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BayWatching

Small-boat river cruising: for introverts?

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Considering a river cruise after multiple ocean voyages on larger ships. My wife and I enjoy—and prioritize—being able to control where and how much we interact with fellow passengers. (Not that we don’t like people; we do. We just prefer our privacy when we want it.)

 

I understand that Viking river vessels carry around 90 passengers.
 

Can you generally eat meals at a table for 2 if you wish? Or are most tables more communal than that? 

 

Is room service available for all meals?
 

And, while I’m at it, I understand one shore excursion per port is included. Is that chosen for you, or can you choose from multiple options? 
 

Appreciate the input!

 

 

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Viking ships are about 200 passengers and there mostly have no tables for two and do not have room service. 

 

Did you look over there web site?  

 

 

Edited by Donray

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Viking has a number of different ships throughout the world, but in Europe their most common long ship contains 96 cabins and sails with 192 passengers.  For meals, breakfast and lunch are primarily buffet, although an entree may be available to order in addition.   The tables are mostly 8-10 but there may have been some 6’s as well.  Dinner was all seated and served at the same time.  Seats were not assigned but after a few days many passengers had “regular” spots and tablemates that they expected to sit with.

There was generally one included shore excursion, with others offered as alternatives or after the included.  Some free time at stops but not always.  Unlike an ocean cruise which is in port when you are off the ship, the river ship may drop you off for an excursion and then  move further down river.  You join it later by bus or as my wife did by bicycle.

You need to continue your research.  I usually tell friends who have ocean cruised when they ask about river cruises, that they have 2 things in common.  “They are on ships and they take place in water.”

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There are many river cruise lines beyond Viking.  Most have the same size ships – with fewer passengers.  Most are like Viking in having single-sitting dinner, although some do offer tables for 2.  There are a few that have much less regimented dinner service, where passengers can arrive anytime during a fairly large window.

 

I suggest that you read the Stickies at the top of this forum, especially River CRUISE LINE articles on Cruise Critic, to get a background – then come back and search for threads about the specific river cruise lines that seem to offer what you are looking for.

 

PS – there is also one (and only one) 'large-boat' river cruise:  AmaWaterways AmaMagna, which is the same length as most others [all are limited by the locks on the rivers] but twice as wide.  It offers much more public space than any other river ship, and might be the environment you are looking for in a river cruise.

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Disclaimer - depending on the environment, I can be either an extrovert or introvert. I go back and fourth between being an INTJ and an ENTJ.....

 

I have cruised on 2 river cruise lines Amawaterways and Crystal. I absolutely loved Crystal. On Crystal - you can go to the dining room between 7-10 (not a set time like 7 pm only) and you can request a table for 2. Most tables are setup for 2 and can be pushed together for larger groups.

 

Crystal has buffet for breakfast (thought they have some items that are also on a menu) and lunch. Dinner is wait service.

 

Crystal does have 24 hour room service. It is a basic room service menu but if the dining room is open, you can get items off of the dining room menu.

 

Crystal includes all of your drinks at all times and they stock a mini-bar for you.

 

All of the tours I took on Crystal were included. They did have some that were extra. I walked out without oweing anything on my trip.

 

If you are just starting research - I encourage you to look at multiple lines. Viking has the most name recognition but there are plenty of lines out there to choose from.

Edited by Coral

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Unless you book a suite, the cabins are most river ships are small, so you may not be comfortable escaping there to avoid interactions with other passengers.  

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BayWatching,

wheezedr has already said it, ocean and river cruising are two very different things. (US) Advertising mostly steers ocean cruisers towards Viking when they first get interested in river cruising. Excuse my directness, but my gut feeling says you might not be your happiest on one of their ships. Crystal, if that is within your budget, I also think might suit you best. But do look around, the sizes of ships and their passenger counts vary. On the larger rivers compare the 110m to 135m ships also.

 

For a different style you could look at the European lines that also operate on the American market, like CroisiEurope and Riviera Travel. The German line A-Rosa has more or less the same passenger count as Viking and the ships are built in the same shipyard. This might not be your thing. However, A-Rosa has the option of not paying for tours, you can just buy the basic product and add excursions from a price list. The sailings will be bilingual.

 

The product river cruise is so varied these days that I think we can only hint at a few things here. As jazzbeau has recommended, read the info on river cruising and the various cruise lines. It is a great way to eliminate what you do not like and steer you in the right direction.

 

Have fun planning.

 

notamermaid

 

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Our experience on Viking was that it was larger tables for dinner.  There is an alternate dining location where you should be able to eat for two.  Same for lunch.  Our experience was that people informally formed tables and wound up with the same folks each night/afternoon.  Outside of eating there are places on the boat where you can limit interaction with other passengers.  

 

There are included tours and optional tours.  There are generally one or two included in each port.  What is included is pretty clearly on the website showing the itinerary. Up to you whether you interact with others on an excursion.

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We did a Scenic Opal Budapest to Amsterdam river cruise in September.  There are tables for 2, room service is available and, with a passenger count of 148, you aren’t tripping over fellow guests. There were a number of excursion options available for most ports.  In spite of being totally all-inclusive we didn’t come across one drunk passenger, didn’t hear one word of bad language (we’re 69/72 and are old school types) and found people just wanted to enjoy themselves.

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Senga,

May I just point out that checking the length of the Opal (135m) I saw the number of maximum passengers given as 169. Still, that is a quite a few less than Viking's 190. 200 only applies to a few ships.

 

notamermaid

 

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Viking has tables for 2 in the Aquavit Terrace, which is open for lunch and dinner.  DW and I don't recall much interaction with other pax during excursions, unless one wanted to interact.  At dinner, we sat with many different people and there were varying levels of interaction--some meals were very chatty, and others, were not.  Similarly, some couples were very outgoing, and others less so.

 

There may be fewer places on a river ship to "hide", but we did not feel like others were intrusive.

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Like others have said on the Viking boats there's the Aquavit terrace which was a fantastic place for us to eat. We ate quite a few meals there with fantastic views. In the main dining room dinner started at 7 but one could arrive later like we did without any issues. My DH and I don't socialize much at home except for family and loved the warmth of the river cruisers we met. Very welcoming and friendly that we very much enjoyed socializing with the other passengers. One of the things we love about river cruising. Yes there are more people on Viking but on our two cruises enough crew members are hired so we never had to wait much for anything. We also never had an issue finding quiet places to hang out in. 

 

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Check out Avalon, 166 person cap. tables for two, many places to get away from any crowd you might find.

Beds in cabins face the french door balcony, good place to get away.

We are booked for the Rhine 11/2020.

Hope you find what you need.

Cheers!!!

Edited by King of Cruising

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Can only speak for Avalon, but just a warning...due to size of the ships, your table for two may only be about 10" from the next one.  We had 121 on our cruise on the Rhine, which was really nice, as we were able to meet most people either on tour or on the ship (and yes, we met friends that we still keep in touch with), and luckily it was a great friendly bunch of mixed nationalities.  We usually sat at a table for 6, and sometimes only had one other couple join us, with the 2 empty seats between us, so it was like being on our own but also having companionship.

 

It is fairly easy to be around the ship and be on your own.  We stayed in the front for the Castle tour, there is a small area that was shaded so we wanted to be out of the sun.  We had a few people join us, but with most on top,  it was like having it all to ourselves...and we had great service as we were right in front of the bar!  Most of the days are out on tours, which can be one choice or multiple, depending on the cruise & town you are visiting.  There are also several "groups" on the tours, so most of ours were about 6-8 people.

 

Make sure you read the stickies as Jazz suggest, and look at where you want to go before deciding on a line.  Also, watch the personal videos on YouTube, you get a better idea of the ships than the ones the various lines use for marketing.  River cruising is fun, but only if you are right for it.

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Hi, I just sailed UNIWORLD and I think there were 125 guests and I saw quite a few couples dining on their own.

(Either at a 2 top or a 4 top).

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