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European River Cruises
Old 02-28-2015, 04:24 PM   #1
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European River Cruises

We are considering going on a European River Cruise, probably in 2016.

Based on our limited knowledge, Viking seems to be the dominant line.

I was wondering if there were forum members that had done the European River Cruise thing and if you'd be willing to share hints, tips, warnings and recommendations.

Thx
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Old 02-28-2015, 04:35 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by misanman View Post
We are considering going on a European River Cruise, probably in 2016.

Based on our limited knowledge, Viking seems to be the dominant line.

I was wondering if there were forum members that had done the European River Cruise thing and if you'd be willing to share hints, tips, warnings and recommendations.

Thx
I have several neighbors who were happy with their Viking experience. Cruise critic has a lot of reviews, and I got the I,pressings n that it really dpended on the boat and crew. We've looked at the itineraries, but we haven't gone on one.
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Old 02-28-2015, 04:37 PM   #3
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We did a Uniworld river cruise in October. Top of the line and all inclusive. Was very happy with the experience. Not cheap though.
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Old 02-28-2015, 04:52 PM   #4
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We've gone on two Viking cruises and really enjoyed them.

We started with the Rhine one (from Basel Switzerland to Amsterdam) and did a longer one on the Rhine and Danube (from Amsterdam to Budapest) last year.

We had a great time. The food was excellent. The other passengers were nice (you see them a lot, especially at mealtimes so it matters some). Ports of call were interesting.

Viking doesn't nickel and dime you. If you stick to the included excursions there is little additional costs. The included excursions are plenty really, though we did a few extra ones that we liked and thought were worth it. Most of the guides were good. A couple were excellent. A couple not so good.

Viking targets Americans and Canadians. There were a couple of folks not from North America, but if you want to rub shoulders with Europeans you probably want another line.

The best part of river cruising is that you unpack once and basically, your hotel room follows you around.

A downside is that you don't get more than an introduction to the places you visit. For some folks thats enough. For others, it's a good way to identify places you might want to go back to later and spend more time at.

Also, the river ships are very stable. No sea sickness to worry about. There is some noise and vibration - it is a machine. If you do Viking, get one of the new "Long Ships". They are better. We did one trip on each and you could see how they improved things on the Long Ships.
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Old 02-28-2015, 05:36 PM   #5
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We did Bucharest to Budapest with Viking a few years ago. Nothing negative to say. Meals good, wine (included) was good and flowed freely, boat and side excursions well choreographed. Enjoyed it
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Old 02-28-2015, 07:05 PM   #6
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I did a Danube cruise with Avalon Waterways in 2014. It was wonderful. The service was excellent and the panorama staterooms were beautiful. Everyone on the ship was very pleased.

I have no experience with Viking but have heard very mixed reviews about that line.
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Old 02-28-2015, 07:33 PM   #7
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DW and I have done three cruises with Avalon. They were all great. We're scheduled for a cruise with Avalon starting in late August. DW likes them because they are reasonably fancy but still informal and relaxing. We unpack once for the week of cruising.

We like to arrive a day or two early and leave a few days after the end of the cruise. It lets us see more than the standard tour items and go places outside the actual arrival and departure cities.
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Old 02-28-2015, 07:34 PM   #8
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We've taken two cruises, on the Rhone with AMA and on the Main, with an extension in Prague, with Uniworld. The AMA cruise was quite a few years ago now, but the boat was pretty basic compared to Uniworld. I think Uniworld and Viking aim toward a more upscale experience, although AMA may have upgraded its boats by now. I should say that we enjoyed the AMA trip just as much as the Uniworld -- part of that may be the Rhone, which is just a great river for cruising.

Edit: 2B, I totally agree that extending the excursion beyond the cruise is a great idea. River cruising is such a relaxing way to see Europe, we've had plenty of thirst for exploration as an adjunct to the cruise itself. We stayed a week in Prague before our cruise through Germany and did a motor tour of the Camargue after finishing up on the Rhone.
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Old 06-06-2015, 10:30 AM   #9
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Someone we met in Strasbourg just got off a CroisiEurope Rhine cruise. They enjoyed it. Only a small number of the cruise participants were English speaking. It looked like this Strasbourg-based company features gourmet meals river cruising and at first glance the prices were really good. We may consider this company for a one week Amsterdam to Strasbourg run.

BTW we stayed at Hotel Bouclier d'Or in Strasbourg and just loved it including the location. Definitely would stay again.
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Old 06-06-2015, 11:04 AM   #10
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We've looked into river cruising in Europe, but the prices are so high. For the price of one week, we could take a 2 week ocean cruise around Europe.

And the river cruises are just so slow. And we've already visited many of the major cities on the rivers.
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Old 08-20-2015, 11:59 AM   #11
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We've looked into river cruising in Europe, but the prices are so high. For the price of one week, we could take a 2 week ocean cruise around Europe.

And the river cruises are just so slow. And we've already visited many of the major cities on the rivers.
If I didn't catch a break on the price, I might not have gone, but I just got back from a southern France cruise on Viking.

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And for the price of a 1 week river cruise, we could take 3-4 seven day ocean cruises. Or, we could take two vacations to anywhere in the world for the price of one week's European river cruise.

I'm so glad you enjoyed your trip to Paris. The more you smile while in Paris, the nicer the locals will be to you. The beauty of the Eiffel Tower is simply overwhelming with it's strobe lights flashing at sunset from across the river.
Yes, the price of river cruising is a bit steep, but I managed to make it not as much as I thought it might be. But I do think we got a good deal; about 40% off the usual mailing price. That worked out to about $285 per person-day (French balcony, beer and wine included in meals and included shore excursions). I backed-out the airfare from that price (had to estimate it because it was a 'free air' deal). That, as compared to, say, a balcony Panama Canal cruise on Princess cost me about $160 per person-day, plus tips, drinks and shore excursions. I figure apples to apples is about $200 per person-day on the Princess, but that depends upon how many shore excursions you buy, and how much you drink, lol! So, given a good deal on the river cruise and just an OK deal on Princess (or similar), I'd say comparing my last ocean cruise to this river cruise, the latter was about 50% more expensive. That was worth-it for me to have done a river cruise.

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I've seen the river cruises going up and down the Rhine River and the Danube. They always looked so slow, serene and restful. And those cruises are quite popular. Although I may be retired, I prefer to travel a whole lot faster.
Not only that, but the ship is only underway about 25% of the time, only about 10% of underway hours aboard are during waking hours and not in, or waiting for a lock (locks are slimy dark places...only the first time through is interesting). So most of your waking hours, you're docked, sometimes at a very non-picturesque location or out on a shore excursion. I'd say we had about 1/3 of our meals where we were cruising and not predominantly waiting for or in a lock. It's nice to watch the scenery go by, but, as you say, it changes very slowly except in the rare case when you're cruising through towns and cities. From a shore excursion perspective, we did have a few walk-off city tours, there mostly climb aboard one of four huge tourist coaches. Then they often dump you out with the entire shipload of tourists. Not my idea of an optimal experience, although I must admit to being engaged in what I was seeing much of the time, despite the crowd.
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Old 08-20-2015, 01:21 PM   #12
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I have researched European river cruising for while and have decided against it. No cruise line or route gets consistently good reviews and all have more than a few disappointed customers. Mostly cruising at night and bus excursions during the day don't seem the best for us.


We have so much to see in Europe. I think there are more flexible and cost-efficient strategies.
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Old 08-20-2015, 02:25 PM   #13
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One issue with river cruising is that you are dependent on water levels. There have been several disruptions to river cruises in Europe this year because o low water levels. Two years ago, there were disruptions due to flooding.

That said, I did a Danube cruise in 2014 with Avalon Waterways and thoroughly enjoyed it.
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Old 08-21-2015, 04:03 PM   #14
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Since mine was a fairly last minute thing, I checked then water levels before buying. The rivers we were all lower than usual, and the river only ship draws 6 feet, whereas the barges that we share the river with and that come off the Med draw 15, so I think low water is less of an issue.
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Old 08-21-2015, 04:24 PM   #15
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Since mine was a fairly last minute thing, I checked then water levels before buying. The rivers we were all lower than usual, and the river only ship draws 6 feet, whereas the barges that we share the river with and that come off the Med draw 15, so I think low water is less of an issue.
In the past couple of weeks I have seen several Facebook notifications from Avalon about cancellations and disruptions due to low water levels.
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Old 08-21-2015, 04:39 PM   #16
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I just did a quick google and saw "cargo ship blockage" mentioned. They were talking about the Danube. I didn't think of barges mucking up the works! If those cargo ship captains were any good, realized they couldn't make it, and stayed out of the way, only THEN would the river-only ships be free to go. Also, I'm not sure all Euopean rivers are set up to accept ocean going vessels, but according to our captain, the Rhone and Saone are.
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