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.
Our cabin, on the second floor had a french balcony (sliding door only), which seems to be standard on most ships. The cabin was average size, but the bathroom was nice (large for a cabin, newly renovated, large shower and sink, with great water pressure!) The cabin has a small refrigerator that can be used for beer/wine/sodas that you can bring on board. There is no scanning of the luggage or packages brought on the ship, as is with ocean cruise ships. The drapes need to be closed during the day to keep the heat out! A hairdryer is available, though it tends to overheat and shut off. The outlets are European 220v. At night, when the ship is sailing, there is squeeking and rattling in the cabin.