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Sail Date: June 2014

My husband and I recently sailed on the Ama Legro of Ama Waterways on the Seine from Paris and experienced the trip of a lifetime. We have traveled in many different iterations of vacations but this trip was extraordinary as a result of ... Read More

My husband and I recently sailed on the Ama Legro of Ama Waterways on the Seine from Paris and experienced the trip of a lifetime. We have traveled in many different iterations of vacations but this trip was extraordinary as a result of the Ama Legro crew (family).This was our first river cruise and my first trip to Europe.

We had an extremely positive experience from the booking process thru airline and shuttle services and then the unbelievable cruise week that will forever be our most memorable trip. Every morning on the boat, we were given the details of our day tours and specific suggestions on the level of physical activity required and the choice of a "Gentle Tour" or the standard walking tour experience. The tours were guided by extremely knowledgable staff. The tours we chose were so informative and interesting and the sights were made even more special thanks to the design and implementation of the tour. The ports chosen for the tours were everything I ever imagined for a true flavor of France. It is difficult to pick a favorite spot - but one unforgettable sight was the Cathedral in Rouen and the evening light show - it is a Must See! You can get a glimpse of it on YouTube - but one must make a point to see it live! The tour of the D Day beaches was especially moving. The day of all of the WWII sights was done with such respect and reverence for the experience,

Our cabin was just perfect in size and it was spotlessly cleaned every day by wonderful cabin stewards and stewardesses. We had air conditioning that worked perfectly and the opportunity to open our French Balcony door really allowed us to be en pleine aire!

The food was as of a 5 star restaurant and it was such a pleasure to be able to meet the Chef and his staff and thank them in person for their culinary skill. The soups are like none I have ever had and they were exceptional. The dining room service was the best I have ever experienced! The wait staff presents with such joy and attention during every meal. The bartender and lounge staff were also top notch. They were attentive, remembered favorite foods and drinks and never lacked for conversation or service.

The entertainment was also a plus. I felt as tho we were enjoying the best artists in the region.

We traveled thru locks - a first for my husband and myself. It was a wonderful learning experience and the Captain and Crew were very informative and happy to accommodate questions.

The entire ship was spotless, well furnished and provided many different areas for relaxing and viewing.

As a plus, we had wonderful weather that just added to the joy of the entire experience.

I must admit, Peter our Cruise Manager was one of my favorites! His sense of humor and sparkling demeanor truly added to the ambience of the boat! (He really should have his own standup comedy show!)

We also enjoyed being on a cruise with only 125 or so other guests. We not only got to know crew, but had wonderful opportunities to meet and spend quality time with many of our shipmates.

We had extra days in Paris following our cruise and the 5 star service continued there as well thanks to Peter. We stayed at the Pullman Montparnasse and were very pleased with the choice and the choices for tours.

You will not be disappointed in your choice of Ama Waterways as a provider of unparalleled service and true excellence in a vacation option. I only hope that some day we can enjoy the excellence of this company on another river cruise.

 

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Sail Date: October 2014

My husband and I are seasoned travelers and have done several cruises, Carribbean, Yantze, Mediterranean ... And have come to love the smaller boats. Because of the truly pervasive advertising

On TV, we thought we'd try a Viking ... Read More

My husband and I are seasoned travelers and have done several cruises, Carribbean, Yantze, Mediterranean ... And have come to love the smaller boats. Because of the truly pervasive advertising

On TV, we thought we'd try a Viking River Cruise. Our possible dates were limited by our Schedule and our friend' schedules, all of us executives, so the only possible sailing was Nuremburg to Budapest in October. I have to write and tell you it was the finest vacation ever! Fantastic food, brand new River ship, fantastic staff (okay the room cleaner was a bit testy at times), great ports, lovely, lovely trip. Only complaint would be not enough time in each port, but that's the schedule!

We couldn't get the Internet in our rooms, and it was dial up speed even on the public desktops, Would be nice if they said that up front, we would have brought CDs. The Program Host was a rock star, he was so great and so funny all the time and kept us up for everything even when the morning tours left early-early! Did I say the food was fantastic? Not mass market cruise fare, but personal chef type quality. Always available coffee, tea, cappuccino and hot chocolate, filtered water, both still and bubbly. Easy embarkation, room ready way before promised -- easy debarkation...and so sad to have it come to an end. My husband figured out the costs based on the room and level of service,and it turned out to be a good value, too. Note: best shopping in Budapest and Nuremberg -- take the Nuremberg extension for nuremburg or you'll only wave at the window of the trial courtroom, and miss the toy manufacturers' plants. Try to get to see the Passau motor works, and while there, GO to the restaurant high overlooking the river -- you can pass on the organ concert in Passau! Next year in France, I hope!! Viking River Cruises all the way! Thanks for a wonderful, wonderful trip!!!

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Sail Date: October 2014

We had high expectations for the Grand European Cruise, all of which were met and exceeded.

The selected docking cities and villages were well-chosen, the local guides ranged from very good to incredible, the range of options ... Read More

We had high expectations for the Grand European Cruise, all of which were met and exceeded.

The selected docking cities and villages were well-chosen, the local guides ranged from very good to incredible, the range of options available every day was comprehensive, tailored to physical capabilities and interests of the folks on board. And the service was superb. My husband accidentally left his glasses on a bus that transported us into town (and then went off to serve other customers)--and the Program Director tracked them down, that afternoon. We've been on a number of big-ship cruises, and never experienced anything like the level of friendliness, attention and care we got from the Viking staff.

There were many little unanticipated perks--genever and cheese tastings, art lectures, special folk musicians, an amuse bouche at every dinner--as well as the flexibility to eat with different guests each evening, or choose a simpler, bar-food meal for two if we wanted a bit of private conversation. The food was uniformly excellent, at all meals, and the unlimited beer and wine a major plus.

Rooms were small but cleverly designed, and very comfortable. Room service was prompt and attentive.

If you never spent a dime on any extras-- non-included tours, bar items-- you would still have marvelous things to do every day and plenty to drink, including special coffees and other amenities. The small size of the boat let you understand some of the complexities of river navigation. And the preparation materials sent to us beforehand were outstanding, letting us get the most out of--for us--a once-in-a-lifetime vacation splurge.

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Sail Date: October 2014

Portugal is a very interesting and beautiful country. The tourguides were excellent and the sites were amazing. Our Tour Director was very efficient and organized, as well as interested in the passengers. I had never been to the country ... Read More

Portugal is a very interesting and beautiful country. The tourguides were excellent and the sites were amazing. Our Tour Director was very efficient and organized, as well as interested in the passengers. I had never been to the country before so there was much to see and learn. Lisbon was very different from other European cities I have visited and walking on the tiles and hills was a challenge. The hotel was very nice and the rooftop restaurant and the hotel pool were a bonus.

I really enjoyed the meals and entertainment off the ship, as well as the tours of the small towns.

The pool on the ship was a disappointment, since it was only a couple of feet deep.

The ship was similar to the one we had cruised on in the Danube, although smaller, which was fine.

However, the food was quite a disappointment. On the Danube cruise we had wonderful meals and I was looking forward to the same in Portugal. Soup, Salad and Cheese are my foods of choice, so I expected to have similar quality items on the Hemming. I have also eaten many meals in Portuguese restaurants in Newark, New Jersey, which has a large Portuguese population. However, most of the meals my husband and I ate on the ship were very disappointing. The soups were especially bland. I expect Portuguese food to be flavorful and this was not. The salads were not the variety I had on the Danube and the cheeses seemed to be the same every day. We had two very good meals - one was duck and the other was lamb. Perhaps this is because you are just starting on the Douro. We will be on the Rhine River Cruise next October and expect the meals on that cruise will be comparable to the Danube.

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Sail Date: October 2014

This was our first Viking cruise. We added a few days at the beginning of our trip in Berlin. We stayed at a Hilton hotel which was arranged for us through Viking. So glad we did that. The hotel was situated very well for our needs. We ... Read More

This was our first Viking cruise. We added a few days at the beginning of our trip in Berlin. We stayed at a Hilton hotel which was arranged for us through Viking. So glad we did that. The hotel was situated very well for our needs. We did take cabs to take us further out in the city. It was a wonderful cosmopolitan mix of the old (being restored) and the very modern new. We truly enjoyed both of them. We took a tour of the city when our official cruise time began. Lovely to see so much of that city.

We enjoyed the ambiance of the hotel. It was immaculately clean. The buffet breakfasts were delicious and the service was excellent.

We were on the ship after a long ride on a bus. Did not know anyone, but slowly enjoyed the company of the couple across from us. We arrived at the boat on a clear sunny day. Were welcomed by the captain and a very eager to please staff. Our cabin was great. It was not as small as I thought it would be. We had a large sliding window and a smaller one at the side of the bed. The bathroom felt bigger than it was. tv reception was not good at all. There was always plenty to do, or not do. It was relaxing in every respect. And always very clean.

Dining at every meal was an adventure. It was hard not to want to eat everything on the menu or the buffet.

We truly had to obey our stomachs and not our eyes! Presentation was always smart, and our waiter was very kind. He catered to each one of us like a family member would. He was terrific.

The port and shore excursions were too short for my liking. I never felt that I could shop for a meaningful souvenir in a leisurely way. Some of our time was wasted by poor planning. One whole excursion was to a beer hall, with the whole town shut down because it was Saturday afternoon. No place was open to tour.

My husband enjoyed many of the activities, while I need to rest. He participated in many.

Our last stop was Prague. There were many hotels. The one that Viking chose fore us was just okay.

However, every time we wanted to go to the center of the city, the bus ride was a half an hour. Therefore approximately one hour of a day would be wasted.

Other than the complaints I have mentioned. I thought it was a nice vacation. Unfortunately our last meal in Prague, gave my husband food poisoning. When got back to the USA we disembarked with assistance and were in an emergency room that night. He spent the following few days in the hospital. So the end of our trip was not good.

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Sail Date: September 2014

We just returned from Waterways of the Tsars and fell in love with St. Petersburg and the Russian countryside. Our cabin was on the highest cabin deck, and we enjoyed sitting on our veranda during the cruising portion of the trip. Our ... Read More

We just returned from Waterways of the Tsars and fell in love with St. Petersburg and the Russian countryside. Our cabin was on the highest cabin deck, and we enjoyed sitting on our veranda during the cruising portion of the trip. Our room was a good size for us, but there are many public areas to sit if you prefer. The ship is attractive, and up to date, and always spotlessly clean. The meals are great. I cannot speak of ocean cruising, where I believe the eating options are much more varied, but we are not river cruising primarily for the meals. That said, the choices pleased us and everyone we talked to on the ship. There were almost always Russian specialties as an alternative to more common common dishes and we loved that. We thought the food was delicious and imaginatively prepared.

The staff was amazing! I really cannot think of a single staff member who was not professional and at the same time friendly. Our steward, Elena, kept the cabin immaculate. The wait staff, including Anna, was wonderful. The maître'd Sophia was adorable and kept the dining room running beautifully. The hotel manager was charming and extremely competent. He literally took care of any problems immediately, though the ship was run so well there were few issues. The on shore excursions were great, although we always preferred the on board tour escorts, Sasha and Alexey, to the local tour escorts whose command of English was not as good. Still, many of those tour escorts were good as well. The tours were superb, and there were also many on board lectures to acquaint you with Russian history and culture. All in all, we enjoyed this cruise much more than we had expected to, given the political situation. We have travelled with Viking before and knew they were excellent, but were a bit unsure about going to Russia at this time. We are certainly glad we went.

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Sail Date: September 2014

Having just returned from the Paris/Normandy cruise on the River Baroness, we could not fault the Uniworld service or friendliness and consideration of the staff or the fact that the food was good.

However, for the sake of those ... Read More

Having just returned from the Paris/Normandy cruise on the River Baroness, we could not fault the Uniworld service or friendliness and consideration of the staff or the fact that the food was good.

However, for the sake of those considering this or any river cruise there are other factors to think carefully about when booking. This is a costly vacation so take into account personality factors and your likes and dislikes. This is the only reason we are writing this review.

We have travelled the world, cruised on ocean liners, been independent in cities where we’d just rent a car and go, booked private houses in foreign countries and enjoyed being locals. When we travel we like to explore and walk as much as possible. We also like some “personal space” from time to time. We only picked this itinerary because of the Normandy Beach inclusion specifically and we’d be cruising a river inland vs. an ocean. So, we'd never done a river cruise, and thought we should at least try it. We also thought that for the most part we’d be “berthed” close to places that we could walk off the ship, and those places would not be mostly in areas either noisy or industrial. The impression in the brochure makes you feel like you will be close to a tow path with a village nearby when “letting the serene Seine carry you through the countryside”. The impression in the brochure is also that the berth in Paris is very near the Eiffel Tower. The berth is long way from the Eiffel Tower. Even with a Google map printout of the location, our taxi driver had difficulty and could not find the ship immediately.

In the spring, while travelling, we spoke to a couple who had been on Uniworld. They were similar to us in personality and likes when travelling. They were sociable, but also liked to choose when to be social and when to have quiet time, in fact the woman said she “needed” to have that option. She didn’t want to put me off but said she ended up just wanting to be off the ship after three days to find a place she felt less confined. I thought she may be exaggerating.

The first shock to us after spending three days in a small room in a boutique Paris hotel (they are all small), was that the room we had in Paris was large compared to the cabin on the Baroness. Others on the ship told us this is Uniworld’s oldest as well as their smallest ship. They also said they didn’t like the cabins either, but insisted we not let it put us off future river cruising.

Honestly we felt cramped in the cabin, and the bathroom, as both are very tight. It’s a challenge and you better not be a slob on this ship. You need to be organized in a room this small. I wish I could post my pictures of the cabin on this review. I think the brochure must be done with a different lens. You can get one person on each side of the bed, but don’t try squeezing past each other (and we are not big people). There is one chair with no room to pull it out and sit on, as it would block up the space, and the only place to sit is on the bed. It got even worse the two days we were berthed at Rouen, with another ship right beside us cutting out the view and light from the room. It was like having a huge truck parked in front of your living room window. I wish I could post that picture also.

Yes, people will say “well you are not in your cabin much” but some of us don’t always want to be with everyone else socializing 24/7 and simply want to enjoy a spot where you can chill out. We were lucky we could use the sun deck as an alternative to the Monet lounge, which I agree with a previous reviewer – needs an overhaul and is not that comfy. You are either in your cabin, the dining room when open, the Monet lounge, or on the bus doing the excursions. There is the sun deck when the weather is nice, but if not, then you are limited to the lounge or your cabin when the dining room is closed. The dining room and the lounge both have low ceilings, and the noise intensifies due to that, so trying to talk or socialize when there is a lecture, music, or scheduling talk going on ruins other’s enjoyment of whatever they are listening to. What we missed were more quiet spots, and we were not alone in wishing that. Others mentioned it also. It was also our first time on a daily basis being shuttled to excursions and being in a group following a guide twice a day. We did not think we’d spend as much time on the buses as we did. At Vernon you are berthed in a sort of industrial area, but you really only get on the bus from the ship, back again, and your off somewhere else. I think our nicest spot to berth was Les Andelys, but you are not there long either.

In Rouen we were close to the city, and could walk ashore, which was a bonus. We were also next to a main highway and bridge so there was a lot of traffic and construction noise. Plus we had the other ship right next to us outside the window most of the time. On the return towards Paris we berthed in St. Denis suburb, in a rough looking area, and we did walk ashore so can attest to it. It was the “dump your car parts, oil change, old tires by the sidewalk” capital of France we think. You can’t have it all I guess – close enough to walk ashore meant not an ideal spot, and other spots you were bussed for a good distance to reach your destinations. This meant a schedule of getting up early, all rushing to dine to eat breakfast, then all heading for the bus. After the tour, it was back on the bus, back to the restaurant for lunch, and return to another bus for the next destination after lunch. For us this is a schedule………and we don’t go on vacations to have to follow schedules that tightly.

We are not saying this is wrong. Some people may feel intimidated in a foreign place and not wish to go anywhere on their own. This is an all inclusive floating hotel that you never have to get off except with a guide if you don’t want to. Some love to follow the bus, never have to eat ashore and struggle with a foreign menu, love to stay with the same folks all the time, sit at the same table, get the same seat on the bus. They like the security of it all and the service which Uniworld provides – and that service is very good. If you are this type of person, this is the trip for you.

We found very quickly that we were not this type of person. After days of sharing the tours the first few days we choose not to do the walking tour of Rouen, but had a later breakfast after the main crowds left. We simply got a map and headed out, taking in the vendors at the market, finding the historic spots on our own, opting to see what was up little alleys, and we saw and found it all without having to wait for stragglers or follow the guide. Yes, you do get a lot more history with the guide, (and hopefully retain it all by the end of the day) but we’d done some homework, and we managed just fine. In fact, we hit the tour group many times as we walked. We found we enjoyed the freedom more.

We had signed and paid for the optional tour of Versailles, but after we hit the crowds there and got back on the bus, we looked at each other and said “we’re not going on another bus, or another tour, or another crush of people”. We were bus and tour sick. So, like two other couples, we were the only folks left on the last day. We had a “sea day” and enjoyed being on vacation with no schedule.

Again, this is not saying anything against Uniworld, (apart from the fact that the cabins are smaller than they look on the brochure, and the Monet Lounge is tres “shabby chic”). The staff did a wonderful job.

However if you are the type of person who: likes a little more space in your cabin and light through the window all the time; likes quiet time occasionally; hates to dawdle behind a crowd and guides with lollypops (felt a bit like being back at school some days); does not wish to get up too early on vacation; doesn’t like to be bussed almost every day somewhere on a schedule and wishes there was more free time rather than travel time; and lastly, thinks you are travelling up the Seine seeing scenic spots and tying up in quiet little villages all the time--------------- if you are all or most of the aforementioned - then don’t choose this tour.

I’m not disparaging it for others. It simply did not fit our “type” of travel personality. We felt confined in the cabin, often in the lounge, on the tours, and ultimately, like the lady we met, felt confined by the whole boat experience, and because of that we know we will never go river cruising again. It’s a personal choice, but I do think you should be aware of all this before you make the choice. We are glad that we did Paris on our own ahead of time, as being on a panoramic tour on a tour bus at the end would have just been a snapshot of a wonderful city that needs to be experienced with time for walking along the Seine, checking out the architecture, sitting at a café, having time to really spend in a Museum, lining up to choose the pasty of the day, seeing the lights, sitting in a green metal chair in the many parks and watching the Parisians relax at the end of their work day. You need time for Paris, so, if you do choose this tour, make sure you spend time in Paris at either the beginning or end, because you really can’t see Paris properly any other way.

 

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