We absolutely loved our trip on the Duchess. We departed from Amsterdam ( we stayed there for a week before embarking and would recommend to do this) on 27th July and ended in Istanbul in Mid August.
Everything, from the minute that we dropped off the bags early, to the morning we waved goodbye from our shuttle to the plane, was wonderful. And the main reason?? The staff.
From Stanimira, who cleaned our room , Denisa, Stephan and Soren, who would bring us our drinks and Sashe,Peter,Christina and the others who looked after us at every meal ( and remembered everything that we liked), Jan , who was filling in as hotel Manager , Piet and Denisa the people who organised everyone and every tour and excursion and entertainment..........To our happy Captain Jorg and his second captain..Every staff member was happy , funny and SO HARDWORKING.. We started being treated as special guests to ending up like privileged friends.
Before I booked , I took a long time to decide on the room. Apart from the 4 suites, ALL cabins were exactly the same size. The only difference is the window size. I have always booked a balcony on any cruise but that was for a true balcony and this ship has French balconies only, so I decided not to pay the extra for just a larger window.So I booked a Category 3 room. I was very happy with this . This category is the only group of rooms towards the front of the boat.The other 4 categories were at the back and all on top of each other. We had the bar/library on top of us and honestly only very faintly heard any music at night and it didn't last long. Most nights I heard nothing. Our friends had a French balcony room and heard quite a bit of noise from people either jogging or walking laps very early each morning. This was reported to management but they never caught the culprit.
Our room was tastefully decorated in creams/ brown/grey tones and had everything in it that you could need. There is no getting away from the fact that all the rooms are small, but as others have stated before, there are shelves, drawers, hanging spacers aplenty . Under the bed holds two huge suitcases and there are two large drawers at the end of the bed.
The bathroom , again is tiny , but the shower is pretty good in size and if you leave the door open, it makes the room seem bigger.. Again, there are drawers and shelves everywhere. I actually bought over the door hangers to help with storage and didn't need them.
I also moved the larger bedside table around to face a different direction and this gave much more room to this side.
We had a small table and 2 chairs that surprisingly we DID use. Since our room had a window that came down to about 3 foot ( one metre) from the floor, we could sit at the table and lean on the window ledge watching the river and the world float by.
The Windowledge... the window went from the roof to about 1 metre from the floor and they cleverly ran a wide ( 18 inch?) window ledge from one end of the window to another.
This was fantastic to put your bags, daily info sheets, lolly jar, itinerary etc on.. so helpful.
We didn't have that nice breeze from the French balcony but we had the WINDOW LEDGE.. Only in Cat 2/3 .. ( Cat 4/5) theres a window , but up high.
Our level, also had the second lounge area, coffee spot, pre breaky snacks, the GYM, the shop and the computer area.. so handy to wander down the hall in your PJ's to get a snack and a coffee.. down about 5 steps to the best thing ever.. A guest laundry.. such a relief to have that..
Stanimira, looked after our rooms like a magic genie.. It was spotless everytime we went in.. Only bad thing? She kept refilling our personal lolly jar ..oh dear...
And everynight, a different gift on the bed.. chocolates, toiletries,chefs recipes, birth stones,bath salts, face masks, postcards etc.. Such a lovely thing to come back to each night.
The Food..I loved it, I wasn't cooking or cleaning up so I'll eat anything. BUT I also work in hospitality management and in that sense, I thought the food was of a good variety, relevant to the region, and well presented. I like that the dessert buffets at lunch had tiny portions so that you could try more than one. My hips say thanks heaps.
Excursions... I enjoyed all the excursions, of course there's the on/off thingo that seems to make you tired, but the variety was good, the abundant toilet stops welcomed, the outside lunches great , and the attention to detail amazing.
We had no problems with water levels and had no problems at bridges or locks. We had one time when a river had a flow of high water heading to a junction that we had to pass. We had to get past that area so we left early and managed ok.. One other time there was a speed boat race that blocked all river traffic for nearly two hours.. Our trusty captain put the metal to the peddle and we got to our destination on time.
I'm sure to the Back of House staff there were the usual problems but to us passengers it seemed seemless.
We met some lovely people on board, which ranged in age from 15 to older . Many Many return clientele , of which, I'd love to become some day.
SO VERY HAPPY that we did the Istanbul bit , it was a real highlight.. such a vibrant and beautiful city. Piet came with us and we felt protected and safe at all times..Hope it can stay like that.
So if you are considering a cruise, I can highly recommend this one..And it is all inclusive. my account at the end of the 3 weeks on the river was 25.00 ( a bracelet.).
I miss it already and will constantly scour their brouchures for cruises to suit us..
Entertainment..Riccardo was great. We did notice that the nights where he played more modern stuff and rock and roll, he had quite an audience.. I would suggest a trivia night or something like that just to break up from the music.. the dancers, yogurt making, glass blowing was entertaining too.
see above.. small but excellent