River cruise

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River Cruising
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#1
South Carolina
2 Posts
Joined May 2012
Hi everyone!
Can some of you who have been on a river cruise share your experience?
Best line? Itineraries? Christmas market time? Value vs. ocean liners? book their air or not?
We are considering one for 2014, have never been, always cruise the major cruise lines.
In fact, our last one was in May this year on RCCL Serenade of the Seas for 12 days.
Thanks in advance!
#2
Ontario, Canada
2,709 Posts
Joined Nov 2008
Charlotte1 -

First of all, welcome to Cruise Critic!! The river cruising crowd is smaller than the "big ship" crowd - but we are an interesting lot.... and always glad to share experiences.

You are asking very subjective questions. There are many who are active "cheerleaders" for one cruise line, and just as many who have cruised a number of different lines.

Value for money is very subjective. DH and I have done one big ship cruise (Alaska with Princess) - and discovered that I don't "have my sea legs"... Not a lot of value - for me - to spend money on a big ship cruise and feel sick. Also - we don't enjoy dressing formally for dinner, don't gamble - and are ambivalent about the shows --> so big ship cruising really isn't for us. Others feel the same about river cruising. One thing that almost everyone can agree on is that they are very different animals.... so cruising the rivers, and expecting big ship amenities, might set you up for some disappointment.

Many have commented that they find river cruising expensive - and it can be more expensive up front - but there are more things included for the money. Most (if not all of the major players) include wine, beer and soft drinks with dinner --> and many with lunch as well. There is usually at least 1 included excursion in each port (often a walking tour...) - so that equalizes the costs a bit.

We have done 1 Christmas market cruise - and enjoyed it - but prefer to travel when it is a bit warmer. However - there are a number of people here on CC that love the markets at Christmas - and travel over the Christmas season almost yearly.

River cruising isn't for everyone - but it is great for some. We have taken 5 cruises so far (Uniworld, AMA and Scenic) - with 2 more confirmed next year (Viking and Scenic) and a deposit for one in 2014. There are many here on CC who have cruised more - and some who are still in the planning phase....

Continue to post - and ask questions. If you have more specific questions, it might help people provide more detail that can assist you in your planning.

Fran
#3
Raleigh NC
24,460 Posts
Joined Oct 2007
Originally posted by Charlotte1
Hi everyone!
Can some of you who have been on a river cruise share your experience?
Best line? Itineraries? Christmas market time? Value vs. ocean liners? book their air or not?
We are considering one for 2014, have never been, always cruise the major cruise lines.
In fact, our last one was in May this year on RCCL Serenade of the Seas for 12 days.
Thanks in advance!
Welcome to CC!
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Kirk


Future Cruises
HAL Amsterdam 1-4-2017 - The World Cruise
HAL Prinsendam 7-15-2017 - Four months on the Elegant Explorer
Hurtengruten Fram 12-15-2017 - Christmas and New Years with the penguins
HAL Amsterdam 1-4-2018 - FLL to Sydney Segment
Azamara Journey 3-7-2018 - An Azamara World Cruise
Crystal Serenity 2-20-2019 - Perth to Cape Town
#4
FL
14,127 Posts
Joined Jul 2003
You should also try using the search feature with those specific criteria as these are questions asked and answered often so lots of existing info here to read.

We are leaving in a few hours for Budapest and our 6th river cruise. The Christmas markets are open in most all of our stops and we are DIY pre and post. We will be on the new AmaCerto and so far AMA is our favorite.

And we love Europe in winter.
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142 cruises since 1964, 14 on the river.

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

Looking forward to:
Joie de Vivre, Paris and Normany - April 2017
Le Lyral, The Adriatic, September 2017
Amadeus Silver II - Magic of Advent, December 2017
Oceania Marina, South Pacific, March 2018
AmaKristina, Christmas Markets, December 2018

#5
Saint Simons Island, Georgia
11,017 Posts
Joined Jul 2010
We have done two tours that include River cruises with Vantage (Russia and China) as well as AMA (Rhone River -France).
Both companies delivered super cruises and tours.
My research indicates several good companies. Grand Circle, Avalon, Tauck, Viking and more.
In comparing Vantage with Viking for China and Russia, we found that we got more for our money going with Vantage.
AMA Waterways has a great Rhone river cruise. We would go with them again as well.

We lived in Germany for four years and loved Christmas time there, but I would never pay to cruise in the cold weather that time of the year, as well as short days (dark at 4:30)
River cruises tend to cost more than ocean cruises, but include more, such as excursions. Also, wine with dinner is standard.
If you have to have a casino, then river cruising is not for you. However, we like the smaller numbers. Most river cruises have about 150 cruisers on the boat. You get to know more people.
#6
nemo, texas
1,242 Posts
Joined Jan 2011
We've done one river cruise, a few years ago, and will do another in May. The first was with Grand Circle. It was an excellent trip. All meals are included, one guided walking tour per port, and free time in the afternoons to explore on your own. There is wine included with dinner. We don't drink so had diet cola and iced tea with our meals. The food was good. The cabin was smaller than on cruise ships, but was quite comfy. All of the riverboat cabins have a nice picture window. That was Grand Circle from Vienna to Amsterdam.
In May we're taking a Russian riverboat from St. Petersburg to Moscow. It is pretty much no frills compared to Grand Circle, but I've read some good reviews, and the price was really, really good. The main thing is we'll get to experience Russia at a decent price, so no frills is not a big sacrifice for us. We booked through Gate 1.
We've taken many ocean cruises, and love them. We've taken one riverboat cruise and loved it. They are 2 different kinds of experiences, and each is enjoyable.
#7
Milton On Canada
938 Posts
Joined Sep 2008
We have taken 2 river cruises, the first with AMA and this year with Scenic. Both were fantastic and would recommend either line. Scenic is much more all inclusive and in 2013 everything is included, drinks all day, gratuities, fantastic enrichment tours like a private Vienna concert, day in a German village(as opposed to just walking tours). As previously mentioned, everyone has their favourite line. You have to decide what features are important to you and how long you want to be 'onboard'. Just make sure you know the costs of the 'extras' on those lines that are not all inclusive. All pretty much visit the same towns/villages although there is some difference, service seems to be pretty much good quality as is the food. Lots of choices, good luck with your research.
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Judy

Carnival Pride-Western Caribbean Feb 2015
Scenic Emerald-Paris to Barcelona Sept 2013
Freedom OTS-E. Caribbean March 2013
Scenic Emerald Amsterdam to Budapest Sept 2012
Emerald Princess-S. Caribbean Jan 2012
AMA Amalegro Prague to Paris Sept 2011
Oceania Insignia Venice -Barcelona -September 2010
Coral Princess Panama Canal FLL to LA Dec 2009
Emerald Princess Baltic Aug 2009
Caribbean Princess S. Caribbean B2B Nov 2008
#8
2,126 Posts
Joined Feb 2007
Charlotte1,
As others have already said this is a difficult question.
IMO you have to start with what you are willing to pay, since, just like the ocean cruisers, there is a wide difference in the experience.
DW and I always cruise upscale and, therefore, really enjoy Tauck and Uniworld.
Without sacrificing much you might enjoy AMA, Viking, Or GCT. It requires a substantial amount of research and a true understanding as to what you are looking for.
You will see a lot on this board about itineraries. IMO this is specious, the boats can only go where the river goes It is not like the ocean where the choices are not limited.
In general, as most on this board know, I believe you get what you pay for.
Many river cruises are worth their value, but some are better than others
#9
New Brunswick, Canada
13 Posts
Joined Apr 2012
We took our first river cruise this spring, AMA Rhone(Amadagio), and thoroughly enjoyed it. Most excursuions are free, and they even added last minute ones-the nougat bakery was excellent. Staff, including cruise director, were A-1. Small number of passengers(150) means you get to know about half the people within a week.
Cabin was small but well equipped. Meals absolutely out of this world.
#10
2,437 Posts
Joined Feb 2005
We have just placed a deposit on river cruise number 16 with Road Scholar on the Girond river in France--Bordeaux-Bordeaux and some land tour involved. We plan on doing this after the Paris Air Show in June of 2013. Yes it is a 3 star boat, but the itinerary is marvelous. I truly think that the first thing to consider is the itinerary and the lines that supply it---then you can factor in the price. We usually do our own air, but in Russia and China we used the cruise air. Remember the evenings are fairly quiet--maybe some local entertainment. It helps to ask specific questions, those on this board are going to give honest answers--even the cheerleaders. Pat
#11
Central Illinois
614 Posts
Joined Sep 2004
I booked our first river cruise for summer 2013. It was not a thoughtful process, but ended up with Scenic. It met my criteria of a 14 day cruise, catered more to Aussies ( I am American, but like to think I'm not in my own backyard while on vacation). I loved the idea of self guided GPS tours, and also needed to hit certain dates and include a Bratislava tour. there ended up being just a couple of choices. we like the RCCL/Celebrity type of experience, tend to look for value when cruising. Tauck seemed very nice, but seemed a little "stuffy" (may not actually be the case, but when they say they have people handy to put the coin in a public toilet for you, we'll, not sure if we need that kind of service).

so, pick some "must's" and narrow the choices to what fits you best. I don't see many negatives on the top five lines, all seem to be service oriented. I can't say what we ended up with is going to be perfect, it is going to be darn close (for us).
#12
NW Ohio
8,019 Posts
Joined Jan 2001
Hi, Charlotte! We, too, were seasoned ocean cruisers, but I was so over the production shows, and neither of us gambled. So, our evenings ended up being spent in our cabin reading or (on the newer ships) watching a movie. We had begun selecting our cruises for the itinerary (only somewhat for the cruise line and the ship) and were booking private tours while in port. We had "done" the Caribbean, Alaska, Hawaii, and Mexico, and when we received a brochure from Viking, my husband was ready to book. We selected the "Tulips & Windmills" cruise, and it was just a perfect introduction (for me, anyway)to river cruising. My husband had spent a good deal of time in Holland on business and wanted me to be able to see some of the sights he had, and he was very pleased with how much more we saw with our cruise. We would take the included walking tours in the A.M., return to the ship for lunch, and then strike out on our own after lunch; either returning to town to explore more on our own or joining some fellow passengers for sightseeing.
We are already planning another river cruise for 2014.
#13
Queens, NY
2,161 Posts
Joined Mar 2008
Hi Charlotte1 ~ WELCOME to CC where you'll find a wealth of fantastic information and always someone ready and willing to give ideas, opinions, suggestions!!! As mentioned earlier, as you narrow down your cruise and interests just ask specific questions after you search your topic - someone will jump in to help!

We just took our first River Cruise this past October - and I fell in love with River Cruising! But I'll also add I'm still a fan of big boat cruising - they just really are two different ways of enjoying the water - and I'm not judging wich is better!!!

We took a Viking Rhone River Cruise - Portraits of Southern France - DH choose it because of the wine country and we weren't disappointed - e had a fabulous time!

First, the ship is much, much smaller and it was much more personal - I've read that here and thought - really will I care? but I did! I loved not having to wait in a buffet line and enjoyed getting to know so many others. I kept an open mind about the excursions - usually we take small group (8-10 people) DIY tours arranged via CC. But pre-set excursions? But I found I did enjoy then and the tours guides we had were almost all excellent! They used a voice box and ear attachments that meant you could wander a bit and still hear the explanation - great for taking photos! I had also wondered about the evening - we rarely gamble but how much would I miss the piano bar or Broadway show - but I found I never missed them at all! One night there was a small group of musicians/singers for entertainment and another evening was a tour and then lots and lots of conversations! With a 7am "exercise"-type class, bk and a tour early evenings were greatly appreciated!

While I'm not counting out another big boat ocean cruise, we are looking at the Rhine River for next year! Two different experiences and I love them both!!!

Good luck choosing a trip!!! And, whatever you do and wherever you go ~ have a fantastic time!!
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Peg
Viking Forseti 10-4-2014 Bordeaux
Viking Rinda 12-7-2013 Christmas Markets
Viking Neptune 10-21-12 Rhone River
Celebrity Constellation 9-7-2011 Amsterdam-Istanbul
Celebrity Constellation 7-3-2010 Baltic
RCCL Voyager of the Seas 2-14-2010 Caribbean
Celebrity Summit 6-16-2008 Mediterranean
SS Rembrant 7-20-2000 St. Lawrence
M/V Atlantic 8-28-1988 Bermuda
#14
California
2,160 Posts
Joined Jun 2009
Originally posted by FotoPeg
...
We just took our first River Cruise this past October - and I fell in love with River Cruising! But I'll also add I'm still a fan of big boat cruising - they just really are two different ways of enjoying the water - and I'm not judging wich is better!!!
First, the ship is much, much smaller and it was much more personal - I've read that here and thought - really will I care? but I did! I loved not having to wait in a buffet line and enjoyed getting to know so many others. I kept an open mind about the excursions - usually we take small group (8-10 people) DIY tours arranged via CC. But pre-set excursions? But I found I did enjoy then and the tours guides we had were almost all excellent! They used a voice box and ear attachments that meant you could wander a bit and still hear the explanation - great for taking photos! I had also wondered about the evening - we rarely gamble but how much would I miss the piano bar or Broadway show - but I found I never missed them at all! ...
While I'm not counting out another big boat ocean cruise, we are looking at the Rhine River for next year! Two different experiences and I love them both!!!
And, whatever you do and wherever you go ~ have a fantastic time!!
FotoPeg,

This is such great advice.

We are planning our first river cruise and I have been wondering about both the excursions and the evenings on board.

I agree that it is important to keep an open mind. I can't wait to experience a new and different kind of vacation!

Happy travels!
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Coming up: Port Wine & Flamenco Douro River Cruise • AmaVida • July 2017

Ocean Cruises:
Viking Sagas and Norse Legends - Koningsdam • July 2016
Greece, Turkey & Italy Medley - Emerald Princess, July 2015
California Coastal - Golden Princess, Oct 2014California Coastal - Golden Princess, Nov 2013Alaska RT Seattle - Golden Princess, August 2012Pacific Coastal San Diego to Vancouver - Zuiderdam, May 2012Greek Isles - Star Princess, July 2011Pacific Coastal - Golden Princess, September 2010Western Mediterranean - Holland America Noordam, August 2010Baltic - Emerald Princess, August 2009Alaska Cruisetour Southbound - Coral Princess, August 2008Mexican Riviera - Diamond Princess, November 2006 •Mexico Cabo San Lucas- Carnival Elation, 2008 • Mexico Baja - Royal Caribbean Monarch, 2007

River Cruises:
Danube Budapest to Prague - AmaLyra, August 2013
Seine Paris to Normandy - AmaLegro, July 24, 2014
#15
Santa Paula CA
3,415 Posts
Joined Apr 2000
Welcome to CC!
We have taken 3 river cruises with Vantage, and were very happy. The first was a Xmas market cruise, the highlight having snow fall after Xmas eve mass. My wife is from Southern Calif and had never seen it!
That being said, it was 17 degrees F outside. My wife wanted to do another one when it was warmer, so we did a cruise from Budapest to Amsterdam and enjoyed it also. We spent a few days in Amsterdam on our own, then flew to Copenhagen for a Baltic Cruise.
This year we cruised through Provence and Burgundy and also loved it.
We are booked on Moscow to St. Petersburg cruise next year.
All our trips stories and pictures are on our website. We are always happy to answer any questions by e-mail at highlandpark"at"mindspring.com
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It serves no purpose to list all the cruises I have been on chronologically. Many of the lines or ships do not exist any more, or have been renamed. I have sailed on NCL,Bermuda Star, Regency, Royal, Silverseas, Mississippi Queen, Vantage, Marco Polo, Scottish Highlander, Princess, Victoria, Hebridean Princess, Paul Gauguin, Regent, Oceania, Cunard, Rembrandt, and Lev Tolstoy.