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First time river cruiser looking for the right cruise line

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Right now we are in the research phase.  We'd appreciate opinions from experienced river cruisers on which cruise lines you think might be a good fit for us.  Below is our profile:

 

We've decided we want our first river cruise to be a Rhine River cruise.

We are value cruisers.  Not necessarily looking for the cheapest cruise, but a cruise line that offers the best bang for the buck. (no nickeling and diming)

We are in our mid to late 50's. 

We are NOT mobility impaired, but not overly active i.e. we don't need a gym or active excursions.  We are not hangout at the pool people. 

We do like the occasional cocktail.

We prefer a laid-back atmosphere.  We don't want formal dress, but rather casual during the day and resort casual at night.

We prefer open seating for dinner and no assigned dinner times. (Not a deal breaker if not)

Since this is our first European cruise, we wouldn't mind a little "hand-holding" i.e. provided hotel/airport/cruise transfers.

A cruise line geared for English speakers and the North American market.

Like a comfortable cabin with inside or out seating (not the bed) to view the countryside.  Not sure if a outside balcony is mandatory vs a french balcony? 

 

We get a lot of mail offers from Gate 1 and Viking.  They seem to be reasonably priced? 

 

Anyone visualize a cruise line that might be a good fit for us?

 

 

 

 

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As a complete novice you could do a lot worse than browse the sticky threads at the top of the forum - there are links to lots of useful articles about individual river cruise lines on Cruise Critic, plus objective comparisons between different lines. 

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Posted (edited)

Kentchris gives wise advise.  If you are an ocean cruiser, check out the comparisons with ocean lines, they will probably help you decide what line matches the ocean line you like. 

 

If you just like the occasional drink before or after dinner, then you won't necessarily require a full service line, as one of the benefits to them is included alcohol.  Some lines have a "happy hour" prior to dinner, where drinks are 1/2 price.  As we are not big drinkers (wine & beer for lunch & dinner is usually more than enough for us), we only had one extra drink on our Rhine cruise...and that was for the afternoon we were on the boat cruising through the castles.

 

Most lines aren't overly fancy in dress anymore, most (unless you are cruising in very hot weather) ask for no shorts in the dining room for dinner.  You may get the odd person dressing up, but it's not a common occurrence. However I think the one thing that is necessary is very comfortable walking shoes.

 

Like you, we were in our mid 50's for our first cruise, and while there were more seniors than younger, we were quite comfortable.  There was a family with two daughters who were starting Uni, and the girls were great as they were loving the experience and all the history.  

 

I guess the best advice I got was to look through the various intermarries that are available, then match them up to your budget.  Don't forget to plan for extra excursions (I booked all of ours prior to travel as we paid in Cdn. $ rather than Euros). The various lines usually all have one included tour per day, and one extra which will usually have a cost.   I also looked at personal videos of cruises on YouTube over the staged ones by the cruise lines, it gave me a better idea as to how people dressed on both tours & in the dining rooms, as well as what you may see on the tours to know what ones we wanted to go on.  I also did searches in this forum for write-ups & reviews to see how fellow cruisers enjoyed their cruise.

 

Another suggestion is to check out the room size...some rooms are a lot smaller as exterior balconies (except Viking) are included in the rooms size.  Since the ships all have to pass through locks, their width is limited, so they are pretty much all the same width.  Viking has gotten around this by offsetting the aisle so it takes room from the french balconies to make the balcony rooms larger.  I guess if you are going to pay more for a balcony, you better get more room.  We enjoyed our french balcony while we were in our room waiting to go for meals or tours, as we had comfortable chairs to sit on, and the whole window opened.  However, if you want to see anything, you will want to be in the public areas, as the scenery is on both sides of the river.

 

In the end, our decision was made by a slogan we found for our cruise line...they wanted smiles on their guests faces more than white gloves on their staff....and they really lived up to it   We aren't 'fancy", both of us work(ed) in jeans & t-shirts, so suits/ties/dresses are something rarely worn and we didn't want to dress up while on holiday. We really enjoyed our Rhine cruise, and were planning our next one (Danube next May) on the plane home!

 

River cruising is great if you love it.  Don't expect a lot of entertainment, casinos or multiple places & times to eat, as they just can't do that with the smaller ships and passengers.  However, you can fill your day going on tours (which are all great, no matter what line you choose), and don't expect to sleep in (tours start usually around 8:00-8:30).  A very different holiday, one that may require a holiday to recouperate from once you come home, but a very enjoyable one.

Edited by Daisi

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We would have gone on our 30th river cruise in 2 weeks if it had not been cancelled.  Rebooked it for next year.  We have been on many of the major of the major RC lines.  Our two favorites are Uniworld and AMA.  Uniworld has priced itself out of our cruising budget.  It is all inclusive, but still too pricey.  AMA is not all inclusive, but the ones we have taken were wonderful.

We have traveled with Viking, don't like their payment plan.  Vantage and GCT are both non travel agent.  They are probably geared more to an older demographic. A few of the lines we have used are no longer in existence. We really like Road Scholar, but again an older demographic.

After you read the stickies at the top, figure out when you want to travel.  We like the spring and the fall, fewer people, easier and cheaper airfares.

Take a good look at AMA, think you would like it.  This board has wonderful people who can help.  Bur remember river cruising can become addictive. Good luck stay safe and well. Pat

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Great advice from past posters.

 

If I may just add: on the Rhine the standard route is Basel to Amsterdam or vice versa. The ports are very similar among the cruise lines. There are shorter ones from some lines of only five or six nights available. But you can go for a longer itinerary that includes the Moselle. I would start with the classic B to A or A to B. Then, if you enjoy river cruising you can do the Danube or the Main or indeed the Moselle on a West-Easterly route with the Main. Or any other river of course.

 

I agree that it is good to read the stickies. And then do come back with more questions. We all here are happy to help. :classic_smile:

 

notamermaid

 

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Welcome to Cruise Critic!!

Daisi has given an excellent run-down on river cruising - and,  I agree with the suggestion to read the stickies at the top of the page.  However, you have asked for some advice, and I am always happy to oblige!!  I figure advice is usually worth what you pay for it, so take it for what it is worth.

As a preamble, we have cruised with most of the major lines.  We completed our 15th river cruise in January (the Nile) - and #16 is scheduled (if Covid cooperates) for October this year.  We are now in our early/mid 60's. 

We are not brand loyal.  We look for an itinerary we like - then dates, then cost.  We almost always travel lowest category (aka Aquarium class) as we find we don't spend that much time in our cabin.  If we want to watch the world go by, we sit in the  lounge, or on the top deck.  If you want to see what the Rhine has to offer - and many lines offer a part day with commentary on the castles you see along the way - then you do need to be somewhere that both sides of the boat are visible.  But, some people do find having only a small window is a bit claustrophobic - and want to move up a deck.  Just a quick word of warning - read the stickies on rafting - as, this may disrupt your enjoyment of the balcony (French or real) - if that is the reason you booked. All lines have this issue - so moving to a different line won't necessarily reduce the risk. 

We have discovered that Avalon meets our travel needs quite well.  Relaxed atmosphere, good value for the dollar - options, in the daily excursions.  For example, we re-sailed the Seine in 2017 with Avalon. On most stops, there were 2 options for the excursions.  We had usually done one of them on our 1st Seine cruise (with Uniworld) so it was nice to be able to see another part of the country.  Same river, different experience. 

Avalon usually has a Happy Hour before dinner - and drinks are half price.  That was an opportunity to meet up with new friends - relax and chat - before the nightly port talk. 

Gratuities are not included - but, they are usually only included with the higher end lines.  So, in essence, you are paying them  with those lines - just included up front with the package price. 

There is lots of advice about booking flights with the company vs on your own.  Most lines will include transfers if you book air through them. And, most lines will offer pre/post hotel stays as an extension for the cruise.  In some places, it is worth booking through the cruise line.  In some places, it is cheaper to do on your own.  Given the fact you are looking at the Rhine, I would suggest booking a hotel stay (if you want to extend your stay) through your cruise line --> Amsterdam is very expensive, and I am not sure you would get a room much cheaper on your own. Not sure about Basel - both times we cruised the Rhine we ended there, and did not extend our stay. 

Hope this helps.

 

Fran

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I agree with most of everything above, except I would reverse @franski's advice on the pre-/-post stays.  Amsterdam is very easy to DIY because English is widely spoken, the tram system is extensive and goes everywhere a tourist would want, and it's so flat that walking is easy.  The Doubletree hotel is located right where the ships dock and the tram lines converge.  And many river cruises start with an overnight in Amsterdam, so flying in 1 day early is sufficient 'insurance' against travel problems [although an extra day would be even better if you've never been to Amsterdam before].

 

Basel, IMHO, is where having your hand held is much more valuable.  Because unless you are limited to one week off from work, you really want to add a few days in Switzerland before flying home.  The Swiss trains are very good, but English isn't as universal there and not everything you might want to see is on a train line.  We took the AMA post-cruise package and were very glad we did.  It included a bit of sightseeing in Basel [which seemed sufficient compared to the delights to come] then a transfer to Lucerne [including a stop at the Lion Monument which is a bit out of the way]; a walking tour of Lucerne old town and an optional trip to Mount Pilatus [which we duplicated as a DIY instead]; then a transfer to Zurich that started with a boat ride across Lake Lucerne and a stop at the village of Brunnen; a walking tour of Zurich followed by an optional excursion to the Rhine Falls and the village of Stein-am-Rhein.  Finally, there was an included transfer to the Zurich airport – and our local guide literally held our hand through the terminal and right to the check-in line.  We couldn't have done all of this DIY, and it was worth whatever extra cost to have AMA handle all the arrangements for us.

 

As to the river cruise itself, we found that AMA provided everything we needed at a very high level of quality and service – a French balcony cabin seemed the ideal compromise between the small high windows of 'aquarium class' and a small outside balcony that can't be used in the rain; food was excellent and wine and beer were poured very generously throughout lunch and dinner [and AMA has since added a Happy Hour with free drinks in the lounge before dinner].  We had budgeted the gratuities before we left, so that didn't feel like 'nickel and dining.'  And all of the many excursion choices were included throughout the cruise – this is not true on all river cruise lines, even some of the self-proclaimed 'all-inclusive' ones.  Every day had at least one excursion time, with choices of sites and on the main tour choice of activity level for fast walkers and slow ones; many days had a second (and even a third) excursion time slot – and there were no additional fees for any of the choices.  [Only on the post-cruise excursion were there two extra-cost options, as noted above.]  We left the ship with no bill due.

 

This was our first river cruise, and it made us loyal to AMA.  And that is something you will find with most of the posters on this forum – whichever line was their first river cruise, they had a great time and are loyal to that cruise line.  So while there are, IMHO, better and worse choices – there are no bad choices.

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5 hours ago, Daisi said:

River cruising is great if you love it.  Don't expect a lot of entertainment, casinos or multiple places & times to eat, as they just can't do that with the smaller ships and passengers.  However, you can fill your day going on tours (which are all great, no matter what line you choose), and don't expect to sleep in (tours start usually around 8:00-8:30).  A very different holiday, one that may require a holiday to recouperate from once you come home, but a very enjoyable one.

 

Thanks for the tips.  We have ocean cruised and are accustomed to sea days where we can recharge and prep for the next port.  We realize river cruising is a commando type of cruising/touring, but we look forward to immersing in Europe.  I'm sure we'll be tired by the end.

 

Do you mind if I ask what is your favored cruise line?

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5 hours ago, pacmom said:

We would have gone on our 30th river cruise in 2 weeks if it had not been cancelled.  Rebooked it for next year.  We have been on many of the major of the major RC lines.  Our two favorites are Uniworld and AMA.  Uniworld has priced itself out of our cruising budget.  It is all inclusive, but still too pricey.  AMA is not all inclusive, but the ones we have taken were wonderful.

We have traveled with Viking, don't like their payment plan.  Vantage and GCT are both non travel agent.  They are probably geared more to an older demographic. A few of the lines we have used are no longer in existence. We really like Road Scholar, but again an older demographic.

After you read the stickies at the top, figure out when you want to travel.  We like the spring and the fall, fewer people, easier and cheaper airfares.

Take a good look at AMA, think you would like it.  This board has wonderful people who can help.  Bur remember river cruising can become addictive. Good luck stay safe and well. Pat

 

Thank you for your advice.  We will give AMA a hard look.  I'll check into Viking's payment plan, I didn't realize they are different.

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, franski said:

Welcome to Cruise Critic!!

Daisi has given an excellent run-down on river cruising - and,  I agree with the suggestion to read the stickies at the top of the page.  However, you have asked for some advice, and I am always happy to oblige!!  I figure advice is usually worth what you pay for it, so take it for what it is worth.

As a preamble, we have cruised with most of the major lines.  We completed our 15th river cruise in January (the Nile) - and #16 is scheduled (if Covid cooperates) for October this year.  We are now in our early/mid 60's. 

We are not brand loyal.  We look for an itinerary we like - then dates, then cost.  We almost always travel lowest category (aka Aquarium class) as we find we don't spend that much time in our cabin.  If we want to watch the world go by, we sit in the  lounge, or on the top deck.  If you want to see what the Rhine has to offer - and many lines offer a part day with commentary on the castles you see along the way - then you do need to be somewhere that both sides of the boat are visible.  But, some people do find having only a small window is a bit claustrophobic - and want to move up a deck.  Just a quick word of warning - read the stickies on rafting - as, this may disrupt your enjoyment of the balcony (French or real) - if that is the reason you booked. All lines have this issue - so moving to a different line won't necessarily reduce the risk. 

We have discovered that Avalon meets our travel needs quite well.  Relaxed atmosphere, good value for the dollar - options, in the daily excursions.  For example, we re-sailed the Seine in 2017 with Avalon. On most stops, there were 2 options for the excursions.  We had usually done one of them on our 1st Seine cruise (with Uniworld) so it was nice to be able to see another part of the country.  Same river, different experience. 

Avalon usually has a Happy Hour before dinner - and drinks are half price.  That was an opportunity to meet up with new friends - relax and chat - before the nightly port talk. 

Gratuities are not included - but, they are usually only included with the higher end lines.  So, in essence, you are paying them  with those lines - just included up front with the package price. 

There is lots of advice about booking flights with the company vs on your own.  Most lines will include transfers if you book air through them. And, most lines will offer pre/post hotel stays as an extension for the cruise.  In some places, it is worth booking through the cruise line.  In some places, it is cheaper to do on your own.  Given the fact you are looking at the Rhine, I would suggest booking a hotel stay (if you want to extend your stay) through your cruise line --> Amsterdam is very expensive, and I am not sure you would get a room much cheaper on your own. Not sure about Basel - both times we cruised the Rhine we ended there, and did not extend our stay. 

Hope this helps.

 

Fran

 

Thank you for the tips.  A happy hour sounds nice.  Avalon added to my list!  The castles are a major attraction for us, so appreciate the advice to have a view of both sides.  Look forward to commentary on the castles.  We prefer a room with a view so we won't be on the bottom deck.  Rafting doesn't sound like fun, but we'll be mentally prepared and take it as it comes.

Edited by Non Partisan Cruiser

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57 minutes ago, Host Jazzbeau said:

I agree with most of everything above, except I would reverse @franski's advice on the pre-/-post stays.  Amsterdam is very easy to DIY because English is widely spoken, the tram system is extensive and goes everywhere a tourist would want, and it's so flat that walking is easy.  The Doubletree hotel is located right where the ships dock and the tram lines converge.  And many river cruises start with an overnight in Amsterdam, so flying in 1 day early is sufficient 'insurance' against travel problems [although an extra day would be even better if you've never been to Amsterdam before].

 

Basel, IMHO, is where having your hand held is much more valuable.  Because unless you are limited to one week off from work, you really want to add a few days in Switzerland before flying home.  The Swiss trains are very good, but English isn't as universal there and not everything you might want to see is on a train line.  We took the AMA post-cruise package and were very glad we did.  It included a bit of sightseeing in Basel [which seemed sufficient compared to the delights to come] then a transfer to Lucerne [including a stop at the Lion Monument which is a bit out of the way]; a walking tour of Lucerne old town and an optional trip to Mount Pilatus [which we duplicated as a DIY instead]; then a transfer to Zurich that started with a boat ride across Lake Lucerne and a stop at the village of Brunnen; a walking tour of Zurich followed by an optional excursion to the Rhine Falls and the village of Stein-am-Rhein.  Finally, there was an included transfer to the Zurich airport – and our local guide literally held our hand through the terminal and right to the check-in line.  We couldn't have done all of this DIY, and it was worth whatever extra cost to have AMA handle all the arrangements for us.

 

As to the river cruise itself, we found that AMA provided everything we needed at a very high level of quality and service – a French balcony cabin seemed the ideal compromise between the small high windows of 'aquarium class' and a small outside balcony that can't be used in the rain; food was excellent and wine and beer were poured very generously throughout lunch and dinner [and AMA has since added a Happy Hour with free drinks in the lounge before dinner].  We had budgeted the gratuities before we left, so that didn't feel like 'nickel and dining.'  And all of the many excursion choices were included throughout the cruise – this is not true on all river cruise lines, even some of the self-proclaimed 'all-inclusive' ones.  Every day had at least one excursion time, with choices of sites and on the main tour choice of activity level for fast walkers and slow ones; many days had a second (and even a third) excursion time slot – and there were no additional fees for any of the choices.  [Only on the post-cruise excursion were there two extra-cost options, as noted above.]  We left the ship with no bill due.

 

This was our first river cruise, and it made us loyal to AMA.  And that is something you will find with most of the posters on this forum – whichever line was their first river cruise, they had a great time and are loyal to that cruise line.  So while there are, IMHO, better and worse choices – there are no bad choices.

 

Great tips.  Free happy hour sounds perfect.  AMA just climbed to the top of our list. lol  We were thinking a french balcony might be the best of both worlds.  I like your suggestion of starting in Amsterdam and ending in Basal.  I stress in countries where little english is spoken as I'm terrible at learning other languages.  We are Hilton and Hyatt devotees, so the Doubletree sounds perfect. 

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The cruise line that we found suited us best is Avalon.  Perfect mix of comfort, casual & yet quality service. 

 

The Captain said when he was doing the introductions that they were like a big family (which they were, our server was a sister to the wine steward, our cabin attendant shared the floor with his twin brother - very confusing as you only saw them briefly if any and they looked enough alike we were all having fun trying to tell them apart!)  The staff is allowed to go on the buses with passengers on their days off to get into the towns if required, and we ended up having a riot with our cabin attendant, the housekeeper, and her boyfriend who worked in the kitchen.  Even had the bus driver join all of us while we were relaxing in the cafe before heading back....nice happy family, and it gave us a chance to see they really enjoyed working with each other.

 

I agree with Fran that you really don't spend time in your cabin except while getting ready or taking a bit of a break to catch up with home, so if you are comfortable with the smaller cabins with smaller windows, I would go for them.  When in port, you don't always have the best scenery anyway, sometimes you are rafted, sometimes you are docked out of town so not much to see.  We went from Amsterdam to Basel and the first night "on the river" we were in Colonge.  Because we were there until 11:00 or so, we had a beautiful view of the Dom all lit up...but you had to go to the top deck to see it!

 

We did a pre-stay on our own in Amsterdam.  Because we live in a very rural area, I was perfectly happy staying in a hotel where we could use our points for a couple of free nights but it was about 10 minutes on the tram to get down to Amsterdam Centraal.  No problem for us, we had never been on a tram (or bus, or train) before, so it added to the experience...and the hotel was beside the Petting Zoo in Rembrandtpark and we could hear the animals when we were walking to it!  As Jazzbeau says, Amsterdam is a very easy place to not only walk around but also get understood. English is more visible in the central area than Dutch I think...but as Fran mentioned, it's very expensive.  We did love wandering around the canals though...I just marked the tram stop we had to get back to on my Google Map, and started wandering....it helped us find our way back when we needed to.

 

As for "nickle & diming", about the only things you have to pay for are gratuities, and any extra drinks other than what is included with lunch/dinner.  We prepaid our gratuities, and then when leaving, gave those whom we felt went over and above a bit extra.  I think our "tab" at the end of the cruise was 8 Euros...2 beers!

 

If you do go out on the extra excursions, you will be well walked out....we would have a drink after dinner or so (and on Avalon, we could order a wine or beer "to go" for either lunch or dinner) then head back to the cabin to catch up on e-mails with family (and send them pics to make them jealous!).  We are normally up at 4:00 so early nights are something we are used to..:)

 

Keep asking questions, everyone is very helpful here if you need to know anything.  Main thing to do is research so you know what is involved in river cruising, so you won't be dissappointed.

 

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17 minutes ago, Daisi said:

The cruise line that we found suited us best is Avalon.  Perfect mix of comfort, casual & yet quality service.

 

 

The "family" atmosphere sounds welcoming.  On our ocean cruises we always try to connect with the crew.  I guess I need to research the location of the Dutch sections of Amsterdam vs the English sections.  So much to research.  Luckily I have plenty of time right now. lol

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6 minutes ago, Non Partisan Cruiser said:

 

The "family" atmosphere sounds welcoming.  On our ocean cruises we always try to connect with the crew.  I guess I need to research the location of the Dutch sections of Amsterdam vs the English sections.  So much to research.  Luckily I have plenty of time right now. lol

 

 

You will have no trouble with English in central Amsterdam.  Even staying a bit out, we had no problem asking people on the tram how where to get off the first time. One thing to remember when wandering around towns in Europe...public washrooms are scarce, and most places will appreciate you purchasing food or drink to use theirs.

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I also recommend AmaWaterways.  We have been on 3 cruises with them.  The new Happy Hour prior to dinner was a welcome addition.  I also recommend, if time allows, to add the Moselle section.  For me, it was the best part.  We did the reverse, started in Basel and ended in Amsterdam.  I like to do the pre-post trips on my own because you can do it for so much less.  We flew to Zurich, took a train (station is on the lower floor of the airport) to Lucerne for 3 nights.  We stayed at the Renaissance Hotel which is 2 blocks from the train station.  You can walk everywhere you need to go in Lucerne.  We did take a trip up to Mount Pilatus, but you can walk to the starting point.  We then took a train to Basel and then a taxi to the docking location.

In Amsterdam, we stayed at the Kimpton.  It was on the tram line, so it was very convenient.  I suggest getting a Rick Steve's guidebook that covers the places you are going, especially the starting and ending points,  He gives you very practical advice  regarding getting around places and ways to cut down on lines to places you want to see.

Good luck and happy travels.

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4 hours ago, Daisi said:

 

 

You will have no trouble with English in central Amsterdam.  Even staying a bit out, we had no problem asking people on the tram how where to get off the first time. One thing to remember when wandering around towns in Europe...public washrooms are scarce, and most places will appreciate you purchasing food or drink to use theirs.

 

I didn't encounter one person in Amsterdam who didn't speak English.  Some of them spoke English better than people here in the US. 😏

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32 minutes ago, texasstar said:

I also recommend AmaWaterways.  We have been on 3 cruises with them.  The new Happy Hour prior to dinner was a welcome addition.  I also recommend, if time allows, to add the Moselle section.  For me, it was the best part.  We did the reverse, started in Basel and ended in Amsterdam.  I like to do the pre-post trips on my own because you can do it for so much less.  We flew to Zurich, took a train (station is on the lower floor of the airport) to Lucerne for 3 nights.  We stayed at the Renaissance Hotel which is 2 blocks from the train station.  You can walk everywhere you need to go in Lucerne.  We did take a trip up to Mount Pilatus, but you can walk to the starting point.  We then took a train to Basel and then a taxi to the docking location.

In Amsterdam, we stayed at the Kimpton.  It was on the tram line, so it was very convenient.  I suggest getting a Rick Steve's guidebook that covers the places you are going, especially the starting and ending points,  He gives you very practical advice  regarding getting around places and ways to cut down on lines to places you want to see.

Good luck and happy travels.

 

Thanks for the tips.  We will definitely buy Rick Steve's guidebooks.  So much to learn.  You're the second person to recommend Moselle, which means we must do it.

 

I'm seeing a trend, AMA seems to be a favorite, which is what I was hoping to see, a group happy knowledgeable cruisers with a preference.  Not seeing much love for Viking or Gate 1.  

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30 minutes ago, Roz said:

 

I didn't encounter one person in Amsterdam who didn't speak English.  Some of them spoke English better than people here in the US. 😏

 

You're speaking my language.  I like the idea of spending a couple of pre-cruise days in Amsterdam.  Post-cruise with a tour. 

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There's only one group of people in Amsterdam who don't speak English:  the bicyclists.  They will run you over if you put a foot in their dedicated bike lanes, no matter what language you speak!

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9 hours ago, Non Partisan Cruiser said:

 

Thanks for the tips.  We will definitely buy Rick Steve's guidebooks.  So much to learn.  You're the second person to recommend Moselle, which means we must do it.

 

If you go to Rick Steve's website, he has an excellent video on Amsterdam.  And as Host Jazzbeau pointed out, stay out of the red brick bike lane.  I found bicycles to be more dangerous to pedestrians than motorized vehicles.  And definitely try a Risstafel (Indonesian rice table).

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10 hours ago, Non Partisan Cruiser said:

Thanks for the tips.  We will definitely buy Rick Steve's guidebooks.  So much to learn.  You're the second person to recommend Moselle, which means we must do it.

 

If you would like a bit more info (the thread is a bit long now...) you can read this:

I think you will find more people recommending the river :classic_smile: . If you do not sail with Viking you will be on the Moselle actually - when docked in Koblenz. 95 percent of the ships (Viking excluded) dock at the Moselle part of town. From there is is just a few kilometres upstream to the first vineyard. Oh, and Rick Steve's favourite castle is on the Moselle, it is Burg Eltz. Unfortunately, the village at the foot of the valley that leads to Burg Eltz has no dock and the castle is part of very few itineraries. One can order a taxi to get there, doable on some itineraries as a DIY excursion, i.e. time permitting.

 

The question of which season to sail in has been mentioned briefly. That is also important for water levels, as you will potentially encounter high or low water on the Rhine. You can read some info on that among the stickies and jazzbeau has also put a sticky leading to threads that deal with such issues at the top of this page.

 

Have fun planning.

 

notamermaid

 

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I would also recommend checking out the forums on Amsterdam for ideas as to what you may like to see while you are there.  We landed and got to our hotel around 7:30 am Amsterdam time.  By 8:00 we were downtown walking around trying to overcome our jet lag.  Had a great day just walking the streets.  We lucked out with great weather, and at that early time, not to many tourists wandering around.  We took the train up to Enkhuizen the next day for another great day of wandering around the open air museum up there.  This was great practice to get us up and running for the walking on the tours.

 

If you are going in springtime, and can manage it, I highly recommend going to Keukenhof, it was our first the day we boarded the boat and very well worth it.

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2 hours ago, notamermaid said:

I think you will find more people recommending the river :classic_smile: . If you do not sail with Viking you will be on the Moselle actually - when docked in Koblenz. 95 percent of the ships (Viking excluded) dock at the Moselle part of town. From there is is just a few kilometres upstream to the first vineyard. Oh, and Rick Steve's favourite castle is on the Moselle, it is Burg Eltz. Unfortunately, the village at the foot of the valley that leads to Burg Eltz has no dock and the castle is part of very few itineraries. One can order a taxi to get there, doable on some itineraries as a DIY excursion, i.e. time permitting.

The differences between my original Bike and Barge of the Moselle and the one I am now booked on for 2021 is that the 2020 trip started in Koblenz and included a trip to Burg Eltz, but didn't do the rail trail from Daun, while the 2021 trip starts in Cochem, and includes one day on the rail trail from Daun to Barnkastel-Kues, which we gave up on trying to do ourselves in 2020. However, assuming that the schedule will be fairly similar in 2021 as it was in 2019 (there is no 2020 schedule posted) there is a weekend bus (Burgenbus Linie 330) from Treis-Karden to the castle, so, since we join the bike and barge on Saturday, but don't depart Cochem until Sunday, we are hoping to take the train from Cochem to Treis-Karden, go to the castle, and return to Cochem in time to board and meet the group in the afternoon. I have wanted to see the Moselle for some time now.

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@gnome12 

Thank you for mentioning that tourist bus. I had forgotten about it. Checked quickly and as suspected by me it will not be running for a while, i.e. when the situation allows it will this season, no prospective date given. I think I have not mentioned the bus route in the Moselle thread yet, so I will mark this as "to do" on my notepad.

 

notamermaid

 

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