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#1
Essex, England
50 Posts
Joined Sep 2012
I am planning a first River Cruise for my mother and my sister and would welcome any advice from my fellow Cruise Critic members please.
We are all seasoned Ocean Cruisers but inexperienced in booking River Cruises. Firstly they seem much more expensive than equivalent durations on Cruise Ships and wondered if anyone can recommend a good Travel Agent that offers any discounts? We are based in the UK.
My mother likes a balcony, so not sure if Juliette Balcony would be her thing, but your comments would be appreciated.
They have been to places in Europe like Vienna & Budapest so any suggestions in Europe avoiding those places would be great please.
Any pros & cons for the various lines would be valued also.
Thank you for your help.
Billy
#2
Lancashire, UK
496 Posts
Joined Jun 2010
Originally posted by billybrent
I am planning a first River Cruise for my mother and my sister and would welcome any advice from my fellow Cruise Critic members please.
We are all seasoned Ocean Cruisers but inexperienced in booking River Cruises. Firstly they seem much more expensive than equivalent durations on Cruise Ships and wondered if anyone can recommend a good Travel Agent that offers any discounts? We are based in the UK.
My mother likes a balcony, so not sure if Juliette Balcony would be her thing, but your comments would be appreciated.
They have been to places in Europe like Vienna & Budapest so any suggestions in Europe avoiding those places would be great please.
Any pros & cons for the various lines would be valued also.
Thank you for your help.
Billy
Hi Billy

I am also researching River Cruises and like a balcony!

The price does appear to be more expensive than the main stream cruise lines we have been on however I note that they are basically all inclusive (drinks & excursions) so taking into account our spend on board for drinks, shuttles & trips on an ocean cruise I believe it is probably good value.

Some lines like the full price of the cruise quite quickly which can be more than a year in advance of your sail date which I think we will avoid (unless we book last minute).

I await the experienced River Cruisers knowledgable responses.
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#3
2,441 Posts
Joined Feb 2005
Billie and Frogsgirl, welcome to River cruising. Yes, the price seems steep compared to ocean trips. Not all river lines are all inclusive, but most include wine, beer and soft drinks with meals. Right now the lines that are all inclusive are Scenic and Tauck. Uniworld starts next year. We are going on our 16th river cruise in June and have travelled on many of the lines. We like both AMAwaterways and Uniworld for their attention to detail and number of pax on board--usually about 150. The included tours are very well done--they use "quiet boxes"--no need to be right next to the guide to hear the commentary. You really need to look at the various websites to find an itinerary. You will find all the lines have their "cheerleaders"--there are 2 lines that are open to US only--Vantage and Grand Circle tours. Good luck and keep the questions coming. There are people with lots of knowledge who will share with you. Just a word of caution--river cruising can be addictive. Pat
#5
Long Island, NY
6,172 Posts
Joined Apr 2000
Another River Cruise Virgin here. We're taking the plunge in July on a Seine River Paris/Normandy cruise. I found this thread to be very useful http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1750496 Also, look for the thread on this page "When is a Balcony, Not a Balcony". River Cruise ships get tied up together at the ports, so you don't always get that fabulous view you thought you would have. Just something to consider when booking.
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Planning the cruise is half the fun.
#6
FL
14,143 Posts
Joined Jul 2003
There is far less nickel and diming on a river cruise IMO and we generally have a small bill at the end versus a large one that is so easy to accumulate on most ocean cruise lines. We actually pretty much gave up on ocean cruises due to ships that continue to get larger and more crowded every year and with more and more emphasis on taking money out of your wallet. IMO they have become far too impersonal, except for the small ships and luxury lines.

We had a twin balcony on AmaCerto in November and it was the nicest room we ever had on a river cruise ship. The room was light and bright and having both an indoor and outdoor balcony was a treat.

My mom had the largest room other than a suite and even her bathroom was spacious.

It was a fabulous cruise and our best to date.
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142 cruises since 1964, 14 on the river.
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 2018AmaKristina, Christmas Markets, December 2018




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



#7
Nashville, TN
79 Posts
Joined Jul 2005
I hope that your mom will love river cruising. My wife and I took our first RC last year--Viking Cities of Light, Paris to Prague. We're in our early 60s and found the river cruise to be great. Like others, Viking has wine, beer, or soft drinks included for lunch and dinner. The excursions were great with headphones so that you didn't have to stay close to your guide to hear. Ship's staff were very pleasant and attentive. We were usually divided into 4 groups for excursions with a separate group for those who preferred a "leisurely" pace.

We found our shipmates to generally be very experienced travelers, although most were first-time river cruisers. Everyone seemed to love the cruise, and the few we've maintained contact with have booked another river cruise.

As far as balconies go, you can read all about "French balconies" on this forum. Viking's new longships have French balconies on one side of the ship and small balconies on the other side. Our ship (Viking Sky) was an older ship and had no balconies, but the views from the windows and the sun deck were great. When the weather was bad, folks all hung out in the lounge enjoying the view. Also remember, you'll be traveling on a river, so the balconies aren't "private." The folks on the bank and on passing ships will see you.

We'll be doing Viking's Romantic Danube in April aboard the MS Vienna. I'll probably post daily reviews from the ship and a final review once we're back home.

OkieCruiser49
#8
Boston Area
7,894 Posts
Joined Jan 2010
Thanks to all of you for your advice...I'm also a newbie to River cruising. DH and I have to make a decision between a repeaters cruise on PG or Eastern Europe River Cruise. We've narrowed to AMA (Prima)Black Sea voyage. ( Some we ruled out due to itinerary, and some are too lenghty, we have a teen at hime still, so its tough to disappear for 3 + weeks!) I know AMAPrima is a newer ship, but Wendy Perrin kind of dissed the excursions on AMA in the cruise she reviewed in CN traveler. But anyone can have a one off bad experience! We love the idea of the bikes- we bike a lot at home and really enjoy seeing the world this way. I'm pleased Pat to hear you say the guides use the head sets for walking tours, this is a big plus in my mind. Also, I like the idea of active vs strolling groups, anyone have experience with this, does it work out well?

Question for you- are the bikes fairly "available" AMA in your experience?; we'd hate to sign up to find that there aren't enough, and you can never use them!

Questions for anyone - AMA seems to have set dining times, but is it assigned seating or do they mix it up each night?
Anyone who has done the Black Sea or Eastern Europe, I'd love to hear about your experiences seeing the places this way.
Much thanks to all!
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#9
FL
14,143 Posts
Joined Jul 2003
We recently completed a cruise on AmaCerto, sister to AmaPrima and it was the best of our 6 river cruises to date. The boat is stunning and AMA is consistently wonderful IMO and IME with all aspects of the experience.

The bikes were popular but you sign up in advance for tours and they always had more bikes than participants. You could also use the bikes to explore on your own.

I ready Wendy' summary and disagree with several of her comments. We are not fans of group excursions but enjoyed having choices most days on AMA of types of tours, including those geared for active guests. My mom stuck with the tours that were geared towards guests that wanted to avoid lots of walking. There were also the standard tours.

AMA has begun to offer a culinary tour in many ports as well and we did one of those and enjoyed it.

We are considering AmaPrima for Christmas and NYE as we had such a marvelous cruise on AmaCerto.
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142 cruises since 1964, 14 on the river.
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 2018AmaKristina, Christmas Markets, December 2018




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



#10
1,420 Posts
Joined May 2000
Bikes are always available. All you have to do is tell them you want to use a bike and they will set it up for you on the shore. On our cruise on the Amalyra from Nuremburg to Budapest there was only one organized optional bike tour, so the bikes were available for use in all the other towns. We used them in Melk to ride up to the Abbey. We met up with the rest of the group that took a bus up there and did the tour of the Abbey with AMA..rode the bikes through town and back to the ship. I loved having the bikes and hope to use them again on our upcoming Enchanting Rhine cruise!!
#11
Boston Area
7,894 Posts
Joined Jan 2010
Originally posted by caviargal
We recently completed a cruise on AmaCerto, sister to AmaPrima and it was the best of our 6 river cruises to date. The boat is stunning and AMA is consistently wonderful IMO and IME with all aspects of the experience.

The bikes were popular but you sign up in advance for tours and they always had more bikes than participants. You could also use the bikes to explore on your own.

I ready Wendy' summary and disagree with several of her comments. We are not fans of group excursions but enjoyed having choices most days on AMA of types of tours, including those geared for active guests. My mom stuck with the tours that were geared towards guests that wanted to avoid lots of walking. There were also the standard tours.

AMA has begun to offer a culinary tour in many ports as well and we did one of those and enjoyed it.

We are considering AmaPrima for Christmas and NYE as we had such a marvelous cruise on AmaCerto.
Originally posted by Peacemkr59
Bikes are always available. All you have to do is tell them you want to use a bike and they will set it up for you on the shore. On our cruise on the Amalyra from Nuremburg to Budapest there was only one organized optional bike tour, so the bikes were available for use in all the other towns. We used them in Melk to ride up to the Abbey. We met up with the rest of the group that took a bus up there and did the tour of the Abbey with AMA..rode the bikes through town and back to the ship. I loved having the bikes and hope to use them again on our upcoming Enchanting Rhine cruise!!
Thank you both! This is what I wanted to hear! In general we are pretty active, and usually rent bikes anywhere we go (where its practical!) I do like that the cruise line offers a range of activity options on tours. One of the things that has held us back from this type of trip is getting stuck on a slow paced large group tour, it's not for us at this time in our lives. I love that you can choose biking or a faster paced walking tour. I have a SIL and BIL who are considering this and they are not at all active, so it would be perfect. They would also love the 2-3 wine tours offered, where we would likely do the 3 bike tours offered!

Carviagla- I usually respect Wendy's reviews, but here's the thing, I think those kinds of trips, they "preview" several lines for a day or two and if they hit a bad guide or a good guide on an off day, it paints the whole thing in a bad light. I love CC because you get a range of opinions form people who have actually traveled.

Pcmakr- It takes longer than the bus, but you see so much more


I did some reading on CC last night and it appears that a cabin port or starboard really doesn't matter. Has that been your experience? We are considering a W bound trip, and sounds like being on the starboard side would toward the "port" side, but often you won't have a view since there is a wall. I have to request a cabin today probably, so I am trying to get an idea of which one will be a good location. Considering BB on Cello.

Thanks!! Sorry to hijack your Newbie thread, Billy Brent!
#12
Boston Area
7,894 Posts
Joined Jan 2010
Carviagal- A question for you since you've been on AMACerto- do you know what that "empty" spot is across from 221 and next 222 and 219, on Cello deck? Is that a stairway, will the room attendants be hanging around there? Any advice would be most helpful!
#13
FL
14,143 Posts
Joined Jul 2003
Originally posted by Familygoboston
Carviagal- A question for you since you've been on AMACerto- do you know what that "empty" spot is across from 221 and next 222 and 219, on Cello deck? Is that a stairway, will the room attendants be hanging around there? Any advice would be most helpful!
We were in 217 and never noticed staff hanging around. That may be the closet where they keep cleaning supplies but I honestly never noticed.
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142 cruises since 1964, 14 on the river.
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 2018AmaKristina, Christmas Markets, December 2018




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



#14
florida
1,170 Posts
Joined Oct 2010
BIKES----We are considering our first river cruise. We are looking at Grand Circle or Vantage. We cannot walk too far or fast and the cruise lines will not allow us to take our power scooters on board. Do they have 3 wheel bikes? They would be a great help on some tours!!! Thanks. M.
#15
Boston Area
7,894 Posts
Joined Jan 2010
Originally posted by caviargal
We were in 217 and never noticed staff hanging around. That may be the closet where they keep cleaning supplies but I honestly never noticed.
Thanks! Great to know since that is EXACTLY the cabin I asked my TA to hold for me and it was open
I figured it was amidships, but not abutting or across the cleaning closet. Im sure it's a non issue in any case- the attendants are busiest when none of us are there right?? It appears there is small stairway there leading to the staff cabins, probably so they aren't lugging vacuums through the lobby!

We chose this balcony configuration, just 'cause DH is a photographer and he likes to move around a lot to get his shots. After reading I understand that while docked you may not be able to really "see" anything from the balcony, and may be rafted with another ship.
Appreciate your help and glad to have a first hand review of this cabin on this style ship!
#16
Ontario, Canada
2,725 Posts
Joined Nov 2008
Originally posted by gmjc2
BIKES----We are considering our first river cruise. We are looking at Grand Circle or Vantage. We cannot walk too far or fast and the cruise lines will not allow us to take our power scooters on board. Do they have 3 wheel bikes? They would be a great help on some tours!!! Thanks. M.
I have only seen 2 wheel bikes on any of the ships we have been on.

Fran
#18
Long Island, NY
321 Posts
Joined Jan 2013
What's the average age on river cruises? My fiancé and I are debating this type of cruise or a "traditional" one for our honeymoon. Anyone have an idea which one would be better?
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Cruises Sailed
Celebrity Equinox: 7/26/14 (Western Mediterranean), Serenade of the Seas: 2/19/11 (Southern Caribbean), Celebrity Summit: 6/26/11 (Bermuda), Adventure of the Seas: 2/19/12 (Southern Caribbean), Brilliance of the Seas: 2/16/13 (Southern Caribbean)
#19
Florida
18,971 Posts
Joined Nov 2008
Average age is 75 years old But very fit , No scooters or walkers on the ships. We loved our first one and booked a 27 day for our 2nd one . we are 58/59. for a honeymoon I would do a ocean cruise . But both are great ...
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We've been on
Carnival: 27 voyages 184 days
Celebrity: 3 voyages 24 days
Holland: 26 voyages 494 days
Norwegian: 2 voyages 16 days
Princess: 16 voyages 154 days
Royal Carib: 5 voyages 35 days
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GRAND TOTAL: 81 Cruises 946 days

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Amsterdam World Cruise 1/17-111 days
Rotterdam Voyage Vikings 8/17 - 38 days
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Veendam Atlantic Crossing 10/17 - 49 days
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Rotterdam crossing. 6/18 - 32 days
Prinsendam 8/18 - 96 daysAmsterdam 1/19
#20
18 Posts
Joined Dec 2004
Originally posted by FoxyBride14
What's the average age on river cruises? My fiancé and I are debating this type of cruise or a "traditional" one for our honeymoon. Anyone have an idea which one would be better?

My guess is that a "traditional" cruise would be better, but it depends. I'm in my late 50's and I assume that you're younger. On my last river cruise this past summer, I felt that I was sailing with my older siblings and parents, which was fine. I've been in similar situations when I was younger and it was like I was with my parents and grandparents, which wasn't as good for me.

Assuming that you are younger, given the much larger number of people on a traditional cruise you would probably be able to find people closer to your age rather than on a river cruise which has only 1/10th the passengers, if that's important to you.

Also, on the two river cruises I've been on there were no tables for two and no specialty dining, which might important to you.