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plumie

Gate 1 Monarch Princess Vilshofen to Budapest. Returned and available for questions

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Plumie, I'm so glad you did this review!  Do you happen to recall if you noticed any passengers who didn't get around all that well?  Interesting that most of their included walking tours on your cruise lasted about an hour. Glad to hear that.   I checked w/Gate 1 last year because the descriptions of river cruise requirements on their website stated that passengers needed to be able to handle at least 3 to 4 hours of continual walking on their tours. I even called them and asked about that, also asking if they had any slow walker tours as several other lines do. A very rude and abrupt phone agent verified that with a no with regard to slow walker groups and said, "Yes, you must absolutely be able to handle 3 to 4 hour walking tours".  Based on her info., I had ruled Gate 1 cruises out for us.

 

The only river cruise we were ever on was in June of 2017 w/ Emerald cruises and we really enjoyed it. Due to a medical issue 3 yrs. ago, my husband's walking is somewhat compromised and rather slow. His right arm is also compromised to some extent. (He can do stairs..) Though we have done over 40 ocean cruises and continue to do those, we have only done 1 river cruise, which was with Emerald Cruises. Excellent ship and they offered "slow walker" group and regular group tours. Oddly enough, the first time in port my dh did the slow walker tour and I did the regular one. His tour went faster than mine and his guide was VERY entertaining and funny! Our's was nice, and though we covered the same terrain and sights, it look much longer because she talked on and on & was somewhat boring. At another port stop I had to whistle extremely loudly to a guide - twice - to catch her because she walked quite fast trying to get to the end of the tour, leaving behind about 50% of those on the tour!  Initially she told people there would be moments to stop and sit just for a minute here or there. Yet she crossed at busy intersections with heavy traffic and/or made turns and was out of sight, almost losing many in our group as people became strewn apart by several hundred feet!  This despite myself & a couple of other people asking her (at least twice) to please be aware of how quickly everyone could keep up. Some were even slower than my dh even though there didn't appear to be any overt disability.   After reading your review and one other short one of a Gate 1 cruise, I now think that line might be doable for us. Cost is an issue for us which is why I'd consider this line.  It doesn't sound like we'd be missing all that much if we did our own thing at the stops as we likely would to avoid holding anyone up.

 

Did you book your flights through Gate 1 as well? Just wondering because we wouldn't be doing that as we have enough FF miles for the air portion. We'd also likely fly in at least a day early prior to the cruise. Finding our Emerald ship to board was a problem. We were told to call the cruise co. the morning we were to board to learn which berth the ship was docked at in Basel. We did, but were not given the correct name of the docking area nor good directions. Our taxi driver and some rental car agents even spoke to the agent, too, for us and they had never heard of the address or place! Too long to explain how but with a whole lot of effort our taxi driver was able to get us to our ship. I wonder if Gate 1 offers an easy way for us to get transport to the ship to avoid a similar issue again?

 

Thanks again for your post and all of the helpful info! Please don't hesitate to add any more tips if you think of any that might be helpful!

 

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mlbcruiser - I'm glad you found the review helpful 😊 - that's why I wrote it when I returned hoping to help people who are planning.

 

As for your questions:

1.  Unfortunately, there are no slow walker tours.  With the except of a few ports that had extra cost tours, there was only ONE tour per port that was available.  But - we did have some elderly folks on our tour (including one in a wheelchair) who went slower and while I didn't pay particular attention, the tour group that had the wheelchair user did tend to move slower to accommodate her.  Each morning you go and grab a colored tab (we usually had 4, and there were baskets holding each color) and the color that had the slower older people I guess de facto became the slower group.  I ended up in the same group as the wheelchair group a few times, and the local guides were very solicitous and considerate of how fast they could go - especially trying to negotiate some hilly cobblestone terrain with a wheelchair.

 

2. We did not book our flights through Gate 1 since we had a lot of frequent flier miles to cover the cost of our tickets.  We arrived 6 days before the cruise, rented a car, and drove all over Bavaria hitting small towns and villages before returning to Munich for two nights before embarkation.  I seriously considered just catching a train from Munich to Vilshofen where our ship was docked because it would have been super cheap, but with luggage and with my parents with me - I didn't want to risk not being able to easily find the ship and having to drag a suitcase and my parents up and down the river looking for the Monarch Princess.  Gate 1 offers an a la carte transport from the Munich airport to the ship - it was pricey - about $90 per person if I'm remembering it correctly, but it was worth every penny to NOT have to worry and stress over finding our ship.  We drove our rental car back to the Munich airport, dropped it off, and then rolled our luggage to the cafe inside the airport Gate 1 indicated in our paperwork and easily checked in.  We got there with about an hour to spare, so we just sat down and had lunch before our 1.5 hour ride to Vilshofen.  Once the bus arrived, they took our luggage and we boarded a spacious and comfortable coach for the ride there.  Upon arrival, Gate 1 handled the transport of our luggage to our rooms (we had luggage tags with our cabin numbers attached) and we literally just walked onto the ship to check in at the front desk by showing them our ID.  Our luggage arrived about 5 minutes after we reached our rooms - it was the EASIEST check in I've ever experienced for a cruise. 

 

Feel free to ask any questions that you have - I may not have the answers, but I'll try to answer what I do know.  

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 Very helpful information to know Gate 1 does have transport from the Munich airport. Emerald actually provided  free transport from the airport to where the ship is docked. I know some people actually flew i days before but went back to the airport, hooked up with the Emerald group and were then are able to reach the ship that way. When we did our Rhine River cruise we  spent a few nights in southern Germany and some in Switzerland and even drove around a bit in Austria.  After the cruise we  had a full day in Amsterdam and slept on the ship again before disembarking the next day and spending two nights in Amsterdam.  With the information you have told me, depending on the port we leave from, I would probably be willing to rent a car and drive to our embarkation city, turn in our car, and get a cab to the port again.  Hopefully finding this ship would not be such a big problem as it was last time.  We almost always tack a few days onto both ends of a cruise anyway.   While I can certainly see how you felt more secure taking the Gate 1 bus, And it’s possible we would choose that, not so sure I would want to spend that much money for the bus ride if I am going to rent a car anyway.  Especially if we depart from Germany. 

 

Thanks for your prompt response. I might come back on here with more questions if I think of them!

Edited by mlbcruiser

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 Oh I forgot to add that it’s likely I might find some independent tours,  possibly arranging them ahead of time. Then we would not be  concerned with slowing down a group or there might be times when my husband stays on board and I do a tour if he feels like staying on board.

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 Another question:  Were there any long stretches during the day where you were actually cruising on the river and not stopped at port? 

Edited by mlbcruiser

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Mlbcruiser, the only long stretch of cruising was the day we spent cruising through the Wachau Valley, the afternoon after we visited Melk.  That was awesome, and incredibly scenic.  Otherwise we were in port.  We'd arrive either in the middle of the night or early morning, get off to tour, return from the tour and the ship would immediately depart, if I remember correctly usually around 6pm or so.  I think the ship was usually cruising by dinnertime.  

 

I thought about doing independent tours, but as I'd never done a river tour before, I wasn't comfortable doing it since I didn't know what to expect (we only book independent tours for ocean cruises).  I think it can be done, but I'd keep the number to the ship handy in case the ship moves to a different berth during the day. 

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Plumie, thanks for you review. Quality of tours are at the top for me and it seems your experience with Gat 1 tours were mediocre. I would rather pay a bit more and choose a line with excellent tours like Avalon or Viking. Never felt rushed on any of the tours and had plenty of free time. I was thinking of booking a Gate 1 trip but not at the expense of quality tours. 

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Dollover, I think the tours are hit and miss based on what's open the day you arrive and which local guide you get.  We had some great ones, and some not so great ones. I spoke to a friend who does Viking and she says that it's the same for Viking, except there are more optional tours available.  But your mileage may vary.  Either way, it's not going to be a cheap trip, so you gotta go with what makes it worth it to you.  This was my first river cruise and I didn't know what to expect and the cost of the trip was important.  That being said, I would still cruise with Gate 1, but try to do more research ahead of time so I can plan my time more efficiently, such as skipping certain meals for free time or leaving earlier from the group tour to explore if the tour guide isn't interesting.  But, like all cruises, it's a like a buffet of ports, just enough to give you a taste and whet your appetite for more :classic_smile:

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