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River cruises
Old 12-10-2015, 05:41 PM   #41
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River cruises

There are a number of reasons river cruises are more expensive. On ocean cruises there are many revenue points, such as casinos, shops, "art" sales, bingo, bars,etc.
Also the costs are spread out over 1500+ passengers, as opposed to 100 to 200.
But the small ship experience is great, you meet more of your fellow passengers. Also, there is a lot of free time, the excursions are normally a half day.
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Old 12-12-2015, 04:14 AM   #42
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Originally Posted by audreyh1 View Post
Yes, you missed something.

Flying into one city from the US, and returning from another usually costs about the same as a round trip ticket. So don't let that discourage you. It's sometimes referred to as "open jaw", and can be set up using "multi-city" on Google Flights.
Thanks for the information. I'll check Google Flights out and a few cruises too.

Cheers!
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Old 12-12-2015, 06:34 AM   #43
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Thanks for the information. I'll check Google Flights out and a few cruises too.

Cheers!
We've done two of these recently. US to Amsterdam, return Munich to US. US to Paris, return Amsterdam to US. In both cases prices were the same as the US Amsterdam round trip would have been.

Google Flights is really good for pricing airfares. It can even show you how prices change over dates selected in the calendar view. Google doesn't book the flights for you, they just quote, then send you to the airline if you want to book.
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Old 12-12-2015, 08:13 AM   #44
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Which cruise was this ?
Did you write up a report of your experience anywhere ?

I "think" I want to take a river cruise and have been looking at the Viking offerings. Somehow they got me on their list.
I did actually write a review on cruise critic:

Reflections of an Ocean Cruiser - Viking River Review by sengsational - Cruise Critic
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Old 12-12-2015, 08:25 AM   #45
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Not being a round trip airfare often increased the cost by 50%+. Am I missing something here or do I just not know the secret?
I would not have gone on the river cruise except for that the airfare, booked by Viking, was included. I just got something in the mail from Viking that had airfare for $95 per person my city, and free airfare from big cities. Ask for "04D". All these were in April 2016. $375 to $450 per person per night. Seven, eight or nine night cruises available.

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There are a number of reasons river cruises are more expensive.
Also, there are no minimum wage laws on the high seas, but the Viking staff on the southern France cruise were all getting French minimum wage or better. The ocean cruise I went on in Hawaii went to one non-US port to get around paying the US minimum wage.
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Old 06-30-2016, 10:51 AM   #46
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OP here again with the update.

Just got home from the "Cities of Light: Paris to Prague" cruise with Viking.

This was our first river cruise so we weren't sure what to expect. I would rate it "Met expectations -- barely" and even though it was enjoyable, I don't think we'll do another.

Due to high water, we didn't get on the Moselle at all, only the Rhine and Main rivers. I calculated that we spent over 24 hours on buses during the week of cruising, which was a real pain.

The ship itself and all the crew were wonderful, and we thoroughly enjoyed our time aboard. The shore excursions were good, but didn't include nearly enough free time in my view. That may be because of all the time spent on the bus.

It was interesting to meet a lot of folks on the cruise who have done many of these. One couple had made over a dozen river cruises, most with Viking and plan to do still more. So I'm clearly a minority. Just thought this thread should be closed with our impression.
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Old 06-30-2016, 01:03 PM   #47
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We did our first, the "Castles and Legends" tour from Austria to Budapest with Viking (got back less than 2 weeks ago). Agree with you on the overall. Barely. And "barely" with rating the crew. Lots of time on the bus as well, and determined that we are not the bus types (ages 53 and 55). We are also in the minority, and were a bit disappointed as everything we heard in advance about Viking was glowing. Maybe do a bike ride down the Danube next time instead. Thanks for your feedback - it confirms our thoughts as well.
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Old 06-30-2016, 01:07 PM   #48
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Sorry to hear you both had an underwhelming experience. As I mentioned up thread, flooding can derail your river cruise and turn it into a bus tour. I have now had several friends report bad experiences with Viking.
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Old 06-30-2016, 01:30 PM   #49
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OP here again with the update.

Just got home from the "Cities of Light: Paris to Prague" cruise with Viking.

This was our first river cruise so we weren't sure what to expect. I would rate it "Met expectations -- barely" and even though it was enjoyable, I don't think we'll do another.

Due to high water, we didn't get on the Moselle at all, only the Rhine and Main rivers. I calculated that we spent over 24 hours on buses during the week of cruising, which was a real pain.

The ship itself and all the crew were wonderful, and we thoroughly enjoyed our time aboard. The shore excursions were good, but didn't include nearly enough free time in my view. That may be because of all the time spent on the bus.

It was interesting to meet a lot of folks on the cruise who have done many of these. One couple had made over a dozen river cruises, most with Viking and plan to do still more. So I'm clearly a minority. Just thought this thread should be closed with our impression.
I appreciate the feedback. That's been one barrier for us - the shore excursion time. I remember reviewing the Viking Danube cruise and seeing that the time at Melk was too short, IMO, and I knew we wouldn't be satisfied with that. But then we tend to spend more time at sites than many folks, so doing things on our own is best.
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Old 06-30-2016, 02:12 PM   #50
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Glad to hear the feedback. We did the Amsterdam to Budapest trip (2 weeks) and quickly learned to maximize our shore time by leaving the guided tours and setting out on our own. We were comfortable with this because I had (it turned out appropriate) confidence in my college German. We were able to cover a lot more ground and hit many sites that weren't on the tours. As others have said, high (or low) water that converts the experience into a bus tour has MAJOR negative consequences. We were lucky, we had great weather and no problems with water levels.

Immediately after we returned I wouldn't have rated the cruise any higher than you did. However, from a distance of almost two years, we are thinking that there could be another river cruise in our future, probably combined with a prolonged stay somewhere in Europe. Maybe a week long cruise and 2 or 3 weeks in a couple of cities.
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Old 06-30-2016, 03:25 PM   #51
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The cruises on the Main do seem to have some bus travel involved, in part because the Main is a working river and is often flanked by the industrial parts of the cities you pass through. Still, on the Uniworld Main tour DW and I took a few years ago, the longest stretch of bus travel was from Prague to Nuremberg. Otherwise is was mostly intracity transit.

Quite a few years ago we cruised the Rhone River in France, and I would gladly do that trip again. Tack on a few extra days in Lyon (known as the gustatory capital of France) and a few more at the other end of the trip, at Arles, Marseilles and particularly in the Camargue. The boat docked in the heart of all but a couple of the cities it visited; we also enjoyed visiting the home of one of the guides in a medieval village on the river.

A neighbor whose wife is a travel agent recently took a Rhone cruise and also enjoyed it a great deal.
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Old 06-30-2016, 04:04 PM   #52
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A neighbor whose wife is a travel agent recently took a Rhone cruise recently and also enjoyed it a great deal.
I second that. The Rhone cruise we took was very enjoyable. Our tours through the markets in Nice and the "Les Halles" in Lyon were fantastic. Outside Arles, we went to a sound and light show in an old quarry that presented the works of Van Gogh and Gauguin on 20 foot high walls with accompanying music.
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Old 06-30-2016, 04:22 PM   #53
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Good news! We'll be traveling Lyon, Provence and the Riviera in a couple of months. But not by boat.
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Old 06-30-2016, 04:33 PM   #54
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May I suggest a side trip to Aigues-Mortes? It's a well-preserved walled city in the Camargue. Louis IX launched the Seventh and Eighth Crusades from the city in the late 13th century. We stayed overnight there in a little pension and just loved it.

Nearby, Stes. Maries de la Mer is the gypsy capital of France.
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Old 06-30-2016, 07:02 PM   #55
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I have looked at a number of cruises and have yet to find one that seems to be worthwhile. I am especially suspicious of river cruises whose advertisements show spectacular views taken from aircraft. Why not show the view from the boat?
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Old 06-30-2016, 07:24 PM   #56
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I have looked at a number of cruises and have yet to find one that seems to be worthwhile. I am especially suspicious of river cruises whose advertisements show spectacular views taken from aircraft. Why not show the view from the boat?
Those are Viking river cruise commercials showing the Parliament building in Budapest. The real facts are the rivers are crowded with their ships, and you may end up "rafted" with 2 or more ships.
The problem is you pay for a balcony, and all you can see is the balcony of the ship you are rafted with!
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Old 06-30-2016, 08:17 PM   #57
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Thanks for the info!

I was seriously considering doing this first class, but if I'm lashed to another boat and my view is that boat...

Not going. Pass. Done.
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Old 06-30-2016, 08:58 PM   #58
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Thanks for the info!

I was seriously considering doing this first class, but if I'm lashed to another boat and my view is that boat...

Not going. Pass. Done.
If you want to see Budapest, you need a few days. The commonly seen views of the parliament building (in Pest) are often taken From the Fisherman's Bastion, high on Buda, which is very hilly.

Two years ago I did a Danube cruise that started with two days at the Hotel Intercontinental in Budapest. This hotel is right on the river, a couple of blocks from the Parliament building, and is an excellent location for exploring the city.

PS. I absolutely loved Budapest!
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Old 07-01-2016, 08:21 AM   #59
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If you want to see Budapest, you need a few days. ...
PS. I absolutely loved Budapest!
I agree. We cruised in at about 10:30 pm and the lights in the city were just beautiful. Camera can not do this justice.

In reflection, I think if I did it again that I would do some of the larger cities (Budapest, Vienna, Munich) on those on-and-off double decker buses. We have had very good luck with them in Athens and in Barcelona - you learn the city better, listen to the guide while you rest on the bus, then get off where you want and stay as long as you want.

Smaller towns like Linz and Melk, just a walk off the boat and do our own thing, or a guided tour (if we can put up with it).
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Old 07-01-2016, 10:06 AM   #60
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May I suggest a side trip to Aigues-Mortes? It's a well-preserved walled city in the Camargue. Louis IX launched the Seventh and Eighth Crusades from the city in the late 13th century. We stayed overnight there in a little pension and just loved it.

Nearby, Stes. Maries de la Mer is the gypsy capital of France.
That does look fascinating! And I had actually read about Louis IX's life.

Unfortunately, we are so absolutely swamped the Camargue dropped off our list. We are traveling without car, so not quite so flexible.
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