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Rhine River Cruise

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My wife and I will be planning a trip in the next four years. We would like to cruise the Rhine River. What is the best time of the year to cruise. We are also researching which "all inclusive" provider to cruise with. We have been looking at Uniworld, Scenic, Tacuk, and Amawaterways. Any insight would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you, IllDoug

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    Went on a Rhine Cruise from Amsterdam to Basel. We were on the Avalon Visionary, a very nice ship. It was in mid-late April. Do try to spend a few days in Amsterdam if you can. We planned it specifically that way to be able to see Keukenhof in peak time. We were a day or 2 early for prime and it was beautiful! The weather was chilly on the cruise, especially in the morning, but nothing to stop us. Our main day in the castle area was unfortunately drizzly and overcast, but still saw them as we passed by. It really was a lovely trip.

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    Those four lines are all excellent choices and you won't go wrong with any of them. I think your choice will come down to price and itinerary. My choice would be from Amsterdam to Basel (or the reverse) on a cruise which includes the Moselle.

    As to time of year, I've always liked to travel in Europe in late September or early October, but spring (April and May) is a good time as well. For the Rhine, in September you will be travelling in the grape harvest season, a nice time to be there. I avoid travel to Europe in July and August because of crowds, but for many people that is the most convenient time.

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    I have done river cruises with Tauck, Uniworld and Avalon, with Uniworld being my preference. Cooincidentally, I too am currently researching a Rhine River cruise for 2017 from Amsterdam to Basel and will most likely book on Uniworld after the single supplement is dropped, upgrading to a cabin on mid level in order to have the larger window views. The Uniworld ships are beautifully appointed, staff and service marvelous, all inclusive from cocktails any time in the lounge, wines at lunch and dinner, afternoon tea, etc.

    Amsterdam is good for a Spring cruise with that being tulip time although chilly temps weather wise. October is when I usually travel after the summer crowds and warmer temps have moderated.

    Happy travels!

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    Thank you for your quick response. Just read a nasty review of Uniworld speaking about the "behind the scenes" treatment of the Uniworld staff. Did not make me feel good about continuing the look at that river boat line.

    My wife and I have traveled Europe on several other driving trips all being in late June. Have some concerns about water levels and love the idea of cruising in late Sept or early Oct.

    This will be our first cruise and was concerned about being locked to one boat for an extended period of time. Insight on daily life on the boat would be much appreciated!

    We are also novices when it comes to tipping. I appreciate good service and will tip in the 20 to 25 percent range for good service. That is why we were looking into all inclusive river cruise travel. Insight to whether we should look at only "all inclusive" lines or not worry about the tipping on other lines, would also be appreciated!

    Thank you for your time and insight!

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    <<Just read a nasty review of Uniworld speaking about the "behind the scenes" treatment of the Uniworld staff. Did not make me feel good about continuing the look at that river boat line.>>

    I have done four cruises with Uniworld and have just booked a fifth. I don't know anything about "behind the scenes" but all I can say is that the staff I have encountered have been pleasant, gracious and helpful. I can't imagine that would be the case if they had been poorly treated.

    My latest cruise with Uniworld (Antwerp to Amsterdam) this spring was excellent and up to the high standards I have come to expect from that line. Although the ship's capacity was 135, there were only 47 of us aboard as it came 2 weeks or so after the Brussels bombings, and many passengers obviously took advantage of Uniworld's offer to cancel or rebook at a later time without financial penalty.

    This was also my first truly all inclusive cruise with Uniworld. They do mean it when they say that gratuities are included as not a single word was said about leaving anything additional. What I hadn't realized until I started preparing for my coming trip is that on shore gratuities for local guides and such are also included. The only extra charges are for a few optional tours and for premium spirits (if you are a Scotch drinker, for example, Johnny Walker Black and Glenfiddich are included, while a few high end single malts are extra). Spa treatments are also extra as are laundry services, although returning passengers get a bag of free laundry each week.

    These are my personal observations from Uniworld, and I can't speak from personal experience with Tauck, AMA and Scenic, but everything I have read about them leads me to believe that they are in the same category as Uniworld.

    If you haven't done so, you should check out the reviews on Cruise Critic.

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    Check out the itinerary and date(s) you are interested on several of the ship lines by clicking on Day by Day In order to compare. This will give you an idea of how each day is planned out and where your interests may lie.

    Passengers are normally split into three groups, one for slow walkers and board the appropriate bus for the am/pm tour, unless the site to be visited is immediately adjacent to the docking area, then it's a walk. "Whisper" devices are provided for ease in following the tour guide, kept in the cabin to be charged overnight. Bicycles may also be provided as an option for the hardy.

    Lunch is back at the ship followed shortly with the departure for the afternoon tour. In some cases, it might be a "sailing" morning or afternoon. Option to stay on board is always a choice if the tour does not appeal or one would just like to chill.

    Dinner back at the ship with a cocktail hour preceding when the tour director goes over the next day activities. A printed schedule for the next day is also left in cabins during turn down service. On most ships there will be after dinner evening entertainment of some kind but at the least piano music is provided in the lounge.

    Further detailed information would be happily provided by making a phone call to whichever cruise company you might be interested in. I've had very good response from all of the three i've traveled with. Seems like you have plenty of time to research, keep notes, then choose the cruise that would fit your needs perfectly.

    Bon voyage:)

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    We are also novices when it comes to tipping. I appreciate good service and will tip in the 20 to 25 percent range for good service.>>

    A month or so ago I got home from a cruise down the Rhone on the MS Swiss Corona organised by a UK firm called Riviera Travel; the way they dealt with tips was to provide an envelope for us to use to show our appreciation, which was then distributed amongst all the crew. That seemed to me to be a very fair way to do it, though I suspect that one or two members of staff still found €10 notes being pressed into their hands.

    It wasn't "all inclusive" in that drinks with lunch and dinner were not included but I don't mind that as it tends to encourage people to drink and I don't want to pay for others to drink [nor for them to pay for me!]

    travelchat very accurately describes the daily schedule that we had on our boat, though there were a few changes due in our case to high, not low water. the friends with whom I travelled had been on a Rhine cruise with the same company last year and they loved it.

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    Ah yes, the tipping conundrum. Here's how my experience with booking out
    of the U.S.:

    Tauck - all gratuities were included within the total charge of the cruise
    Avalon - I opted to prepay a sum of about $115 U.S. To be distributed between the tour director (who IMO did not deserve it) and the crew
    Uniworld - all gratuities were included within the total charge of the cruise

    I prefer not to have to guess at the gratuity, hope to get it right and then have to fumble around handing out envelopes at the end. Building it into the cost of the cruise works best for me.

    As far as the inclusion of alcohol on board, it didn't matter to me whether there was a charge or not. One cocktail before dinner and then half a glass of the red and white (trying the included local wines at dinner on offer each night was part of the fun) is my usual limit. On none of the cruises did I observe anyone being over served or in any way taking advantage of either "happy hour" or post dinner imbibing. But then, it could just have been the luck of the draw.

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    I sailed on the AmaCerto with AmaWaterways on the Rhine first week of December 2015. We traveled from Basel to Amsterdam then created our own extension to Paris. My cousin and I loved the itinerary which included Christmas markets as well as touring each stop. The weather was rather mild and we were able to enjoy sitting out on the top deck watching the castles pass by through the Rhine gorge. We wore jackets, had lap blankets and drank hot coffee with liquor to warm us up.

    I would have liked paying more to have all gratuities included just so I didn't have to worry about carrying the cash for guides at each stop and a large sum at the end of the cruise for the ship's staff.

    Our ship was not at capacity so there were always plenty of seats in the lounge and dining room. The atmosphere was relaxed. The food was pretty good and there was always plenty of it. I found the bread and baked goods a bit disappointing but the ice cream made up for it. Soups were also quite good.

    We enjoyed a full day in Strasbourg which was lovely. We chose not to go back to the boat for lunch but went to a small café our tour guide mentioned as her favorite.

    Amsterdam was pretty wet so not as enjoyable for us as the other ports. We docked very close to the train station and could have walked to catch our train to Paris at the end of the trip. Ama offered us a taxi which we took advantage of to avoid the rain.

    I hate to mention a negative but the hard beds on the AmaCerto will keep me from taking another cruise with them. I am looking at another river cruise in 2017, this time with my husband and probably in France.

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