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  #1  
Old October 21st, 2012, 05:02 PM
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Post Luftner River Cruises

Has anyone any feedback or information on Luftner. I have had trouble finding any reviews and am interested in doing a cruise on the Danube in 2013. Luftner has an across Europe cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest I would love to get information on. Thanks
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Old October 22nd, 2012, 02:19 AM
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Lueftner is an Austrian river cruise company. They do partial charters (like they did with Gate 1). They also do full charters (some boats are running for Viking Germany and other companies). For those cruises under their own name they mainly sell in Austria and Germany. Therefore you won´t find any reviews.

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Old October 22nd, 2012, 03:14 AM
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Thanks for your reply
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Old October 22nd, 2012, 11:52 AM
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Originally Posted by malsgal View Post
Has anyone any feedback or information on Luftner. I have had trouble finding any reviews and am interested in doing a cruise on the Danube in 2013. Luftner has an across Europe cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest I would love to get information on. Thanks

we are booked on the Luftner Amadeus Princess for April 2. it is a charter booked by Mayflower tours in usa. going from switzerland to holland, chedk it out. marianne, n.j.
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Old October 23rd, 2012, 08:32 PM
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Thank you for taking the time to post. Hope you enjoy your cruise.
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Old October 30th, 2012, 04:15 PM
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Just returned from a European river cruise on the Amadeus Elegant owned by Leuftner. The trip was booked through Collette Tours. There were several groups (Gate 1, Titan, and another one that I can't remember) on the ship.
Each group had slightly different things and excursions included depending on who the group booked with.

The ship was beautiful, the staff absolutely the best, I loved every minute of it and wouldn't hesitate to book another Leuftner cruise in the future.

If you have any questions I'd be happy to answer them.
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Old November 2nd, 2012, 01:20 AM
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Thanks for your reply. Glad you had a good time with Lueftner
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Old November 16th, 2012, 03:57 PM
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Hi, just a heads up that while Cruise Critic is somewhat (okay, pretty nearly entirely) unfamiliar with Lueftner, I'm going to the UK-oriented ACE River Expo this weekend for travel agents and the company will be there and I'll be able to tour a ship, so will report back. In the meantime, those of you who have been -- hope you'll write a review?

We have to get something up on the editorial end of the site for your review to be published but we're planning on doing that so please, I encourage you, to submit your experiences!

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Old November 21st, 2012, 06:28 PM
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So Lueftner (or rather Amadeus) was marvelous at the ACE River Cruise Expo last weekend. We had lunch onboard one of its newer (2010) ships, which was terrific. The ship itself was lovely. Not as contemporary as, say Viking Longships (what else is?) or as luxurious as Uniworld, but along the lines of Avalon, I'd say. Clean design, comfortable, good food and service.

They're definitely interested in expanding into English speaking markets beyond the charters they are currently doing (including university-oriented cruise charters from the US), English is the first language onboard, and they're building new ships (one's coming out next year).

Impressive.

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Old December 11th, 2012, 01:52 PM
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Talking Lüftner, Amadeus Elegant, Amsterdam>Budapest, October 2012

Greetings, Cruisers!

I had the great pleasure of enjoying the scenery slide by on the Amadeus Elegant's October passage from Amsterdam to Budapest. It was wonderful, and the crew and ship quite exceeded my expectations!

Our group was booked via Collette. Our Collette representative, Ellen, was completely fabulous-- witty, energetic, interesting, and interested in everyone's enjoyment. Many of the walking tours came standard with the Collette package, but there were some optional side excursions that could be added on for a fee. Other tour groups (Titan, Gate1, etc.) that were aboard with us had a different set of what came standard, which meant that the ship's tour director (highest praise to this very hardworking and very entertaining man, Günther, and his most able and charming assistant, Madeline!!) had a good time of juggling the numbers when scheduling ahead for the busses!

Our cabin was much bigger than I expected, especially the washroom, and everything was kept sparkling clean by our very sweet cabin attendant, Krisztina (cleanliness is an important factor in my comfort ). We were on the top living floor, and had a French balcony, which was basically a floor-to-ceiling sliding glass door (with guardrail) that you could sit at with a cup of tea and watch the world glide by when you wanted to. The French balcony was perfect for us. After looking at the Viking and other lines that featured a regular balcony that you could sit out upon, we decided that (given the time of year/weather) we MUCH preferred having that extra floorspace INSIDE the room, since there was always the option of opening the window wide to sit at, or sitting out on the front or back deck, and on the top deck whenever it was open. I cannot imagine how cramped the Viking rooms would have seemed compared to our gloriously spacious one... (Our reasoning is this: because the ships must all fit in the locks, they are all the same maximum width, no matter the cruise line; if the ships are the same width, but one of them is using 1/4 of that width for balcony space, the rooms must be smaller on the inside than the ship with French balconies.)

The beds were quite comfy -- nice and firm base, but with a cushy mattress pad on top, and individual bedding in the Germanic fashion. The room had a good ventilation/heat system, but since we like to sleep cool and with the window cracked, we did not turn it on. I imagine that feature would have been more important if we were not traveling in the golden part of the year when one needs neither heat nor air conditioning, just putting on or taking off a layer of clothes does the trick.

The storage space in our particular cabin was a little smaller than other cabins the same size, so if you are bringing a heap of clothing, it would not be ideal, but it worked out OK for us. There was plenty of space under the beds to store our suitcases out of the way. I will look up our room number and post it when I get a chance for those who travel heavy and wish to avoid having only one closet. There was a little hotel safe in one of the cabinets, but we did not have the need to use it.

The room had a television with several German-language channels and a few English ones, as well as our favourite channel, which we called "LockTV": it displayed the feed from the video camera mounted on the front of the ship, so you could see what was going on up ahead if you woke up in the middle of the night and didn't want to get dressed to go have a look. I can't give much more of a review of the programs -- we did not watch much other than LockTV, as we do not have a set at home, and besides, there were far too many interesting things to do to make time for it! There was also a loudspeaker system over which Günther made his informative and often-hilarious announcements in English and German (and also Italian, when an Italian couple joined the cruise for a few days), letting you know when it was time to eat, or to gather for an excursion, or for one of his cheery on-board activities.

The public areas were also kept very clean and tidy, and were furnished in a comfortable modern style. In looking over at some of the other ships, I saw that several had polished marble or tile flooring, which seemed not at all safe during the rainy weather -- I was glad we had nice, non-slippery carpeting underfoot to move about on (during the time when the top deck was not open while underway, another form of walking exercise was to do a circuit of the inner corridors)

Contrary to my fears, the top deck was kept open as much as possible on the trip, which was just lovely. It was a great place for walking laps, sitting, playing giant chess, or the ever-popular photography! It could be quite windy at times, unless you stood behind the wheelhouse, but I like plenty of fresh air. They closed the deck whenever we had to go through the portions of the Main-Danube canal where they had to lower the wheelhouse and lay the guardrailing and chairs flat against the roof in order to make it under parts of the lock, but they always opened up a big part of it for walking and sitting when we docked.

On the next floor down, there was another deck on the front of the ship with space to move about and take pictures, some deck chairs, and the airlock door into the appropriately-named Panorama Lounge. The Panorama Lounge featured a windows all around, with comfy chairs and loveseats grouped around little tables. It was one of the most popular areas to hang out, and yet it never felt crowded. There was a bar in the rear middle of the lounge, and a little serving area in the middle towards the front where morning coffee, afternoon tea, and the light lunch option were set out, as well as special occasion snacks. I am guessing this was also where the late-night snack was laid out, but I was never awake for it!

Leaving the Panorama and moving toward the rear, there are WCs, a very useful mapping display of the river, and then you come to the main staircase inside to the next floor down, as well as doors that lead outside to staircases up to the top deck. Just on the far side of the stairs, Günther had his workstation on one side, and there was a sofa sectional on the other side, next to the corridor to the rooms. Following the corridor on to the rear of the ship, you come to the library sitting area, which was a VERY quiet private escape, as hardly anyone seemed to go there most of the time. There is a small bar here, where you can get ice to take to your room. There is a lending library with a few board games, and there are a couple of computer terminals. Several folks used them to hook up (for a charge) to the internet. Other folks had their own laptops/other devices along which they apparently were successful in hooking up. There was a door from the library out to a little sitting area on the very tail of the boat (and a set of stairs to the top deck), and this was where staff members would often sit for their smoking break.

Starting again at the front the next floor down had the kitchen and dining room -- I cannot imagine how the chef pulls off what he does from the tiny kitchen! Leaving the dining room, you are in the main reception area, with a little ship's store, and the main boarding area. In some cases, we would exit from the top deck, especially if we had to raft together with another boat and walk across their top deck. Which deck the gangway was put off from also depended on where the dock was on shore. From reception is the corridor back to the rooms on that level and a set of stairs.

The stairs down from the reception area take you to the hairdresser, massage room, and fitness room, as well as other cabins.

What was a typical day like? Early every morning, there was an exercise clinic and coffee/tea time for the very early risers. Shortly thereafter, the restaurant opened for breakfast. There was an extensive buffet with a large variety of rolls (the baker on our ship was wonderful!), breakfast cold cuts and smoked salmon, jams and spreads, joghurt and quark, cereal, fruit, and hot buffet items that catered to the varied tastes of our very diverse British/American/German /Austrian crowd (with a couple of Italians and a lone Russian thrown in for good measure). There were also hot items like omelettes made to order off the menu, and your server would bring as much of the very good coffee or tea as you cared for. Each tour group had a section of tables reserved for that group, and while I felt it was a pity that I didn't get to dine with the German friends we'd made to practice my German some more, I understand how this makes it easier for the service. The Collette group had excellent table position, at the windows in the middle of both sides of the restaurant.

After breakfast was the flurry of preparation for departure on a shore excursion (except for the rare, relaxing day when we were traveling in the morning). We turned in our room key to get our shore passes and the little receiver for the tour guide's audio system. Then, we would get off the ship and meet our guide. Günther phoned ahead and arranged for an English-speaking guide (or guides, depending on how many from the ship were going), and a separate guide for the German-speakers. Nearly all of the guides were excellent (there was only one who was a bit impatient and wanted to take everything at a speed that was not good for the group of older folks who couldn't possibly keep up; her knowledge was very good, but her skills at group leadership could have benefited from a touch more empathy...)

As I said, most of the walking tours came with the Collette package, and this seemed to be a good deal for most of those travelling with the group. One could also opt to go from the boat on your own, as you were docked within walking distance of the town, or in the case of Vienna, within walking distance of the streetcar into town (and the taxi would take you right to the gangway if you wanted a taxi instead). In the case of a tour that required bussing, they met us at the ship, with the longest distance walked to a bus being about a block to get to the bus.

If you do at least a fair amount of walking or other exercise in your daily life, the excursions will likely pose no problems. If you do not get in much time on your feet, or if you have mobility issues that would make stairs or walking on uneven surface or standing for a long time a hardship, then you need to investigate the excursions thoroughly before signing up. One of the older gentlemen in our group had this clever combination cane/stool, so he could take a rest when the tourguide stood and talked; I think the tour companies should offer a rental business for those cane/stools -- they would make a mint!

The excursions focus on the history and features of the towns you are visiting, and the guides will be showing you in what little time they have with you what is likely the most famous feature of their town. Look at some travel guides or some travel videos to get the overall background of the areas you will be travelling through so you can set each town in context. If you do not want to be taken to the most famous buildings or features, then you would not want to go on the tour -- opt for a self-tour instead. Likewise, if you want to go shopping, the tours are not what you want -- the staff at reception can help you find exactly what you need, if you are not sure how to go about it yourself. (Klaus was particularly patient!)

During the morning, the staff make up the rooms, and since you are mostly off seeing the sights, this timing works out beautifully to come back to a fresh, clean room. If it is not a tour morning, it is easy enough to go sit in the lounge, walk laps, use binoculars, take photos, or find something else pleasant to do for the morning. Many of the gents enjoyed getting haircuts, and massage is another good option!

Usually the morning tour would wind up just in time to get back to your cabin for a quick hand-and-face wash before lunch. Getting back on the ship, we would exchange our boarding passes and receivers for the room key, go freshen up a bit, and then Günther would announce that "the dining room is open, and the calorie count can begin again!" Lunch brought two options: the full menu in the regular dining room, or the light lunch in the Panorama Lounge. The light lunch was nearly always replicated in the dining room on the salad buffet line, in case you might worry that you would miss out! Our chef was outstanding, and there was absolutely no need to worry about going hungry, ever. Quite the opposite! The food was always delicious, and the choices interesting, so the danger was in perhaps eating more than you meant to! I grew up in Germany, so the food that was served was like a big homecoming to me.

After lunch, one prepared for either an afternoon tour, if that was on your schedule, or for relaxation, exercise, and other onboard diversions. A popular activity was reading or chatting in the Panorama Lounge or on the top deck as the river slipped by. Whenever we came to a lock or other interesting feature, there was sure to be a flock of photographers snapping away (yes, I'm guilty, too), as Günther would have given an informative announcement on the speaker in plenty of time for us to be in position with our Canons and Nikons.

At four o'clock, it would be tea time (AKA Kaffee und Kuchen!) for those on board who cared to partake. Our ship musicians would play light background music, and tea, coffee, cake, pastries, and open face sandwiches took the edge off so you could tough it out until supper After tea, you returned to more relaxation, and then, before you knew it, it was time to clean up for supper! About an hour before supper, happy hour commenced. Right before supper, Günther would meet with us in the lounge to give the "port talk" to tell us what to expect for the next day's travel. (He met with the German speakers at a separate time). Then, we would all go down for another fabulous meal.

Every evening while we dined, our attendant turned down our beds for the evening and delivered the next day's schedule (in the appropriate language). You could always pick up at the reception desk an extra or one in German, if you wanted to practice, and there you could also get a map of the town the evening before, so you could plan your excursion before you went to sleep

Like the full lunch, dinner was in several delicious courses, for better enjoyment of the food and conversation. We recognized early on that they served from the front of the ship to the rear, so if you wanted to be finished earlier, you sat toward the kitchen. The further toward reception you sat, the later your meal went, but you also would not miss any of the courses if you came to table later, either. The menus were very thoughtfully designed by our chef; the soup course always offered a choice of a clear and a cream soup, the appetizer always had vegetarian option as did the main course, and, for those who like sweets, there were several choices of dessert, one of which was always a non-dairy option, and there was always a nice selection of cheese and fruit. Wine is offered at dinner, with a choice of white or red that complimented the meal well -- the wine was always good, often excellent, and twice flat-out superb. Also, they are very quick keep your wineglass full (you have been warned!)! The service is just what you want -- smooth, professional, very attentive and personal (they have the well-trained staff's ESP of knowing just when you want to joke, and when you want to be left to your thoughts, and they were all spectacular at delicately helping some of the folks get through the menu who might otherwise have been bewildered by some of the choices... our favourite was Catalin, but of course we liked them all!)

There were several special entertainment evenings on board after supper (there was even supper with pirates, once), and when there was no special entertainment, the ship's musicians performed. I was most apprehensive about the "cultural" programs, as they can sometimes be so hokie or corny as to make you itch, but the groups that Günther brought in were all quite good, and often humourous. Also, the crew show was not to be missed-- I knew that we had a smart, hard-working, and adorable crew, but I was not prepared for them to be such cut-ups!

We sometimes enjoyed going for another short stroll up top before turning in, but we never managed to stay awake for the late-night snack, so I can't report on that.

So now, I just have to go back sometime!! I would never want to cruise with anyone else -- Lüftner's Amadeus Elegant and staff have spoiled me for travel! The group was quite diverse, not just in nationality, but also in age -- from 13 years old on up to 80s, and they met the needs (and then some!) of everyone. There will also be challenges in every bunch, including those who fall ill, or those who seem to make it a game to find something to complain about, but these wonderful crew members, and our wonderful Collette Travel leader, Ellen, worked hard to make spectacular memories and a gracious, comfortable trip for everyone.

I know this review is lacking in a lot of details, but I will try to fill in some more later, with perhaps some pictures and more specific info about the excursions.

All the best,
Otter

Last edited by Otterdance; December 11th, 2012 at 02:00 PM.
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  #11  
Old December 11th, 2012, 03:49 PM
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What a great review! Thank you so much for taking the time to tell us all about your lovely experiance.... I see you are new to Cruise Critic and welcome!!! It would be helpful to know where you are from and your profile does not have that info. I am guessing the UK????
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Old December 12th, 2012, 07:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Karol View Post
we are booked on the Luftner Amadeus Princess for April 2. it is a charter booked by Mayflower tours in usa. going from switzerland to holland, chedk it out. marianne, n.j.
I need to need look this up, thanks for sharing
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Old December 18th, 2012, 04:00 PM
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Just read Otter's review of the Amadeus Elegant. I believe I was on that same tour with Collette. I totally agree with everything she said.
I am an avid ocean cruiser and was a little unsure of how I'd like the river cruise.
It was one of the most enjoyable trips I've ever taken.
Everything was taken care of by Collette---tours, flight, etc.

Everything on the Amadeus Elegant was top notch from the decor to the staff to the food.
I wouldn't hesitate to travel with the Leuftner cruiseline again.
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Old December 23rd, 2012, 02:49 PM
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We are going on the Danube Christmas Market Cruise on Dec.4, 2013 .
This is something I have always wanted to do this for years. Finally, we get to go! We will be in a Group with Collette onboard the Amadeus Royal I believe. Cant wait!
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Old December 28th, 2012, 01:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Otterdance View Post
Greetings, Cruisers!

I had the great pleasure of enjoying the scenery slide by on the Amadeus Elegant's October passage from Amsterdam to Budapest. It was wonderful, and the crew and ship quite exceeded my expectations!

Our group was booked via Collette. Our Collette representative, Ellen, was completely fabulous-- witty, energetic, interesting, and interested in everyone's enjoyment. Many of the walking tours came standard with the Collette package, but there were some optional side excursions that could be added on for a fee. Other tour groups (Titan, Gate1, etc.) that were aboard with us had a different set of what came standard, which meant that the ship's tour director (highest praise to this very hardworking and very entertaining man, Günther, and his most able and charming assistant, Madeline!!) had a good time of juggling the numbers when scheduling ahead for the busses!

Our cabin was much bigger than I expected, especially the washroom, and everything was kept sparkling clean by our very sweet cabin attendant, Krisztina (cleanliness is an important factor in my comfort ). We were on the top living floor, and had a French balcony, which was basically a floor-to-ceiling sliding glass door (with guardrail) that you could sit at with a cup of tea and watch the world glide by when you wanted to. The French balcony was perfect for us. After looking at the Viking and other lines that featured a regular balcony that you could sit out upon, we decided that (given the time of year/weather) we MUCH preferred having that extra floorspace INSIDE the room, since there was always the option of opening the window wide to sit at, or sitting out on the front or back deck, and on the top deck whenever it was open. I cannot imagine how cramped the Viking rooms would have seemed compared to our gloriously spacious one... (Our reasoning is this: because the ships must all fit in the locks, they are all the same maximum width, no matter the cruise line; if the ships are the same width, but one of them is using 1/4 of that width for balcony space, the rooms must be smaller on the inside than the ship with French balconies.)

The beds were quite comfy -- nice and firm base, but with a cushy mattress pad on top, and individual bedding in the Germanic fashion. The room had a good ventilation/heat system, but since we like to sleep cool and with the window cracked, we did not turn it on. I imagine that feature would have been more important if we were not traveling in the golden part of the year when one needs neither heat nor air conditioning, just putting on or taking off a layer of clothes does the trick.

The storage space in our particular cabin was a little smaller than other cabins the same size, so if you are bringing a heap of clothing, it would not be ideal, but it worked out OK for us. There was plenty of space under the beds to store our suitcases out of the way. I will look up our room number and post it when I get a chance for those who travel heavy and wish to avoid having only one closet. There was a little hotel safe in one of the cabinets, but we did not have the need to use it.

The room had a television with several German-language channels and a few English ones, as well as our favourite channel, which we called "LockTV": it displayed the feed from the video camera mounted on the front of the ship, so you could see what was going on up ahead if you woke up in the middle of the night and didn't want to get dressed to go have a look. I can't give much more of a review of the programs -- we did not watch much other than LockTV, as we do not have a set at home, and besides, there were far too many interesting things to do to make time for it! There was also a loudspeaker system over which Günther made his informative and often-hilarious announcements in English and German (and also Italian, when an Italian couple joined the cruise for a few days), letting you know when it was time to eat, or to gather for an excursion, or for one of his cheery on-board activities.

The public areas were also kept very clean and tidy, and were furnished in a comfortable modern style. In looking over at some of the other ships, I saw that several had polished marble or tile flooring, which seemed not at all safe during the rainy weather -- I was glad we had nice, non-slippery carpeting underfoot to move about on (during the time when the top deck was not open while underway, another form of walking exercise was to do a circuit of the inner corridors)

Contrary to my fears, the top deck was kept open as much as possible on the trip, which was just lovely. It was a great place for walking laps, sitting, playing giant chess, or the ever-popular photography! It could be quite windy at times, unless you stood behind the wheelhouse, but I like plenty of fresh air. They closed the deck whenever we had to go through the portions of the Main-Danube canal where they had to lower the wheelhouse and lay the guardrailing and chairs flat against the roof in order to make it under parts of the lock, but they always opened up a big part of it for walking and sitting when we docked.

On the next floor down, there was another deck on the front of the ship with space to move about and take pictures, some deck chairs, and the airlock door into the appropriately-named Panorama Lounge. The Panorama Lounge featured a windows all around, with comfy chairs and loveseats grouped around little tables. It was one of the most popular areas to hang out, and yet it never felt crowded. There was a bar in the rear middle of the lounge, and a little serving area in the middle towards the front where morning coffee, afternoon tea, and the light lunch option were set out, as well as special occasion snacks. I am guessing this was also where the late-night snack was laid out, but I was never awake for it!

Leaving the Panorama and moving toward the rear, there are WCs, a very useful mapping display of the river, and then you come to the main staircase inside to the next floor down, as well as doors that lead outside to staircases up to the top deck. Just on the far side of the stairs, Günther had his workstation on one side, and there was a sofa sectional on the other side, next to the corridor to the rooms. Following the corridor on to the rear of the ship, you come to the library sitting area, which was a VERY quiet private escape, as hardly anyone seemed to go there most of the time. There is a small bar here, where you can get ice to take to your room. There is a lending library with a few board games, and there are a couple of computer terminals. Several folks used them to hook up (for a charge) to the internet. Other folks had their own laptops/other devices along which they apparently were successful in hooking up. There was a door from the library out to a little sitting area on the very tail of the boat (and a set of stairs to the top deck), and this was where staff members would often sit for their smoking break.

Starting again at the front the next floor down had the kitchen and dining room -- I cannot imagine how the chef pulls off what he does from the tiny kitchen! Leaving the dining room, you are in the main reception area, with a little ship's store, and the main boarding area. In some cases, we would exit from the top deck, especially if we had to raft together with another boat and walk across their top deck. Which deck the gangway was put off from also depended on where the dock was on shore. From reception is the corridor back to the rooms on that level and a set of stairs.

The stairs down from the reception area take you to the hairdresser, massage room, and fitness room, as well as other cabins.

What was a typical day like? Early every morning, there was an exercise clinic and coffee/tea time for the very early risers. Shortly thereafter, the restaurant opened for breakfast. There was an extensive buffet with a large variety of rolls (the baker on our ship was wonderful!), breakfast cold cuts and smoked salmon, jams and spreads, joghurt and quark, cereal, fruit, and hot buffet items that catered to the varied tastes of our very diverse British/American/German /Austrian crowd (with a couple of Italians and a lone Russian thrown in for good measure). There were also hot items like omelettes made to order off the menu, and your server would bring as much of the very good coffee or tea as you cared for. Each tour group had a section of tables reserved for that group, and while I felt it was a pity that I didn't get to dine with the German friends we'd made to practice my German some more, I understand how this makes it easier for the service. The Collette group had excellent table position, at the windows in the middle of both sides of the restaurant.

After breakfast was the flurry of preparation for departure on a shore excursion (except for the rare, relaxing day when we were traveling in the morning). We turned in our room key to get our shore passes and the little receiver for the tour guide's audio system. Then, we would get off the ship and meet our guide. Günther phoned ahead and arranged for an English-speaking guide (or guides, depending on how many from the ship were going), and a separate guide for the German-speakers. Nearly all of the guides were excellent (there was only one who was a bit impatient and wanted to take everything at a speed that was not good for the group of older folks who couldn't possibly keep up; her knowledge was very good, but her skills at group leadership could have benefited from a touch more empathy...)

As I said, most of the walking tours came with the Collette package, and this seemed to be a good deal for most of those travelling with the group. One could also opt to go from the boat on your own, as you were docked within walking distance of the town, or in the case of Vienna, within walking distance of the streetcar into town (and the taxi would take you right to the gangway if you wanted a taxi instead). In the case of a tour that required bussing, they met us at the ship, with the longest distance walked to a bus being about a block to get to the bus.

If you do at least a fair amount of walking or other exercise in your daily life, the excursions will likely pose no problems. If you do not get in much time on your feet, or if you have mobility issues that would make stairs or walking on uneven surface or standing for a long time a hardship, then you need to investigate the excursions thoroughly before signing up. One of the older gentlemen in our group had this clever combination cane/stool, so he could take a rest when the tourguide stood and talked; I think the tour companies should offer a rental business for those cane/stools -- they would make a mint!

The excursions focus on the history and features of the towns you are visiting, and the guides will be showing you in what little time they have with you what is likely the most famous feature of their town. Look at some travel guides or some travel videos to get the overall background of the areas you will be travelling through so you can set each town in context. If you do not want to be taken to the most famous buildings or features, then you would not want to go on the tour -- opt for a self-tour instead. Likewise, if you want to go shopping, the tours are not what you want -- the staff at reception can help you find exactly what you need, if you are not sure how to go about it yourself. (Klaus was particularly patient!)

During the morning, the staff make up the rooms, and since you are mostly off seeing the sights, this timing works out beautifully to come back to a fresh, clean room. If it is not a tour morning, it is easy enough to go sit in the lounge, walk laps, use binoculars, take photos, or find something else pleasant to do for the morning. Many of the gents enjoyed getting haircuts, and massage is another good option!

Usually the morning tour would wind up just in time to get back to your cabin for a quick hand-and-face wash before lunch. Getting back on the ship, we would exchange our boarding passes and receivers for the room key, go freshen up a bit, and then Günther would announce that "the dining room is open, and the calorie count can begin again!" Lunch brought two options: the full menu in the regular dining room, or the light lunch in the Panorama Lounge. The light lunch was nearly always replicated in the dining room on the salad buffet line, in case you might worry that you would miss out! Our chef was outstanding, and there was absolutely no need to worry about going hungry, ever. Quite the opposite! The food was always delicious, and the choices interesting, so the danger was in perhaps eating more than you meant to! I grew up in Germany, so the food that was served was like a big homecoming to me.

After lunch, one prepared for either an afternoon tour, if that was on your schedule, or for relaxation, exercise, and other onboard diversions. A popular activity was reading or chatting in the Panorama Lounge or on the top deck as the river slipped by. Whenever we came to a lock or other interesting feature, there was sure to be a flock of photographers snapping away (yes, I'm guilty, too), as Günther would have given an informative announcement on the speaker in plenty of time for us to be in position with our Canons and Nikons.

At four o'clock, it would be tea time (AKA Kaffee und Kuchen!) for those on board who cared to partake. Our ship musicians would play light background music, and tea, coffee, cake, pastries, and open face sandwiches took the edge off so you could tough it out until supper After tea, you returned to more relaxation, and then, before you knew it, it was time to clean up for supper! About an hour before supper, happy hour commenced. Right before supper, Günther would meet with us in the lounge to give the "port talk" to tell us what to expect for the next day's travel. (He met with the German speakers at a separate time). Then, we would all go down for another fabulous meal.

Every evening while we dined, our attendant turned down our beds for the evening and delivered the next day's schedule (in the appropriate language). You could always pick up at the reception desk an extra or one in German, if you wanted to practice, and there you could also get a map of the town the evening before, so you could plan your excursion before you went to sleep

Like the full lunch, dinner was in several delicious courses, for better enjoyment of the food and conversation. We recognized early on that they served from the front of the ship to the rear, so if you wanted to be finished earlier, you sat toward the kitchen. The further toward reception you sat, the later your meal went, but you also would not miss any of the courses if you came to table later, either. The menus were very thoughtfully designed by our chef; the soup course always offered a choice of a clear and a cream soup, the appetizer always had vegetarian option as did the main course, and, for those who like sweets, there were several choices of dessert, one of which was always a non-dairy option, and there was always a nice selection of cheese and fruit. Wine is offered at dinner, with a choice of white or red that complimented the meal well -- the wine was always good, often excellent, and twice flat-out superb. Also, they are very quick keep your wineglass full (you have been warned!)! The service is just what you want -- smooth, professional, very attentive and personal (they have the well-trained staff's ESP of knowing just when you want to joke, and when you want to be left to your thoughts, and they were all spectacular at delicately helping some of the folks get through the menu who might otherwise have been bewildered by some of the choices... our favourite was Catalin, but of course we liked them all!)

There were several special entertainment evenings on board after supper (there was even supper with pirates, once), and when there was no special entertainment, the ship's musicians performed. I was most apprehensive about the "cultural" programs, as they can sometimes be so hokie or corny as to make you itch, but the groups that Günther brought in were all quite good, and often humourous. Also, the crew show was not to be missed-- I knew that we had a smart, hard-working, and adorable crew, but I was not prepared for them to be such cut-ups!

We sometimes enjoyed going for another short stroll up top before turning in, but we never managed to stay awake for the late-night snack, so I can't report on that.

So now, I just have to go back sometime!! I would never want to cruise with anyone else -- Lüftner's Amadeus Elegant and staff have spoiled me for travel! The group was quite diverse, not just in nationality, but also in age -- from 13 years old on up to 80s, and they met the needs (and then some!) of everyone. There will also be challenges in every bunch, including those who fall ill, or those who seem to make it a game to find something to complain about, but these wonderful crew members, and our wonderful Collette Travel leader, Ellen, worked hard to make spectacular memories and a gracious, comfortable trip for everyone.

I know this review is lacking in a lot of details, but I will try to fill in some more later, with perhaps some pictures and more specific info about the excursions.

All the best,
Otter
Thank you for the very informative review. I had come across Lueftner Cruises, and it is hard to find any reviews. I didn't realize that you could book through Collette Tours, and I have read that they have a guide onboard.
I also have some information from them about their own separate tours in each port. Did some of the people onboard take that option?
It sounds like the Collette guides were very helpful...
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  #16  
Old December 28th, 2012, 07:38 PM
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RichardandMark RichardandMark is offline
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...Thank You! we are going on the Royal in Dec 2013. Your review gives us a view into what we may find.
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  #17  
Old December 31st, 2012, 09:48 AM
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KCcruisin07 KCcruisin07 is offline
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Default Question about Lueftner

Reading your review again makes me want to go. I did contact Lueftner Cruises, and Collette isn't doing the one I have chosen. Did you hear any feedback from people who were going on the Lueftner tours?
They offer tours individually or as a package, which is ideal for us. I would want the Everything package, and my husband would hike on his own and probably take in the ones that should not be missed.
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AMAWaterways Danube Cruise 2010
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Celebrity Century Arctic Cruise 2007

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  #18  
Old January 13th, 2013, 01:28 AM
Fanpower Fanpower is offline
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Default Luftner MS Amadeus Brilliant

Just booked thru Gate1--- Amsterdam to Nuemberg for October 2013. I was hesitant since this company is less expensive than Viking. Thanks for the reviews.
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  #19  
Old January 20th, 2013, 03:19 AM
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pinay pinay is offline
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Default info please

Thank you for all your posts. I noticed that you book your river cruise either with Collette or mayflower. I got some info n price quote from Luftner directly n noticed some price differences with travel agent.
My question is Is it alright if I don't belong to any group we don't want to be left out. We are new to river cruising. And I noticed people from uniworld gets better placenin dining??
So please help me if it is ok to book directly with the co. Planning to do the tulips n windmills this April any reply is welcome
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  #20  
Old January 20th, 2013, 02:57 PM
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ikesyd ikesyd is offline
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Thank you Otterdance for a great review!
We are looking at doing a new year cruise and Amadeus Elegant is on our short list. I have sent some emails to Lueftner cruises direct to find out more information on their cruises and they have been very prompt and helpful with their replies.
One of their cruises is 8 day Cologne to Cologne and the other new year cruise is a 7 day Passau to Passau on either the Brillant or Diamond. At this point in time we are favouring the Rhine option. We will be booking either direct with Lueftner or our TA here in Oz, would be good to get some feedback from anyone who has travelled independently and not part of a group. Thanks
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