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The ever increasing popularity of river cruising


notamermaid
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Hello mysusie45,

 

very interesting read, thank you. Finding a campside along the river and a new mode of travel, how lovely.

 

I think there is still an element of learning in today's river cruises if you look for it. But I know what you mean about the mass travel and large ships. When I went on my cruise on the Danube most of it was new territory for me. I knew Passau and parts of Austria but anything close to Vienna, Vienna itself and everything beyond I had never seen. It was learning for me as well as a holiday trip. I got to see places that had been beyond the iron curtain before and I can remember the times when that divide still existed so I looked further than the tourist areas and more closely at the remnants of that era. Our Budapest guide was good at pointing out such places and tell us of that history of his country, too. Additionally I got to see the office building of a business partner of the company I had worked at. I need to learn things on holiday, I am not a beach enthusiast or a varieté-show-dress-up-every-night-person.

 

As regards the smaller ships: They are still out there! It is just that the Anglo-American market is going for bigger and better - to be fair the rest of the European market as well, but not in the same volume. The Dutch still often travel with tried and tested ships like the Statendam from 1966, she is 104.30m long. British tour operators that charter ships partly also use smaller ships, one of the smallest is the MV Virginia at only 67.5m. Sauna, fitness room and spa on such a ship, it would be a tight squeeze, wouldn't it? Those holidays are perfectly fine for the cruising experience and getting to know nice people. They go to the same ports as the large ships but also often include the odd smaller port that the large ships do not stop at.

 

And there are of course the barge cruises that while being somewhat luxurious compared to previous decades nevertheless provide a more intimate cruising experience, CroisiEurope travel on many canals in France and from what I know of the areas from seeing them live or on television I can say that they look very appealing.

 

notamermaid

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  • 3 weeks later...

Themed cruises - beer, wine, food, art or music? No, this time it is bookworms...

 

Back in April I read about the author Diana Gabaldon joining river cruisers on a Danube cruise planed for June 2018: https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/cruises/2017/04/14/diana-gabaldon-hosts-outlander-cruise/100458282/

 

While this is a great opportunity for lovers of her books there does not appear a further theme or twist to the cruise on that date.

 

Riviera Travel UK has gone a step further and what a great idea it was to name their ships after British writers to make this possible: http://www.latimes.com/travel/cruises/la-tr-cruises-jane-austen-riviera-travel-20170901-story.html

 

Riviera Travel also has in its portfolio Emily Bronte and the Rhine valley today reminds me of landscape scenes in her "Wuthering Heights". Or how about Burns' Night on the Robert Burns with some whisky sampling? A bit awkward as that day is in January but New Years Eve with Auld Lang Syne would do...

 

But I think the ultimate combination of writer, landscape and ship would be a Rhine cruise on the Lord Byron sailing past the Drachenfels mountain reciting "Childe Harolde" on the very day in the year the author sailed past himself with "Ehrenbreitstein" to be recited shortly after... :):)

 

notamermaid

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Themed cruises - beer, wine, food, art or music? No, this time it is bookworms...

 

Back in April I read about the author Diana Gabaldon joining river cruisers on a Danube cruise planed for June 2018: https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/cruises/2017/04/14/diana-gabaldon-hosts-outlander-cruise/100458282/

 

While this is a great opportunity for lovers of her books there does not appear a further theme or twist to the cruise on that date.

 

Riviera Travel UK has gone a step further and what a great idea it was to name their ships after British writers to make this possible: http://www.latimes.com/travel/cruises/la-tr-cruises-jane-austen-riviera-travel-20170901-story.html

 

Riviera Travel also has in its portfolio Emily Bronte and the Rhine valley today reminds me of landscape scenes in her "Wuthering Heights". Or how about Burns' Night on the Robert Burns with some whisky sampling? A bit awkward as that day is in January but New Years Eve with Auld Lang Syne would do...

 

But I think the ultimate combination of writer, landscape and ship would be a Rhine cruise on the Lord Byron sailing past the Drachenfels mountain reciting "Childe Harolde" on the very day in the year the author sailed past himself with "Ehrenbreitstein" to be recited shortly after... :):)

 

notamermaid

 

In the spirit of Byron, someone from the ship should swim across the river!

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Hostjazzbeau,

 

in the absence of a Hellespond or similar body of water the Rhine would work, perhaps as a highlight on the last evening before reaching Basel?

 

CPT Trips,

 

interesting idea. As fate would have it the University was actually moved to Munich in 1826, only 10 years after that fateful night in which Frankenstein appeared as an idea in Mary Shelley's dreams. But Ingolstadt is cashing in on the famous connection: http://www.ingolstadt-tourismus.de/en/tourist-information/unique-to-ingolstadt/frankenstein.html And why not. Although I find that those guys' and ladies' life stories are more tumultous and exciting than most writers manage to write in novels convincingly. A real life soap opera if ever there was one.

 

Should not try to finish off with a post-cruise experience like that in Geneva. Would take it a little too far. ;)

 

 

Oddly, we are kind of partly to thank a volcanic eruption for this as it changed the weather in Europe creating what is called "the year without Summer" in 1816 no doubt leading to depressed states in sensitive souls. And it also gave William Turner much to paint in 1817 still.

 

Talking of themes, William Turner lends himself to a long themed cruise. I am sure there must be additional interesting ones one could stage on the Danube as well. I would be partial to an underground/shadowy theme a la Orson Welles in Vienna...

 

 

notamermaid

 

Edit: forgot to mention that according to the Ingolstadt website, the building that housed a medical faculty in those days still stands and is a museum now. So one could sort of visit the "lab".

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  • 2 weeks later...

How do you get young people to be interested in river cruising? A: create a new company and revamp ships like Uniworld to directly attract folks or B: create a marketing-blog in audio-visual format like Arosa is doing. I am sure there is a C option but I have not come across it. Arosa has just chosen (with the help of online-voters) a 21-year-old student of tourism to travel on several ARosa ships in autumn to directly report her adventures. It will be for the German speaking market only it seems (sorry!). I will follow along with interest. She shall be a busy young lady! Will it be all lovely and edited by the company or will she get to put her own stamp on the experience with some true-to-life photos (just think of those snow-covered huts at Christmas markets in the pictures, such days are rare in December in the warm-ish valleys) thrown in? Here she is: https://blog.a-rosa.de/kreuzfahrt-blog/2017/09/11/a-rosa-river-cruise-blogger-gewinnerin/

 

notamermaid

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There is no stopping the Viking(s)...

 

New ships for Viking river cruises in 2019. Here are two reports:

 

https://www.cruisecritic.com/news/news.cfm?ID=8115

 

http://www.travelweekly.com/River-Cruising/After-a-lull-Viking-gets-back-to-growing-river-fleet

 

I wonder how many more ships they can put on the Rhine before they have to put three in a row rafting at Koblenz, as staggering the times in port becomes more difficult? I often see two now rafted together pictured on the Ehrenbreitstein fortress webcam: http://www.bafg.de/php/deutsches-eck-gross.jpg

 

notamermaid

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  • 2 weeks later...

Parking in third row

 

Koblenz has been in the news regionally quite a bit concerning tourism and river cruise ships. There has been talk of the harbour reaching "saturation point" for river cruise ships for three years now. It would only be a question of time when that scenario happens... Now I have found some relevant information on this. The German page with the form for river cruise companies wishing to book a docking place and the terms and conditions show a trial period for 2017 of rafting of three ships. This happens on the Moselle not on the Rhine. Rafting of three ships is only allowed during daytime. Here is the list of ships docking in Koblenz for the remainder of 2017: http://www.koblenz-touristik.de/fileadmin/Mediendatenbank/PDF/Belegungsplaene_Hotelschiffe/Belegungsplan_2017.pdf

 

First column if in red means all docking places taken (i.e. full-up), the purple colour on a row shows the special arrangement of rafting of three ships in 2017. I counted 118 ships docking in Koblenz for the rest of October. That is without the Viking ships that dock at the "private place" on the Rhine and a few ships that dock in another spot on the Rhine.

 

It is certainly a chance for the docks of Lahnstein, Engers and Neuwied (when they finally get their act together there, I mean Neuwied) to profit from this and take some of the pressure off Koblenz docks. You might say, "oh but we want to be in the prime spot, not in some industrial outpost". Neither of them are. Lahnstein (medieval) and Engers (Baroque palace) are pleasant small places (see the thread Rhine river levels ...) with nice embankments and are only a short drive from Koblenz. Neuwied will also see you embarking at the town's prime spot, has some appeal, with a beer garden on the embankment from April to October and the drive to Koblenz is also only about 25 minutes. All bearable in my opinion.

 

notamermaid

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks, xmaser.

 

If anyone wishes to look ahead to 2018, the dockings for next year are already online: http://www.koblenz-touristik.de/fileadmin/Mediendatenbank/PDF/Belegungsplaene_Hotelschiffe/Belegungslan_2018.pdf As you can see, as of today a few days - mostly weekends - are fully booked already.

 

Just so that those interested do not need to go back in the thread, here is the page for docking in Rüdesheim again: http://www.fremdenverkehrsgesellschaft.de/pdf/schiffsanlegungen_zwei_monate.pdf updated regularly

I have had a look at the 6th of December. 16 (!) ships will visit Rüdesheim on that day; again, the Viking ships are not listed, so add one or two to that number. Admittedly, they are not there all at the same time, but when I think of the coach trip visitors and other day trippers, oh my goodness, I will not go to Rüdesheim on 6th December...

 

notamermaid

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I had posted the list of ships registered in Switzerland last year, here is the updated list: http://www.test.swiss-ships.ch/rheinschiffahrt/startframe_rhein.html

 

Those of interest to us are those marked with KFGS (meaning passenger ships with cabins). A few are new on the list. The success of Riviera Travel UK is reflected in the fact that they have two new ships and of course Viking has added its share of longships.

 

Talking of longships and draft. While it is true that those ships (apart from the Elbe design) are among those with the deepest draft in the river cruising industry and are consistently marked in the list with 2.00m or 2.01m, the one with the deepest draft of all is the S.S. Antoinette with 2.10m!

 

Please note that many of the river cruise ships are registered in Malta, quite a few in the Netherlands and some in Germany. CroisiEurope has most of their ships registered in France. Further afield countries need to be added to that to get close to an overall figure of river cruise ships sailing in Europe, or indeed the world.

 

notamermaid

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  • 2 weeks later...

My wife and I were planning our first river cruise. She has difficulty walking and uses a small scooter to get around (the scooter can be disassembled). An agent called her and said she should not go on a river cruise because there is no one to help her get on and off the boat and that the streets are all cobblestone and she would not be able to use the scooter. I thought of the river cruise as opposed to an ocean cruise because she could see more from the ship itself. Has anyone in a scooter done a river cruise and could comment? Are there particular destinations in Europe you would recommend? Any particular line or ship you recommend or would avoid?

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Regrettably, I believe that small river ships do not have the staff and capability to accommodate scooters, etc. Read somewhere that Viking does not offer assistance to wheelchair guests.

Getting off & on the ship can be a big issue with the always varying slope of ramps and stairs.

Europe is mostly cobblestones.

I have seen people with canes and even walkers do fine on river cruises. They just avoid the more difficult walking tours.

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My wife and I were planning our first river cruise. She has difficulty walking and uses a small scooter to get around (the scooter can be disassembled). An agent called her and said she should not go on a river cruise because there is no one to help her get on and off the boat and that the streets are all cobblestone and she would not be able to use the scooter. I thought of the river cruise as opposed to an ocean cruise because she could see more from the ship itself. Has anyone in a scooter done a river cruise and could comment? Are there particular destinations in Europe you would recommend? Any particular line or ship you recommend or would avoid?

 

Your wife may or may not be able to see more from the ship on a river cruise, depending on where you're docked. I also recommend against a scooter, and advise you to check on various river cruise lines' websites to see what they have to say about disabled passengers.

 

Roz

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Has anyone in a scooter done a river cruise and could comment? Are there particular destinations in Europe you would recommend? Any particular line or ship you recommend or would avoid?

Use the forum's search function and search for scooters. You'll find LOTS of threads discussing this.

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The top decks of river boats are typically inaccessible by scooters, only a fairly steep set of stairs. One would have to store the scooter in their cabin at night which would typically block up the room.

 

Since ships often raft, getting across the various boats may be impossible for her, particularly if the crossing is via the upper sun deck!

 

There isn’t room to park a scooter in the dining rooms. She would probably have to be able to walk at least from her cabin to dinner without the scooter.

 

Just not really practical. Who are you expecting to load it on and off the tour buses? Hopefully not the guide or driver!

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Scooters: Someone who must always (or almost always) use a scooter to get around would have a difficult time on a river ship as well as in most of the historic and/or cultural parts of towns that will be on the itinerary. Many gangplanks are steep and narrow (frequently with strips of wood to prevent slipping); a scooter wouldn't fit well.

However, if she can walk (even slowly) down or up the gangplanks, you could hire a taxi to take you on a driving tour of the areas at each port. Maybe with an option to get out and walk (slowly) into some of the churches or museums.

 

One thing to remember is that any accommodations for the disabled which you can expect in the USA are not mandated outside the USA (the first A in ADA stands for Americans). I've seen many fellow Americans on the river ships who were surprised that other countries do not require such accommodations for those with mobility concerns.

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Thanks for the advice. She can walk short distances slowly. And we learned about ADA in Venice when the guide said that just because there is a ramp up one side of a bridge does not mean there is one on the other side.

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Thanks for the advice. We may just have to stick to the cruise ships. Better to know it before we book a river cruise. On our cruises, the bus drivers have handled her wheelchair and I have seen them handle the scooters. I do tip them well at the end of the tour. She could walk to the dining room, but getting to the sun deck could be a problem.

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Looking ahead into 2019...

 

... AmaWaterways has big plans, the AmaMagna (as has been previously mentioned in another thread) will launch on the Danube, where the wide locks allow a river ship cruise of almost double width to sail. Also new, the AmaMora and the AmaDouro: http://www.travelweekly.com/River-Cruising/AmaWaterways-will-launch-three-ships-in-2019

 

notamermaid

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ARosa family cruises

 

ARosa - a German company - has been offering river cruises with families in mind for a few years now but will extend their offerings in 2018: http://www.cruisetradenews.com/a-rosa-adds-additional-kids-clubs-for-2018/

 

Designed for the UK market it might nevertheless be worthwhile for North-American cruisers to look into it.

 

notamermaid

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If the ports are all the same and the excursions are almost all the same, wiht prices being in a similar range, how do you get customers to look into your company's itineraries and not someone else's? Food! Amawaterways has teamed up with a celebrity chef and here is how it works: https://www.travelpulse.com/news/cruise/amawaterways-has-a-new-celebrity-chef.html

 

notamermaid

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Christmas market river cruises are getting ever more popular ...

 

but you have not been on one yet and would like to try it out? You will probably not get a cabin on a ship this year - if you have only just decided to give them a try - as they often sell out many months in advance but for next year you could have a look at these suggestions aimed at the UK's potential passengers: http://www.worldofcruising.co.uk/ten-of-the-best-christmas-markets-cruises-for-2018/

 

Note that both CroisiEurope and Riviera Travel offer 5-night-cruises. A standard shorter length among Europe-based companies during the Christmas (market) season. If you fly in from Canada or the US I find these cruises still worth looking into despite their short duration as they are perfect for adding a few days DIY pre- or post-cruise to explore markets not accessible from a river cruise.

 

 

Edit: Yet, travelpulse suggests that a few cabins are still available: https://www.travelpulse.com/news/cruise/it-s-not-too-late-to-book-a-christmas-market-cruise.html

 

notamermaid

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