as the pretrip “Dracula Castle Extension” on Sept. 23. The pretrip was a bus tour with a guide and was done very well. After boarding the ship Kleine Prinz, however, the whole trip fell apart, we felt.

On the cruise, we had day guides at all the stops and all were adequate, but none made sure they were giving their talk in a place where we could actually hear it. We had talks surrounded by traffic, construction and leaf blowers.

In the town of Bratislava, Slovakia, a specific tour of the Primate’s Palace was totally eliminated from the itinerary, as was St. Martin’s Cathedral. When questioned, the day guide said that no one ever went there. It was listed in our itinerary on day five.

The food on board, while having been advertised as modest, was repetitive and, in my opinion, awful. Food is not of high importance to us, but when you find yourself foraging off the boat for anything rather than face another of those meals, you know it is pretty bad.

Soups, billed as vegetable, chicken noodle, etc., were mostly clear, tasteless broth with one or two veggies and possibly a piece of meat. The fruit consisted of unripe peaches, apples and bananas.

The salad bar at lunch was the same every day. One time they actually served the spaghetti from the night before as a cold salad choice.

For dinner, the pork and chicken were, I felt, tasteless and dry. The spaghetti was without flavor, although I believe they were trying for a red sauce; it was colored a pale pink.

In contrast, the crew on board Kleine Prinz were wonderful, efficient, pleasant and helpful.

We have traveled with smar­Tours in the past and have been very satisfied and in some cases very impressed with their tours for the prices they charge.

I would heartily recommend smarTours’ trip to South Africa (we went in October ’07) and to India (October ’06). In those countries, we found smarTours’ personnel to be professional and, in some cases, absolutely amazing. In India, especially, they did a remarkable job in a very difficult country.


Milwaukie, OR

ITN sent a copy of the above letter to smarTours (501 Fifth Ave., Ste. 1402, New York, NY 10017) and received no reply.