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  #1  
Old February 23rd, 2014, 05:17 PM
yooper1990 yooper1990 is offline
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Default River cruises less comfortable than ocean cruises?

For some time I've been hoping to take a Danube River cruise. My wife and I have enjoyed a number of ocean cruises, but never a river cruise. Unfortunately, friends we have connected with recently who have also been on numerous ocean cruises have turned my wife off to river versions with their tale of the one time they tried one. Apparently it was a few years ago on Viking, on a new ship. They complain that the mattress on their stateroom's bed was very thin and uncomfortable. They also say their experiences in the dining room were not good because the other passengers, many of whom were apparently traveling in groups, were not friendly, even refusing to allow them to sit at a table when approached. (They weren't too enamored of the food, either.) I fully realize this is a sample of one, but my wife has never been as enthusiastic about a Danube cruise as I anyway, and now with this input starting a couple of years ago, she is totally disinterested. What can I tell her to offset this unhelpful information from (admittedly very good and nice, and not especially particular, normally) friends?
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Old February 23rd, 2014, 05:28 PM
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We have been on a grand total of one river cruise, and many ocean cruises. Our river cruise was last year on the Danube with Scenic. Our experience was contrary to your friends'. We found our fellow passengers to be very friendly and pleasant. The staff was outstanding, no complaints about the food either. Our cabin, bed, bathroom, and other furnishings were very comfortable. The bed was a regular hotel bed, complete with a real mattress (twins pushed together and made up as a king).

We are acquainted with a couple who rave about their Viking cruise on the Danube two years ago. As you can see, we are booked on a Viking cruise in 2015.

Read these boards, compare several lines, and have a great time. The Danube cruise is not to be missed! We decided it was time we explored some places that do not abut an ocean.
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Old February 23rd, 2014, 05:59 PM
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I have never wanted to do a river cruise either, yet will be going on one in December. What tipped the balance for me is 1)I have a wonderful husband who has said "yes" to a lot of trips I wanted to take that weren't his first choice and he REALLY wants to do a river cruise through Germany; and 2) I LOVE Christmas Markets, so we chose a river cruise where we each get something out of it.

You know your wife better than anyone else. Can she be persuaded by data? Show her favorable reviews to counter the report from the single cruise your friends have been describing. Look up some video reviews - I found those esp helpful to get me excited about the trip. Can you bargain with her? (is it worthwhile to you to do that?)
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  #4  
Old February 23rd, 2014, 06:08 PM
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I can second everything Live4cruises said, on the basis of my recent AmaWaterways cruise. And we sailed on AmaCello, which is not one of their newest ships. The river cruise industry has changed dramatically in the last few years. Ships have gotten more luxurious, the food and wine have gotten better, fares are now more inclusive (depending on the line) -- and the basic premise is still just as good: no worries about seasickness; no crowding; you dock right in or near the center of town; you get to see towns that no ocean cruise can get near.

There are some differences between river and ocean cruising that you do need to be clear about:
• no casino
• no rock climbing wall
• no party band
• no menu of onboard activites to chose between [there are activities, but one at a time]
• no anytime dining

So you have to accept that a river cruise is different from an ocean cruise, and go with the mindset that you will try these unique attributes:
• small ship allows you to get to know your fellow passengers
• the sun deck is the center of daytime activities (while not in port)
• the food, wine and entertainment will reflect the local area [no more standardized menus out of Miami]
• even if you think you hate ship excursions, the small-group walking tours are very worthwhile
• if you are more active, many river cruises have a fleet of bicycles that are free to use

Your friends' experience is not representative of river cruising today. Get your wife to explore the websites of a variety of river cruise lines (I recommend that you look at Tauck, Uniworld, AMA, Scenic, and Avalon -- and you are already aware of Viking) so she can see what your experience will be.
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Old February 23rd, 2014, 11:59 PM
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It's hard to compare river and ocean cruising. River cruising is much more about the ports and not about the onboard entertainment, big pools, spa treatments, night clubs etc.

Feedback on your friend's experience is that the beds were fine - regular matresses even in Russia and China. Cabins might be a bit smaller, depending on the category of room you choose. But the good news is that everyone has at least a window - no inside cabins. As far as freindliness of fellow travelers, I find them to be freindlier on a river cruise. We've met some very interesting fascinating people from different countries on river cruises. My husband and I ususally travel by ourselves, and if you ask me, a big ocean ship can be a lonely place, paricularly if you get assinged to a table for 2 in the dining room. You can go for a whole 10 days and never see the same people twice. On a river cruise, you can quickly make friends with others if you want. If you want to be alone, that's OK too.

The other difference is the "sea days" that tend to be a part of ocean going itineraries. These are much more rare on river cruises. Even when you cruise during the days, there's always fascinating scenery to look at.

If you're looking for pure relaxation and pampering, then ocean going is probably the better route. If you want to see lots of stuff (culture, architecture, cobbled streets, cathedrals, castles) and fall happily exhausted into bed each night, then you should enjoy a river cruise.
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Old February 24th, 2014, 08:41 AM
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It's reading that one bad review that gets you second-guessing your plans. I cannot imagine anyone considering a Uniworld river cruise less comfortable than ocean cruising. I love the beds and the bedding on the Uniworld ships. I like that I can feel comfortable sitting a lounge reading a book, drinking a self-service coffee or just watching the scenery go by without being constantly asked if I'd like a drinks or having music playing. There are no children running wild dripping the self-service ice cream all over the place. No silly contest, bingo, art sales... No adding up of extra charges (well, at least on Uniworld).

We have met wonderful people on both of the Uniworld river cruisese we've taken. By the last couple of nights, our table of "new friends" all commented how much we were going to miss the food, service and the camaraderie when we departed. Our fellow travelers and the staff is part of why we continue to return to Uniworld (we've booked 2015 for our 3rd cruise).

The Danube cruise allows you to see so many places from the comfort of your floating hotel room. Quite frankly, Budapest was never on my list of places I felt I needed to see, but I loved it -- as I loved all the port of call. I love the smaller towns as well as major cities like Vienna. Maybe see if another itinerary appeals to your wife more than the Danube?
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  #7  
Old February 24th, 2014, 10:38 AM
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[quote=beesKate;41800693]. I like that I can feel comfortable sitting a lounge reading a book, drinking a self-service coffee or just watching the scenery go by without being constantly asked if I'd like a drinks or having music playing. There are no children running wild dripping the self-service ice cream all over the place. No silly contest, bingo, art sales... No adding up of extra charges (well, at least on Uniworld).

This alone is reason for loving river cruising! I've traveled often with vantage and always had comfortable bedding and found friends on board to dine with every night. It's true you have to find your own seating at dinner but you also don't have to sit with the same people every night....we've found that while there are some people who don't want us to join them, (we're from NY and it's amazing how people decide they don't like us based on our name tags) but most people are friendly and welcoming and we've made friends on trips that we still travel with!
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Old February 24th, 2014, 12:28 PM
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I'm another who is going to recommend that you show your wife some of the many positive reviews on this board. I took my first river cruise on Avalon and loved every minute of it. Because the passenger count is so low (138 on the Felicity) we really had a chance to meet and interact with all of the other passengers. Yes there were some that we tried to avoid when possible, but there were many more who really made the trip more enjoyable. We ate with different people every night, which contributed to the enjoyment. Our trip was not sold out and one night we had a table to ourselves, which was actually a nice break.

Part of the issue may have been that your friends traveled with Viking. They have the most number of ships on the rivers and therefore have the most passengers. However, they tend to be seen as the mass market line, compare to Carnival. The other lines tend to be a bit more upscale, and I really think the experience reflects this. There are plenty of Viking supporters, but it does seem that they get many more complainers when adversity hits. Last year with the record floods, Avalon and other companies offered full refunds and Viking turned their trips into bus tours.

I think if you can get your wife to read some of the reviews and other postings, you may be able to sway her. You could always start with a shorter itinerary (7 night) to give it a try and see if you like it. I would not recommend a 14 night for your first cruise if she is still not sure. Good luck. I really enjoyed my river cruise and am starting to work on research for the next one.
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Old February 24th, 2014, 01:31 PM
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We likewise are great fans of Avalon and I think maybe if you showed her some of the itineraries of some of the cruise lines that might interest her.

Perhaps you might like to try one of the itineraries that lasts approx 1 week.

Several of the river cruise companies offer Paris (with pre and post tours) to Normandy and the little river villages are sweet and easy to do on your own. Tell her she might like to visit Monet's water lily gardens at Giverny, or Rouen, and of course, the WWII beaches and Cemetery at Normandy.

Another short cruise is Paris to the Provence which we also loved but did it as a b2b with Paris to Normandy. Lyon and Aix, for instance, are wonderful!

This is a very gentle and lovely way to travel. As others have said, there are no photographers (except amateurs like Mr. Wonderful and me) art auctions, etc.

On Avalon we have found that on all of our cruises we North Americans are outnumbered by Aussies and Kiwis--the very best traveling companions.

In the words of an old commercial...."try it, you'll like it!"
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Old February 24th, 2014, 01:34 PM
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Even if you don't ultimately wind up going on Viking, go to there website and request information by mail. Part of what they sent us was a DVD.

Boy did that seal the deal.

From the moment we finished watching that DVD my wife and I were totally sold on the idea of a river cruise.

Our only river cruise so far has been with Viking. I know there are better (more expensive) lines out there, but we thought Viking provided a good value for the money we paid.

All of the passengers were very friendly. At the time I was very critical of every aspect of the trip (having spent WAY too much time on this board), but looking back, it was certainly one of the best trips we have ever taken.

In the end we don't usually regret things that we did, it is usually things that we didn't do that we wind up regretting.

Get that DVD and watch it with your wife.
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Old February 24th, 2014, 01:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yooper1990 View Post
For some time I've been hoping to take a Danube River cruise. My wife and I have enjoyed a number of ocean cruises, but never a river cruise. Unfortunately, friends we have connected with recently who have also been on numerous ocean cruises have turned my wife off to river versions with their tale of the one time they tried one. Apparently it was a few years ago on Viking, on a new ship. They complain that the mattress on their stateroom's bed was very thin and uncomfortable. They also say their experiences in the dining room were not good because the other passengers, many of whom were apparently traveling in groups, were not friendly, even refusing to allow them to sit at a table when approached. (They weren't too enamored of the food, either.) I fully realize this is a sample of one, but my wife has never been as enthusiastic about a Danube cruise as I anyway, and now with this input starting a couple of years ago, she is totally disinterested. What can I tell her to offset this unhelpful information from (admittedly very good and nice, and not especially particular, normally) friends?
We had an absolutely magnificent experience on the AmaCerto for our Tulip Time cruise last year. The service was superior, food was great, fellow passengers were wonderful, excursions were top-notch, and the ship was perfect. If there was one negative (and this is very minor), it would be that there was nowhere to go after dinner to talk to fellow passengers, since there was entertainment in the lounge (it was April and too cold to be on the top deck at night). We hope to book a Danube cruise with AmaWaterways in 2015.
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Old February 24th, 2014, 01:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cary Cruiser View Post
Even if you don't ultimately wind up going on Viking, go to there website and request information by mail. Part of what they sent us was a DVD.

Boy did that seal the deal.

From the moment we finished watching that DVD my wife and I were totally sold on the idea of a river cruise
.

Our only river cruise so far has been with Viking. I know there are better (more expensive) lines out there, but we thought Viking provided a good value for the money we paid.

All of the passengers were very friendly. At the time I was very critical of every aspect of the trip (having spent WAY too much time on this board), but looking back, it was certainly one of the best trips we have ever taken.

In the end we don't usually regret things that we did, it is usually things that we didn't do that we wind up regretting.

Get that DVD and watch it with your wife.
Agree 100% on this.

Pictures/videos are more powerful than words.

You may also want to watch the Burt Wolf video on Danube river cruises http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_T4EuvKMKg0

Much of the appeal of a river cruise in the destinations you will be visiting.
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Old February 24th, 2014, 03:24 PM
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I am going on my 7th Avalon Cruise this year and getting ready to book France for next year. I get seasick on larger ships but sailing on the rivers is different. There is always land to view on each side of the ship. I love the smaller ships as you get to meet just about everyone. No, there are no casinos or large shows but the river cruises bring on local talent for evening enjoyment.

I could go on and on about river cruising but will stop for now.

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Old February 24th, 2014, 04:29 PM
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We're ocean cruisers (Regent) and absolutely love those vacations. I've always been interested in the idea of river cruising as well.
BUT, we have never been comfortable in U.S. queen size beds. (60") We're not large people, but we like the space of the king, esp. as we've become more restless sleepers as we age.
Tauck and AMA were our first choices, but I learned today that the beds are 59" (Tauck) and 62" (AMA) Unless I can find a company whose boats have at least 72" beds, river cruising is disappointingly out for us.
This might not be a concern for OP, but thought I would mention it.
Happy travels to all.
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Old February 24th, 2014, 04:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by poss View Post
We're ocean cruisers (Regent) and absolutely love those vacations. I've always been interested in the idea of river cruising as well.
BUT, we have never been comfortable in U.S. queen size beds. (60") We're not large people, but we like the space of the king, esp. as we've become more restless sleepers as we age.
Tauck and AMA were our first choices, but I learned today that the beds are 59" (Tauck) and 62" (AMA) Unless I can find a company whose boats have at least 72" beds, river cruising is disappointingly out for us.
This might not be a concern for OP, but thought I would mention it.
Happy travels to all.
My wife and I sleep on a king at home, but never once did I feel crowded in our bed on Viking. And I am somewhat large.

Now that you mention it, I do recall "warning" my wife about the size of the bed when we booked the cruise, but when we were there it just was not an issue at all.

From the Viking website:
French Balcony (D)
Hotel-style beds 79 inches x 63 inches (with optional twin-bed configuration)

Poss...so what you are saying is that you would be uncomfortable because your side of the bed is 4 1/2 inches smaller than what you are used too?
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Last edited by Cary Cruiser; February 24th, 2014 at 04:49 PM.
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  #16  
Old February 24th, 2014, 05:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by poss View Post
We're ocean cruisers (Regent) and absolutely love those vacations. I've always been interested in the idea of river cruising as well.

BUT, we have never been comfortable in U.S. queen size beds. (60") We're not large people, but we like the space of the king, esp. as we've become more restless sleepers as we age.

Tauck and AMA were our first choices, but I learned today that the beds are 59" (Tauck) and 62" (AMA) Unless I can find a company whose boats have at least 72" beds, river cruising is disappointingly out for us.

This might not be a concern for OP, but thought I would mention it.

Happy travels to all.

The beds of an ocean cruise are similar to the rivercruise it is 2 separate beds you can leave them separate or push them together.
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Old February 24th, 2014, 09:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by poss View Post
We're ocean cruisers (Regent) ... Unless I can find a company whose boats have at least 72" beds, river cruising is disappointingly out for us.
Regent doesn't specify the dimensions of their beds on their website, but they call them "European King Size." Wikipedia says European King Size is 71" wide.

But I think Regent is unusually generous for ocean cruises.
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Old February 25th, 2014, 09:12 AM
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Bed size was one of the reasons-- among many-- that we chose Regent (then Radisson) for our first cruise. We loved the ships so much in every way that we've been cruising with them ever since. Regent beds are 72" wide: generous, I agree.

Beds on most of the river lines that I've so far checked are a mere 60", i.e. singles are 30" rather than 36".

Yes, we would both be uncomfortable in a bed that's 9" more narrow than we're used to. (Regent's are a bit more narrow, but just by a few inches.)

I did learn (if the info is correct) that Scenic has good, wide beds (supposedly 79" wide??), so that's a possibility. But Scenic is not one of the lines that my TA especially likes. (Her agency prefers Tauck and AMA.)

I appreciate the input.
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Old February 25th, 2014, 02:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by poss View Post

I did learn (if the info is correct) that Scenic has good, wide beds (supposedly 79" wide??), so that's a possibility. But Scenic is not one of the lines that my TA especially likes. (Her agency prefers Tauck and AMA.)

I appreciate the input.

If that bed size can be confirmed (the brochure identifies the beds as "Superior Queen" size...) - then I would ask your TA what her issue is with Scenic. I am guessing you live in the US - as Scenic is still trying to break into that market. They are marketed quite heavily here in Canada....

Fran
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Old February 25th, 2014, 02:37 PM
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Dear Fran and Poss,
Perhaps the reason your TA prefers AMA and Tauck is they are at the high end, and would get the TA a larger commission.
However, they are both great lines.
We have done a number of River cruises with Vantage, and have been very happy with them.
They do not use TA's and pass the savings to the passengers. That being said, any of the major river cruise lines are good.
The difference in price may be also about what is included; tips, transfers, excursions, beer and wine with meals, etc. Another cost driver is if you are happy with what is called "Aquarium Class" on the lowest deck, or if you want a French Balcony or a real balcony.
Our trip stories and pictures are on our website, and we are always happy to answer any questions.
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