Clean room and ship generally well maintained
Food and Drink
Included wine poor quality table wine.
All food was luke warm or cold.
Food was not good quality e.g. steak thin and ... Read More
Clean room and ship generally well maintained
Food and Drink
Included wine poor quality table wine.
All food was luke warm or cold.
Food was not good quality e.g. steak thin and tough
No tables for two in main restaurant and only two on Aquavit Terrace.
Menu on Aquavit Terrace same every night and similar to pub food (eg beef burgers)
Maître d’ had a bandaged finger for a week but was still serving and touching food in the Aquavit Terrace while not wearing gloves.
Waiters leaned across your dessert to clear the table and tried to take away plates before you had finished.
Double docking with another Viking cruise ship meant we had no balcony for two days.
Often left for too long in the town before picked up by coach e.g. Miltenberg.
On a night when 4 coaches took guests to a concert, the restaurant staff would not let us sit at a table for 4 as a couple, even though there were a large number of tables available and insisted we sat on a table for 12.
We would not go on another Viking river cruise. Read Less
First of all I should mention that we had awful weather - cold and wet - and this obviously affected my enjoyment of the cruise. We were new to river cruising and I am glad that we chose a shorter cruise as our intro. There were no onboard ... Read More
First of all I should mention that we had awful weather - cold and wet - and this obviously affected my enjoyment of the cruise. We were new to river cruising and I am glad that we chose a shorter cruise as our intro. There were no onboard activities apart from a quiz one evening. Scenic cater for the more mature traveller and we found that the tours were not active enough. For example the best day weather wise was Salzburg but there were two stops on the way there so having done the walking city tour - one hour - and had lunch, there was only 45 minutes of free time. Regarding the ship itself, the restaurant and bar area were very cold - I was in layers the whole time. If you feel the cold take plenty of sweaters and shawls to put over evening wear. People didn't seem to dress up as much as they do on ocean cruises. There are also 68 locks to navigate if you take the whole trip to Amsterdam so nights are noisy - take earplugs. We dined in Portobello which is just a glassed off area at the front of the bar and also Table la Rive which is just a table for twelve at the far end of the restaurant - both meals were good. The standard of food overall was good with plenty of choice although the buffet dinner on the first night was a bit of a scrum. There were some interesting towns along the way - its worth walking around Regensburg because if you choose the Weltenburg abbey trip you won't see the town at all. I would have liked to explore Passau but as soon as we came back from the tour of Salzburg we sailed off - there did seem to be a rush to get to the next lock - presumably to avoid queueing. The sun deck was closed off most of the trip because the river was high and bridges low. Read Less
We've done a couple of ocean cruises and always wanted to go on a River Cruise. So we chose Viking (the best reputation) and sailed from Amsterdam to Basal, Switzerland. The ship was very nice and comfortable. Staff were excellent ... Read More
We've done a couple of ocean cruises and always wanted to go on a River Cruise. So we chose Viking (the best reputation) and sailed from Amsterdam to Basal, Switzerland. The ship was very nice and comfortable. Staff were excellent as was the food. And our room was lovely and spacious with a veranda that we didn't use often, but it was nice to have.
When we asked about river cruises, one of the positives was that the ship docked right in the towns and we would get off the ship and be able to walk around. Out of the 7 or 8 stops we made, that only occurred twice. The rest of the stops required us to take a bus and, in one case, the bus was a 10 minute walk away. So that was disappointing. The excursions overall were very nice, although the additional excursions that we purchased were only so-so and, in hindsight, we should not have booked them. On the last two days we were out all morning on a regular excursion, than back for lunch. Then out for a second excursion which lasted until 6:30pm. With dinner at 7 that doesn't allow any time to rest or clean up. And on the last day the ship was delayed at the locks so they didn't get to our dock until 45 minutes after we arrived on the bus. And it was just a field with a little dock so we had no place to go - just stand outside the bus and wait. Not fun.
While it was quite lovely to be able to sit on the deck with a glass of wine and cruise down the Rhine, there was nothing else to do on the ship. Because we were used to ocean cruises where there is always some activity, this felt like a real lack. No pool, no snack bars or places to eat other than the one restaurant and the terrace. It was relaxing to just sit and read. But after awhile we found ourselves getting antsy and wanting something to do. This is no fault of the cruise line. It was just our expectations.
At many ports the ships dock right next to each other so, if you have a window or balcony on the wrong side, you have to keep the shades closed or you will be looking into someone else's bedroom.
All in all, I'm glad we took a river cruise for the experience. But going forward we can book three ocean cruises for the cost of one river cruise and that is what we will do. Read Less
We went on a Rhine Getaway Viking Cruise on May 9 through May 16, 2015. While we had been on numerous ocean cruises up until now, this was the first river cruise we had done. Overall, we generally enjoyed the excursions, rooms, and good ... Read More
We went on a Rhine Getaway Viking Cruise on May 9 through May 16, 2015. While we had been on numerous ocean cruises up until now, this was the first river cruise we had done. Overall, we generally enjoyed the excursions, rooms, and good food. However, the trip was beset throughout with issues such as poor communication and unsatisfactory decisions that benefited Viking and not its customers. Examples include:
1. We were promised that we would obtain our information packet three weeks before we left for the trip. However, we did not receive it until a week before we left.
2. The day before we left on May 8 for the airport to fly to Basel, Switzerland, we received an email telling us we would be on the Viking Idi instead of the Viking Kvasir. The only explanation given for this change was high water in the Rhine. Other than a change of ship, no additional information was given and we all assumed that the trip would resume exactly as originally planned except for this change in ship.
3. After arrival at the Basel airport on Saturday, May 9, we were all loaded onto the Viking bus and assumed we would be delivered to the Viking Idi after a 15 - 20 minute ride to our pier in Basel. However, after a 1 ½ hour bus ride, it became apparent that our destination was somewhere in Germany and not Basel, Switzerland. Shortly after this, we were dropped from our bus onto the Viking Idi and finally told that the Idi was in Breisach, Germany. They provided a short tour of Breisach after arriving on the ship and unpacking. During the briefing that evening, we were at last told that our ship could not reach Basel due to the high water in the Rhine and therefore had lost any ability to tour there. Instead we stayed two nights in Breisach.
4. On Sunday evening, May 10, during the briefing for our arrival Tuesday in Kehl, Germany / Strasbourg, France, we were told that we would be moving from the Viking Idi to the Viking Kvasir the following Tuesday, May 12. This would require each passenger to pack Monday evening and place their luggage outside the stateroom for transfer to our new ship. As compensation for our inconvenience, Viking told us we would receive free drinks in the lounge during the evening of Monday, May 11 for one hour from 6:00 to 7:00 pm and each passenger would receive a $25 shipboard credit.
5. Unfortunately, the Monday afternoon optional excursion of the Alsace wine tour and tasting delayed us for attending all but 20 minutes of the free drinks at the lounge.
6. On Monday evening, May 11, during the briefing for our arrival Tuesday in Worms, Germany, we were reminded to place our luggage outside the stateroom before we left the Idi, told that during the day we must all participate on the morning lengthy bus ride to Heidelberg, Germany, attend the morning excursion there, obtain our own lunch there, and stay in Heidelberg until the bus arrived around 3:30 pm to carry us to our new ship, the Viking Kvasir.
7. After leaving the Viking Idi on Tuesday, May 12 and taking the bus to the excursion in Heidelberg and lunch, some passengers were unable to shop or tour for such a lengthy period and simply sat for hours waiting for the bus ride to the new ship, Kvasir in Rudesheim, Germany.
8. After arriving on our new ship, the Viking Kvasir in Rudesheim, we decided to use some of our free shipboard credit for some free drinks in the lounge during the evening briefing for Koblenz, Germany. Three of us requested drinks including two frozen Margaritas and one Banana Daiquiri. The first time, we all received Pina Colada’s. We had the server send them back to the bar tender and the second time we all received tequila over ice. All three of us again sent them back for a second time and told the server to forget two of the drinks and the third person ordered wine. Our server got into an argument with the bar tender and then when our third person received her wine, he told us that the bar tender had never server hard drinks before.
9. During two morning excursions early in the week, we had several passengers that could not keep up with the others. After this happened earlier in the week, the ship began creating a “leisure” tour group that would travel at a lower pace. However, this type of group did not consistently occur later in the week and several other people complained of the pace during later excursions.
10. We deliberately selected a stateroom with a balcony for our cruise. Unfortunately, much of the cruise occurred at night, so use of the balcony at this time was not practical. When at the pier during the early morning and late evening hours, our ship usually docked immediately beside another Viking ship preventing us from any outside stateroom view. We feel like we wasted this expense for a balcony stateroom.
11. We arrived at Cologne, Germany on Thursday, May 14 during the early morning around 9:00 am. During the evening briefing in the lounge on Wednesday the previous day, we had been told that we would dock near the Cologne Old Town Cathedral were we could easily tour the city and Old Town Cathedral. However upon arrival, we were initially docked in an industrial area far from Old Town Cologne on the opposite side of the Rhine River. At the request of the cruise ship captain, the Harbor Master permitted us to relocate nearer to Old Town, only on the opposite side of Old Town. This required us to travel by bus 25 minutes to Old Town or walk 25 minutes there. We also observed that there was an unused Viking dock across the river immediately adjacent to Old Town. We still do not know why this dock was not made available to us as originally planned.
This last observation was more of an opinion and less of an inconvenience or complaint. My wife and I prefer to sleep late while on vacation followed by a leisurely full breakfast. However, out of the seven days of our cruise, we only cruised two of these days during the morning hours allowing us to sleep later. We thoroughly enjoyed the two days with mornings cruising the Rhine and would have enjoyed more if made available. I think cruising in daylight three mornings a week with afternoon excursions are preferable. Also, I think morning excursions should begin at 9:30 am instead of 8:30 am as was done in Cologne on Thursday, May 14.
In summary, it was clearly apparent to us that Viking was willing to inconvenience all its passengers in order to accommodate its desire to return to their cruise schedule as quickly as possible. They also strove to keep us in the dark as to how they planned to correct all the issues encountered until the last minute. Additionally it became obvious that their crew was initially inadequate on the Kvasir once we joined them. Because of all the problems and inconveniences we encountered, we feel like our costs were not justified. Should we desire to travel on a river cruise again, we intend to use a different cruise line after researching it much more carefully. Read Less
The Avalon Poetry 2 is a very pretty smaller ship. The staterooms are very nice and the bathroom is the nicest of any cruise vessel I have been on. Everything is immaculately clean. The angling of the bed to look out the window is ... Read More
The Avalon Poetry 2 is a very pretty smaller ship. The staterooms are very nice and the bathroom is the nicest of any cruise vessel I have been on. Everything is immaculately clean. The angling of the bed to look out the window is wonderful. The window opening to make the stateroom into a balcony is also very nice. The downside, is not being able to keep window or curtains open while docked next to another boat. This is a well known problem with river cruising. Lots of ships and only limited places to dock. You may be stacked up several deep and have to walk through a few to get off. One very annoying thing, is the extremely loud intercom messages you receive in your stateroom. Often as early as 7 am. and thru out the day. It is intrusive and gives you the vibe of being herded and every minute planned. Since this is my first River cruise, I don't know if that is standard practice. On ocean cruises, this only seems to happen in public areas. There is good closet space and the bed is comfortable.
The food has varied from horrible to very good. If food is your big thing, I would look into another line. For the price of the cruise, it seems nit picky and cheap that they do not include wine or beer at lunch. However, your glass is never empty at dinner. Cocktails etc are reasonable at the bar and there is a happy hour, daily.
It seemed like the included tours would justify a higher price point. In reality they are a slow walk around the local area with a guide and listening devices.
You could easily do this yourself and not have to keep up with the glacially slow pace. We thought we could start with them and then go off on our own if we wanted. 90% of the time on this southern France itinerary the ship moves to the next port as soon as you leave for the tour and you are bused to the next location, so not possible to do your own thing without risking missing the bus. Very disappointing.
The 3 wine tasting/ countryside optional (paid) tours were very nice and reasonably priced. Still, for the price, it seems they could have been included.
I believe they are on some River cruise lines. Next time I would research a bit more thoroughly.
Fellow passengers are, as expected, older. My dyed red hair, stuck out like a sore thumb in a sea of white locks. There are many groups of friends and families traveling together. While everyone is friendly, Australians, Canadians, etc seem to stick together. It becomes tiring listening to boring or laughable opinions while eating. There are no tables for two. We found we could sit in one table for 4 in the corner and generally no one else would sit there. Our cruise was not full. So one might have to deal with endless conversation. Some will love it, just wasn't something I wanted to do all the time. Part of river cruising, like it or not. No one dresses up. Don't worry about your clothing. Many of the older men, dressed like they were going out golfing, rain or shine. Once or twice they said no shorts at dinner.
That was about it for any dress code.
We have done about 20 ocean cruises, most of them on the smaller sized ships of Oceania, or Azamara, also tried Windstar. In the end I personally prefer the ambience. However, it's hard to beat the experience of floating down a river, watching swans and birds, seeing charming villages and castles.
The area of Southern France is really beautiful and I highly recommend the itinerary. The down side is the several changes of plans and this is when the weather is beautiful. Don't fall in love with one certain place as you may not end up going there. There is way toomuch bus time, in my opinion. I know from reading other reviews that many cruises turn into a bus trip. It's easy to see once you are on a river. Not just the river boat companies we see advertised in the US, but many,many others. Lots of traffic. Our very nice cruise director, a Jean Loup, said they need more rivers, not more ships. True words.
Would I do it again? I would have to give it some thought. The idea of it is fabulous, but the changeability of weather, river level, flooding etc. and constant changes of port stays, make it a harder decision. Read Less
High water on both the Rhone and Saone from flooding (heavy rain and snow melt) altered our itinerary. Viking emailed us one day prior to tell us to meet the boat in Lyon instead of Chalon-sur-Saone. We never did get to see Chalon. Then we ... Read More
High water on both the Rhone and Saone from flooding (heavy rain and snow melt) altered our itinerary. Viking emailed us one day prior to tell us to meet the boat in Lyon instead of Chalon-sur-Saone. We never did get to see Chalon. Then we remained docked in Lyon for four nights, taking a bus to Beaune, Vienne, and Tournon. Cruise director then announced that cruise itself was "cancelled" and that we could go to all of our remaining sites by bus instead. Quite a few folks accepted Viking's offer to refund the UNUSED portion of our non-cruise. Then, the next night, the message changed that the Heimdal would indeed proceed down-river the next morning. We could choose to skip the next tour by remaining onboard for the first cruise of the week or take a bus to Tournon. We took the bus option and were glad we did because it was the highlight day of our trip. We never got to see Viviers either because the ship needed to get to Avignon while the water and bridges were cooperating.
To be fair to Viking, the meals were wonderful (same white wine every day though) and quite varied, and they had no control over water levels. But they did know that the high waters would not recede quickly and that our "cruise" was in jeopardy. A cruise-by-bus was not what we paid for. And the short five hour (4-9 pm) cruise that we enjoyed was overpriced. We await a response from Viking about compensation or incentive for another cruise at this time. Read Less
This was our 4th Vantage river cruise and 5th Vantage trip. We were disappointed after having loved the first 4 trips. We had the owner's suite on the River Discovery II which was large and beautiful as was the ship in general. As ... Read More
This was our 4th Vantage river cruise and 5th Vantage trip. We were disappointed after having loved the first 4 trips. We had the owner's suite on the River Discovery II which was large and beautiful as was the ship in general. As occupants of the owner's suite we were supposed to have been picked up at the Airport-this was verified twice with the Boston office and our flight info was given them.. We were NOT picked up at the airport. The cruise director said he did not have our flight info (and evidently was too unconcerned to check with the office in the U.S.. Previously the strength of Vantage cruises (which they highly touted) was that these large riverboats had 4 cruise directors on board all of which were excellent in our experience- and you were assigned to one of them for the cruise-which was excellent. Now there were no longer 4 directors but only one who didn't lead tours but acted more like a cruise director on a ship-sightseeing tours left to local guides. This was not nearly as good. The director was stand-offish in our opinion and quite pompous. Tipping of the 4 previous directors with whom you traveled each day was optional and we always tipped them generously..Tipping of the one cruise director whom you seldom interacted with was automatically added to your bill unless you specifically arranged to stop it. The same was for the "concierge" who was automatically tipped even though you may never have uses the concierge service. The food was also not up to previous standards-several days courses were served no longer hot or even warm. Even though we were in France the bar did not have Grey Goose Vodka which they could have purchased in any port since it is made in France. We used to love Vantage but the recent policy changes they have made has ended that along with our patronage. Read Less
Having tired of Ocean cruising we turned to River cruising and enviously viewed the large luxury ships on the river, after more than a dozen most enjoyable trips, we decided for a change that a luxury river cruise was a way to stifle our ... Read More
Having tired of Ocean cruising we turned to River cruising and enviously viewed the large luxury ships on the river, after more than a dozen most enjoyable trips, we decided for a change that a luxury river cruise was a way to stifle our envy. Flight arrangements were excellent. Airport arrival and pick up very efficient. Our Hotel in Vienna for two nights was a dream. All the tours were lovely and we had adequate time to do our own thing as well. Day three we set off by comfortable coach for Bratislava and our embarkation The arrival walk through the old town of Bratislava was very interesting but lugging a heavy bag for an hour in the rain was not a lot of fun. After a welcome drink and slick move to our exquisite cabin, and explanation of on board life and destinations, our first evening dinner was rather strange. The ship was barely half full with the result that it was difficult to find more than a small handful of passengers in any of the public areas. Total passenger list was 76 and we unfortunately lost two of those. There was none of the usual camaraderie we have encountered on other river cruises. Indeed every evening apart from two stalwart Australians we were the only people to attend the entertainment in the Lounge. Nikko tried hard but four people in a beautiful lounge built and equipped to accommodate 130 or so passengers, did not help the situation. The passengers mostly 60 plus were a mix of American, Australian, New Zealanders, a few Asiatic citizens, and a sprinkling of British.
The Cruise Director did nothing to encourage guests to mingle and though efficient and correct to a point of strict school headmistress, she remained in her foyer seat and took no part in promoting on board activities. So no one used them.
All the crew were extremely friendly and nothing, however small, was too much trouble. The air of politeness and welcome was apparent throughout the ship and the comfort and cleanliness first class. Every meal was a pleasure, all the excursions well chosen, informative and a delight. But we were so disappointed there was no atmosphere of a holiday at all. More a Marie Celeste situation prevailed. So it's back to the happy little ships for us in future I am afraid.
I have waited a month before writing this review to allow a fair appraisal of the Cruise. If luxury, comfort, quiet relaxation are your thing the Avalon Vista is your ship, otherwise look to smaller ships with excellent entertainment, no overnight noisy travelling and port visits to rival the big boys. Read Less
Our trip was 12 nights on AmaWaterways on AmaPura (2 nights pre cruise in Yangon and 10 nights cruise from Pyay to Mandalay) for December 16 2014. The pre cruise in Yangon stay included 2 nights in the Sule Shangri La. The hotel was one of ... Read More
Our trip was 12 nights on AmaWaterways on AmaPura (2 nights pre cruise in Yangon and 10 nights cruise from Pyay to Mandalay) for December 16 2014. The pre cruise in Yangon stay included 2 nights in the Sule Shangri La. The hotel was one of the nicest in Yangon although our expectations were higher for a Shangri La property. We were a bit disappointed that the pre cruise did not include any meals (lunch or dinner) in Yangon. Only breakfast was included.
We had 40 passengers onboard for this particular cruise.
The transfer to Pyay took all day - about 8 hours. The bus was fine but the toilet stops were not. There really wasn't a good place to stop with western toilets. And lunch was packed by Shangri La and included a sandwich. We had to sit with a bunch of locals in a restaurant stop with less than desirable ambiance.
The boat - upon first glance of the boat, we could not believe it was a brand new ship. It already looked dated and did not really look like the artist rendering on the Ama Waterways website. At first we thought it was a ship that was old and refurbished. Since this was the 3rd cruise for this vessel, we were shocked that it was in such conditions and passed Ama standards.
The room - the craftsmanship was really bad. There were already cracks on the walls and ceilings and it was supposed to be brand new. The caulking was horrible. The wood floors looked dull. It was on its 3rd cruise and already looking like it needed refurbishment.
Other items to note:
- Our windows were dirty and we asked to have them cleaned. However, because of the design, half was covered with rails which makes cleaning very difficult.
- There was a TV but nothing played on it.
- There was a phone but when calling another cabin, the call would cut in and out.
- WIFI was poor even in a big port like Mandalay.
- Shower - water pressure was very low and in the mornings the temperature would vary from barely warm to cold
- Wine/beer is only complimentary during lunch and dinner. Between meals, if you order a beer, it is $2. For the price of the cruise, wine/beer should be included outside of meal times. I really dislike the nickel and diming.
- Gratuities are not included. It is about $300 for 2 people for 12 days for the staff which includes the Cruise Managers. On a lot of excursions, it is a walking tour with just the cruise manager. I think for the price of the cruise, they should add it in and include it so you don't have to worry about bringing cash.
- They ask you to change your currency to kyats because in the smaller towns, the drivers do not like being tipped with USD. There is currency exchange on the ship from USD to kyats.. For tipping on a tour, a bus with a driver would require $1 per person per day.
- It was not as active as we thought it would be. There were only a couple of days where we had morning and afternoon excursions. Most of the days, our excursions were in the afternoon lasting for about 1.5 hours right before sunset. You would get back on the boat and it is dark. Bring a flashlight because sometimes it is pitch dark.
- We are in our 40s and were the youngest on the ship. Most of the people were from the US and in their 60s and 70s.
- Service is very good. The staff get off the boat and help the individuals who have a hard time with stairs. Because of the location, expect some bit of walking.
- Most places you will have to remove your shoes when visiting. However, they always provide wipes for you to wipe your feet.
- There is a lot of dust. You should bring a mask or bandana to cover your nose and mouth for the horse ride in Inwa.
- For U Bein bridge, they arranged for a boat ride with champagne. It was a VERY nice touch.
- In Bagan, our cruise manager took us out to ride on bikes for 1.5 hours and it was the highlight of our trip. Also, one of the options was to watch the sunset by climbing a temple. That was also very nice. Bagan was one of our favorite places. I wished we could have spent a bit more time there and I wished the boat offered the hot air balloon option.
- Breakfast and lunch is buffet. Lunch has a cooking station and it is different every day but a line does form. We really enjoyed the Myanmar cuisine. For breakfast, there was usually soup noodles which was very tasty. There is also an egg station for breakfast.
- In Mandalay, there were ALOT of mosquitoes. I had about 6 bites in our room. Bring mosquito spray. I think this is only an issue when on the boat since we are on the river but on excursions, there weren't many mosquitoes. Also, I did not have any issues in the other ports.
If you are young and looking for an active itinerary, this cruise is not for you. If you like a leisurely pace with activities for a few hours a day, you will enjoy this cruise. For the price we paid, we could have done a land tour much cheaper however because of the lack of desirable hotels, we opted for a brand new ship. But, because of the condition of the boat, we were really disappointed. This was our first AMA Waterways cruise and we were really disappointed with the standards of the ship.
However, looking at the other ships that sailed the Ayarwaddy, this looked to be one of the better ships. I think as more luxurious hotels pop up in Myanmar, you would be better suited to stay on land. The highlights were Yangon, Bagan and Mandalay. The stops along the way was nice from a cultural standpoint but not really highlights of our trip.
We did only the river cruise part of a broader package that AmaWaterways provides. We heard generally good things about the land portions of the package. Overall, the cruise was enjoyable, but it got off to a rocky start with an unexpected ... Read More
We did only the river cruise part of a broader package that AmaWaterways provides. We heard generally good things about the land portions of the package. Overall, the cruise was enjoyable, but it got off to a rocky start with an unexpected 7-hour bus ride over bumpy roads with only a tiny sandwich and an apple for lunch. Many passengers seemed in a bad mood by the time we got to the boat, but this was soon lifted by the welcoming high tea immediately after boarding.
The food on the boat was quite good and provided in large quantity and variety. The complimentary wines with lunch and dinner were mediocre at best. The 24-hour free beer was icy cold and much appreciated.
The number, length, and variety of shore excursions was extremely well done; enough to keep us entertained without overtaxing us. There was no charge for these excursions, though small tips for drivers and guides were encouraged. The local guides were very good as far as we could tell. Our own guide in Cambodia, Adam, was excellent. He was charming, full of information, and always happy to answer questions or banter with passengers. We learned a lot about the people who live on the river and the recent history of Cambodia and Vietnam.
The entertainment on board was OK but not great. The best event was a funny crew talent contest. There were 2 or 3 masseuses who seemed quite busy. The massage was very good and cheap as well. A high point for me was just sitting on our balcony or the upper deck and watching the riverbank roll by, with all the floating villages, fishing boats, and barge traffic. Very peaceful. A major negative was the wi-fi connection, which was available only in one lounge and was so slow as to be essentially useless.
The biggest negative for us is the deceptive description of the cruise itinerary on the AmaWaterways website. For us, a highlight of the cruise itinerary was sailing down Tonle Sap Lake, the largest freshwater lake in southeast Asia. According to the website, departure from the Siem Reap hotel would be at 11:00 am. There was a note on the website that in "low water season" departure would be at 7:30 am via a 5-hour bus ride to the other end of Tonle Sap lake, because the boat cannot sail on Tonle Sap in low water. We made sure that we did NOT book our cruise during low water season, which is February through June. We called AmaWaterways a couple days ahead to confirm the 11:00 am departure and were surprised to hear that departure had been changed to 9:00 am. More importantly, instead of boarding at Siem Reap and crusing on Tonle Sap, we had to take the long bus ride mentioned above (7 hours not 5) and missed Tonle Sap altogether. We checked a website run by the government of Cambodia, which reported that water levels in Tonle Sap were not low and were in fact average. We asked some of the local tour guides and they told us that the boat almost NEVER sails on Tonle Sap lake and that passengers almost always have to take the 7-hour bus ride. In fact, we were told that in all of 2014 only one cruise actually departed from Siem Reap. This is in sharp contrast with the wording on the AmaWaterways website. Read Less
Like most of the passengers on this river cruise, I fell for Viking's relentless promotions and advertising. In particular, visiting the Christmas markets sounded like fun. So, off my husband and I went. Embarkation went smoothly. ... Read More
Like most of the passengers on this river cruise, I fell for Viking's relentless promotions and advertising. In particular, visiting the Christmas markets sounded like fun. So, off my husband and I went. Embarkation went smoothly. Lunch was waiting when we arrived, and when our cabin was ready we were escorted there. The cabins on this new ship are quite nice. Smallish compared to today's ocean vessels, but with at most 100 cabins on a small ship one expects the cabins to be small. We managed and did not have complaints about space, the bathroom, etc. They only put duvets/comforters on the beds, European style, so one had to adjust the temperature in the room for that.
In general the public areas were nicely done. The ship itself was fine. However, a Viking river cruise is very different from an ocean cruise in many ways. Even adjusting one's expectations accordingly, it may not be one's cup of tea.
Dining: there are no tables for 2 or, from what I saw on our ship, for 4. That means there WILL be new friends made whether you seek that or not. The food is okay. Not great. At times not even average. The small portions did not bother us, but the lackluster quality of much of it did. The free wine was below par---I could tell and I am not a wine nut. My husband is and he found the red so lacking in any depth he would not drink it. The white was slightly better. It is excusable for Viking to serve such bad wine on a cruise of the Rhine through wine country. They have a drink package you can buy to upgrade---one way they are copying the big cruise lines.
At times there was just oddness to the food. At one lunch we ordered beef off the menu, only to receive gravy with---I am not making this up---some mushroom bits and about 1/2 oz of beef shreds floating in it. Why let that out of the kitchen? Just say you are out of beef!
Service: This was a mixed bag. In the dining room we finally found the best waiter---the only one who came close to providing the service we expect on a cruise. Before him we had a pair that spent more time joking with passengers than serving, and another who could not remember anything. At breakfast one day I waited for 15 minutes before a waiter approached me, and the room was not even half filled. At eveery single dinner I had to ask for sugar with my coffee, and for refills.
Our cabin steward, a young woman, never came to introduce herself so I could not request the extra towels I needed. After I brought my little list to reception, she showed up exuding attitude that I had done that. It was the last we saw her. Some days her making up the cabin was perfunctory. There were stewards who finished in less than two hours, like ours, and others who were working all day scrubbing down their cabins. Try to get one of the latter.
The reception staff on the whole was good, although one man barely controlled his impatience. There is no digital/computerized system for checking that passengers have left, so you have to hand in a little card when you return so they can count noses.
The excursions were a mixed bag. We had two good guides out of the week, a few okay ones, and two horrible ones. Some do not know how to lead a group of 25 through a city. It is necessary to periodically stop so the group can stick together and you don't lose the ones at the end as the group strings out along city sidewalks. Too often that is what happened, with passengers getting annoyed. This told me that these were for the most part not professionally trained guides. At the end of our visit to Strasbourg we were treated to a forced march back to the coaches that lasted a half hour as we hustled nonstop for two miles. I think the coaches could have parked closer---for a price that Viking did not want to pay.
There is one free excursion every day. There were also several "optional" ones during the week, for additional money. One of those went to Kolmar, France, late afternoon. Really, it was nothing more than a bus shuttle to and from a town less than 20 minutes from the dock, plus a walk through the town. Not included was a visit to the church where Matthias Grunewald's Isenheim Altarpiece could be found. When I suggested to the Cruise Director that it really should be included for those who chose to go ---it was only five minutes from where the walking tour ended---- he commented that most people have never heard of it. Well, true, but isn't travel about learning things you did not already know??? This is an Art History 101 work, meaning it is important enough to get into the most basic textbooks. I went on my own, and most of my table mates that night regretted they had not been informed of its importance.
Our fellow passengers were mostly new to river cruises, but experienced in ocean cruises. Just like us. They were all Americans. Just like us. Most were over 60 and looked it, just like us (although my husband does not look his age, and he appeared young compared to most of the others.) Anyone younger than 50 would think they had made a mistake booking this cruise.
There is no entertainment to speak of. We ended up watching reruns of Downton Abbey most nights in our cabin. There is one gathering place with a bar, and that is it. No amenities. No shows, No gambling. No coffee house. No spa. No fitness room. No pool. No ice cream off hours (actually, no food except cookies between meals, period, and no room service ever.) The "free specialty coffees" available 24/7 come out of a machine, and not a good one. Even the tea bags at that self-serve station are cheap. A number of the less positive reviews comment on the over-ripe fruit on these ships. It appears to be all of them. I watched some plums go from ripe to dead as each day passed. There is wifi, but it is spotty. At one town we docked so that the reception dish was under a bridge. No wifi that night.
Christmas Markets---they are on both the French side and the German side of the river. The German ones are more authentic. The French ones are massive and commercialized to where hordes descend on the weekends. More to the point ---and I should have thought of this!---if you take a Christmas Market cruise, you are cruising during the shortest days of the year. It was dark by 6. So very little of the river was seen, because it was dark when the ship cruised the river. We went through many locks, which would have been interesting, if one could have seen them. We had only one day when the ship cruised during the day, and the Cruise Director gave a multi-hour talk about what we passed. I wish I could say I was impressed, but after a while every small ruined castle on a hill looked like another pile of old stones. I was much more interested when we passed the campuses of major chemical plants. They went on for miles, and at night looked like something in a sci-fi movie.
We are still deciding what we thought about all of this. My husband is not inclined to do another river cruise. We both do not think it represents a good value, or a good way to see these towns. Viking has some rough edges, especially in staff and service levels. Better to take trains and book hotels and go to towns we really want to see, or take an ocean cruise and enjoy better spaces and amenities. Read Less
The ship name is Viking Orient and leased from Pandaw, but not on the list so I've put the name of the ship as the closest to "Orient". The cruise started in Mandalay, and not Yangon, but there is no such option for the port ... Read More
The ship name is Viking Orient and leased from Pandaw, but not on the list so I've put the name of the ship as the closest to "Orient". The cruise started in Mandalay, and not Yangon, but there is no such option for the port of embarkation so I choose the closest available option- Yangon.
Please keep in mind that the opinion expressed here is my personal and could be very different from your personal experience. I'll tell it chronologically with some practical advises as it goes.
Flight: we flew from NY to Taipei and from there to Bangkok one day prier to "official" day of arrival- to get used to 12h time difference and to see more. We've used pills "No jet lag" which, probably, helped, because we've arrived to Bangkok at noon in, I'd say, pretty normal condition. We did not purchase transfer from Viking, so we got a taxi to hotel on our own. Here is how to do it:
When you leave Custom area, don't go out, but to the right on the escalator, down, and only now leave the terminal (the door will be on your left- 90 degrees to the escalator) and on your right (45 degrees) you'll see few counters with girls. You're getting to any of them, specify what hotel you want to go (the taxi driver usually stands behind her and listen to it). she gives you piece of paper with your destination and info about driver/taxi- (in case you forget something behind or would like to complain), driver takes your suitcases and lead you to his car. The moment he is in it and if he did not turn on the meter, say to him (and this is going for all your future taxi usage in Bangkok) "meter, please!" He will turn it on and it will show 35B. He will ask you "highway"? Tell him "yes" and be prepared to give him 25B on first and 50B on the second stop at the toll booth. At the end of trip (between 35min to 1h, depending on traffic and hotel. Millenium takes longer, Shangri-La is shorter) you need to pay him whatever on the meter 250-300B plus 50B for the girl's booking at the airport. Tip is not expected, but common to round up to the next 10 B. So, 5B-15B tip will do. In general try to use skytrain or Chaya river boats and not taxis, because the traffic in Bangkok is really bad (see about it further) and while taxi is not expensive (most rides in the center should cost between 60B-90B, but you can spend much more time in taxi then exploring....
Before leaving the airport you'll see a lot of currency exchange booths- all of them have the same exchange rate (it was 30.78 on 11/1), so change SOME money, because in the city you'll get better rate.
(For example in hotel it was 31.29 and near Wat Triamit 32.2).
We've expected to be in Millenium so I've booked it for additional night in advance and on non-refundable basis ($160 including breakfast), so when Viking informed us that Shangri-La will be our hotel, we did not have much choice, but stayed 1 night at Millenium and then 2 nights in Shangri-La.
To compare: both hotels are VERY nice, swimming pool & breakfast is better at Millenium, but Shangri-La location is better. There is Wi-Fi in both hotels, but in Millenium it works only in common area.
BTW, the time difference with Bangkok - 12h (compare to NY)
We arrived at hotel, went for short swim and went for two major attractions - Wat Arun & Wat Pho.
Wat Arun is much smaller, you can climb to the top (recommended) and then took boat across the river (3B cost, the pier located to the left of Wat Arun) and went to Wat Pho,- it is about 150 feets from the pier- on your left will be the walls of Royal Palace and after 150 feets on your right the entrance to Wat Pho. It is extremely large and beautiful place. Prepare to take your shoes off periodically. It is getting dark around 6pm so about when we were heading back to hotel it was dark. We went to the same pier, caught a boat to "Safam Tsakin"- central pier, about 5 stops. You buy ticket on board, 15 B. Millenium ran free shuttle service from the central pier to the hotel, so when get out at the pier, turn right go the pier on the right, ask, policeman there "Millenium"? and he will tell you when the right boat comes.
We did not go for Dinner to Millenium- the prices there....main entry $80-$100 plus service and tax, so we went to the left of hotel by the river and in about 150 feet got to local restaurant where prices were "Thai prices" - main dishes 90B-200B and food was ok.
Day 1 (official arrival day)
Next morning after having breakfast- very large selection, including a lot of "Chinese breakfast dishes"
we took another shuttle from hotel (to the left of complimentary shuttle boat) across the river to "River City" shopping complex (do not bother if you're after shopping- see later; the complex mostly empty) 3.5B cost of the transfer. We were on our way to self-guided walking tour of China town. The first stop was Wat Triamit (golden budda), but it was about 15-20 min walking from the pier thru typical China town
When we looked unsure where to turn one of the locals asked (with his hands) what are we looking for and showed us where to go. (In general people in Bangkok where extremely nice and pleasant in communication). wat Triamit was ok. (I'm not going to describe the tour- if interested you can download a lot of different versions of it). Then we've passed a lot of gold selling stores, China town market with plenty of kick-off bags- my wife got 3 for about 400B each- after negotiations, took a river boat to hotel and took a taxi to Shangri La. The official "cruise" has began!
At Shangri-La we met Viking representatives Tum & Tango and got keys to our room.
We wanted to see traditional Thai dance show so they've recommended one at the nearest hotel (Oriental), but since it was on the short notice, we're informed that the sits will be too far from the show, so we opted for another place $65/p including dinner. We'd be picked up from hotel and dropped off. That place we were told an hour from the hotel. Well, this day we got first hand knowledge of Bangkok trafic: it tooks us 2.5 hour to get there and 20 min to get back! The dinner was nothing to write home about and the show was very interesting and nice! Pick up time was 5.30pm and we've back about 10:30pm.
At 9am we've first briefing with Viking reps (Tum & Tango), were divided in two buses (total 50 people)- and this division will hold for the whole trip, got "quiet boxes" with spare batteries (keep them, you almost for sure will need them later) and informed about day schedule (10am-12:30am visit to Grand Palace by boat, 6:30pm leaving for the Thai restaurant dinner) and collected $10/p for tips to everyone in Bangkok besides them-selves (this amount seems reasonable, even though it is not acceptable practice in Thailand to tip...). There is no canals included in the tour, even though it was supposed to be included according to Viking brochure.
Piece of advise: if for some unlucky reason you're in Tango's group, insist on going with Tum. In my view Tango's English is absolutely is incomprehensible and while he is very nice guy this does not compensate for the fact that you'll be not able to understand his explanations in Royal Palace and/or on the way there. IMHO, he should not have been employed at all.
In the afternoon we went for Thai massage (300 B for 1h.) I recommend it- you'll be streched, pushed, pulled, but eventually will feel better. If not go for foot massage - the same cost. And we went for shopping in MBK. This is very interesting place (including food court on 5 fl) and if you've some time to spare, go for it! It is 5 stops by skytrain ("National Stadium" stop), 37 b each way.
Dinner was fine,- community style service, most of the dishes too spicy for my taste, but manageable. And it will be your first chance to sit with your companions - stupid and poor people don't go to such cruises so, I think you will (mostly) enjoy it! (in our group the oldest lady was 90y old, the second 86 y.o and my wife - 52 y.o was the youngest one).
In the morning we got transfered to airport for our flight to Mandalay. It was well organized process, no complains. The fly leaves around 12:30pm, lasts 1:30 h, they feed you lunch (extremely spicy so you better off to make some sandwiches in the hotel). When we arrived, we where met by Andrew & Nan Da- our PD's (program directors). They're going to be with you for the duration of the cruise until you leave from Yangon back to Bangkok. It is not sure that you'll get the same guys- there are 4 PD's for each ship, so which 2 you'll get is unknown. In any case, Andrew's English was easier to understand than Nan Da's, but Nan Da was more open about things and it is hard to say who was better.
You can exchange money at the airport, but if you ask PD to do it tomorrow in the city you'll get 3% more for your money. I suggest to exchange only $100 per couple (they suggest twice that much),- a lot of places accept $$$, but some not. In any case you can exchange back or leave it as a tip at the end of the cruise. since it was already too late to go to monastery as planned (it closes at 4pm) we went directly to the ship and all planned things were moved to the next day. the trip to ship takes 45 min.
On the bus, PDs will suggest to give $50 each toward tips for everybody not from the ship. At the end of the cruise you'll get the breakdown how that money was spent. We all (besides one couple) agreed and from looking on the breakdown of expenses I strongly recommend to give them only $30 p/p- it seems sufficient enough,- the tip IMHO, was not only exessive in some cases, but also given to some people that simply should not have got it at all.
The ship (Viking Orient).
Huge disappointment. Not even close to European river ships. The room is too small (about 140 sf), the storage space is very limited, the only "window" is the door that you came thru, but if you keep it open, then, everyone who passes will see inside your cabin. There is no A/C common space and sun deck is too hot during the day. There is also extremely bad acustics in dining room and you need to raise your voice in order to be heard.
Put A/C on the "wave" you'll get better cooling. There is no Wi-Fi on board, but 2 computers with slow internet available, most of the time. Nothing blocked.
Regarding clothing: don't worry about what to wear to monasteries or pagodas- every day it will be announced what is appropriate and worse case scenario you'll be given something to cover yourself.
I suggest to pack light, the dress code is super-casual, no formal nights and no ties, suits, evening dresses- this is not like in Europe. Wear flip-flops, if you can. The schedule looks like that: 7-9am breakfast (very limited choice. You won't go hungry, but this is not Shangri-La) with tea or coffee; 9am -11:30am sightseeeing 12am- lunch. (Very good salads, poor main dish). 3:30pm- second sightseeing.
6pm- coctail hour; 6:45pm briefing for the next day. 7pm dinner. 8:30pm some kind of entertainment- movies ("The Lady"- highly recommend, and "The life of Budda"- put me to sleep), local productions- worth to try and once trivia game. At 10pm the computer is all yours- everybody is sleeping.
There is no tea/coffee served during the lunch or dinner- there is machine at the bar where you can get very bad cappuchino or so-so coffee and normal tea. The drinks are included, besides imported hard alcohol (so local Wisky or Rum and local wines and coctails as much as you can). I'm not much drinker so have no clue about quality of any drinks, including beer. The desserts are mostly nothing to write home. BTW, Viking use to issue every traveler name tag (very convinient), but for some reason stop doing it few weeks ago.
When you leave the ship for the daily excursions you'll get battle of water; when you come back you
surrender your foot wear for the cleaning (do it) and get it in 1/2 h.
Regarding sickness: I'm 100% sure that nobody ate anything from outside the ship and still every time someone was sick for 1-2 days. I think the reason for it the spices and the combination of unfamiliar food with drinks. At some point about 9 people were sick and did not show for excursion. Don't use Imodium, but rather Pipto-Bismol.
Back to the day 3. At 6:15pm we got briefing with Hotel Manager- Dominiqe from Switzerland. Very nice and open guy. What is important, is that he said that in the area we pass there was no malaria case in the last 5-7 years so you don't have to take any profilatics.
The full day of Mandalay, including lunch in local (Chinese) restaurant. Very nice. Here you'll get your first real taste of Myanmar,- the city of 3m, looks like oversized village and simply different from Europe or USA. I'm not going to describe what we've seen (mostly), because you'll see it yourself, but rather just prepare you for any logistics or surprises.
Ava . Here you're going for the first time encounter local vendors,- mostly girls 7-17y old.
They will try to sell you some costume jewelry (negotiate) and try to make you feel gilty ("what is your name? will you think about buying? (we're going thru them again) do you remember me? You make me unhappy if you don't buy" etc). My advise: if you like something- negotiate and buy, it is not expensive. If not, then tell them that their happiness is not your concern. The horse ride was unplesant.
Amarapura. The visit to monastery is really waste of time; the gandolla ride on the lake is much more interesting. Unfortunatelly because of the time spent in monastery we don't get the chance to walk on the teak bridge.
The entertainment: classical Burmese Ballet. highly recommend.
Your real encounter with village in Burma. Well, if you're after church-castle-palace-square, you'd be better off in Europe. Here it is totally different....
Evening entertainment: lecture about Bagan. While the subject is really interesting the lecturer was falling asleep and was done in 12 min on the subject that could be told hours. Very disappointing. From my later discussion with Dominiq it seems that there is a problem to find English speaking lecturers.
Bagan. Extremely interesting area, magnificient views. A lot of vendors. Some women bought "elephan pants" $4-$5, T-shirts and other touristic souvenirs. Vendors- see day 5.
We dock near reasort where you can get Wi-Fi. Some people went to their coffee shop in the afternoon, but we choose their pool (they did not charge us, but I've heard about $10 fees). Very nice!
Entertainment: Puppet show. Could not stand it more than 15 min. Very repetative.
Afternoon in Sale with monastery.
Afternoon in Magway, by trishaw to Pagoda with very nice view. This was very interesting- the city is not spoiled with tourist attention so we got to feel like on parade.
Monk blessing on the ship. Works for 26 days.
Visit to local market. My wife got "Tanaka" 70c a jar plus some remedy against headachack- another 65c. I bought some bag for my camcorder- $3.
In the afternoon we went to Minhla port- total waste of time and another small town.
Visit to local school where they made serious reception for us with dances, meals etc. (The tip money that left over get contributed to this school)
We get to Pyay and this is the last stop. For some reasons instead of going by ship to Yangon (160miles), they choose to get there by bus - 7 hours of not pleasant ride.
We visited Shwe San daw Pagoda- very interesting and archeological museum- really nothing.
Afternoon on your own. But it is so hot that no desire to go and explore more of that town.
Disembarkation briefing. Tips: Viking recommend about $200 to crew (per couple) and the same to PD.
In my view it is really exesessive,- I think 1/3 to 1/2 of it will do. To crew you can put it on credit card, but to PD only in cash. could be given later in Yangon.
Dominiq also collected from everyone e-mail addresses and distributed list with it.
After breakfast we hit the road to Yangon and by 3pm we're there. Yangon, is the first normal town you'll see. A lot of traffic, normal streets & shops, even supermarket, squares with fonutain. Nice.
We went for a swim & then to downtown- very close.
The dinner in hotel is included, a lot of selection, but nothing to eat....
The climax of the trip Shewdagon pagoda. Unforgettable! It is good thing that we started from Mandalay, because have we started from Yangon everything after that would be really downhill.
At the top we got calendar for 2015 (50 cents) with the pictures of Pagoda. Extremely beautiful (both)!
In the afternoon we went to supermarket to get idea about local production. Rum- 80 cents bottle. the other imported things are on par with US.
Farewell dinner at hotel.
Moving back to Bangkok. 1 hour flight. The time difference with Birma 1/2h (compared to Bangkok).
The same Tango met us, transfer to hotel, return your head pieces and we done.
All in all was very interesting trip. Read Less
My husband & I took my sister and our son & daughter on the Grand European Cruise this past November. A few days before the cruise we received an email that we were now on the Skadi ship and not the Lif. I was somewhat disappointed ... Read More
My husband & I took my sister and our son & daughter on the Grand European Cruise this past November. A few days before the cruise we received an email that we were now on the Skadi ship and not the Lif. I was somewhat disappointed because the Lif was a new ship. Once we were on board and led to our rooms we were disappointed. Our son had his own cabin, my husband & I had a cabin with a balcony but my sister and daughter shared a room that was just too small. We went right up to the desk and was asking for an upgrade, which we did get but to the tune of $4000. This trip had already cost us $32,000 the most we ever paid for a vacation. We take a big vacation every year with our family. Even though the extra living room was wonderful there was still not enough for their clothes.
I enjoyed the trip, thought we would be able to stop in every port and walk onto the towns but that was not the case. We had to get bused to several locations because of the water problems with one day parked, waiting on the bus until the ship arrived. The worst part of the trip is when we had to transfer onto the Lif which meant several hours repacking again and then unpacking again, so we lost valuable time. We didn't see the scenery as expected by the commercials so for about a little more than $37,000 we didn't get what we expected. The food was good, more fancy than I was used to, but the chef was wonderful as all the crew on the ship. The best part was the small amount of people travelling. My adult children were the youngest onboard but they didn't mind and made several adult friends. Not sure I would travel Viking again for the dollar amount, was not what we expected. Even our cabin was much smaller than our usual cruise ship stateroom. Nice scenery when we could see it, beautiful towns bused to but with problems. We did extra tipping for all because our service was excellent but we could have taken just about 2 cruise trips for this price of one. Glad we did it but not worth close to $40,000. Read Less
I looked for a cruise to fill in a week at the end of another cruise with Avalon and found Croisi. I was aware that this cruise was a lot cheaper than most of the others I looked at but I should have researched a bit better. Cruise line is ... Read More
I looked for a cruise to fill in a week at the end of another cruise with Avalon and found Croisi. I was aware that this cruise was a lot cheaper than most of the others I looked at but I should have researched a bit better. Cruise line is obviously for French speaking people, meals were set menus with no choice, seating was determined by staff at the beginning and that was your table for all three meals per day for the whole cruise. Not a good way to meet other travellers at all which is one of the best parts about travelling! The shore excursions were all extra which is probably the reason for the lower price of the cruise. No, I won't be travelling with them again, I don't care how cheap they are. Read Less
We've been sailing with Regent, predominantly, for 15 years, our most recent prior cruise being on the Navigator, through the Panama Canal, in spring, 2011 (and we loved it). We were really looking forward to this cruise and, for the ... Read More
We've been sailing with Regent, predominantly, for 15 years, our most recent prior cruise being on the Navigator, through the Panama Canal, in spring, 2011 (and we loved it). We were really looking forward to this cruise and, for the second time, traveling on the Mariner didn't meet our expectations (the prior 2008 trip in Alaska was our least favorite). To start, they booked us in a 5 star hotel that had anything but 5 star service, including the chaotic luggage collection and transport to the ship. We've never seen any Regent embarkation that was so disorganized and it certainly wasn't a good way to start the cruise. We were pleased that they had our luggage in our suite by 2:30 (earlier than in the past), but we were in the first group bussed to the ship. We spoke to many others who experienced very long waits to get on their bus and it was raining by the time they got to the ship, making an unpleasant situation even worse.
The public areas of the ship were recently remodeled and were very attractive, as was a lot of the artwork around the ship.
We were pleased to see some familiar faces managing and serving in La Veranda and Compass Rose, and the dining room staff was unfailingly pleasant and friendly. Even so, we couldn't overlook the many service shortcomings, especially regarding repeated delays in wine and coffee service at lunch and dinner. I don't drink coffee, but my husband agreed with a previous reviewer, saying it wasn't good, even if it arrived in a reasonable period of time. Apparently they are training many new staff in anticipation of inaugurating a new ship in 2016, but knowing that didn't help our disappointment. This certainly isn't the service we'd experienced on past Regent cruises.
The food was decent, not outstanding. Particularly disappointing was the selection at breakfast and lunch buffets; not nearly the variety we'd seen on previous cruises. I ate fish almost every day which turned out to be in my favor because we heard from red-meat lovers that they were disappointed with the beef/pork/lamb quality. We used room service several times. Although delivery was prompt, half the time the staff left something off the order, or added something we hadn't requested.
Our standard mid-ship suite had been partlaly renovated, with a new bathroom, including a very nice stand-alone shower, a bonus for my husband who is moderately disabled. Otherwise, the suite had the same furnishings and linens they've had for several years and was overdue to be refurbished. Our stewardess/steward were exceptionally sweet and gave us outstanding service.
The gym was well equipped with up-to-date machines and auxiliary equipment. There were many classes offered, but most often they were scheduled early in the morning (7:00 or 7:30) or late in the afternoon (4:30 to 6:30), not particularly convenient times if you want to sleep a little later or get ready for cocktails and dinner.
We thoroughly enjoyed Edward Peck's lectures; the other lecturers offered weren't worth our time. Some of the evening entertainment was quite good (the new Jean Ryan production company and a couple of the pianists)but the rest were average, or even substandard.
We loved Madeira and the Canary Islands. Seeing these out-of-the-way-places-for-U.S.-residents was almost worth the high cost of the cruise alone because it's prohibitive to fly there from the U.S. Most of our tours were adequate, although we did have to choose the easier ones because of my husband's disability, so can't speak to the more adventurous ones.
For those of us that were again using the Regent transport services, the disembarkation process was almost as chaotic as the embarkation process. Given that many of the ship's passengers were challenged, it was especially distressing to have so little help getting our luggage from the dockside to our bus. When we reached the airport, with so many passengers arriving at once, there were very long lines to check in, even though we had first-class tickets. Definitely not first class service, and a poor way to end the cruise. Read Less
The cruise, like all Viking cruises I've taken, was perfect, with helpful staff, informative and fun tours, and great food. However, I was disappointed in the size of the boat. I thought a smaller boat would be OK, but I felt like I ... Read More
The cruise, like all Viking cruises I've taken, was perfect, with helpful staff, informative and fun tours, and great food. However, I was disappointed in the size of the boat. I thought a smaller boat would be OK, but I felt like I saw the same faces everyplace I went. It was impossible to find a quiet space for reading or reflecting -- unless I stayed in the room, which was too small to be really comfortable. Extroverts would not mind having people around all the time, I'm sure, but for anyone who values quiet time, the ship was inadequate. It would have been much better if there was an accessible outdoor deck that did not require climbing rather steep stairs.
I know you will be replacing this boat with a larger one, but I almost feel like this particular boat was not a good value.
I have been so pleased with other Viking cruises I've taken that I'm fairly sure I will give Viking another chance to live up to the expectations the cruise line itself has created in its customers. Read Less
I just returned last night from the Douro River Cruise on AmaVida. And I have a lot to say!
First, the area is beautiful. We went to dinners at local wineries and they were, for the most part wonderful. The tours are the usual church, ... Read More
I just returned last night from the Douro River Cruise on AmaVida. And I have a lot to say!
First, the area is beautiful. We went to dinners at local wineries and they were, for the most part wonderful. The tours are the usual church, museum lot. There is very little free time if you want to shop or explore on your own unless you skip a scheduled tour.
The Ama Vida was sorely understaffed. So much so that at the first port they brought in more help. They had very little help at the bar throughout the cruise. The rooms were really small...........and I have been on other river cruises. The shower ran hot and cold all during your shower. The food was the same every day at lunch and breakfast. The dinners did not have much of a selection and were mediocre at best. the dining room was very small and it was so loud you couldn't hear the people at your own table. It was very difficult to get waited on in the bar. There was a bug problem in the dining room. It was so bad I took pictures of the light fixtures containing dead bugs!
We asked questions of several of those in charge about various things and got different answers each time.
Ama Vida is very expensive and not worth the price. One of the staff told us the best line for the Duoro River is Viking. The only saving grace is that we travelled with a great group of friends and made the best of the situation.
This was the first Uniworld cruise for my husband and me but we had been on several other river and ocean cruises. We recognized that the logistics for this itinerary would be challenging since it is a river cruise without much river, and ... Read More
This was the first Uniworld cruise for my husband and me but we had been on several other river and ocean cruises. We recognized that the logistics for this itinerary would be challenging since it is a river cruise without much river, and since getting to our Veneto destinations took bus rides of 1-2 hours each way. Add to that the fact that local shops close for the “siesta” at mid-day (cutting out shopping) and you have a recipe for some dissatisfaction.
However, knowing all these things we chose this cruise because it was the only one that offered Venice and nearby cities with historical significance. And much of it was good – for example, Ferrara was a real sleeper and well worth the visit. We were so tired after traveling overnight, arriving on Sunday, and having a full-day outing to Padua on Monday, that we decided to sleep in on the Bologna-or-Ferrara day and in the afternoon took the provided bus to Ferrara to walk around on our own. What a pleasure to see a real castle and moat, an old church, and a medieval village all within a few blocks. Padua had one church where we spend a lot of time but didn’t’ have much else. Ravenna had excellent mosaics in church and chapel and a great place for lunch; Verona was big and crowded but beautiful with many buildings of interest. Venice was…Venice! Arrive a day or two ahead or stay a day or two after the cruise to explore Venice on your own.
Our cruise director was very knowledgeable but sometimes told us more than we needed to know – for example, about the movements of the ship while we did excursions. We only needed to know things that would directly affect us, one day at a time. We were not sure how well-organized he was.
Some of our guides were excellent, like Manuela in Ravenna, but others were hard to understand and some pushed the “Puccini” group (those with mobility issues) a little too fast. It was a good plan to have a slower-moving group but not quite carried through. On the bus, we were promised a comfort stop on one of the trips but it didn’t happen. Sometimes it seemed that we were rushing in and out of our destination towns. And we had very little time between getting back to the ship and going to the lounge for the port talk. If it had been televised we could have taken our time preparing for dinner. But in Venice the market visit with the chef was very well done, and the evening visit to the Basilica with Susan was excellent. The buses were quite comfortable. The vox system worked fine.
On the ship we were extremely pleased with the front desk people who were very helpful and efficient; the cleanliness of the ship and of our room; the organization and staff that got us from and back to the airport and provided help inside the airport; the Captain who projected competence and care; and the staff of the Osteria. The ship was not full so the Hotel Manager moved us to a room farther away from the exercise room and the coffee machine – much appreciated.
We were less impressed with the friendliness of the staff in the main dining room. Early on we took to eating lunch and dinner in the Osteria, which offered pizza, prosciutto, and salad and of course wine. The view was great, the atmosphere informal, and the self-service for food worked just fine. We ate what we liked and felt no pressure to have more courses. We gave mixed reviews to the staff in the lounge – some extremely attentive, and others who took orders but drinks appeared whenever. Only once did we get the little snacks that come with drinks. We did not know whether the new “all-inclusive” policy, that included tips, had an effect on the attitude of the staff.
The food was good but it didn’t seem to us that it was special. The menus in the main dining room were not exciting. At the Captain’s dinner I got halibut that had the watery quality of fish that has been frozen. On the other hand, the sea bass at the Farewell dinner (bought in Venice at the market that day) was excellent. The pizza toppings were good but the pizza oven was apparently not large enough to generate a crispy crust. The pizza was good anyway.
Unfortunately there were things that were provided but we either weren’t told about or heard when we were sleep-deprived, but it wasn’t just us who didn’t know that there was a Bistro menu in the lounge; that you had to ask for the prosciutto in the Osteria; and that vaporetto passes could be bought at the front desk.
All in all we enjoyed the cruise but there was definitely room for improvement.
Before booking this kind of holiday please make sure it is for you. If it is what you want it is great, if not you could very well be disappointed. My husband and I cruised on La Marguerite 9-16 September 2014. Our first disappointment was ... Read More
Before booking this kind of holiday please make sure it is for you. If it is what you want it is great, if not you could very well be disappointed. My husband and I cruised on La Marguerite 9-16 September 2014. Our first disappointment was that we in our mid 50s were the youngest on board. On booking we had asked about ages and told it was mixed, but most were 70+. The ship is very nice, but not a lot of space to move about. Food was excellent but the lack of activity made it hard to enjoy it, as I never felt that hungry. All the staff were sweet and attentive - faultless in every way, and the boat was immaculately clean. The Vietnamese cruise director was incredible - Son - he could sell you anything - each day raising our hopes about the 'beautiful' things we were going to see, and though on each trip we were disappointed, we still believed him again next time. Without his lead there may well have been dissatisfied voices, but no-one wanted to upset him I think! the local guides who travelled with us had excellent English and tried hard, but they had little to show us.
The real problem was the excursions. There really is nothing to see along the way, in Vietnam the river is wide and brown, the shore the same old farming land or village slums and rubbish, and most of the other boats you pass are large dredgers. In Cambodia it is slightly better, no dredgers. I didn't find anything beautiful to look out at. the sky is cloudy all the time, creating oppressive heat, then at some point each day there is a torrential down pour which can last hours. If you are on an excursion at the time, bad luck, put on a mac and get on with it. Mud everywhere! The daily excursions are to villages and to look at the homes of the people - so poor and full of rubbish - schools, markets (with some quite unpleasant sights) and temples, that are neither ancient or attractive. By the end of the week about half of the party had given up getting off the boat!
If you want to see the real life of the local people, can face the dirt, smells and rubbish, and like sitting around chatting on the boat with free drinks and good food, and amateur evening entertainment - including poor copies of dvds - then this is for you. If you are expecting luxury, 5*, freedom to walk around on lovely excursions (during the briefing each night Son told us that the excursion would involve about 500 mtrs walking and 10 or so steps to climb - you get the idea - not meant for those with energy or no walking issues) then choose something else. As I said before - if this is what you are looking for you will love it. I felt we had been missold - or maybe I should have done more research before booking rather than relying on the travel agent and glossy brochure. Read Less
This was a great ship with great people. The staff was fantastic and the other passengers were delightful. Our cabin was excellent. Our ship carried 122 passengers and I think it might hold 130 maximum. Other similar sized ships will carry ... Read More
This was a great ship with great people. The staff was fantastic and the other passengers were delightful. Our cabin was excellent. Our ship carried 122 passengers and I think it might hold 130 maximum. Other similar sized ships will carry up to 220 passengers in the same space. We stayed at the Tauck-recommended hotel in Basel (our point of embarkation). The hotel is nice but sterile. We much preferred making out own arrangements on the other end in Amsterdam. We stayed at the Estherea Hotel and it was delightful.
Onboard, the internet was somewhere between terrible and non-existent. The food was average at best. We rarely docked in any town that was mentioned in the cruise itinerary. If you take this cruise, you should count on spending 2-3 hours on a bus everyday if you want to see what they advertise. On several nights we were docked in industrial harbors. Scrap metal is not what I wanted to see out of my very nice cabin. Unfortunately, if you don't get on the bus (at 8:15 to 9 am virtually every day) you will not see the sight for the day. A few times there was something to see right off boat but not what I went on the cruise to see. The buses are nice and the drivers are excellent and amazing, I just did not expect to spend so much time each and every day on a bus. Also, because we were not docked in the main towns, it was very difficult to spend extra time in a place that was interesting. Most of the tours were a little superficial to me and often I felt the guides were filling if the space because of time constraints. Unfortunately, they filled with fluff instead of the massive amounts of history available in this area. I have to admit, I do not think this tour was a good fit for me. I am 55 and I think the average age on board was closer to 75. Most of these people are retired and do not need to keep in touch with business, at least occasionally, while on vacation.
There was a wide variety of food but it was the same for breakfast and lunch everyday (with a very few exceptions). One passenger made a comment about it feeling like the movie Groundhog Day. I talked with the chef about the food and they tried to make me special meals (the staff really wants to please) but they just do not have the equipment or something to make it happen. I think the food is probably very healthy but it has very little flavor. I had soggy fish and dry tough meat and sometimes I had warm, medium rare ultra-lean beef that tasted like nothing. The waiters and table service were excellent.
Unfortunately, I am afraid that the Rhine River is oversold. There are too many boats and people at all of the sights so you can't get close, you can't enjoy and it is all just touristy.
There were a couple of times there was on board entertainment and it was nice. We had a dinner in a castle where we were too cramped together to make it comfortable. Likewise, the wine tasting event had us packed check to jowl for another excursion. I would miss both of those if given the option to go back. There was a daytime castle tour that my wife took that she said was excellent. Most of the tours and destinations were nice. It simply took too much time to get to and from them to make it enjoyable. Disembarkation went well. Read Less
This was our first river cruise and we chose a cruise that included The Mosel River as we had heard how beautiful it was. That certainly was the case and the itinerary for the Legendary Rhine and Mosel was excellent. Our first choice was ... Read More
This was our first river cruise and we chose a cruise that included The Mosel River as we had heard how beautiful it was. That certainly was the case and the itinerary for the Legendary Rhine and Mosel was excellent. Our first choice was Tauck but we planned too late to sail with them but Uniworld was available and we had heard they were similarly considered luxury lines. In our case, aboard The River Queen that proved to be an over-statement. I would consider the cruise line more "Upscale Light" in terms of accommodations, food, beverages and service. The age range seemed to encompass mostly late 60's to mid 70's, much older than we had anticipated. Fellow cruisers were very friendly and many were very interesting but it would have been nice to travel with a slightly younger crowd.
The stateroom was very small and the red decor was almost disturbing. Seating was so uncomfortable we just used the chairs for storage. The bathroom was tiny but very functional although more shelving would have been appreciated. The bed was comfortable enough but the pillows were very hard and still not supportive. There was a menu of pillows to select from but our steward said they were the same that were already on the bed. Our cabin steward did a great job of keeping everything clean. But, I was surprised that there was never a treat left on the pillows at turndown, something we always experienced on Silversea and The World and something I equate with a more luxury level line.
The public areas were pretty enough but the seating in the lounge was very uncomfortable. My husband could never relax on the sofas and the chairs were basically dining chairs. The lounge was also too warm during the evening port talks so we usually just stood in the doorway. The bar and waitstaff usually did a great job but sometimes we waited forever for a cocktail and there never seemed to be enough snack trays for every table...they were just distributed randomly throughout the lounge. This area was also used for a light lunch and tea time both of which were not that interesting in terms of food selection. We loved the coffee machine in the patio and the always available iced tea. The "gym" was tiny but did have good cardio machines but the free weights were all too light and there wasn't room for a bench.
The dining room was very loud and when seated in the lower back area there was quite a vibration if the ship was underway during mealtime. It was difficult to hear our dining companions at dinner but somewhat better during lunch and breakfast because not everyone was seated at the same time and some people dined in the lounge. Service quite often was very slow, especially at dinner. It took two and a half hours every night to slog through dinner which really became a chore if one was seated with less than interesting fellow diners. Breakfast and lunch food selections were okay but dinner was inconsistent. The fish selections were especially unappetizing some nights but just okay on other nights. If you don't eat meat the choices can be rather bland but the meat eaters were usually very pleased. The wine selections were not great most of the time and a real disappointment considering the outstanding wine regions we were cruising through.
The included tours were also inconsistent regarding the quality of the guides. Many folks complained of the groups being too large and too slow even though the slow walkers were asked to joined a slower group, it was not enforced. Requests to the tour director to create a fast walking group were brushed off. The groups were averaging about 25 people each and when walking through narrow, winding streets and stopping for bathroom breaks the size of the groups became cumbersome. We took the optional Heidelberg tour for an extra fee and unfortunately that guide was one of the worst. His explanation of the history of the area was very disjointed and not very informative. I had no problem with understanding the various guides' german or french accents but quite a few older people complained they had trouble understanding. The two tours that included wine tasting were a highlight but for some reason, never explained, the dinner ashore in Rudesheim was not offered even though it was listed in the cruise guidebook.
In conclusion I am interested in trying another river cruise but will look to another line that might do a better job of living up to a Luxury category.
We just returned from our long-anticipated Viking river cruise in France and came away wishing we had paid closer attention to the itinerary (Portraits of France) as our expectations were not met. We made assumptions (based on ... Read More
We just returned from our long-anticipated Viking river cruise in France and came away wishing we had paid closer attention to the itinerary (Portraits of France) as our expectations were not met. We made assumptions (based on Viking's marketing and other friends cruise experiences in other countries and on other cruise lines) about what a river cruise would entail and felt if we had known what to pay attention to, we would have chosen a different itinerary and possibly a different cruise line.
Our main disappointments were as follows: 1) there was minimal to no time to spend on either our balcony or topside due to touring schedule and/or time of day we were sailing.We expected to see scenic vistas while sailing, but instead saw miles of flat farmland...AND much of the sailing took place at night and we saw nothing 2) we also anticipated time to leisurely stroll through quaint towns where we docked, but instead oftentimes were docked in industrial settings where our stateroom view was an abandoned,graffiti-laden warehouses. On only two occasions were we close enough to walk into the town for a very short period of time. 3) the 7 day agenda was very structured and very fast-paced....not conducive to relaxation and independent exploration. 4) dinners got tedious as there was only one dining time (7pm) and we quickly saw that passengers would line up 15-20 minutes early outside the dining rom in order to secure specific seating. The 'Captain's Dinner' was quite humorous because the Captain did not attend it nor did the Captain speak English (all passengers were from U.S., Canada and Australia). 5) do NOT pay extra for the elite beverage package...definitely not worth the cost. My advice to anyone looking to take a river cruise: pay attention to the # of passengers, the sailing timeline, the scenery that you can expect to see, the amount of free time and proximity to towns, the ability to dine off the ship at least once. AND...read reviews from passengers who have been on the cruise ( ship and itinerary) you are considering! Read Less
My husband and I along with another couple took an AMA Waterways extended Danube cruise this fall, which started far from the Danube in Istanbul and ended somewhat past the Danube in Prague. There were 14 actual days on the ship with an ... Read More
My husband and I along with another couple took an AMA Waterways extended Danube cruise this fall, which started far from the Danube in Istanbul and ended somewhat past the Danube in Prague. There were 14 actual days on the ship with an almost total turnover of passengers and some crew in Budapest.
There were many highlights -- several on the land extensions. Istanbul and Prague are both bucket list cities and live up to their billing. The illuminated night cruise of Budapest was exceptional and there were a couple of surprising charmers (Bratislava and Pecs come to mind). There were some lowlights as well -- being bussed through northern Turkey and across Bulgaria could be skipped. The hotel in Bulgaria where we spent the night (a Ramada) was truly the worst hotel I've ever stayed in, and I've lived in Asia. Actually, touring the poorest part of Bulgaria, Serbia and Croatia from the Danube is educational but not necessarily entertaining.
The AmaPrima was a nice enough ship but oddly designed. The small "library" was sparsely stocked with a few random coffee table books but no matter, with the little low-voltage pin dot lights, you could barely see to walk much less read. A built-in buffet station in the middle of the main reception room made the frequent all-ship briefings and onboard entertainment awkward affairs as the space was broken up by this massive buffet. Putting the buffet station at one end of the room or the other would have made much more sense. For a relatively small ship, more attention should be placed on maximizing form and function.
Overall, the tours were good and there were the occasional opportunities to bike although not as many as we had thought that there would be nor as flexible as we had thought. One of the bike tours required biking almost 20 miles.
For the first 16 days, we had a cruise manager who was impossibly arrogant and very disinterested in the guest experience. His only concern was establishing the fact that he was the guests' social and intellectual peer. Had we not had the polar opposite for a cruise director the next 16 days, we would NEVER consider cruising on AMA again. Our second cruise director was such a delight and made each guest feel valued. He not only was knowledgeable but had such a delightful manner and presentation that the daily briefings were a joy.
The only cruise experience we have to compare this to was a fabulous Seabourn cruise in the Baltic so we're not comparing apples to apples. Would we do Ama again? The jury's still out but probably not. Read Less
My wife and I are experienced travelers and have been on several Ocean Cruises ranging from midrange to luxury. We had decided to try a river cruise, taking a 15 night cruise from Basil to Amsterdam
Pre-cruise didn’t get off to a great ... Read More
My wife and I are experienced travelers and have been on several Ocean Cruises ranging from midrange to luxury. We had decided to try a river cruise, taking a 15 night cruise from Basil to Amsterdam
Pre-cruise didn’t get off to a great start as little information is provided on ship port timings or schedules for tours nor how long they lasted, which if we would have known that information we have never booked this particular cruise Romantic Rhine and Moselle. This ended up being mostly time spent on the boat or motor coaches with only 3 days where the boat stayed more than 5 hrs in port. We’re very active and having limited port time was a big disappointment. This cruise doubles back on itself 3 times during the day.. boring.
The Transfer from Zurich to Basil included a 6 hr wait in a hotel meeting room with just snacks. You would think a lunch of some type would have been brought in. Particularly since most of the passengers had been traveling for over 24 hrs from Australia.
In general the ship was more spacious that we had expected, the staff was very helpful, friendly but you could tell they are overworked. The on-shore tours were just OK. If you got a good guide we stayed with them if not we just went on our own. The average age on this trip was well over 70 and mostly “gentle walkers” so tours were very slow. The GPS/touring devices provided were good when you had a guide since you could hear everything but other than that a total waste of time. They don’t direct you but just “go off” when you get near a point of interest, if you can find the point of interest, a challenge with the maps supplied. Better maps with the tour route may have made the GPS devices more useful.
The Cruise Director was approachable we found out later he was about the only employee on board that was paid by Scenic everyone else was contract labor through agencies. On board entertainment was definitely designed for the age group on board which we understand. The local entertainment was very Lawrence Welk.
The nightly meeting about the next day was a hassle you’re almost had to attend to find out what was happening- it was supposed to be broadcasted in the room but it never had any sound. Can’t figure out why the disembarkment meeting was 3 days before we were to leave the boat. Bringing us back to reality long before it needed to be, made us feel like it’s time for you to leave long before it needed to be.
After the nightly what’s happening tomorrow it was straight to dinner. There really wasn’t open setting since everyone went into dinner at the same time. If you came in even 20 minutes later than the foors opened and sat at a table for two you could tell dining room management was not happy based on the dirty looks we were given one time we did that.
Dinners were always a big disappointment we both ended up eating the steak option all but 2 nights. The seafood night which my wife ate steak anyway and the special dining room night. Don’t bother with the special dining room it was really bad and really slow over 2 hrs. Dinner was also very long while it’s free choice seating everything is served in courses so that even if sit choose a table for 2 and only order the main course you sit and wait while all the other courses are served for the whole dining room before you get food. The only option to complete a dinner in less than 90 minutes was room service which we did three times- steak again. The breakfast buffet was fine. Lunch buffet was OK but we also had to order hamburgers several times to find a suitable protein.
There were 3 meals off the boat the fondue lunch was unacceptable plus the wait staff was so angry if anyone tried to get their own coffee/tea it was a running joke at our table. The dinner at the palace and the dinner at the local restaurant were just OK.
The bar/lounge is the main sitting/meeting/entertaining area and when busy seating was at a premium including and we found ourselves standing at most events since we’re in our late 50’s and most others were at least in their mid-70’s and several folks in their late 80’s we didn’t feel right sitting and making these folks stand.
The plus points of the cruise was its all-inclusive but to have it be a reasonable value you needed to drink and I mean a lot to make it compare to the other boats in this market. We did tip individually the cabin steward and waite/bar staff. Wi-Fi is free and the TV channels are OK but need more movie choice when you’re cruising for sometimes 36 hrs in a row. Plus the movies sometimes had a new version listed and when it started it was the original version from 30 years ago.
We did not enjoy our cruise due to the itinerary and the food options. Plus we didn’t anticipate the average age to be well into the 70’s. This is certainly not 5 stars like Seabourn or Crystal . They need to improve the food a lot. Once again if they were upfront about itinerary time in the brochure/web site we never would have booked this itinerary. We would not recommend this particular itinerary to anyone active.
We would not recommend Scenic to anyone that thinks food is a major focus when cruising. Do you like to drink, relax and do nothing for 14 or 15 days but sit and talk to folks in their 70’s this is the itinerary for you.
Well, this was our first River Cruise and we were excited. However we were a little put back when 2 days before we left we were told the first part of the trip was out due to high river levels. So we stayed moored at Lyon for 3 days. We ... Read More
Well, this was our first River Cruise and we were excited. However we were a little put back when 2 days before we left we were told the first part of the trip was out due to high river levels. So we stayed moored at Lyon for 3 days. We had just 2 days cruising and another 2 moored in Avignon. The sun deck was closed the entire time we cruised and the bar was very limited in wine choice until they re-stocked after 3 days.
No complaints about the crew. They tried hard and the food was ok as were the tours, although they involved much longer bus drives than planned due to the changed locations. We wanted a cruise , we could have stayed in hotels anywhere with bigger rooms and more amenities at a much lower cost. Beware the Portraits of Southern France because the boats are really too big for these rivers and this will continue to occur regularly in the future. Read Less