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6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
This cruise, "Melodies of the Danube", was chosen by our travel agent. Upon entering the AmaCerto, we were so impressed by the elegance of the foyer and the lounge. The cabin was well-appointed with adequate space for clothing ... Read More
This cruise, "Melodies of the Danube", was chosen by our travel agent. Upon entering the AmaCerto, we were so impressed by the elegance of the foyer and the lounge. The cabin was well-appointed with adequate space for clothing storage. Even though this cabin was not a suite, we had two balconies. The bed was comfortable, the bathroom very adequate with a great shower, and the entire cabin was scrupulously maintained by the Amacerto housekeeping staff. The cruise manager, Nikola Grujin, was fantastic! Humorous and exceedingly helpful. Nikola was there for all of us in planning the trips to care of an injured passenger. Due to no fault of the Ship's crew, a passenger hurt her finger. All this is to say that Nikola accompanied the injured guest to Vienna hospital. Message to us: Ama Waterways staff will go the extra mile in the care of its passengers. Food & Drink: For all three meals, passengers can choose from the abundant buffet, or order from the menu. One of our friends ate vegetarian; a special elegant breakfast, lunch, and dinner was served to her. This was a wine-tasting cruise with Dr. Doug Garman, wine expert, that gave special lectures and wine tastings for all passengers. Touring & Entertainment: The guides were very well informed supplied by the local population. Choice of gentle to vigorous touring were offered. Opportunities for biking trips were for the younger folks. Since we are an elderly couple, we chose the more moderate excursions. Our favorite entertainment was a special concert of Mozart and Strauss at the beautiful Vienna Konzerthaus. We were entertained by Wiener Hofburg-Orchestra under the direction of Svetoslav Borisov; operatic solos and duets by soprano Ella Tyran and baritone, Michael Havlicek. Classical ballet pieces and Vienna folk dances were also included in the program. Every evening hours: beautiful music was provided by pianist, Gabor. A special onboard musical vocal duet of Vienna music was delightful. Even an Octoberfest beer celebration was provided by the local population. Disembarkation was professionally accomplished. All passengers were carefully delivered to the Munich airport. I cannot believe any other longship river cruise could offer a passenger more enjoyment. Don't miss a fabulous opportunity for a river cruise. Select Ama Waterways to be guaranteed fabulous experience. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
Though we are seasoned ocean cruisers, this was our first river cruise. We'll start with the documentation pack, which arrived in the post a few weeks before the cruise. We were most impressed with the elegant presentation, and ... Read More
Though we are seasoned ocean cruisers, this was our first river cruise. We'll start with the documentation pack, which arrived in the post a few weeks before the cruise. We were most impressed with the elegant presentation, and with the very comprehensive and well-organised information supplied. We were delighted by the river map, and later, on the ship, by the Douro guidebook, which was specifically tuned to all the places we visited. We were warmly and efficiently met at the airport by the cruise director, and transferred to the ship, where the captain greeted us at the gangplank. This was such a nice touch, and indeed Captain Afonso -- a most pleasant gentleman -- was often to be seen around the ship, doing everything from mingling with the passengers to helping with the mooring ropes, quite apart from his superb skills at the wheel. On the first night we had a short cruise under the Porto bridges as the sun went down. Emerald didn't have to give us that outing, but it was a lovely surprise. Our stateroom was not large, but the width and height restrictions needed to get the ship through the five locks make this understandable. It was nicely finished, and contained everything we could possibly need. There was a problem with intrusive mechanical noise on the first night, but Hotel Director Bruno resolved the situation promptly and very graciously. In fact, all of the crew were wonderfully warm and friendly; nothing was too much trouble for them. We won't list all the names, but nobody put a foot wrong. The one person we must mention is Executive Chef Nuno, who produced three wonderful meals every day: great variety, great flavour, great personality. He was often to be seen in the Reflections Restaurant, explaining the various dishes he had created, and frequently manning the egg station at breakfast. All the wines were Portuguese; every lunch and dinner featured at least one Portuguese speciality. We did only some of the included outings, on account of the very tiring heat, but we enjoyed those that we did. We avoided the evening trip in Folgosa, not only because of the heat, but also because of our dislike of mass catering. At the end of the holiday, our flight home wasn't until 6pm. We really appreciated being able to stay in the Horizons Lounge, and eat one more delicious lunch there, before our airport transfer at 2pm. After all that glowing praise, there were just a few minor things we weren't so happy about; we've written separately to Emerald about them. But the overall experience was excellent, and we're looking forward to our next Emerald cruise in 2018. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
We were invited by dear friends and had never been on a river cruise before and really had no expectations. Without reservation the experience for both my husband and I was wonderful - The adventures from Budapest through Prague were ... Read More
We were invited by dear friends and had never been on a river cruise before and really had no expectations. Without reservation the experience for both my husband and I was wonderful - The adventures from Budapest through Prague were incredible not only from a historic perspective but from a cultural one also. The cruise was most appropriate for us in that it balanced relaxation with historic touring ( we can still picture both of us sitting on the top deck and viewing the magnificent bridges and churches in Budapest and viewing the vastness and beauty as we traveled along the Danube) . We took advantage of the walking tours offered by Emerald Star which were lead by the most informative tour guides and extended our experience by attending an optional tour to the Opera House where we attended a Viennese concert with music from Mozart and Strauss - an awesome night!! Wish we had an extra day in Vienna - loved the enchanting village of Durnstein - my handmade Christmas ornament will be front and center on the tree this year. The accommodations and service on the Emerald Star were outstanding - While we weren't big fans of the two buffets they had the meals were excellent with attention to details. Amazed at how efficient the staff was - kudos to the chef - Cannot say enough about the staff - professional and courteous - attentive but not overbearing - looked forward to seeing them each day ( especially Sasha) - the crew presented a "show" one night which we are still talking about - I recorded the "happy birthday" song they sang to celebrate someone's birthday at dinner - will play it now that we are home as it brings a smile to our faces. Accommodations were perfect for us - room well appointed - very clean - beds and pillows very comfortable. Glad we had the "balcony" which gave us more space and viewing opportunities. Arrival and Departures very organized and orchestrated. It was obvious that we were in good hands with Bolash. Great Experience - Thank you dear friends for the invitation and thank you Emerald Star!! Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
We took this cruise to attack our "bucket list" and found it to be one of the most enjoyable experiences of our lives. Not only did we tour some of the most evocative sights in France, but we were treated exceptionally well by ... Read More
We took this cruise to attack our "bucket list" and found it to be one of the most enjoyable experiences of our lives. Not only did we tour some of the most evocative sights in France, but we were treated exceptionally well by arguably the most capable and entertaining crew imaginable. They truly made this cruise one for the books! The cruise director, chef, and other staff made the port briefings and subsequent evening dining a highlight and not merely the dissemination of information and provision of outstanding menu items. This is our third Viking cruise, and while they all have their own personalities, it is the interaction of the crew that will provided us with some of our more endearing memories. The excursions were exceptional as well, again because the staff worked so well together. Throw together iconic land destinations and the capabilities of the staff and you have an unbeatable combination. We'll see Viking again soon! Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
We have wanted to visit Portugal's famous Douro for many years. We couldn't have chosen a better way to explore this gorgeous wine producing region than our wine river cruise aboard the AmaVida. This ship offers everything: ... Read More
We have wanted to visit Portugal's famous Douro for many years. We couldn't have chosen a better way to explore this gorgeous wine producing region than our wine river cruise aboard the AmaVida. This ship offers everything: fine dining, outstanding daily excursions, spacious accommodations and a superb staff that anticipates the guests' every need. Each day was an exciting new adventure and by the time we departed the ship, we felt we had really come to understand and love the Douro and surrounding areas. While we chose to participate in each excursion, some friends in our group decided to stay on board and enjoy relaxing poolside. Their experience was just as special as ours. Whether you choose to immerse yourselves in Portugal's fascinating culture by joining the AmaVida's outstanding guides as they conduct their daily tours or simply explore the charming towns that are the overnight port stops, you can't go wrong. After this introduction to river cruising, we can't wait to explore other AmaWaterways wine river cruises. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2017
We explored Lisbon before we embarked our ship in Porto. I found Porto difficult to walk around with lots of potholes in the sidewalks and lots of empty buildings. In the future, I would skip Lisbon and head into Porto a little earlier. ... Read More
We explored Lisbon before we embarked our ship in Porto. I found Porto difficult to walk around with lots of potholes in the sidewalks and lots of empty buildings. In the future, I would skip Lisbon and head into Porto a little earlier. That being said, the hotel was lovely and our waitress in the hotel lobby knew her wines, and was generous in her information about Portuguese wines. Embarkation went smoothly. Our cabin was on Sapphire deck and was quite comfortable to our needs. Very comfortable bed. Housekeeping always kept the room immaculate and refreshed our little bar daily and gave us extra water. Loved the balcony which I could open and close at leisure. We ate mostly in the Crystal dining room, but often ate a lighter lunch in the sun lounge. We ate once in the Portobellos, the specialty restaurant. Food was delicious on all counts. Our entertainment and activities were light but highly interesting. Tours also were interesting, and there were always washrooms available. I am going to try to make the candied almonds that one person demonstrated on one tour. We especially liked the Fado music both on and off board, the cork demonstration, shopping with Chef and his demonstration, and tours to the wineries and villages. Service was always with a smile and we loved the staff, their hard work and humor. After disembarking at Porto, we flew on to Madrid. The only negative thing I have to say is about Portuguese airlines. Small and not on time. We loved Madrid. Our tour guide was knowledgable, warm and welcoming. She was always more than available and helpful. The streets are pedestrian friendly. We would definitely go there again. And our city tour guide who was also our guide at the Prado Art Gallery was exceptionally knowledgable. In conclusion, we loved Scenic. I love the all inclusive, I loved the wonderful variety of shipmates. I loved that the ship was Portuguese built, and the crew was Portuguese. But never fear - their English is impeccable. We would travel with Scenic again. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
My wife's grandparents were born in Budapest & Vienna areas, and was our initial interest in this river cruise on the Danube. The crew on the AmaSerena was excellent, and went out of their way to make everyone feel like family. ... Read More
My wife's grandparents were born in Budapest & Vienna areas, and was our initial interest in this river cruise on the Danube. The crew on the AmaSerena was excellent, and went out of their way to make everyone feel like family. The cabin was very comfortable, and having an outdoor Balcony made it very convenient to be outside without going up on deck. The crew provided 1st class service and dining was excellent, with both "Chef's Choices" and anything on the menu offered at all meals. The dining highlight was the intimate dinner at Chef's Table, with many courses included over a leisurely pace. The special dining room offered views from 3 sides. All excursions offered included up to 5 levels of walking difficulty, and provided detailed history, which covered many centuries, dating back to Roman times. The use of very knowledgable local Certified Guides provided a top notch experience. The night-time cruise thru Budapest offered a stunning view of all the city lights, including the Parliament building. One of our most memorable excursions was an intimate evening concert in Vienna. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
We took advantage of a special offer via Imagine Cruising a company we use and trust for this river cruise.We arrived at Lyon and boarded quickly and were very pleased at our cabin which was spotless and very welcoming with nice decor ... Read More
We took advantage of a special offer via Imagine Cruising a company we use and trust for this river cruise.We arrived at Lyon and boarded quickly and were very pleased at our cabin which was spotless and very welcoming with nice decor etc.We enjoyed the pleasant public areas and especially the sun deck with good seating and a lovely shaded area with also small but well presented pool to cool off in everyday.All meals and most drinks are included and were of very good quality.We enjoy different cultures and the food offered and like to try different tastes and always found something tasty at meal times.Salads.meats,fish desserts.cheeses including the breads were good.Tea and coffee are available at all times. We visited the South of France area from Lyon through Avignon,Arles etc down to the Port st Louis area which was the only port to disappoint.We think this last stop should be excluded from the itinerary as it's too industrial in this part.We enjoyed two trips outside of the towns that we moored in the centres.the first was to the Camargue area ending up in the lovely little seaside town of St Marie de la mer which is beautiful.The second was to Marseille but was too rushed and a bit frustrating as we only had 25 minutes around the port area which was the most interesting part of the city. The clientele are largely German with a few other nationalities and about 25 percent British and there was little mixing ,probably due to the language barriers and it was difficult to communicate and people gathered in the evenings in their own language groups.I hoped for more mixing It was very pleasant to sit to enjoy sunsets and the passing countryside as we leisurely sailed the river.All the main cities including Lyon and Avignon are easily explored from the boat and we have lovely memories of these beautiful places. the evenings were simple with light music playing as we enjoyed the company of fellow cruisers with inclusive drinks and food at hand at all time. We will certainly river cruise again and we hope with Arosa in the future.104 Read Less
32 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
This was our 5th cruise, 3rd with Viking. This was the best boat we've been on, but Viking continues to be plagued with problems. Embarkation was very smooth, as was disembarkation when we finished. Dining: It was extremely ... Read More
This was our 5th cruise, 3rd with Viking. This was the best boat we've been on, but Viking continues to be plagued with problems. Embarkation was very smooth, as was disembarkation when we finished. Dining: It was extremely difficult to make restaurant reservations ahead of the cruise, with a limit of 1 reservation per restaurant. That didn't get any better when we boarded...one of the staff members took all our requests, said he'd leave us a message confirming them, and then did absolutely nothing about it. The main dining restaurant (The Restaurant) doesn't open for breakfast until 8am, much too late for early morning shore excursions. And you can't just go in and find a table — get in the line and let them seat you! I have no idea why on earth they need to know your cabin number for a meal...it's all included! It just slows the whole process down, and I would not recommend going there at all for breakfast. They aren't even open for lunch. Dinners there were decent. The one day we ordered room service, they showed up with stuff we didn't order, and were missing stuff we did order. Not good. Shore Excursions: In this area, Viking gets an EPIC FAIL. Viking's cruises are plagued with old, infirm, and obese people who simply cannot walk comfortably around a town or city. So every single excursion you take will have several people who are limping along telling the guide to slow down, etc. It drove us nuts. Even on the St. Petersburg Hermitage Museum excursion, which was rated by Viking as "Demanding", we had 8-10 people in our group who could barely climb stairs. This aspect ruined most of the shore excursions for us. Local Guides: they weren't as good as we've had in the past. 2 of them gave us incorrect info about the location of shuttle buses back to the ship, leading to some anxious moments. Tipping: As usual, you need to constantly be looking to ensure you've got 5 Euros or 10 Krone or whatever, to tip the bus drivers and guides. Viking advertises itself as "all inclusive" but it isn't. Those tips and the daily "tip" that they automatically add to your stateroom bill add up. Viking needs to adopt the Scenic Cruises model — get on board and put your wallet in your safe...no tipping needed, it's truly all inclusive. That includes the beer you have after returning from an excursion at 3pm — on Viking, it'll cost you $8 but on Scenic it's all included. One of our shore excursions (Flam Railway) returned too late so we missed our afternoon excursion, despite Viking's schedule showing them as do-able. And on that excursion, our guide neglected to tell us that we'd be getting lunch. So I bought a couple sandwiches and sweet rolls on the train — for about $40 CDN — only to subsequently discover that they were giving us lunch at the end of the train ride. Staff: All the staff, with the exception of the ship's security officer, were friendly and helpful. We got very rude and aggressive treatment from the ship's security officer when we tried to join a shorter line re-boarding the boat after Berlin. I explained that we were just trying to help speed things up, but we were ordered to get back into our original line (now at the very end of the line). So about 40-50 people had to wait an additional 10 minutes to clear security when the other shorter line cleared, but Mr. Gestapo refused to let anyone go to that line. After a very long day, that finished us...we'll find another cruise line in future. Staterooms: Wonderful. This was the best boat we've been on. The rooms were very quiet compared to any other ship we've been on — you couldn't even hear your neighbouring rooms flush a toilet, or their TV. Comfortable king-sized bed, and plenty of room in the shower. Other: the ship had lots of nice lounges and areas to go have a coffee, read a book, play cards, have a drink, etc. The spa didn't meet my wife's simple needs — a gel fill for her nails. They don't do gel nails, which is ridiculous, as nearly every nail salon in Canada or the USA does. So they proposed to remove her gel nails in one session ($$$) and then put nail polish on her natural nails (um...NO) in another session ($$$). Another EPIC FAIL. Entertainment: we don't go on cruises to see the entertainment. But feedback from our travelling companions led us to believe that the entertainment on Viking Star was very middle class. Port Talks & Info Sessions: a few of these were very educational and entertaining. But the Port Talks (about next day's port) were held at 6:45 PM, right in the middle of the dinner hour! Another questionable judgement by Viking. All in all, I doubt seriously we'll be back on a Viking cruise. These same problems come up again and again with them, and it's time to move on. Our experience with Scenic Cruises was that they have the same boats, service, etc as Viking, but you don't have to bother with all the tipping as it's pre-paid...well worth the extra few bucks. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
How does the saying go? Champage taste and beer pocket? This trip was champage price and….lets just say too disappointing for words! We had always wanted to do a river cruise as we had heard so many great reviews of this type of ... Read More
How does the saying go? Champage taste and beer pocket? This trip was champage price and….lets just say too disappointing for words! We had always wanted to do a river cruise as we had heard so many great reviews of this type of trip. We finally booked a 16-day cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest through Gate 1 Travel. Gate 1 put us up at the Amsterdam Hilton Hotel for two nights prior to embarkation on to the “Monarch Queen”. On the day of embarkation, we had an early morning tour date, and we made arrangements with the bell hop at the hotel that we would handle our luggage ourselves. When we returned to the hotel our luggage was not in our room!. It appeared that someone from Gate 1 arranged for our suitcases to be delivered to the lobby. We had not finished packing and were clearly upset with this "invasion of privacy". As we boarded the ship it was immediately evident that this was not the luxury ship that we had anticipated. The ship appeared tired and dated. Our stateroom was basic. Upon first use of the bathroom sink, we noticed a strong sewer gas smell. It was putrid. We immediately reported the problem and after some time, a temporary fix was done. A few days later, the smell was back. Eventually they put enough chemicals down the sink to get rid of the smell. The food on this cruise was at best, mediocre. Most of the soups were cream-based soups and they all tasted like “cream of mushroom soup” even though they claimed to be different vegetable soups. There were main course options of fish, meat or vegetarian at every meal. All were mediocre. Often too salty, or not enough salt. The bread basket which was provided at dinner, was the same type of bread and, occasionally, they ran out of the grain bread and offered a lesser quality rye bread. In Europe, where the pastries and breads are so delicious, the limited selection of bread was surprising and disappointing. We often bought our own bread when out on excursions and brought it back to the boat. Bottled water seemed to be at a premium and only available in the cabin. The water which was served in the dining room must have come from a holding tank. The water tasted and smelled foul and was not drinkable. The service in the dining room was terrible. We understood that they were short staffed, but why should that become our problem? Getting a waiters attention for coffee refill at breakfast, or wine at dinner was next to impossible. We had asked for a decaf coffee one evening after dinner and were told we would have to go to the lounge and get it ourselves! The dining room wait staff was not properly trained. For example, women were not served first; wait staff reached in front of passengers to collect dirty dishes. One server wore a very strong perfume which was quite offensive. The dining room itself was not an elegant or classy room. The dishes were not quality china. In fact, many dishes were chipped. This was not fine dining. The lounge had a cappuccino/expresso machine and also a variety of teas were available. There were only cookies available for a snack. The television in our cabin was not working in the room. When the crew member came to repair the television, he accused us of pulling the tv out from the wall too far and thereby breaking the cable. We took exception to this accusation. The ship is not that old, but is not kept up. The walking track on the upper deck was covered with a rubber compound that was torn in some areas, presenting a potential tripping hazard. There was virtually NO shade on the top deck. There were some screen canopies, but they did not provide full shade. The tours were fine but they were not in-depth or well researched. The on-board lectures were equally not terribly interesting. The best crew member was our room steward. The room was always cleaned perfectly!!! And she was always willing to accommodate any request. Overall, this was probably one of the worst trips we had ever taken. The price of this cruise was excessive for what we got!!! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2017
We wanted to experience a more intimate, friendly cruise experience. We have grown tired of the big, mega ships with thousands of passengers. The meals were of top quality and a highlight of each evening. The ship staff were always ... Read More
We wanted to experience a more intimate, friendly cruise experience. We have grown tired of the big, mega ships with thousands of passengers. The meals were of top quality and a highlight of each evening. The ship staff were always polite and willing to help with any question s we had. The excursions were right on. They were long enough so we could enjoy the locale that we were visiting and still gave us time to unwind before dinner on the ship. In general, everything went well. All the events and excursions were well planned and went off without a hitch. GREAT TRIP. We enjoyed the experience so much that we have already booked another river cruise for next summer. Both of our fathers served in Europe during the second world war and we wanted to partially retrace their footsteps throughout France and Germany. Again a very good trip. Worth every penney. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
I have travelled with Gate 1 several times before so did not hesitate to book a river cruise. The cruise overall was acceptable. I tried not to compare to ocean cruising which is totally different from river cruising. The Monarch ... Read More
I have travelled with Gate 1 several times before so did not hesitate to book a river cruise. The cruise overall was acceptable. I tried not to compare to ocean cruising which is totally different from river cruising. The Monarch Queen is in dire need of refurbishing. She is tired and the furniture are ratty and appears dirty. The deck chairs were almost thread bare and in some case ripped. There were not enough chairs when we were urged to go up top for the great views. The views were wonderful and give you a perspective that only going by river can give you. The dining room seemed to be having some issues with personnel and rumor had it, some quit in the first few days. Not good for the clients who expected good service. Choice of meals left me wondering. There was one of each meat, fish and veggie choice for each dinner. Chicken breast was always available. Only one choice for dessert. Soups were well done. If you were a big eater, you could have been left wanting for more. The portions were very small. Beer and wine were included for dinner but getting your waiters attention for a refill was a feat. One of our wait staff had a cold which quickly went throughout the boat. Not good. Coughing, sniffling, sneezing and nose blowing were not very appetizing. Afternoon tea was a half hour only with the sweets quickly being whisked away at the half hour mark. There was a 24 hour coffee bar which was used extensively. The rooms were comfy enough as we had a French balcony room. Beds were good. Bathroom was small but well laid out. Took some getting used to the shower which had 3 different heads. Our cabin porter was amazing in keeping our cabin clean. Going through 68 locks was interesting and a slow process. There seems to be a great deal of traffic on the rivers we travelled - Rhine, Main, & Danube. The included city tours were basic and informative. Our tour director Christina was very knowledgeable on the history of the regions. The optional day tour to Salzburg was definitely a highlight for me. Beautiful city with so much history. Entertainment was so-so with most of the entertainment coming from the passengers themselves in the way of contests. The piano player Peter was OK albeit he only played for a few hours a day. The few entertainers that boarded for the evening were professional and everyone seemed to enjoy. Typical with all companies, they try to make up profits off the bar. This was no exception. A draft beer came at a cost of 4.3 euros - not cheap. A rye and ginger ale tallied up a whopping 8.3 euros.... I will not hesitate to travel with Gate 1 again as I still feel they offer good value for the dollar spent. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
We were invited to join friends on this cruise and are so glad we did. Our cabin was on the lower deck (230) and was very comfortable. It was above the water level and had a full picture window, unlike the standard cabins on the Rhine and ... Read More
We were invited to join friends on this cruise and are so glad we did. Our cabin was on the lower deck (230) and was very comfortable. It was above the water level and had a full picture window, unlike the standard cabins on the Rhine and Danube. No complaints at all. The food was excellent as was some of the local Russian wine. Our somewhat complex travel arrangements were expertly handled by the Viking travel desk. The only negative was that two of my flights in Europe were booked in basic economy class so I got hit with two unexpected baggage charges, but when I complained to Viking they refunded the amount of the charges. You can see photos and some background on our cruise at tsarwaterways.shutterfly.com but here are some additional comments. Our cruise began in St. Petersburg and ended in Moscow - I think that's probably the best direction to do it. We had spent two days in St. Petersburg in 2009 and were happy to repeat some experiences and add new ones. Repeat visits to Catherine Palace and Peterhof were excellent and I would highly recommend visiting these places. The canal cruise was most enjoyable and really showed how St. Petersburg was designed and built around the canals - an appreciation one doesn't get from driving around. An evening at the ballet was most enjoyable even though the performance wasn't by the Mariinsky as they were on tour for the summer. The folkloric show was totally geared to tourists but good fun and well done. The middle section of the cruise on the waterways took us through remote countryside. Because of this, most of the excursions required a bus ride to get to the site of interest and in some cases the amount of time to explore was less than one wanted. However, the quality of the guides was very good. Three (Russian) Viking guides accompanied the cruise from beginning to end and they were excellent in explaining the historical and cultural background to what we were seeing as well as in general organization (including locating one traveler who got lost in Moscow!). Yes, one sees a lot of churches but their beauty is outstanding. Despite the distance from towns of any size, the ship was adequately provisioned with fresh and plentiful food and even fresh flowers every day. We opted for the extension in Moscow and easily filled the extra days: there is so much to see. After being shown the ropes we became quite adept at traveling on the metro. It's really not that difficult, though it helps if you have learned the Russian alphabet (there are a few lessons on that on board the ship). While we didn't speak any Russian, I was glad I had taught myself the alphabet and a few words in advance. Most of the museums we visited had some English language displays and audio guides in English. The hotel in Moscow, the old Soviet Ukraina, was great: luxurious and centrally located. One thing that was different from our previous Viking river cruises was that we had to select most excursions before departure and many of them involved an additional charge. I imagine this is because the logistics of running such excursions is so much more complex in Russia. The main negative on this cruise, which is out of Viking's control, is that the ships have to dock far out of the center of St. Petersburg and Moscow so getting into the city involved a bus or metro ride. All in all, the few negatives were minor while the positives were huge and I have no hesitation in recommending this cruise. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
Went on our first river cruise after many Cruise ship trips. We selected scenic since they advertise a fully inclusive experience. With the exception of our massages EVERYTHING was included except that we arranged our own air and pre ... Read More
Went on our first river cruise after many Cruise ship trips. We selected scenic since they advertise a fully inclusive experience. With the exception of our massages EVERYTHING was included except that we arranged our own air and pre hotel. We arrived a few days early in Amsterdam. When we arrived at the ship, we were checked in immediately and they greeted us as they removed our luggage from our taxi and delivered them directly to our cabin. The ship was clean and decorated very nicely. Our cabin was larger than we had on cruise ships with plenty of space for all our clothes and stuff. We had a balcony room that allowed extra seating as well. All rooms were assigned a "butler" to get anything we needed in addition to the room steward. From room service to morning or afternoon coffee/tea all was available. The min bar was refilled daily with anything we requested. Again all included. Each port had multiple excursion available all included. They ranged from hiking and using the on board bikes to trips for the easy walkers. The average age was 65 and 95% of the cruisers were active. Some cruisers were in their 40’s and the majority 50s and 60s. There were private concerts at different venues in port as well as local performances on board. The daily port talks were informative and allowed us to select which level of excursion we wanted in the following ports. The dining room had plenty of space and the food was tasty and the presentation was eye appealing. They were more than happy to cater to any special dietary needs. Daily they offered the daily special, Healthy alternative, Vegetarian meals . If you had any other special requests they were more than happy to accommodate if possible. In addition room service was available as well as the river café for lighter foods. Our cruise director Cathy was always there to make sure everything was perfect. If there were any complaints she was on top of everything to make sure it got corrected quickly. This is an Australian based company so the majority of passengers were from there which only enhanced our travel experience as Americans. We would definitely go on another river cruise with Scenic again Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
We were on a large group (wine club) cruise from California. The lack of quality excursions was disappointing. The cruise takes place in the heart of the French wine region yet there were little to no wine related excursions offered. ... Read More
We were on a large group (wine club) cruise from California. The lack of quality excursions was disappointing. The cruise takes place in the heart of the French wine region yet there were little to no wine related excursions offered. Since we were in multiple towns, in multiple AVA's, there should have been many half and full day excursions offered. I had to search and plan our own trips myself, including drivers to take us to wineries we were interested in visiting. I believe very little effort would be required by Emerald Waterways in securing such excursions. The dining experience on board the Emerald Liberte was just so-so. Breakfast was the same day after day with the only thing changing was the flavor of the yoghurt and the pastries. Lunch was poor with what seemed to be prepared from canned or frozen foods. Meat and gravy, fish, vegetables that didn't seem fresh, and pasta that was flavorless. There were no lunchmeats or cheeses to make a sandwich with. Dinner had good presentation but everything else was lacking. The meat was a poor cut and was tough. The vegetables were fresh, as the chef was seen shopping in town most days, but they were just steamed with no effort to enhance the flavors. We were in France for God sake, at least have some sort of French cuisine. I can get American food everyday of the year at home. Our only true French cuisine was the night we went into town on our own. The ship was wonderful and the staff was excellent, very helpful with any questions we had and were very personable with everyone. The towns were well chosen with a lot of history represented in each. Would I go again? I would really have to consider that with the food being a large part of any cruise. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
We had never done a river cruise. So we arrived with a little trepidation. Left with love. Food,crew, boat, was perfect. Other passengers were fine, mostly from the US. We fell in with a couple from Canada and another couple from Aussie ... Read More
We had never done a river cruise. So we arrived with a little trepidation. Left with love. Food,crew, boat, was perfect. Other passengers were fine, mostly from the US. We fell in with a couple from Canada and another couple from Aussie land and a group from the US, don't think we've laughed that much for years I'd include the crew in that. Cabins were as good as any hotel we've stayed in around the world, not huge, but then we spent most of our time either on trips or in the public lounge, on the sun deck or in the spar, we had a great bed and beautiful bathroom. I'm a fussy sleeper, a feather pillow I asked, "no problem said reception" We had been on a sea cruise in 2016, it was fine! But we are now river cruisers. The Captain and crew were friendly and very hard working. My advice to anyone reading this review is, ignore reviews that complain about food or their cabins or the crew. My wife and I spend a lot of the year traveling and if you think this review is over the top and sycophantic, please see other reviews on TripAdvisor under my Whinchmore hill reviews. For me the highlight of the trip was the excursion to the Normandy beach's, while my wife loved the visit to the Chateau of (Not to night) Josephine and Napoleon. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
Timing and route. couldn't fault the staff and ship. Everything worked. Superb hard working crew and cruise director. Food as good as it gets and we have done 60+ such cruises since retiring 20 years ago . We did several optional ... Read More
Timing and route. couldn't fault the staff and ship. Everything worked. Superb hard working crew and cruise director. Food as good as it gets and we have done 60+ such cruises since retiring 20 years ago . We did several optional pay extra excursions and thought some over priced. additionally,would like to have heard more commentary on the "passing parade" given that we sailed more than 1600 miles amongst one of the great waterways of the world. note this is just a suggestion, not a criticism on what was truly a wonderful travel experience , great ship and superb all- american crew who looked after we guests who were allseniors as if we were family. After dinner musician entertainers were mostly themselves seniors who played the stuff relished by our own generation. as a former muscian i rate most of what i heard as "intrumental virtuoso". Well done american cruise lines. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
Terrific cruise of “COMPLETE MISSISSIPPI” – August 4th thru 26th From New Orleans to Saint Paul MN (8 states in 22 days; 21 nights) on the paddle wheeler (fake) “America” operated by American Cruise Lines (ACL); launched in ... Read More
Terrific cruise of “COMPLETE MISSISSIPPI” – August 4th thru 26th From New Orleans to Saint Paul MN (8 states in 22 days; 21 nights) on the paddle wheeler (fake) “America” operated by American Cruise Lines (ACL); launched in 2016; has 185 passenger capacity but we had only 137 passengers on board. The Cruise Critic's professional review (https://www.cruisecritic.com/reviews/review.cfm?ShipID=1182 ) was spot on but I would add my observations and opinions: • The itinerary was FANTASTIC for us (a photographer and an American history buff). DW shot about 300 photos on her phone and more on her professional camera (numerous eagles, herons, pelicans, cormorants, and others plus wonderful antebellum houses). Every port had interesting aspects; some were stunning! I loved the discussions (lectures) and the ports. The excursions were well done with very good local tour guides and with a Cruise Director or an Asst. CD accompanying on the buses (with restrooms). • Clientele is “older”! We had maybe 2 under 60 and several over 90. Many with mobility issues; the staff handled the situations well. Clientele was also “well-heeled”, well-traveled and congenial. • The formal entertainment was very enjoyable. The on-board “Riverorians” were terrific (better than Smithsonian’s lecturers on Regent Seven Seas Cruises) – discussions were about the Louisiana Purchase, cotton/slavery, Civil War, steam boats, immigration to the West, and controlling the Mississippi River water via dam/locks and dredging. Discussions were held in a spacious, comfortable, family room-like venue. The after dinner entertainment (about an hour) was music (jazz, Dixieland, blues, country, and “oldies”- that had some fantastic performers). • Cabin was best that we had on a river cruise – spacious, quiet, bright, with lots of storage drawers and a small but adequate closet. Bathroom is “cozy” but well-lit and well-ventilated with adequate storage and a nice shower with instant hot water. • Food (of course subjective) for us was good; baked goods were SUPERB, per my wife the baker and me the taster. Breakfast was better for me than what I had on "Luxury" cruises. Lots of complimentary wine (mostly California) and beer (some local) during lunch, “Happy-hour”, and dinner service. • Downsides? Yes! -The staff is American college “kids” for which service is surely not going to be a career. We came to expect at least one gliché per day in either dining or house-keeping. -The cruise is “pricey” as it is an American- registered boat that must meet all U.S. maritime regulations. - There is no Doctor or Nurse aboard. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2017
This was our first river cruise after completing over 20 ocean cruises in the past few years and we would do another in a heart beat. We were concerned that the smaller vessel would be too confined after the space and entertainment ... Read More
This was our first river cruise after completing over 20 ocean cruises in the past few years and we would do another in a heart beat. We were concerned that the smaller vessel would be too confined after the space and entertainment facilities on the larger cruise ships but we were not disappointed. The cabins were very well appointed with facilities beyond our expectations and the the public rooms were large enough to hold all the ships guests at one sitting. The food on board was excellent and it was very pleasing to see the Chef and his assistants returning daily from the local markets with fresh produce and supplies for our enjoyment. The shore excursions were very professionally handled...departing and arriving back at the ship on time which meant everyone had time to relax before the next activity started. As expected due to space limitations the entertainment was scaled down compared to the large cruise ships however there was music recitals, dancing and lectures to keep everyone entertained. No complaints means a satisfying relaxing holiday and that's what we got from Analon. Thoroughly recommended. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2017
Price & itinerary and our availability to travel with our good friends. Also, have cruised with Viking before and knew of the high standard. This was our 3rd cruise with the same friends and really enjoyed it. The weather was very ... Read More
Price & itinerary and our availability to travel with our good friends. Also, have cruised with Viking before and knew of the high standard. This was our 3rd cruise with the same friends and really enjoyed it. The weather was very hot but that is something that Viking cannot control. Crew was very solicitous about offering bottles of water each time we embarked or disembarked the ship. Tour guides tried to keep us in the shade on tours as much as possible. We enjoyed all the various tours of wineries and wine tastings. Also the visits to chateaux. We loved the surprise lunch at Chateau Siaurac hosted by the ship's chef and entire wait staff. The crew, down to the last one, were courteous, helpful, professional and friendly. Our cabin steward, Helen, always greeted us with a big smile and always asked if we needed anything. She is a tremendous asset to Viking. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2017
We had been on a river cruise before with another company and very much enjoyed this kind of experience which you cannot get on an ocean cruise. We were not disappointed this time around. From the shuttle service which took us to ... Read More
We had been on a river cruise before with another company and very much enjoyed this kind of experience which you cannot get on an ocean cruise. We were not disappointed this time around. From the shuttle service which took us to the airport from a hotel in Paris (only four of us in the bus!), we knew we were in the hands of a company that was intent on providing first class service. The food was divine - for lovers of seafood this cruise is a paradise! Snails, mussels, and oysters on the last day! - the wine flowed freely, the staff were super-hospitable and attentive, the shore excursions were well-organized with several options for each venue depending on interest and the level of fitness of the travelers. The cruise director, Helene, is perhaps the greatest asset of this ship, so effervescent, funny and enthusiastic, that I don't think there was a soul on ship who didn't fall in love with her! Add to that the unique pleasure of a river cruise, where you can relax and appreciate the beauty of the scenery along the way and where the small number of passsengers - we were less than 100, I believe - creates a more friendly and intimate atmosphere which enables you to make friends more easily. And of course the beauty of Normandy and of Paris, for those like us who decided to extend our trip by a few days. I cannot think of anything negative to say about this cruise other than the fact it was over too soon! We will definitely go with AMA Waterways on more river cruises, perhaps next time to Vietnam and Cambodia. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2017
This is the first river cruise we have ever experienced - a bit of a risk since it was to celebrate our wedding anniversary. We neither of us liked the prospect of an ocean cruise and thought this might be a good alternative. We set off ... Read More
This is the first river cruise we have ever experienced - a bit of a risk since it was to celebrate our wedding anniversary. We neither of us liked the prospect of an ocean cruise and thought this might be a good alternative. We set off with no clear expectations. We need not have worried. Our programme director, Kieran, was excellent. Very funny, knowledgeable and customer oriented. The Viking Beyla is a lovely ship with a truly wonderful, hardworking and dedicated crew, and our excursions were very enjoyable with some first class guides. The ship is small and so, of course, was our stateroom but there was a place for everything and it was very comfortable. Food on the ship was plentiful and of high quality. The ship is well appointed with many quiet corners if you are in need of some peace. The entire crew was first rate and nothing was too much trouble for them. They worked tirelessly to ensure an excellent experience. Our only disappointment was the trip to Meissen. Due to our dates, we were there on a Sunday so after the trip to the porcelain factory there was nothing to do in Meissen itself if you did not want to do the guided tour as the shops were all closed It's a very small town so there is little to see and it was raining - hey ho! Given the size of the ship, there was no gym, fitness area or spa so we have only listed this element as average. The sundeck did have a little games area - quoits perhaps and one other. There were plenty of seats and umbrellas to accommodate all on board. There was a very small library opposite the reception area. Embarkation and disembarkation were smooth and faultless. Given the very hot weather in Europe, the Elbe was very low and we were therefore unable to embark from the intended first point and had to coach to Ban Schandau - a bit of a long journey from Prague but otherwise fine. The Captain used his knowledge of the river and contacts along the way to 'have a wave sent down to us from Decin' - yes, you read that correctly! The wave duly arrived which gave the Elbe enough depth to enable the rest of our journey. The hotels used in Prague and Berlin were the Hilton. They are rated 5*. The one in Prague was fine but we were disappointed in the Berlin Hilton. Whilst its location is excellent - right on the Gendarmemarkt and therefore an easy walk to Check Point Charlie, the Branderburg Gate and other sites - we found some of the staff quite arrogant and they charged for bottle water in the room (that did not happen in Prague). Apparently, charging for water is the norm in German hotels but this is an international chain and their standards should be the same, whatever the country. We felt the Hiltons are not to the standard they once were. So, in sum, this was a highly memorable holiday and we would certainly recommend Viking. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2017
We are UK residents and live about 30 miles from London. We wanted a 7-day cruise with not too far to travel, so went for 7-days Paris to Normandy & return to Paris. Used Avalon last year on the Rhine and it was great. We ... Read More
We are UK residents and live about 30 miles from London. We wanted a 7-day cruise with not too far to travel, so went for 7-days Paris to Normandy & return to Paris. Used Avalon last year on the Rhine and it was great. We travelled by air then, not our favourite these days but it was good from Heathrow to Zurich and return. This year we opted for Eurostar as our only previous experience, a short break to Lille, was good. This time it was a disaster, we missed our train by 2 minutes, as the security/passport control queue was massive. (Sat. morning). This cost us an extra £190 to get on a train 4 hours later, in separate seats, that was the only option. Return journey was terrible, we were dropped off at a side entrance and had a massively long walk to get to the Eurostar Terminal. The economy seats were tired and uncomfortable. At the end of the journey we had a massive walk to find our pick-up driver and then another huge walk to the car park. So our advice is unless you are young and fit, avoid Eurostar. The Avalon River Cruise part was very good, service, food accommodation etc. first class. Avalon include tips as well for UK customers and offer beer, wine & soft drinks at lunch and dinner included. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2017
We chose Emerald for our first river cruise based on reputation and information available on website. Have previously taken ocean cruises we now felt we wanted to try the intimacy of a smaller ship. The itinerary looked interesting and ... Read More
We chose Emerald for our first river cruise based on reputation and information available on website. Have previously taken ocean cruises we now felt we wanted to try the intimacy of a smaller ship. The itinerary looked interesting and have always wanted to visit Vienna. Embarkation was smooth and were taken to our Panoramic balcony stateroom by a member of staff. The cabin was modern and spotless. Large ceiling to floor window which gave a wonderful view while travelling and this was enhanced when the window was lowered. Our cabin steward was very good and always greeted us by name. He worked very hard and the cabin was spotless throughout the cruise. We enjoyed the planned stops and the quality of guides was very good with interesting content. They were very knowledgeable and spoke good English. The tours were not too long and mostly took part in the mornings so we were back on board for lunch. The self service lunches were a little chaotic. The served dinners were much more civilised and the restaurant staff were all very professional and very attentive. The quality of food overall was good. Highlights were the classical recital in Vienna and the tour of Vienna. Passau was lovely and wish we had more time there. The afternoon tea with a Slovakian family was also enjoyable. Entertainment was low key in the evenings, however the Bararian dancers and the band were good. The small infinity pool at the rear of the ship and its lounge area were ideal if you wanted peace and quiet and it also gave you a lovely view. The organisation by the cruise director Jana was exceptional and she definitely had her finger on the button. Nothing was too much trouble and a couple of times things had to be changed and she did this efficiently. Going through the many locks was an interesting experience and we passed under some very low bridges. Overall this was a lovely experience and a good introduction to river cruising. Read Less

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