Basic Info Needed for Europe River Cruises

Old Feb 8th, 2016, 03:37 PM
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Basic Info Needed for Europe River Cruises


For reference, my husband is keen on trying a Viking River Cruise. I am not, for many reasons. We are experienced independent travelers (15+ trips to Europe) and love it. We mostly rent apartments and cars and/or use public transit. We love to loosely plan and be flexible if we want to stay longer in one place.

I've been on two cruises, one Carnival (ugh....), one Costa, both Carribbean. I didn't enjoy the pace. Husband has never been on a cruise. I'm trying to get him to see that while these cruises go to great places, I'm not sure we'd love it. Especially when there's some problems with rivers and low water.

I've read brochures and online, forums, reviews. I still would like to know some specifics:

-- what time do most tours start?
-- what time must we be back on the ship (or bus, apparently- seems like they do this to take you to meet ship which has already gone on to next port)
-- how much motion in a ship this size?
-- noise levels? Both ship and passengers.

Any other info about your experiences on river cruises would be appreciated.

Thank you!
soogies is offline  
Old Feb 9th, 2016, 01:34 AM
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My brother & Wife did a Viking Amsterdam to Prague cruise last September & absolutely loved it.

They chose this time thinking the water levels would be okay...but it wasn't so Viking asked them to pack their bags & bussed them to their next stop.

They were transferred to a sister ship in same cabin.
For this "inconvenience" they were given 2 tix to a Vienna
concert when they were there.

The staff & cuisine was excellent.

They left around 9 in the a.m. for the day's tours.
Since sister-n-law is a vegan the chef offered to make
her foods when the menu did not appeal plus did a
food market tour with her.

They met fellow professionals who they liked alot.
Noise level not a problem.

And sometimes, when the boats dock they raft up together
so one has to walk thru other boats to get to the dock.

Hope this helps.
Rhea58 is offline  
Old Feb 9th, 2016, 07:21 AM
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There really is no comparison between a river cruise ship of less than 200 and ocean cruise ships of a couple thousand. And cruising the Caribbean on cheap, discount cruise ships is not a comparison with European cruising in either big ships or river. Caribbean cruises are sun, sand, and shopping.

Starting tour times and all board times are very different from ship to ship. BUT - generally early morning to mid afternoon. Some are half day and back for lunch. Some have bikes to use in the cities. Others do have programs of sightseeing and meeting the ship at another port later in the day.

"I'm not sure we'd love it." Sound more like, you would not love it. Husband might. One of those situation where you have just have to try it for a week. And an open mind would help, of course.
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Old Feb 9th, 2016, 03:23 PM
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I have been on two Viking River cruises and would not go with them again. Interesting that their new ships are having trouble with water levels while other companies' ships are able to sail. And their new ships have around 200 passengers much larger than their former ships.
Look at Uniworld, AMAWaterways, Avalon.
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Old Feb 9th, 2016, 05:08 PM
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Thanks for the replies.

Fmpden: I said "we" intentionally because I know DH pretty well. He doesn't like to leave a place when he's wrapped up in something. Because he's never cruised, he has stars in his eyes about all the new ports each day. I've tried to explain how little time one spends ashore, whether on your own or planned tour. We both enjoy getting into the feel of a city. Heck, We spent two weeks in Bordeaux alone and were never bored.

Thx for the suggestions, happy, but I've decided. No cruises.

Rhea - packing up and having to move mid-cruise kind of negates the idea of a cruise, where they stress "you never have to move." I don't care if they give us opera tix. Who knows if we'd want to do that at the time.

Ack. I'm just not gonna do this. It's well overdue to have my turn for choosing a vacation spot.

Thanks for the replies.
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Old Feb 10th, 2016, 02:28 AM
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Soogies: Probably a wise decision. As a seasoned international independent traveler cruising would not appeal to you as there is such a short time in each port.
The only advantage it does have is for those that want an overview and would return to places for a more in-depth view.
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Old Feb 10th, 2016, 05:09 AM
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I like river cruises, but they won't appeal to everyone. The real advantage is that you'll be able to get to inland destinations that can't be visited by a regular cruise ship (Vienna, Basel, etc.).

Most tours are in the morning, and you leave right after breakfast, so about 9am. You usually get back in time for lunch at 12:30 or 1. Then you have the afternoon free to explore on your own. In most ports, you're within walking distance of sights, but in some ports (Nuremberg is a notorious example), you're off in the middle of nowhere and have to rely on the ships bus shuttle to get into town and back, or you have to take a very expensive taxi.) In Vienna, you dock on the river, which is at least a 10-minute walk from transit. But in other cities, you're right in the heart of things. In Budapest you're at the base of the Chain Bridge, in Amsterdam, within a 10-minute walk of the train station along the river (though you can be much farther if your docking spot is far).

Dinner is served around 7 or 7:30, and you need to be back on the ship then. Everyone eats together.

You can be as independent as you choose to be. You don't have to take the ship's tours, but there's one included every day. And if the water levels are low, you do have to board a bus to get to the port and do a tour while you wait for the ship to arrive. Or you can stay onboard.

If you like a slower pace and less frenetic cruising, though, you might appreciate Azamara Club Cruises, which always has at least one overnight in port on every itinerary and sometimes two. This gives you a lot more time, and these are small ships, the opposite of a bit Carnival cruise. It's upscale without being too expensive, not much more (or even any more) than a Viking cruise.
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