Wednesday, June 22, 2016

River Cruising: Do You Get Your Money's Worth ?

Lifestyle Magazine offers price breakdown … River Cruise versus ‘doing it on your own’ !  And their final take on WHY folks prefer the choice of river cruising !

Some like that ‘all you need is in one price’ … Others not use to calculating for, excursions ashore or select beverages, included in the price !  This definitely makes a different in the pricing, versus a typical ocean cruise.

There’s hotel (onboard accommodations), all meals (3 course or more), ground transportation (to/from your ship), and local tours and cultural insight ! Along with a full-staff, keeping you totally informed, and providing local language and cultural difference.

Itinerary:  Romantic Danube, 8 days, Nuremberg and Budapest. Stopped in Regensburg, Passau, Melk and Vienna. With a cruise through the World Heritage Wachau Valley. Each port provided a guided tour with a local guide. The boat docked right in the heart of most towns, making it easy to return for the included lunch or dinner.

THE CRUISE PRICE - Sample of standard room (Viking River Cruise), $2,556.  Price included meals; wine and beer at meals. Additional cost of $ 180, for unlimited premium wine, beer and cocktails. Or beer for $3 at the bar.  Optional tours available, such as, a concert in Vienna.

THE SELF-PLANNER PRICE versus this river cruise:
By way of Hotels:  $130 to $200 per night, if include a Wachau Valley boat ride.
River Cruise: Though space on a river cruise may be smaller than a hotel room, you make it up in river cruising service.  Along with well-clean rooms and water, fresh fruit, and bath products were plentiful.

By way of Hotels: $450pp
River Cruise: Lot of variety. The breakfast buffet changed slightly each day, while lunch and dinner offered two options: a lighter meal on the boat's outdoor terrace deck or a choice of a few three course (though small-portioned) offerings in the dining room.

By way of train: Faster.  Plus one-way boat ride from Krem to Melk to take the Wachau Valley cruise, $212.
River Cruise:  Can’t beat the scenic ride, however, cruising is a slower ride.

On own: Some cities, like Budapest, offer free guided tours, while others require a fee, $107.
River Cruise:  Most passengers really enjoyed the guided walks and bus tours.

Total, $ 1,919 ( $1,400pp, with shared hotel room)

Other Incidentals:
On own:  Taxi or use public transit to get around.  Air-condition  in Europe & in hotels is rare.
River Cruise:  Gratuities.  Est $20 per day per person.
Other differences to highlight with River Cruising:  (1) Local transportation was a nonissue; the boat docks right in town at all stops except for Nuremberg.   (2) Air-condition onboard was a big plus !

The biggest bang for your buck on a river cruise is (1) The service !  (2) Transportation (coordinated for  you), (3) Language/cultural concierges on hand.

Lifestyle Mag take: ‘It was the easiest travel experience I've had, mostly because my only responsibility was ensuring I was back on board the ship before its scheduled departure’.
Not for folks who don’t like the ‘easy comfort level’, but instead prefer, the challenges offered in ‘on your own vacationing’, such as (1) Figuring out the local transportation, and (2) Ordering from a menu !
Also keep in mind … ‘Most folks, traveling on their own, would never rush around to get to all these different stops with continuous hotel change‘ !

For most … "Easy" is relaxing, and "relaxing" is desirable. A river cruise offers a glimpse of a multitude of places while someone else handles the logistics. You'll learn about the local culture and history, form friendships with other cruisers and see some incredible scenery -- all without leaving your "hotel."

Vivian’s Take:  I simply LOVE river cruising !  And realize, if I’m not taking ‘one a year’, I will never get through all the many itineraries available, even in just in Europe !

*Love the laid back-relaxation . 
*Appreciate being picked up at the airport. 
*Now that I’ve read this review, I realize I’ve been taking for granted, (1) No menu reading issues, nor (2) Cultural/language clarification needed.  
*Love traveling from port to port by river:  (1) To ‘see’ the views outside (especially, as main focuses approach), (2) To enjoy being outside.
*Though small like on ocean cruises, the rooms look more like hotel rooms, with the bed frames & bedding, to include the available toiletries.
*Love that everyone eats at the same time and you can choose, which ever table you want, each night.
*Everything provided is at a slow pace, unless your decide to run a faster pace, on your free time.
*The tours provide highly informative cultural insight. 
*It is so much fun to go to the different ports; take pictures; see/shop for local items/art of that area.

There is so much of the world, that you can never see by ocean cruise.  If you’re not river cruising too, you’ll miss a lot of the adventure, the culture, the art, the history, the spectaculars that rivers offer  !

The only reason  my every cruise is not a river cruise … Is because I choose to getaway on 5-6 cruises a year … This # of cruises, by way of river, would mean a high amount of airfare spent EACH YEAR !  My only reason !

Ok, I'm headed to Alaska next week.  See you again, July 13.