A choice of shore excursions is offered every day and prices are reasonable, from £20 for a walking tour of Speyer to a pricier £100 for a canal cruise in Strasbourg. On my cruise, all tours were half-day. A package of six tours, mainly city sightseeing or walking tours, can be booked for £200. Takeup seemed to be very low, though, with fewer than 10 participants on some tours and a lot of passengers doing their own thing in port. The quality of the guides was excellent and everything worked like clockwork but I felt that maybe something a bit more out of the ordinary might have captured the imagination of Brabant's adventurous passengers. Some of the itinerary programming was a bit strange, too, for example, only five hours in Speyer, which would justify a whole day, speeding on to Mannheim, where everything is shut on a Sunday, for eight hours.
QuietVox systems are supplied for every guest and are also used for commentary when the ship is sailing through scenic areas.
Free shuttle buses are offered when the ship is docked away from the town centre.
There are five bicycles which guests can use. These are very popular and are given out on a first come, first served basis.
Daytime and Evening Activities
The ship is in port most days and guests go ashore so there's little call for daytime entertainment. The cruise director offers occasional talks on the destinations; there was one on the history of the Rhine and commentary through the QuietVox system when the ship was sailing through the Rhine Gorge and again on the Moselle. Daily port talks give a thorough briefing on what to expect the following day.
A very good duo, Holiday, plays in the bar before and after dinner. Some nights, there's entertainment; a movie was shown in the Amadeus Club one night, while there was a rowdy Majority Rules contest in the Panorama Bar another evening. Another night, local entertainers came onboard and got everybody singing beer drinking songs and yodelling. There were two cocktail parties, one as a welcome and one farewell, at which the officers and crew were introduced.
There are no specific enrichment activities outside the port talks and the occasional briefing by the cruise director on the destination. Useful sheets are handed out at Reception about the Rhine river, the castles to look out for and a page about how the locks work. Maps are provided for every port and each passenger is given a handy colour booklet for the whole cruise packed with maps, port information and sights to see.
Brabant has two lounges, the main Panorama Bar and the Amadeus Club, located aft on Mozart Deck (3). The Panorama Bar is done out in taupe and cream, with red and blue carpeting and curtains, potted artificial plants and windows on three sides that flood the room with sunlight. There's a small outside seating area forward of there. Overall, the vibe is comfortable and relaxing, whether you're curled up with a book or enjoying a drink with fellow passengers.
There's waiter service here, or you can perch on a stool at the bar. Drinks prices here are very reasonable: £3 for a beer, £3.90 for wine and from £5.20 for a cocktail. Forward of the lounge are a few chairs and tables outside, which is a pleasant space to sit with a sundowner.
The Amadeus Club, also on Deck 3, is a quieter space, used for reading, card games and snoozing during the afternoon. A tea and coffee station gets good use and there's a seating area outside, although this is also the smoking and vaping area and smoke does drift in when the door is open. There's also a small library in here, mainly comprising books left by passengers, a supply of board games as well as two computers connected to the internet, which get little use as most guests bring their own devices.
Brabant has a pleasant top deck area, with green-and-white deck chairs and loungers and plenty of shade. There's a tiny plunge pool, good for sitting in on a hot day but not big enough for swimming. Entertainment includes a giant chess set and shuffleboard, neither of which was used on my cruise. There's also a small splash pool by the bridge where you can cool off your feet -- to the entertainment of people in the lobby below, as the pool has a glass bottom that acts as a skylight for the lobby. As with most other river cruisers, the bridge can move up and down to get into locks and under bridges, at which time, the top deck is closed.
There's a 24-hour reception desk and a tour manager's desk in the atrium lobby. Laundry is offered for a charge, although there's no passenger launderette. Wi-Fi is free, although slow; if you have a European phone, it's quicker to use the local 4G network. There's a shop in the lobby selling trinkets, souvenirs, scarves, maps and some attractive jewellery. The shop sells water for excursions, too, at a rather steep £1.60 a bottle although you get two bottles per day in the cabin, complimentary.
There's a small gym with an exercise bike, Stairmaster and a rowing machine, as well as Swiss balls. Five bicycles are available for guests to use and there are plenty of cycle trails along the Rhine, Danube and Moselle. Hairdressing is available, as well as massage and reflexology in a treatment room and herbal baths in separate suite. A 25-minute treatment costs £35 and 50 minutes, £60, which is good value by cruising standards. There's just one therapist and one hairdresser, both of whom double up as receptionists. I had a Thai massage and it was superb.
A cruise on Brabant is geared to adults, with no entertainment for children, and any kids travelling need to be over 12. If you were to bring children, they would have to be comfortable sitting at dinner with other adults and be able to entertain themselves.