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