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35 Gate 1 Travel Cruise Reviews

We had not visited Poland(Warsaw, Krakow) so we joined this tour of Poland followed by a cruise of the Danube from Budapest, Bratislava, Melk, Durnstein, Vienna, Regensdorf and on to Munich to catch our flight home to San Francisco. We ... Read More
We had not visited Poland(Warsaw, Krakow) so we joined this tour of Poland followed by a cruise of the Danube from Budapest, Bratislava, Melk, Durnstein, Vienna, Regensdorf and on to Munich to catch our flight home to San Francisco. We had the very best luxury Suites on the ship but in general, felt cramped especially by the very large group from Israel who tended to monopolize the ship. But the food was OK and the service decent. It paled in comparison to our first Danube cruise on Viking. Nevertheless, the scenery was breathtaking even though we have traversed this stretch to Prague at least 3 times before. Vienna is always such a delight representing old world elegance and genteel manners with Baroque architecture and of course Motzart's music and chocolates(Motzarts kugel made with marzipan). The shore excursions were great and well managed. All in all, the cruise was good value for money. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
A friend had cruised with Gate One and recommended them. Because Gate One doesn't over advertise, I wasn't sure what to expect, but I was WOWED by the quality of the service, staff, tours and entertainment. We enjoyed the ... Read More
A friend had cruised with Gate One and recommended them. Because Gate One doesn't over advertise, I wasn't sure what to expect, but I was WOWED by the quality of the service, staff, tours and entertainment. We enjoyed the precruise tours in Budapest and the hotel choice (Budapest Hilton) was in an excellent location. It is attached to a mall and there is a grand market within walking distance to buy authentic cultural food, souvenirs and more!. Went to the Budapest thermal spring spa on our own, but probably wouldn't do that again. It was crowded and not that relaxing, so I would spend time seeing one of the many other amazing sights in Budapest. Food throughout the week was excellent and always plenty of choices. Didn't miss the wine/beer at lunch like other companies offer. Having those options at dinner was ample for us. The entertainment and activities on board surpassed other river cruise experiences I have had, but it wasn't too much. Ice cream sundae bar on top deck one afternoon, and a variety show performed by staff one evening for example were fun! All staff were professional, friendly and organized! We did the optional "gypsy forest" dinner in Budapest. Fun and worth the money! Optional concert in Vienna was in an impressive, intimate concert hall and included talented musicians and a couple dancers. I highly recommend Gate One Monarch Empress! Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
We chose this river cruise because of the value found on Travelzoo ($3,000/person - including the two optional tours we chose for a two week river cruise on both the Danube and Rhine rivers.). We had used Gate 1 last year for a Peru land ... Read More
We chose this river cruise because of the value found on Travelzoo ($3,000/person - including the two optional tours we chose for a two week river cruise on both the Danube and Rhine rivers.). We had used Gate 1 last year for a Peru land tour and knew the company was reputable. I am going to be detailed about the ship, because I had found little about the cruise prior to the trip. We started in Budapest. We arrived at the ship, Monarch Princess, early but were greeted heartily and shown to our room immediately - with our luggage. A light lunch was available. That first evening a welcome reception was held for the 124 passengers on board. Meals: The breakfasts and lunches are great. Lots of variety and the breads at breakfast are wonderful. Dinner was erratic. There is one standard option: baked chicken breast, which was dry and rather tasteless. It needs a sauce or gravy added to it! Then there are always three other options: one meat, one fish and one vegetarian. Some nights the dish are good, but other times they are disappointing. More options and better quality is needed for dinners. The dining room at night can be quite warm - low ceiling, lots of people and an inadequate cooling system. At dinner, one can sit anywhere one chooses, but the tables are arranged in 4, 6 and 8 seatings. Mingling with other passengers is somewhat required. Dress is casual! No formal nights. Where whatever you want (except tank tops and bathing suits). A 24 hour coffee/tea station, four o'clock tea, and evening snack are also available. The ship: The ship was clean and well-appointed. A fitness room with three pieces of equipment is available. There is a sun deck with a hot tub that is available about half the time; it is closed when going under bridges on the Main river and in the canal. The trip was slow going - 68 locks! Staff: The tour director, Alex, and the activities director, Armin, were very attentive and professional. A broken left thruster on the ship was handled quickly, with adjustments made to our transportation with little discomfort to the guests. All of the staff were great. Activities: Morning yoga and evening activity followed by piano music were available. At each city, a bus or walking tour was included. The tour guides varied in knowledge and communication skills. Typically, the tours were in the morning and the afternoon, we had free time to explore on our own. Tipping was expected: per person, one euro for the driver and two euros for the guide. Favorite stops were Budapest, Vienna, Durnstein, Rotterdam. More time was desired in Vienna and Nuremburg. Less desirable stops were Kobletz and Cologne. Overall, it was a good trip, though fourteen days was long, seeing similar towns over and over again (a medieval town, church and castle ruins). I would recommend doing the Danube and Rhine tours separately, adding pre- and post-trip stops. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
First experience with Gate 1 and first river cruise so cannot compare with other river cruise lines - therefore, will compare with ocean cruises. In a nutshell, excellent experience - hope to go again. We met the Monarch Princess in ... Read More
First experience with Gate 1 and first river cruise so cannot compare with other river cruise lines - therefore, will compare with ocean cruises. In a nutshell, excellent experience - hope to go again. We met the Monarch Princess in Budapest where we flew in a day early on our own from Italy. The ship was nicely appointed as described in the 1st review. It was a well refurbished older ship that Gate 1 purchased from Avalon, Talking to other passengers, I understand that Gate 1 has been in the land tour business for over twenty years and had just started with their 1st ship three years ago, Now they are expanding with new ships built for them. They currently have three - Monarch Princess being the oldest, but in my opinion, just great , We dropped off our baggage several hours before boarding was allowed with no problem, and Gary, the Cruise Director, was fantastic when it came to service. He was able to up-grade us from category E to D (water line high windows to french balcony) for a very reasonable amount due to a cancellation. The stateroom had plenty of storage area, similar to an ocean ship, and was slightly more compact. Shower had good pressure and was the full European 3'x3'. Slight inconvenience is drying sink washed clothes as only towel racks could be used - unless you gambled that the French Balcony safely bars outside would keep your clothes from falling off into the river. Food was as good or better that an ocean ship, without the large menu to choose from. Wine and beer was included with the evening meal, however available any time for additional cost. My wife and I normally have a cocktail before dinner and found that prices were 10-15% lower that ocean ships. Quality of wine was good and usually local. We especially enjoyed the Bavarian meal on the 6th night. Shipboard entertainment included a full time disk jockey for dancing every night after the evening entertainment. With the small number compared to an ocean ship, acquaintances and friends were quickly established (also open seating at meals encouraged this) and the dance floor was filled every night. Local entertainers were provided at the start and end of the 7 day Danube cruise, and the assistant to Gary, the cruise director acted as entertainer on other nights with a sampling of what you find on an ocean cruise - "Battle of the Sexes", "Trivial Pursuit". "Bingo with a Twist", etc. Probably the most enjoyable part of the cruise were the stops. They usually included a short 1 1/2 hr to 2 1/2 hr walking tour with local tour guides that gave you a brief orientation and history of the place you were visiting, and then turned you loose to go on your own. This especially suited my wife and I as we seldom will sign up for a tour offered by an ocean ship and much prefer to "do our own thing". There are optional tours you can take for additional cost - similar to an ocean cruise. The only one we took was the "Classical Viennese Concert" in Vienna. It was "OK" typical tourist fare in a beautiful old concert hall packed with river cruisers from all of the cruise lines docked that day. It consisted of six stringed instruments, flute, clarinet, piano, soloist violinist, male and female soprano and baritone, and two dancers. While definitely not a true opera, it was entertaining, but in my opinion, over-priced. We had a much better experience the following Sunday at High Mass in the older small cathedral in Linz, Austria. There was a featured Viennese Opera Soloist and organist, both were fantastic. No cost other than you usual offering. This is why we "do our own thing". Another favorite stop was the small village of Durnstein. I hiked to the old castle ruins, however, it was a very tough climb and rather dangerous with a very steep and uneven trail. Don't try it unless you are sure-footed and physically fit. Just a walk on the charming cobblestone streets of little village is great on its own. Stop by the local church and its small museum - its an inexpensive treat for only 2 1/2 Euros. I can't say enough good things about the Cruise Director, Gary. He was always available, extremely good natured, very informed about the local attractions, entertaining, and helpful. He certainly turned a very good overall experience into an excellent experience. Overall, the crew was excellent in all respects. The wine flowed freely at the evening meals and the entire trip was delightful. My wife and I have never been on a cruise we did not like, but this first river cruise was geat. We just hope we have the health and finances to try another. Jack & Mary (Ole Goat) Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
After 20 ocean cruises, this was my first river cruise. The two experiences cannot be compared. On an ocean cruise, your main destination is often the ship itself, which is a floating entertainment district. On a river cruise, the boat is ... Read More
After 20 ocean cruises, this was my first river cruise. The two experiences cannot be compared. On an ocean cruise, your main destination is often the ship itself, which is a floating entertainment district. On a river cruise, the boat is a floating restaurant/hotel which takes you to destinations. You spend little time on the actual vessel. With only 160 passengers, boarding and disembarking are extremely simple and fast. We only needed to pick up our boarding passes for our rooms, which are kept in slots at the front desk like old-fashioned keys at a hotel, and walk off the ship to our tour guides and busses. Returning to the ship required just handing back the boarding passes. Ship personnel could easily see who was on or off the ship by looking at the contents of the slots. There was nothing electronic about this process. While we did have some free time in port (usually about an hour after our scheduled tour with a guide), we were kept quite busy. Most days consisted of rising early, attending the morning stretching class if you were so-inclined, eating breakfast, and leaving on your morning excursion. We would be back for lunch, then left again for our afternoon excursion. At 6 pm, there would be a happy hour in the lounge with specially-priced drinks. At 6:45, the cruise director would give a port talk about what to expect the next day. At 7, we went down to the dining room and all ate a four course dinner together. Seats were not assigned, so you could decide to sit with different people every time. After dinner, there would be some kind of entertainment in the lounge, usually consisting of a game. We only went once, on the first night, to see some local people perform traditional dances. Food was good. I would say it was better and fresher than on ocean cruises because we were not being served week-old bread that had been out to sea as long as we had been. Breakfast and lunch were buffets. Dinner gave us three choices of entrees, consisting of meat, fish, or vegetarian dishes. They did a pretty good job of accommodating my travel companion’s gluten-free needs. This cruise would not be suitable for most younger people. The music played by the keyboard player in the lounge would not be exciting in an elevator. Half the bus could be found snoring in the seats returning from our outings. No one stayed up past 10 pm. That said, I would definitely go on this cruise again, and plan to go on future river cruises. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
Never having used Gate 1 Travel before, we were not sure what to expect. The entire experience was wonderful and beyond our expectations. The booking process and flight arrangements were very professionally handled. Gate 1's web ... Read More
Never having used Gate 1 Travel before, we were not sure what to expect. The entire experience was wonderful and beyond our expectations. The booking process and flight arrangements were very professionally handled. Gate 1's web site is very easy to navigate and communications from the company were excellent. We were warmly welcomed on board the ship and received personalized service and attention throughout the cruise. The fact that there were only 80 passengers, made it feel like it was a private ship. We had very knowledgeable and easy to understand local guides in all the ports of call. Did an optional concert tour in Vienna which was outstanding. The food was excellent, good variety with local/regional cuisines. After the cruise, we spent three days in Munich. Again, the cruise director/tour director from the ship accompanied us and made sure we got the most from our visit. There is no doubt in our mind that we will travel with Gate 1 again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
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
We had a TERRIFIC time on our GATE1 Danube River Cruise; THE stops were enjoyable and most of the tour guides were amazing: The best were Michael in Regensburg, Lyudmila in Melk, Gerhardt in Vienna, and Janko in Bratislava. The service ... Read More
We had a TERRIFIC time on our GATE1 Danube River Cruise; THE stops were enjoyable and most of the tour guides were amazing: The best were Michael in Regensburg, Lyudmila in Melk, Gerhardt in Vienna, and Janko in Bratislava. The service was impeccable and our room steward Daniel and all of the waiters and waitresses were awesome (Trix and Marius, especially, who took excellent care of us during lunch and dinner every day). The food was mostly delicious, and we enjoyed relaxing on the upper deck. I only liked only two evening activities, the Hungarian and Bavarian evenings. There was one BIG problem though: for several days, there was a horrific smell in our rooms on the 3rd floor. It smelled like a sewer. The lounge in the aft was unbearable to enter because of the smell the entire trip. The biggest issue was that I don't think it was handled well by Soma, the Tour Manager, and by Gate 1. To be offered "free sodas and alcohol at lunch" as a way of placating, or compensating the passengers for this terrible smell, doesn't really cut it. At one point we were told that Gate 1 was “flying in engineers to take care of the problem at the next port”. There was still a smell for one day after this happened. This ship was only a year old, and to have to spray the room with room spray, body mist and/or my perfume to make it bearable to sleep in, is unconscionable. I can't imagine people wanting to pay thousands of dollars to smell a foul sewer smell. I frankly believe all of the passengers affected should get some kind of major credit for their next Gate 1 trip. I would like to take another river cruise but because of this issue, I may try Viking or another company. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
A wonderful single rate was available and the ship was new so I thought, why not? First, the booking process was easy...did it all with some internet research and a few phone calls. Everything I wanted to know arrived by e-mail. From ... Read More
A wonderful single rate was available and the ship was new so I thought, why not? First, the booking process was easy...did it all with some internet research and a few phone calls. Everything I wanted to know arrived by e-mail. From home airport to the destination city--all was taken care of by Gate 1. Transfers included baggage handling so I felt comfortable and relaxed throughout. Onboard welcome was wonderful. Crew introductions and availability was superb. Everything was organized well. The cabin was beautiful and well designed with marble bath, french balcony and plenty of storage. Included shore excursions were ample and the access for "on your own" adventures were facilitated by the ship's docking close (walking distance) to city center (except in Vienna, but transportation was nearby). Good entertainment including a hilarious evening of crew skits and performances. Favorite for me was the camaraderie of fellow passengers. I was never left without an invite to join a table or excursion...but never felt pressured. We had many a good time and there were few "cliques". I would do it again...and again. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
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