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MarciAnn

Question for Seabourn cruisers

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My husband and I are frequent Seabourn cruisers and are now looking to do a river cruise, perhaps Provence, and we were wondering which river cruise line will give us the closest experience to Seabourn.  Your advice is most appreciated and if you have an intinerary to recommend so much the better!  Thanks!

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We're very interested in this also. I looked at a couple of European itineraries on Crystal but not sure which other companies would be similar standard to SB.

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Me too. I wonder if this is something seabourn has ever considered branching out into. 

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Look at Tauck tours.   Tauck is an upscale tour operator that has several river cruises and I think they do Provence.   You will enjoy them.

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Uniworld are very good, but choose the boat carefully. We went on the Danube on River Ambassador, one of their older boats. The cabin was TINY. The restaurant was noisy too because it had no soft furnishings to deaden the noise but the food was good. Go for one of their newer boats if possible. Also, research the river levels for the time of year you want to go. We had problems in September because the water was low. We  missed some stops because of that.  I know river cruises are popular but we found it wasn't for us! 

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Check out Scenic. They come pretty close to Seabourn in terms of service etc.

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57 minutes ago, MarciAnn said:

Crystal does not seem to do a France itinerary.

 

Yes, I too noticed that  when looking at itineraries.

 

margbem thanks for the heads up about noise on the Uniworld boat. 

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We did a Viking.....it was very nice.  Very modern, clean ship.   Nice fellow passengers, but I wouldn’t compare it to Seabourn.  Our TA recommends Tauck Rive Cruises.  They seem to go the extra mile.   Heard lots of good things about Crystal. 

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, wripro said:

Check out Scenic. They come pretty close to Seabourn in terms of service etc.

 

There has been a lot on Cruise Critic about Scenic Tours

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-08-31/scenic-tours-lose-class-action-over-bus-travel-europe-flood/8859668

We sailed with APT Tours with AMA Waterways ships from Budapest to Amsterdam a few years ago who were very good

The big thing to watch with River cruises is if there is too much water the boats can not get under the road bridges, not enough water and they can't float turning the cruise into a coach trip which is why Scenic are having all sorts of trouble

There were a lot of bridges where the captain lowered the handrails and the wheelhouse on the top deck so we were able to pass under the road bridges

Edited by Thecat123

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2 hours ago, Thecat123 said:

I read the river cruising boards a lot at the end of last year when a friend was booked on one. At that time the rivers were very low and boats were stuck on short stretches of the rivers unable to pass to the next one. This was beyond the companies control of course however what was instructive was how the various lines dealt with it. Some refused cancellations and did various combinations of bussing people between stranded ships mid cruise so an entire boat swapped over mid-way and thus continued. Some turned large parts of the voyage into a land/bus tour with people staying in hotels instead of on the boat. Some got the boat as far as it would go and people spent 5-6 hours each way on buses visiting the town they were supposed to have cruised to. Some lines got out in front of the problem and communicated weeks before departure date, some hadn't told people what they were doing by the time they had to fly out. 

 

It's worth going to the river cruising board and reading some of the longer threads started around November/December 2018. My takeway from those threads at the time was, if I was going river cruising in Europe, I'd go Crystal because they were the only company I felt covered themselves in glory during that difficult period. I know Crystal doesn't cruise France, however I'd probably go elsewhere rather than choose another line. 

 

My friend was fortunately travelling Crystal, for the second time river cruising, and not-only did they sort out a great itinerary despite the low water levels, give credit for air fare changes and help in every way possible, but she tells me the service and quality is every bit as good as the ocean cruises. 

 

 

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We did a Rhine River cruise (Amsterdam to Basel) on Uniworld in '17 and loved it. Last year we did a Danube River cruise (Prague to Budapest) on Scenic and would not do another Scenic cruise. Scenic had a decent ship but our experience gave us the impression that Scenic (the crew, food and overall experience) has quite a way to go to get their act together and be considered a premium river cruise line like Uniworld. I would do another Uniworld. cruise but not another with Scenic since the two lines pretty much offer the same itineraries and are priced very similarly.

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Crystal, Tauck, Uniworld, and maybe Scenic are the luxury European river cruise lines, and would be closest to the Seabourn experience.

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8 hours ago, cece50 said:

We did a Viking.....it was very nice.  Very modern, clean ship.   Nice fellow passengers, but I wouldn’t compare it to Seabourn.  Our TA recommends Tauck Rive Cruises.  They seem to go the extra mile.   Heard lots of good things about Crystal. 

We also enjoyed 15 days cruising with Viking River Cruises in France.

The service is wonderful. Viking embrace their guests needs much as Seabourn do . Panda also loved the Amsterdam to Budapest cruise.

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AMA Waterways does a good job, but it is very hard to get to SB luxury level on a river cruise.

If you are healthy and active, AMA now coordinates trips with Backroads, which does luxury group hiking and biking

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17 minutes ago, koalapanda said:

We also enjoyed 15 days cruising with Viking River Cruises in France.

The service is wonderful. Viking embrace their guests needs much as Seabourn do . Panda also loved the Amsterdam to Budapest cruise.

Yes, Panda,  I have to agree that Viking does have lovely service and we were never in want.   We found the service very good but rather impersonal.....not too many warm & fuzzies. As others have said, it’s hard to compare a river cruise with a Seabourn experience.  

 

With Viking, we cruised the Rhône from Amsterdam to Basal.   It was a very nice cruise and we enjoyed it very much.  We were blessed with mild weather and good river levels.  I don’t have first hand knowledge of any other lines, but friends have told us that Tauck is more luxurious and has many little extras that make it special.  We certain would do a Viking again as it is a very good value for a pleasant experience.   

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8 minutes ago, cece50 said:

not too many warm & fuzzies. As others have said, it’s hard to compare a river cruise with a Seabourn experience.   

Hi Cece, I agree that River Cruising cannot be compared to Ocean Cruising especially Seabourn Cruising.

On our French River Cruises most of the staff were trained by Ocean Cruising Companies. After some time on the big ships for these staff the Rivers are enticing. They are drawn to being closer to their homelands and closer to family. Warm and fuzzies there were, especially from our room attendant.

She dried wet shoes for us on a rainy day. Doubled my bed topper for my aching back. The chef heard I love pastel de nata and they appeared at our table on the last night.

Never the less as expressed  it is a lower key ship experience but still delightful.

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43 minutes ago, cece50 said:

Yes, Panda,  I have to agree that Viking does have lovely service and we were never in want.   We found the service very good but rather impersonal.....not too many warm & fuzzies. As others have said, it’s hard to compare a river cruise with a Seabourn experience.  

 

With Viking, we cruised the Rhône from Amsterdam to Basal.   It was a very nice cruise and we enjoyed it very much.  We were blessed with mild weather and good river levels.  I don’t have first hand knowledge of any other lines, but friends have told us that Tauck is more luxurious and has many little extras that make it special.  We certain would do a Viking again as it is a very good value for a pleasant experience.   

I have to correct my mistake in that post......of course the it’s The Rhine not the Rhône River that flows from Amsterdam (well just south of that) to Basal Switzerland.   It was a great trip.....we had a driver meet us in Basal to take us to Zurich train station for a trip through the Alps to Lake Lugano. Flew home from Milan. 

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We have done three river cruises with Viking and two  ocean cruises with Seabourn and looking forward to our third. I think comparing ocean cruising with river cruising is like apples and pears, they are different but each can be very special. River boats because of the size of locks cannot be as spacious but also can be well served and comfortable. We thoroughly enjoyed our first trip on the Danube from Budapest to Passau in Germany. It is lovely at most ports of call to be able to stroll off the ship straight into the town or be only a short hop away.  I  can also thoroughly recommend our trip on the Douro in Portugal, you get to see Lisbon, Coimbra and Porto and the scenery along the river is amazing and Viking have their own spacious luxury coaches for trips. The trip to Salamanca was an amazing surprise, a fascinating and historic town and difficult to reach otherwise. I now have to issue a caveat, we went on the Rhine cruise with Viking from Amsterdam to Basle and they have expanded their fleet so quickly and massively It means they can no longer dock all the ships at their headline ports and shuttle buses reduce the experience. I also felt the service had suffered because the expansion meant the staff were less well trained, a bit like Seabourn immediately after the bigger ships were introduced and the O class were raided of their best crew!  However River cruises are a great way to see inside a country without the drag of packing and unpacking. If we did not know France so well I would be tempted by a cruise on the Rhone.

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Thank you all for your responses.  I didn't realize how much I didn't know about river cruising!  The water level issue is something that would certainly concern me.  

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Two different industries with the common thread that both float on water.    Having spent eighteen hours on a Viking river boat, we walked off in Amsterdam and went with Scenic.    I don't know how a SB cruiser would tolerate Viking.

 

Yeah, why would a novice ever think of water levels?  Never gave it a thought until reading comments on websites how river cruises ended up being a bus tour.

 

Going through France on a barge appeals.   Crystal would be my choice between river boat companies.  And I've only heard positives from anyone doing anything Tauck.

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I would agree with some of the other posters recommending Uniworld as opposed to Scenic.

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6 hours ago, MarciAnn said:

Thank you all for your responses.  I didn't realize how much I didn't know about river cruising!  The water level issue is something that would certainly concern me.  

 

Here in New Zealand some river boat companies offer free flight from here to Prague to start the tour, then for a cruise which starts a couple of months later the flights are 2 fly for the price of one

With both of those deals one could end up with a coach trip due to the water levels. Why does one get things for free? 😀. We paid the full airfare. For a second trip we might think of one of those deals as to see the area in a different season But never for a first trip

Another thing to remember is to be fully dressed when one pulls back the curtains in the morning is that the neighboring boat will get a good view of you if you have little clothes on as the boats all raft together overnight😟

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On 5/11/2019 at 9:12 AM, MarciAnn said:

My husband and I are frequent Seabourn cruisers and are now looking to do a river cruise, perhaps Provence, and we were wondering which river cruise line will give us the closest experience to Seabourn.  Your advice is most appreciated and if you have an intinerary to recommend so much the better!  Thanks!

 

We are frequent cruisers on both Seabourn and Crystal.  We decided to take our first river cruise last year and opted for Crystal, since we were familiar with their ocean ships and knew they delivered a great product.  We were not disappointed and ended up fans of river cruising!  Had Crystal not been on the scene, we likely would have chosen Tauck, since we've experienced their outstanding job on land trips.  I think we made the right choice.  In conversation with a server on our Crystal river cruise who had previously worked on Tauck river boats, he acknowledged that while Tauck is very good, in his view, Crystal was superior.

You may be interested in my review of our first river cruise on Crystal Bach during tulip season last year: https://www.cruisecritic.com/memberreviews/memberreview.cfm?EntryID=617557&et_cid=3065755&et_rid=16695201&et_referrer=NULL

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7 hours ago, MightyQuinn said:

You may be interested in my review of our first river cruise on Crystal Bach during tulip season last year: https://www.cruisecritic.com/memberreviews/memberreview.cfm?EntryID=617557&et_cid=3065755&et_rid=16695201&et_referrer=NULL

That was a great review and echos what my friend, who cruises Crystal and only Crystal both on ocean and river, tells me. 

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