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Which Is The Best River Cruise Line For First Timers?


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Having never done a river cruise myself Cruise traveller, I'll be interested to see the responses to this post. It seems to be an ever-growing market, with a wide range of choice. I have to admit, i'm a complete beginner. I have never booked or come close to booking a river cruise but the more and more I see, the more I am tempted. It's the itineraries that draw me in; the chance to see new places but also to walk straight into the hear of a city. I only ever seem to notice Viking River Cruises, particularly as they pop up on tv now and then. I had never heard of Ama until I read Bolsovers Blog and apparently there are quite a few more to choose from.

 

If I decide to do it one day, I will definitely be booking with my agent because I'll need a beginner's guide again, much like when I first started ocean cruising. I'll need it just to guide me through the differences between each of the brands.

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Hi  I have undertaken a three of river cruises and a further one booked.  I am loathed to suggest the best line as I don't have a great deal to compare the various lines objectively.  I have sailed with Thomson (Nile cruise) which was fine considering the cost, however, on this itinerary the Egyptian sites are what you go on this cruise but the food was poor.  I did the Danube with Viking which certainly was a better ship with much improved food and I certainly I would sail with them again.  I have also cruised the Rhine with Riviera Travel and I have no complaints about this company.  It is at the cheaper end of the river cruise market but isn't as inclusive (alcoholic drinks outside meal times are not included and tips are extra).  They have now added many more newer vessels and in fact I have re-booked with this company  In addition for single cruisers they offer a few cabins on each ship carrying no single occupancy surcharge but you have to book early to get these.  I have been informed that Uniworld are the probably the best river cruise line but as you can expect their fare structure reflect this.

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my only concern with river cruising is that I would find it a little mundane and repetitive. By that, I don't mean the ports of call or the scenery, as I'm sure both would be fantastic but my point is in reference to the on board facilities and dining options. I'm not saying I love the huge ships all the time but they do offer a great choice of dining options and a river cruise seems to be at the opposite end of the spectrum. The intimacy as Seven Seas says as well as the chance to explore new destinations is very appealing but I would worry about feeling a little, dare I say it, bored. Perhaps that's just me and I may be completely wrong but that's often what holds me back from looking closer at booking.

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Guest Solent Richard

I’ve never really given river cruising a thought before but after reading this blog post from Bolsover  it’s something I'm now contemplating! This is where I need your help, which is the best river cruise line for first timers? 

 

I've done a number of river cruises in both Europe and Asia.

 

The two companies I have used are Viking and APT...

 

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the latter for a Mekong River Cruise.

 

Viking are very professional and it is my opinion that others try to copy them.

 

I have river cruises scheduled with Viking this year (Europe) and APT (Asia) next year.

 

Bolsover cruises now act as agents for both river cruise lines.

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my only concern with river cruising is that I would find it a little mundane and repetitive. By that, I don't mean the ports of call or the scenery, as I'm sure both would be fantastic but my point is in reference to the on board facilities and dining options. I'm not saying I love the huge ships all the time but they do offer a great choice of dining options and a river cruise seems to be at the opposite end of the spectrum. The intimacy as Seven Seas says as well as the chance to explore new destinations is very appealing but I would worry about feeling a little, dare I say it, bored. Perhaps that's just me and I may be completely wrong but that's often what holds me back from looking closer at booking.

It's not just you, I think along the same lines that it would be good to get access to the ports of call in the centre of the cities but that the time on board the vessel could be somewhat claustrophobic. I suspect that people would spend more time in their cabins than on an ocean going cruise ship, but perhaps someone could clarify on that point.

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It's not just you, I think along the same lines that it would be good to get access to the ports of call in the centre of the cities but that the time on board the vessel could be somewhat claustrophobic. I suspect that people would spend more time in their cabins than on an ocean going cruise ship, but perhaps someone could clarify on that point.

Hi  It is true that river cruises do not have 24/7 entertainment but I wouldn't say that the ship's are claustrophobic.  The open deck space on these vessels have more space per passenger than the vast majority of most ocean liners.  The passengers do mingle after dinner in the lounge talking and enjoying a drink but if the ship is berthed overnight many passengers do go ashore and experience all the nightlife the port can offer.  However, night owls are likely to be in limited company late at night as most passengers have retired by 23:00h.  On the positive side your days are quite full and stimulating with the inclusive shore excursions so that many passengers are ready to chill out.  Although I have enjoyed all three of my river cruises this type of vacation is not suitable for those who desire a full entertainment programme but for those wishing to see "novel" ports of call they tick all the right boxes.  The age group of most passengers are slightly older than those on ocean cruises but the one I undertook on the Nile had many 30+ cruisers but as many of the excursions departed the ship early to avoid the hottest part of the day most passengers didn't stay up too late. 

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Hi  It is true that river cruises do not have 24/7 entertainment but I wouldn't say that the ship's are claustrophobic.  The open deck space on these vessels have more space per passenger than the vast majority of most ocean liners.  The passengers do mingle after dinner in the lounge talking and enjoying a drink but if the ship is berthed overnight many passengers do go ashore and experience all the nightlife the port can offer.  However, night owls are likely to be in limited company late at night as most passengers have retired by 23:00h.  On the positive side your days are quite full and stimulating with the inclusive shore excursions so that many passengers are ready to chill out.  Although I have enjoyed all three of my river cruises this type of vacation is not suitable for those who desire a full entertainment programme but for those wishing to see "novel" ports of call they tick all the right boxes.  The age group of most passengers are slightly older than those on ocean cruises but the one I undertook on the Nile had many 30+ cruisers but as many of the excursions departed the ship early to avoid the hottest part of the day most passengers didn't stay up too late.

Hi, thanks for this, I can see what you are saying about deck space.

Do you have a fixed dining time sitting with the same people?

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Having read this thread I decided to look a little bit more into river cruising and I have to admit that if I was going to go ahead, it would be with Viking River Cruises. APT and Ama both look nice too but Viking strikes me as an incredibly well-established name in the market and the ships do seem to reflect that. I also read that Viking have their own berth at every port of call on their itineraries rather than pulling up alongside other river cruise ships and walking between them, therefore I imagine, extending both embarkation and disembarkation times. Little unique selling points like are what attracts me to Viking.

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Having read this thread I decided to look a little bit more into river cruising and I have to admit that if I was going to go ahead, it would be with Viking River Cruises. APT and Ama both look nice too but Viking strikes me as an incredibly well-established name in the market and the ships do seem to reflect that. I also read that Viking have their own berth at every port of call on their itineraries rather than pulling up alongside other river cruise ships and walking between them, therefore I imagine, extending both embarkation and disembarkation times. Little unique selling points like are what attracts me to Viking.

I think that they got the berths through the acquisition of a long established company, all pointing to clever management.

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Having read this thread I decided to look a little bit more into river cruising and I have to admit that if I was going to go ahead, it would be with Viking River Cruises. APT and Ama both look nice too but Viking strikes me as an incredibly well-established name in the market and the ships do seem to reflect that. I also read that Viking have their own berth at every port of call on their itineraries rather than pulling up alongside other river cruise ships and walking between them, therefore I imagine, extending both embarkation and disembarkation times. Little unique selling points like are what attracts me to Viking.

 

Thanks for this Sammy Sun, I didn’t realise that Viking Had their own berth at every port! This definitely gives them the upper hand to APT as I’m not particularly fond of the idea of walking between other ships.

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Thanks for this Sammy Sun, I didn’t realise that Viking Had their own berth at every port! This definitely gives them the upper hand to APT as I’m not particularly fond of the idea of walking between other ships.

 

It's a strange thought isn't it, walking between ships? I know they are not ocean liners so I can imagine it's easy to do but I think I would like the air of exclusivity Viking seem to be able to offer with there own mooring stations.

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Hi, thanks for this, I can see what you are saying about deck space.

Do you have a fixed dining time sitting with the same people?

Hi  The dining times on the vessels I have sailed on are fixed but are open seating meaning you can dine with any passengers.  A few river vessels do have an alternative dining venue but at the moment these are quite rare but I suspect it will become more common as more new ships are coming into the market.  Just to add a comment upon the ships berthing along side each other this is not a problem for embarking or disembarking the ship's the gangways are still a smaller than those at many cruise terminals.  The problem is that often you can't see out of your cabin window as there is ship directly in front of you.

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Hi  The dining times on the vessels I have sailed on are fixed but are open seating meaning you can dine with any passengers.  A few river vessels do have an alternative dining venue but at the moment these are quite rare but I suspect it will become more common as more new ships are coming into the market.  Just to add a comment upon the ships berthing along side each other this is not a problem for embarking or disembarking the ship's the gangways are still a smaller than those at many cruise terminals.  The problem is that often you can't see out of your cabin window as there is ship directly in front of you.

 

I never even thought of that Land Ahoy, you make a really good point. Not that your likely to be stay on board much when in port but still, it is a consideration.

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Hi  It isn't if you remember to dress in the bathroom after a shower you may opposite somebody's else windowbiggrin.png

This never crossed my mind so I do wonder how many people have actually forgotten that is a likely possibility tongue.png .

 

If I had to choose between Viking and APT I'd choose Viking, as they are well-established in the cruise market and seem very professional. The fact that they have their own berths at each port of call is also an added bonus for me. Having said this, I wouldn't turn down the offer of an APT river cruise if one was offered to me smile.png

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We have done two river cruises. The second was with a French company (can't remember the name) from Moscow to St Petersberg along the Volga. A very interesting cruise and most enjoyable - EXCEPT the boat was from the Stalin era and was basic in the extreme! Very small and spartan cabins, no entertainment, no relaxing area except on plastic garden chairs on deck. The food was good, however, though served by young girls who only spoke their own language!

 

The first was with Noble Caledonia, scheduled to sail from Amsterdam to Vienna. The ship, food and visits were great. 150 or so passengers, one dining room but not allocated seating, which meant we met lots of different people.

 

BUT BEWARE!!!!! We sailed in September at the end of a long dry summer. Result was the Rhine was at an all-time low and our ship was stuck in Frankfurt. In consequence we were bussed from Amsterdam to Frankfurt, put up in hotels (generally very sub-standard Hiltons) and saw nothing of the Rhine as the busses used the motorways! 

 

Apparently the converse can also be the case. If there is too much rain, causing the river level to rise, the boats are unable to pass under some of the low bridges which cross the Rhine and the Danube.

 

But don't let me put you off! If everything falls into place as planned the experience is very different from ocean cruising and very enjoyable.

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We have done two river cruises. The second was with a French company (can't remember the name) from Moscow to St Petersberg along the Volga. A very interesting cruise and most enjoyable - EXCEPT the boat was from the Stalin era and was basic in the extreme! Very small and spartan cabins, no entertainment, no relaxing area except on plastic garden chairs on deck. The food was good, however, though served by young girls who only spoke their own language!

 

The first was with Noble Caledonia, scheduled to sail from Amsterdam to Vienna. The ship, food and visits were great. 150 or so passengers, one dining room but not allocated seating, which meant we met lots of different people.

 

BUT BEWARE!!!!! We sailed in September at the end of a long dry summer. Result was the Rhine was at an all-time low and our ship was stuck in Frankfurt. In consequence we were bussed from Amsterdam to Frankfurt, put up in hotels (generally very sub-standard Hiltons) and saw nothing of the Rhine as the busses used the motorways! 

 

Apparently the converse can also be the case. If there is too much rain, causing the river level to rise, the boats are unable to pass under some of the low bridges which cross the Rhine and the Danube.

 

But don't let me put you off! If everything falls into place as planned the experience is very different from ocean cruising and very enjoyable.

Well, it's put me off!

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Guest Solent Richard

Yesterday my wife and I were invited to  attend a presentation by a very upmarket river cruise company and I was very impressed.

 

I've sent a message to my Bolsover cruise consultant enquiring if Bolsover deals with that company.

 

If they do I will start a new thread, otherwise etiquette dictates I should not promote other companies. wink.png wink.png

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Yesterday my wife and I were invited to  attend a presentation by a very upmarket river cruise company and I was very impressed.

 

I've sent a message to my Bolsover cruise consultant enquiring if Bolsover deals with that company.

 

If they do I will start a new thread, otherwise etiquette dictates I should not promote other companies. wink.png wink.png

Hi I hope you do pass on your information about the river cruise line (I am assuming it's Uniworld) although the best are expensive they always deliver a great product. 

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  • 3 weeks later...
Guest Solent Richard

Hi I hope you do pass on your information about the river cruise line (I am assuming it's Uniworld) although the best are expensive they always deliver a great product. 

 

Good afternoon Land Ahoy.

 

Nope, it wasn't Uniworld but Scenic. 

 

A new boy on the block so as to speak and a very impressive presentation it was.

 

Certainly targeting a high end level of cruiser and with so much included.

 

Could well see me with them in 2017 as 2016s river cruise is already booked. 

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