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41 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
Without a doubt one of the best vacations we have ever been on. i was worried because we had taken the viking river cruise up the rhine and the bar was set pretty high. gate 1 met and at times exceeded the bar. the moment we entered the ... Read More
Without a doubt one of the best vacations we have ever been on. i was worried because we had taken the viking river cruise up the rhine and the bar was set pretty high. gate 1 met and at times exceeded the bar. the moment we entered the airport in prague to be transferred to the hotel until the moment we were transferred to the departure airport in budapest everyone and everything was fantastic. mari in prague was a great initial point of contact for gate 1 and gave us tips and suggestions that were perfect. she was there for us and any of the rest of the group 24/7. the imperial hotel was above and beyond our expectations, and for a first time gate 1 traveler, left an appetite for more. the transfers from the airport, hotel to the ship and the departing airport were coordinated perfectly. then there was the cruise. what a trip!!!!! the stops and tours were out of this world. gate 1 really stepped up the game and again we were pleasantly surprised at the quality of the tours and the tour guides. michael in regensburg, gerhardt in salzburg and nora in bratislava. the crew on the ship was without a doubt the best team we had ever cruised with. the following individuals need mentioning: captain peter, hotel manager cristian, 1st receptionist nicoleta, ex chef miro, maître d marcin, housekeeping samsudin, cruise director karol, activity host saber, room steward veri, head waitress baloga, 2nd waiter marius and richard the piano man. there were many more and they all deserve a big hand. the cabin we chose was comfortable and roomy, i stand 6'5" and the issue i have with these ships is the bathroom and shower. not this time!!! it was very efficient and the shower was the perfect fit. we were in room 215 and it wasn't a suite. the food was gourmet every night and the breakfast was as you want it. there was entertainment on the ship every night thanks to karol and saber. saber had nightly trivia contest and they were very entertaining, especially the battle of the sexes. karol arranged for local groups on the ship to sing and dance the local specialties along with a couple of nights of local refreshments. karol also narrated the wachau valley tour on the ship as we cruised down to vienna and spoke on the danube river and the locks. and cristina was always there to help with any request. the individual stops and tours at regensburg, melk abbey, salzburg, passau, vienna, bratislava and budapest were well organized and the quality of the tour guides were top notch. i always say that if you walk away learning more than you knew at the start you were doing good. i learned more than i ever expected. this was a very educational trip as well as an enjoyable learning experience. Everyone asks me what was my favorite part? the whole trip!!! i could go on and on but the only way anyone would understand is to experience it themselves. this is the first of gate 1 new ships with more to come. this is a must trip and this is the must company to use. thank you all for a great time. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2017
Lovely ship and so clean.. Sadly on the first evening for dinner it was a right " shambles ". Didn't know where to que for what and then couldn't fine a place to sit. Should have had staff to help sort it out. Also on ... Read More
Lovely ship and so clean.. Sadly on the first evening for dinner it was a right " shambles ". Didn't know where to que for what and then couldn't fine a place to sit. Should have had staff to help sort it out. Also on many evenings at dinner ,when you needed another glass of wine the staff didn't seem to notice . But, other than that ,, it was lovely. The ports of call were great and loved the day we went to have tea with a local family. Would loved to have tried the pool but wasn't brave enough . Due to the weather. Nina our tour guide was always there to answer any questions. Had a massage and it was just " wonderful. Please enjoy your cruise and have fun. Would go with Emerald again . So go go go go go ,fun fun fun . Xx Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
My husband and I love cruises but we wanted something a little different than the usual island hopping. Friends of ours had recommended Viking and we decided the time had come for us to give it a try. We arrived on the Budapest after ... Read More
My husband and I love cruises but we wanted something a little different than the usual island hopping. Friends of ours had recommended Viking and we decided the time had come for us to give it a try. We arrived on the Budapest after over twelve hours of traveling. We were tired from our trip and ready to collapse. The Viking staff picked us up at the airport and got us to the Gullveig with a minimum of fuss. Once aboard, we were told to expect our room to be ready by 1pm. Jaded travelers that we are we thought we'd actually be allowed in at 3 but the staff was as good as their word, at 1pm we were in the door able to finally relax. That was the first of many promises kept over the course of the week. When the Maitre'D Panayot found out I was a diabetic, he gave me a card with the number "5" on it. For the rest of the cruise, every time I sat down to eat, I'd just put the card on the table and Panayot would come and personally make sure my dietary needs were met. He kept entrees from being seasoned with sauces that might not be good for me and made sure desserts like fresh fruit with whipped cream were there for me every day. Other aspects of the service were equally excellent. Each day, the Captain was there to personally greet the guests as they returned aboard ship. When we wanted to see parts of Prague that were not covered on the normal tour. The tour director was able to make special arrangements and find a guide and transportation for us. The food was exquisite and the waiters and waitress were friendly and professional. The small size of the ship made the experience intimate and friendly. By the end of the cruise we knew almost everyone aboard. Then there was sailing up the Danube watching the lovely countryside glide by us as we made our way leisurely up river. We would get off the ship and go on beautifully orchestrated tours that had the memory cards of our cameras filled and the soles of our shoes noticeably thinner. Exhausting at times but well worth every minute! As I've said before, my husband and I are the veteran of many cruises but this was by far the best. We can't wait to do this again! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
After a very positive experience on the Seine with Scenic, this cruise was an easy choice. Traveling with a small group, we were able to enjoy the company of our friends, and of many other new friends. I would identify the passengers ... Read More
After a very positive experience on the Seine with Scenic, this cruise was an easy choice. Traveling with a small group, we were able to enjoy the company of our friends, and of many other new friends. I would identify the passengers on the Opal as fairly young group, and the staff embraced, and encouraged, our wish to have fun on the ship, as well as off. As previously experienced, our excursions with Scenic were interesting, and well guided. The outings were perhaps a bit short, part day tours, due to a need for the Opal to cover the distance to the next stop. This is not a criticism of the cruise, but a characteristic of this cruise. The crew were vey capable of ensuring the time spent on the Opal passed quickly. The food and the ship were excellent, as we now expect with Scenic. Our balcony was perhaps underutilized, but that relates to the fall weather, and meeting our group in the lounge, or dining room, instead of watching the sights as a couple from our balcony. Enough cannot be said about the staff on the ship. I believe every Scenic ship is well designed and appointed, but the effort and care of the Opal staff ensured this cruise has established a very high standard for our Scenic cruises that are likely to follow. A few days were well spent in Amsterdam before the cruise, to adjust to the time change and enjoy Dutch culture. Touring in and around around Zurich after the cruise is expensive, but wound out the trip nicely. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
Arrival in Basel was a bit convoluted, something that could have been avoided if Vantage had told us in advance to exit our baggage claim into Switzerland. This caused some delay as some travelers were wandering about seeking transport to ... Read More
Arrival in Basel was a bit convoluted, something that could have been avoided if Vantage had told us in advance to exit our baggage claim into Switzerland. This caused some delay as some travelers were wandering about seeking transport to the ship. It was one of the few weak spots in the trip. We were welcomed to the ship with lunch while cabin preparation was being completed. Food service was excellent and provided by an engaging young staff. Meals were varied and attempted to meet local fare. We did not have a meal I did not like and especially came to love the daily soup options. The ship was the nicest of the ships we have been exposed to in seven Vantage cruises. It is fairly new and it showed. Our cabin was larger than previous ships although clothes storage was a bit of a challenge. Our cabin attendant was excellent and friendly. Laundary service was particulary efficient. One small negative was the absence of a piano player onboard. In his place was a jukebox and some local entertainers, nice but more limited. The daily tours were interesting and I learned a great deal, for me an important standard for a cruise. I now wonder how I have missed the excellent German wines for so long. Both the Moselle River and Luxembourg were new to us and we were move at the Luxembourg American Cemetery and loved the Moselle Valley. Our dock spots were often away from our destinations but that s partly due to the size of some places visited. I can’t this of a tour I did not enjoy. This was a vey good trip, Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
This was a lovely cruise on a smallish classy boat, with a hugely attentive and friendly local crew, Food and cabin were good, but most important of all the ambiance and feeling on the trip was wonderful with the Douro being a truly ... Read More
This was a lovely cruise on a smallish classy boat, with a hugely attentive and friendly local crew, Food and cabin were good, but most important of all the ambiance and feeling on the trip was wonderful with the Douro being a truly unspoilt and magnificent destination. The excursions were well organised with entertaining and knowledgeable guides. It of course helped that the weather (October) was neither too hot nor too cold. In summary we would highly recommend - it wasn't cheap but the inclusive nature, alcohol and tours, made it better value for money than it seemed on the ticket price. The flights were via Portuguese airlines, which were both surprisingly pleasant and punctual. The transfers were fine, albeit the traffic from Porto airport to the ship was awful. Overall highly recommended on this our second scenic tour - they have developed a way of employing good staff who seem genuinely to enjoy helping all their passengers. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2017
A river cruise provided the perfect medium for my wife and myself to visit some of the beautiful and iconic cities of this region. The concept of typically traveling from location to location at night and visiting our destinations during ... Read More
A river cruise provided the perfect medium for my wife and myself to visit some of the beautiful and iconic cities of this region. The concept of typically traveling from location to location at night and visiting our destinations during the day provided the most economical means of maximizing our time. We were very pleased with the extreme organization of every aspect of our trip: the flights; the transportation to and from the airports; the excellent accommodations at our book-end city stays; the comfortable and efficient buses during our on shore visits; and the excellent tour guides who were very friendly and exceptionally knowledgeable. The information that they provided at each of our tour locations was thorough, interesting and very informative. It was nice that they shared stories of their life experiences in their home areas during our tours. We were extremely pleased with the quality, quantity, and variety of food that was available. We especially found the availability of the optional "light" lunch very pleasing. We enjoyed the coffee machines and pastries/cookies always available in the lobby. With open seating available at all meals, we were able to dine with so many fellow passengers which provided the opportunity to meet so many new people. All of the waiters & staff were very friendly, helpful, and accommodating in responding to special requests. Our cruise director, Boris, did a terrific job of reviewing the available activities, both on and off of the ship, for each day. The Entertainment available on the ship was enjoyable and often added the perfect finishing touch to the end of the day. This cruise provided everything we had hoped for and set the standard for any of our future cruise tours. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2017
Friends highly recommended this Rhine river cruise. Their take was exactly everything they expressed and more. So much to see & do! The castles & cathedrals were amazing. Each tour was full of interesting facts and beautiful ... Read More
Friends highly recommended this Rhine river cruise. Their take was exactly everything they expressed and more. So much to see & do! The castles & cathedrals were amazing. Each tour was full of interesting facts and beautiful squares with so much history. . Our only disappointment was the Lucerne 2 day extension. The weather was not cooperative for our journey to the Alps. Our tour guide made the remaining part of our tour very enjoyable & full of interesting facts. Our cheese making was full of many laughs. Our group made this experience one of the most memorable. The fondue finale was exactly what was needed to close a rough start to the day! The staff & crew were very gracious & eager to please. Our chef was amazing, especially the tour of the galley. So little space to prepare such amazing dishes. Rooms were very comfortable. Our cabin boy took such good care of us. Replenished our water continuously plus made us feel special. Met so many wonderful people which we have kept in touch with since our voyage. First class operation. For our first European adventure we were overly pleased. Planning another in the future. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2017
The first cruise on Scenic was Basal to Amsterdam. We throughly enjoyed the whole trip. This time we chose to start in Amsterdam for a few days and then cruise down the Rhine and Danube ending in Budapest. Enjoyed time in Budapest post ... Read More
The first cruise on Scenic was Basal to Amsterdam. We throughly enjoyed the whole trip. This time we chose to start in Amsterdam for a few days and then cruise down the Rhine and Danube ending in Budapest. Enjoyed time in Budapest post cruise. It was the same ship and some of the same crew/staff were aboard. As usual, a fabulous trip from accommodations, food, drinks, excursions and other wonderful passengers. We will be sailing with Scenic next April as well. Starting in Porto and sailing round trip down/up the Douro. We discovered Scenic through our travel agent. It is not as well know in the US and the passengers were mostly Australian, Canadian, New Zealanders. That made for a wonderful mix of people with plenty to chat about beside the day's events. We loved that there was a choice of different excursions everyday. As well as excursions for gentle walkers, average walkers and bicycle riders. We also loved that the cruise is all inclusive. One price included everything. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
I had never had a cruise before and thought a river cruise the best introduction to travelling on a boat. Thoroughly enjoyed the trip, boat fairly small but lovely, cabin compact but comfortable, large windows with French balcony, bedding ... Read More
I had never had a cruise before and thought a river cruise the best introduction to travelling on a boat. Thoroughly enjoyed the trip, boat fairly small but lovely, cabin compact but comfortable, large windows with French balcony, bedding luxurious and toiletries supplied. Bed turned down each evening, next days agenda left along with small gift, soap, shower gel, recipes etc .. Chocolates and water in room, no coffee or tea making facilities in room but available from lounge any time. Crew very pleasant and helpful. Food excellent and very varied, drinks plentiful including cocktails and Prosecco . Waiters attentive and polite, restaurant served buffet style breakfast and lunch with waiter service for evening dinner. Entertainment fairly laid back, singer most evenings, brass band one evening also a couple of lectures that were very interesting. No children on board for this trip and I would guess that most of the passengers were in the 55 to 80 age range. Majority of the passengers were Australian or from USA plus quite a few British. Scenery along the Danube was breathtakingly beautiful, misty some mornings which added to the beauty of both Austria and Germany. Would I take a river cruise again? Most certainly, my husband and I loved ever minute and highly recommend Uniworld. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2017
Food, luxury and caring was all part of this cruise. I am only 41 years old and won this trip on a tv show . I was a little worried that I would find it a little slow for my style but was totally wrong. When we got on the ship we were ... Read More
Food, luxury and caring was all part of this cruise. I am only 41 years old and won this trip on a tv show . I was a little worried that I would find it a little slow for my style but was totally wrong. When we got on the ship we were welcomed with open arms and made feel so welcome. The cabin was gorgeous and so clean and just pure luxury. It was all the little items that made it feel like home. The staff were always so happy and nice and every single time we walked past someone they said good morning. The port and shore excursions where well thought out and gave us so many options , which i loved, as if you wanted to be active you could be or take a slower paced one. The food was five star. It was some of the most delicious food I have ever tasted. Room service was available if I was too tired to eat out and was just as delicious. The food was always fresh and the presentation was stunning. The food menus covered all types of taste , vegan, vegos etc. The beverages where also stunning. The knowledge of food and wines was amazing from the staff. I just can recommend Scenic enough. I was made feel like a princess and the staff was amazing. I would say to anyone who has the oportunitiy to go on this cruise to do it. I made many wonderful memories and friends and wish I could do these cruises with Scenic yearly. Well done Scenic, I can see why you are one of the best cruise lines in the world. Many thanks to you all Read Less
Sail Date: September 2017
This was our first River Cruise. We enjoyed the size of the ship and that there were only 168 guests, which made getting to know people very easy. The cruise director, Andreea, was exceptional - she managed all aspects of our itinerary ... Read More
This was our first River Cruise. We enjoyed the size of the ship and that there were only 168 guests, which made getting to know people very easy. The cruise director, Andreea, was exceptional - she managed all aspects of our itinerary seamlessly. The food was very good, with a varied selection of appetizers, soups, mains, and desserts. The wait staff were friendly and professional. Our cabin was very well designed so we had plenty of space to put everything. Our cabin was also spotless. I would say that I found the itinerary a bit rushed - that being said however, I also chose to not stay on the boat, which I could have. Perhaps the same itinerary could be completed in ten days, allowing a bit more time in some cities. Unfortunately on our second last day we ended being off the ship for almost 11 hours. Our tour of Regensburg was to last 4 hours. There was a problem with water levels being too low and the boat being unable to make it to our next destination. That is understandable - cannot control Mother Nature! I'm not totally convinced that there was not a way to get us on the boat earlier. So, the memory of my last excursion was a long, wet, cold day in a small city with nothing to do. When we boarded the boat everything was rushed. The next morning we had to wake up very early to be bussed to our last port of call. Unfortunately these events coloured my overall experience. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
The Emerald Sun is still a new ship with new shiny surfaces and pleasant decor that is attractive and comfortable. The staff are all welcoming and willing to do whatever is requested to make their contribution to the guest's journey ... Read More
The Emerald Sun is still a new ship with new shiny surfaces and pleasant decor that is attractive and comfortable. The staff are all welcoming and willing to do whatever is requested to make their contribution to the guest's journey being positive and memorable. The Tour Director Jana was exceptional in her local knowledge and advice and charming and engaging in talking to the full complement of guests. The waiting staff in the restaurant were all happy, friendly and willing to help in any way requested. The quality of the food was always outstanding with variety and flavours that were equal to any high quality restaurant. Wines served were excellent and one reisling was the best I had ever tasted anywhere! Our cabin on the lowest deck was still roomy, comfortable and had more than enough hanging and storage space. The room was always well prepared each day. The cruise line makes its ambition to ensure all travellers are fully satisfied, even to the point of providing exceptional alternatives when our boat was unable to sail for 2 days due to flooding in the Danube. The compensation was more than one would expect and contributed to a sense that this line is remarkable in placing passengers before profit. An outstanding effort. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
We love Avalon Waterways, have had great experiences with their ships! Embarking and disembarking smooth as can be, love the way you can place your suitcase at end of cruise for early morning pickup and not midnight like big ships! 2 ... Read More
We love Avalon Waterways, have had great experiences with their ships! Embarking and disembarking smooth as can be, love the way you can place your suitcase at end of cruise for early morning pickup and not midnight like big ships! 2 nights in Prague before boarding the ship was a good start. Cabins have plenty of room, love the full glass sliding doors with bed facing the doors. Dining room beautiful with terrific service, flowing wine, and many food choices at all meals! Great room with coffee/snacks available at back of ship all day. The staff and cruise director Tony on our cruise were exceptional! All ports and shore excursions were so well planned, afternoons at leisure to go off on your own, easy access on and off boat. If thinking about river cruising, don't wait any longer!! We really loved our trip and will definitely sail again with Avalon! Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
This was my first riverboat cruise after almost twenty traditional cruises. Pros: 1) Ship was new & beautiful; 2) my single cabin w/balcony was very comfortable and clean with nice bathroom; 3) cuisine was the best I've had on any ... Read More
This was my first riverboat cruise after almost twenty traditional cruises. Pros: 1) Ship was new & beautiful; 2) my single cabin w/balcony was very comfortable and clean with nice bathroom; 3) cuisine was the best I've had on any cruise line in at least 20 years; 4) staff was young, very friendly, and tried to be very helpful; 5) lounges were very comfortable and well laid out; and 6) the included wines at dinner & happy hour were delicious and served liberally. Cons: 1) This particular cruise up the Hudson Valley had way too many rough edges and poor coordination; 2) the complimentary excursion in Martha's Vineyard and the $65 excursion of NYC were well meaning but very poorly done by the respective tour companies; 3) even though the cuisine was delicious, way too many times the food was served either tepid or had completely cooled; 4) loading of luggage at the hotel recommended by American Cruise Lines was absolute chaos...the very worst I've every experienced; 5) there was no reason to leave the vessel at many of the ports of call simply because there was nothing of interest to do or see; 6) Disembarkation involved a very long walk from the vessel to the airport transfer buses; and 7) Laguardia was an absolute nightmare...avoid it like the plague. Having said all of this, I've already booked a second time on ACL for Christmas 2018 on the lower Mississippi cruise, which everyone I've spoken with said was an excellent experience. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
I was not sure what to expect from this cruise as I had never been on a river cruise before but having said that it was not that good! First im going to say the good things. The boat was first class The crew were first class ... Read More
I was not sure what to expect from this cruise as I had never been on a river cruise before but having said that it was not that good! First im going to say the good things. The boat was first class The crew were first class The food and entertainment was first class. Most of the tours were first class. Now the not so good! Hardly any daytime cruising! While docked for some reason they decided to pump out the sewage that left a disgusting stink in our cabin made both of us a little nauseous! When we left Prague we were told we would not be going to Nuremberg but to Ragensburg and no attempt was made to take us by bus to Nuremberg for the day and no compensation given for something we paid for, and Nuremberg was a place I was looking forward to seeing! One of our Discover more trips to Blatna was cancelled without compensation this also was something we wanted to do! The beds in the cabin need to have some way to stop them from separating (Velcro) So would I recommend this cruise? Probably but make sure everything is looked into thoroughly before you pay. We did have fun and met new friends so it was not a total washout the countries we visited were fabulous and with a rich history Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
We booked this river cruise because of the great deal offered and because of what was about half-price we thought we got good value. The staff were friendly and welcoming, the tours were excellent and on the whole, the ship was ... Read More
We booked this river cruise because of the great deal offered and because of what was about half-price we thought we got good value. The staff were friendly and welcoming, the tours were excellent and on the whole, the ship was comfortable. When we arrived we were greeted warmly, our baggage was immediately taken off us and carried onto the boat. The reception staff were always pleasant and helpful. We were directed to the lounge where there were soup, open sandwiches and cake being served for a light lunch. Shortly before 3pm we were escorted to our cabin and shown around. The cabin was small but quite comfortable with one armchair and a footstool in front of the small desk area, although we would have preferred an upright chair. We liked the French balcony which allows you to look out and get fresh air without wasting space on a real balcony that isn’t needed on a river cruise especially as often you’re rafted up to another boat. There was enough storage and room for suitcases under the bed. However, the bed was disappointing with a mattress that definitely needs replacing. It was very hard and even after we requested and were given another duvet to lie on, the bed sagged to one side and was uncomfortable. The duvet was also old and lumpy. We do wish people would provide a top sheet instead of just a duvet in Europe. We were near the back of the boat and did find it rather noisy for sleeping the first couple of nights. But we quickly got used to it and it didn’t bother us for the rest of the cruise. We were quite happy with the housekeeping service and the room was kept clean. The small bathroom was good and had a decent shower. However, we woke one morning to find our toilet wasn’t functioning; a situation that lasted nearly all day as we had to wait for an engineer to come on at the next stop. Ours wasn’t the only one and another couple had several instances of their toilet flooding throughout the trip. Also, occasionally there was a whiff of an unpleasant smell in the bathroom. Clearly the plumbing system needs an overhaul. We were very impressed with the cruise directors and the tours. Soma and Armin were great - professional, friendly and very helpful. They were always available for questions and would join guests at meals and other times to chat and offer advice. They accompanied all the tours and made sure that everything was running smoothly. We couldn’t have had better people. Soma gave a briefing every evening before dinner with a rundown of the next day’s programme and included plenty of tips on what to do at each stop as well as the included tour. Maps of the towns were given out at every stop. Armin put on quizzes and other activities during sailing times for which there were decent prizes of nice boxes of chocolates and bottles of wine instead of the cheap pins etc given on ocean cruises. The few times entertainers came on board, they were well worth watching. The Oompah band solo performer was terrific. There was an included tour every day which were excellent with very good and knowledgeable local guides. All the stops were at beautiful and interesting places. Also, Soma provided excellent commentaries for the scenic cruising through the Rhine gorge, the Wachau valley and the sail into the Budapest. We were delighted to find that a full inside tour of the Wurzburg Residenz was included – ours was taken by an architect who provided lots of interesting detail. It’s worth asking your cruise director for advice on which local guide is likely to suit your particular interests. We took two optional tours which were also good and reasonably priced. The whisper devices with headphones seem to be standard these days and worked very well. Many of our guides told us interesting and amusing stories and one even quoted some of his own doggerel poems which were most entertaining. The only tiny issue we had occasionally with the tours was the timing for the buses. In Bamberg the free time lasted too long on a cold Sunday afternoon with no shops or museums open. The bars and cafes became very crowded with all the tour groups in town who had nothing else to do. Many people returned to the meeting place early to wait for the buses. On the other hand, there was hardly any free time in Nuremburg as the tours went over time. There was the option to go back into town after lunch on a bus for the afternoon but just another half an hour or so in the morning would have been good. In Vienna the boat is docked way out of town at Nussdorf which isn’t practicable for public transport. The tour started at 8.15am and if you wished to stay in town, the only options for a return bus were at 3pm and 4.30pm. Shuttle buses running throughout the afternoon as they were in Amsterdam would have been much better. Nevertheless, we were very pleased indeed with the touring side of the cruise. The one thing we were disappointed with was the food. While it wasn’t bad, it wasn’t very good either. The dining room is too small for the number of passengers so the tables and chairs are squeezed in with hardly any room to get in and out to go to the breakfast and lunch buffets. It was also extremely noisy which made talking very difficult. Service was not always very professional and rather bossy. For instance, you were instructed to pass menus, dirty plates, etc to the waiters the minute you were finished. They wouldn’t remake the used tables at breakfast and lunch so you were forced to walk around trying to find a spare space even if you had to sit apart from your companions. Once I was told off for sitting at a table already set for dinner even though there were no tables left ready for lunch. It was as if the staff felt we were there for their convenience rather than the other way around. The meals were acceptable but rather repetitive with little variety. Some meals were lovely but others weren’t very well cooked. Servings were sometimes very small. The vegetables were generally undercooked and the soups mostly tasted the same and were too salty. The breakfast buffet was very good with a wide variety of offerings and a specialty cooked item each day as well as eggs and omelettes that could be ordered. Cold meats and cheeses were put out at breakfast but never with the salad buffet at lunch which was always one hot meat and one hot fish dish, plus soup, a hot sandwich or pasta dish that could be ordered. But the most disappointing aspect was the poor quality baked goods. The bread was mass-produced and not good. There were little rolls put out for breakfast but never for lunch or dinner. We heard that all the bread and cakes were frozen and then thawed out and you could tell. Many days the cakes at afternoon tea were a dry Sour Cherry cake and stodgy apple pie. This was so disappointing in countries like Germany and Austria that have such wonderful bread, cakes and pastries. There was a coffee machine in the back corner of the lounge but it would have been good to have also had a hot water dispenser for tea and hot chocolate. It was frustrating to queue for ages while people made their coffees when all you wanted was some hot water. At first nice sachets for hot chocolate were available but after a few days they were replaced with an uncovered bowl of cheap chocolate mix – this in a ship where people were constantly coughing from a nasty cold that was going right through the ship. It got so bad that people were ordering taxis at ports to take them to pharmacies and even the local hospital on the weekends to get medication. There was a choice at dinner of one white and one red wine that changed every night plus a house beer. There’s a bar the back of the lounge but it wasn’t easy to get any service. Even if you went up to the bar you were told to go sit down and wait for service. We waited 40 minutes to get a drink one night. The passengers were divided between those from Australasia who had prepaid their tips and those from North America who hadn’t. It became obvious that the wait staff were giving priority and better service to impress the people who hadn’t prepaid their tips. They always seemed to be served first and immediately presented with lots of bar snacks which instead we had to ask for. The back lounge has been converted to a steakhouse restaurant in the evenings which we went to once. The food was good and we enjoyed our evening with another couple. We sat there sometimes during the afternoons to try and avoid the coughing of the sick passengers. It was a pleasant place to sit and watch the wonderful views out of the floor to ceiling windows. Disembarkation was well organised and you could request taxis to be ordered in advance. We were very pleased to be allowed to stay on board for a while longer because we couldn’t get into our apartment until later in the morning. All in all, we felt the cruise was very good value for what we paid. But for the reasons given, mainly the bad mattress and variable quality of food, we wouldn’t book with Gate 1 again if we had to pay full price. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
I have been on a Viking Cruis previously and enjoyed it immensely. I wanted my husband to be able go on a cruise and he chose Rhine getaway!! It was enjoyed by both of us and we had a great time away as a celebration for our 40th ... Read More
I have been on a Viking Cruis previously and enjoyed it immensely. I wanted my husband to be able go on a cruise and he chose Rhine getaway!! It was enjoyed by both of us and we had a great time away as a celebration for our 40th Anniversary as well as for my husband's retirement fron teaching a year ago! We enjoyed everything about the cruise. It was enjoyable just looking out at the scenery while we were cruising. The Rhine is a working river and it was nice to see all kinds of boats cruising along. One of the highlights of the trip was the Top of Cologne Cathredal tour. It was very interesting and informative about the history of this Grand Cathredral! The view from the top was amazing and the tour finished just as the sun was setting. Well worth it!!! The people we met on the river cruise were very interesting and you could have a meal with someone different every day or have a meal with some of the people we found most interesting. The historical sites we visited were amazing and to think of how many years ago some of these places existed was mind boggling. We truly enjoyed our time on the cruise and everyone of the crew and staff were really wonderful and so welcoming. When we were away for the day it was nice to come back to the boat and see familiar faces to welcome us back! It was a really memorable experience for both of us and will look forward to going on another cruise in the future! Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
I had been on two river cruises before with AMA Waterways but this time chose Uniworld as it offered an Italian experience. The River Po is not itself particularly interesting although it does offer a change from the Venetian lagoon, ... Read More
I had been on two river cruises before with AMA Waterways but this time chose Uniworld as it offered an Italian experience. The River Po is not itself particularly interesting although it does offer a change from the Venetian lagoon, which in itself is spectacular. The ship, crew, captain were all excellent - clean, well managed, like a well-oiled machine. I was exceptionally lucky as the overall group seemed to be happy and well disposed. A highlight of the trip was an evening visit to St Mark's Venice with the eminent art historian Dr Steer, whose exposition of the cathedral was memorable and very entertaining. There is a daily choice of either on-board activity or tours and I chose (after Milan where we were for 1.5 days), Verona, Padua, Chioggia, Burano and Ferrara in addition to the days spent in Venice itself. Viewing the restoration of Da Vinci's Last Supper in Milan is also of interest to art lovers. Venice never disappoints and this time I booked a gondola ride, with a small group. The crew do everything in their power to make your stay enjoyable and deserve high commendation. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2017
We had a great time, as usual with Viking. For this trip in September, the weather was terrific. The chosen ports showed us a great "slice" of places along the Rhine River. We love Viking River and Ocean Cruise ships, with ... Read More
We had a great time, as usual with Viking. For this trip in September, the weather was terrific. The chosen ports showed us a great "slice" of places along the Rhine River. We love Viking River and Ocean Cruise ships, with wonderful service and attention to detail. We enjoy NOT being asked to pay for extras. There's always an excursion, at no extra cost, for every port -- although you can pay for some other options. Wine and beer are served at lunch and dinner -- at no cost. All staff do their jobs effectively and with a smile. On the downside, you do not get much time allotted to see the starting and ending ports on Viking cruises. It pays to either get the pre- and post-cruise excursions OR schedule with Viking to fly in early and/or leave later in order to visit those cities. BUT, we are spoiled with Viking and don't plan to cruise with anyone else -- unless it's a place Viking doesn't visit. Read Less
20 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
Having never been on any cruise and not wanting to be herded along, we were cautious about selecting a river cruise. We were three couples traveling together and knew where we wanted to go after some research. We chose AmaWaterways because ... Read More
Having never been on any cruise and not wanting to be herded along, we were cautious about selecting a river cruise. We were three couples traveling together and knew where we wanted to go after some research. We chose AmaWaterways because it seemed to offer the most variety in tours. We were not disappointed. We booked almost a year ahead and included flights, transfers, and extra days in Prague. Everything was well planned from embarking to the flight home. The ship was well appointed and the cabins in a good location. All the staff was friendly, making me feel guilty for all the service. Meals were wonderful and the portions allowed you to eat everything but not feel overstuffed. The shore excursions were led by very knowledgeable tour guides at every place. We tried a hike, my husband a bicycle tour, in addition to the regular tours. The onboard entertainment was very good and the excursions fun. Our cruise manager Dragsn was professional and organized. It was a wonderful experience to visit Central Europe. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
Our friends booked this cruise in 2016 and at the last minuet, we decided to see if there might be a vacancy a week before the departure date in Sep 2017. We got a call 4 days before that there was an opening and we took it. The next day ... Read More
Our friends booked this cruise in 2016 and at the last minuet, we decided to see if there might be a vacancy a week before the departure date in Sep 2017. We got a call 4 days before that there was an opening and we took it. The next day we received another call that we were bumped up to the top deck where our friends were. The plane ride to Budapest was booked on Lufthansa, which was first class all the way. Arriving in Budapest, Viking took our luggage and the next time we saw them, they were in our cabin. The cabin was perfect with a sliding glass door, TV and a small, but an amazing bathroom. The cabin staff was very polite and all business. If you wanted something, they did their utmost to get it for you. The ship was superb in every way. Spacious, uncluttered and perfect to relax in and on as we cruised the Danube river to Amsterdam. The food was amazing! If you were hungry it was your fault. I told the chef his menu was fantastic and I thanked him for his selections. The waiters in both dining areas were polite, friendly and very concerned about your needs, be it wine, beer, pop or water. Visiting the ports on the way to Amsterdam, you could take the many guided tours (at an extra cost), the free tours or you could go rambling on your own, which we did. After the tours were over, you had time to wander through the interesting towns or cities. The tour guides spoke perfect English and answered any questions you might have. It was amazing to see the flood heights marked on the walls of some of the towns. The hotel manager and his staff were extremely professional and did everything they could to make your cruise as stress free and relaxing as possible. On our return trip home, Viking took our luggage from the room and the next time we saw it was at the airport. If you want the absolute best cruise available, go Viking. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
My wife and I have now completed four river cruises with Scenic and yet again we have not been disappointed, it was excellent. The cabin was clean and tidy at all times by the housing keeping service, the butler service was great being on ... Read More
My wife and I have now completed four river cruises with Scenic and yet again we have not been disappointed, it was excellent. The cabin was clean and tidy at all times by the housing keeping service, the butler service was great being on call at all times, the balcony is unique to Scenic with the electric opening and closing windows that allow for you to sit out there regardless of the weather. The dining as usual was first class from the light lunches to the speciality table restaurants on board and being remembered by the crew for drinks and other services was especially great. As for the activities as we have come to expect from Scenic they were all great and well timed to not be totally exhausting but very informative and a wonderful experience each time. And we will always recommend Scenic for those who want luxury and an exceptional adventure that is value for money. Read Less
73 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
I found very few reviews for Gate 1 Travel and the Monarch Empress traveling the Danube so I thought I would post a quick summary. Marigold252's review in post #2409882 ("Gate 1 17 Day Danube River Cruise with Warsaw, Krakow, ... Read More
I found very few reviews for Gate 1 Travel and the Monarch Empress traveling the Danube so I thought I would post a quick summary. Marigold252's review in post #2409882 ("Gate 1 17 Day Danube River Cruise with Warsaw, Krakow, Budapest & Prague") on this forum has some fairly detailed additional information. This was our first river cruise and most of our tour experience has been with various Rick Steves' small group land tours - so our observations about this river cruise come from that perspective. Gate 1 Travel - Their tag line seems to say it all... "See More of the World for Less". I certainly was unfamiliar with them but many of our fellow cruisers had done numerous land tours with them over the course of 5 - 10 years. They seem pretty well established but have a low profile compared to some of the other river cruise lines. When I compare the quality of the ship, food, service, and experience compared to the many other cruise lines I researched, we certainly felt that it was great value for money. Ship - The Monarch Empress is quite new (first put into service in 2016 I believe). The decor was more modern/contemporary than what we saw on some of the other ships that were docked close to us. More about clean and sleek and less about overall glitz. Passengers - Approximately 130 or so passengers for our cruise - a slight majority from the US but Australia, New Zealand, and Canada folks were broadly represented -- with a smattering from other countries as well. The age range was mostly 50 to 80... with just a few folks that were either younger or older than this demographic. Daytime dress was generally casual - this was September so mostly long pants and a mix of layers to adjust for temperature and showers through the day. Dinner dress was a bit mixed. We specifically chose this cruise line over some others because we DIDN'T want to feel pressure to dress up for dinner every night. Men were generally dressed more casually than the women - slacks or dress jeans along with more casual collared/button-down shirts. Women (as expected) dressed up a bit more for dinner/evening... but from my observation the vast majority just tried to add a scarf, a nicer top, and maybe a bit of extra jewelry - though there were a handful of women that (in my opinion looked out of place) dressing in high heels and evening dresses. Cabin - I used the price difference between Gate 1 and many of the other cruise lines as an opportunity to upgrade to a top-floor "Suite" instead of a mid-level cabin. See the detailed review in the separate section below. Dining Experience - Because this cruise was more budget conscious, we expected the food to be on the simple/bland side - and we were actually very pleasantly surprised and the variety and quality. I know that some river cruise lines have lots of choices on the dinner menu but we felt that the choices on the Monarch Empress were rich and varied enough to more than meet our needs (and pad our waist lines). With a 4+ course meal (depending on how you counted such things) that was beautifully prepared, we never went hungry. Obviously, if you want to maximize your food experiences than this cruise line might not be a good match... but if you want to try a smaller (but plentiful) array of regional foods and yet have the fall back of some tried & true standbys, I think you will find what was served here to be more than adequate. Entertainment and Activities - Truthfully, our focus was on the ports and excursions and we took minimal advantage of on-board entertainment/activities. We were generally so tired after being out and about all day that we just wanted to fall in to bed and rest after dinner. My impression is that the on-board activities are probably a bit less sensational than what might be available on other (more expensive) cruise lines -- but in our case why would we want to pay extra for something we never used? Service - ABSOLUTELY EXCELLENT!! Our minimal experience with ocean cruises prepared us to expect fairly perfunctory service -- but the entire crew made us feel as if we were a part of their family. Within just a day or two the restaurant staff knew many of our specific dining habits - for instance, my desire for a beer instead of wine... it would be delivered to the table within a few seconds of my sitting down anywhere in the restaurant (even though we didn't have assigned seating). The folks that serviced the rooms operated silently in the background - but would address our every need with instant efficiency. Ports and Shore Excursions - This was a 7 day cruise and we added 2 or 3 days in both Budapest (at the beginning) and in Prague (at the end). We would have loved to spend a bit more time in each of the locations where we stopped -- but this is a challenge for nearly all of the river cruise lines... my research showed that they all had very similar itineraries. In our case we cruised up-stream.... which tends to make actual travel a bit slower. I don't know, however, if this translates into less time at each specific port or whether they simply travel longer at night. Be aware that many of the excursions start relatively early -- Often leaving by 8:15 or 8:30. If you signed up for most/all of the optional excursions (as we did), you may find that you have little time for leisure or taking advantage of after-dinner activities. Most (if not all) of the excursions (standard and optional) had knowledgeable local guides -- but don't expect that you will have the time for a deep-immersion experience... but rather just an introduction with a little time on your own to dig just a bit deeper. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
We chose this river cruise because we wanted a more personal experience, and to be on a smaller boat than a cruise ship. We had a feeling we would like this more than prior cruises we went on before, but didn't expect to love most ... Read More
We chose this river cruise because we wanted a more personal experience, and to be on a smaller boat than a cruise ship. We had a feeling we would like this more than prior cruises we went on before, but didn't expect to love most things about it as much as we did. The food was exceptional, with many offerings that covered everything from fresh and healthy, to rich and satisfying. Always very fresh and well prepared. The wines were very nice and of a wide variety. It was nice to taste different wines from different regions every night. The inclusive details made this a no -brainer for us. The excursions were all well thought out, and with very hospitable and knowledgeable guides. The travel to and fro to the different off site excursions were comfortable, and the drivers were very professional. The service was top tier as well. The smiling faces greeted us daily and consistently had very positive attitudes and pleasant conversation. Everyone who we encountered on the boat spoke very good English! It (their English) was very good! Read Less

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