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We are taking our first river cruise next year. We're taking Uniworld from Amsterdam to Budapest (or vice versa). The two ships doing this itinerary are River Empress and River Queen. I presume the smaller one does the off-season tours.
What's the best time of year to go?
What's the best direction to take?
Which ship is preferable?
How do you choose your cabin, both size and location on the ship? I understand there are faux balcony and window cabins. Opinions?
River Queen won best ship this past year...I would go in June or September given a choice. You want to make sure you are away from the workings of the ship...motor so to speak or whatever it is called :-) Other than suites rooms generally are the same but I do feel there is a nicer atmosphere with the larger windows.
We went on the River Queen in September 2010, in one of the lower cabins, but not the lowest. It was fine, we kind of liked being close to the water. On another Uniworld trip in 2012 we had a French balcony, enjoyed it too. Not sure it is worth the price difference, though. We like September because of smaller crowds. On our Rhine cruise we had few sunny days and nearly always had to wear a light jacket (trip started sound September 5). Ymmv.