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We are beginning to think about summer 2010's vacation, and thinking of a Danube river cruise. The Avalon line intrigues me, but I am open to suggestions. I am confused about a number of things, and will do more research. Right now my questions are: (1) traveling with a senior who is not wheelchair bound necessarily but does tire and has trouble with stairs; and (2) I thought I saw advertised that all Avalon staterooms have floor to ceiling windows, but a quick check of pricing showed a stateroom in category E with two small windows only. Can you help with my question about the stateroom? Or provide advice in general about choosing a river cruiseline? Or have you traveled with a senior to this area of the world before? As background, we went summer 2008 with two seniors on a land vacation in Hungary, and we managed but it was difficult at times. We were thinking perhaps a river cruise with land excursions would be the way to go? Sorry for the wordy thread.
Have only sailed with Viking River Cruises. They provide a daily briefing each evening before dinner which offers detailed information about just how strenuous the following day's excursions will be. They often tell you just how many stairs you will have to climb. There are always options provided for those who are mobility challanged -- for instance, if you feel you can only go so far, there will be areas to sit and wait while the rest of the tour continues and returns for you. It has been our experience with Viking that most of the excursions are not that difficult. In most cases you return to the boat for meals, so tours are usually 3 hours or less. Unless you are taking a walking tour right off the boat, buses take you to the stated location.
Have only travelled with Uniworld/Trafalgar - but echo the comments re: planning the excursions based on the "port talk" the evening before. There was always an "option" for those who might find the excursions a bit challenging.
You might get more responses if you re-post in the River cruise section.
Check for reviews on Review Board & River & Canal Board
Check under the River and Canal Cruise Board for lots of info on river cruises and companies.
I posted a review of my Avalon Danube River Cruise (June 2008) on the review board under Avalon.
I personally would choose to travel with Vikiing River, AMA Waterways, Tauck or Uniworld.
Also the lower level cabins on most of the Danube vessels will have non opening windows that will probably be covered with water for 1/2 or more of the trip. They have to lower the height of the vessel to get under the low bridges.
Viking and AMA Waterways (and I believe Uniworld) will include most of the tours in the cruise fare. Tauck will be almost all inclusive with most tips included. Avalon will have about 1/2 of the tours as optional extra charges.
Also check the vessel layout carefully for elevators between decks.
After doing a little more research, it appears that I shouldn't worry so much about windows as we will not be in the cabin much. We had interior rooms on our Royal Caribbean cruise and it worked out fine. I wouldn't have wanted to spend the extra money then, either.
I would suggest that cruise on the River Danube which we just completed with Uniworld on the River Beatrice is going to be difficult for someone who has a problem walking. We are fairly healthy, but there were times when it was almost too much for us. They conduct mostly walking tours, with a bus ride and they are included in the price of the cruise. There not much to see cruising except for one day and the arrival in Budapest or Passau, depending on where you start. I tell you for sure it is a wonderful and the ship is beautiful along with great service.
I very strongly recommend AMA Waterways. Very new boats, excellent cabins and crews, and good tours. Include them in your research.
-AMA Amacello on the Danube 2008
-Abercrombie & Kent Sunboat IV on the Nile 2009
-Oceania Insignia Venice to Barcelona 2009
-Oceania Nautica Istanbul to Athens 2010
-Oceania Regatta Anchorage to Vancouver 2011
-Celebrity Century Auckland to Sydney 2012
-Oceania Marina back to back Rio to Valparaiso to Papeete 2012/2013
-Azamara Journey Singapore to Hong Kong 2014
-Oceania Insignia Istanbul to Venice 2014
We are booked on Uniworld Amsterdam to Bucharest September 22 to October 20 2009. Would like to hear the goods and the bads of this itinerary and of the cruise line itself. What about tipping at the conclusion? How did you handle and if you don't mind, what did you tip? Concerned about $750 plus in tip amount? Were their tours good, very good, excellent, or not so good? How was their food, and how expensive was beer and wine aboard ship? Would you travel with them again?
I believe that AMA divides their groups for excursions by activity level.
If you post a question in the River & Canal cruises - directed to MVPinBoynton or CAPinBoynton - they should be able to answer your query. I am pretty sure that tours on the Blue Danube Discovery were amended slightly to accommodate different levels of physical ability.
On our Uniworld cruise, there was no separation for activity level --> but there wasn't that much that was inaccessible. There was quite a bit of walking - but this was usually addressed in the port talk the evening before.