Tips for a European River Cruise

Choosing a River Cruise Ship Cabin

10514692_10152219958868034_1297626113056985994_nChoosing a River Cruise Ship Cabin

It can be difficult to decide and choose a River Cruise Ship Cabin.  Ultimately the level of the cabin will come down to personal budget which will influence then the level and location

After asking around and reviewing the cruise ship cabin layout, we finally decided to go for level 2.

Storage Space in a River Crusie Ship Cabin

WOW – so much storage space!  So much, that we had no clutter around our cabin – more storage space than many many hotel rooms. So don’t worry about space. We put our suitcases under our bed – and there was so much cupboard space as well as drawers!

River Cruise Ship Cabin with Port Hole

On Travel Marvel Diamond, these cabins are on level 1 – the size of the cabin is the same, but you just have a port window.  So yes, your trip may be a trip of a lifetime and you might think, well we will spend most of our time on the sundeck and in the lounge!  Sorry but the sundeck will be closed for most of three days – and therefore the lounge may be crowded.  Also whilst the sundeck is closed or whilst cruising you are feeling tired, you won’t have the opportunity to just chill out in your own personal space, lie on your bed and watch the view pass by.

10418145_10152219958698034_5485072401951861357_nRiver Cruise Ship Cabin with Ceiling to Floor Window

On Travel Marvel Diamond these cabins were available on level 2 and 3.  We chose Level 2 and were very happy.  I get travel and motion sick very very quickly and didn’t feel sick one.  The boat was stable even when large barges past us and cause large river waves.  The boat didn’t have personal balconies – and having completed the tour – if I was to do it again….and I could afford it, yes I would book a cabin with a balcony. However, I was very happy with our cabin.  Loved lying on the bed and watching the scenery glide past.

The bed in the Travelmarvel Diamond does not face the window however. Check before you book, as to have been able to lie on the bed actually facing the window would have been much better.

Location of your River Cruise Ship Cabin

We chose mid ship and were very happy with that. Our cabin was around the 6th cabin from the reception. Just far enough away from the reception which can be noisy and busy due to people making enquiries, picking up their boarding passes, sitting in the chairs talking, gathering in large numbers ready to disembark or purchasing from the ship’s shop.

Also if we forgot something, it was not far from the dining room or lounge to go back to the cabin – or if we had to quickly go back for something we needed to take on the tour that was about to leave!!!

We overhead a couple of people who had cabins at the very end, complaining about the smell and now I think of it, we did at times get smells from the kitchen (Cabin 210)  however our friends directly opposite us in Cabin 209 did not have this problem.

With the sundeck closed for long periods – smokers were very limited in where they could smoke.  Someone on level 3 one cabin above and down from us, did stand at their ceiling to floor window and I could smell the smoke, but this was not a regular occurrence.

Level 3 is obviously great – that bit higher, however again go for a mid ship cabin – as the tour director had her desk on this level as well as there are chairs for people to sit on and chat –AND any noise from the lounge.  There was also a computer station on level 3 – with two computers.

WiFi in Your River Cruise Cabin

The satellite went up and down due to low bridges, then many times you are cruising it would seem out of range and so the wifi connection was very unreliable. Unfortunately during the 3 days when the sundeck was mostly closed – and one had time on one’s hands…there was very little internet connection for updating social media or Skype connection to family.

Tip for Choosing your River Cruise Cabin

If you can afford it – go for level 3 mid ship.  Otherwise level 2 mid ship.

European River Cruise – Tips on Included and Optional Tours

imagesEuropean River Cruise – Tips on Included and Optional Tours

What I learnt about the included and optional tours!  With hindsight these tips on included and optional tours would have been great for me.

So are you like I did, feeling overwhelmed and having difficulty deciding whether to book the optional tours that your European River Cruise Ship offers?  Many will as my husband and I did, look at the brochures and google the many optional tours that a European River Cruise Ship offers.  How excited we were – when we chose to book a medieval UNESCO Heritage town – at an extra cost of around $100 each.  Well hold off – don’t book it yet. In fact don’t book it until you are on your ship and then decide on what your particular tour offers.

We were already to go, very excited – until we realised that many of the medieval towns that the ship docked at that we walked into or were bused into –  were also UNESCO Heritage Medieval towns – preserved for centuries with minimal to no damage during WW11 in particular.

Walking Tours and guides included in European River Cruise

We at first didn’t feel confident enough to just go and walk into one of the many medieval towns that we docked at and were easy to walk into. So we joined the blue, yellow, green, blue groups on many occasions and walked around at the pace of the slowest walker!  Although there was also a pink group was for those who wanted to walk slowly and if there was a specific  ‘active’ walkers group we joined that – but found that was a bit snail pace also.

The tour guides were dreadful to excellent.  Some tour guides walked very fast – around a number of attractions – as they provided a range of information 99% of which I did not retain. Others walked so slowly that it was frustrating. Some tour guides rattled off so much historical facts and dates, that they appeared not to pause for breath and many of us, turned down or off our voice boxes!

Hindsight……tip…..if your boat docks walking distance into your town – take a map from your boat reception and walk in and around the town yourself. Unless you are a history buff. Maybe stop at an information place for further info…or do some pre-preparation and google about the place you are docking at.  I wish our boat had an option of audio cassettes…. With a map that went with them, so we could do a self guided tour and choose to listen or not. Other than that, really, when we did just walk around ourselves – it was much better.  You might see an interesting laneway, and walk up that and discover an out of the way museum, church or shops.

Wasted time waiting for tour guides to arrive and be ready.

We found on most occasions, that we docked then had to wait for the tour guides to get on the boat and meet with our tour director.  This was such a waste of time. I don’t understand why they could not be briefed by head office or via email/phone the day or a couple of days prior.  I understand that there is leeway in arrival time of the boat due to the lock system….however a number of us wondered why when we arrived early, buses and tour guides were not on alert ready if we docked an hour earlier….rahter than just wait on the boat until the allocated time, and then at the allocated time for the guides to arrive.  So another reason, if you can walk in….walk…..if there is a taxi you can catch….catch the taxi with another couple.

Having said that….often there was a bus that would take you for a full tour of a city that you could not walk around…and we were with a group of friends….and the whole experience is great when you get to share it…the ups and the downs with friends!

Need a loo break?

Far too often, walking around and then being told that you had 45 minutes to an hour free time…..15 minutes was often taken up finding a loo and joining (for the women) the typical women’s toilet queue!  We were advised to go into a café, purchase something and then you could go to the toilet. Some toilets had a person on duty and you paid to go in.

I will never forget a public (rare) toilet in Vienna, we went down these stairs underground and a gruff, abrupt old man, shouted at me, virtually pushed me into a toilet cubicle and locked me in!  Gawd….well I thought at least some of the other women from the tour were behind me and we would make a racket it we were not allowed out.  I wondered if he would give me an allocated amount of time before he let me out…..thankfully I found I could open the toilet lock to let myself out….and he then barked instructions at me re washing and drying my hands!

Identifying toilets and actually holding on for a toilet break were thought consuming for a number of women and the first question we asked when on a bus tour!

Time to relax on European River Cruise Sundeck

Time to relax on European River Cruise Sundeck

Amsterdam – Board the boat at Amsterdam

First day of cruise, we boarded about 4.30pm after leaving Paris by coach around 9.00am. We found our cabin – which was fantastic…so much storage space, lovely and comfy. Unpacked and went to explore the boat. We attended the tour director intro and tea. Some walked into Amsterdam after tea – but by then it was a round 9pm or later and wewere so tired.  The next day was a bus into the city (which really we could walk into), then a canal cruise – that was great.

However although this was included in the price…hmmm if you are comfortable about going in by your self or walking in with a couple of others….we would have seen much more (remember each group only goes as fast as the slowest walker) in the time we had available. The bus did go out to Rembrandt’s Mill House….could have missed that although it was interesting to get out of the city and see some of the more wealthy houses!  The boat started to cruise around I think 12.30 or 1.00pm…as soon as we returned…so really very little time in Amsterdam!

Optional Tours

We did a few optional tours and they were great. However we had to give 48 hours notice and payment if we wanted to do one – and same if we wanted to cancel.  We decided not to do the full day with a 2 ½ hour drive to a mediaeval UNESCO heritage listed town, that was not going to get back to the boat until 6 or 7pm…..yes we would have seen some of countryside…..but we have no regrets….we had a great day exploring locally instead and then cruising by this time some beautiful areas of the Danube River.

Final Tip re Included and Optional Tours

Don’t be afraid to walk in and discover a town by yourself or with some friends!  They were mostly very easy to walk around without getting lost. Most people speak a degree of English!

Enjoy!  Have fun! Happy Travelling!

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