European River Cruise

Old Dec 3rd, 2012, 12:13 PM
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European River Cruise

My husband and I are very intrigued by the idea of a river cruise. I am thinking either Germany or France. We'd also maybe like to add in a few days afterwards in Amsterdam. although that may not happen. I am a total newbie on this subject, so any info, suggestions, etc., would be appreciated. Are there any cruise companies recommended over others? Would also like to be able to do some bicycle riding upon docking. I know I'm being a bit vague, but really don't know quite what to ask. How long are the boats in the ports? I am hoping they aren't just big shopping expeditions or costly excusions, which seems to be the case with the large cruise ships. Are you on the boat in the evening or still in the port?

Any info you can share will get me started. Thank you!
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Old Dec 3rd, 2012, 12:35 PM
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We took a Viking cruise this spring on thew lower Danube. I thought that it was great. However a lot depends on your itinerary which you pick. We liked Viking. There was not excessive shopping, but that too is relative. We had tours most places which were included in the fares. We were overnite on the ships. I'm not sure about bikes. On many stops you would be free to do what you like, but whether or not a bike would be available, I don't know. I think a trip in Germany or France would be great, and the stops would allow more personal choices.
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Old Dec 3rd, 2012, 02:20 PM
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We booked with Grand Circle 2 yrs. ago, Vienna to Amsterdam. The bulk of the cruise was through Germany, on the Main, Rhine, and Danube. We think they did a very good job. They are real professionals, and extremely organized. There was an included guided tour after breakfast in each port. After lunch the afternoons were free for exploring on our own. We usually began the overnight sailing during dinner. They didn't push optional excursions, although several were available, and shopping was strictly up to us with no "encouragement" to shop at a partiuclar place. They are not what I consider budget, but are also not what I consider luxury. We found Germany to be beautiful, clean, so much interesting history. The riverboat was clean, comfortable,with good food. Good luck and happy travels.
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Old Dec 3rd, 2012, 02:37 PM
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Although we live in Australia we chose the American company Tauck for our river cruise in September 2011 because they offered an all-inclusive cruise and with the strength of the Aussie dollar at the time they gave us all we wanted at a great price. Everything is paid for upfront, including all the gratuities and there are no optional extras or tours to pay for. River cruising is a great way to see many places without unpacking and I'm sure whatever cruise company you choose you'll have a very rewarding holiday.
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Old Dec 7th, 2012, 03:34 AM
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We took the Grand Circle cruise from Amsterdam to Vienna in March, 2012 and enjoyed it very much. We were surprised that the weather was excellent--something we did not expect for early Spring. It was a "birthday" cruise so it had to be March.

My only objection to GCT is that they offer their trips only to Americans. I really enjoy traveling with people from other parts of the world--especially the Australians
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Old Dec 8th, 2012, 09:39 AM
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In 2011 we took an Avalon river cruise on the Danube from Budapest to Germany and then we were bussed to Prague for the finale. We loved it. I think it was about 15 days altogether and I could have stayed on the boat for another 10 days. My travel agent says Uniworld and Ama river cruises are similar to Avalon and Uniworld offers bicycles on many of its boats. I'm not sure if Avalon is offering bikes now or not--there was some talk of it last year.

We found our tour director AAA+++ and his on board lectures about the country's culture and history were invaluable and his lectures on outings to sites were most interesting. We have traveled quite a bit in Europe on business trips combined with casual touring on our own, but we were very pleased to have the added tour guide knowledge and the ability to see so much, know we had a good bed and shower each night, and not be bothered with hauling luggage around.

Every day in port there was an 'included' local guided 'walk about' or bus tour, and then in the afternoons and evenings we were on our own or could sign up for other 'tourist attractions excursions' if we wanted. We ate many of our dinners on board but if we we were inclined and knew we could return before the boat left the dock, we could dine in town too.

A very fun vacation and hassle free too, which was important to us.
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Old Dec 8th, 2012, 10:03 PM
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We have taken two river cruises on Uniworld and both were wonderful.
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Old Dec 9th, 2012, 03:03 PM
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Several friends have taken barge trips in France and they included bikes. They'd bike alongside the canals and meet up with the barge.
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