First of all let me start by saying I don’t usually bother giving any reviews as I believe nothing can be absolutely perfect in life and I like being tolerant and giving the benefit of the doubt. However I do feel that our experience on the A-Rosa Viva does warrant a review, especially as an ‘educational’ exercise to non- German speaking travellers like us.
Will seek to make the review as detailed and fair as possible.
Let me start with a description or the trip itself. The ports which we visited were Secondary ports. Some locations were nice such as in Les Pays where we walked to St Germain. But the rest were nothing to write home about. Minor ports not much to see.
The vessel is average. Small to medium sized and with nothing much to do. It has one Main buffet restaurant and a lounge.
As a family of four, 2 adults and 2 kids, and with just 3 family rooms on ship (which were all taken very early In the day), we had to be split and take two rooms and these were not even interconnecting. Pillows were awful and the ship offered no solution. I had to sleep on 3 folded towels. Toiletries were very very basic even for us premium payers
This was Average to mediocre. Practically it just consists of a DJ who changes music genre every night. Kids enjoyed dancing but for us adults it was quiet boring. There was no other entertainment except for this. New Year’s Eve was slightly better as two singers were brought in for 1.5 hrs.
Fitness and leisure
This consists of a Very small area for what they call ‘gym’ consisting of 3 cardio machines and a mat.
The kids animator was a lovely caring lady. She organised crafts for kids and they loved it, but from a parent point of view, this solution was scant. This lady was on her own and kids club was not the usual organised club we are used to where kids are catered for with a full programme and with high security etc. This Was an informal arrangement with a very caring and nice animator.
Food & Beverages
This was average to high quality. Some nice dishes here and there but the genre was mainly German food except for one French cuisine night. The chefs were lovely people and very caring and good at their work.
This was the cherry on the cake and the matter that literally could have ruined all the experience, were it not for the fact that we were a nice group and good company to each other.
First of all, as soon as we went on ship, before any presentations were given to us on the excursions, we already knew which excursions we wanted to book. There wasn’t much to choose from anyway as it was practically one main excursion per port and we were ready to book immediately.
But every time we went to book (three times in all) we were told off by two stern reception/admin ladies. We were practically put in place and told sternly to wait for the presentation on excursions which would tk place on the evening of the first night. We dutifully complied. We patiently waited for a 45 min presentation in German and a 15 min summary in English. Then we went to book.
Only this time we were bombed by two main facts, mainly
1. Vernon excursion was now fully booked (but they had not taken our booking in the first place on the morn!)
2. All excursions would be in German!
This cruise was sold to us as an international one. We were basically told we could book excursions at half price but these would not be in English. This was shocking to us! We wanted to pay full price fair and square but for something we could understand! How could one endure a 6 hour excursion in a language of which we understood nothing!
We tried the first excursion and the experience was horrible to say the least. The guide was very rude to us and when we asked to have some points delivered briefly in English (just a couple of pointers), she practically shouted on top of her Voice that we have not paid for this! This Was highly embarrassing infront of other guests also since we had never asked not to pay full price. So we decided to just cancel all other excursions as it was a useless exercise. Of course this matter did ruin the rest the trip since we then went to towns on our own, and with no detailed guidance whatsoever.
This leads me to a description of the staff on board the ship
Staff – hospitality
The cleaning and cooking staff were lovely people. They made sure nothing was a problem. One example is the fact that food on board is not very ‘child friendly’ but the chef always prepared pasta for kids to make sure there was something child-oriented.
The receptionists and admin were a major issue. This relates to two ladies from three. The cruise manager tried his best to make things slightly better.
However for such two ladies in question, everything was a problem. They always replied in an unfriendly, stoic way to our questions, they sent us away when we tried to book excursions early morn, they literally huffed and puffed at our questions, and never went out of their way to make things happen for us, despite knowing that the ship was at fault at having advertised its services and facilities as international and sold them as such to non-German passengers but did not live up to this promise. When we asked for a mere printout of a power point presentation in english of the locations we would visit, even this was a major issue.
Our major complaint in fact is not merely that the cruise does in no way cater for non-German speakers but also the fact that our plea was handled so unprofessionally and with no empathy by these administrators.
As a summary I would not recommend this cruise at all to non- German speakers and would give it an average 2-3 stars for entertainment.