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2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
This was a 14 day river cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest. If you choose not to read the full review - here's a quick summary. I recommend Gate1Travel River cruise company on this itinerary. They are an incredible value, using a ... Read More
This was a 14 day river cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest. If you choose not to read the full review - here's a quick summary. I recommend Gate1Travel River cruise company on this itinerary. They are an incredible value, using a quality ship with professional staff that will result in an enjoyable vacation. This was our first river cruise after sailing on over 25 ocean cruises. River cruising is wonderful but different than ocean cruising. Beyond ships being smaller, the social gathering is more quaint with a wonderful opportunity to meet every fellow passenger. I was surprised that river cruising predicts daily adjustments will likely be made to the timing of your itinerary. River traffic, the timing and congestion of the use of the "locks" on the river may cause minor adjustments to port arrival times This is common to all river cruise lines. Gate1Travel did a magnificent job of keeping passengers always informed of last minute amendments to the schedule and on a couple occurances took steps to have coach buses meet us further up river to begin our port excursion on time. We booked this river cruise only 10 days prior to sailing, booking direct with Gate1Travel. They were offering 50% off on the sailing as part of their spring sale. Airfare was included and scheduled by Gate1Travel. Communication prior to departure was efficient and informative. We received detailed pre-cruise information including the itinerary, arrival / transport instructions, and contact information which limited any question we may have had. We arrived in Amsterdam about 3 PM and met up with the Gate1Travel representative at a predetermined meeting point at the airport. An 8 passenger van shuttled us and another couple directly to the ship where we immediately felt welcomed. The Ship: The Monarch Duchess is new to the Gate1Travel fleet this year after serving 9 years with another company. The ship is in great condition! The common areas include; the outside sun deck, the main lounge, the dining room, and a small aft lounge. Cabin: We were immediately shown to our cabin. We upgraded at the last moment to one of the four suites (Suite Category) on the ship. The suite was very generous in size with a very comfortable bed, small love seat, chair, long desk area with chair, and a large wardrobe cabinet as you would find on a cruise ship. The bathroom was quite spacious with a full size shower, long vanity, and quality finishes. We had the opportunity to take a peak into the other French Balcony cabins and found them to be slightly smaller than you would find on a contemporary ocean cruise ship balcony cabin. The Monarch Duchess French Balcony cabins are found on the upper level (Category A and B) and middle level (Category C and D). I would recommend booking at the lowest balcony level "D" if cost efficiency is your priority - you don't sacrifice your comfort or experience when booking any of the French Balcony cabin categories. I would however attempt to book a cabin from mid ship to forward on ship due to some minor engine vibration while sailing in the aft of the vessel. Dining: The dining experience was positive with quality food, presentation and variety at every meal. Dinner portions are adequate with guests from the US likely noticing a difference from the overly large portions they are accustomed to. Breakfast and lunch are presented buffet style with an additoinal daily special offering. For instance the breakfast may offer Eggs Benedict one day and then French Toast, with lunch specials offering a special sandwich, soup, or salad - the specials are all made to order. The buffet are is well organized with guests selecting their own items and quantity. A variety of juices, coffee, and tea are included at breakfast - coffee and water are included at lunch. The dinner menu was different each of the 14 days. The menu format begins by always offering a salmon or chicken entree any evening. The dinner menu also always offers a minimum of two appetizers, three entrees, and two deserts. A vegetarian entree is always offered and changes each day of the cruise. Unlimited wine, beer, and soda are offered at dinner. Coffee and tea are always available. The Chef engaged with all guests each eventing before taking a position at the main buffet area to offer a variety of cheeses each night. Service was exceptional - with most of the staff quickly addressing each guest by their first name, and anticipating repeat service requests. Entertainment: The ship has a resident musical performer. On this cruise the musician played piano and flute and also sang. Not the quality of a high end supper club in a large city, yet good quality and engaged with the guests. On four evenings, local entertainment was brought on board which included a German Band, Austrian singers, and Austrian musicians. A quality presentation on the history of the waterway lock system was also conducted during one "at sea" day. Ports & Excursions: Please take note. We noticed about a dozen river cruise companies on the river on any day. This included no less than four River Cruise companies docked in port adjacent to our ship on each port day. It was very apparent that the local guides are shuttled to each River Cruise company upon ship arrival, provided the standard "follow me" baton at eat gang way and commence with their group walking tour. Absent a River Cruise company jacket or emblem that is worn by the guide, the guides are very much alike, and the walking tours are almost identical. Gate1Travel's coordination of each excursion was exceptional insuring accountability of each guest. The guides were informative with a varied background from local college student to retired professor. All port stops allow for a period of "free time" with local information provided by Gate1Travel to enable self guided exploration at each stop. There are many choices when selecting a river cruise. We were tempted by the prominent river cruise companies to book with them after receiving endless promotional materials the past few years before stumbling on this last minute opportunity. We were very pleased with our Gate1Travel river cruise experience. Read Less
28 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
When I booked this cruise I was very hesitant, I had never heard of the company, had never been on a river cruise (though I had always wanted to) and was not sure about the price. But I have been on over 20 ocean cruises so I knew it would ... Read More
When I booked this cruise I was very hesitant, I had never heard of the company, had never been on a river cruise (though I had always wanted to) and was not sure about the price. But I have been on over 20 ocean cruises so I knew it would not be completely different, and it turned out to be just different enough to be highly entertaining. I found this cruise as part of an alert from one of the general travel sites – they find the deals and pass the info along to you. The Gate 1 cruise was at least half of what Viking and the others were charging, the itinerary fit my needs, and after checking out cruise critic I decided to take a chance. A few reviews on cruise critic had given Gate 1 the thumbs up, so I booked for myself and my Mom – it was an early birthday gift for her. Since DH was not traveling with us we signed up for almost everything including airport transfers, additional excursions and two extra days in Budapest post cruise. Everything went like clockwork. We were notified in advance that there was a chance that water levels would not allow us to make the whole trip on the ship. It was August and not a shock to us – we are very easy going on natural mishaps and they do not affect our trip. So we were not surprised that we were unable to travel by ship during the last leg from Slovakia to Budapest. The captain did an excellent job getting us down river as far as he did. As informed the night before (we had daily meetings before dinner with the cruise director on what to expect each day), we were put on comfortable buses, given money for lunch, taken to a place for eating and shopping including handcrafts, and enjoyed the sites. We were then checked into the Doubletree in Budapest (our luggage went ahead of us and our room was assigned and ready when we arrived) and provided a lovely dinner buffet and local entertainment) They could not have been more accommodating, organized and just genuinely nice about the whole thing. A true class act. Our rooms on the ship were adequate, with a decent size bathroom, shower, and comfortable beds. It was kept clean and all requests were quickly responded to. Dinner was a set time at night, but you could sit where you pleased, and for most nights we ate with the same people as we enjoyed their company. As these are small ships, you get to know the other passengers fairly well, at least to smile and nod. Dinner was delicious – and we were given 3 choices every night for appetizers, soup, main course, and dessert. Beer, wine and soft drinks were included with dinner, but not lunch. This was not a problem for us. There was entertainment offered in the lounge every night, but we were usually so tired after dinner that we went to bed ready for the next round of fun the next day. The extra excursions offered at a reasonable cost (around $60-$80 per person) were excellent. We went to Salzburg, visited Shonbrunn Palace and attended a concert performance in Vienna (yes, they always play the Blue Danube). The concert was geared to tourist which was fine with us as the playing was excellent and the singers and dancers very talented. All around, we got our monies worth. The ship included excursions were mostly town tours (which we enjoyed) and we had no complaints. After the one night in the Doubletree we were moved to the Hilton which was also an excellent hotel just down the street for our included post visit (again the price was excellent for what was included). The city tour was really good (extra) and the dinner (extra) in the woods was fun although the dessert was not to my taste. You could spend your time completely on your own if you liked, but as this was our first visit, we opted for the extra tours – best decision we made. The guides provided were excellent and just plain nice – everyone was just so nice, it was amazing. All in all we had a great time and I would not hesitate for a moment to book any tour with Gate 1 again. We talked with several Viking customers who complained that they had to be lifted off of sandbars – our captain was too good to get trapped into trying to go all the way to Budapest and we were grateful. You should give Gate 1 a try. Read Less
Monarch Duchess Ratings
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