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.