Finding European river cruises with an agent?
March 12, 2018 10:31 AM   Subscribe

We're looking to take a Danube river cruise at Christmas with a kid, but it is really hard to track down which cruises are available at what cost since there are at least 8 major lines, and no search engine. Plus some don't take kids. Do I need a travel agent?

We never use a real agent, and have always traveled independently. With ocean cruises you get various credits for going with one instead of booking direct, which always seemed weird to me. We went through Costco or Dreams Unlimited or whoever had the best offer, but it was always with the exact cruise and price already in hand. Now we've got a month and a river but finding the right one and not paying twice a fortune is tricky. Any search engines, agent recommendations, or other tips?
posted by wnissen to Travel & Transportation (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
I think you would benefit from a travel agent. They have insight to things and it's their business.
posted by heathrowga at 11:14 AM on March 12


Go straight to the specialists: Expedia Cruiseship Centers ... a traditional brick 'n mortar division of Expedia that does cruises and nothing else. Hopefully they have a location near you -- best to go in person.
posted by wutangclan at 11:29 AM on March 12 [1 favorite]


Are you sure Christmas is even an option? Here in Vienna even commercial shipping is often suspended in winter due to the danube freezing or being full of drifting ice.
From a quick look at local Austrian danube cruise providers it looks like none are on offer from November to February.
Also, the crucial question is where do you want to board? And how many days do you have? Cruises for the whole 3000 km eg Passau to Black Sea take 15 days, but you cpuld do a part only.
Another question to narrow it down is do you wish to go up river or down river, or do a return?
Personally I would not do a Danube cruise in December even if it was available. The weather along the Danube in December is often wet, rainy, foggy, you are unlikely to see much of the country side. Or it is cold the river freezes and no ships travel.
If you post more info, eg where you fly into, i can look more on local sites.
posted by 15L06 at 12:15 PM on March 12


VacationsToGo or CruisesOnly have people whose job it is to answer questions like these and find you trips that match your desires; you can look at the sites to get general prices and then call with specifics.
posted by OneSmartMonkey at 12:18 PM on March 12 [3 favorites]


Mr. Structure and I had a very good experience booking a cruise through Vacations to Go.
posted by ALeaflikeStructure at 12:47 PM on March 12


I always do vacationstogo as well. And I love their search engine.
posted by beccaj at 1:07 PM on March 12


That's very helpful info about the freezing; I hadn't considered that. We may try to go earlier in December, then. The current plan was to fly into Budapest or Prague and out of Germany. Are there good air/train connections in Nurnberg? A lot of the cruises end there but it seems like an odd city to use as a gateway. And many thanks for finding those cruise searches, everyone! I regularly used VacationsToGo but couldn't find it on their site!
posted by wnissen at 3:51 PM on March 12


I cannot comment on the quality of the offer but there are some cruises in December apparently. I would look in the contract/fine print what happens if ice makes the river unpassable.
Also, bear in mind the weather (fog, rain) and that it gets dark very early in late December, in Vienna around 4:00PM and sunrise is late.

To depart from Passau (Engelhartszell) you would need to fly into Prag or Munich and take a train (or rental car) to Passau. Passau is a border town on the German/Austrian border, about 220 kilometers by car, and about 3,5 hours on the train
Or fly into Munich and take a train (or rental car) to Passau, about 200 kilometers.

These cruises are all around Christmas and New Year:

From Engelhartszell (Passau) to Cruising Day, Budapest, Vienna, Dürnstein and Linz to Engelhartszell (Passau).

From Engelhartszell (Passau) to Melk, Vienna, Bratislava and Cruising Day to Engelhartszell (Passau).

From Engelhartszell (Passau) to Cruising Day, Budapest, Bratislava, Vienna, Dürnstein and Linz to Engelhartszell (Passau).

You could combine one of those with a cruise form Passau to Nürnberg (Nuremberg), several are on offer to the Nürnberger Weihnachstmarkt, I just picked one, however the website of the cruise agent offering them is only in German and these may not be up to an international standard but look very much like tours geared to the older audience on a smaller budget.

For more of them look at their list but it is only in German.

Nürnberg can very easily reached by train from Passau, I don't htink as easy by air but possible.
posted by 15L06 at 5:20 AM on March 13


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