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  #1  
Old December 11th, 2012, 03:10 PM
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marky63 marky63 is offline
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Default First timer with no ideas

We have cruised several times but never River Cruise. We are considering Europe and are looking for ideas for cruise line and river. We like scenary and small towns. Bridges and locks are a plus. i know i am leaving a lot of room here, but help please
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  #2  
Old December 11th, 2012, 03:23 PM
alexandra cruiser alexandra cruiser is online now
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Thumbs up We all started at the first...so lots

to review.Try going to all the main river cruise company websites and see what looks interesting to you..AMA,Uniworld,viking avalon,scenic,etc...
The ships,itineraries,prices,dates,countries all vary,,so compare and contrast.What s best for you?Everyone seems to have their favorites.
Try ONE and see if you like it,then maybe change to another and give that a try.I ve been on 9 different ones,with 9 different companies.Liked them all,some more than others.
Read ship and member reviews here on CC..check out ports section.Google some that look interesting.
Remember,just think of it as your FIRST,,of many to come.That one might not be the PERFECT one,,but try ,try again.
I know vary ocean and river cruises,,best of both worlds this way.And STILL have a "bucket list"..Good luck.
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  #3  
Old December 11th, 2012, 03:36 PM
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nana541 nana541 is offline
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Welcome to the Rivercruuse Board!!! You need to start reading reviews of the various lines... Read lots of reviews and don't hang your hat on just one really good review or one awful review.
We drove ourselves crazy trying to figure out which line to sail with for our first Europe River cruise and fell in love with each as I read the reviews. Each company is slightly differant soooo start going back thru a few pages of this board and educate yourself.
I ordered brochures over the Internet from each of the main companies wanted to be able to touch, feel and see the paper - not just see it online.

Oh and disregard the 2 for 1 pricing it is just a gimmick and does not really mean your getting a deal as the pricing is very similiar on all. The 2 for 1 is actually the price per person and NOT the price for 2 people.... Ya confusing!

Check out:
Viking
Uniworld
AMA
Avalon ( we ended up booking Avalon)
There are several more as you will see
Each of these companies have different included benefits, I think pricing based on itinerary and # of days when compared is very close. So it boils down to personal preferance and itinerary plus dates that work for you.

Hope this helps and sorry for being so long winded!
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Last edited by nana541; December 11th, 2012 at 03:38 PM.
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Old December 11th, 2012, 11:13 PM
franski franski is offline
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Both alexandra cruiser and nana541 have given you some good advice.

My advice - if you have never cruised the rivers before - is to look at a 7 night cruise to start, and perhaps add extra days on before and/or after. We LOVE the rivers, but some people have found it is not their "cup of tea". It would be too bad if you signed up for a 14 day cruise - only to discover you were unhappy with the amount of time on board.

For small towns, bridges and locks - a good place to start is the Danube. Most companies offer Budapest to Passau or Nuremberg --> with an option to go to Prague.

We did the Seine for our 1st river cruise, as my DH was very interested in the beaches in Normandy, and all of the art history surrounded Van Gogh. It was great - and we were hooked!!! We stayed a few days after in Paris to round out the experience.

If there is one town you really want to see, or there is something you really want to experience - that might be a good place to start.

Enjoy the planning.

Fran

Last edited by franski; December 11th, 2012 at 11:14 PM.
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  #5  
Old December 12th, 2012, 09:07 AM
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thanks for the input. We love rivers we have a 28' cruiser of our own and travel many of the rivers in the east for days at a time. I have heard from other sources that the Danube is a good place to start. Any cruise line suggestions?
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Old December 12th, 2012, 09:58 AM
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Originally Posted by marky63 View Post
thanks for the input. We love rivers we have a 28' cruiser of our own and travel many of the rivers in the east for days at a time. I have heard from other sources that the Danube is a good place to start. Any cruise line suggestions?
Re read post #3 cruiselines to consider and other info
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Old December 12th, 2012, 10:11 AM
Talisker92 Talisker92 is offline
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Along with the lines suggested above, we would also suggest you check out Vantage. We have taken 3 river cruises with them-A Danube Xmas cruise, a cruise from Budapest to Amsterdam, and a cruise up the Rhone and Saone rivers.
We thoroughly enjoyed all of them. The stories and pictures are on our website.
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  #8  
Old December 12th, 2012, 10:51 AM
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Along with the lines suggested above, we would also suggest you check out Vantage. We have taken 3 river cruises with them-A Danube Xmas cruise, a cruise from Budapest to Amsterdam, and a cruise up the Rhone and Saone rivers.
We thoroughly enjoyed all of them. The stories and pictures are on our website.
I did not mean to exclude Vantage!!! Strongly suggest OP reads about "Steve & Kathy's Travels" you blog and photos are wonderful... Great resource!
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Last edited by nana541; December 12th, 2012 at 10:54 AM.
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  #9  
Old December 12th, 2012, 12:22 PM
franski franski is offline
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There is also Scenic - and Tauck. Both are a bit higher cost up-front as they are considered more "all inclusive"...(gratuities, mini-fridge in room etc...)

A-Rosa is jumping into the North American market as well next year - although their sailings catering to the English speaking passenger group will be (I believe) a bit limited next year.

Do you have a preference as far as travelling companions? Vantage and Grand Circle market almost exclusively in the US - so your travel companions will be mostly fellow Americans. Scenic is an Australian company - and marketing has just started in the US - so fellow passengers will be primarily a mix of Aussies, Kiwis, Brits and Canadians. The other companies (AMA, Avalon, Viking, Uniworld) tend to have a broader mix. We have had people from South America and South Africa on different Uniworld cruises we have taken.

Fran

Last edited by franski; December 12th, 2012 at 12:24 PM.
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  #10  
Old December 12th, 2012, 03:52 PM
4774Papa 4774Papa is offline
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Don't forget river cruises are not all in central or western Europe. We have done two wonderful tours to Ukraine, Russia and Baltics as well as China which included river cruises.
We used Vantage, which is excellent.

Also, we have done AMA as well.
There are several good companies. You have to compare what you get from each for what dollars.

Also, check the cruise critic member reviews of river cruises. You will find that some of the otherwise excellent companies like Viking and AMA have had problems with their Russian river cruises.
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  #11  
Old December 13th, 2012, 09:31 AM
Otterdance Otterdance is offline
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Do not overlook Lüftner in your research (sometimes spelled Lueftner, or Luftner). They have not made much advertising headway in the U.S., but my recent experience on the Amadeus Elegant proved they are a hidden gem! They offer a variety of days on their transits of the European waterways (for instance, on a 16-day transit from Amsterdam to Budapest, there were folks aboard for only a short leg of that from say, Nürnberg to Vienna, or whatnot).

I agree with Nana --read posts with a grain of salt -- not everyone posts who had an acceptable time, so you often read about the extremes of experience. I also learned that there are people in the world who actually seem to enjoy the drama or controversy of complaining, even when offered a solution, so I now take that into account and ask people who go on about a horrible experience what steps were taken to have it corrected to try to judge whether the situation was an actual problem with the service or facility. I have little understanding for "drama queens," but great sympathy for those who find themselves in *actual* pickles.

Another thing to consider is that if you book through a different agency, you may have a different experience from someone on exactly the same ship as you, depending on what level of service that agency offers. Likewise, I imagine that level of service would differ even from representative to representative of a given agency, too.

For instance, our wonderful Collette tour rep, Ellen, met us at the Amsterdam airport, and shepherded us throughout the entire trip. She got to know each of us, and was instrumental in advocating for the needs of our quite diverse little group. She offered a level of service and caring that I think I have been quite spoiled by -- she even brought along a travel violin that she serenaded those who had birthdays or anniversaries in our group (how cute is that?). Ellen made sure that we all had the excursions lined up that we had paid for, or if we wanted to add on that we could, and she did all of the detail work between us and the ship's tour director, Günther, leaving us free to relax the whole time.

By contrast, on the same ship were a pair from the U.S. who had booked via another agency. Their agency did NOT send a tour representative along with them, and they seemed rather displeased by having to do all of the detail work themselves. I would not have had a problem with that, since I have travelled a fair bit, speak a few languages, and am rather independent, but these two wanted the level of service the Collette folks were given.

I think this would be a big consideration and where you would have to know yourself: you may be able to get the same passage cheaper, so what level of service are you willing to pay for? Do you want all the excursions included, or would you rather self-tour? Do you want to book your airline and your ship cabin and excursions yourself, or do you want all the arrangements handled for you?

On the one hand, having someone handle all the details for you means you don't have to think very much, just go where you are told. On the other hand, you may chafe under that level of herding and want to strike out on your own (which we still did on occasion when there was something we wanted to do or see that wasn't on the package excursion, but if you have already paid ahead of time for a package, there is no reimbursement for parts that you don't choose to participate in -- however, the rest of the package may be such a good deal that you can easily justify skipping one or two things here and there...)

I posted a basic review of my trip already, but I do hope to get the time soon to post more details about each of the excursions, perhaps with photos. But suffice it to say, the Amsterdam to Budapest trip gave us bridges and locks a-plenty, and many lovely little towns to stroll around in. The Collette tour management was completely worry-free, and the Lüftner service was superb. I'm confident there are other combinations out there that produce equally lovely trips. Just be honest with yourself in what you are looking for.

Last edited by Otterdance; December 13th, 2012 at 09:34 AM.
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  #12  
Old December 13th, 2012, 10:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marky63 View Post
thanks for the input. We love rivers we have a 28' cruiser of our own and travel many of the rivers in the east for days at a time. I have heard from other sources that the Danube is a good place to start. Any cruise line suggestions?
We've done 5 with Vantage and never had a bad experience. I think most of the companies doing Europ[ean river cruises are good and you probably can't go wrong no matter who you choose. It's the little things that make the difference between the companies. We chose Vantage because they included virtually all shore excursions, however they do not generally include wine or beer with every meal like Viking does. All of the ships are about the same size and carry between 150-175 passengers. I would start with something like Castles on the Rhine (it was our first and I am admittedly partial) it has something for everybody: historic sites, castles, monasteries, quaint towns, big cities (Budapest and Vienna), locks, shopping and scenic beauty to die for. I wouldn't worry to much about the length of the trip. One we took was 15 days from Budapest to Amsterdam and because you're stopping every day in a different port, you really don't have time to get bored. If you haven't already discovered, most river cruise passengers are 55+, so be sure to take that into consideration. For the most part, there are no casinos, no broadway type entertainment, no live band for dancing and no contests, games, etc. that you find on big cruise ships. Entertainment relies on sightseeing, meeting other guests and forming small groups for talking, playing cards, etc. Another really nice cruise is Holland during tulip season. If you like tulips this is an unforgettable trip. China, Russia, Egypt were all fantastic destinations but I wouldn't choose them for my first trip.
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Old December 17th, 2012, 02:57 PM
editor@cruisecritic editor@cruisecritic is offline
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Hi, Marky63 -- glad to hear you're considering a river cruise. I'm going to jump in and agree with everyone else that the Danube is a perfect first-time river (there's a nice blend of small towns and villages with major cities, like Vienna and Budapest).

As to which line, first you've got to figure out your budget. Also -- I'm curious: What kind of hotels do you like to stay in on vacation? I'm working on a story where we compare river lines to hotels to give people an idea of what onboard lifestyle best suits. If you know that, I'd be happy to wager a recommendation.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by marky63 View Post
We have cruised several times but never River Cruise. We are considering Europe and are looking for ideas for cruise line and river. We like scenary and small towns. Bridges and locks are a plus. i know i am leaving a lot of room here, but help please
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  #14  
Old December 18th, 2012, 10:36 AM
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thanks for all the input. We like classic hotels with bars dak wood leather, that kind of thing
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Old December 19th, 2012, 10:38 PM
editor@cruisecritic editor@cruisecritic is offline
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I'd suggest, then, Tauck.

AMA's another option...

Let us all know what you end up with!

Carolyn


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thanks for all the input. We like classic hotels with bars dak wood leather, that kind of thing
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Old December 20th, 2012, 05:43 PM
CPT Trips CPT Trips is online now
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Was Grand Circle Tours mentioned? You should also check them . . . www,gct.com . I have been very satisfied with their products and will use them again.

Some of the tour companies arrange the trip for you on a boat owned and operated by another company. Others own and operate the boat as well as arranging the trip for you. Some of the river boat companies work with travel agents, others do not. Just be certain you understand what you are getting.
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Old December 23rd, 2012, 05:23 PM
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we have done over 40 cruises mostly with celebrity and a river cruise is something we may be interested in...

however , cruising has spoiled us to expect very good food and accommodation and being able to do it very reasonably...

is it possible to do a river cruise that has good food, accommodation and offers good value?

has anyone here done a quality cruise and then had the same quality experience on a river cruise, food etc....and still reasonably priced as a cruise can be....

someone suggested smartours cruises...then found reviews that were very unflattering...old ships, poor quality food, many extras....

what can anyone tell me about vantage...yes I will google it now...
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Old December 23rd, 2012, 06:17 PM
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[quote=CPT Trips;36401905]Was Grand Circle Tours mentioned? You should also check them . . . www,gct.com . I have been very satisfied with their products and will use them again.



We did not like GCT because of the cabins. The beds were they type the folded up into opposite walls on our Rhine Cruise with very outdated paneling. We gave them a second try and were no happier with the twin beds ( Paris to Nice). The food was good and price reasonable but the bedding, amenities and cabin was not to our liking. Our third river cruise was on Uniworld and our cabins were much nicer but their itineraries are not long enough for me. I think our next river cruise will be on AMA. From what I have read, I think they will fulfill our expectations. I hope so.

Kathy
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Old December 28th, 2012, 07:48 PM
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Hi Marky63...we also are new to River Cruises. I actually saw the Christmas Market Cruises years ago and put them on our Bucket List. Well, FINALLY, we get to do one. We booked through Collette, which we have used for 3 other Tours, loved them, so we are going with them again. We are signed up to do the Danube Cruise and Christmas Markets in Dec. 2013. We cant wait. Good Luck with your research!
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  #20  
Old January 1st, 2013, 09:15 AM
caviargal caviargal is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beachchairs2 View Post
we have done over 40 cruises mostly with celebrity and a river cruise is something we may be interested in...

however , cruising has spoiled us to expect very good food and accommodation and being able to do it very reasonably...

is it possible to do a river cruise that has good food, accommodation and offers good value?

has anyone here done a quality cruise and then had the same quality experience on a river cruise, food etc....and still reasonably priced as a cruise can be....

someone suggested smartours cruises...then found reviews that were very unflattering...old ships, poor quality food, many extras....

what can anyone tell me about vantage...yes I will google it now...
I have well over 100 ocean cruises under my belt since 1969, my first. We are recently off the Grand Princess, our first mass market cruise in 5 years and probably the last for us.

I was a fan of Celebrity for many years but have found their overall quality has declined and the extra cost options increased over the years. This IMO is not unique to Celebrity. Have to say that we went on Princess with modest expectations last month and it was much less than we expected. Food was just bad, and we dined in specialty restaurants as we anticipated the food in the MDR would be mass produced banquet food. They were constantly trying to sell us something, including bothering us three times at dinner the first night trying to get us to sign up for an expensive wine tasting, even though we were clear the first time that we were not interested. Then there was the constant pressure from photographers, art auctions and more.

River cruising is the polar opposite of that experience. We are recently off the AmaCerto which was just exceptional. Wonderful food, good included wines, fabulous staff, great entertainment and stunning ship overall.

River cruising is a relaxed environment, rather than a congested and scheduled large ship experience. If you enjoy the many activities offered on cruises, such as bingo, trivia and whatever else they may offer, and want a casino and nightlife, then this would not be the vacation for you. That being said, we found the entertainment on our recent holiday cruise on Princess to be repetitive and boring and avoided most of it; on our recent AMA cruise, the entertainment was really good and we were out every night dancing and enjoying ourselves. It was fun and fabulous, the best of any river cruise yet. AMA does attract a younger demographic in our experience and the onboard ambiance is quite different than the other line cruised with prior to discovering AMA.

Apples to apples, we do not find river cruising more expensive than an equivalent cruise on lines like X, when you truly factor in all costs. The multitude of extra charges on lines like Celebrity (specialty coffees, bottled water, excursions, specialty dining) mounts quickly. And for us, the appeal of mass market lines like X lost its luster years ago.

These are very different vacations and really cannot be compared.

Re Vantage, we have not cruised with the line as we prefer a more luxurious experience and their boats do not appeal (based on being next to them in port over the course of 6 river cruises and looking into their cabins and public spaces). I think that if you are looking for an upscale experience, that might not be the line for you.
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Last edited by caviargal; January 1st, 2013 at 09:17 AM.
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