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2 Gate 1 Travel River Cruise Reviews

Without a doubt one of the best vacations we have ever been on. i was worried because we had taken the viking river cruise up the rhine and the bar was set pretty high. gate 1 met and at times exceeded the bar. the moment we entered the ... Read More
Without a doubt one of the best vacations we have ever been on. i was worried because we had taken the viking river cruise up the rhine and the bar was set pretty high. gate 1 met and at times exceeded the bar. the moment we entered the airport in prague to be transferred to the hotel until the moment we were transferred to the departure airport in budapest everyone and everything was fantastic. mari in prague was a great initial point of contact for gate 1 and gave us tips and suggestions that were perfect. she was there for us and any of the rest of the group 24/7. the imperial hotel was above and beyond our expectations, and for a first time gate 1 traveler, left an appetite for more. the transfers from the airport, hotel to the ship and the departing airport were coordinated perfectly. then there was the cruise. what a trip!!!!! the stops and tours were out of this world. gate 1 really stepped up the game and again we were pleasantly surprised at the quality of the tours and the tour guides. michael in regensburg, gerhardt in salzburg and nora in bratislava. the crew on the ship was without a doubt the best team we had ever cruised with. the following individuals need mentioning: captain peter, hotel manager cristian, 1st receptionist nicoleta, ex chef miro, maître d marcin, housekeeping samsudin, cruise director karol, activity host saber, room steward veri, head waitress baloga, 2nd waiter marius and richard the piano man. there were many more and they all deserve a big hand. the cabin we chose was comfortable and roomy, i stand 6'5" and the issue i have with these ships is the bathroom and shower. not this time!!! it was very efficient and the shower was the perfect fit. we were in room 215 and it wasn't a suite. the food was gourmet every night and the breakfast was as you want it. there was entertainment on the ship every night thanks to karol and saber. saber had nightly trivia contest and they were very entertaining, especially the battle of the sexes. karol arranged for local groups on the ship to sing and dance the local specialties along with a couple of nights of local refreshments. karol also narrated the wachau valley tour on the ship as we cruised down to vienna and spoke on the danube river and the locks. and cristina was always there to help with any request. the individual stops and tours at regensburg, melk abbey, salzburg, passau, vienna, bratislava and budapest were well organized and the quality of the tour guides were top notch. i always say that if you walk away learning more than you knew at the start you were doing good. i learned more than i ever expected. this was a very educational trip as well as an enjoyable learning experience. Everyone asks me what was my favorite part? the whole trip!!! i could go on and on but the only way anyone would understand is to experience it themselves. this is the first of gate 1 new ships with more to come. this is a must trip and this is the must company to use. thank you all for a great time. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
I found very few reviews for Gate 1 Travel and the Monarch Empress traveling the Danube so I thought I would post a quick summary. Marigold252's review in post #2409882 ("Gate 1 17 Day Danube River Cruise with Warsaw, Krakow, ... Read More
I found very few reviews for Gate 1 Travel and the Monarch Empress traveling the Danube so I thought I would post a quick summary. Marigold252's review in post #2409882 ("Gate 1 17 Day Danube River Cruise with Warsaw, Krakow, Budapest & Prague") on this forum has some fairly detailed additional information. This was our first river cruise and most of our tour experience has been with various Rick Steves' small group land tours - so our observations about this river cruise come from that perspective. Gate 1 Travel - Their tag line seems to say it all... "See More of the World for Less". I certainly was unfamiliar with them but many of our fellow cruisers had done numerous land tours with them over the course of 5 - 10 years. They seem pretty well established but have a low profile compared to some of the other river cruise lines. When I compare the quality of the ship, food, service, and experience compared to the many other cruise lines I researched, we certainly felt that it was great value for money. Ship - The Monarch Empress is quite new (first put into service in 2016 I believe). The decor was more modern/contemporary than what we saw on some of the other ships that were docked close to us. More about clean and sleek and less about overall glitz. Passengers - Approximately 130 or so passengers for our cruise - a slight majority from the US but Australia, New Zealand, and Canada folks were broadly represented -- with a smattering from other countries as well. The age range was mostly 50 to 80... with just a few folks that were either younger or older than this demographic. Daytime dress was generally casual - this was September so mostly long pants and a mix of layers to adjust for temperature and showers through the day. Dinner dress was a bit mixed. We specifically chose this cruise line over some others because we DIDN'T want to feel pressure to dress up for dinner every night. Men were generally dressed more casually than the women - slacks or dress jeans along with more casual collared/button-down shirts. Women (as expected) dressed up a bit more for dinner/evening... but from my observation the vast majority just tried to add a scarf, a nicer top, and maybe a bit of extra jewelry - though there were a handful of women that (in my opinion looked out of place) dressing in high heels and evening dresses. Cabin - I used the price difference between Gate 1 and many of the other cruise lines as an opportunity to upgrade to a top-floor "Suite" instead of a mid-level cabin. See the detailed review in the separate section below. Dining Experience - Because this cruise was more budget conscious, we expected the food to be on the simple/bland side - and we were actually very pleasantly surprised and the variety and quality. I know that some river cruise lines have lots of choices on the dinner menu but we felt that the choices on the Monarch Empress were rich and varied enough to more than meet our needs (and pad our waist lines). With a 4+ course meal (depending on how you counted such things) that was beautifully prepared, we never went hungry. Obviously, if you want to maximize your food experiences than this cruise line might not be a good match... but if you want to try a smaller (but plentiful) array of regional foods and yet have the fall back of some tried & true standbys, I think you will find what was served here to be more than adequate. Entertainment and Activities - Truthfully, our focus was on the ports and excursions and we took minimal advantage of on-board entertainment/activities. We were generally so tired after being out and about all day that we just wanted to fall in to bed and rest after dinner. My impression is that the on-board activities are probably a bit less sensational than what might be available on other (more expensive) cruise lines -- but in our case why would we want to pay extra for something we never used? Service - ABSOLUTELY EXCELLENT!! Our minimal experience with ocean cruises prepared us to expect fairly perfunctory service -- but the entire crew made us feel as if we were a part of their family. Within just a day or two the restaurant staff knew many of our specific dining habits - for instance, my desire for a beer instead of wine... it would be delivered to the table within a few seconds of my sitting down anywhere in the restaurant (even though we didn't have assigned seating). The folks that serviced the rooms operated silently in the background - but would address our every need with instant efficiency. Ports and Shore Excursions - This was a 7 day cruise and we added 2 or 3 days in both Budapest (at the beginning) and in Prague (at the end). We would have loved to spend a bit more time in each of the locations where we stopped -- but this is a challenge for nearly all of the river cruise lines... my research showed that they all had very similar itineraries. In our case we cruised up-stream.... which tends to make actual travel a bit slower. I don't know, however, if this translates into less time at each specific port or whether they simply travel longer at night. Be aware that many of the excursions start relatively early -- Often leaving by 8:15 or 8:30. If you signed up for most/all of the optional excursions (as we did), you may find that you have little time for leisure or taking advantage of after-dinner activities. Most (if not all) of the excursions (standard and optional) had knowledgeable local guides -- but don't expect that you will have the time for a deep-immersion experience... but rather just an introduction with a little time on your own to dig just a bit deeper. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
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