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  #1  
Old April 28th, 2013, 03:19 PM
Hapytocruise Hapytocruise is offline
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Default Which river cruise line to chose?

I know there are lots of reviews but I am specifically looking for folks who have done ALL of the following and how would you rank them and why...Uniworld, Viking, AMA and Avolon. My impression is they are fairly comparable????
My DH and I have done one Uniworld and we were very pleased. Currently researching a fall 2014 Danube and would not want get a feeling of disappointment by chosing the wrong river cruise line.
Appreciate your comments and advise.
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  #2  
Old April 28th, 2013, 03:36 PM
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honumaui honumaui is offline
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Default comparisons

Have only been on Viking & Avalon ( once each ) so suggest you read a lot more reviews but another cruise critic member had this to say:
Tauk & Uniworld..high end
Viking, Avalon, AMA, Vantage, Scenic..Middle of the road and pretty much comparable
Grand Circle..least expensive & smallest accomodations
Personally i preferred Avalon as they market a lot to other english speaking countries & the mix included a lot of Aussies, Canadians & Brits..all fun to get to know. But i don't think you can go wrong with Viking...they have the lion's share of the market ...don't know if that means the others try harder ?
We are going on our second avalon cruise next year.

Last edited by honumaui; April 28th, 2013 at 03:37 PM.
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  #3  
Old April 28th, 2013, 04:24 PM
Hapytocruise Hapytocruise is offline
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Thanks...between Viking and Avalon - are the cabins comparable? In particular comfy beds with high-end linens, good size bathroom, nice towels and robes (that is my experience with Uniworld).
What about your comparison of food?
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1 – Holland America; 10 – Celebrity (1 upcoming TA Barcelona Oct 2014 plus 1 B2B Alaska May 2015)
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  #4  
Old April 28th, 2013, 05:42 PM
alexandra cruiser alexandra cruiser is offline
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Wink I must disagree with above

have done ALL the above,ex. Tauck.would rank AMA hi est in cabins,staff,food,etc. Also, ea.ship in ea. line MAY be different. Also, eas country and river seems to be somewhat different too(ie.Russia,Egypt,etc).My TA only handles "luxury" cruises and highly recommended I try AMA and LOVED it.But, am giving Scenic a try in 2014 due to brochure I saw and itinerary.

I prefer the new ships with 2 balconies,hard to go back to JUST a french after that.Also, Uniworld is very nice,along with Avalon,Viking(sorry,my LEAST favorite) but now itinerary is VERY important because I ve been on almost ALL the ones offered.
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  #5  
Old April 28th, 2013, 09:13 PM
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honumaui honumaui is offline
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Default itineary

I agree that the itineary you choose is most important...Found the beds & cabins on avalon very high quality ...loved their fench balcony...would not book the lowest level on any of the boats unless on a strict budget.....Never felt the need for a full balcony as like to spend a lot of time in the lounges or top deck socializing while enjoying the views on both sides.
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  #6  
Old April 29th, 2013, 07:47 AM
ddschur ddschur is offline
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Smile I think you should...

include Tauck in the mix!

Everyone on this board has their favorites and we LOVE the Tauck experience!
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  #7  
Old April 29th, 2013, 08:36 AM
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Cruzin Terri Cruzin Terri is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ddschur View Post
include Tauck in the mix!

Everyone on this board has their favorites and we LOVE the Tauck experience!
I agree with you. While we have not yet taken a river cruise and am about to sail with Tauck, I agree with you. We did a lot of research prior to booking with Tauck and decided that was the best fit for us. We like the idea of all-inclusive pricing, no options sold on board, and the stellar reputation Tauck enjoys in the travel industry.

We expect that the company will live up to their reputation. We believe that you get what you pay for and we are willing to pay a few extra dollars for the Tauck experience.
YMMV
Terri
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  #8  
Old April 29th, 2013, 09:22 AM
English Voyager English Voyager is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tbrein View Post
I agree with you. While we have not yet taken a river cruise and am about to sail with Tauck, I agree with you. We did a lot of research prior to booking with Tauck and decided that was the best fit for us. We like the idea of all-inclusive pricing, no options sold on board, and the stellar reputation Tauck enjoys in the travel industry.

We expect that the company will live up to their reputation. We believe that you get what you pay for and we are willing to pay a few extra dollars for the Tauck experience.
YMMV
Terri
I look forward to reading your comments on your Tauck cruise.
I have booked with them for 2014.
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  #9  
Old April 29th, 2013, 09:59 AM
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tinylady tinylady is offline
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I would like to suggest that you have a close look at Scenic, especially if you like an excellent all inclusive experience but with a varied mix of passengers.

Everyone has their favourites and only you will know what works for you. We love Scenic and will sail with them again next year. Our opinion is that they are definitely not middle of the road and would put them along with Tauck closely followed by Uniworld and, based on friends experiences, would definitely not put them in the same category as Avalon or Viking. The pricing would support this
opinion.

Regardless of who you choose I doubt if you will have anything other than a great time,
Mary
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  #10  
Old April 29th, 2013, 10:05 AM
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Cruzin Terri Cruzin Terri is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by English Voyager View Post
I look forward to reading your comments on your Tauck cruise.
I have booked with them for 2014.
I will be most happy to post a trip repot upon my retun. If I have enough time and decent Internet connection I may even do a "Live" report.
I am really excited about this trip and will report honestly.

I stopped reporting in the HAL board because the cheerleaders there cannot deal with negative comments. I call the shots as I see them.
Terri
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MV Atlantic (June, 1986) -NY to Bermuda
MS Zuiderdam (July, 2007)- Alaska - Inside Passage
MS Zuiderdam (Sept. 2008) - Magic of the Mediterranean
MS Noordam (Jan. 2009) Southern Caribbean
MS Maasdam (Jan. 2010) Panama Canal--FullTransit
Ms Maasdam (Jan. 2011) Southern Caribbean
MS Nieuw Amsterdam (Sept. 2011) Magic of the Mediterranean
MS Veendam (March-April 2012) 31 days South America and Inca Discovery.
MS Noordam (Jan. 2013) Southern Caribbean Seafarer/ Wayfarer
MS Treasures (July 2013) Budapest to Amsterdam
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  #11  
Old April 29th, 2013, 04:31 PM
conan conan is offline
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Thumbs up Cruise comparisons

Every cruiser will have differing personal interpretations of what is "best". What I say was best for me might not be adequate for you. Some of your choices are limited by where you live because different companies promote differently. One must look carefully at what each line is offering. While I have made spread sheet comparisons of as many as 7 lines vying for my pocketbook for a cruise, I settled on one that gave me the best bang for the buck. While at first blush it may seem that my choice was more expensive, when one includes no gratuities for staff or excursions, included or 2 for 1 air, full balconies, ships that are less than 10 years old and no "optional" shorex and all excursions are a go whether 3 people or 30 have signed up for them, then the cost per person per day is much more enlightened. As you are a Canadian, you might want to consider Scenic Cruises. They do not (I believe) market into the USA but facilities, food, staff and excursion choices are excellent IMHO.
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  #12  
Old April 29th, 2013, 04:53 PM
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Conan, I couldn't agree more about Scenic. What cruise did you get two for one air?
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  #13  
Old April 29th, 2013, 05:38 PM
pacmom pacmom is online now
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Have cruised on many of the major lines--would not put Viking on a par with Uniworld and AMAwaterways. Uniworld will be all inclusive next year as are Tauck and Scenic now. There is aline out there for everyone--do you want to sail with only Americans or want an international mix. Viking is now sailing multiple boats on some of the itineraries this season--could be a problem if you couldn't use your balcony because of rafting. No one person here on CC can tell you the best line. Good luck finding just the right cruie for you. Pat
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  #14  
Old April 29th, 2013, 07:42 PM
shoshona2 shoshona2 is offline
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Thumbs up Tauck

Hi Terri,

I love Tauck. You will really like the experience. Go to their Message Boards on their website to read more about Tauck and also go to u-tube to see lots of videos.

Sheila
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  #15  
Old April 30th, 2013, 05:18 PM
KEN31VA KEN31VA is offline
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I can only compare Uniworld with Grand Circle. On Uniworld the cabins and cuisine were better. The air arrangements provided by Uniworld were much worse - long layovers. The per diem cost and air were much less on GC and mostly because of the great tour directors, we had more fun on GC. Between the two, I would pick GC.

This year we are going on Avalon - I would like to sample all of them.
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  #16  
Old April 30th, 2013, 05:26 PM
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Cruzin Terri Cruzin Terri is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shoshona2 View Post
Hi Terri,

I love Tauck. You will really like the experience. Go to their Message Boards on their website to read more about Tauck and also go to u-tube to see lots of videos.

Sheila
Thanks Sheila,
I have been on their website and forums often, but not on YouTube. I'llngo there and see what can find. We're really looking forward to our Tauck cruise.
Thanks.
Terri
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MV Atlantic (June, 1986) -NY to Bermuda
MS Zuiderdam (July, 2007)- Alaska - Inside Passage
MS Zuiderdam (Sept. 2008) - Magic of the Mediterranean
MS Noordam (Jan. 2009) Southern Caribbean
MS Maasdam (Jan. 2010) Panama Canal--FullTransit
Ms Maasdam (Jan. 2011) Southern Caribbean
MS Nieuw Amsterdam (Sept. 2011) Magic of the Mediterranean
MS Veendam (March-April 2012) 31 days South America and Inca Discovery.
MS Noordam (Jan. 2013) Southern Caribbean Seafarer/ Wayfarer
MS Treasures (July 2013) Budapest to Amsterdam
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  #17  
Old April 30th, 2013, 11:51 PM
swamp1sg swamp1sg is offline
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My husband and I have been on all 4 of the lines that you mentioned:

2012 Dec.-Avalon-Visionary-Main River(Christmas Market Cruise)
2011- Dec.-Viking Spirit - Seine Normandy Cruise
2010-Dec. AMA-Amalyra - Danube River (Christmas Market Cruise)
2019 -Dec. - Uniworld - River Queen (last cruise before she was redecorated)
Rhine River(Christmas Market Cruise)

Hands down our favorite was AMA because:
1. Attention to detail-roses for woman the first night(vase in room)
2. Ship decorations-lots of flowers, huge Christmas tree in the lobby, decorated doors
3. Special Christmas activities-Visit from Santa, crew singing Christmas songs to us, leaving our shoes outside of our door for a gift (huge Chocolate Santa)
4. Upon arrival, a PLATTER, of cookies and candies in our room
5. The best food, attentive waiters
6. Free AMA postcards that they mailed for free
7. An actual gift shop with gift items and necessary type items
8. Nothing to complain about even when the water was so high when had to stop sailing. We had been warned a few days in advance that this could happen. Thy just cranked up the food--prime rib at Lunch!
9. The widest age range and many, many nationalities


Surprisingly Viking is our 2nd favorite and we were on an old ship. This was not a Christmas cruise but:
1. They had lots of extra activities, including an afternoon "Taste of Normandy" with food and drinks and music
2. Super, super staff
3. Wonderful tour guides--probably the best of all 4 cruises
4. They too had wine, soft drinks and bear with dinner

We will probably be selling with them at Christmas on a new longboat

Uniworld comes in a very close third:
They had all the things above but we had a few problems.
The biggest problem was that we missed out plane coming home. Uniworld arranged it. We had to take a train from Cologne to Frankfurt. We complained that we did not think we could make the connection but we were reassured repeatedly that the train went right to the airport and there would be people to help us. WRONG! Luftstanza accused us of "playing around" and in no way helped us get another flight. We would probably still be still there if not for our travel agent. Also this was NOT covered in our travel insurance (1 night in a 200euro hotel and $800 in rebooking fees).

The other problem is that since then UNIworld has redecorated all of its ships in a style we hate! (The River Queen was designed to look like a 1930's ship with lots of wood and we loved it)

Finally our most recent cruise on Avalon: The ship is beautiful, our cabin the best ever, the food good, the tour guides good to the best ever , however:
1. We arrived fairly early. Most of the guests were coming from Prague as part of the land tour. WE HAD TO ASK FOR A GLASS OF WATER which later I went and refilled myself. There were no snacks like Viking had when you boarded (Not sure about Uniworld or AMA as we boarded late.
2. NO CHRISTMAS ACTIVITIES-There was one lecture on"The EU Today". The only entertainment was a pretty lame guy on a piano. All the other lines had some extra local entertainers, cooking demostrations, etc.
3. Because of high water this cruise, too ended up being a bus tour. On the first night someone asked about high water and we were assured that this would not happen because the Main River was really a canal. We cruised to only 1 port! The last night we spent in a hotel in Frankfurt. It was a very nice, expensive Weston and the luggage was delivered to our room However, the meal served that night at the hotel was horrible. We left after barely eating and the Japanese couple sitting next to us left even sooner! Worst of all there was no one from Avalon at dinner to complain. The waiters were also very snotty after we asked how much longer when we had sat for an hour and a half waiting for a salad! We got pretty hungry that night as a candy bar at our mini bar/snack area was 5 euros (a snickers)

I hope that I have covered everything as I have been typing for 30 minutes. If you have any questions, just ask. Good luck.
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  #18  
Old May 1st, 2013, 09:25 AM
MaxBuck MaxBuck is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swamp1sg View Post
My husband and I have been on all 4 of the lines that you mentioned ...
Wow! One of the most informative posts I've ever seen on this forum. Thanks for posting!

Last edited by MaxBuck; May 1st, 2013 at 09:26 AM.
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  #19  
Old May 1st, 2013, 10:05 AM
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aldukenew aldukenew is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swamp1sg View Post
My husband and I have been on all 4 of the lines that you mentioned:

2012 Dec.-Avalon-Visionary-Main River(Christmas Market Cruise)
2011- Dec.-Viking Spirit - Seine Normandy Cruise
2010-Dec. AMA-Amalyra - Danube River (Christmas Market Cruise)
2019 -Dec. - Uniworld - River Queen (last cruise before she was redecorated)
Rhine River(Christmas Market Cruise)

Hands down our favorite was AMA because:
1. Attention to detail-roses for woman the first night(vase in room)
2. Ship decorations-lots of flowers, huge Christmas tree in the lobby, decorated doors
3. Special Christmas activities-Visit from Santa, crew singing Christmas songs to us, leaving our shoes outside of our door for a gift (huge Chocolate Santa)
4. Upon arrival, a PLATTER, of cookies and candies in our room
5. The best food, attentive waiters
6. Free AMA postcards that they mailed for free
7. An actual gift shop with gift items and necessary type items
8. Nothing to complain about even when the water was so high when had to stop sailing. We had been warned a few days in advance that this could happen. Thy just cranked up the food--prime rib at Lunch!
9. The widest age range and many, many nationalities


Surprisingly Viking is our 2nd favorite and we were on an old ship. This was not a Christmas cruise but:
1. They had lots of extra activities, including an afternoon "Taste of Normandy" with food and drinks and music
2. Super, super staff
3. Wonderful tour guides--probably the best of all 4 cruises
4. They too had wine, soft drinks and bear with dinner

We will probably be selling with them at Christmas on a new longboat

Uniworld comes in a very close third:
They had all the things above but we had a few problems.
The biggest problem was that we missed out plane coming home. Uniworld arranged it. We had to take a train from Cologne to Frankfurt. We complained that we did not think we could make the connection but we were reassured repeatedly that the train went right to the airport and there would be people to help us. WRONG! Luftstanza accused us of "playing around" and in no way helped us get another flight. We would probably still be still there if not for our travel agent. Also this was NOT covered in our travel insurance (1 night in a 200euro hotel and $800 in rebooking fees).

The other problem is that since then UNIworld has redecorated all of its ships in a style we hate! (The River Queen was designed to look like a 1930's ship with lots of wood and we loved it)

Finally our most recent cruise on Avalon: The ship is beautiful, our cabin the best ever, the food good, the tour guides good to the best ever , however:
1. We arrived fairly early. Most of the guests were coming from Prague as part of the land tour. WE HAD TO ASK FOR A GLASS OF WATER which later I went and refilled myself. There were no snacks like Viking had when you boarded (Not sure about Uniworld or AMA as we boarded late.
2. NO CHRISTMAS ACTIVITIES-There was one lecture on"The EU Today". The only entertainment was a pretty lame guy on a piano. All the other lines had some extra local entertainers, cooking demostrations, etc.
3. Because of high water this cruise, too ended up being a bus tour. On the first night someone asked about high water and we were assured that this would not happen because the Main River was really a canal. We cruised to only 1 port! The last night we spent in a hotel in Frankfurt. It was a very nice, expensive Weston and the luggage was delivered to our room However, the meal served that night at the hotel was horrible. We left after barely eating and the Japanese couple sitting next to us left even sooner! Worst of all there was no one from Avalon at dinner to complain. The waiters were also very snotty after we asked how much longer when we had sat for an hour and a half waiting for a salad! We got pretty hungry that night as a candy bar at our mini bar/snack area was 5 euros (a snickers)

I hope that I have covered everything as I have been typing for 30 minutes. If you have any questions, just ask. Good luck.
We just returned from AMAWaterways Tulip Time cruise on the AMACerto. This was our first river cruise, but I want to mention three incidences of superior customer service.
1. When they delivered a bottle of wine to our friends' cabin late, they did not charge us for it - it was their mistake, they said. If that weren't enough, they delivered a chilled bottle of wine to OUR cabin with an apology.
2. The waiters called us by name during the entire cruise.
3. Less than 2 weeks after our return home, we received a handwritten thank you post card signed by the captain the ship management.

We will definitely cruise with them again.

Allyson
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  #20  
Old May 1st, 2013, 10:09 AM
Hapytocruise Hapytocruise is offline
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Thanks so much Swamp1sq - great information. There seems to be some significant price differences between Viking promotions currently being offered and other lines - so glad to hear Viking does well in your assessment.
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Enjoy Your Days & Love Your Life, Because Life is a journey to be savored.
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3 – RLC; 10 – Princess; 1 – Uniworld River Cruise
1 – Holland America; 10 – Celebrity (1 upcoming TA Barcelona Oct 2014 plus 1 B2B Alaska May 2015)
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