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  #1  
Old February 23rd, 2013, 06:02 PM
poss poss is offline
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Default Looking for comparisons between Scenic and

AMA, Avalon, Uniworld.
We're looking for a top-end river cruise company (for France cruise). I've heard of the three I mention here, but have not heard of Scenic. Is Scenic in some totally different category? Is there some sort of "hierarchy" in river boat cruising? Tauck is not in the running because they have small beds (smaller than queen). We definitely would want at least a French balcony.
Thanks for any helpful input. We have adored cruise ship cruising (Regent), but might be interested in trying river boat.
Thanks much.
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  #2  
Old February 23rd, 2013, 09:11 PM
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Default Don't discount Tauck

IMHO i think you may have gotten some very bad info about Tauck....think Regent and the bad info often given by customer service reps.
Tauck is considered by many to be the top of the "food chain" in river cruising, all-inclusive and the top of luxury in the river cruising market.

Truely do some more research and ask for CC members to discuss their experience....AMA and Avalon (maybe Scenic) are considered the next tier and some may incl Uniworld as coming in next...
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  #3  
Old February 23rd, 2013, 10:00 PM
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Firstly let me agree with Nana about the info you got about Tauck. It was very, very incorrect. Whoever told you a Tauck bed was very small was pulling your leg. Tauck's bed was, according to my DW, somewhere in size between Queen and King. Definitely NOT small. We cruised with Tauck in 2011 and we thought they were simply the best. They were very luxurious and given the strength of the Australian dollar at the time cheaper than a number of their competitors. Other cruise companies have taken some leafs out of Tauck's book because they have lifted their game to become all-inclusive as well.

To answer your 2nd question Scenic is an Australian company that stated river cruises with their own boats back in 2008-09. They were the first to introduce outside balconies and other companies have now followed suit. They have started to market aggressively in Canada and must now be trying out their campaign in some US markets.

After saying all that I'm pretty sure that whatever company you may choose you will have a great time.
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  #4  
Old February 24th, 2013, 12:45 AM
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We have travelled with Scenic, AMA and Uniworld. Scenic is not as well known in the US - but I do believe they are scrambling for a foot hold. I would travel with any of them again.... (in fact, we are travelling with Scenic later this year!!)

I do agree with Ozjohno in that you will have a great time - whatever company you choose. I do remember your posting in another thread about having a balcony - and think that Scenic may be the only one that can offer this in France at this time.

I also agree that you should double check on the bed size with Tauck - if you are leaning in that direction. Most beds (unless they are singles that are fixed to the outer walls....) are very generously sized.

Fran
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  #5  
Old February 24th, 2013, 06:44 AM
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It has been my experience that when the beds are separated, the single bed is a European single, that is, narrower than the 39 in. N. American twin size. When pushed together the bed is wider than a N. American double, maybe even larger than a queen, but nowhere near the size of a King. There simply isn't enough room unless you are in one of the higher end suites.

I found AMA and Scenic to be wonderful choices in river cruising. I have not done Uniworld as I am not a very 'boutique' type person, I find their decor a bit over the top for my taste, but others love this so totally a personal choice. I found the Scenic daily tours to be better quality that AMA and there were no 'Optional' tours. Yes Scenic is an Australian tour company and while they tend to cater to the Australian market especially with the 'all inclusive' nature, they have been making inroads into the Canadian and U.S. markets. If you like all inclusive drinks, tips, gratuities, transfers, food, butler service, then Scenic is an excellent option. At least check out their website, there is a series of videos depicting their French river cruising but I warn you, the ship they show is not the ship they will be using. The one for 2013 onwards is the Emerald for the South of France. We chose Scenic because they do a Paris pre and Barcelona post while most companies do the French Riviera post/pre cruise.
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  #6  
Old February 24th, 2013, 09:16 AM
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AMA does Paris and Barcelona pre and post on their Southern France cruise/land tour as well!!
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  #7  
Old February 24th, 2013, 06:16 PM
poss poss is offline
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Thanks to all so very much for your input. Things that were said were very helpful.
I really do wish that there were some way to get a "counting" of which lines(s) most people thought best of. Of course, different people are looking for different details, and things aren't always apples and apples. I do wish, though, that there was a clear sense of the company most favored (and why).
Btw, I, too, found the bed-width detail difficult to believe. The Tauck rep I spoke with was named Rita, and I pressed her on whether she was absolutely sure, and she insisted yes. I will certainly give Tauck another call.
I don't think that we would mind the much less spacious rooms than the ones on cruise ships, but I do worry a bit about the close quarters in other senses. I.e. we're not especially social, so I worry some about always being in people's "laps." (especially at meals)
Thanks again!
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  #8  
Old February 24th, 2013, 07:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by poss View Post
Thanks to all so very much for your input. Things that were said were very helpful.
I really do wish that there were some way to get a "counting" of which lines(s) most people thought best of. Of course, different people are looking for different details, and things aren't always apples and apples. I do wish, though, that there was a clear sense of the company most favored (and why).
That's why I recommended working with a travel agent. It would be nice if, for instance, Doug Ward included river vessels in his Berlitz cruise guide - but he doesn't and I'm unaware of any Consumer Reports-type scorecard.

A simple tally would be of little use. People tend to speak highly of the line(s) they've cruised.

You might get better advice here if you prioritized a bit more what is most important to you besides bed size. (I know you just mentioned crowding/passenger space and had expressed a preference for a full balcony)

Specifically, for instance how important are the following to you:
- Food (quality, variety, specific limitations)
- Cost
- Cabin size
- Balconies
- Excursions (all-inclusive or some optional for a fee, availability of active or biking options, variety)
- Service (quality level, passenger/crew ratio)
- Alternative dining options
- Passenger profile (age, nationality)
- Pre/Post cruise extensions and transfers
- Mobility concerns
- Passenger Space
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  #9  
Old February 24th, 2013, 09:35 PM
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MarkBearSF is quite correct. You need to list your priorities as he suggested above. One thing I considered when looking at river cruising was how many passengers each company carried. Why? Because most boats on the rivers are much the same size. If the OP is worried about "passenger space" then I assume you would look more favourably on a company that carried 118 passengers as a maximum to a company that carried 170 or 200. That was one of the criterion I looked at before buying my cruise. If the boats are much the same size then it goes without question that the space in the public areas is greater per person in the boat that carries less passengers. Whilst that was only one of many factors I looked at, it did matter.

Last edited by Ozjohnno; February 24th, 2013 at 09:37 PM.
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  #10  
Old February 25th, 2013, 11:04 PM
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I'm going out on a limb with this (and Ozjohnno please feel free to correct me), but two complaints I have heard about different river cruises are: (a) they are dull because the passengers are elderly and don't mingle; vs (b) Australians tend to be very social so cruises with large groups can be very boisterous [flame away...] That might imply that if you're looking for privacy you would prefer those lines that cater more to the elderly (Uniworld?) and not those that cater to antipodeans (Scenic).
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  #11  
Old February 26th, 2013, 07:54 AM
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I was in the same situation 6 months ago. I was considering AMA, Uniworld and Tauck. my TA(river cruise only) asked me to also look at Scenic, which is not marketed much in the US. It was fairly overwhelming, I ruled out Tauck when I read that they have people who put in the coins at pay toilets. A little too much hand holding for me. The all inclusive feature of Scenic appealed to me for our first time. Not the cost, but on our last trip to Europe I found it confusing to remember the tipping custom in each country as well as remembering to carry appropriate small bills. So, the tipping of the scenic staff wasn't the problem, it was tipping the local guides, drivers, porters, that I thought was a nice feature.

Next, I thought having bicycles was a must feature. Scenic had included GPS self tours which sounded great, as we are a more DIY people than group tours.
I was still looking at AMA at this point. Something that put Scenic on top this time was itinerary, dates, and the fact that as from the USA we might be a minority.

If you want an idea if a cruise line is popular, you might check how many new ships they have or on order. I am a little disappointed there are just a few reviews, I'm not sure if river cruising will be our "thing", but like most here, when we ocean cruise we are not participating in the shows, games, and organized activities found on the big ships.

Good luck in your search. I have followed this board since booking. I don't think you can go wrong. The differences appear to be cosmetic or the inclusions. I might be wring, I have yet to take my trio!
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  #12  
Old February 26th, 2013, 11:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jazzbeau View Post
I'm going out on a limb with this (and Ozjohnno please feel free to correct me), but two complaints I have heard about different river cruises are: (a) they are dull because the passengers are elderly and don't mingle; vs (b) Australians tend to be very social so cruises with large groups can be very boisterous [flame away...] That might imply that if you're looking for privacy you would prefer those lines that cater more to the elderly (Uniworld?) and not those that cater to antipodeans (Scenic).
I have not experienced any dullness on my prior two cruises. The 'elderly' are much more active than some of the younger folks. The only time I experienced a rudeness was with a party of Americans (6)who thought the ship was for them alone, saved chairs in the lounge for all their party, pushed ahead in the dinner line to get the best table and were generally obnoxious, complained loudly, stuck to themselves and were generally unfriendly to others on board. I would much prefer to travel with the fun loving crowd, who enjoy singing, dancing and otherwise having a good time without constantly complaining. Your river cruise is what you make it. You can choose to meet new people, enjoy what the cruiseline has to offer or you can sit in your cabin on your own.
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  #13  
Old February 26th, 2013, 03:34 PM
poss poss is offline
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I've been reading each of these posts with interest (and with some dismay, i.e. when specific nationalities are mentioned in a pejorative way). I appreciate the feedback and different people's perspectives.
Btw, I did manage to get a definitive answer on the exact width of the Tauck beds when they are pushed together: "62." I suspect that means we'll have to forego river cruising and stay with cruise ship cruising and land tours. Since we can't afford the highest end land tour companies (A&K etc.) I think we'll probably try a tour with Tauck.
Again, thanks for helping.
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  #14  
Old February 26th, 2013, 06:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jazzbeau View Post
I'm going out on a limb with this (and Ozjohnno please feel free to correct me), but two complaints I have heard about different river cruises are: (a) they are dull because the passengers are elderly and don't mingle; vs (b) Australians tend to be very social so cruises with large groups can be very boisterous [flame away...] That might imply that if you're looking for privacy you would prefer those lines that cater more to the elderly (Uniworld?) and not those that cater to antipodeans (Scenic).
I realise the OP has virtually closed this topic but I just had to answer the questions above. I have no doubt that some Australians on a river cruise, particularly those booked with APT (who are partners with AMA) can be perceived to be "very boisterous". My old American mate who posts as Freddie can tell you stories about a group of Aussies on a Mekong cruise with APT/AMA thought they owned the boat but that's not the whole answer really. There will always be some groups, nationality notwithstanding, who think they are somewhat a class above the others and will act accordingly.

When we cruised with Tauck in 2011 there were 6 Aussies that formed a part of a very multi-national group of 108 passengers. We all had a great time and there was not one group or nationality that stood out in any negative way. The age groups on our cruise ranged from mid-40's to the mid-80's and no-one that I spoke to thought that the cruise was spoilt because the "elderly did not mingle" or that we few Aussies were any more boisterous than the couple from Bermuda....

I really don't think it matters what cruise line you choose to travel with as they all provide a great way to see Europe and in the end it's the holiday that counts. Whilst it's true that it is probable that more Australians will cruise with either Scenic or APT/AMA as an American I wouldn't want you to rule out joining them for a holiday just because the perception is that we Aussies like a beer or two.

Not wanting to pick a fight with BarbaraM but anyone who thinks poorly of a company that provides it's clients with "toilet money" fails to understand the very top level of customer service that Tauck provides every minute of every trip.
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  #15  
Old February 26th, 2013, 09:05 PM
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I didn't mean to speak poorly of Tauck, . It seemed like not a good "fit" for us. There are people who love top tier service, which I am sure Tauck promises and delivers. Didn't mean to ruffle feathers! I have close friends that would love that type of service, it just isn't on the top of our list.
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  #16  
Old February 27th, 2013, 12:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ozjohnno View Post
Whilst it's true that it is probable that more Australians will cruise with either Scenic or APT/AMA as an American I wouldn't want you to rule out joining them for a holiday just because the perception is that we Aussies like a beer or two.
As a Canadian who has had the very good fortune to travel with some Aussies in the past, let me say that my DH and I LOVE the friendliness and joie de vivre (?sp) that the Aussies bring with them. Hoping that we are able to meet some more on our next cruises... (Less of a chance, I am sure, when we travel with Viking this April - but we are cruising again with Scenic in September!!!)

Fran

Last edited by franski; February 27th, 2013 at 12:37 AM.
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  #17  
Old February 27th, 2013, 07:58 AM
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Having worked in the bed linen dept of a large dept. store, a queen size bed is 60"by 80" a king is 78 by 60 and a Calif. king is 80 by 80. We have been on 15 river cruises with 16th in June. Have have the various type of beds--which led us to insist on hotel style beds. When the put the single beds together, we have found that they use one bottom sheet. Just returned from the Galapagos with Celebrity an hope that the beds do not represent the line overall--smaller than European twin and when pushed together looked more like a double bed, but we did not go for the bed size, but the cruising experience.
Newtimer, think we had those same 6 people on our cruise from Budapest-Amsterdam in 2004. Or maybe there are just groups like this worldwide that travel with a sense of entitlement. Hope the op finds the experience that fite their needs and wants, Pat

Last edited by pacmom; February 27th, 2013 at 08:00 AM.
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