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Unpleasant experience on the Gandalf in…

19 Sep 2018


Unpleasant experience on the Gandalf in Aug 2018. It is an old boat, cabins are rustic, small and the bathroom smells musty, shower curtains mouldy. Feels like a summer camp experience and not accommodation you would expect for $2000 eu./week ($400 ca./day) for a couple. Another passenger told me she almost vomitted when she first went into her bathroom. Unlike some of the newer boats, there is no central air conditioning and there were LOTS of mosquitos in the staterooms. We were forced to sleep with our 1 port hole closed at night which was uncomfortable stuffy and hot. We did not sleep well and we were all bitten by mosquitos. Our friends showed us her forearms and his back which were covered with bites. My husband and I also had many bites despite killing them before bed and closing our small port hole. My bites became very red and inflamed on my face and hand and lasted for 2 weeks after our trip. When we told the captain and showed him our bites, he mocked my complaints, stated he didn’t have any mosquitos in his stateroom and we should use a fan. We told him that the fan in the bathroom didn’t work and he insinuated that we had sabotaged the fan somehow. The portable fan in the room was dirty the grates filled with dust- we used it anyhow as this was our only way to stay cool on our stateroom and circulate the air. We never received a change of sheets the entire trip despite a “Cleaning day” on day 3, damp conditions and riding 40 km/day. We had one cold and wet day and we discovered that the heater in our room did not function. We were very uncomfortable in our stateroom and unlike other boats, there is no alternate seating area beside the dining room. We spent $2000/EU for our 7 day trip. That amounts to $400 ca/day which is far too high. While docked in Bruges, we spoke to passengers who were on the Magnifique during this same time and they did not have mosquitos inside their stateroom likely because their port holes do not open and they have central air conditioning.The food on the Gandalf was mediocre. The price difference between the Magnifique and the Gandalf for the same trip was appr. $150 EU person/day. Warning!! Rad Riesen will not stand behind you as a consumer should anything go wrong -so buyer beware!! We were not bothered by mosquitos while off the boat, on the deck or in the dining room- only in our staterooms! While on board the captain told me he believed the mosquitos were coming from- breading on board the boat. I suggested to him that passengers should be warned by the company about this problem before hand. When I suggested to the captain that he provide passengers with netting he said he had tried that but it didn’t work. These comments indicated to us that this was a known problem. We were not expecting an air conditioned boat or 5 star service however after riding 40 kms a day, we were expecting to be comfortable. I was not expecting a mosquito infested cabin. We had been swatting mosquitos in our cabin around our bedding and it was stuffy with the port hole closed. Perhaps passengers should also be told before that there will be no clean sheets available. That way passengers would have the option to bring their own bedding! On top of a poor experience, we were lied to and no one was accountable, We requested a partial refund for our experience instead Rad Riesen offered us a 30 euro voucher to use on a future trip. We declined as we will not be using rad riesen for future bike barge trips again.

Reply from Boat Bike Tours 27 Sep 2018

We are sorry to hear that the tour did not meet your expectations. Our partner has already contacted you to explain a few things. You have come on board with certain expectations, which have never been promised. For example: not all ships are air-conditioned and there is no separate seating area on board the Gandalf. This is also written on our website and in the boarding information. You will not receive new sheets on any ship. Perhaps the premium ships will better suit your needs. If you consider this, we are happy to inform you. Team Boat Bike Tours.

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