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3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
I was not sure what to expect from this cruise as I had never been on a river cruise before but having said that it was not that good! First im going to say the good things. The boat was first class The crew were first class ... Read More
I was not sure what to expect from this cruise as I had never been on a river cruise before but having said that it was not that good! First im going to say the good things. The boat was first class The crew were first class The food and entertainment was first class. Most of the tours were first class. Now the not so good! Hardly any daytime cruising! While docked for some reason they decided to pump out the sewage that left a disgusting stink in our cabin made both of us a little nauseous! When we left Prague we were told we would not be going to Nuremberg but to Ragensburg and no attempt was made to take us by bus to Nuremberg for the day and no compensation given for something we paid for, and Nuremberg was a place I was looking forward to seeing! One of our Discover more trips to Blatna was cancelled without compensation this also was something we wanted to do! The beds in the cabin need to have some way to stop them from separating (Velcro) So would I recommend this cruise? Probably but make sure everything is looked into thoroughly before you pay. We did have fun and met new friends so it was not a total washout the countries we visited were fabulous and with a rich history Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
We booked this river cruise because of the great deal offered and because of what was about half-price we thought we got good value. The staff were friendly and welcoming, the tours were excellent and on the whole, the ship was ... Read More
We booked this river cruise because of the great deal offered and because of what was about half-price we thought we got good value. The staff were friendly and welcoming, the tours were excellent and on the whole, the ship was comfortable. When we arrived we were greeted warmly, our baggage was immediately taken off us and carried onto the boat. The reception staff were always pleasant and helpful. We were directed to the lounge where there were soup, open sandwiches and cake being served for a light lunch. Shortly before 3pm we were escorted to our cabin and shown around. The cabin was small but quite comfortable with one armchair and a footstool in front of the small desk area, although we would have preferred an upright chair. We liked the French balcony which allows you to look out and get fresh air without wasting space on a real balcony that isn’t needed on a river cruise especially as often you’re rafted up to another boat. There was enough storage and room for suitcases under the bed. However, the bed was disappointing with a mattress that definitely needs replacing. It was very hard and even after we requested and were given another duvet to lie on, the bed sagged to one side and was uncomfortable. The duvet was also old and lumpy. We do wish people would provide a top sheet instead of just a duvet in Europe. We were near the back of the boat and did find it rather noisy for sleeping the first couple of nights. But we quickly got used to it and it didn’t bother us for the rest of the cruise. We were quite happy with the housekeeping service and the room was kept clean. The small bathroom was good and had a decent shower. However, we woke one morning to find our toilet wasn’t functioning; a situation that lasted nearly all day as we had to wait for an engineer to come on at the next stop. Ours wasn’t the only one and another couple had several instances of their toilet flooding throughout the trip. Also, occasionally there was a whiff of an unpleasant smell in the bathroom. Clearly the plumbing system needs an overhaul. We were very impressed with the cruise directors and the tours. Soma and Armin were great - professional, friendly and very helpful. They were always available for questions and would join guests at meals and other times to chat and offer advice. They accompanied all the tours and made sure that everything was running smoothly. We couldn’t have had better people. Soma gave a briefing every evening before dinner with a rundown of the next day’s programme and included plenty of tips on what to do at each stop as well as the included tour. Maps of the towns were given out at every stop. Armin put on quizzes and other activities during sailing times for which there were decent prizes of nice boxes of chocolates and bottles of wine instead of the cheap pins etc given on ocean cruises. The few times entertainers came on board, they were well worth watching. The Oompah band solo performer was terrific. There was an included tour every day which were excellent with very good and knowledgeable local guides. All the stops were at beautiful and interesting places. Also, Soma provided excellent commentaries for the scenic cruising through the Rhine gorge, the Wachau valley and the sail into the Budapest. We were delighted to find that a full inside tour of the Wurzburg Residenz was included – ours was taken by an architect who provided lots of interesting detail. It’s worth asking your cruise director for advice on which local guide is likely to suit your particular interests. We took two optional tours which were also good and reasonably priced. The whisper devices with headphones seem to be standard these days and worked very well. Many of our guides told us interesting and amusing stories and one even quoted some of his own doggerel poems which were most entertaining. The only tiny issue we had occasionally with the tours was the timing for the buses. In Bamberg the free time lasted too long on a cold Sunday afternoon with no shops or museums open. The bars and cafes became very crowded with all the tour groups in town who had nothing else to do. Many people returned to the meeting place early to wait for the buses. On the other hand, there was hardly any free time in Nuremburg as the tours went over time. There was the option to go back into town after lunch on a bus for the afternoon but just another half an hour or so in the morning would have been good. In Vienna the boat is docked way out of town at Nussdorf which isn’t practicable for public transport. The tour started at 8.15am and if you wished to stay in town, the only options for a return bus were at 3pm and 4.30pm. Shuttle buses running throughout the afternoon as they were in Amsterdam would have been much better. Nevertheless, we were very pleased indeed with the touring side of the cruise. The one thing we were disappointed with was the food. While it wasn’t bad, it wasn’t very good either. The dining room is too small for the number of passengers so the tables and chairs are squeezed in with hardly any room to get in and out to go to the breakfast and lunch buffets. It was also extremely noisy which made talking very difficult. Service was not always very professional and rather bossy. For instance, you were instructed to pass menus, dirty plates, etc to the waiters the minute you were finished. They wouldn’t remake the used tables at breakfast and lunch so you were forced to walk around trying to find a spare space even if you had to sit apart from your companions. Once I was told off for sitting at a table already set for dinner even though there were no tables left ready for lunch. It was as if the staff felt we were there for their convenience rather than the other way around. The meals were acceptable but rather repetitive with little variety. Some meals were lovely but others weren’t very well cooked. Servings were sometimes very small. The vegetables were generally undercooked and the soups mostly tasted the same and were too salty. The breakfast buffet was very good with a wide variety of offerings and a specialty cooked item each day as well as eggs and omelettes that could be ordered. Cold meats and cheeses were put out at breakfast but never with the salad buffet at lunch which was always one hot meat and one hot fish dish, plus soup, a hot sandwich or pasta dish that could be ordered. But the most disappointing aspect was the poor quality baked goods. The bread was mass-produced and not good. There were little rolls put out for breakfast but never for lunch or dinner. We heard that all the bread and cakes were frozen and then thawed out and you could tell. Many days the cakes at afternoon tea were a dry Sour Cherry cake and stodgy apple pie. This was so disappointing in countries like Germany and Austria that have such wonderful bread, cakes and pastries. There was a coffee machine in the back corner of the lounge but it would have been good to have also had a hot water dispenser for tea and hot chocolate. It was frustrating to queue for ages while people made their coffees when all you wanted was some hot water. At first nice sachets for hot chocolate were available but after a few days they were replaced with an uncovered bowl of cheap chocolate mix – this in a ship where people were constantly coughing from a nasty cold that was going right through the ship. It got so bad that people were ordering taxis at ports to take them to pharmacies and even the local hospital on the weekends to get medication. There was a choice at dinner of one white and one red wine that changed every night plus a house beer. There’s a bar the back of the lounge but it wasn’t easy to get any service. Even if you went up to the bar you were told to go sit down and wait for service. We waited 40 minutes to get a drink one night. The passengers were divided between those from Australasia who had prepaid their tips and those from North America who hadn’t. It became obvious that the wait staff were giving priority and better service to impress the people who hadn’t prepaid their tips. They always seemed to be served first and immediately presented with lots of bar snacks which instead we had to ask for. The back lounge has been converted to a steakhouse restaurant in the evenings which we went to once. The food was good and we enjoyed our evening with another couple. We sat there sometimes during the afternoons to try and avoid the coughing of the sick passengers. It was a pleasant place to sit and watch the wonderful views out of the floor to ceiling windows. Disembarkation was well organised and you could request taxis to be ordered in advance. We were very pleased to be allowed to stay on board for a while longer because we couldn’t get into our apartment until later in the morning. All in all, we felt the cruise was very good value for what we paid. But for the reasons given, mainly the bad mattress and variable quality of food, we wouldn’t book with Gate 1 again if we had to pay full price. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2017
I have been on a Viking Cruis previously and enjoyed it immensely. I wanted my husband to be able go on a cruise and he chose Rhine getaway!! It was enjoyed by both of us and we had a great time away as a celebration for our 40th ... Read More
I have been on a Viking Cruis previously and enjoyed it immensely. I wanted my husband to be able go on a cruise and he chose Rhine getaway!! It was enjoyed by both of us and we had a great time away as a celebration for our 40th Anniversary as well as for my husband's retirement fron teaching a year ago! We enjoyed everything about the cruise. It was enjoyable just looking out at the scenery while we were cruising. The Rhine is a working river and it was nice to see all kinds of boats cruising along. One of the highlights of the trip was the Top of Cologne Cathredal tour. It was very interesting and informative about the history of this Grand Cathredral! The view from the top was amazing and the tour finished just as the sun was setting. Well worth it!!! The people we met on the river cruise were very interesting and you could have a meal with someone different every day or have a meal with some of the people we found most interesting. The historical sites we visited were amazing and to think of how many years ago some of these places existed was mind boggling. We truly enjoyed our time on the cruise and everyone of the crew and staff were really wonderful and so welcoming. When we were away for the day it was nice to come back to the boat and see familiar faces to welcome us back! It was a really memorable experience for both of us and will look forward to going on another cruise in the future! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
I had been on two river cruises before with AMA Waterways but this time chose Uniworld as it offered an Italian experience. The River Po is not itself particularly interesting although it does offer a change from the Venetian lagoon, ... Read More
I had been on two river cruises before with AMA Waterways but this time chose Uniworld as it offered an Italian experience. The River Po is not itself particularly interesting although it does offer a change from the Venetian lagoon, which in itself is spectacular. The ship, crew, captain were all excellent - clean, well managed, like a well-oiled machine. I was exceptionally lucky as the overall group seemed to be happy and well disposed. A highlight of the trip was an evening visit to St Mark's Venice with the eminent art historian Dr Steer, whose exposition of the cathedral was memorable and very entertaining. There is a daily choice of either on-board activity or tours and I chose (after Milan where we were for 1.5 days), Verona, Padua, Chioggia, Burano and Ferrara in addition to the days spent in Venice itself. Viewing the restoration of Da Vinci's Last Supper in Milan is also of interest to art lovers. Venice never disappoints and this time I booked a gondola ride, with a small group. The crew do everything in their power to make your stay enjoyable and deserve high commendation. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2017
We had a great time, as usual with Viking. For this trip in September, the weather was terrific. The chosen ports showed us a great "slice" of places along the Rhine River. We love Viking River and Ocean Cruise ships, with ... Read More
We had a great time, as usual with Viking. For this trip in September, the weather was terrific. The chosen ports showed us a great "slice" of places along the Rhine River. We love Viking River and Ocean Cruise ships, with wonderful service and attention to detail. We enjoy NOT being asked to pay for extras. There's always an excursion, at no extra cost, for every port -- although you can pay for some other options. Wine and beer are served at lunch and dinner -- at no cost. All staff do their jobs effectively and with a smile. On the downside, you do not get much time allotted to see the starting and ending ports on Viking cruises. It pays to either get the pre- and post-cruise excursions OR schedule with Viking to fly in early and/or leave later in order to visit those cities. BUT, we are spoiled with Viking and don't plan to cruise with anyone else -- unless it's a place Viking doesn't visit. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
Having never been on any cruise and not wanting to be herded along, we were cautious about selecting a river cruise. We were three couples traveling together and knew where we wanted to go after some research. We chose AmaWaterways because ... Read More
Having never been on any cruise and not wanting to be herded along, we were cautious about selecting a river cruise. We were three couples traveling together and knew where we wanted to go after some research. We chose AmaWaterways because it seemed to offer the most variety in tours. We were not disappointed. We booked almost a year ahead and included flights, transfers, and extra days in Prague. Everything was well planned from embarking to the flight home. The ship was well appointed and the cabins in a good location. All the staff was friendly, making me feel guilty for all the service. Meals were wonderful and the portions allowed you to eat everything but not feel overstuffed. The shore excursions were led by very knowledgeable tour guides at every place. We tried a hike, my husband a bicycle tour, in addition to the regular tours. The onboard entertainment was very good and the excursions fun. Our cruise manager Dragsn was professional and organized. It was a wonderful experience to visit Central Europe. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
Our friends booked this cruise in 2016 and at the last minuet, we decided to see if there might be a vacancy a week before the departure date in Sep 2017. We got a call 4 days before that there was an opening and we took it. The next day ... Read More
Our friends booked this cruise in 2016 and at the last minuet, we decided to see if there might be a vacancy a week before the departure date in Sep 2017. We got a call 4 days before that there was an opening and we took it. The next day we received another call that we were bumped up to the top deck where our friends were. The plane ride to Budapest was booked on Lufthansa, which was first class all the way. Arriving in Budapest, Viking took our luggage and the next time we saw them, they were in our cabin. The cabin was perfect with a sliding glass door, TV and a small, but an amazing bathroom. The cabin staff was very polite and all business. If you wanted something, they did their utmost to get it for you. The ship was superb in every way. Spacious, uncluttered and perfect to relax in and on as we cruised the Danube river to Amsterdam. The food was amazing! If you were hungry it was your fault. I told the chef his menu was fantastic and I thanked him for his selections. The waiters in both dining areas were polite, friendly and very concerned about your needs, be it wine, beer, pop or water. Visiting the ports on the way to Amsterdam, you could take the many guided tours (at an extra cost), the free tours or you could go rambling on your own, which we did. After the tours were over, you had time to wander through the interesting towns or cities. The tour guides spoke perfect English and answered any questions you might have. It was amazing to see the flood heights marked on the walls of some of the towns. The hotel manager and his staff were extremely professional and did everything they could to make your cruise as stress free and relaxing as possible. On our return trip home, Viking took our luggage from the room and the next time we saw it was at the airport. If you want the absolute best cruise available, go Viking. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
My wife and I have now completed four river cruises with Scenic and yet again we have not been disappointed, it was excellent. The cabin was clean and tidy at all times by the housing keeping service, the butler service was great being on ... Read More
My wife and I have now completed four river cruises with Scenic and yet again we have not been disappointed, it was excellent. The cabin was clean and tidy at all times by the housing keeping service, the butler service was great being on call at all times, the balcony is unique to Scenic with the electric opening and closing windows that allow for you to sit out there regardless of the weather. The dining as usual was first class from the light lunches to the speciality table restaurants on board and being remembered by the crew for drinks and other services was especially great. As for the activities as we have come to expect from Scenic they were all great and well timed to not be totally exhausting but very informative and a wonderful experience each time. And we will always recommend Scenic for those who want luxury and an exceptional adventure that is value for money. Read Less
59 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
I found very few reviews for Gate 1 Travel and the Monarch Empress traveling the Danube so I thought I would post a quick summary. Marigold252's review in post #2409882 ("Gate 1 17 Day Danube River Cruise with Warsaw, Krakow, ... Read More
I found very few reviews for Gate 1 Travel and the Monarch Empress traveling the Danube so I thought I would post a quick summary. Marigold252's review in post #2409882 ("Gate 1 17 Day Danube River Cruise with Warsaw, Krakow, Budapest & Prague") on this forum has some fairly detailed additional information. This was our first river cruise and most of our tour experience has been with various Rick Steves' small group land tours - so our observations about this river cruise come from that perspective. Gate 1 Travel - Their tag line seems to say it all... "See More of the World for Less". I certainly was unfamiliar with them but many of our fellow cruisers had done numerous land tours with them over the course of 5 - 10 years. They seem pretty well established but have a low profile compared to some of the other river cruise lines. When I compare the quality of the ship, food, service, and experience compared to the many other cruise lines I researched, we certainly felt that it was great value for money. Ship - The Monarch Empress is quite new (first put into service in 2016 I believe). The decor was more modern/contemporary than what we saw on some of the other ships that were docked close to us. More about clean and sleek and less about overall glitz. Passengers - Approximately 130 or so passengers for our cruise - a slight majority from the US but Australia, New Zealand, and Canada folks were broadly represented -- with a smattering from other countries as well. The age range was mostly 50 to 80... with just a few folks that were either younger or older than this demographic. Daytime dress was generally casual - this was September so mostly long pants and a mix of layers to adjust for temperature and showers through the day. Dinner dress was a bit mixed. We specifically chose this cruise line over some others because we DIDN'T want to feel pressure to dress up for dinner every night. Men were generally dressed more casually than the women - slacks or dress jeans along with more casual collared/button-down shirts. Women (as expected) dressed up a bit more for dinner/evening... but from my observation the vast majority just tried to add a scarf, a nicer top, and maybe a bit of extra jewelry - though there were a handful of women that (in my opinion looked out of place) dressing in high heels and evening dresses. Cabin - I used the price difference between Gate 1 and many of the other cruise lines as an opportunity to upgrade to a top-floor "Suite" instead of a mid-level cabin. See the detailed review in the separate section below. Dining Experience - Because this cruise was more budget conscious, we expected the food to be on the simple/bland side - and we were actually very pleasantly surprised and the variety and quality. I know that some river cruise lines have lots of choices on the dinner menu but we felt that the choices on the Monarch Empress were rich and varied enough to more than meet our needs (and pad our waist lines). With a 4+ course meal (depending on how you counted such things) that was beautifully prepared, we never went hungry. Obviously, if you want to maximize your food experiences than this cruise line might not be a good match... but if you want to try a smaller (but plentiful) array of regional foods and yet have the fall back of some tried & true standbys, I think you will find what was served here to be more than adequate. Entertainment and Activities - Truthfully, our focus was on the ports and excursions and we took minimal advantage of on-board entertainment/activities. We were generally so tired after being out and about all day that we just wanted to fall in to bed and rest after dinner. My impression is that the on-board activities are probably a bit less sensational than what might be available on other (more expensive) cruise lines -- but in our case why would we want to pay extra for something we never used? Service - ABSOLUTELY EXCELLENT!! Our minimal experience with ocean cruises prepared us to expect fairly perfunctory service -- but the entire crew made us feel as if we were a part of their family. Within just a day or two the restaurant staff knew many of our specific dining habits - for instance, my desire for a beer instead of wine... it would be delivered to the table within a few seconds of my sitting down anywhere in the restaurant (even though we didn't have assigned seating). The folks that serviced the rooms operated silently in the background - but would address our every need with instant efficiency. Ports and Shore Excursions - This was a 7 day cruise and we added 2 or 3 days in both Budapest (at the beginning) and in Prague (at the end). We would have loved to spend a bit more time in each of the locations where we stopped -- but this is a challenge for nearly all of the river cruise lines... my research showed that they all had very similar itineraries. In our case we cruised up-stream.... which tends to make actual travel a bit slower. I don't know, however, if this translates into less time at each specific port or whether they simply travel longer at night. Be aware that many of the excursions start relatively early -- Often leaving by 8:15 or 8:30. If you signed up for most/all of the optional excursions (as we did), you may find that you have little time for leisure or taking advantage of after-dinner activities. Most (if not all) of the excursions (standard and optional) had knowledgeable local guides -- but don't expect that you will have the time for a deep-immersion experience... but rather just an introduction with a little time on your own to dig just a bit deeper. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
We chose this river cruise because we wanted a more personal experience, and to be on a smaller boat than a cruise ship. We had a feeling we would like this more than prior cruises we went on before, but didn't expect to love most things ... Read More
We chose this river cruise because we wanted a more personal experience, and to be on a smaller boat than a cruise ship. We had a feeling we would like this more than prior cruises we went on before, but didn't expect to love most things about it as much as we did. The food was exceptional, with many offerings that covered everything from fresh and healthy, to rich and satisfying. Always very fresh and well prepared. The wines were very nice and of a wide variety. It was nice to taste different wines from different regions every night. The inclusive details made this a no -brainer for us. The excursions were all well thought out, and with very hospitable and knowledgeable guides. The travel to and fro to the different off site excursions were comfortable, and the drivers were very professional. The service was top tier as well. The smiling faces greeted us daily and consistently had very positive attitudes and pleasant conversation. Everyone who we encountered on the boat spoke very good English! It (their English) was very good! Read Less

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