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11,441 Europe - River Cruise Reviews

We chose this cruise to spend a hassle-free week as a family, unpacking our bags once and experiencing 4 countries plus a taste of the Christmas markets. We also visited Prague and Munich on our own. We embarked in Budapest on Dec 29, ... Read More
We chose this cruise to spend a hassle-free week as a family, unpacking our bags once and experiencing 4 countries plus a taste of the Christmas markets. We also visited Prague and Munich on our own. We embarked in Budapest on Dec 29, disembarked in Vilshofen Jan 5. We have been on 2 ocean cruises (Caribbean and Alaska) and have 3 teenagers, so I was worried that river cruises have a reputation for catering to an older crowd and they would be bored. But there were several families on board with teenagers and young adults, maybe because of the time of year during school break? And if your kids love history, castles, and just know what to expect, it's a great experience. The boat is small - a dining room, a lounge, a VERY small workout room, and then small pool and track on the top deck. So no kids' club, no teen room, etc. But there is no time spent on the boat really because the destinations are so close. And since there are no interior rooms, everyone gets an amazing view from their room. Embarkation and Disembarkation were so easy compared to ocean cruises. The staff took the time to know everyone by sight. They were very diligent in making sure we checked in and out, so no one was left behind. The boat is able to dock usually just steps away from the central tourist locations, I think only 1-2 days where we needed to take a bus. The shore excursion teams did a wonderful job of breaking us into small groups and traveling different routes through our destinations so if felt very personal. They were all very knowledgeable and I loved the Quietvox speakers so the guides didn't have to shout and you could wander a little bit away and still hear the tour. Food was AMAZING!!! Lots of variety each night, and buffet style eating most of the day - again, very helpful with teenagers. Ours are not picky eaters at all, but there is always a very traditional American option at each meal if you are more choosy. There were several excursions and tours that felt special - I am always skeptical of anything that markets itself as an "exclusive" tour or similar, but these did pretty well. A Mozart concert, castle tour, Melk Abbey tour with no photos allowed - what? you mean you just have to EXPERIENCE a place?? So 20th century! Also an unexpected, amazing experience was docking in Vienna on New Year's Eve and being able to watch the fireworks over the city. It was like a dream. If you are going for the Christmas markets, you should go before Christmas. We knew this from our travel agent, so not a surprise. We were in Prague starting Dec 24 so got some flavor, Budapest still had some stalls Dec 29-30, Vienna and Munich still had hot wine stalls and some trinkets after New Year's. It's enough to get the flavor. Ditto for shopping in general - there were alot of holidays and Sundays when we traveled, so less chance to buy souvenirs. We had a wonderful time and would love to take a river cruise again someday! Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
Last minute because the significant reduction in solo supplement was appealing. Turns out the ship was only 65% full so I probably could have negotiated for 0 supplement. Because the dates straddled the New Year holiday, the wide age range ... Read More
Last minute because the significant reduction in solo supplement was appealing. Turns out the ship was only 65% full so I probably could have negotiated for 0 supplement. Because the dates straddled the New Year holiday, the wide age range from teens to elders made it especially enjoyable. And the weather was much friendlier than anticipated. AmaLea is barely 2 years old and everything sparkles. The ship's small size was comfortable while sailing, even when cold weather meant the entire upper deck couldn't be used. The ship's front of house mostly Eastern European crew members were skilled and friendly professionals who seemed to work well with each other. Cruise Director Vanessa Grauman was consistently unflappable. Even when some guests occasionally flapped. The high quality dining had its occasional hiccups when a meal slipped below the standard set on embarkation. I'd easily consider another AmaWaterways cruise, if low to no single supplement were on offer. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
10 passengers in our family chose this cruise for the Christmas Markets. We departed from Amsterdam on the 22nd of December for Basil. We noted a small notation on the website that many markets closed on the 22nd or 23d, however the ... Read More
10 passengers in our family chose this cruise for the Christmas Markets. We departed from Amsterdam on the 22nd of December for Basil. We noted a small notation on the website that many markets closed on the 22nd or 23d, however the itinerary listed several markets to visit. On board, our updated schedule listed an added market. What this cruise company failed to mention was all markets were closed on Dec. 25th and 26th. They also failed to note that markets did not open until 11:00a.m. At one port our excursion was scheduled to leave at 8:00 a.m. for a short walk and then visit the Christmas Market. During the walk our local guide advised us the market didn’t open til 11:00 a.m. the problem, our ship was scheduled to leave port at 11:00 a.m. so, we missed one of the open markets. When we complained to our cruise director about this, she replied “it is not my fault”. In addition our embarkation on the ship was delayed til after 6 p.m. because of some problem they experienced on the previous cruise and extra sanitation was needed..so we sat in a hotel lobby for several hours. “Award winning” cuisine was featured in the promotion of this cruise line and this ship. Actually, the food was modest and most of the food service slow. The ship has a capacity of 160 plus. There were only 86 of us on the cruise, and we were the last cruise for the season. The entertainment was zero and the very limited lectures or discussions were from a brochure. I note in AmaWaterways website advertising Christmas Markets cruising late in December for 2020. Beware. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
We flew into Zurich, Switzerland for the first 2 nights on our own and had a driver transport us to Basel, Switzerland where the AmaStella was waiting. We were told you could check in early and leave luggage but actually check ... Read More
We flew into Zurich, Switzerland for the first 2 nights on our own and had a driver transport us to Basel, Switzerland where the AmaStella was waiting. We were told you could check in early and leave luggage but actually check wasn't until 3:00. We arrived at 1:00 and were greeted with by Jessie the Crew Manager and 2 guys taking our luggage and inviting us in. They had a lite lunch ready for us to eat while our rooms were still getting ready. We were on top level for rooms I believe the AB. We had a inside and outside balcony which made our room feel a lot bigger. The size was good and the bathroom was decent size for the room and everything was clean and spotless. Our daily service by Melina was impeccable. She was super nice and we loved her!!!! We loved the food and everyone was extremely nice at all times and willing to help if something was needed. The service in dining was always fantastic as well as all the food options. We especially loved Vlad who was our wine server every night and our bartender in the lounge after dinner. He always had a smile! In fact, everyone always had a smile! The excursions were good, could not complain, except on last day in Amsterdam our guide was always trying to be funny and it came across very caddy. We didn't care for his style at all, would have done better walk around on our own and take pictures, which is all my daughter wanted to do anyway. One night we had a trio of classical men and they were fantastic and another night Poppy field, a husband and wife combo singing the latest tunes and oldies to dance to, We have never done a cruise of any kind and I was a little worried. But it was fantastic and the best vacation we have every done. We are from the states so we loved the history and sights on all the excursions. It made it more special by being Christmas on the Rhine, so everything was decorated, even on the boat. Which made it festive and fun. I have to say the people on this boat really made this trip so good. Jessie was our crew manager and cannot say enough things about her. She was absolutely the best and felt like a family member when we had to leave her. Hands down would do again and have already told every one we know to do this cruise!!!! Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
I went with my parents for Christmas vacation. I will list the pros and cons. Pros: -The ship is well heated -The rooms and showers are clean -They will bend over backwards to accommodate you -Some of the excursions are ... Read More
I went with my parents for Christmas vacation. I will list the pros and cons. Pros: -The ship is well heated -The rooms and showers are clean -They will bend over backwards to accommodate you -Some of the excursions are decent -The staff is cordial and well-vetted -The excursions are planned so that you don't have to do much thinking or organizing -It is handicap accessible with an elevator Cons: -You must eat during their pre-set meal times. -Sometimes dinner isn't until 7 or 730 and my family and I were hungry prior to dinner time -There are no snacks available outside of meal times -The food is mediocre at best -Most of the cruising is done at night, so you don't get to see much of the river -If you book to sail Nov-Apr, please expect many of your excursions to be cancelled. They contract with local guides who don't do tours during the winter, but they will make you think you have a lot of fun things planned until you start getting cancellation emails -Don't bother going to the top deck if it's cold - everything is shut down Neither pros nor cons: -The activity director will announce excursions 15 minutes prior (over the loud speaker, which can wake you up if you are asleep) -They tidy your room twice a day. I personally don't want someone bothering me or in my room 2x a day, but some people might. -You don't feel the boat move much All said and done, I'm glad we did this for the experience but we've agreed we won't go again. We like more flexibility in accessing food, and we can organize a trip like this cheaper on our own with more shore time and exploration. A lot of time is spent cruising. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
We had done several Viking river and ocean cruises but had wanted to experience the Christmas Markets. The trip met and exceeded our expectations! Viking, as always, has the best service but the crew were especially excited since this was ... Read More
We had done several Viking river and ocean cruises but had wanted to experience the Christmas Markets. The trip met and exceeded our expectations! Viking, as always, has the best service but the crew were especially excited since this was their next to last trip of the season. Then they return home until April. The ship was fully decorated to embrace the season. And the food choices also reflected traditional German meals. The balcony cabin is always smaller on the river boats, but more than enough storage space. Bathroom did not feel cramped at all. There was a Basel city tour the afternoon we boarded, after eating lunch. We were extremely fortunate that the weather was quite warm, cloudy but just a little rain once in a while. But more than happy not to wear heavy coats. On board delights included glass blowing, German carolers, lectures and cooking demonstration. We even were able to visit the adjacent Viking ship one evening for a show. The staff and service are always perfect. That's why we return to viking! But the markets are impressive! Eight separate markets in Cologne! Each stop was just beautiful. You won't be disappointed. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
This was our first Scenic river cruise, which was advertised as a “Christmas Wonderland”. There wasn’t any Christmas wonderment about it. The only decorations were a tree in the entrance, one in the lounge and 2 foam snowflakes on ... Read More
This was our first Scenic river cruise, which was advertised as a “Christmas Wonderland”. There wasn’t any Christmas wonderment about it. The only decorations were a tree in the entrance, one in the lounge and 2 foam snowflakes on the windows in the lounge. In the dining room a small table decoration per table. That was it, no lights etc. We parked next to a few ships who were beautifully decorated, lights, Santa’s etc. When questioned staff replied that Scenic wanted christmas minimalist! Passengers went out and bought their own decorations including us to decorate their cabin and some made a point of taking them down to the table for lunch and dinner on Christmas Day. On Christmas Day the only Christmas food was a turkey at lunch as the meat option, all other food was as usual. It was the last trip of the season and the crew certainly let people know they didn’t want to be there. Some were rude, surly and forgot how to smile. The daily topping up the mini bar also slackened off towards the end with notes being left for staff requesting specific items. The food got boring, steak, fish and vegetarian every night. Not much imagination and they did start running out of stuff towards the end. But the worst was yet to come somebody began coughing in the lounge that spread like wildfire. By the weekend after Christmas half the boat was sick. By the time we got to Budapest a doctor was called to 3 people with one going off to hospital by ambulance. At no time did we hear an announcement regarding respiratory hygiene or to remind people to clean their hands. They did put extra hand sanitizer stations into the lounge but no accompanying notice. We would not recommend Scenic to anybody and will not be travelling with them again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
We have done previous Scenic River Cruises and loved them. We wanted to immerse ourselves in all things European Christmas with the luxury of scenic. However Scenic didn’t provide anything Christmas on this cruise. Lacking Christmas ... Read More
We have done previous Scenic River Cruises and loved them. We wanted to immerse ourselves in all things European Christmas with the luxury of scenic. However Scenic didn’t provide anything Christmas on this cruise. Lacking Christmas decoration, no special Christmas Eve dinner and no special Christmas Day festival. Very disappointing. This cruise was at the end of the season and Scenic Crystal was changed to the Scenic opal but they could have been better prepared. The linens, towels and pillows were worn out but it was the last cruise of the year. Then some of the staff had to leave before the end of the cruise due to visa issues but they were not replaced, so the last couple of days service was disrupted making waiting to be served at dinner unacceptably long but the staff did their best. The ship and staff were lovely but Mr and Mrs Scenic stole Christmas. Dining is ok. Not much variation but of a good standard and any dietary requirements are met if you request them Onboard activities for this cruise was limited unlike the peak season river cruise. Just remember at Christmas most of the shore towns are closed so there are a lot of sailing days I would still recommend a Scenic river cruise just not one at ChristmAs Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
I was a reluctant river cruiser, but timing was right so we booked the Christmas cruise to give it a try. I can't say enough good things about the ship or the experience. My first surprise was on boarding - I couldn't get over ... Read More
I was a reluctant river cruiser, but timing was right so we booked the Christmas cruise to give it a try. I can't say enough good things about the ship or the experience. My first surprise was on boarding - I couldn't get over the elegance of this ship. The public rooms are well designed and maintained. Check-in was a breeze, took about 5 minutes - enough time to begin to sip on the welcoming drink they provided while the process was completed. We had one of the "smaller" suites, and it too was elegant and more than adequate space for the amount of time spent in the room. The quality and variety of the meals was perfect - not a lot of options at dinner, but what was served was consistently very good to excellent. We also liked being able to show up whenever within dining hours and sit where we wanted. Entertainment was limited - naturally - but good nonetheless with our entertainment director/piano player. The private concert in Strasbourg Cathedral was special. The staff was amazing. Too many people to thank, but special mention to Peter the bartender, Juris who oversaw the restaurant with incredible attention to detail, and Milo who was on the restaurant staff and took good care of us. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
We chose this cruise because 10 family members wanted to travel and this cruise let us bring our 14 and 17 year old family members. We all got to enjoy a river cruise. Aunts, Uncles, cousins, brothers, sisters, and spouses. No one was left ... Read More
We chose this cruise because 10 family members wanted to travel and this cruise let us bring our 14 and 17 year old family members. We all got to enjoy a river cruise. Aunts, Uncles, cousins, brothers, sisters, and spouses. No one was left out. Thank you Scenic Amber! We believe in Family First!! And this river cruise did too!! We also liked the stops along the way. We liked the route it was going on. We enjoyed our travel agent, Michelle! We especially enjoyed the dates. We knew we wanted to go this time of year and experience the Christmas markets. It was a great experience. The food on the cruise was superb and at the destinations just as wonderful. The chef made the dinners according to the country and style. Excellent to say the least. We are beyond pleased with Scenic and all the care and respect they have shown us. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
Quite simply, for the money, river cruising is not worth it - for US. For others it may be, but when you calculate what you are paying daily (approx $1k EUR for our upgraded (VERY SMALL) room), we feel it's definitely not worth it. ... Read More
Quite simply, for the money, river cruising is not worth it - for US. For others it may be, but when you calculate what you are paying daily (approx $1k EUR for our upgraded (VERY SMALL) room), we feel it's definitely not worth it. I would highly recommend researching everything in detail before doing a cruise. Without writing an essay, examples of disappointment include: - Food was mostly good, but I had a steak I almost couldn't eat as it had sinue all the way through it; Coffee was not nice to me due to long life milk - when we were led to believe that local produce would be purchased and loaded at the different stops along the way; this is not the case, same with Beer, I only had a choice of 1 type of generic branded wheat beer, when I thought I would get to sample many along the way - being in Austria/ Bavaria... VERY DISAPPOINTING. Furthermore, wines etc., are, supplied by the owners / relatives own vineyards - Room was tiny - and I like cozy rooms... but when you can't even walk past each other at the end of the bed between the wall and bed, it's ridiculous; Bathroom was also a major let down - felt like a cubicle... - Most "cruising" was done at night - meaning you don't really see much countryside (consequently you miss out on some important landmarks - i.e. some castles I saw by looking out around 11/12pm!)... Furthermore, whilst cruising you can hear the engines, and if a light sleeper like myself is slightly annoying... - The "bed" we had was 2 x single "joined" beds - with no overlay, meaning you had an annoying ridge where they met... For $1000 EUR per night??, really? - Excursions were a little lacking - we visited a few beautiful towns and had great guided walking tours, but apart from 1 day bus tour to glass factory / distillery , and another bus tour of Vienna, there wasn't really anything else "included" - Moreover, you are sold experiences, at your own added expense! GYM Was way too small also. POSITIVES Friendly, professional staff, very nice common areas - impeccably clean, generally good food - but no better than cheaper cruise companies (as per other customer feedback), beautiful towns/villages and some scenery along the way - All of which could be done for a fraction of the price if you didn't have to do a river cruise per se. Whilst the cruise itself is obviously convenient, I would just spend the time researching and planning better next time and save a fortune for mostly the same experience. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
This was supposed to be the Trip of a Lifetime but it turned sour pretty quickly because of a broken heater in the Monarch Countess Cabin #327. I got sick the first night because it shut off and started blowing cold air in the cabin. I ... Read More
This was supposed to be the Trip of a Lifetime but it turned sour pretty quickly because of a broken heater in the Monarch Countess Cabin #327. I got sick the first night because it shut off and started blowing cold air in the cabin. I subsequently caught a cold and was not at my best for the remainder of the 8 day cruise. The ship was nice, the dining service was EXCELLENT, the cruise director was nice, the cabin service was just adequate. We had to ASK for our sheets to be changed the third day. What was great about the cruise was the AWESOME cruise director, Loren, who helped me get back my cell phone I had left at the hotel in Munich. He worked to get it delivered to me on Day #3. The food was good, very tasty some nights and interesting others. The wait staff was STELLAR, second-to-none, which made for a very enjoyable dining experience every night. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
This was our third Viking River cruise(Danube followed by China in 2012) which we booked to travel the Rhine at Christmas Markets time.The ship,cabins,excursion buses,guides,all met our expectations when compared to our previous Viking ... Read More
This was our third Viking River cruise(Danube followed by China in 2012) which we booked to travel the Rhine at Christmas Markets time.The ship,cabins,excursion buses,guides,all met our expectations when compared to our previous Viking cruises but the food service was much below the level we had come to expect. The lunch and dinner menus lacked variety,the soups mostly cream based seldom arrived at our table HOT, several waiters were slow to take our orders or follow up during dinner service.The breakfast buffet was excellent. It seems that adding a Viking ocean cruise fleet and rapid expansion of the river fleet since our 2012 China cruise has not been matched by a system to hire,train and coach staff that could maintain the food service quality Viking was justly proud of. The towns and cities visited were first time stops for us and the Christmas preparations made were very extensive and colorful.We would certainly recommend a Christmas markets tour of Germany and France Vancouver Island cruiser Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
This was our first riverboat cruise. We had checked out some others cruises casually but couldn't get excited about any. We went to a presentation put on by Expedia Cruise in Courtenay, BC, regarding Scenic and the guy with the funny ... Read More
This was our first riverboat cruise. We had checked out some others cruises casually but couldn't get excited about any. We went to a presentation put on by Expedia Cruise in Courtenay, BC, regarding Scenic and the guy with the funny accent caught our excitement regarding the boat, the service onboard, and what we would see on the tour. We immediately started planning our cruise that we just got back from. I'm an old fart and my body shows it. The only part of the whole experience that was terrible had to do with the airlines and Amsterdam airport. I know you have to put up with the 9.5 hour flight from Vancouver, BC, to Amsterdam but I could hardly walk afterwards and it is actually kilometers between the international arrivals to the local carrier section. KLM nor the airport staff would assist me in getting transport over to the other side because I had not prebooked it. Coming back I prebooked assistance and that part went smoothly. Since I had already been up for approximately 30 hours, when we arrived in Prague, I immediately crashed (fell asleep on the lovely, soft bed) while me wife did the short orientation tour. My wife enjoyed Prague while I recuperated. I did go out once and enjoyed a little of the wonder of the city. I was a little concerned with everyone telling us to be careful of pickpockets! Breakfast buffet at our Marriott Hotel was excellent with lots of variety. Yumm! (I'm a foody addict) We got on the Scenic Amber in Nuremberg and I was impressed from the word go. The welcome seemed real and everyone was courteous and, for me, this is where the pleasureable adventure really began. I'm rambling a bit here so I'll try and condense the actual cruise.. I've been on big ship cruises before but not at the level of complete service as we got here. The things I especially like were: Cabin - the soft head and knee raising bed; the cozy balcony; the small fridge for cod drinks, replenished daily; Dining - exception meals with additional selections that you can order. They do cater to special food needs. For those of you that drink, there was a different red and white wine presented each day. You never had to worry about running out of wine, coffee, water. Room service always available; Onboard activities - were fun and relaxed.Richard (Otto?) was very personable and gave pertinent information on what was going on the next day or for that night. The cruise wouldn't have been as great without him. The evening lounge entertainment was fun to watch with local groups coming on board at each port; Ports and excursions - I commend the people that picked out the ports we visited, not too many and not too few. All the tour guides were not just informative but also very passionate about their city and country, nice to see and hear; Service - I have nothing to negatively say about the service. Everyone treated us with courtesy and as a person. We had our own butler who was ours 24/7 If we wanted. He actually complained to us that we weren't using him enough! I watch how staff interact with each other and all that I could see was friendly support and comradery between all levels of staff. They even all chipped in to take out the garbage! That's about all I have to say for now except that we didn't pay an additional penny for anything else except for gifts. So eat, drink as much as you want; go on the tours, see the concerts... all included! Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
I loved this cruise--Nuremberg to Budapest on the Danube. Natalijia the cruise director and the crew were great. Solo female Traveller here (millennial too) so wasn't sure what it would be like. It's my first river cruise and was ... Read More
I loved this cruise--Nuremberg to Budapest on the Danube. Natalijia the cruise director and the crew were great. Solo female Traveller here (millennial too) so wasn't sure what it would be like. It's my first river cruise and was thoroughly impressed. Excellent excursions and tour guides, time to myself, great food and wine, and the onboard shop was lovely too! Highly recommend. Will do another Christmas market tour in 2020 but on the Rhine next time. The Danube was a bit low so the Captain had to maneuver around slower locks and we did get into Budapest a bit later than anticipated. But the tour guides styaed flexible and we still had plenty of Budapest time in the markets and on our own. Had dinner on the Danube at a great restaurant (Dunbarry restaurant) and got several Krampus dolls. The daily wellness program was great too--Alex was thoughtful and expert with strength training and cardio on board and off. AmaWaterways will be an annual trip for sure!!! Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
We chose this cruise on the river Danube as we wanted a relaxing break but especially wanted to see the Christmas Markets in Budapest, Bratislava and Vienna and we weren’t disappointed, (Vienna especially is a must). Everything went ... Read More
We chose this cruise on the river Danube as we wanted a relaxing break but especially wanted to see the Christmas Markets in Budapest, Bratislava and Vienna and we weren’t disappointed, (Vienna especially is a must). Everything went smoothly from the booking to landing back in Bristol airport. The Robert Burns is definitely a 5 star ship and was decorated beautifully throughout for the festive season and kept in pristine condition for the entire trip The food was top class and the crew were amazing! They were friendly, helpful and also very professional. We also loved that there was tea/coffee/hot chocolate/biscuits on tap in the reception area 24/7 We loved this trip so much that we will definitely be booking another one in the very near future. Thank you to Riviera Travel and all the staff who helped to make our pre Christmas break everything we’d hoped for and more xx Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
Having done two previous cruises with Scenic and a Christmas market cruise with their sister company Emerald, I was really looking forward to this cruise. What a disappointment!! While I would consider another cruise with Scenic, I do ... Read More
Having done two previous cruises with Scenic and a Christmas market cruise with their sister company Emerald, I was really looking forward to this cruise. What a disappointment!! While I would consider another cruise with Scenic, I do not recommend their Rhine Christmas Market cruise. 1. No on-board Christmas/holiday ambiance. Meager decorations that included a couple of decorated trees and a few snowflake cutouts on the windows. No lights, no special food, no holiday music, special afternoon Christmas tea. 2. Poor entertainment. During the entire cruise during the day there were only two poorly presented talks by the cruise director. After the first long afternoon onboard with no activities or entertainment, I asked the cruise director about this lack. She seemed baffled by the question. I listed the daytimes activities on the Emerald Christmas Market cruise and she informed me that Scenic is a higher end cruise and they don't have activities or entertainment during the day so that "guests can enjoy the ship". There is a small gym and a salt room with three loungers. Other than that I guess you entertain yourself with chatting with other guests, looking out the window, napping, reading, using the internet or taking advantage of the open bar. Quoting the Daily Program, the evening entertainment consisted of: Two nights there was only "Live music with our on-board musician Enzo" (keyboard); Three nights of classical music One night "Norman and his guitar"; and a "Disco night". 3. Poor docking locations. While the docking locations may be determined by the harbor master, the locations can negatively impact the trip. Docking for Basel, Strasbourg and Heidelberg was in industrial areas where it was impossible to get off the ship to do anything on your own. Docking for Baden Baden was in a rural area with only a few houses nearby. Docking for Rudesheim was about 3/4 of mile from the town in a more rural area and we docked after dark. We walked past a couple of empty berths on our way into town where we made a loop through the small town. My Fitbit showed that the walk from the ship and back was 5,500 steps. Depending on your tour choice, there are bus rides of over an hour each way to get to the sights and Christmas markets. 4. There seemed to be a quite a few people on the cruise with mobility issues, and, at times, some people had difficulty with the amount of walking on the tours. For example, in Strasbourg, the walk back to the buses after the tour and free time, was about 1/2 mile. By the time the ship arrived in Heidelberg, better descriptions were given of the amount of walking required and the terrain. A "gentle walkers" group was added. 5. More time could have been spent in some towns. For morning visits, we were taken back to the ship by 13:00. In some places, it would have been nice to have the option for a later bus back to the ship even if we did miss lunch onboard. On the positive side: 1. Our lower level cabin was fine with comfortable beds, robes, nice toiletries, a stocked mini bar, nightly turn down with chocolates. Our cabin attendant was friendly and kept the cabin spotless. We made requests to the butler for the complimentary laundry service and to get a pair of shoes cleaned. These requests were promptly taken care of. 2. The food was good. 3. The local guides in the towns and cities we visited were all good. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
From the moment we were met at the Prague airport by an Avalon representative who brought us to the hotel to meet our amazing cruise director, then from the moment we boarded our ship, to when the time came to disembark for our return home ... Read More
From the moment we were met at the Prague airport by an Avalon representative who brought us to the hotel to meet our amazing cruise director, then from the moment we boarded our ship, to when the time came to disembark for our return home (again with representatives escorting us to our departure area), we experienced nothing but First Class Service - all the way - by all of the Avalon employees, tour guides and others. On the ship, the attention to the smallest of details was amazing. The crew members on board were kind and friendly, always smiling, going the extra mile to help you – whether it was answering your questions or accommodating a special request for dinner. The buffet breakfasts and lunches, and dinners from menu choices, were some of the best dining out we've ever had-- worthy of the finest restaurants anywhere-- such choices and diversity, and perfect portion sizes. Our staterooms were very comfortable, we especially found the ‘fire in the fireplace’ feature to be fun and cozy. The lounges were warm and inviting, especially after returning from walking about on some damp, chilly days. It was nice to have a choice of larger lounge with bar (and excellent cocktails including specialty ones) and entertainment, as well as a smaller quiet lounge at the end of the ship for reading or just relaxing too (with snacks and coffee 24/7). There was even a small but nicely equipped fitness room with the basics which, with the tours and all else, we didn't even need. On our tours, our guides knew their stuff and enlightened us with their many insights on their country, culture and custom-- one of the trip highlights for us. What a fantastic trip we had for our first time ever cruise! It was the most relaxing and stress-free vacation we have ever experienced, and we loved the size of the ship--big enough but quite a nice size for such a cruise. We’d choose Avalon and the Imagery II again in a flash. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
We took the Paris to the Swiss Alps cruise in reverse from December 11-22, 2019 starting in Zurich. Viking has partnered with Marriott Hotels for accommodation pre- and post-cruise. The Hotel Renaissance is in the Technopark of low-rise ... Read More
We took the Paris to the Swiss Alps cruise in reverse from December 11-22, 2019 starting in Zurich. Viking has partnered with Marriott Hotels for accommodation pre- and post-cruise. The Hotel Renaissance is in the Technopark of low-rise buildings, but Tram #4 (blue) one block over runs to the old town. A day pass costs 8 Euro per person. Viking offered an orientation walk of the hotel area at 5:30 PM which is fine in summer but in December darkness comes early and lighting is poor. Some passengers purchased the day-long Highlights of the Swiss Alps optional excursion at $400, but it turned back due to heavy snow in the Alps. Instead of giving passengers a refund, Viking tried to offer an on-board ship credit. There is little to buy and how much can you drink? Just refund the money. Its basic public relations. After a bus ride to Basel and a convoluted walking tour around town pointedly trying to avoid the Christmas Market, we boarded Viking Alsvin at the St Johann Dock by walking down a long set of concrete stairs to the gangway. Note there is a lot of walking on this cruise so get yourself into condition before arriving. Alsvin is one of the newer additions to the Viking fleet all of which follow the same design template. That said, engine noise was louder than on the other six Viking river ships on which we have sailed and Alsvin would ‘shudder’ occasionally while underway. Our cabin 332 was filled with a king bed so we had to walk sideways around it. The bathroom was tiny but had all the necessities plus a heated floor. Twice the toilet wouldn’t flush but a maintenance guy cam promptly to fix it. Channel 9 on the TV is the bow cam for a view of where we were going should it be too to stand cold outside. Food service in the restaurant was okay but it took longer to get meals out of the galley and there were fewer serving staff on the floor than on previous Viking cruises. The first morning there was nobody at the omelette station and a slab of smoked salmon had not been sliced. Staff showed up later. Near the end of the cruise in Trier, they ran out of Coke and peanut butter and had to scramble to get some locally. Between Basel and Strasbourg, Viking Alsvin bumped into side walls of some locks and the jerky movement could be felt on board. No explanation from Captain Adam Buczkowski why this kept happening. Before Trier, the ship hit the wall of a lock with a loud ‘bang’ and enough force to jolt the ship and rattle glasses in the restaurant. Again, no explanation. I have never had this happen on any of my previous six Viking river cruises nor on any cruises with Avalon or Uniworld. Stops at Speyer and Mainz filled in sites I had wanted to see but while the Gutenberg Museum was closed on Monday, it was open to Viking passengers. Problem weas, their gift shop was not open. They could have made a tidy profit even after paying a salary and utilities but, so be it. Viewing the protected manuscripts is difficult in a crowd of people so go online to the Museum’s website where some exhibits are displayed. With the exception of transiting the Wachau Valley, there was very little commentary about the passing scenery on this cruise. Not even a separate TV channel with info. We cruised under an immense bridge then we drove on it to Luxembourg, but it was never identified by Viking staff. I found it is called the Hochmoselbrücke, literally the High Moselle Bridge, but it would be handy if Viking could identify local landmarks for passengers. Also, daily Port Talk briefings by Program Director Bojan Bozic lacked any details about walking from the ship to buses, for example, the multiple series of steps at Kehl for the Strasbourg tour and an alternative incline pathway. Finding our guides for excursions was often chaotic especially with other boats in port. Perhaps because this was the holiday season and some guides were not ‘regulars’ English language skills were challenging. When leaving Alsvin for excursions we had to pick up and return a guide number/letter card plus a little piece of paper stating our name, cabin and excursion so a manual tally could be made to determine if everyone was back on board. Why, for heaven’s sake, could we not tap our cabin card on exit and re-entry as is done on other ships? Technology works, Viking people. Also, Viking needs to acknowledge that on a cruise during the pre-Christmas season many passengers come to visit the little Christmas Markets along the Rhine and Moselle. Yet there was barely any Christmas music, classical or commercial, played on board. When I asked Reception why not, the woman behind the counter said, “it is not on our playlist”. I recommended the playlist be revised. The next day, I heard “Here Comes Santa Claus”. Once! Water was high in the Moselle and Viking’s large ship could not pass under some bridges even with its retractable wheelhouse fully lowered. Other smaller boats could make it. So, we double docked alongside Viking Eir and spent an extra day in Koblenz waiting for water levels to drop. A two-days-in-one combination bus tour of Cochem and Trier was set up. At 8:15 AM some Alsvin passengers boarded buses in Koblenz to Cohem and Trier completely bypassing Bernkastel located between these two towns. There was no commentary on the bus about the passing Moselle Valley. We arrived in Cochem for a flash tour of downtown and the reconstructed Reichsburg Castle. We were told, “you will have a little time in the square on your own.” No, we did not. Rush back on the bus for the hour plus ride to Trier. Certainly, no time to find a store selling the mustard which Bojan said was an authentic Cochem souvenir. Also lacking was a drive around Trier to see the Roman Amphitheatre and Roman Baths. We got off at the old town and marched directly to a restaurant near the Cathedral where we were scheduled to blow two hours at a three-course, sit-down lunch. I left, got a map and did my own tour. Come on. Most of us have sufficient reserves to get by on a snack of water and a granola bar when time is tight. And there is lots of food at the Christmas Market. We left at dusk and drove back to the ship in the dark. The next day we did sail up the Moselle to Bernkastel where we docked for a few hours before sailing to Trier for disembarkation. At 8:30 AM four buses took all Viking Alsvin passengers from Trier to Paris. This being the last cruise of the season, most crew left too and Alsvin would be taken to Cologne for off-season maintenance. While you can tip individuals for exceptional service, Viking Cruises reduces their wage costs by automatically billing 15 Euro per person per day in gratuities to be settled before disembarkation and divvyed up among crew doing the work for which they were hired. That’s about $200 per cabin per cruise. A nice chunk of change. This practice artificially lowers the advertised price of Viking cruises because other cruise lines take an honest approach and include basic onboard tips in their listed prices. Caveat Emptor. But before Paris there was a stop at the American Cemetery and Memorial at Haram and a walking excursion around old Luxembourg City then the long bus ride to our Paris hotel. On the bus, tour director Bojan finally decided to provide some not useful commentary by telling us about things off the motorway which we could not see such as Reims Cathedral (hidden by roadside berms and hi-voltage transmission towers), champagne vineyards (somewhere off in the distance, maybe), and Euro Disney (out of sight on the right) as we finally approached Paris. At 4:00 PM he got a call from the Marriott Opera Hotel asking where we were. After nine plus hours enroute, we finally arrived at 6:00 PM. The location of this hotel on Boulevard Haussmann is great within walking distance of many attractions. This Paris to the Swiss Alps Viking river cruise was not up to the quality of previous ones. I prefer river cruises to ocean cruises because distances are shorter, docks are close to sites and shore scenery is interesting. However, in 2017 we tried an ocean cruise from Barcelona to Rome on Viking Star with Captain Rune Lokling. The ship and amenities were excellent but along the way our cautious Captain Lokling decided he could not dock at Marseille, a natural harbor since medieval times, so no excursions. Instead he went further east to Toulon, home port of the French Navy Mediterranean fleet. We sailed in under sunny skies with calm water. I took photos. Then the white pilot boat departed, and we sailed out again. No excursions. Two hours later our captain finally announced bad weather prevented docking. No Way! So, we bobbed around at sea for a day with nothing to do. Next, the tender returning from St. Tropez hit the hull with enough force to break a window and toilets on board Viking Star did not flush for two hours one afternoon. I complained to Viking customer service in California. They denied any problems, but Viking Star now has a different captain. Maybe Viking Alsvin should too. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
We chose this cruise due to the Switzerland extension before hand and the great reviews of Scenic. The extension was amazing. We eventually got on the Scenic Opal in Basal and began our cruise down the Rhine. The ship was perfect. Very ... Read More
We chose this cruise due to the Switzerland extension before hand and the great reviews of Scenic. The extension was amazing. We eventually got on the Scenic Opal in Basal and began our cruise down the Rhine. The ship was perfect. Very clean, modern, and welcoming. The cruise director (Andreea) was waiting to welcome us aboard and was always available to answer any question or solve any problem. We were escorted to our cabin by Milanka (Mila) the ship masseuse and fitness coach. The Hotel manager (Georgi) was very friendly and always checking to see if we were happy. The Captain of the ship was very approachable and always happy to answer any questions. He allowed any passenger to visit his wheelhouse at any time to see how the ship was operated. Our butler (Ratko) made sure we were always happy and cared for. The young lady that did our housekeeping (Timea) was outstanding. Our room was always perfectly clean and inviting. We had the Royal Panoramic Suite. It was fit for royalty. The size of the suite was very nice and the wrap around windows and large balcony was perfect to viewing the sites as we made our way down river. We slept like babies on the large king size bed and the large walk in shower was perfect for us. All the meals were exceptional. The thing that made the cruise stand out for us was the crew. From the Captain to the Hotel Manage, to the cruise director, to the lowest sailor on deck we never passed a crew member that did not say hello and ask if we were happy and could they do anything for us. We really hated for the cruise to end. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
Had always wanted to see Christmas Markets and seeing them via a cruise sounded idyllic - it was. From the time we boarded to disembarking we were looked after superbly. The Cruise Director (Valentin) was very efficient with a great ... Read More
Had always wanted to see Christmas Markets and seeing them via a cruise sounded idyllic - it was. From the time we boarded to disembarking we were looked after superbly. The Cruise Director (Valentin) was very efficient with a great sense of humor which made everything run very smoothly. All the staff were very friendly and determined to make our trip as enjoyable as possible. The excursions were well planned and the guides spoke excellent English and were most informative. We were fortunate to go on the Wilhering Abbey excursion which was most interesting. The girls who conducted the tour have the makings of great tour guides. The Abbey was spectacular - one of the best we have seen. The markets were interesting, the best being the one in Vienna. The most memorable event was when the guide sang 'Silent Night' in German in Passau when it was snowing. Would we do another Avalon Cruise? In a heartbeat! Would we recommend Avalon Cruises? Without hesitation! Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
We've been on a Scenic river cruise before, but this one exceeded the last. Of course, with it being a Christmas Markets river cruise - that helped, but the staff on board just seemed to go the extra mile. Richard, the Tour Director ... Read More
We've been on a Scenic river cruise before, but this one exceeded the last. Of course, with it being a Christmas Markets river cruise - that helped, but the staff on board just seemed to go the extra mile. Richard, the Tour Director was just incredible. He made everything seem like such an adventure - his descriptions of each stop and the optional excursions were just outstanding. He definitely needs to have his own TV travel show. The food on board was pretty good and they tried to fit the meals to the ports - had everything from brats & sauerkraut to Hungarian Langos. The wine parings were outstanding. We upgraded to a Jr. Suite this trip and definitely enjoyed the extra space. Wish we'd had more stops at smaller towns - they aren't as hectic and seem more genuine in their craft markets. Loved Melk and Durnstein - would love to visit both again. Vienna is just a bit too hectic but the Shonbrunn Palace was amazing and the upscale Christmas Market there was fantastic. Wish I'd bought more there instead of waiting for the famed Nurmberg Market - it was a bit disappointing in that everything seemed to be the same commercial items. Scenic goes above and beyond. Will continue to sail with them - especially if Richard is our Tour Director! Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
My financial advisor told me I needed a vacation. How crazy is that? I have visited Europe numerous times and knew I wanted to go on a Christmas Markets river cruise. My travel agent found this one. This was my first experience with ... Read More
My financial advisor told me I needed a vacation. How crazy is that? I have visited Europe numerous times and knew I wanted to go on a Christmas Markets river cruise. My travel agent found this one. This was my first experience with AmaWaterways, and it was outstanding. My cabin was lovely and quiet and was cleaned thoroughly and in a flash each morning while I was at breakfast. The food was delicious, fresh, healthy and plentiful. It was fun sharing each day's experiences over supper with new-found friends. I was traveling alone and got sick during the cruise. The crew went above and beyond to care for me. I requested custom meals to get my strength back. I thoroughly enjoyed my shore excursions and thought it was wonderful how Ama accommodated their guests' activity levels so that everyone could enjoy the excursions at their own pace. Knowledgeable guides. I had an absolute blast on the post-cruise extension. Really great hotels. The most helpful, patient, personable crew on earth...from the moment I walked on the ship. Ama, you blew everyone else out of the water. When it comes to travel, I have found my home. AmaWaterways, you can consider me a passenger for life. See you soon! Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
Very disappointed in this Christmas river cruise. Very disappointed in the ship. 2 Christmas trees and small table ornaments on the tables does not make a themed Christmas cruise. We saw other companies ships that had Christmas lights and ... Read More
Very disappointed in this Christmas river cruise. Very disappointed in the ship. 2 Christmas trees and small table ornaments on the tables does not make a themed Christmas cruise. We saw other companies ships that had Christmas lights and decorated balconies on the top decks that looked amazing. Some of the markets we stopped at were only average and the one village and market that was amazing (from previous experience) we got in too late to see it. Maybe we could have had a Christmas dinner towards the end of "the Christmas cruise". Just a thought. The food onboard was very average and the breakfast buffet was usually cold. Didn't compare even to Evergreen which is the cheaper sister company. Scenic also seems to have forgotten their roots and appear to cater to a particular group instead of everyone equally. Having travelled on the rivers before with different companys this one was found to be lacking. Wouldn't travel with Scenic again. Save your money and go Evergreen or APT for luxury. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
We chose this cruise to experience the European Christmas markets. I love the charm and magic of Christmas decorations and the stores and restaurant displays did not disappoint. Pre-Cruise: We arrived in Prague for two days prior to ... Read More
We chose this cruise to experience the European Christmas markets. I love the charm and magic of Christmas decorations and the stores and restaurant displays did not disappoint. Pre-Cruise: We arrived in Prague for two days prior to embarkation to allow us to adjust to the time change/travel fatigue. We stayed at the same hotel as others doing the full three day pre-cruise Prague package. This was helpful for the bus ride to Nuremberg, the port of embarkation. Upon check-in at the hotel I was directed to the table where the cruise director, Kata, greeted us. We did our own thing in Prague and enjoyed our time there. Shore Excursions: The scheduled excursions always include professional tour guides arranged by Amawaterways and all were all very knowledgeable. Each stateroom has two "receivers" for you to hear the tour guides speak on the tours. These receivers were of better quality than those I have used on other European tours. If your itinerary has you visiting Christmas markets on a weekend - be ready for large crowds. We chose several food/drink focused excursion options not associated with Christmas markets and were very pleased. One afternoon I took the gingerbread cookie decorating class. The cookies were baked by the staff and we were provided icing to decorate. One day we opted to stay on the ship while it changed ports, rather than taking a bus ride to a castle. It was a very relaxing and enjoyable afternoon. Those who opted for the castle tour were also pleased with their selection. We found we enjoyed the smaller cities and markets the most, with Regensberg our favorite. We had snow flurries one day in Melk - which added to the charm and Christmas spirit. Food: The first night's dinner was excellent. Unfortunately, the other meals were not as special. I attribute this to trying to feed 150-160 people at the same time. If you are not interested in the main courses being offered, there is always a beef, chicken and vegetarian option to choose from. You will never go hungry. Entertainment: We are not big on on-board entertainment, but found the violin players to be really enjoyable. We had the option of adding a Chechen-themed dinner and dancing entertainment in Prague but chose not to based on personal preference and prior experiences. Currency: We had three currencies to deal with on the cruise. Prior to the trip we went to a local currency exchange and got Korunas, Euros and Forints in amounts we thought we would spend in those locations. We did have some money left over to exchange upon our return, but found it very convenient to have local currencies at hand. Packing: The on-board laundry service which was around $15 Euros for five shirts, five pairs of underwear, a couple pairs of socks and two pairs of jeans. Next time we will pack less and do laundry more. Security: The Christmas markets in large cities always had a police presence in and around the market. The more crowded the market, the more likely for theft. No one we knew had anything stolen, but one couple felt their backpack being unzipped in Budapest and were able to turn and stop the thief. Also, be aware of bike lanes and don't wander into them. We had a great time and really enjoyed ourselves. I would recommend this cruise and the cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019

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