A few weeks ago I was invited to sample the brand new TUI Skyla ship as she sailed along the Rhine.
We flew from Birmingham-Frankfurt with Lufthansa, very efficient and strict rules around COVID , only medical masks allowed and had to be worn throughout the flight, the crew challenged anyone not adhering to the rules
TUI reps met us in the arrivals area and we had a 10 minute walk to the coach which took us to the ship in Mainz (approx 45mins)
The adult only ship has been completely refurbished and looks great. Modern, comfortable and clean with a maximum 153 guests. Cabins are spacious and well equipped with a choice of window or juliet balconies. The single cabins are spacious too. There is a large bar/lounge area which is the busiest part of the ship where entertainment, port talks etc take place. There is also a smaller cosy bar lounge with ‘fireplace’ and comfy chairs, this bar also serves Lavazza coffee (included on the all inclusive package)
Tap Water is drinkable onboard and you are provided with a water bottle to keep.
All meals are included as well as use of the tea and coffee machine, beer and wine is included with dinner. There is an all inclusive package that can be added to cover the cost of drinks (approx £18 per day)
The food was tasty with a choice of options and one gala dinner is included on every cruise. If I’m being honest I would like to have seen more local options (for example we were served Irish beef and Hampshire duck, French or Argentinan wine on the gala night) Guests are allowed to bring a bottle of local wine onboard without paying corkage. Dinner was served in the main dining room, breakfast and lunch were served in the smaller bistro area (with small buffet area) or the main dining room.
Special diets can be catered for- just speak to the restaurant manager.
There is a great entertainment programme onboard including star gazing, movies on deck, crazy golf, yoga classes, singers, comedians and BBQs on deck in the summer. Guests are given a credit of £120 each on a 7 night cruise to use towards excursions, the flexibility allows people to choose what they would like to do independently or with the group. Quiet Vox devices are used on excursions.
COVID measures- masks to be worn when moving around the ship and on the coaches for excursions, temperature checks are carried out daily for all guests. Pre boarding negative PCR test is required in addition to being fully vaccinated
The Rhine has very few bridges so you often see cars on boats to avoid long road trips! The most scenic stretch is Cologne-Mainz with lots of castles and stunning scenery.
We visited Boppard (famed for its Roman Ruins, Reisling wine and 12th century church) and Rudesheim (a pretty wine town, lots of bars, shops and vineyards)
The ship offers great value for money, considerably cheaper than some other cruise lines. I did find it noisier than other ships I have been on (engine noise) I guess it’s because its older. It’s sister ships are identical and all will sail European rivers throughout the year including the Danube and Moselle. The Christmas markets trips in particular are very popular, clients will mainly be British although TUI are opening the ships up to Spanish and other European markets. I would definietely recommend this brand of rivercruises, particularly if you haven’t tried a river cruise before or like TUI’s Marella ocean cruises.