River Cruise comparisons are easier if you know the right questions to ask. We looked at five categories in our first post. Here we look at five more important points of comparison.
A full dining room is a downer for a couple of reasons. First, seating choices become problematic. If you’re even a few minutes late for dinner, you don’t necessarily want to be seated with the weird guy in the corner just because that’s where the only two empty seats are located. Or if you have a large group, you want everyone to be seated together; if the dining room is too small, even simple things like this may be difficult to accommodate. Second is noise. A full dining is a loud dining room – especially when tables are close together (see the next topic).
So when comparing river cruise lines, ask about dining room size. For example, AmaWaterways sizes their dining room so that there’s plenty of room even when every passenger is seated. But that never happens since at least 10% of the ship is in the Chief’s Table restaurant. Which means the dining room is never crowded and rarely loud.
Viking advertises their Longships. What they don’t say is that ship length is determined by the locks and so they are the same size as many other large river cruise ships. The difference is that they have more passengers. Typically about 30 (or 15%) more passengers than their competitors on the same sized ship. That means 15% less space per person in all the public areas. So while the entire ship can gather in the AmaWaterways lounge for entertainment or informational sessions, other ships need to bring in folding chairs. And of course this carries over to cabin size, a full dining room and excursions as well. In fact, there may be no more important river cruise comparison point than spaciousness. River cruising is all about luxury, relaxation and calm. Having additional space both in your cabin and all public areas really makes a big difference. So absolutely consider size, space and crowds when comparing river cruise lines.
Read the fine print
Did you know that some cruise lines require much higher deposits than others. And that some deposits are due sooner than others. Some river cruise lines require final payment sooner than others? And make sure you understand cancellation penalties – they do vary. For AmaWaterways, all it takes is $400 per person to confirm a reservation and final payment is not due until 90 days prior to departure. We can also tell you that there’s a difference in how river cruise companies enforce their terms and conditions. For example, while all companies have the right to change itineraries because of weather, some lines go and above to please their client. Ask us about which river cruise companies bend the rules and which stick with the letter of the law.
Some lines have made a concerted effort to attract single travelers by waiving the single supplement. For example, the single supplement is waived for all category D and E cabins on most sailings with AmaWaterways. This can be a huge savings for single travelers. AmaWaterways also has many dining tables with an odd number of chairs. This is to easily accommodate a s0lo traveler. And finally, several ships now come with rooms designed just for singles – and are priced that way. Not all ships and not all companies offer this. So river cruise comparisons can pay off.
A family affair
Perhaps the comment we get most often from returning AmaWaterways customers is that the staff was fantastic. From the dining staff to the front desk, they are always friendly, can’t do enough for you and are always looking to do something more. We believe this stems from the owners of AmaWaterways who really run the line as an extension of their own family. Other lines have great staff to be sure, but when you’re owned by a huge company instead of owners who care, it’s bound to have an effect.
Top 10 River cruise comparisons
Last post we pointed out these five river cruise comparisons:
- Ship design
And in this post we explained the second five river cruise comparisons:
- Terms and conditions
- Single supplement waivers
- Family owned
Tune into Part 3 for a bonus set of comparisons.