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7 A-ROSA Cruises Family Cruise Reviews

We are serial river cruisers but this year we were only able to make a relatively late booking, due to unforeseen domestic circumstances. We had not experienced Shearings river cruises before but, at fairly short notice, Shearings were the ... Read More
We are serial river cruisers but this year we were only able to make a relatively late booking, due to unforeseen domestic circumstances. We had not experienced Shearings river cruises before but, at fairly short notice, Shearings were the only company that could fly us out of Bristol to Paris CDG. Our transfer from CDG to the ship was by a private hire car - very impressive - although we were quite concerned about the driver who seemed to spend lots of time looking at his phone and drifting into adjacent traffic lanes! We didn't see any of the well known parts of the city during the 30 minute drive, and finally stopped at a small and un-cared for river berth in a seedy part of the city about 15 miles from the centre of Paris. On all the other river cruise companies that we've used, a different and interesting excursion is included in the price each day. Shearings included only 3 excursions, and the others were 'optional' and had to be paid for. The highlight of the cruise was an included coach trip from the rather insignificant town of Caudebec-en-Caux to the Normandy landing beaches, which were most interesting. But the long coach trip each way could have been significantly shortened if we had moored at the beautiful harbour town of Honfleur at which the more upmarket river cruisers moor. Honfleur is a great favourite of most travellers and many our fellow guests were quite disappointed not to visit there. Perhaps this was something to do with port charges, In Rouen, we moored about a mile from the town centre while other river cruise ships were moored at the closest point to the town. Did this also have something to do with port charges for prime positions? Apart from Rouen, all the other stopping places were pleasant - but small and quite insignificant towns along the river. We spent a day and a half in Rouen, which was far too long, but at Vernon we only had half an hour to go ashore, following an interesting excursion to Monet’s garden. Why were we charged £22 for that excursion when the ticket entry price was only 8 Euros and the Shearings coach we used had been shadowing us throughout the cruise? Dining ! What can we say? There were two quite separate and different dining rooms available, separated by a kitchen and a mish-mash of alleyways in which buffet style food was laid out for each meal of the day. For almost £2,000 a week each, we would have expected table service, at least at lunch and dinner, and at no time were told that all meals would be buffet style. One of the corridors intersected at 90 degrees with the kitchen entry/exit door, resulting in frequent conflict with plate carrying stewards when removing plates from the tables or delivering drinks. In other areas of the buffet alley ways, passengers continuously got in each others' way which became frustrating at times – there simply was not enough space for passengers to easily access the buffet. The food was principally German in style and flavour - often salty or greasy and without any traditional English dishes available. e.g no bacon, beans, pork sausage or poached eggs for breakfast, and marmalade only available for 2 days before it appeared to run out. Also no British 'roasts' except for some pink-in-the-centre sliced beef and lamb on two occasions The principal language on board was German, with about 120 Germans against less than 50 British guests However, we were only told that we would meet 'International guests' and nothing about the main language on board being German and that the German theme would also extend to the food and the music. We have nothing against our German friends, but we feel that Shearings were rather economical with the details in this area. In general, cabin and catering staff were from various European countries, as seems to be the norm on river cruise ships, and they were generally very friendly and eager to please, although not all had a good grasp of English. We were happy to leave a gratuity which would be shared amongst all the crew. The German Cruise Director and the ladies on the reception desk all spoke very good English and were most helpful. Basically a very, very poor pre-cruise description, leaving passengers to discover that everything is not always as the Shearings glossy brochure presents. So our advice to potential guests would be to ask some searching questions about the above points before booking a Shearings/A-Rosa river cruise. For, unlike many of their competitors, Shearings don't have their own ships, so sub contract their passengers onto German flag vessels, which seems to be a consistent problem for several of the writers of some on line reviews I have read. Shearings took four weeks to respond to our letter (above) but did not acknowledge or specifically comment on much of what we had said, except for saying ‘sorry’ several times. Would we choose Shearings for a holiday again? No. Would we recommend Shearings river cruises to others? Definitely not. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
First of all let me start by saying I don’t usually bother giving any reviews as I believe nothing can be absolutely perfect in life and I like being tolerant and giving the benefit of the doubt. However I do feel that our experience on ... Read More
First of all let me start by saying I don’t usually bother giving any reviews as I believe nothing can be absolutely perfect in life and I like being tolerant and giving the benefit of the doubt. However I do feel that our experience on the A-Rosa Viva does warrant a review, especially as an ‘educational’ exercise to non- German speaking travellers like us. Will seek to make the review as detailed and fair as possible. The ports Let me start with a description or the trip itself. The ports which we visited were Secondary ports. Some locations were nice such as in Les Pays where we walked to St Germain. But the rest were nothing to write home about. Minor ports not much to see. The ship The vessel is average. Small to medium sized and with nothing much to do. It has one Main buffet restaurant and a lounge. The cabins As a family of four, 2 adults and 2 kids, and with just 3 family rooms on ship (which were all taken very early In the day), we had to be split and take two rooms and these were not even interconnecting. Pillows were awful and the ship offered no solution. I had to sleep on 3 folded towels. Toiletries were very very basic even for us premium payers Entertainment This was Average to mediocre. Practically it just consists of a DJ who changes music genre every night. Kids enjoyed dancing but for us adults it was quiet boring. There was no other entertainment except for this. New Year’s Eve was slightly better as two singers were brought in for 1.5 hrs. Fitness and leisure This consists of a Very small area for what they call ‘gym’ consisting of 3 cardio machines and a mat. Kids club The kids animator was a lovely caring lady. She organised crafts for kids and they loved it, but from a parent point of view, this solution was scant. This lady was on her own and kids club was not the usual organised club we are used to where kids are catered for with a full programme and with high security etc. This Was an informal arrangement with a very caring and nice animator. Food & Beverages This was average to high quality. Some nice dishes here and there but the genre was mainly German food except for one French cuisine night. The chefs were lovely people and very caring and good at their work. Excursions This was the cherry on the cake and the matter that literally could have ruined all the experience, were it not for the fact that we were a nice group and good company to each other. First of all, as soon as we went on ship, before any presentations were given to us on the excursions, we already knew which excursions we wanted to book. There wasn’t much to choose from anyway as it was practically one main excursion per port and we were ready to book immediately. But every time we went to book (three times in all) we were told off by two stern reception/admin ladies. We were practically put in place and told sternly to wait for the presentation on excursions which would tk place on the evening of the first night. We dutifully complied. We patiently waited for a 45 min presentation in German and a 15 min summary in English. Then we went to book. Only this time we were bombed by two main facts, mainly 1. Vernon excursion was now fully booked (but they had not taken our booking in the first place on the morn!) 2. All excursions would be in German! This cruise was sold to us as an international one. We were basically told we could book excursions at half price but these would not be in English. This was shocking to us! We wanted to pay full price fair and square but for something we could understand! How could one endure a 6 hour excursion in a language of which we understood nothing! We tried the first excursion and the experience was horrible to say the least. The guide was very rude to us and when we asked to have some points delivered briefly in English (just a couple of pointers), she practically shouted on top of her Voice that we have not paid for this! This Was highly embarrassing infront of other guests also since we had never asked not to pay full price. So we decided to just cancel all other excursions as it was a useless exercise. Of course this matter did ruin the rest the trip since we then went to towns on our own, and with no detailed guidance whatsoever. This leads me to a description of the staff on board the ship Staff - hospitality The cleaning and cooking staff were lovely people. They made sure nothing was a problem. One example is the fact that food on board is not very ‘child friendly’ but the chef always prepared pasta for kids to make sure there was something child-oriented. Staff- admin The receptionists and admin were a major issue. This relates to two ladies from three. The cruise manager tried his best to make things slightly better. However for such two ladies in question, everything was a problem. They always replied in an unfriendly, stoic way to our questions, they sent us away when we tried to book excursions early morn, they literally huffed and puffed at our questions, and never went out of their way to make things happen for us, despite knowing that the ship was at fault at having advertised its services and facilities as international and sold them as such to non-German passengers but did not live up to this promise. When we asked for a mere printout of a power point presentation in english of the locations we would visit, even this was a major issue. Our major complaint in fact is not merely that the cruise does in no way cater for non-German speakers but also the fact that our plea was handled so unprofessionally and with no empathy by these administrators. As a summary I would not recommend this cruise at all to non- German speakers and would give it an average 2-3 stars for entertainment Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
Our family decided to take a Christmas Market cruise but wanted to spend time in London. We selected ARosa because of their selection of 4-day itineraries and their moderate pricing . We had no doubts about the ports of call but were ... Read More
Our family decided to take a Christmas Market cruise but wanted to spend time in London. We selected ARosa because of their selection of 4-day itineraries and their moderate pricing . We had no doubts about the ports of call but were somewhat concerned about the communication and food offerings on a german-based cruise line. Once on-board what we found was a beautiful, spotless boat, an amazing crew and a surprising variety of food offerings. There were only a few Americans on board but the crew went out of our their way to make us feel welcome. From the welcome talk to the pre port presentations, all were givenfirst in German and then in English despite only a few Americans on board. All US booking are all-inclusive with a full drink package. The only thing not offered are guided tours in English but we did not find that a problem as good information was offer for each stop. We booked a Jr Suite which proved to be a good value as among other perks, free laundry service and a stocked mini bar was included. The dress was casual and the atmosphere was relaxed at all times. We opted to upgrade our final nights dinner to wine pairing dining event, which proved to be a fun and elegant evening. Everyone in our party agreed that we would recommend Arosa to anyone. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
We selected this cruise because the date was right. We selected this cruise, as well, based upon our tourism company´s recommendation. It was a relaxing and quite nice cruise up the Rhine. Included some cities we had visited by car as ... Read More
We selected this cruise because the date was right. We selected this cruise, as well, based upon our tourism company´s recommendation. It was a relaxing and quite nice cruise up the Rhine. Included some cities we had visited by car as well as other locations we had not been to. The room service was quite wonderful. The fellow who had been assigned to our section of rooms spoke far better English than German. Being an American expat and my partner, a native German, is bi-lingual and we both could talk to this fellow. We have been told than in 2018 The Aqua is becoming International with English being the second but equal language with German. From my perspective, it has begun. The food service was varied and quite fine. The waiter in our section is Hungarian and having heard me speaking in English began our week with English dining room service. Being a smoker, I totally appreciate the back of the ship´s area for smokers. We, had a great deal of rain the last 2 days and the upper deck was not conducive to being there. Would go on another A Rosa Cruise. Plan on a short stay in 2018 at a resort of A Rosa. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
We were a family of six non-German speakers including two kids who had a very relaxing time on this trip. The itinerary was supposed to be south to Switzerland but when we boarded we found out, because of water levels, the boat would ... Read More
We were a family of six non-German speakers including two kids who had a very relaxing time on this trip. The itinerary was supposed to be south to Switzerland but when we boarded we found out, because of water levels, the boat would be going north. This was disappointing as members of our party had recently been to the cities to the north and we had specifically wanted to see the Alps and that was why we picked this trip, but we ended up having a much more easy trip as we only spent about two days in port, therefore giving us lots of relaxing boat and family time. Also, we got a 50 euro credit per adult to use on board so we all had massages. We had booked this trip via the North American offices and got mostly great service but also some wrong information (e.g. about disembarkation, facilities). The information on the boat via the loudspeakers was exclusively in German. We sometimes asked the cruise manager to tell us what an announcement had said. We did get lots of information in English in our cabins. We didn't do any excursions because they were all in German only. The signs were only in German as well so we may have broken a few. But if we asked for help we always got it. The staff were lovely. Some were clearly not comfortable with English but the ones that were seemed to go out of their way to make us feel welcome. The hot tub outside was nice and not too many people used it due to the cold temperatures in January. The sauna we never quite got up the courage to go in as it was nude and for both sexes. The gym didn't have too much (it is not a big boat) but was fine. The boat spent a lot of time docked right beside another A-Rosa ship, meaning that for long portions of the trip half the boat had no view, which was too bad as we had paid extra to have rooms with Juliet balconies. The food was really great with lots of options vegetarian and otherwise. We loved all the virgin cocktails. Only two beers were part of the all-inclusive but they were good. Our large party sometimes couldn't sit exactly together at meals if we didn't get there on the early side but mostly it was fine. Mealtimes were not too chaotic and it was a pretty elegant but not stiff atmosphere. The ship was very clean and nicely decorated. Our cabins were well-designed with lots of nice storage. Two of us did feel ill the last night (and one was ill for a few days after that) so we don't know if it was something we ate or something else like a virus. Everybody else was fine. There were no specific activities for kids and just a handful of kids on the boat but we played games and did the hot tub and socialised. The staff were kind to the kids. In summary, this is a very German cruise line good for a relaxing time. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
I'm not sure why A-rosa is bunked for Americans...in fact, I wondered why more English speaking cruisers weren't on board. The staff all spoke English as well as German (most of the crew were Eastern European) and the service ... Read More
I'm not sure why A-rosa is bunked for Americans...in fact, I wondered why more English speaking cruisers weren't on board. The staff all spoke English as well as German (most of the crew were Eastern European) and the service was excellent. We appreciated the spotless ship; the accommodating service from all the staff (constant attention to detail...fabulous hard working and conscientious). The rooms were the same size as higher end cruise companies and we had 2 upper cabins with french balconies (full balconies are really unnecessary on these cruises as you loose precious cabin space and when you can open your french balcony windows its as if you have an outer balcony anyway). While some purists might say the food wasn't "french enough" and, while I love French food, the quality of the food was excellent, presentation always good and they did make an effort to serve french specialities. All meals were buffet style but never tacky and really fresh and well presented food. The cheeses were good, the seafood was very good and the salads and breads always nice. The bar opened at 10 in the morning (although if asked, I'm sure they would've made a mimosa for breakfast) and the mixed drinks and liqueurs were very good. The wine was okay, but one could always upgrade for small charge (anywhere from 14-25 euro for a bottle...still a deal). We had an all inclusive premium package and I felt sure we were going to be charged for extras at the end...but no!...we even had a small break on spa services. Tipping at cruise end was expected but not forced (not automatically added to your bill)...and frankly the service was so good you wanted to tip them. The only really bad downside was the ship wifi only seemed to function well for about 2 hours a day (generally when in a major port) This makes sense as I think many river cruise companies have issues with wifi when outside of a city. Really unacceptable for us because we were trying to communicate with work back home and could barely do so....be advised that you should probably hire your own "hotspot" if you're coming from the United States. that might function better....there are a number of companies that will rent you a wifi hotspot in France. The other plus, unheard of really...was that our children were free! On premium inclusive cruises children 15 and under were included in the adult rate so our cruise was significantly more affordable than any other river cruise company. There were a few other teens on board and that was nice for our kids. They enjoyed ordering specialty non-alcoholic drinks from the bar freely. The DJ worked hard to include them in the music selections at nights (sometimes the choice of music was "schmaltzy" during the day)...but we warmed up to the DJ and had lots of fun with him. I'm sure in the summer there are more mixed family groups. This river cruise company is pitching itself to families so I think that they tend to have a more diverse group on board than some companies. Port time was limited in some spots, but we didn't feel that we didn't have enough time in any location except Arles (It was Easter and it rained so we didn't get to go to an Easter service because we were leaving in the early afternoon). They gave us port information for the activities of the day in each place in English. In Arles, there was bullfighting on the day we were there and Easter activities and some things had to be cut short because we were leaving for Avignon, but Arles was miserable in the cold rain...so in the end were happy to be back on board. Avignon was beautiful at sunset...not to be missed, so I understand they were trying to reach Avignon at the right time to see the Pont at sunset. We didn't use their excursions because we opted to do most touring on our own and that was fine too. I do think the bike excursions are nice when the weather is good (and the guide would've done them in both english and german). Bikes can only be take with the guide because they had a lot of thefts of bikes rented without the guide. But most towns had "city bikes" which are also accessible if you just wanted to do it yourself (be are velopop in Avignon is a little difficult if you are renting 4 bikes at a time). Another plus was the open pool on the top deck...none of the other cruise companies that we docked next to could brag that feature (Viking, Ama, Avalon, Croisi)...and it was a blast swimming in the heated pool viewing the lights of Lyon. I would go with A-rosa again...super service, good food and really relaxing. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
I wanted to give you an update of our experiences on the Arosa Bella cruise on the Danube. Let me start out that there were 5 of us traveling in 3 cabins. We are all in our late 40's-early 50's. We got a text the night before the ... Read More
I wanted to give you an update of our experiences on the Arosa Bella cruise on the Danube. Let me start out that there were 5 of us traveling in 3 cabins. We are all in our late 40's-early 50's. We got a text the night before the cruise was to start while we were in Munich that the locks were down in Slovakia and the boat could not get to Passau so we would be bussed to the boat in Hungary. This ended up to be a 6 hour bus ride to Komaron, Hungary. We were not happy at all with the way they handled the lock closure. When we got to Passau as we were instructed, the Hotel Director, Michael was unwilling to speak with us to explain what was going on because we spoke English. To quote him "I will only speak to the German guests now, you can wait." Now keep in mind we are in a strange country where we don't speak the language. Dozens of people are milling around trying to find out what was going on and many were mad that they had not been contacted. We were not mad, but did want to understand what they were saying. We were lucky in that about 20 minutes after standing there, a person that was going on the cruise that spoke English finally translated for us. He told us to tag our bags and put them on the bus and just to get on the bus. The Hotel Director kept telling us to wait even after I called the cruise line contact that had called me about the change and she promised to call Michael to have him talk to us. I saw her call him and heard him answer and he then still chose to ignore us. If it wasn't for a very nice German man that had lived in Fort Lee, NJ for a time, we would have had no idea what to do or where to go until they decided to talk to us. On the cruise itself many times we felt a burden to the cruise line because we spoke English. Because of the change in itinerary they did give a lovely tour in Budapest in English that we were not expecting. What we didn't realize was if we didn't take the German tour we would not be allowed off the ship in Melk & Krems. We ended up taking the German tour because we wanted to get off the ship, but in Esztergom we almost had the same problem, but I forced the to call us a cab to take us to Basilica. That information would have been helpful before we went so we were prepared. I had originally had some tours planned but due to the change in itinerary we had to cancel them. We did have a great waiter every night who spoke English and got us an English menu every night. The ship itself was lovely. The passengers were friendly even though many did not speak English. Food was generally good with only a few times that there was little to eat for my husband since the gluten allergy. They had a hard time understanding the gluten allergy depending on which chef was there as some did not speak any English and could not tell my husband what foods were safe and what weren't. The itinerary was great and we loved that we were overnight in Vienna and Budapest. Wifi didn't really work well so I wouldn't tout it much. We had a full drink package so all our drinks were included. This was great and not something I was used to on a cruise. We had lots of great local wines and schnapps. The cabin was comfortable and clean and very well kept. We loved being up on deck as we went through the locks on the return trip. The cruise line did give us an OBC for our troubles of the 6 hour bus ride to Komaron and a discount on the spa. We both had massages which were nice while on the river. I only wish we had some English tours to use the money on. We ended up with beach towels, but I would have preferred to see more of the cities. I did take 1,529 pictures and it was an awesome trip. We have decided we would do another river cruise in the future, but will be trying a different cruise line in the future. We got to see a lot of them, as in many of the cities, when the boats docked, you walked through one to get to yours so you got to at least see their lobby. Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
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