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Q & A: European River Cruises

Q: We're excited about our upcoming river cruise but we are newbies and we don't know what to pack. What is the dress code for a river cruise? Eli R.

A: Great decision to go on a river cruise—we expect you’ll love it! River cruising is casual. No formal wear is required. For the dinner meal, most men wear slacks and a nice shirt. Some men will wear a sports coat--maybe a tie for the Captain's dinner, but it is not required or even expected. Maybe the best way to define the dress code is casual elegant for dinner and comfortable day time wear during the day. Thanks for the great question—I’m sure it will help others wondering about what type of clothes to bring with them!

Q: For guest who want to be active, what physical activities are available on European River Cruises? Jane S.

A. One of the hottest trends in Europe River Cruising is physical fitness and well-being. Most lines have hikes (guided and unguided) and carry on board bikes (Viking does not have any bikes on-board) as the core of their programs. All except Viking have small but adequate fitness centers—a couple of aerobic bikes or machines, some limited weights is the usual facilites in a small workout area. When the weather cooperates, the top deck is used for classes when offered and has a measured walking track on most lines (Viking does have a walking track).

Most observers feel that AmaWaterways and Avalon have the best programs.

I wrote a blog just about biking and river cruising in Europe. Here is the link: https://visitdd.wordpress.com/2018/07/12/active-river-cruises-great-bike-opportunites/

On AmaWaterways, each ship has a wellness instructor on-board. The wellness person will conduct stretching classes, yoga, core strengthening classes and lead bike rides. Based on what I saw this summer (we sailed on the AmaKristina), what impressed me most that it was all age appropriate, and scientifically sound. It is available on all vessels in Europe. As a former nationally certified physical fitness instructor in college and for sports teams, it was interesting to see how well the programs were conducted and how the cruisers enjoyed adding a little fitness to their daily routine last summer.

Avalon also has a very good program. It is called Avalon Active. Activities include jogging. biking, paddling on kayaks and canoes and hiking.

Emerald Waterways has an activity manager on each of its ships in Europe. They will help provide guided bike tours, hiking tours and paddling trips. They also will provide yoga and Pilates classes and aqua aerobic in the heated pool.

As these programs expand, I will update this answer as needed. It is really cool how far this area has come—in 2009 there were few if any organized guided tours for biking and hiking! I’m sure this will help our fitness buffs match certain lines to their trips.

Q&A: Europe Travel

Q. Are budget airlines in Europe reliable for on-time performance? Jim B

A. This is really a very good question for folks trying to save some money on their flights to Europe. To properly answer, I will try to cite my sources. First, a little background on budget airlines. From 2007 to 2016, according to the European Organization for the Safety of Air Navigation budget airlines share of flights rose from19% to 30%. According to an article in the Telegraph (UK newspaper), here are some on-time records for airlines that primarily serve the Europe market (data is for 2018).

AirBaltic,a Latvian airline, had a 90% on-time performance. They fly to most northern European Union Countries.

Vueling, a Spanish airline, had an on-time performance of 85.25%. They fly to most European countries.

Aer Lingus, an Irish airline, had a 84.46% on-time performance. They fly to most European Nations.
Transavia, a Netherlands airline, had a 84.25% on-time performance. They primarily fly to Greece, Italy and Spain.

Norwegian Air Shuttle, a Norwegian airline, had a 74.6% on time performance. They fly to most European Union Countries.

Here are some of the worst on-time records:

TAP Air, a Portugal airline, had a 67.8% on-time record.

Air Berlin, a German Airline had a 65.4% on-time record.

Hope this helps—please realize the data is from 2018. Also, I should point out we do not book just airline tickets alone, they must be part of a package. Thanks for helping all of us to learn more about airlines that serve Europe!

Q&A: Smart Travel Planning

Q. What are the advantages of using a European River Cruises Travel Expert versus individual web research and booking? Len A.

A. Perhaps the biggest problem is trying to honestly compare different river cruise lines and actually matching them to your preferred travel style. Our most recent blog (Oct 2019) covers the topic of online vs. using a travel professional: https://www.dreamdestinations.com/blog-main/why-not-just-buy-my-trip-online

In one of our blogs,we provided an 11 Step Guide that covers how you could plan a trip yourself. After looking at all the steps, most folks would have difficulty doing it well on their own. Here is the link: https://www.dreamdestinations.com/blog-main/a-11-step-europe-river-cruise-planning-guide Please use it to decide for yourself if this is the best method for you.

There is one other big factor here—how good is the travel advisor you are using. Of course, we think you should use us but please read this first to decide if we are the right folks to plan your trip https://www.dreamdestinations.com/blog-main/2018/11/27/why-buy-a-europe-river-cruise-from-us

Please remember, that in our opinion, all European River cruises are a great vacation, but to get the best value for your dollars, you need to match the correct route and line to your budget and lifestyle. Thanks for such a really good question—I think it will help others!

Q. With so many wonderful, exciting and beautiful places to visit, what criteria should I use to decide on a trip that will get me the most for my dollars? Jeff, R.

A. This so good a question that I’m sure most folks reading this have had the same thoughts. Most of us want to go more often, and as I often say, we, just like you, travel until we run out of money!

So, how do you prioritize your travel the right way? To help folks figure out the best use of their money, we use the answers to a serious of questions that help guide us to the right combination to get the best possible trip.

The most important is Why do you want to go? This answer will almost resolve the many conflicts inside our heads about the endless possibilities.

Next is What are your expectations for this trip?—what type of experiences do you want?

Then the next phase of questions is a series of questions to flush out the details, such as likes and dislikes, repeat visitor vs newbie to the place you want to visit, how many nights total trip and each place visited, hotel/cruise ship preferences, airline preferences and class of travel, time of year, special occasions, events—quite an extensive list.

Perhaps the most surprising to many is the last phase—the budget! the reason here is simple—let’s see what is possible first, then adjust to the numbers.

We use this logical process but it is really about balance—using sound judgement to prioritize your desires, a little honesty with your self. I think that is often why folks use us—we help crystallize your thoughts and help you make the best possible decision. If you use this logical process to evaluate any Dream Destinations you want to visit, changes are it will be the right trip and exceed your expectations. I hope this helps!


 

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It’s Easy—Just fill in the blocks below & we will provide you an answer based on Facts & our knowledge of the Travel Industry & Products. Your answer will be posted on this page and we will send you an e-mail letting you know we have answered your question!