Are my concerns about European river cruises valid?

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#21
Sydney, Australia
85 Posts
Joined Sep 2016
Your travelling likes and dislikes sound very like my own. I usually combine a cruise with self organised independent travel (for example a two week cruise with two weeks doing a self drive holiday in another country). In 2015 I went on a Danube River cruise with many of the concerns that you have. I found that I could have a wonderful time if I did not take the included tours. In almost all places I did my own DIY sightseeing directly from the ship or used the cruise coach to get somewhere and then left the tour (after telling the guide) to do my own thing and then meeting up again to get the coach back to the ship. The only included tour I did was of Melk Abbey. Everywhere else (Bratislava, Vienna, Durnstein, Regensburg and Nuremberg) I did my own sightseeing. In Vienna where we were for the entire day, I used the cruise bus to the city, left the tour to do my own sightseeing, did not return to the ship for the included lunch but ate in the city and then got the shuttle bus back to the ship late in the afternoon. There was a heat wave in Europe while I was on the cruise so I was able to stop for a drink, snack or Gelato whenever I wanted. The cruising part of the cruise was wonderfully relaxing and scenic. I love cruising past tiny towns and beautiful countryside. Sitting on the Sun deck after dinner with a glass of wine as we slowly cruised down the Danube on a summers evening was wonderful. I will admit that I did not particularly like having to eat dinner at a set time on the ship but I looked at that as an opportunity to meet lovely fellow cruisers.

That being said you will not have the opportunity to go back to something you have missed, you may find that you will not have enough time to see all that you want or eat dinner at local restaurants. You will be able to eat lunch at local restaurants on some days, shop where the locals shop and do your own sightseeing if you wish to. I had a wonderful time and saw many beautiful places that I probably would not have if I hadn't done my river cruise.

My suggestion would be to do a short river cruise of seven days or less and not feel that you have to do the included tours. Combine this with some independent travelling before or after the cruise so you can have the best of both worlds. You may also like a river cruise in Asia, India or the Amazon if you haven't been there previously. Otherwise as previously suggested a self cruise on a barge or cruiser could be great. Last year while in Carcassone I met two couples who were cruising the Canal du Midi in a rented cruiser who were having a wonderful time. Canal cruises in the UK are also very popular. There are canal cruises that provide a skipper and crew so that you can sit back, relax and enjoy the scenery or you can also self cruise.

Like most travelling a river cruise is what you make if it. Good luck and happy travels.

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#22
Here and There
540 Posts
Joined Oct 2014
I do most of my travel on my own with my DH and even though we prefer independent travel we take a cruise about once every 18 months and I must say, it's nice to let go of dealing with logistics and detail planning once in a while.

You mentioned that friends have invited you to join them. Have they already selected a cruiseline? Based on your description of your travel style you should definitely shoot for a more high-end line: Scenic, Uniworld, Tauck or Crystal and make it a short cruise and book a suite as the basic cabins tend to be tiny.


Are you very good friends with the other couple and do you enjoy spending time with them? Though you have different preferences a cruise could take many of the negotiable aspects out of the equation when planning what to do each day. There are fewer choices on a river cruise and you could all just go with the flow, enjoy each others's company and enjoy not having to plan so many details as a land trip entails. You can always add days or weeks at either or both ends of the cruise to get your independent travel fix.
#23
FL
14,423 Posts
Joined Jul 2003
Originally posted by SuzCruise
.Crystal also makes reservations for all guests at a Michelin starred restaurant in one town during your cruise. In Vienna I believe there were 4 or 5 restaurants to choose from, lunch or dinner, while we were there for a few days.
As of 2018, this is no longer included with Crystal.
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143 cruises since 1964, 15 on the river.
Looking forward to:
MS Joy - Magic of Advent, December 2017

Amadeus Silver III, May 2018
AmaKristina, Christmas Markets, December 2018
Scenic Eclipse, April, 2019

Our river cruising history:
Avalon Luminary B2B- Christmas Markets, 2009
Avalon Affinity - Christmas Markets 2010
Avalon Panorama - Danube New Years Cruise, 2011
AmaDante -Vineyards of the Rhine and Moselle 2012
AmaCerto - Budapest to Nuremburg, 2013
AmaBella - Tulip Time, 2014
AmaDagio - Provence, 2014
AmaReina - Holiday on the Rhine 2014
SS Catherine - Provence 2015
AmaSerena Christmas on the Rhine, 2015
Scenic Diamond, Bordeaux, April 2016
AmaVida, Douro, August. 2016
AmaSonata, Romantic Danube - Oct. 2016
Joie de Vivre, Paris and Normany - April 2017

Recent cruises:
Le Lyral, The Adriatic, September 2017
#24
Rhine, Germany
2,066 Posts
Joined Oct 2013
caviargal,

thanks for the info. I expect it became too much of a complicated matter to arrange with the restaurants/chefs. From what past cruisers have reported by now it seems that the food on the two Mozart and the Bach are as good, or at least are rated in the "Michelin star realm". I think the passengers will be well looked after by the ships' chefs.

notamermaid
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#25
418 Posts
Joined May 2013
I'll be sure to post a follow up when we get back. I'm not sure I would have picked CroisiEurope as a line, but the trip is due to a Road Scholar deposit from another trip that was "use it or lose it" so there you go. I gave dh a list of 10 RS trips I'd like to do, this being the only river cruise, and told him to pick the one that appealed to him. CroisiEurope seems, from where I am pre-trip, to be a Holiday Inn sort of level - clean, well kept, not fancy. I hoping that excepting the ship itself, the experience of river cruising would be similar throughout.

Looking at river cruise lines, I'd probably be drawn to AMA, so if we like river cruising, that might be our next line. I know for a fact I'd choose an itinerary with more evening port time, but again this wasn't a choice between cruises, but a choice between trips in a similar cost and time frame.
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#26
New York
8,249 Posts
Joined Aug 2011
Originally posted by ljandgb
I'll be sure to post a follow up when we get back. I'm not sure I would have picked CroisiEurope as a line, but the trip is due to a Road Scholar deposit from another trip that was "use it or lose it" so there you go. I gave dh a list of 10 RS trips I'd like to do, this being the only river cruise, and told him to pick the one that appealed to him. CroisiEurope seems, from where I am pre-trip, to be a Holiday Inn sort of level - clean, well kept, not fancy. I hoping that excepting the ship itself, the experience of river cruising would be similar throughout.

Looking at river cruise lines, I'd probably be drawn to AMA, so if we like river cruising, that might be our next line. I know for a fact I'd choose an itinerary with more evening port time, but again this wasn't a choice between cruises, but a choice between trips in a similar cost and time frame.
Road Scholar may make your experience better than the standard Croisi product. They will offer lectures on board and their own shore excursions, so your straight Croisi time will be limited to the cabin and the food.
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#27
Austin, Texas
422 Posts
Joined Apr 2002
Originally posted by caviargal
As of 2018, this is no longer included with Crystal.


In my experience, that won't be a loss. We weren't impressed with the restaurant we chose. Food, service and ambience. But I'm not much impressed with Michelin starred restaurants either. 3 stars and my interest is peaked. One star restaurants haven't lived up to the hype for us. But if you look at the map of Michelin starred restaurants, there is just so much of the world they are ignoring you know it can't really be a guide of the best places to eat in the world. They need to get out more.


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#28
Columbia, MO
92 Posts
Joined Mar 2014
Thanks everyone. Lots of great suggestions. I love the idea of chartering my own barge so I can stay in towns longer and eat in local restaurants more than on the ship. That sounds like a really good compromise, where i would still get to enjoy river cruising while at the same time having the feel of an independent vacation.
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#30
Columbia, MO
92 Posts
Joined Mar 2014
Yikes, I just checked charter prices on one site. Don't think I'll be able to afford that
Still, lots of good recommendations on here. Thanks everyone
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Upcoming cruises:
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#31
Here and There
540 Posts
Joined Oct 2014
Originally posted by JohnCoMo
Yikes, I just checked charter prices on one site. Don't think I'll be able to afford that
Still, lots of good recommendations on here. Thanks everyone
If you charter with friends the cost per couple goes down. To just book a cabin on a barge could work, too. The cost is very comparable to a nice river cruise. The canal cruises are usually only 6 days and there are excursions every day. If you stay in the ending port for a few days after, it's easy enough to revisit towns on the cruise because they aren't very far away! The food tends to be excellent on a good barge...far better than any river boat IMHO.
#32
FL
14,423 Posts
Joined Jul 2003
Originally posted by Gourmet Gal
If you charter with friends the cost per couple goes down. To just book a cabin on a barge could work, too. The cost is very comparable to a nice river cruise. The canal cruises are usually only 6 days and there are excursions every day. If you stay in the ending port for a few days after, it's easy enough to revisit towns on the cruise because they aren't very far away! The food tends to be excellent on a good barge...far better than any river boat IMHO.
I would love to book a barge trip with friends that I know are compatible. I would never choose to book a cabin on a barge where I would be in such close quarters with strangers; there are not many places to get away from them should they smoke, be loud or have other habits/traits that would affect my trip in a negative way.

Some of my best vacations were private villa rentals with great friends.
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143 cruises since 1964, 15 on the river.
Looking forward to:
MS Joy - Magic of Advent, December 2017

Amadeus Silver III, May 2018
AmaKristina, Christmas Markets, December 2018
Scenic Eclipse, April, 2019

Our river cruising history:
Avalon Luminary B2B- Christmas Markets, 2009
Avalon Affinity - Christmas Markets 2010
Avalon Panorama - Danube New Years Cruise, 2011
AmaDante -Vineyards of the Rhine and Moselle 2012
AmaCerto - Budapest to Nuremburg, 2013
AmaBella - Tulip Time, 2014
AmaDagio - Provence, 2014
AmaReina - Holiday on the Rhine 2014
SS Catherine - Provence 2015
AmaSerena Christmas on the Rhine, 2015
Scenic Diamond, Bordeaux, April 2016
AmaVida, Douro, August. 2016
AmaSonata, Romantic Danube - Oct. 2016
Joie de Vivre, Paris and Normany - April 2017

Recent cruises:
Le Lyral, The Adriatic, September 2017
#33
Brisbane, Australia
160 Posts
Joined Aug 2010
Johncomo, have a look at the English canal boats, their prices are more in line with a holiday rental. Easiest way is to pick a waterway then see who hires out boats in that area. There seem to be lots of different options.
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2010 Mekong Explorer, Siem Reap - HCMC Cambodia Vietnam
2011 Orient Pandaw, Rajang River, Malaysian Borneo
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2013 Pandaw II, Irrawaddy River, Myanmar
2014 Crystal Serenity, Istanbul - Venice
2015 Ichobezi Houseboat - Chobe River, Namibia
2016 Azamara Quest - Norwegian Fjords
2016 Avalon Tranquility II - Christmas in Germany
2017 African Queen, Thames River, UK

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