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We are a retired couple who booked our first ever river cruise via Luxury Escapes on the Gate1 Travel Monarch Princess. After purchasing the voucher I tried to find some reviews on TA but it was difficult to find a lot. Some of those that we did find referred to this cruise as not as good as the key players in this market (Avalon, Viking etc), and because it was a lot cheaper than these companies, I became slightly concerned about what I had gone and bought. Just by way of background, I worked in a role which required a lot of travel and the Company always put us up in 5 star accommodation so I used this as some sort of comparison to the quality of the cruise accommodation and service. I’ll go through some of the key things : Before cruise Gate1 communicated with us directly soon after our purchase. Lynne Ahmu was the person who emailed us and she was just excellent. Prompt on answering questions and very helpful and friendly. On Board - Staff We simply cannot speak highly enough of the staff on this cruise right from the time we boarded the ship. They were organised and had a light lunch available for several hours as people checked in. Then throughout the entire cruise nothing was any trouble and everybody has a smile. The staff are a credit to this company and we were super impressed with their friendliness and help at all times. I give them all a 10 out of 10 and there are many industries, especially in the hotel business, who could learn some lessons here. The Ship To be honest, it was much more than expected. We had a French balcony room which was similar in size to a regular hotel room. It was spotless and comfortable. Suitcases fitted under the bed for storage so we were able to get them right out of the way. Bathroom is small but I did expect that. Plenty enough hot water for the shower and all the small bottles of shampoo, conditioner, body wash etc that you get in good hotels. Towels were lovely and thick. Plenty of storage space for clothes plus an in room safe. The bonus was the fridge in the room which we did not expect to see. Rooms were serviced in the mornings and a turn down service was performed whilst everbody was at dinner, with a little chocolate left on each pillow. There was a lounge at the front of the ship and at the back of the ship. The back of ship lounge has coffee machine and ice machine available 24 hours. Outside of this lounge is a smoking area. The front of ship lounge is where all the entertainment and Port Talks (see later) were held. Both were roomy and comfortable. The Food I don’t know what other river cruise lines serve or offer in choice but there was always an appetizer, choice of soup, choice of 3 main courses plus chicken breast which was available every night, then choice of maybe 3 or 4 sweets. That’s plenty enough choice for us. But the quality and variety of the food was outstanding and very well presented. We enjoyed every single meal. Breakfast is a buffet with the usual array of breakfast foods plus an omelette cooked for you if you want it. There was also a different “breakfast of the day” each day which was prepared for you if you wanted it. Wine and beer is served and included with lunch and dinner and many times the wine was local wine from the particular region we were in or near to. Sometimes we had food unique or special to the area we were in. And the service was outstanding in the restaurant. A request for wine, beer, etc was immediately met by a smiling and happy staff member every time. One morning we went for breakfast a bit late but there was still a table for us. We were going to toast some raisin bread in the toaster but that area had already been cleaned up. The waiter came to us and offered to cook the toast in the kitchen and bring it to us. Now that is 5 star service. The tours Every morning there was a walking tour of the city we were in conducted by local guides. Sometimes buses were needed to get us to the centre of the city for these tours and these were included. These tours were included in the cost of the cruise. Then there were the optional tours which were an additional cost. The only one we did was the Concert in Vienna which was fabulous and we’re so glad we did it. Those who did do the other tours were full of praise for them. Onboard entertainment Again, I don’t have a comparison but every night there was something happening in the lounge. From the in house musician to some games (lots of fun), dance lessons, etc. Morning exercises were run every day (early morning 7am). Port Talk Every afternoon before dinner there was a Port Talk relating to the next days stop and program. We found this very informative and helpful in deciding what to do. As mentioned, there was always a guided morning walking tour but often the afternoon is free so we preferred sometimes to just go in the afternoon as we like to just wander and take photos. However, the guided tours were very interesting because they were full of history regarding the towns. The Port Talk summary was then left in your room each night so you didn’t actually need to remember anything. Before finishing, and I don’t really like to call out specific staff especially as in this case, everybody was just great, I do want to mention our Cruise Director and Assistant, Adrien Kiss and Daniele. Adrien was absolutely outstanding. Nothing was too much trouble. She was very knowledgeable on all the ports we visited and history of the area, thorough in her organisation and execution of all tours (paid and unpaid), very friendly and very accommodating. When you consider the hours she works on these cruises (early morning until well into the night) not once did she display any sign of tiredness or frustration at having to deal with over 100 people who very often had differing requests, or who simply did not listen at Port Talk and then she has to repeat it all again to individual people. I hope that the owners of Gate1 appreciate what they have here. Thank you so much Adrien. And Daniele – what an entertainer you are. And what a gentleman. You chose an elderly lady to dance with one night and you just made her night (and probably her cruise), especially as you kissed her on the cheeks afterwards. You are funny, entertaining and very enjoyable company. Thank you for adding such fun into this trip. So would I use Gate1 again. You bet. Would not even bother to price the alternatives. If we are lucky enough to do another river cruise we will just go straight to Gate1. So should you.

Gate 1 Travel ... such a fantastic cruise

Monarch Princess Cruise Review by Athom

44 people found this helpful
Trip Details
We are a retired couple who booked our first ever river cruise via Luxury Escapes on the Gate1 Travel Monarch Princess. After purchasing the voucher I tried to find some reviews on TA but it was difficult to find a lot. Some of those that we did find referred to this cruise as not as good as the key players in this market (Avalon, Viking etc), and because it was a lot cheaper than these companies, I became slightly concerned about what I had gone and bought.

Just by way of background, I worked in a role which required a lot of travel and the Company always put us up in 5 star accommodation so I used this as some sort of comparison to the quality of the cruise accommodation and service. I’ll go through some of the key things :

Before cruise

Gate1 communicated with us directly soon after our purchase. Lynne Ahmu was the person who emailed us and she was just excellent. Prompt on answering questions and very helpful and friendly.

On Board - Staff

We simply cannot speak highly enough of the staff on this cruise right from the time we boarded the ship. They were organised and had a light lunch available for several hours as people checked in. Then throughout the entire cruise nothing was any trouble and everybody has a smile. The staff are a credit to this company and we were super impressed with their friendliness and help at all times. I give them all a 10 out of 10 and there are many industries, especially in the hotel business, who could learn some lessons here.

The Ship

To be honest, it was much more than expected. We had a French balcony room which was similar in size to a regular hotel room. It was spotless and comfortable. Suitcases fitted under the bed for storage so we were able to get them right out of the way. Bathroom is small but I did expect that. Plenty enough hot water for the shower and all the small bottles of shampoo, conditioner, body wash etc that you get in good hotels. Towels were lovely and thick. Plenty of storage space for clothes plus an in room safe. The bonus was the fridge in the room which we did not expect to see.

Rooms were serviced in the mornings and a turn down service was performed whilst everbody was at dinner, with a little chocolate left on each pillow.

There was a lounge at the front of the ship and at the back of the ship. The back of ship lounge has coffee machine and ice machine available 24 hours. Outside of this lounge is a smoking area. The front of ship lounge is where all the entertainment and Port Talks (see later) were held.

Both were roomy and comfortable.

The Food

I don’t know what other river cruise lines serve or offer in choice but there was always an appetizer, choice of soup, choice of 3 main courses plus chicken breast which was available every night, then choice of maybe 3 or 4 sweets. That’s plenty enough choice for us. But the quality and variety of the food was outstanding and very well presented. We enjoyed every single meal. Breakfast is a buffet with the usual array of breakfast foods plus an omelette cooked for you if you want it. There was also a different “breakfast of the day” each day which was prepared for you if you wanted it. Wine and beer is served and included with lunch and dinner and many times the wine was local wine from the particular region we were in or near to. Sometimes we had food unique or special to the area we were in. And the service was outstanding in the restaurant. A request for wine, beer, etc was immediately met by a smiling and happy staff member every time. One morning we went for breakfast a bit late but there was still a table for us. We were going to toast some raisin bread in the toaster but that area had already been cleaned up. The waiter came to us and offered to cook the toast in the kitchen and bring it to us. Now that is 5 star service.

The tours

Every morning there was a walking tour of the city we were in conducted by local guides. Sometimes buses were needed to get us to the centre of the city for these tours and these were included. These tours were included in the cost of the cruise.

Then there were the optional tours which were an additional cost. The only one we did was the Concert in Vienna which was fabulous and we’re so glad we did it. Those who did do the other tours were full of praise for them.

Onboard entertainment

Again, I don’t have a comparison but every night there was something happening in the lounge. From the in house musician to some games (lots of fun), dance lessons, etc. Morning exercises were run every day (early morning 7am).

Port Talk

Every afternoon before dinner there was a Port Talk relating to the next days stop and program. We found this very informative and helpful in deciding what to do. As mentioned, there was always a guided morning walking tour but often the afternoon is free so we preferred sometimes to just go in the afternoon as we like to just wander and take photos. However, the guided tours were very interesting because they were full of history regarding the towns. The Port Talk summary was then left in your room each night so you didn’t actually need to remember anything.

Before finishing, and I don’t really like to call out specific staff especially as in this case, everybody was just great, I do want to mention our Cruise Director and Assistant, Adrien Kiss and Daniele. Adrien was absolutely outstanding. Nothing was too much trouble. She was very knowledgeable on all the ports we visited and history of the area, thorough in her organisation and execution of all tours (paid and unpaid), very friendly and very accommodating. When you consider the hours she works on these cruises (early morning until well into the night) not once did she display any sign of tiredness or frustration at having to deal with over 100 people who very often had differing requests, or who simply did not listen at Port Talk and then she has to repeat it all again to individual people. I hope that the owners of Gate1 appreciate what they have here. Thank you so much Adrien. And Daniele – what an entertainer you are. And what a gentleman. You chose an elderly lady to dance with one night and you just made her night (and probably her cruise), especially as you kissed her on the cheeks afterwards. You are funny, entertaining and very enjoyable company. Thank you for adding such fun into this trip.

So would I use Gate1 again. You bet. Would not even bother to price the alternatives. If we are lucky enough to do another river cruise we will just go straight to Gate1. So should you.
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