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European River Cruise

kathyj0205

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My DH recently retired, and we are finally taking that long awaited trip to Europe. I am planning a week in Rome with Airbnb, followed by a 10-12 day river cruise. The 2 companies I am looking at are Viking and Avalon. Does anyone out there have any experience and/or recommendations on either of these? We seem to be going around in circles as to which way to go. All help is appreciated.
Kathy
 

Passepartout

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Not to muddy the waters, but look at AMA as well. They are well thought of, especially among Europeans, who call Viking, 'the Carnival of river cruises'.

I also agree with checking with www.cruisecritic.com though their input isn't as broad on river cruises as ocean cruises. Might have to do with vessel size. A couple hundred pax instead of 3000.

Jim
 

Quiet Pine

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We've taken 4 Viking river cruises* and enjoyed them all. Before one, I analyzed Viking vs. AMA, checking amenities, getting pictures of comparable cabins, online reviews and so on. Decided that the additional cost was not worth it for me. We're looking forward to a 5th cruise, but don't have a vacation to spare for the next year or so.
*Dnieper, Danube, Rhine, Rhone
 

BocaBoy

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I have always heard that Viking and Tauck are the two best. We did a 2-week Tauck cruise from Budapest to Amsterdam 9 years ago and it was fabulous. Tauck's itineraries are almost identical to Viking's. You can't go wrong with either one. I have no knowledge of Avalon or AMA.
 

bass

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My husband and I and 2 friends went on Viking River Cruise (Nuremberg to Budapest) last December. We are all going on Viking River Cruise (Amsterdam to Basel) this December. Both are Christmas Market Cruises. We enjoyed the first one very much and expect to like the second one as well.
 

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My husband and I and 2 friends went on Viking River Cruise (Nuremberg to Budapest) last December. We are all going on Viking River Cruise (Amsterdam to Basel) this December. Both are Christmas Market Cruises. We enjoyed the first one very much and expect to like the second one as well.

How was the weather that time of year? Was it pleasant enough to be outside on the ship?
 

MuranoJo

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We're doing our first European river cruise in France with Tauck, coming up very soon. It's supposedly first class all the way, but it's also pricey.
Going with another couple who've used Tauck a few times and absolutely loved it, so they talked us into splurging.

OTOH, my sis got interested in European river cruises when we told her about our plans and they grabbed a 30-day-out Viking and said it was great. And quite a bit less expensive than ours. They flew coach and said it was miserable, and neither of them are overweight. We're still wait-listed for B-class, so may end up in E+ and not looking forward to that part of it.
 

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I have a close friend who has done about eight Viking River Cruises. All over European and into Russia. Her very favorite is the Rhine (I hope I remember that right.) It's the one with lots of castles along the way. She uses Viking because she's a princess (in her own mind) and likes quality but especially enjoys the other passengers. She also accumulates points for her cruises and for people who cruise on her recommendation. I'm not a cruiser. Otherwise I'd have more first hand info for you. :)
 

Sunshine10

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We sent my in-laws on a 14 night river cruise through Uniworld, for their 50th wedding anniversary. They had spent far too many of their retirement years not travelling, but are in very good health, so we thought this would be a great way for them to do some catching up. They did the European Jewels (Budapest to Amsterdam), 15 days. Uniworld is not inexpensive. However, they were very well treated, the food was amazing, and they had unlimited premium spirits and wines. All of the tours were very much enjoyed. They travelled in May and had very enjoyable weather. We booked through a travel agent, but I understand it is just as easy to book directly with the cruise line.
 

kathyj0205

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Thanks for all the great info. Right now we are looking at a cruise from Paris to Prague, and I have checked on both Viking and Avalon. Next step, chick Uniworld, AMA, and Tauck. I will keep you posted.
kathy
 

BocaBoy

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We're doing our first European river cruise in France with Tauck, coming up very soon. It's supposedly first class all the way, but it's also pricey.
Going with another couple who've used Tauck a few times and absolutely loved it, so they talked us into splurging.

OTOH, my sis got interested in European river cruises when we told her about our plans and they grabbed a 30-day-out Viking and said it was great. And quite a bit less expensive than ours.

Interesting, when we chose Tauck over Viking several years ago the prices were very similar for the identical itinerary. If Viking is significantly cheaper, I would not hesitate to go with them.
 

Art

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We did a Moselle and Rhine cruise on Avalon last year.

Apart from being close to 2-3 times the cost of a large ship cruise on a per day basis, we thought it was excellent. If I were comparing Avalon to a ocean going line, I would say it is comparable to Azamara.

One of the things that seems to run up the cost on river cruises is that many start or end with a 2 or 3 day hotel stay at what seems to be "rack" rates for the hotel. The cruise lines emphasize the "10" day cruises which are usually only 7 day cruises plus a hotel stay and travel time in their advertising. With a little bit of effort, one can book a lot less expensive "cruise only" cruise.

Art
 
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MuranoJo

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Art, so true you could book directly and just do the cruise part and save some change, but our thoughts were, we came this far and spent this much on the airfare, we're going to try to stay a few extra days (in Paris for us, going in early).

I really wanted to tag a week's t/s stay outside Paris before the cruise, but DH has never been to Europe and I just think he felt more comfy going with a few friends who were seasoned travelers in Europe. Maybe after this trip he'll be more willing to venture out, just we two.
 

falmouth3

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My sister insists on taking a Grand Circle Cruise Line cruise when we do our Christmas Market cruise. Her in-laws have taken several from that company and have loved them. Apparently they are associated with OAT (Overseas Adventure Travel). My sister and her late husband took two or three tours with OAT and couldn't stop raving.
 

mjbaran

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We've done Basel to Amsterdam with Viking and the "Grand France" cruise with Uniworld. Both were excellent. Have not tried Tauck yet but have seen the ships and they certainly look comparable (if not better) then Viking or Uniworld.

We were very fortunate to sail on the SS Catherine (Uniworld) in France. The ship was only 1 year old and fabulous.

You should definitely consider the pre and/or post cruises. Yes, it can be pricey, but how often will you get back to that part of the world. Also, taking a pre cruise excursion provides you some protection in case you flights are delayed. You never want to arrive the same day your ship is sailing.
 

MuranoJo

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We've done Basel to Amsterdam with Viking and the "Grand France" cruise with Uniworld. Both were excellent. Have not tried Tauck yet but have seen the ships and they certainly look comparable (if not better) then Viking or Uniworld.

We were very fortunate to sail on the SS Catherine (Uniworld) in France. The ship was only 1 year old and fabulous.

You should definitely consider the pre and/or post cruises. Yes, it can be pricey, but how often will you get back to that part of the world. Also, taking a pre cruise excursion provides you some protection in case you flights are delayed. You never want to arrive the same day your ship is sailing.

Great advice. As mentioned before, my sis got a great last-minute booking with Viking, but as soon as they arrived after a brutal overnight flight in coach, they were directly escorted to the ship, then on to a tour. They both said they were zombies during the tour and really wished they had tagged on an extra day or two in the city before departing on the ship.

Now I really wish we had booked a day in a hotel after the cruise, so we don't have to leave so early for the return flight.
 

kathyj0205

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I've been looking at the pre and post cruise add-ons, and while they are pricey, I tend to think they would be worth it for us. English is not only our primary language, it is our only language! I keep looking at itineraries, and vacillating between all the cruises. I just need to make a decision, and stick with it.

On a related note, I've been pricing airline tickets, and I am amazed by the cost of fees. The tickets to Rome and returning, if I go economy, are around $750 per ticket, but $1500 with fees. If I use miles, I use 40,000 AA miles, but fees are still 500 USD. Plus baggage fees and any upgrades. WOW!!
 

Art

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Often the biggest part of the fees is the Q fee, which is the fuel surcharge. One would think that should be part of the base fare, but especially on international if can be as much or more than the base fare.

Art
 

Passepartout

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I've been looking at the pre and post cruise add-ons, and while they are pricey, I tend to think they would be worth it for us. English is not only our primary language, it is our only language! I keep looking at itineraries, and vacillating between all the cruises. I just need to make a decision, and stick with it.

On a related note, I've been pricing airline tickets, and I am amazed by the cost of fees. The tickets to Rome and returning, if I go economy, are around $750 per ticket, but $1500 with fees. If I use miles, I use 40,000 AA miles, but fees are still 500 USD. Plus baggage fees and any upgrades. WOW!!

As you said in your OP, it's the 'long awaited' first trip after retirement. Yes these things are costly, but the memory will last a lifetime. On another trip, you can self-cater and it will cost a great deal less. Don't sweat being 'monolingual', you'll be surprised how much you'll recognize of other languages. Plus virtually ALL Europeans speak English- even if they'd prefer their native tongue.

Tickets to Europe are expensive, so that's why we maximize the value by staying longer. I see you've planned that too. Good move. We live in the inland area too, so it's a full fledged trip to get to any 'gateway' city, even before leaving the USA. That's just the way it is. Plan for it.

On most International flights, at least you can check a bag or two at no cost. Whooppee! We haven't found a cheap way to sit somewhere other than the 'sardine' seats in coach. Even 'Economy Comfort' is better if offered.

We retired 6 years ago and continue to go to Europe and/or Asia 2-3 times a year, like we have for nearly 20 years, and don't plan to stop anytime soon.

We're still too cheap, thrifty, tightwad to spring for a river cruise. We are the old folks rolling our bags onto the train. So it goes.

Jim
 

beejaybeeohio

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Drive to Denver?

I've been looking at the pre and post cruise add-ons, and while they are pricey, I tend to think they would be worth it for us. English is not only our primary language, it is our only language! I keep looking at itineraries, and vacillating between all the cruises. I just need to make a decision, and stick with it.

On a related note, I've been pricing airline tickets, and I am amazed by the cost of fees. The tickets to Rome and returning, if I go economy, are around $750 per ticket, but $1500 with fees. If I use miles, I use 40,000 AA miles, but fees are still 500 USD. Plus baggage fees and any upgrades. WOW!!

Depending on where you are in Nebraska, you might consider driving to Denver (or Minneapolis) to catch Icelandair to Europe and maybe even include a short stay in Iceland with their free stopover program. We paid $700 pp for this itinerary last May: Toronto (a 5-hour drive @way + $150 for a month's parking and an overnight hotel stay with a park/stay/fly rate) - Reykjakvik - Paris and return from Manchester via Reykjavik back to Toronto.
 

raygo123

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Question u mention AA miles, 40,000 to Europe. Seems cheap compared to chase explorer and UA. Does your card work out to $.01 per dollar spent?

Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk
 

dmharris

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Depending on where you are in Nebraska, you might consider driving to Denver (or Minneapolis) to catch Icelandair to Europe and maybe even include a short stay in Iceland with their free stopover program. We paid $700 pp for this itinerary last May: Toronto (a 5-hour drive @way + $150 for a month's parking and an overnight hotel stay with a park/stay/fly rate) - Reykjakvik - Paris and return from Manchester via Reykjavik back to Toronto.

That is a great idea! And a great fare. In 2006 I bought 3 round trip tickets from Dulles to Rome for $500 each. That was before all these stupid fees escalated into the same price as the ticket. Gougers!
 

bass

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I used the walking path outside. A few people were up on the deck reading. The outdoor cafe wasn't open. We're from Florida - so we were hoping for snow.
 

bass

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How was the weather that time of year? Was it pleasant enough to be outside on the ship?

I used the walking path outside. A few people were up on the deck reading. The outdoor cafe wasn't open. We're from Florida - so we were hoping for snow.
 
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