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  #1  
Old February 8th, 2013, 12:34 PM
caripoo caripoo is offline
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Default New to river cruising

After 30 plus ocean cruises we are ready to try River cruising. We are looking at the Danube for the fall of 2014. We are both 55 and need to know a few specifics.....PRAGUE is most definitely a must either before or after....we travel before and after, so we will do that part on our own. We will start with an 8 day and add on .Is the fall a great time, or should we look at the spring...We can go when we want to, so we AVOID the summer in Europe. We love to eat and soak up the local flavor...Looking at Avalon, Viking, AMA and Uniworld.....Any great tipe welcome...THANKS
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  #2  
Old February 9th, 2013, 01:30 AM
franski franski is offline
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Originally Posted by caripoo View Post
After 30 plus ocean cruises we are ready to try River cruising. We are looking at the Danube for the fall of 2014. We are both 55 and need to know a few specifics.....PRAGUE is most definitely a must either before or after....we travel before and after, so we will do that part on our own. We will start with an 8 day and add on .Is the fall a great time, or should we look at the spring...We can go when we want to, so we AVOID the summer in Europe. We love to eat and soak up the local flavor...Looking at Avalon, Viking, AMA and Uniworld.....Any great tipe welcome...THANKS
Hi there -

You have posted this on the Roll Call forum - so don't be surprised if this gets moved over to the more "general" forum.

You will find that we are a small but vocal group over here. There are many who are "cheerleaders" for a certain line... either they have only travelled with one company (and had such a great experience they see no reason to look elsewhere...) or have found a "niche" that works well for them.

Prague is a beautiful city - and extending to include it is a great idea. Budapest is also wonderful, and I would suggest you include days there as well.

There are a number of 7/8 day cruises that travel from Budapest to Nuremberg and then overland to Prague. That might be a good place to start your research.

There is a great website by Mike Preisman that has documented his trip from Budapest up the Danube to Nuremberg - and then over to Prague - with AMA. http://www.thepreismans.com/ We also did that cruise - on the same ship (the Amalyra) and it was great.

We really enjoy travelling in the fall - but the prices can be a bit higher as it is a popular time to travel. There are lots of "Early booking discounts" available right now for 2014, so it is a good time to be planning....

Not sure if this helps.

Fran

Last edited by franski; February 9th, 2013 at 01:32 AM.
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  #3  
Old February 9th, 2013, 10:44 PM
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Like you, OP, we've done several ocean cruises over the years but finally did a river cruise last spring (Nuremberg to Paris on Uniworld). We enjoyed the Uniworld experience so much that we booked 2 for this year. We're doing their 13 Italian trip (late August-early September) with 7 days on the ship and a Christmas market trip-Nuremberg to Vienna in early December.

I think I subscribe to the theory that there is no bad time to river cruise.
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Old February 11th, 2013, 10:19 AM
CaribbeanIsland CaribbeanIsland is offline
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I would look into Uniworld.
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Old February 12th, 2013, 12:35 PM
caripoo caripoo is offline
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THANK YOU FRANSKI Awesome review by the Preismans....We have narrowed it down to AMA and Uniworld.....We think we will do Prague and Budapest on our own......We are still looking at the fall....Thank you all for the advice....
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  #6  
Old February 12th, 2013, 01:36 PM
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Monogram tours are independent for the most part and we used them pre-cruise for Budapest, Vienna & Prague. You have 3 days in each city, hotel, breakfast, and a city tour included, and then you are escorted to the train. You are picked up by a rep and start over in the next city.

We then took the train back from Prague to Budapest and joined our river cruise. We thought they did a great job and it matched what we wanted: help getting to/from train, seeing general city sights and then free to pursue what we wanted to do the other 2 days.

Having the city tour was a great way to orient ourselves and the Monogram reps in the hotel were a great local source.

Just a thought.....
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  #7  
Old February 12th, 2013, 01:40 PM
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Forgot to say that we traveled in eastern Europe in September, a great time to go, weather is lovely, fewer tourists and many stores are having sales!

We like western Europe in late April and May, especially Med cruises. Wild flowers are beautiful but we did Paris-Normandy, Normandy to Provence in September and it was gorgeous.
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  #8  
Old February 13th, 2013, 03:39 AM
Miz Aris Miz Aris is offline
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We are also 55 and are very independent travelers and quite young behaving and active. We took a 14 day Viking cruise from Avignon to Normandy and for a large part we were disappointed. We found that it was too much like being on a bus tour where we were deposited at a town with a local guide and herded from place to place, then deposited in their choice of souvenir shop/cafe/market etc then herded back to the boat. Where the guides we had were very good, we thoroughly enjoyed their way of sharing the history and information about the town, however there were many guides who were not so good and we felt we missed out on important information. Often we would leave the guided tour and venture away on our own and we were free to do that which was good. We were the youngest on our boats (by almost 20 years) so if you are looking for others in your age group, you may find that they are few and far between. Most of the older people on our tours were fit and active so age is not an issue from that regard. And some of them we found to be excellent company. We certainly don't have any issue with Viking over the trip because we know that Avalon, APT and others are exactly the same. So it's just a matter of being aware of how the trips are constructed.

Last edited by Miz Aris; February 13th, 2013 at 03:41 AM.
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  #9  
Old February 13th, 2013, 06:33 AM
caviargal caviargal is offline
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Originally Posted by Miz Aris View Post
We are also 55 and are very independent travelers and quite young behaving and active. We took a 14 day Viking cruise from Avignon to Normandy and for a large part we were disappointed. We found that it was too much like being on a bus tour where we were deposited at a town with a local guide and herded from place to place, then deposited in their choice of souvenir shop/cafe/market etc then herded back to the boat. Where the guides we had were very good, we thoroughly enjoyed their way of sharing the history and information about the town, however there were many guides who were not so good and we felt we missed out on important information. Often we would leave the guided tour and venture away on our own and we were free to do that which was good. We were the youngest on our boats (by almost 20 years) so if you are looking for others in your age group, you may find that they are few and far between. Most of the older people on our tours were fit and active so age is not an issue from that regard. And some of them we found to be excellent company. We certainly don't have any issue with Viking over the trip because we know that Avalon, APT and others are exactly the same. So it's just a matter of being aware of how the trips are constructed.
That was our experience on 4 Avalon cruises. Then we tried AMA and our two cruises with them were very different. Younger demographic, tours for "active" guests, lively entertainment, younger staff. We loved the experience and had FUN, something we did not associate with our first cruises.

The bike tours and theme cruises add to the energy we experienced on board.

We would not consider a 14 night cruise as I would expect older guests to be the vast majority. We have learned that short cruises with lots of port time and overnight stays really enhance our enjoyment of river cruising.

We are 50 somethings and very active and are pleased we found a line that fits our lifestyle.
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  #10  
Old February 13th, 2013, 09:39 AM
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Originally Posted by caviargal View Post
That was our experience on 4 Avalon cruises. Then we tried AMA and our two cruises with them were very different. Younger demographic, tours for "active" guests, lively entertainment, younger staff. We loved the experience and had FUN, something we did not associate with our first cruises.

The bike tours and theme cruises add to the energy we experienced on board.

We would not consider a 14 night cruise as I would expect older guests to be the vast majority. We have learned that short cruises with lots of port time and overnight stays really enhance our enjoyment of river cruising.

We are 50 somethings and very active and are pleased we found a line that fits our lifestyle.
I totally agree with caviargal! While I've only taken 2 river cruises, one with Avalon and one with AMA. While both were great and I had no complaints on either one, I found that the passengers on AMA where younger with at least half of them being under 60. The fact that they carry the bikes with them was what attracted me to this line and it obviously appeals to a younger and more active client. We only had one organized bike tour on our itinerary but that one tour had a waiting list! Our next itinerary in April 2013 has 3 organized bike tours and I hope to be on every one of them!! I too am happy I found AMA!
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  #11  
Old February 13th, 2013, 10:35 AM
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We have cruised with Avalon and in the past couple of cruises I would say the vast majority of the passengers were in their 50s and 60s. There were a few younger and some older but I think there are many in the "young retiree" age group who are discovering river cruising.

I wish people who have mobility issues would do a little research before signing up. Most of the little towns have cobblestone streets and few sidewalks and the Americans with Disabilities Act is not in force in Europe!

A TA or a family member needs to help older family members understand that there might be limitations on what they can see and do if they are using a wheelchair or a walker on river cruises. There are just not many bus tours in the small towns and villages.

On the other hand we've been with folks well into their 80s who could walk circles around the rest of us!!!
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  #12  
Old February 14th, 2013, 12:10 AM
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We just booked AMA for our first river cruise, the bicycle thing and options for activity leveled tours appealed to us too. We will be a tick over 50 when we travel, and we are happy to travel with active Seniors, ( my 75 yo aunt biked 25 miles with us once and she would go for the "boat with bikes" herself, and i have a 53 yo sister in law who barely moves, so its not an age thing!) but we do not like large group/bus tours, so our research led us to AMA...we won't know till we sail what we think! Good luck with your searching!
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Last edited by Familygoboston; February 14th, 2013 at 12:22 AM.
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  #13  
Old February 14th, 2013, 09:00 AM
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Default Biking with AMA

We too, have just booked our first river cruise with AMA. We are in our 50's and are quite active. We booked the "cruise only" portion of the Blue Danube.

We are hoping to do some of AMA's organized bike tours. I saw in an older post, that they fill up quickly, and get wait listed. Do you know if you sign up onboard, or if you can sign up ahead of time for the bike tours ?

Anne
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  #14  
Old February 14th, 2013, 09:14 AM
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We too, have just booked our first river cruise with AMA. We are in our 50's and are quite active. We booked the "cruise only" portion of the Blue Danube.

We are hoping to do some of AMA's organized bike tours. I saw in an older post, that they fill up quickly, and get wait listed. Do you know if you sign up onboard, or if you can sign up ahead of time for the bike tours ?

Anne
You can only sign up once on board.

Enjoy!
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  #15  
Old February 14th, 2013, 12:23 PM
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Thanks Caviargal. We've done many ocean cruises, and I always do a bit of planning with private tours and what not. I'm finding with River Cruising, you don't have to do much planning ahead, other than our own pre trip hotel & sightseeing.
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  #16  
Old February 14th, 2013, 12:42 PM
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I do a lot of pre-planning for river cruises. I've been able to find many self-guided walking tours using Frommers, Fodors, Rick Steves, Lonely Planet, and cities' tourist offices--all online. Also these are great sources for places to eat, drink, buy snacks, shop, etc.

We often do not take the city tours or if we do, we leave the tours part way through and make our own way back.

You can also go online and find all sorts of info on mass transit lines for many of the cities you will visit. For instance, we went to Les Halles in Lyon on our last trip by ourselves using mass transit and had a great time.
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  #17  
Old February 14th, 2013, 03:14 PM
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I agree with cbb and always do a lot of research and planning in advance. I book our hotels, airport transfers, private guides - all well in advance of our trip. I also reserve restaurants for each night in a particular city, especially at popular restaurants and at popular times.

We often DIY instead of doing a provided excursion. And I will print out bus and train schedules as needed to do this. For example, we visited Salzburg several times on our own from Linz or Passau. I have the train schedule printed and our preferences ready so I can get right to the station and purchase our round trip tickets. I make sure I have the bus routes and schedules as well.

I also research any public transport passes/museum passes/concerts, etc. for cities where we will be spending time on our own.
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Last edited by caviargal; February 14th, 2013 at 03:14 PM.
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Old February 14th, 2013, 06:08 PM
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When you say private guide, do mean for pre & post river cruise, or do you find guides in the towns along the river ? I've been reading a lot of cruise critic posts, and there aren't many private guide posts, other than for start & end cities. If you are using them during the river cruise, how do you know port times, I have not seen them posted anywhere.

I love the planning part of a vacation. Being so new to river cruising, I'm not sure what to expect, or exactly how to plan my day in each port. We don't like large group tours. We were thinking we'd do walking tours with the group to get the "lay of the land" so to speak, and then do our own thing.
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Old February 15th, 2013, 06:37 AM
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When you say private guide, do mean for pre & post river cruise, or do you find guides in the towns along the river ? I've been reading a lot of cruise critic posts, and there aren't many private guide posts, other than for start & end cities. If you are using them during the river cruise, how do you know port times, I have not seen them posted anywhere.

I love the planning part of a vacation. Being so new to river cruising, I'm not sure what to expect, or exactly how to plan my day in each port. We don't like large group tours. We were thinking we'd do walking tours with the group to get the "lay of the land" so to speak, and then do our own thing.
Mostly we use private guides in pre and post cities but sometimes also in ports, depending on our interests. While you may not see times listed, they do say things like "arrival early morning" or "arrive after dinner and overnight, sailing the next afternoon after lunch".
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  #20  
Old February 16th, 2013, 11:05 AM
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Default 2nd river cruise

Getting ready for our 2nd river cruise in May. Choose AMA Normandy. From my research the port excursions offered a great deal of flexibility.

First river cruise was on GCT. Loved the itinerary. Was a mix of age groups.
Had problems on the pre cruise portion. So this time did not book with the river cruise. Looking forward to 3 days in Paris on our own.

Looking forward to hearing from others who have done this cruise.
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