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Thing I wish I'd known before river cruising.

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These are a few things I wish someone would have mentioned before I choose to do a river cruise. I read many reviews and they were so very positive. I am NOT saying don't river cruise, I'm just giving folks things to think about, or maybe just confusing them. PLEASE don't fly in my face folks. I've cruised a lot, I know a cruise is in the eye of the beholder, again it's just things I didn't know. And, maybe if I had read these things I would have done the same anyway. Just an FYI.

 

1. If you are on the first floor of a river cruise boat it can be very noisy. Propeller noises from passing ships are passed through the hull, but not too bad. However, propellers turning off and on, the ships thrusters racket, as well as the planks bumping the lock walls, water gushing in and out of the locks is real loud and all night long for almost the whole trip. I was lucky and found earplugs in my luggage that allowed me to sleep. Now granted I am a light sleeper, but it bothered the husband too.

 

2. I didn't realize that it is not infrequent for high and low water to be a problem for river cruises with both possibly happening in one season. And, face it weather patterns are changing and not conducive to proper river levels. I was told by locals that low snow levels in the mountains in the spring in causing part of the issue.

 

3. I didn't think that I would care, but after 2 weeks I did have problems with dinner menu choices. The menu is heavy on the fish almost every night (2 out of 7 options). One offering was vegan (pretty tasteless, come on chiefs) really. Two servings were the same roasted chicken and rib eye steak very night. No pasta, almost no other chick preparations and almost no beef, now this is dinner I'm talking about. Now again I didn't think this would be an issue for us, I always thought people were being picky when they grumbled about food, but it was disappointing towards the end.

 

4. They can totally change the itinerary, change your mode of travel, alter where you stay, and change where and how you eat.

 

5. In attempting to keep you moving not floating, things keep getting in the way of your relaxing voyage such as -

no help with luggage

buses that don't show up on time, 1 hour or more late

locked bathroom on buses

 

6. And, yes I did find packing and unpacking to change ships annoying

 

We sailed 8/24/18 on the Skadi(loved the staff especially Marik). And, I knew we would probably have to change ships and I tried to bee positive, but this and other things that occurred just muddied up the trip.

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These are a few things I wish someone would have mentioned before I choose to do a river cruise. I read many reviews and they were so very positive. I am NOT saying don't river cruise, I'm just giving folks things to think about, or maybe just confusing them. PLEASE don't fly in my face folks. I've cruised a lot, I know a cruise is in the eye of the beholder, again it's just things I didn't know. And, maybe if I had read these things I would have done the same anyway. Just an FYI.

 

 

 

1. If you are on the first floor of a river cruise boat it can be very noisy. Propeller noises from passing ships are passed through the hull, but not too bad. However, propellers turning off and on, the ships thrusters racket, as well as the planks bumping the lock walls, water gushing in and out of the locks is real loud and all night long for almost the whole trip. I was lucky and found earplugs in my luggage that allowed me to sleep. Now granted I am a light sleeper, but it bothered the husband too.

 

 

 

2. I didn't realize that it is not infrequent for high and low water to be a problem for river cruises with both possibly happening in one season. And, face it weather patterns are changing and not conducive to proper river levels. I was told by locals that low snow levels in the mountains in the spring in causing part of the issue.

 

 

 

3. I didn't think that I would care, but after 2 weeks I did have problems with dinner menu choices. The menu is heavy on the fish almost every night (2 out of 7 options). One offering was vegan (pretty tasteless, come on chiefs) really. Two servings were the same roasted chicken and rib eye steak very night. No pasta, almost no other chick preparations and almost no beef, now this is dinner I'm talking about. Now again I didn't think this would be an issue for us, I always thought people were being picky when they grumbled about food, but it was disappointing towards the end.

 

 

 

4. They can totally change the itinerary, change your mode of travel, alter where you stay, and change where and how you eat.

 

 

 

5. In attempting to keep you moving not floating, things keep getting in the way of your relaxing voyage such as -

 

no help with luggage

 

buses that don't show up on time, 1 hour or more late

 

locked bathroom on buses

 

 

 

6. And, yes I did find packing and unpacking to change ships annoying

 

 

 

We sailed 8/24/18 on the Skadi(loved the staff especially Marik). And, I knew we would probably have to change ships and I tried to bee positive, but this and other things that occurred just muddied up the trip.

 

 

 

Havent done my first, but will soon. Wish I would of known about 1, 2, 5, and 6 before booking.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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2. This is where Cruise Critic is so valuable. It's impossible to come here without seeing the numerous headlined posts about water level. Every year. Albeit this was the worst in my memory.

 

5. Never didn't have help with luggage on Viking & Uniworld. I can easily carry it but glad it's transparent to me.

Never had late busses although it's easy to see how something like that happens. Your Cruise Director needs to be on top of this. It's his/her job description. I've known several and they do have to plan and scramble when the unexpected happens. They earn their money.

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We tend to travel early in the season, late March or April, mainly because it's less crowded, and less expensive. As a result, there are fewer ships sailing, so less chance of rafting. Because the snow melt-off in the mountains hasn't hit its peak, less chance of flooding. This year, the Seine was a little high, so we were bussed 30 minutes from Paris to start our cruise, but the rest went on as scheduled.

 

In addition, being on the top deck can be equally noisy. When passing through low bridges, the sound of the rails dropping overhead is far from quiet. Also, Uniworld's neon line of light is just above blackout curtain level, and "sneaks in" to the top deck rooms.

 

As far as meal choices at dinner, this is obviously line-dependent. We found Uniworld to have more options than Avalon. Both lines had a good mix of choices though.

 

This year has definitely been bad, with regard to the low water levels. Since Viking has so many ships, they have the capacity to continue tours through a variety of means. Other lines have canceled cruises, which, quite honestly, would be my preference, given what you've described.

 

I love river cruising, but don't know that I could last much longer than 9-10 nights.

 

Hopefully you'll give it another try:-)

 

Robin

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We have sailed on Avalon 4 times on the bottom deck. Never have had a problem with noise.

 

Our luggage has always been handled by the staff. Have even seen the captain moving luggage.

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We have sailed on Avalon 4 times on the bottom deck. Never have had a problem with noise.

 

Our luggage has always been handled by the staff. Have even seen the captain moving luggage.

 

This was also true for us on AMA.

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We have sailed on Avalon 4 times on the bottom deck. Never have had a problem with noise.

 

Our luggage has always been handled by the staff. Have even seen the captain moving luggage.

 

We had both the same experiences on Uniworld.

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It is possible that the logistics of ship swaps sometimes make it more difficult for the staff to deal with luggage.

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Exactly, it was the logistics of motel stays, poorly handled by Viking in so many ways. Our cruise was not the only one with the issues I spoke of. It's in several reviews here on cruise critics. And, I was contacted by a cruiser who sailed the week prior to ours and they had the same issues. I kind of wished they had canceled the trip, I had insurance and I could have rescheduled it at a better time. A majority of the folks on our cruise were really unhappy by the end of our cruise because of so many poorly handled issue, all of which I won't go through. This wasn't meant to be a b---- session, again it was just information I was hoping might help or maybe confuse someone.

 

It is possible that the logistics of ship swaps sometimes make it more difficult for the staff to deal with luggage.[

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These are a few things I wish someone would have mentioned before I choose to do a river cruise. I read many reviews and they were so very positive. I am NOT saying don't river cruise, I'm just giving folks things to think about, or maybe just confusing them. PLEASE don't fly in my face folks. I've cruised a lot, I know a cruise is in the eye of the beholder, again it's just things I didn't know. And, maybe if I had read these things I would have done the same anyway. Just an FYI.

 

1. If you are on the first floor of a river cruise boat it can be very noisy. Propeller noises from passing ships are passed through the hull, but not too bad. However, propellers turning off and on, the ships thrusters racket, as well as the planks bumping the lock walls, water gushing in and out of the locks is real loud and all night long for almost the whole trip. I was lucky and found earplugs in my luggage that allowed me to sleep. Now granted I am a light sleeper, but it bothered the husband too.

 

2. I didn't realize that it is not infrequent for high and low water to be a problem for river cruises with both possibly happening in one season. And, face it weather patterns are changing and not conducive to proper river levels. I was told by locals that low snow levels in the mountains in the spring in causing part of the issue.

 

3. I didn't think that I would care, but after 2 weeks I did have problems with dinner menu choices. The menu is heavy on the fish almost every night (2 out of 7 options). One offering was vegan (pretty tasteless, come on chiefs) really. Two servings were the same roasted chicken and rib eye steak very night. No pasta, almost no other chick preparations and almost no beef, now this is dinner I'm talking about. Now again I didn't think this would be an issue for us, I always thought people were being picky when they grumbled about food, but it was disappointing towards the end.

 

4. They can totally change the itinerary, change your mode of travel, alter where you stay, and change where and how you eat.

 

5. In attempting to keep you moving not floating, things keep getting in the way of your relaxing voyage such as -

no help with luggage

buses that don't show up on time, 1 hour or more late

locked bathroom on buses

 

6. And, yes I did find packing and unpacking to change ships annoying

 

We sailed 8/24/18 on the Skadi(loved the staff especially Marik). And, I knew we would probably have to change ships and I tried to bee positive, but this and other things that occurred just muddied up the trip.

 

 

Hi, Just wanted to give my two cents worth! I have done two river cruises with Uniworld--Vietnam and the Danube from Bucharest to Budapest. Both excellent! Here are some points:

 

1. The menu for the Vietnam cruise was excellent--lots of Asian specialities along with other more international choices like chicken, beef and other seafood (Bea Tolman recommendations were on the menu each night for the Vietnamese trip and were excellent!). I was a bit disappointed with the Bucharest river cruise--although the food was well prepared, I think there could have been more regional selections--regional food was described in the daily newsletter yet the dinner menu seemed to focus on a more international selection. Everything was very tasty, but guess I had been spoiled by Vietnam.

 

2. Luggage handling: Both Uniworld cruises could not have been more helpful with luggage handling, both at the hotels and embarking and disembarking. Great organization and efficiency!

 

3. Buses for shore excursions were there and ready for us on both cruises, but we had plenty of bathroom stops (some buses were more regionally designed than others), but no problems.

 

4. Water level in Mekong in Vietnam was low but no problems in April. In August of this year, we did make the whole trip from Bucharest to Budapest and we had an amazing captain and his crew. One day they extended the shore excursions to lighten the ship as they approached a tricky part of the river and we made it. Many excursions were cancelled and we saw two ships docked before they got to Budapest, but our Uniworld ship got through!!!!!! We even exchanged assistant captains with another Uniworld ship going the opposite direction, so the two folks could use their knowledge of the river.

 

All in all, Uniworld does it right with the river cruises--gracious staff, comfortable ships, fun excursions, and great time. This is my humble experience and we are looking to other Uniworld cruise to book!!!!!!!:)

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Ditto about Uniworld. On our 5 cruises with them, we've had no problems with cabin noise (even at the aquarium level), luggage handling, etc. We took one Viking cruise, and had a much less positive experience. As many other Uniworld passengers expressed about Viking: "one and done". They look like a deal, but their customer service and product in general (at least on our cruise)was/ is lacking.

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1. We were on the bottom level (Viking) and did not have the trouble with noise.

 

3. This one really surprised DW. She complained about the lack of dinner choices and wound up with the always available steak three times.

 

That said, it would not keep us from trying this again.

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Just completed a Rhine river cruise with Avalon, due to low water levels we had a ship swap. Avalon could not of handled it better. On the day of the ship swap, the entire crew including the captain were handling the luggage to the buses. We went on a day excursion that ended at the port with our new ship. The luggage was in our staterooms, same number stateroom of original ship. We received a credit as well as free optional excursion for the inconvenience. Very happy with Avalon for how they handled the situation.

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It is too bad that your 1st experience was less than desired. Unfortunately, many of the issues you mentioned are ship/crew dependant - or under the control of Mother Nature.

 

I won't even comment on water levels - no one can accurately predict when or how water levels will affect a cruise.

 

I have always said that one of the biggest factors of success on any river cruise is your cruise director - and you have no control of that. The CD should have been on the phone the MINUTE the buses were late. I can't remember any time buses were late on any of our cruises (#14 coming up in less than 3 week....) And, if it was Viking, they have so many buses and boats, that should never have happened.

 

Food is so subjective... and again, dependant on the chef and his crew. The kitchen is very small - and so the staff must be skilled in prep, as well as the actual cooking of the food. Some of the best food we have ever had was in Russia --> and I prepared my husband and our friends for a "less than stellar" food experience. What a lovely surprise!! I tend to like my food well spiced - and yet many do not like this. It must be difficult to try to please everyone with a limited menu, and small space to prepare it.

 

We always book lowest category - aka Aquarium class. We are aware that there can be noise - but, the times this has happened has been have been few and far between. We have found it seems to be more on certain sailings, and wonder if it is due to the experience and skill of the captain. Before anyone chimes in and suggests it is related to the itinerary, we have sailed the same rivers twice - on more than one occasion - and noise on one sailing may or may not be the same. For example, some lock experiences are bumpy - and others smooth and quiet.

 

I think that river cruising is often a surprise for people - even if they are prepared for a different experience. It is becoming very popular - and so people think it must be great!! But, it isn't for everyone. People may say they don't care if there isn't entertainment, but, then are surprised when entertainment is quite non-existent. If you have been a big ship cruiser, you are used to multiple dining venues - and therefore multiple menus to choose from... food on a river cruise is much different. Some of the service issues are most like ship dependant... but may be enough to sour you on another river cruise.

 

Thanks for posting and offering observations. Many here are either in the "rah rah" camp, or so unhappy they dump on the cruise line (or river cruising in general) to vent their unhappiness/frustrations... I hope you took the time to fill out the end-of-cruise questionnaire - the cruise line will not know about your frustrations otherwise.

 

Fran

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I do think all of these items would not be a surprise if you (generic "you," not a dig at the OP) had done any amount of research.

 

I also think there can be large difference between the cruise lines, so it also pays to decide what is important to you and compare. If luggage portage is a requirement, or an elevator on the ship, or even meal choices, it's good to know before you get on the ship.

 

Our one and only river cruise was on CroisiEurope and there was NO choice of dinner meal. You got what you got. The menu was posted that morning, and if you desired a substitution, they would give you the standard sub, which was usually a chicken breast, provided you notified them by lunch time.

 

It was not a huge issue for me, but there were a few nights that I was scavenging garnishes from our plates as I'm a big veggie lover and the meat centric dishes were a bit heavy for me.

 

I think any cruise, ocean or river, or any guided tour, has the possibility to change ports or stops. Sometimes mother nature, politics, etc, can force a change despite our wishes. The difference between lines is how they handle it- efficient, friendly, informative, what have you. Again, that's where some research can make the difference. But even the best handled transfer is still a transfer, which was going to have to happen no matter what.

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I think this is a great thread. Many of us have been stating for years that many sign up for a RC, Viking especially, based solely on the perfect TV commercials. Also we have been very fortunate because the river has cooperated on the most part, so unless you were around with the Danube Flood, there really was not much chit chat about a very real problem of RC. Finally, almost everyone agrees to take a one week RC to see if it agrees with you before trying a longer one. The sad part is all of the OPs issues have been discussed here but it takes time to sift through the threads.

 

 

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Dear PG13,

 

We appreciate your candid post-cruise comments, and want to assure you that the feedback from you and your fellow cruisers has not gone unheard. Though Viking makes every effort to preserve the original program and deliver guests to the promised locations, we do understand that at times these necessary changes can result in unexpected adjustments to your vacation plans and fall below expectations.

 

While all of your remarks have been recorded for review, should you or any other fellow traveler wish to discuss your individual experience in more detail, we would be more than happy to chat at TellUs@vikingcruises.com. Thank you for being a part of our Viking family, and have a wonderful day.

 

Warm regards,

Viking Cruises

 

 

Exactly, it was the logistics of motel stays, poorly handled by Viking in so many ways. Our cruise was not the only one with the issues I spoke of. It's in several reviews here on cruise critics. And, I was contacted by a cruiser who sailed the week prior to ours and they had the same issues. I kind of wished they had canceled the trip, I had insurance and I could have rescheduled it at a better time. A majority of the folks on our cruise were really unhappy by the end of our cruise because of so many poorly handled issue, all of which I won't go through. This wasn't meant to be a b---- session, again it was just information I was hoping might help or maybe confuse someone.

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I assume you were aware of rafting?

 

I’m not. Would you explain, please? We are on a Viking cruise in May 2019 from SPB to Moscow.

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I’m not. Would you explain, please? We are on a Viking cruise in May 2019 from SPB to Moscow.

 

You might not have the rafting problem on that cruise as there aren't that many boats doing a similar cruise. On the European rivers, when the boats dock at ports, they often are side by side and you have to walk through several boats to get to dry land.

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You might not have the rafting problem on that cruise as there aren't that many boats doing a similar cruise. On the European rivers, when the boats dock at ports, they often are side by side and you have to walk through several boats to get to dry land.

 

 

 

, after reading this thread I see how unprepared I am. Don’t get me wrong, I can deal with anything. I opted for a RC because my Aunt raved how great they were. I keep repeating OPEN MIND OPEN MIND.

 

 

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, after reading this thread I see how unprepared I am. Don’t get me wrong, I can deal with anything. I opted for a RC because my Aunt raved how great they were. I keep repeating OPEN MIND OPEN MIND.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

 

Good morning, I have been on 1 River Cruise and LOVED IT:D……..I have also been on over 40 ocean cruises and they are totally different experiences. I am sorry the OP had issues. I never had noise issues, loved all the food, service, tours, etc. on my particular sailing and hope you have a wonderful time (whatever you choose).

 

My cruise was on AMA Waterways and we rafted in one place (this was back in 2016) so I can't remember which port it was but I do remember crossing over another boat to get out. No biggie.

 

Anyway, I don't know your Aunt but she is correct, it is a wonderful way to vacation:D

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, after reading this thread I see how unprepared I am. Don’t get me wrong, I can deal with anything. I opted for a RC because my Aunt raved how great they were. I keep repeating OPEN MIND OPEN MIND.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

 

 

 

That’s a wonderful attitude to have. I think if one knows about the issues of RC then you won’t become upset if they occur.

 

 

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You might not have the rafting problem on that cruise as there aren't that many boats doing a similar cruise. On the European rivers, when the boats dock at ports, they often are side by side and you have to walk through several boats to get to dry land.

 

We definitely did in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

 

What I was surprised at was the number of boats I had never heard of. For example, there was a Viking cruise I had not seen listed on Viking's US website - it was marketed for German passengers. A lot of the boats I saw were not marketed to US passengers but other European passengers.

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