There must be a dinner boat cruise in every city with a river. Prague is no exception, with a flotilla of boats travelling up and down the Vltava River. We tried the Prague Boats – Crystal River Cruise (59 – 69 €).
This review is available on this page as text and pictures, or below as a video.
Prague Boats operate several river cruises from Dvořákovo nábřeží, an embankment that runs from the Rudolfinum concert hall to Štefánikův Bridge (most).
Tickets for cruises are sold online https://www.prague-boats.cz and also from a kiosk on the embankment.
The Crystal River Cruise is 59 € for a standard seat and 69 € for a window seat. That includes a welcome glass of Prosecco and a buffet dinner, with live music on board, during a three-hour cruise along the Vltava River. Other drinks ordered on board are not included. The price is quite high for Prague – you could enjoy a Michelin Bib Gourmand dinner for less.
But who could resist the idea of a romantic river cruise, with gourmet food and meat carved by this chef (as shown on the Prague Boats website)?
Not surprisingly, the reality is completely different.
We were welcomed aboard with a glass of Prosecco and shown to our table in the centre of the boat. Staff wore masks.
The window seats both have a side view to the river. The centre seats are at 90 degrees, so some look directly at the couples who paid an extra 10 € each for a window. The other seats look across the boat. Tables are quite close together. Eventually, none of this actually matters as most people soon discover the upper deck and sit where they like.
The boat departed and within minutes, a queue appeared for what we realised was the buffet.
We waited until the queue had died down a little and headed to the buffet.
I’m reasonably relaxed about Covid, but a buffet presents probably the highest chance of disease transmission. Ideally, what I would like to see, is food behind a screen, with staff serving your choice to you. If the buffet is self-serve, there should be plenty of hand sanitising stations and a requirement to wear a mask while attending the buffet.
There was nothing like that in place. In addition, the food was mediocre (there is a video of the buffet in the review video above). I managed to salvage some mini chicken schnitzels, dumplings, mashed potatoes and a few slices of ham. I added both mustard and horseradish on the side to make it edible.
The band were playing nicely.
I visited the bathroom to wash my Covid hands – it was a modern well-maintained bathroom.
I noticed a closed area of the boat and wondered why it wasn’t used – passengers could have been spaced out away from each other and another buffet set up.
The upper deck was comfortable and it was nice to watch the scenery as we passed by.
The boat made it as far as Žluté lázně, about 5.5km away, before turning back.
I had some cheese and pâté from the buffet – it was okay, but I worried how many people had sneezed and coughed over it.
I’ve no idea of the cost of drinks on board as we were part of a group where soft drinks, wine and beer were included.
We were with friends, drinking wine and watching the beautiful Prague scenery – so of course we enjoyed ourselves. The staff were friendly and I don’t blame them for the food quality, nor the absence of any Covid protocols. I do blame the upper management.
Would I choose to take another cruise? No. Not even for 20 € which is about the most I think this cruise is worth. I am also left worried that I could develop Covid symptoms – just lucky that I’m fully vaccinated.
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