After sailing some 45 ocean cruises, with 35 on Celebrity Cruises, we decided to try a European River cruise to explore cities not accessible on a large cruise ship.
We understood it would be a different experience as compared to a cruise ship, given that the river boats carry only about 150 passengers.
The good: Very friendly staff, good excursions included in the cost of the cruise, a different historic European city each day and in most cities there was easy walking access to the city from the pier.
Average: The rooms were small but clean with a nice size bathroom. The beds were very uncomfortable and it seemed as if our feet were higher than our heads.
The not so good: The food was below average. The dining room was small and the staff ranged from very good to poor. Breakfast is served in a two hour window with either buffet or order from the kitchen. The breakfast was okay but don't expect a big selection.
Lunch was served in a one hour window with sometimes a "light" lunch buffet served in the lounge. In the dining room there was salad bar or you could order off the menu. Since we do not eat pork products we had a hard time finding anything to order since it seemed every selection either had bacon or ham included in the dish, including the soups. On one occasion we ordered soup and fried fish and both were served at the same time, Thus the fish was cold by the time we finished the soup.
Dinner was also heavy on pork dishes or a fish dish, usually a fired fish. Vegetarian dishes were mainly pasta and cheese. One night we all ordered the seared tuna and it was plain awful and we rejected it and ordered steak. Most nights they did offer alternative selections such as grilled chicken breast, poached salmon or steak. On the last night the main course was so unappetizing that 5 or the 6 at our table ordered poached salmon as the entree.
The themed dinners limited you to selecting entrees only with everything else a set menu. Don't expect gourmet meals on a river boat.
Evening Entertainment: Except for a few external entertainers that came on board while in port, the evenings can be quite boring. They did have a keyboard musician through out the cruise and he was very good. However, the lounge was too small to comfortably fit all the passengers to see the entertainers.
Cruise prices are quite high as compared to a similar room and duration on a cruise ship.