European Riverboat Cruise

Old Jul 16th, 2013, 09:15 AM
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European Riverboat Cruise

Never been on a river cruise and for a special accession was planning to go from Amsterdam to Budapest. I've heard that sometimes the rivers are too low for travel and you have to take a bus ride. What time of the year would you recommend going. Is one cruise line better than another as for as sight seeing, and comfort on the ship. Would you spend extra time in Budapest and/or Amsterdam? Any ideas will help this first time traveler.
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Old Jul 16th, 2013, 09:25 AM
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My parents have seen everything and usually at the higher end.

They have just returned from a Danube river cruise and paid a fortune. They rated it as their worst trip ever. Average food, tiny rooms, poor service and a boat that broke down. They use cruise ships regularly and for the price they paid expected far more.

To quote my father, I could have hired a Bentley and eaten at a Michelin star restaurant every night for the price we paid. He was not a happy man.

In Britain these cruises are losing their image.

Be careful.
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Old Jul 16th, 2013, 09:40 AM
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I was on a Danube cruise last fall. It was my first cruise, and it is going to be my last cruise.

Rooms tiny, only 2 public rooms for lounging, one very small.

Most of the Danube "River" is really a series of canals and locks.

Food was decent, but the cruise director didn't know her *ss from a hole in the ground. The rest of the crew was very friendly.

There were two boats traveling together. The guests were segregated by age for each boat. I was with my mother, so we were in the old folks boat.

You're never really in port, just parked somewhere near various cities. In Vienna, we were several miles from Vienna, in some suburb. It was a mile trek to the tram and you guess where you want to get off. You either pay your way for a tour or you have to figure out for yourself where you're going.
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Old Jul 16th, 2013, 10:25 AM
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Wow I'm surprised at the above responses. We did a cruise with AMA Waterways last September . we chose the river cruise from Budapest to Amsterdam. We had previously done ocean cruises but by far preferred this mode of travel. It is relaxed, only 120-130 passengers, there was wonderful food, the room accomodations were similiar to the ocean liner. The cruise director was very knowlegable, all the ports were great to visit.. the scenery was magnificent most stops we could just walk from the docking area into the towns..the ones that were inland we were bused given an included tour by a guide then there was time alloted which was more than sufficient to view all the sites on our own.We found the relaxed atmosphere a blessing no dress-up nights and it was easy to get to know our fellow travellers. We did a 3 day stay in Budapest prior to the trip..what a magnificent city
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Old Jul 16th, 2013, 10:33 AM
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I agree with Rosie. We have done 6 total, two with AMA (the best ) and two more booked. Our experiences were NOTHING like rastaguy.

Our staterooms have ranged from 170-220 sq ft and were elegantly appointed. Last trip we had a double balcony.

Food and service were excellent. We choose itineraries that are port intensive with overnight stays as we like to spend as much time as possible in town.

Our CD's were fabulous and FUN on both AMA cruises. Nightlife aboard was a lot of fun.

I suggest you visit the river cruise forum at Cruisecritic.com for LOTS of info.

We have cruised with Avalon and AMA and now only will go on AMA. Their quality and attention to detail is outstanding.
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Old Jul 16th, 2013, 10:44 AM
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I did Uniworld Cruise twice and it was Terrific in every aspect
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Old Jul 16th, 2013, 11:37 AM
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I'm shocked as well. We have done 2 on Viking and 2 with Gate-One. They have all been great...Viking is wonderful.

You have to realize that river cruising is quite different from ocean cruising. There are no all-day buffets or casinos. It is very low key compared to larger ocean cruise ships.

All of our port stops were right in the heart of town.

Rastaguytoday: May I ask which cruise line you were on?
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Old Jul 16th, 2013, 12:30 PM
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I just did an Avalon cruise on the Danube, Prague to Budapest. Avalon was wonderful in every respect. We were the first cruise out of Nuremburg after the floods. It's a great way to travel, unpack once, meet great people. It was like a big party
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Old Jul 16th, 2013, 01:41 PM
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My parents were on Viking.
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Old Jul 16th, 2013, 02:06 PM
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Does anyone know what time of year is the best time to travel. I'm concerned about low water levels. Has anyone used Vantage Travel?
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Old Jul 16th, 2013, 02:19 PM
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Wow, I too am surprised at those negative comments. We went on one ocean cruise - Oceania and it was okay. We went mostly for the destinations and because it had a small cruise ship experience.

Last year we did Avalon's Danube cruise from Prague to Budapest and loved it. Our cabin though smaller than Oceania's had better storage space in the cupboard and bathroom. The food was very good, the experience of having beautiful scenery to see every day instead of endless views of water was lovely. We enjoyed having our ports being in small towns and having such a personal experience.

Overall, I have no interest in ocean cruising but am anxious to do another river cruise.

We travelled in early May and were fortunate to have normal water levels however, I can understand how those who went this spring and had so many problems were frustrated with their experience.
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Old Jul 16th, 2013, 03:01 PM
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Many cruises on the Danube were canceled in June due to high water levels, so it's a a weather and water level variable.A problem is whether they can fit under the bridges.
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Old Jul 16th, 2013, 04:24 PM
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Both high and low water levels can cause problems and unfortunately there's no way to predict when that will happen. I feel that you kind of have to just take your chances. The year we went it was low water that was the issue. The previous year it was high water. We were on Viking and felt that they handled it as well as possible given the circumstances. Food wise, I felt that it was mediocre (I also feel that way about food on ocean cruises).
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Old Jul 16th, 2013, 04:28 PM
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Both high and low water levels can cause problems and unfortunately there's no way to predict when that will happen. I feel that you kind of have to just take your chances. The year we went it was low water that was the issue. The previous year it was high water. We were on Viking and felt that they handled it as well as possible given the circumstances. Food wise, I felt that it was mediocre (I also feel that way about food on ocean cruises).
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Old Jul 16th, 2013, 04:36 PM
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Hi Royal, nice to see that you are still travelling since we met in Gorde!!
We too are looking to book another river cruise maybe on the Douro and another voyage on Oceania which we really liked as well perhaps one from Barcelona. Hopefully we can convince the OP that river cruising is great!!
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Old Jul 16th, 2013, 04:40 PM
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We have taken two river cruises on Vantage and couldn't be more pleased. Our cabins were very nice, and the food was fine. We liked that Vantage divides the passengers into four groups, with each group having its own tour director who is with you throughout the trip. Louisa was our tour director on our last trip, and she was great. I had one special event I wanted to see, and she spent lots of time trying to make that happen.

We also have only good things to say about Grand Circle. They too divide the passengers into groups, each with its own tour director, rather than having one tour director for the entire group, with different guides in each port.

We took a Christmas Markets cruise with Viking last year and, based on that experience, would have a hard time recommending them.
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Old Jul 16th, 2013, 04:47 PM
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rosieg et al - It was an AMA cruise from "Prague" to Budapest.

Most disappointed in the cruise director and lack of publc space. You're fortunate in having a good cruise director.

You have your room and 2 public roome. I got very tired of filing up and down the same hallway several times a day.
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Old Jul 16th, 2013, 05:43 PM
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Rastaguytoday, I'm so sorry that your trip disappointed you, you are correct that the Cuise director sets the tone but all of the staff on our trip were very good but what we enjoyed the most was the small number of passengers so that you could really interact with them all at some time during the trip either in the lounge or on the rooftop deck or in the dining room....we spent very little time in our room..
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Old Jul 16th, 2013, 07:43 PM
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I did a Christmas Markets cruise with Grand Circle Tours in 2005 and absolutely loved it. The cruise director and group guides were excellent, and the rest of the staff were fine. Land tours at ports were with really good local guides, and they were part of the over-all price.

Meals were delicious and varied, with a very large breakfast buffet. The GCT cruise on the river Seine through Normandy got very high rankings among river cruises in a recent issue of the Condé Nast Traveler.
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