Things to consider about a river cruise??

Aug 5th, 2014, 05:05 PM
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Things to consider about a river cruise??

A cousin and I are considering a European river cruise for 2015 or 2016. I have only done a brief Caribbean cruise so have no real experience. She has never done a cruise.

I have used Gate 1 for air and land only reservations and have been happy with their service, but no experience with any of the others offering river cruises.

I think my biggest concern is that I don't want to just float by interesting sights, I want to get out and see them, spend time in the cities, shop, explore, etc. I'm having a hard time figuring out how much of these things we'd get to do. I might enjoy the boat and relaxing a bit, but I would not be happy if most of the daytime was spent looking out a window.

I've read some discussions about cabin location and amenities, and know for sure I would want an outside cabin with a decent window that would open. Other than that, I have no idea what the cabin would be like or what would be a good location.

All advice is welcome, as we're basically starting from almost zero experience with this. We have not even settled on what route we'd prefer, but we do think 8 days is about the limit of being on a boat. We would add a day or two on one end, possibly both ends, to see more of the departure or arrival city, or both.

Challiman is offline  
Aug 5th, 2014, 05:18 PM
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I've decided I am not a cruise person, after one try 20ish years ago. Three day Rhine cruise, and yes, it was aggravating to float past interesting things and not stop. One 2-hour stop in a town was reduced to a half-hour because we were running late. I felt trapped.

elberko is online now  
Aug 5th, 2014, 05:30 PM
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Last year we did a Danube cruise with AMA waterways which is a highly rated river cruise company. River cruises are very different from big ship cruises and different from smaller ships like Windstar. Most of the guides and tours are included and you have options for several tours in most areas. I found the guides to be excellent.

There are no inside cabins on a river cruise. I am generally an independent traveler, especially in Europe, so this was a different experience for me, but I enjoyed it. I am not in a hurry to do another one although I would consider a Vietnam cruise.

To really get a feel for whether a river cruise is for you,
Go to cruisecritic .com forum and check out the river cruise section under specialty cruises. Look at the reviews too.
ellenbw is offline  
Aug 5th, 2014, 05:32 PM
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That's exactly what I am afraid of. I've done a good bit of traveling in Europe and my idea of how much time to spend in a place is likely not going to match up well with a tightly scheduled cruise. The part about not having to pack up and move every couple of days is appealing, which I've done on the last two Europe trips, but I'm not sure it is worth it to give up my personal preferences, and certainly not worth it to "see" a castle or Melk Abbey (was there via land years ago) and not even stop to visit.
My earlier trips to Europe were always based in one city, with day trips here and there. I think that is my preference, but I want to be open to the possibility that I would really like a river cruise.
Argh...decisions, decisions.
Challiman is offline  
Aug 5th, 2014, 05:34 PM
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ellenbw, I was writing as you were posting. Thanks for the info, I will check into that site.
Challiman is offline  
Aug 5th, 2014, 09:55 PM
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I was not sure I'd like a River Cruise but we took a Uniworld Danube River Cruise and we are hooked. We were given quite a bit of time in each location and we could take several different cruise tours or go on our own. I really didn't feel we missed a lot in each location. We loved not having to pack and move all the time.
Cali is offline  
Aug 6th, 2014, 02:39 AM
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As suggested above do check out which has a plethora of info. There is no advertising on this site so no recos will be made re what companies to use. AMA Waterways & Uniworld usually get high marks. Mixed reviews for Viking and Vantage.
I recently did a 5-day Danube cruise w/another economy one and they do give you a good amount of time in each port.
In ports, the riverboats sometimes raft up together so one walks thru the other boats to go ashore.
Rhea58 is offline  
Aug 6th, 2014, 06:06 PM
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I did an Avalon Cruise on the Rhine River this past April. I am used to ocean going cruises that I have been doing for many years quite regularly and in various places around the world. This was my first river cruise. I will say that pretty much all traveling was done at night. The ship stayed docked all day. The exception was the main part of where the castles are we just cruised on by. It was raining anyway Daily excursions were an included part of the trip and were decent I thought. There were a couple places that had extra optional excursions if you wanted. I did do a couple. There were about 128 passengers and a very small ship compared to what I am used to. Being such, a river boat does not have the kind of amenities a regular ocean going ship has. Meals were OK, but lacked any real effort and a lot of using the same old main ingredients different ways. The local breads and wines was a nice touch, though. All in all it was fine, but I am not jumping to go again. But, I am going on 2 regular cruises in the next 6 months.
hpeabody is offline  
Aug 6th, 2014, 07:47 PM
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If you decide to go on a river cruise, book directly with the cruise line; you don't need the extra layer of Gate1. You have some freedom in the towns after your walking tour. If there was enough time, we always ate lunch in the town. We could tell we wouldn't have enough time in Vienna to see what we wanted so we returned there for several days after the Danube cruise ended in Budapest.
We are also independent travelers but have done a few river cruises. Hands down favorite was the Mekong, sailing from Cambodia to Vietnam as we never would been able to get those remote villages on our own.
As far as cabins, don't book the lowest level on the boat.
HappyTrvlr is online now  
Aug 7th, 2014, 04:32 AM
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And there is always the "water too low", or "water too high" for river cruising problem. Your river "cruise" might turn into a "bus tour." It happens often.
JaneB is offline  
Aug 7th, 2014, 06:11 AM
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Oh no, I never thought of that, JaneB. I would NOT like that one bit and would want my money back, but I'm sure they have a clause in the contract that makes that impossible. Hmmm, this is getting a lot more complicated than I thought.
Challiman is offline  
Aug 9th, 2014, 12:28 PM
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Challiman - research well the area that you want to travel. Some things can't be helped, 500 yr flooding, with record high water levels etc. Go with a good company that will provide the most guest friendly options.

For example, the Danube has a rainy season in the spring. Last year this is when the flooding happened, but it can also translate to a water level that is too high for the ships. When it became clear that most of the trip would have to be by bus, some companies were very forthright and offered a variety of options for their guests (like Tauck, Uniworld and AMA Waterways). Others, like Viking, were not forthright and were pretty cheap about any compensation, despite many villages that would be visited having to deal with town flooding and other emergencies. So the line you go with is important. Read some old threads on cruisecritic for the details on that.

On our cruise last fall with AMA, one of the locks out of Budapest, where our cruise began, was down for maintenance. They did not bother to tell any of the cruise lines until 3 days before. We got a prompt email from AMA letting us know that we would not be cruising out of Budapest, (with beautiful lights in the evening) but be bussed 3 hours to the first stop. It is what it is. I appreciated the forewarning.

Locks can break down, there can be lock strikes (by the private workers, not the public workers) and this can affect your transport. The water can be too low or too high for cruising. I would pick the best option water/weather wise for the river that you want to cruise and go for it, if you want to try it.
ellenbw is offline  

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