Help - trying to choose the right line to be on for river cruisint

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#1
New Brunswick
41,540 Posts
Joined Jan 2009
Hello,

We have cruised a lot but not done a river cruise and DH wants to do it very badly.

I'm a little confused. I've read a lot of negative things on some ships (paper thin walls, small accomodations, balconies not worth while?)

I am literally at a loss trying to choose the right river cruise and ship to take.

We would normally do balconies on a regular cruise - are they worth while or not on a river cruise?

Is there a line that stands out? A line that has more spacious rooms?

Most of them seem to include tours - is that correct? We're not a fan of big tours but if they are just walking tours then probably ok.

Please don't laugh at the post - I'm not so worried about the itinerary - there are lots of nice ones - it's trying to figure out which line is a good one to go on?

Please, I hope this isn't a hot topic on this board - but is there a spot I can go to find the pros and cons of the different ships?

Thanks so very much
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#2
GTA, Ontario, Canada
34,586 Posts
Joined Apr 2005
They are very different than ocean cruises
You will get a lot of opinions on different lines
I would look at the itinerary, size of cabin, bed type, real balcony over french balcony or no balcony then decide what one fits your budget
decide what works best for you not what works for others

It is a personal choice
Most lines include tours in each port some offer optional tours for a fee some off all tours included in the prices
You do not have to do the tours at all but you are paying for them anyway

Drinks...some offer wine & beer at dinner some offer them at lunch & dinner & some offer all-inclusive drinks through out the day

Sometimes the ship will drop passengers in one city then sail on to another city where you reboard so be sure to read the fine print or have an alternative way to get to the ship if you decide to DIY

Good luck in your research

We enjoyed our real balcony ..even though it was smaller than the ocean going ships

Lyn
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#3
New Brunswick
41,540 Posts
Joined Jan 2009
Originally posted by LHT28
They are very different than ocean cruises
You will get a lot of opinions on different lines
I would look at the itinerary, size of cabin, bed type, real balcony over french balcony or no balcony then decide what one fits your budget
decide what works best for you not what works for others

It is a personal choice
Most lines include tours in each port some offer optional tours for a fee some off all tours included in the prices
You do not have to do the tours at all but you are paying for them anyway

Drinks...some offer wine & beer at dinner some offer them at lunch & dinner & some offer all-inclusive drinks through out the day

Sometimes the ship will drop passengers in one city then sail on to another city where you reboard so be sure to read the fine print or have an alternative way to get to the ship if you decide to DIY

Good luck in your research

We enjoyed our real balcony ..even though it was smaller than the ocean going ships

Lyn
Thanks Lyn - it's the research that is killing me

So many different opinions out there - I know all things are subjective - I was kind of hoping there were one or two that stood out - or I could find out the pluses or minuses

thanks for the tip on the balcony too
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Jacqui emailme Click here for Prinsendam Roll Call's spread sheet for May 5, 2018 - 28 day Azores and Celtic Explorer

#4
ON Canada
242 Posts
Joined Jan 2007
Originally posted by kazu
Hello,

We have cruised a lot but not done a river cruise and DH wants to do it very badly.

I'm a little confused. I've read a lot of negative things on some ships (paper thin walls, small accomodations, balconies not worth while?)

I am literally at a loss trying to choose the right river cruise and ship to take.

We would normally do balconies on a regular cruise - are they worth while or not on a river cruise?

Is there a line that stands out? A line that has more spacious rooms?

Most of them seem to include tours - is that correct? We're not a fan of big tours but if they are just walking tours then probably ok.

Please don't laugh at the post - I'm not so worried about the itinerary - there are lots of nice ones - it's trying to figure out which line is a good one to go on?

Please, I hope this isn't a hot topic on this board - but is there a spot I can go to find the pros and cons of the different ships?

Thanks so very much

We are also looking at a river cruise - I have spent months lurking on this site, reading reviews, making notes, and I will be starting a spreadsheet soon. We plan to go on the Danube - Prague to Budapest in Sept 2013. I hope to make a decision soon, but I think the secret is to get as much information as you can to help with your decision.

I have looked at itineraries and many of the river cruise companies are similar but there are small differences, I know there are certain towns missed on some itineraries that we would want to see. After checking which company has the itinerary we want, then we will look at cost, what is included, etc.

It is a long confusing process but worth it, I believe. I feel doing it this way there will be fewer 'surprises'.

Good luck on finding your dream cruise, I hope this helped in some way.
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#5
FL
14,432 Posts
Joined Jul 2003
Originally posted by kazu
So many different opinions out there - I know all things are subjective - I was kind of hoping there were one or two that stood out - or I could find out the pluses or minuses
We all have favorites but those are based on our personal priorities and preferences, which may be very different from yours.

We travel to Europe in fall and winter so balconies are not very worthwhile. We can put that money toward other expenses, like individually booked hotels, meals, private tours - and that is our preference.

We do not care about additional inclusions such as airport transfers, extra excursions, tips. We book our travel components independently of the cruise line; we prefer private tours in cities where there is enough to interest us to warrant a tour; we can arrange our own transfers.

For us, hotel style beds, spacious cabins, a fitness center, high quality food and included wines, gracious and unpretentious service are priorities.

We are in the younger age range for river cruisers and enjoy itineraries with little daytime sailing, more diverse entertainment (more than the standard in house piano man with his limited repertoire of old songs), extended port times and overnight stays in port. We also enjoy the bonus features of having bikes aboard, included wifi, in room movies for those nights when there is little in the way of entertainment and having a masseuse available. None of these things may be important to you but we have learned over a series of river cruises that they quite enhance our enjoyment overall.

Theme cruises are also appealing as we are then traveling with like minded people.

Our favorite cruise to date was last fall on AmaDante. Exceptional attention to detail, young and energetic cruise director who was the best CD we have ever had, good entertainment, food that was good to excellent, high quality included wines and some unique excursions that we enjoyed - and we generally opt of the included tours.
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143 cruises since 1964, 15 on the river.
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Our river cruising history:
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Avalon Affinity - Christmas Markets 2010
Avalon Panorama - Danube New Years Cruise, 2011
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AmaReina - Holiday on the Rhine 2014
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AmaSerena Christmas on the Rhine, 2015
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#6
New Brunswick
41,540 Posts
Joined Jan 2009
Originally posted by burlingtoncruiser
We are also looking at a river cruise - I have spent months lurking on this site, reading reviews, making notes, and I will be starting a spreadsheet soon. We plan to go on the Danube - Prague to Budapest in Sept 2013. I hope to make a decision soon, but I think the secret is to get as much information as you can to help with your decision.

I have looked at itineraries and many of the river cruise companies are similar but there are small differences, I know there are certain towns missed on some itineraries that we would want to see. After checking which company has the itinerary we want, then we will look at cost, what is included, etc.

It is a long confusing process but worth it, I believe. I feel doing it this way there will be fewer 'surprises'.

Good luck on finding your dream cruise, I hope this helped in some way.
Thanks - looks like no easy answer - I guess I will have to do as you are - have been following and making notes - some of the reviews (I know take them with a grain of salt) are really scary.

Thanks again.
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#7
New Brunswick
41,540 Posts
Joined Jan 2009
Originally posted by caviargal
We all have favorites but those are based on our personal priorities and preferences, which may be very different from yours.

We travel to Europe in fall and winter so balconies are not very worthwhile. We can put that money toward other expenses, like individually booked hotels, meals, private tours - and that is our preference.

We do not care about additional inclusions such as airport transfers, extra excursions, tips. We book our travel components independently of the cruise line; we prefer private tours in cities where there is enough to interest us to warrant a tour; we can arrange our own transfers.

For us, hotel style beds, spacious cabins, a fitness center, high quality food and included wines, gracious and unpretentious service are priorities.

We are in the younger age range for river cruisers and enjoy itineraries with little daytime sailing, more diverse entertainment (more than the standard in house piano man with his limited repertoire of old songs), extended port times and overnight stays in port. We also enjoy the bonus features of having bikes aboard, included wifi, in room movies for those nights when there is little in the way of entertainment and having a masseuse available. None of these things may be important to you but we have learned over a series of river cruises that they quite enhance our enjoyment overall.

Theme cruises are also appealing as we are then traveling with like minded people.

Our favorite cruise to date was last fall on AmaDante. Exceptional attention to detail, young and energetic cruise director who was the best CD we have ever had, good entertainment, food that was good to excellent, high quality included wines and some unique excursions that we enjoyed - and we generally opt of the included tours.
Thank you - this is a big help - and yes, we do a lot of private tours and enjoy the small touches - huge help - thanks so very much
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Jacqui emailme Click here for Prinsendam Roll Call's spread sheet for May 5, 2018 - 28 day Azores and Celtic Explorer

#8
The Villages, Florida
1,003 Posts
Joined Nov 2009
Originally posted by burlingtoncruiser
We are also looking at a river cruise - I have spent months lurking on this site, reading reviews, making notes, and I will be starting a spreadsheet soon. We plan to go on the Danube - Prague to Budapest in Sept 2013. I hope to make a decision soon, but I think the secret is to get as much information as you can to help with your decision.

I have looked at itineraries and many of the river cruise companies are similar but there are small differences, I know there are certain towns missed on some itineraries that we would want to see. After checking which company has the itinerary we want, then we will look at cost, what is included, etc.

It is a long confusing process but worth it, I believe. I feel doing it this way there will be fewer 'surprises'.

Good luck on finding your dream cruise, I hope this helped in some way.
Speaking of surprises, I just booked a river cruise in Southern France for Sept 2013 (thinking that I was way ahead of the curve for bookings) and was startled to learn that there were only 2 cabins left in the category that I requested! So that might be something else that you will want to keep in mind!
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#9
ON Canada
242 Posts
Joined Jan 2007
Originally posted by 2onboardagain
Speaking of surprises, I just booked a river cruise in Southern France for Sept 2013 (thinking that I was way ahead of the curve for bookings) and was startled to learn that there were only 2 cabins left in the category that I requested! So that might be something else that you will want to keep in mind!

I better start getting serious then and make a final decision!
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#10
Australa
78 Posts
Joined Sep 2011
We booked our september 2012 Danube Cruise with Avalon last August on the advice of our TA. I asked her in December if that was really necessary and she said she couldn't get any river cruises for September 2012 by Dec 2011. So yes book as soon as you have made your decision.
We like the bikes too, which Avalon don't have at the moment but decided all our other priorities were addresssed so still booked. We figured we would do bike riding in Berlin and Ansterdam. Must say the idea of biking along side the Danube sounds amazing though. Next time.
#11
KC area
1,052 Posts
Joined Mar 2001
I was in the same circumstance as you awhile back. I created a spread sheet that went over a lot of the things that I considered important. I'll show you a picture of it to give you an idea. We haven't been yet, but are taking our first river cruise in October on Vantage. We didn't go with the dates that I originally planned on, so some were changed. We wanted to go on a new ship and thought a suite would be nice.

Picture: [IMG]C:\Users\Dave\Pictures\2012-06-11 Spread sheet for river cruise[/IMG]
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Spread sheet for river cruise 001 - Copy.jpg (17.9 KB, 102 views)
#12
New Brunswick
41,540 Posts
Joined Jan 2009
Originally posted by Wormy53
I was in the same circumstance as you awhile back. I created a spread sheet that went over a lot of the things that I considered important. I'll show you a picture of it to give you an idea. We haven't been yet, but are taking our first river cruise in October on Vantage. We didn't go with the dates that I originally planned on, so some were changed. We wanted to go on a new ship and thought a suite would be nice.

Picture: [IMG]C:\Users\Dave\Pictures\2012-06-11 Spread sheet for river cruise[/IMG]

Thanks so much
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Jacqui emailme Click here for Prinsendam Roll Call's spread sheet for May 5, 2018 - 28 day Azores and Celtic Explorer

#13
New Brunswick
41,540 Posts
Joined Jan 2009
Originally posted by 2onboardagain
Speaking of surprises, I just booked a river cruise in Southern France for Sept 2013 (thinking that I was way ahead of the curve for bookings) and was startled to learn that there were only 2 cabins left in the category that I requested! So that might be something else that you will want to keep in mind!
Thanks - I booked our 31 day May 2013 cruise back in December 2011 so I book early I just want to make the right choice.
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#14
Tampa, Florida
62 Posts
Joined Jun 2009
Originally posted by caviargal
We all have favorites but those are based on our personal priorities and preferences, which may be very different from yours.

We travel to Europe in fall and winter so balconies are not very worthwhile. We can put that money toward other expenses, like individually booked hotels, meals, private tours - and that is our preference.

We do not care about additional inclusions such as airport transfers, extra excursions, tips. We book our travel components independently of the cruise line; we prefer private tours in cities where there is enough to interest us to warrant a tour; we can arrange our own transfers.

For us, hotel style beds, spacious cabins, a fitness center, high quality food and included wines, gracious and unpretentious service are priorities.

We are in the younger age range for river cruisers and enjoy itineraries with little daytime sailing, more diverse entertainment (more than the standard in house piano man with his limited repertoire of old songs), extended port times and overnight stays in port. We also enjoy the bonus features of having bikes aboard, included wifi, in room movies for those nights when there is little in the way of entertainment and having a masseuse available. None of these things may be important to you but we have learned over a series of river cruises that they quite enhance our enjoyment overall.

Theme cruises are also appealing as we are then traveling with like minded people.

Our favorite cruise to date was last fall on AmaDante. Exceptional attention to detail, young and energetic cruise director who was the best CD we have ever had, good entertainment, food that was good to excellent, high quality included wines and some unique excursions that we enjoyed - and we generally opt of the included tours.
Thanks so much! It seems like you enjoy the same things we do, and you like to travel the same way, (booking our travel components independently, traveling in fall/winter, arranging own tours/transfers) so that we have control over some rather critical parts of our trip.
Might I ask, do you use a travel agent? And is there one line that seems to hit most of the important points for you? I'm tending to AMA and Avalon.
Excellent info about booking a year or more in advance. That will be very useful.
#15
2,503 Posts
Joined Feb 2005
If you are still working, then a 7 day cruise with a day pre and post cruise would be good. There are many that fall into that category. Both rivers in France--good food and wine. Black Sea-Budapest if you would like to see Eastern Europe. Budapest or Vienna to Amsterdam. The Duoro without the pre cruise is a week. Please ask more questions, but be careful river cruising can become addictive. We are going on number15 in Oct. Pat
#16
Florida
20,313 Posts
Joined Nov 2008
May I suggest one thing some people like day and some people like night .. So I try to take the middle one ..
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#17
New Brunswick
41,540 Posts
Joined Jan 2009
Originally posted by pacmom
If you are still working, then a 7 day cruise with a day pre and post cruise would be good. There are many that fall into that category. Both rivers in France--good food and wine. Black Sea-Budapest if you would like to see Eastern Europe. Budapest or Vienna to Amsterdam. The Duoro without the pre cruise is a week. Please ask more questions, but be careful river cruising can become addictive. We are going on number15 in Oct. Pat

Sorry - I should have clarified - no way are we flying to Europe for 7 days. When we go to Europe we either do longer cruises or pre or post cruise days (or both).
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#18
Ontario, Canada
2,756 Posts
Joined Nov 2008
There are lots of options and it can be overwhelming. It might help to start with itinerary - or an idea of what you really want to see on the river.

We choose to book lowest category cabin (aka Aquarium class) as we don't care about a balcony. We have travelled once with a French balcony, and while it was nice, it wasn't (IMHO) worth the extra dollars. Many here, however, will not travel without an opening door.

Hotel style beds are the "must have" for us. Some of the older boats still have twin (or even pullman style) beds - so we steer away from those.

We actually enjoy having some down time during the day - so are happy with day-time sailing. We also tend to steer away from most optional tours.

If you know of a stop you wish to make, check out all of the lines that offer that itinerary to make sure that it is included. For example, we really wanted to see Bratislava - but not all cruises stop there when travelling between Budapest and Vienna. Similarly, we have friends that cruised Amsterdam to Vienna. In looking at the different lines that offered this itinerary, I discovered that not all visit Melk --> and the abbey there was a highlight of our trip. We discussed our experiences with them when they were looking at booking.

There are more similarities than differences (IMHO) - and some of the things that have a huge impact are beyond your control. I feel that the CD is a very important part of the trip - but you have no way of knowing who your CD will be. Also - the chef affects the food offered. Some CCers have posted that AMA offers the "best" food - and yet the food on our AMA cruise was mediocre. Not bad, but not great.

If you are comfortable travelling on your own, then arranging your own transfers shouldn't be a problem. But - if you are not that comfortable, then there are a couple of lines that include transfers even if you arrange your own air. Most will include transfers if you purchase their air. The same goes for pre/post extensions. It is often less expensive to do this on your own, but many people find it easier to have the cruise company arrange everything.

Have fun planning... We are now addicted - just completed #5 - with #6 booked for next April.

Fran
#19
New Brunswick
41,540 Posts
Joined Jan 2009
Thank you Fran. We have no issues travelling on our own. Agree on the hotel beds too - one of my concerns. Looks like a lot of research. thanks for the tips
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#20
Wht Mts, NH - Gulf Coast, FL
2,738 Posts
Joined Jun 2004
Originally posted by burlingtoncruiser
We are also looking at a river cruise - I have spent months lurking on this site, reading reviews, making notes, and I will be starting a spreadsheet soon. We plan to go on the Danube - Prague to Budapest in Sept 2013. I hope to make a decision soon, but I think the secret is to get as much information as you can to help with your decision.

I have looked at itineraries and many of the river cruise companies are similar but there are small differences, I know there are certain towns missed on some itineraries that we would want to see. After checking which company has the itinerary we want, then we will look at cost, what is included, etc.

It is a long confusing process but worth it, I believe. I feel doing it this way there will be fewer 'surprises'.

Good luck on finding your dream cruise, I hope this helped in some way.
I will be following this thread closely. We are looking to do this itinerary (Prague to Budapest) in the summer of 2014. (Yes, I plan way in advance. But we will be booking around 10 cabins, so I want to be ready when the new schedules come out.)
I have started my spreadsheet, but those little squares are getting so full of notes it's getting hard to read, lol!
Right now AMA seems to be a favorite. Vantage is strong, but the lack of balconies is probably a deal-breaker. It will be our first river cruise and we may discover that a balcony is no longer a priority, but others in the group feel that it is a "must have". The included tours are important to some of our fellow companions, but a few of us are diehard DIYers.
Decisions, decisions. I am eager to hear from others.
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Coral Princess - Partial Transit Panama Canal
Celebrity Silhouette - TA
Royal Caribbean Serenade of the Seas - Arctic Circle
Disney Fantasy - Souhern Caribbean
AMAPrima - Danube, Prague to Budapest
Royal Caribbean Jewel of the Seas - Southern Carib.
Carnival Imagination - Western Carib.
Carnival Valor - Southern Carib.
Norwegian Sun - Baltics, Copenhagen, St Petersburg
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