ABOVE: Beverage stewardess Nicole Hoppe, a
native of Hamburg, tops up a passenger's glass.
Casanova has an unusually large staff for a river ship
that carries only 96 passengers. Peter Deilmann claims a passenger-to-crew ratio
of 2.5:1, or "about the best crew to passenger ratio of any river vessel."
There's even a physician on board.
The multilingual restaurant, bar, housekeeping, and reception
staff were a hardworking bunch during our cruise, and they were also
highly-trained professionals. Our waiter, Mladen Tomljanovic, was a nine-year
veteran of cruise ships, and our beverage stewardess, Nicole Hoppe, had three
years of professional education and apprenticeship before joining Peter Deilmann
Cruises. Mladen, Nicole, and other members of the restaurant and beverage staff
worked together as an efficient team, delivering service on a par with what
you'd expect on a luxury cruise line or a five-star hotel.
I was also impressed by the crew's warmth, friendliness, and
overall good cheer. One evening, the younger staff were kind enough to invite my
18-year-old son to join them at a nightclub that was popular with riverboat
crews. (I resisted the urge to play chaperone, spending the evening with a Donna
Leon mystery instead.)
Casanova's cruise manager, Ramona Kurcsics, did a great
job of providing information to English- and German-speaking passengers, whether
she was describing our ports of call or the unexpected changes to our itinerary.
The Casanova's newsletter recommended
dividing gratuities of €
6,50 to €
7,50 per passenger
per day among the service staff, and passengers were encouraged to make
additional contributions to a tips box at the reception desk for other members
of the crew. I thought the recommended figures were a bit low for staff who
worked 15 hours or more per day, so I gave €
50 each (for two passengers) to our
waiter, beverage stewardess, and cabin stewardess, plus another €
50 for the crew
(Note: Tips for bar purchases
should be made at the time of service, since the person who serves you a drink
may not be your regular beverage stewardess or waiter.)