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TA for a River Cruise?


Travel R
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11 hours ago, Travel R said:

Nuremberg has played its part several times in history beginning in the Middle Ages.

 

Thanks for sharing.

Nuremberg was a very interesting place to visit.   The rally grounds & documentation centre were something I'll never forget. 

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On 8/11/2022 at 11:47 AM, Travel R said:

This thread has veered back and forth from cruising, to history, to art. 


Threads on the river cruise board tend to wander all over the world.

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Travel R that’s what cruising is about wandering along the beautiful rivers of Europe picking up odd bits of ephemera on the areas your passing through. Luckily if it doesn’t stick the first time you can do it all over again just to check.

Okay river cruising whoever you are (well apart from the filthy rich and they’d have a private boat) is expensive, what costs a lot for one is shall we say peanuts to another but occasionally we’re all in the same boat 😂 and it’s a super! experience, see English. We’ve met some absolutely lovely people on our cruises some we will never meet again but will never be forgotten and that adds to the wander or is it wonder.

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19 hours ago, Wings55 said:

@Travel RHaving sailed with AMA, Scenic and Uniworld when it comes to excursions, in my opinion Scenic wins by a WIDE margin. 

Paul

I have travelled with those you mention - as well as Avalon, Emerald and Viking.  Scenic does offer a great variety - and there are no extra costs.  However, their initial cost is often higher so you could say you "paid" up front. 

 

Many of the included tours are the same across the board.  Often 1 included - no options.  Except for Scenic.  It is great to have a choice with no extra cost.

 

We found something a bit different with Avalon.  They often have a 2nd choice for the "included" tour.  When we cruised the Seine with them, it was the same river - but a different cruise - than when we did it with Uniworld.  Because we had sailed that river before, we were able to choose a different excursion.  And the price point was really great. When we did the south of France with them we were torn.  We wanted to see the  Aquaduct - but it was an extra cost excursion - and only available in the morning.  The same time as the included tour of the palace.  But - our CD arranged it so that the included tour was offered a 2nd time - in the afternoon - so people could do both.  I have never seen another company do that.  That did impress me, I must admit. 

 

One thing to also consider is the ability to branch out on your own if you are not interested in the included excursion.  This is where the cruise director comes in.  If you know you want to go to see "X" while you are docked, have a discussion with the cruise director.  He/she can assist with planning, event tickets etc.  The cruise director, IMHO, is THE person who has the greatest potential to make or break your experience.  The CD arranged extra time for us at Juno Beach when we sailed the Seine.  And then arranged for a night time sailing of the Seine for a reduced cost and promptly took almost the entire ship on the Metro to get us there!! It was the CD who arranged for extra time at the Keukenhoff when we did our Tulip Time cruise --> and arranged for a bag lunch for all who wanted to stay longer.  

 

When we were in Ruedesheim, we did not want to go to the Mechanical Museum - as we had already been there.  We wanted to take the cable car up to the monument. The initial brochure said the cable car was an option but it turned out not to be when we got there. We hitched a ride on the little train with the rest of the group - and she gave us 20 euros to cover our tickets. 

 

We have very seldom been disappointed with our tour guides.  If we get a "dud", it is a "one off" and I can't say it comes with any particular line. 

 

Fran

 

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I’m glad you mentioned the CD/tour director/trip leader. They are the key to the trip; particularly when “bad things” happen. And, like a good concierge, they can make things happen.

Grand Circle/OAT trip leaders contact past travelers about two weeks before the trip by email in order to arrange a telephone call time. We generally send a reply email with some details of what we hope to DIY on the trip. On time I couldn’t get timed tickets for a museum as the web site wasn’t in English and I included that in my email. In our call, the trip leader told me that there would be tickets waiting for me at the museum . . . she provided great service throughout the trip.

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Yes, I do have to agree, the CD makes your trip. I had mentioned to ours that i was a bit disappointed that we wouldn't be doing the canal cruise in Strasbourg as Avalon didn't have it as part of the itinerary any more...next morning, we walked out to do the tour, and we were on the canals!  She did several more surprises for others throughout the cruise. 

 

I hope our next one is just as good.

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22 hours ago, KathyK13 said:

Just interested in what you base this on.  Variety or quality of excursions?  Low tour group numbers?  Better tour guides?  I've only cruised with Avalon, so haven't experienced excursions on any of these lines.  Just curious

@kathyK13 Depending on the length of the itinerary Scenic offers several special events during the trip. We enjoyed a fabulous private concert at a palace in Vienna, we had a private cocktail party in a castle high over the Danube and we had private tour of Marksburg Castle complete with a medieval dinner including court jesters & musicians. The 'regular' excursions always seemed to have little extras too and heaven forbid we attempted to tip one of our guides. 

Uniworld had some excellent excursions too and I'd rate them second. AMA had good options, but the quality just wasn't QUITE as good as Uniworld.

 

People will enjoy ANY of these cruise companies but neither Uniworld nor AMA matched Scenic. To be fair their prices didn't either. 

Paul 

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4 hours ago, franski said:

I have travelled with those you mention - as well as Avalon, Emerald and Viking.  Scenic does offer a great variety - and there are no extra costs.  However, their initial cost is often higher so you could say you "paid" up front. 

Absolutely true, Fran. People need to find the value equation that fits their budget and desired service level.

We picked Scenic for that trip because we thought it was a 'bucket list, one & done' vacation so we splurged. When I wrote my review of the Jasper, I admitted there had been second thoughts about the extra expense but after the cruise, we felt the value we received was well worth the cost. We haven't splurged with Scenic since then, but the Douro is calling my name and so is Scenic. 😉

Paul

 

 

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1 hour ago, Wings55 said:

@kathyK13 Depending on the length of the itinerary Scenic offers several special events during the trip. We enjoyed a fabulous private concert at a palace in Vienna, we had a private cocktail party in a castle high over the Danube and we had private tour of Marksburg Castle complete with a medieval dinner including court jesters & musicians. The 'regular' excursions always seemed to have little extras too and heaven forbid we attempted to tip one of our guides. 

Uniworld had some excellent excursions too and I'd rate them second. AMA had good options, but the quality just wasn't QUITE as good as Uniworld.

 

People will enjoy ANY of these cruise companies but neither Uniworld nor AMA matched Scenic. To be fair their prices didn't either. 

Paul 

Tauck compares very favorably to Scenic.  The company has a long history of excellent land-based tours and they’ve transferred their expertise to the rivers.  On their river cruises there is always an onshore dinner usually in a castle or estate with entertainment.  Private winery tours and cooking classes are usually on the agenda.  My last cruise with Tauck included an outstanding cooking class at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, dinner in a castle, winery yours and an incredible lunch at a Camargue ranch.

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7 hours ago, franski said:

 

 

When we were in Ruedesheim, we did not want to go to the Mechanical Museum - as we had already been there.  We wanted to take the cable car up to the monument. The initial brochure said the cable car was an option but it turned out not to be when we got there.

 

Agree about Avalon.  I'd wanted to do the cable car but we ended up on tour to the Mechanical Museum which was very crowded.      One thing with Avalon that I LOVE is the cabin layout, by far the best.   

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UPDATE

 

I was offline this weekend to enjoy the beautiful weather here in the Northeast US.  But wanted to mention the following before I begin work this morning . . . .

 

We met with our travelling companions.  They had finally read the articles and watched the videos on river cruising. As I had mentioned in an earlier thread, I wanted to make sure that they knew what they were getting into before we signed up and tasked the TAs with unneeded research.

 

After some some discussion, we are sadly not going to be sailing down a river in 2024.  After watching the videos on the differences between ocean and river cruises, they believe that river cruising would be too regimented for them (maybe a little too quiet), does not have the food options they like on an ocean cruise, and is not just for them. In addition, with all the issues with airlines, by sailing out of Rome we have one less flight to worry about, and they have also read about the problems with low-rivers, and feel that it will be one less thing to stress about. Maybe river cruising just is not for them - which is okay.

 

We are still vacationing with them, and will still begin a few days in Rome, but the plan is to now look at Luxury Cruises out of Rome. Of course, I have already performed some research and send them articles and videos.

 

HOWEVER . . . . .

 

This was not all for naught.  River cruising has been pushed up on my list of travel destinations, and has peaked the interest of my DW, who would like to river cruise as well.  We are still going to do the family ocean cruise in 2023, then the ever-changing anniversary Rome+ vacation in 2024. So, 2025 (which seems so far away) may be ripe for our first River Cruise. 

 

The whole idea of river cruising sounds extremely appealing to me - the slow pace, the history and art, the amazing fellow travelers - so it will happen. I really would like to thank everyone that took their time to answer my questions and provide so much great information, insight, and share some of their own stories.  It has all been very much appreciated.  Although I know none of you are salespersons for these cruise lines, but you have me sold on going on a river cruise!!

 

I am going to still try to finish up my research documentation over the next few weeks - although some of it will be out of date in 2-3 years, much of it will not have changed. It will also be helpful for newbies like me looking for a river cruise in 2022-23.

 

You are a great group of people, and wanted to say thank you for all your help!!!

 

[No, I am not disappearing, I will be back to respond to some of the comments posted over the weakened, and will still be on CC researching Luxury Cruises (and subsequently whatever this vacation will morph into next).

 

Travel R

 

 

 

 

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PS:  Now I can let you know what course I would have taken if the vacation were left up to me . . . .

 

  • Fly into Paris
  • Spend a 1-2 days exploring Paris
  • Rent Car
  • Drive to and spend day in Versailles DIY (not that 4 hour bus tour where you spend half the time on the bus)  - Drive to Disney Paris
  • Spend Day in Disney Paris
  • Drive to Amsterdam w/ lunch and a little exploration of Brussels
  • Spend 1-2 days exploring Amsterdam
  • Rhine River Cruise
  • 1-2 Days in Basel and the surrounding area
  • Fly home

 

No, I still have not figured out which cruise line.

 

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Hmmm... rather than renting a car, we tend to buy the public transit passes. You can get them to cover from 1 day to a week, and they will cover most areas of transit. Just thinking that that may be an option (along with rail for Amsterdam / Brussels) rather than trying to drive around Paris. 

 

(Full disclosure, a traffic jam where I live is having a car in front of us and behind us on the roads. When we go to large cities, we will often spend an hour or so just watching all the cars drive by the hotel windows. 🙂)

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11 minutes ago, Daisi said:

Hmmm... rather than renting a car, we tend to buy the public transit passes. You can get them to cover from 1 day to a week, and they will cover most areas of transit. Just thinking that that may be an option (along with rail for Amsterdam / Brussels) rather than trying to drive around Paris. 

 

(Full disclosure, a traffic jam where I live is having a car in front of us and behind us on the roads. When we go to large cities, we will often spend an hour or so just watching all the cars drive by the hotel windows. 🙂)

We have driven from Paris to Versailles.  It was congested but doable.  I live in Toronto where traffic jams are a way of life, so maybe my opinion is affected by that.

We spent a month in France a few years ago and apart from Central Paris driving was easy and enjoyable.  We visited the Normandy Beaches, Bordeaux and the Cognac region among other places and enjoyed the leisurely pace as opposed to guided tours or short port stops.

Sheila

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4 hours ago, Daisi said:

Hmmm... rather than renting a car, we tend to buy the public transit passes. You can get them to cover from 1 day to a week, and they will cover most areas of transit. Just thinking that that may be an option (along with rail for Amsterdam / Brussels) rather than trying to drive around Paris. 

 

(Full disclosure, a traffic jam where I live is having a car in front of us and behind us on the roads. When we go to large cities, we will often spend an hour or so just watching all the cars drive by the hotel windows. 🙂)

Daisey - where do you live?

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I’d hazard a guess at somewhere in Canada.

I’d advise not driving in Paris, earlier this year we parked and crawled around the peripherique interesting but not to be advised especially on the ‘wrong’ side of the road.

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11 minutes ago, Canal archive said:

I’d hazard a guess at somewhere in Canada.

I’d advise not driving in Paris, earlier this year we parked and crawled around the peripherique interesting but not to be advised especially on the ‘wrong’ side of the road.

Luckily Canada drives on the 'right' side of the road.  But I agree with you.  We rented a car at CDG and drove the peripherique to avoid Paris en route to Chartres – and it was still heavy traffic [combined with jet lag – not good...]

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8 hours ago, Daisi said:

Full disclosure, a traffic jam where I live is having a car in front of us and behind us on the roads.

This is the sort of place where I go on holiday, to get away from town noise. Within Paris and out to Versailles I would avoid the car, also thinking the driver can then enjoy the time as much as the passengers. If you enjoy driving long distances renting a car is convenient but, again, the big cities Brussels and Amsterdam are well connected by train and can be a pain to drive in. Brussels orbital motorway is incredibly busy at times. Spent an hour for a 20 minute journey on there in a previous year. Can be okay on some days but you really can lose quite some time just getting where you want to be. Train gets you into the centre straight away.

 

notamermaid

 

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12 hours ago, Travel R said:

Although I know none of you are salespersons for these cruise lines, but you have me sold on going on a river cruise!!


Be careful how much you bet on that.😉🤫

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