Why You Need a River Cruise Expert to Plan Your River Cruise Vacation

By Hank Schrader, USMA ’71, Europe Destination & Europe River Cruise Expert

http://www.dreamdestinations.com

We recently helped two couples plan a European river cruise for the 2019 cruise season.  Neither had been on a river cruise.  It got me to thinking—what questions would I have about taking a river cruise for a travel advisor that might be different from another type of vacation?  The more we talked and emailed each other, it became evident to me that both really wanted to go, but they wanted the best possible experience for their money and had a lot of questions.  We finally got them booked on a line neither had previously knew about but was the best option for them–I am quite confident they will have a great vacation.

Emerald Sun Watermarked
The Emerald Sun–a great option many Americans do not know about

I guess it is really not surprising they had so many questions—I read recently that about 526,000 Americans took a river cruise in 2016 compared to 11.5 million who took an ocean cruise (sources Seatrade Cruise News and Cruise Lines International Organization (CLIA)).  In other words, only about 4.5% of all American cruisers took a river cruise in 2016.  No wonder, so many have questions about river cruising!

So, here are some facts about vacations as compared to cruise vacations and the questions I would ask us if I wanted to go on a river cruise.

Reasons People Take Vacations

It might seem strange to start with this information, but to my way of thinking, the purpose or why of the vacation is the central question that needs to be answered.  It really determines if a river cruise is right for your travels.  Here are 3 of the top 4 reasons folks take a vacation (I omitted spend time with family which was number 3 reason to take a vacation) and how a certain type of vacation rates with respondents of a J. D, Power survey conducted for CLIA:

Reasons to Take a Vacation by Vacation Type Any Vacation Ocean Cruise River Cruise
# 1 To see & do new things 42% 45% 54%
#2 To relax & get rid of stress 33% 32% 19%
# 4 To gain knowledge of history & other cultures 6% 8% 13%

 

So for me, this brings up my first 3 questions:  1) Will I get to see and do new things?; 2) Will I get to relax and get rid of stress?; and 3) Will I gain knowledge of history and other cultures?

So, now if my responses match 2 of the 3 general questions of why I want to go on the vacation, I am probably a pretty good match for a river cruise.  If the object is to relax, and get rid of stress, a river cruise may not be my best option.  The reason is simple—the river boats often port near or in the city centers and with the included tours, it is more active than just lounging around a swimming pool or spending a day relaxing in a hammock by the beach.  It doesn’t mean you can’t relax on a river cruise—Anne often takes a day off from the sightseeing and just enjoys a short walk on her own or stays onboard.  While these are basic questions, there must be follow on—what sights, what type of new things, how much history, how much mixing with people and their cultures.

Durstein Shuttle Train
Even though the port of Durstein is a pleasant walk half mile walk, there is even a shuttle train to help some river cruise guests with mobility problems

Next Comes the river in Europe

I have written several blogs about what you can expect to see on Europe’s rivers while on a river cruise.  Most river cruisers select either the upper Danube (38.1 % according to Seatrade Cruise News) or the Rhine (31.1%, again Seatrade Cruise news)—that’s 69.2 % of all river cruisers.  While these are great options, by no means are the only options.

Picture6
The Main River is a great cruise route–picture is from AmaWaterways

The type of cruise experience is the central theme here.  My questions would be—What will I get to see on my cruise?  Why should I go on this river?  Are there any problems I might experience on this river?  When is the best time to go?  Here is the link to my blog about the reasons to sail on a particular Europe River: What is the Best Europe River Cruise Route?

Now, What Cruise Line

Perhaps this is the hardest set of questions—not everyone has the same tastes.  I tried to capture some of the differences in my River Cruise Vibes blog.  Level of service, inclusions, ship facilities, food and wine and cruise atmosphere all are part of this set of questions.  Here is the link to my River Cruise Vibes blog: River Cruise Vibes

Next, What Cabin Type?

Although river ships are small compared to ocean liners and the staterooms are usually smaller, there is a large range of options for your cabin.  They all come a different price points and options, like balconies, bed size and bathroom configuration and features.  While this is an important set of questions, the typical river cruiser does not spend that much time in their cabin except to sleep and get ready for their next excursion and meal, so to some, this may not be as important as it is to others. 

 

AmaCerto Stateroom
Our Stateroom on the AmaCerto–pretty nice!

Still, the stateroom can make or break the experience for some river cruisers, especially a seasoned ocean cruiser who prefers a huge suite—river cruise staterooms may be just too small for them or they may need to have a larger stateroom on one of the two Giants of the Danube (another blog I recently wrote).  Is it getting a little complicated?—add in 8 river cruise lines with different features and you can see it really does require a special knowledge of each line to choose the right stateroom for your cruise.

When Should I go?

There are certain times of the year river cruising is less expensive.  If my plans are flexible, I would want to know if I can save some money and still get a great vacation.  One of our favorite times is late October thru November, as the weather is still generally mild, there are less crowds and prices seem generally lower.

Rhine River Gorge
The Rhine River Gorge is fabulous in October

Pre and Post Stays

Most Americans do not want to fly to Europe for only 7 days—due the distance and cost involved in this type of vacation, it often makes sense to extend with a land package.  This creates a new set of questions—among them, what do the cruise lines offer, should my travel advisor create a special add-on package with another vendor, what will I see and do, and how much extra does it cost?

Flights and Transfers

Most river cruise lines offer good deals for flights to help you get to Europe.  However, these can be great experience or a computer generated 3 leg flight that saves the cruise line some money while you suffer a 24 hour ordeal.  This is a tricky feature that really requires the help of a travel professional, in my opinion.  What is included?  Transfers—yes or no?  How much to upgrade?  Can I use my airline mileage?  Just reading some of the consumer complaints about river cruising, it often seems to me the air offers are among the most complained about feature of river cruising.

Entertainment and Night Life

River cruise ships do not have big production shows or casinos (sorry Anne) and if you are a night owl, most river cruise lines won’t meet your expectations.  However, U by Uniworld has a cruise more oriented to the night life.  If you like more cultural small groups or glass blowing demonstrations or cooking classes or themed cruise (our favorite is wine cruises), then river cruising is a good match.  You can bet, I would ask these types of questions.

The Uniworld A 2018
The A–U by Uniworld  in 2018–a different river cruise experience

 My Final set of Questions—what is the Value I will get for my Money?

You might seem surprised that money is my last set of questions.  Value is really taking all the desires you have for the vacation (the above questions) and selecting the line that best matches what you expect for the vacation.  Once you are comfortable you will get a great vacation, and realize all that is included, the cost often seems justified.  Here is a link I wrote earlier about the Great Value of a River Cruise: The Great Value of a Europe River Cruise

Do you see now why you need a River Cruise Expert to help you through this Process?

There are so many things you really need to know to get the puzzle of river cruising right.  I study this all the time and it is hard for me to know everything—I learn something new almost every day.  There is no way you can have all the answers, especially when each cruise line only puts their best foot forward in their brochures and advertisements. 

My Final Thoughts

As you can see, asking a lot of questions about river cruising and then making wise travel choices, is more complex than you may have thought.  Trip planning is not easy.  Making sound decisions are critical to the travel planning process.  Time and money issues are complex—we all want the best at the least possible price.  We help you solve those complex issues, saving you hassles, time and worry.  We are travel experts, ocean and river cruise experts, and Europe destination experts.  We have first-hand knowledge of almost anywhere you want to visit in Europe.  We know our products and the vendors who sell them to you.  We have designed special tours for dozens of clients, led several and will continue to find just the right vacation that will exceed your expectations.

When you are spending your hard-earned money for a vacation, you want an advisor who can match you with the right trip.  You want someone who will understand your expectations and fuel your anticipation (or excitement) to get you the best possible trip experience.  And, you want someone who can help you with the decision-making process.  We think we have all these qualities.

Whatever your Dream Destinations are, we are here to help you get the best possible vacation based on what is important to you!  We will provide you high quality, expertly planned travel.  Please give me a call 713-397-0188 (Hank) or email me at hschrader@dreamdestinations.com.  We want to help you:  Savor life…make memories…Visit Dream Destinations!  Your journey begins here!

Hank Schrader
Hank Schrader

HANK is a certified Western European Destination Specialist (DS) who has been traveling to Europe for 45 years.  He is also an Accredited Cruise Counselor (ACC), conferred by the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA).  This recognized expert in cruise and leisure travel is a retired Army Officer, and taught World Geography for 8 years.  He is a `71 graduate of West Point and has earned 2 master’s degrees.   His other Certifications:

  • AmaWaterways River Cruise Specialist
  • Viking River Cruise Specialist
  • Scenic River Cruise Specialist
  • Emerald Waterways  Specialist
  • Avalon Waterways Specialist
  • Brit Agent
Advertisements

AmaWaterways Blue Danube Discovery 2018

By Hank Schrader, USMA ’71, Europe Destination & Europe River Cruise Expert

http://www.dreamdestinations.com

As I write this, I’m on the AmaCerto in the Rhine-Danube Canal.  It is our 5th trip on the AmaCerto—feels like home.  Much has changed since 2009 in river cruising—almost all is for the better.

So, I thought I’d write about AmaWaterways and the Danube—one of the two most popular routes for river cruisers in Europe.

The Route

Our cruise started in Budapest and will end in Nuremberg.  We have sailed this direction upstream 3 times; twice downstream.  The amazing scenery has not changed much—the Wachau Valley has to be the one of the best cruises for just enjoying the upper Danube River scenery.  It is a UNESCO World Heritage site, so there are no bridges to interrupt the views.  Unlike the Rhine River Gorge, with castles dotting almost every hill, the region has only three or four great castles.

Aggstein Castle
The ruins of Aggstein Castle

 

Schonbuhl Castle
Schonbuhl Castle on the Danube River

But the quaint villages, sometimes dominated by a fortified church complex, and the steep vineyards provide a relaxing and fun sailing experience—the castles are not missed.

While we chose to sail on the river in the Wachau Valley, you could also bike through this wonderful place.  AmaWaterways was a pioneer in bicycle tours on the Danube and the 20 mile bike ride was a highlight for many—it may be one of the best cycling rides in Europe.

Other stops before the Wachau included, Bratislava (capital of Slovakia) and Vienna (capital of Austria).  Even after multiple stops in both places, we find these incredible cities—vibrant and deserving of more exploring.  Also, the small village of Durstein and its blue-towered monastery and castle ruins where Richard Lionhearted was held in prison, is another great stop.  We then sailed to Melk with its famous Abbey, ornate chapel, and collection of rare books and manuscripts.

Later today we port in Passau, the first city on the Danube in Germany.  It sits on a peninsula at the confluence of the Inn, Ilz and Danube Rivers. 

img_2098
The Veste Oberhaus (Bishop’s fortress) overlooking Passau

We will then visit Regensburg (we are going on a beer and sausage tasting tour) and finally off to Nuremberg.  All are great stops.

What is New Onboard

While much remains the same, there are two great new features on the cruise.  They are the new wellness program and the Sip ‘n’ Sail cocktail hour just before dinner.  Both are real hits in our opinion.

While most who know me well, would say my favorite change is the new included Sip ‘n’ Sail free cocktail hour, but, I was most impressed with the wellness program.  Our wellness hostess, Vanda, conducted stretching classes, core strengthening classes and bike rides.  What impressed me most that it was all age appropriate and the response on board has been very good.  As a former 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. 

Another big change was the Sip ‘n’ Sail program.  Free (included) drinks prior to dinner is great.  Wine, beer and a good selection of well drinks—even martinis are included.  Great improvement!

What remains the Same

Anne always reminds me that consistency is the key to great travel.  On AmaWaterways, the good things remain the same or are slightly better than past cruises. 

Let’s start with the cruise manager, Kata.  We sailed with her in 2011, and when we met up again, we were greeted with a hug and total enthusiasm.  We weren’t clients—we were old friends getting to share a trip together.  For those who have never sailed on a river cruise, the cruise manager, arranges tours, and is the person who helps you enjoy the cruise.  He or she is the person who makes or breaks the cruise for you and as always, AmaWaterways delivered.

3 Great Ladies
Kata, Anne in her new Dirndl dress with Carmen of the bar staff.

Food and service is excellent—always well planned meals.  One item of note—portions are slightly smaller and for the baby boomers of our generation, this is a smart move.  You can always have more food, but even for big eaters like me, the portions were properly sized. 

Each year, the included Chef’s Table menu changes.  I liked meal this year,  and the wonderful view from the stern of our river ship.  It is the little extras that make the difference—the Chef’s Table remains a hit.

Chef's Table
The Chef’s Table

Bar service is outstanding and the wines were particularly good with meals.  It still amazes me how generous the wine pours are by the bar staff—the idea is to give you enough and not too much, but you will seldom find your wine glass empty for long during meals.

Our cabin was always clean and efficient.  I find the cabins well designed and perfectly adequate.  Although some would prefer a larger cabin, the constraints of the river lock system have limited cabin size.  Don’t despair—larger cabins are coming to AmaWaterways in 2019 with the AmaMagna—I will write a future blog about the two large river cruise ships that will sail a portion of this route we are currently sailing. 

I can’t say enough about the crew—they work 18 hour days, and every detail is about making your vacation better.

Our Cruise Experience

We are traveling with a lifelong friend and West Point classmate, Jeff Rock.  Rock is a straightforward guy, so I take his comments to heart.  He sailed the entire Danube—2 weeks on the AmaCerto.  His email to me prior to us joining him in Budapest —“This is a great way to travel!  Can’t wait to see you.”

Jeff and Hank
Friends for over 47 years–Jeff Rock, my West Point Classmate, and Hank

He plans to sail again with AmaWaterways.  Not a real surprise to me—almost all who go on a river cruise we plan, go again.

My Final Thoughts

When folks find our we have sailed this route before, they want to know why—wouldn’t it be boring?  Our response —it never is!  You can’t see it all on the first trip and when you consider the different seasons, it changes.  Spring brings new life, summer is full of flowers and green trees, autumn is ablaze with color and Christmas is a festival not to be missed (don’t forget about our Christmas cruise on the Rhine in December of this year).  These are wonderful places to visit and we hope one day you will let us plan a trip to one or all of these great places.

When you are spending your hard-earned money for a vacation, you want an advisor who can match you with the right trip.  You want someone who will understand your expectations and fuel your anticipation (or excitement) to get you the best possible trip experience.  And, you want someone who can help you with the decision-making process.  We think we have all these qualities.

Whatever your Dream Destinations are, we are here to help you get the best possible vacation based on what is important to you!  We will provide you high quality, expertly planned travel.  Please give me a call 713-397-0188 (Hank) or email me at hschrader@dreamdestinations.com.  We want to help you:  Savor life…make memories…Visit Dream Destinations!  Your journey begins here!

Hank Schrader
Hank Schrader

HANK is a certified Western European Destination Specialist (DS) who has been traveling to Europe for 46 years.  He is also an Accredited Cruise Counselor (ACC), conferred by the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA).  This recognized expert in cruise and leisure travel is a retired Army Officer, and taught World Geography for 8 years.  He is a `71 graduate of West Point and has earned 2 master’s degrees.   His other Certifications:

  • AmaWaterways River Cruise Specialist
  • Viking River Cruise Specialist
  • Scenic River Cruise Specialist
  • Emerald Waterways  Specialist
  • Avalon Waterways Specialist
  • Brit Agent

 

Are We Europe River Cruise Experts?

By Hank Schrader, USMA ’71, Europe Destination & Europe River Cruise Expert

www.dreamdestinations.com

Almost every blog I write starts with the byline—Europe River Cruise Expert.  Great sounding words, but are we really Europe river cruise experts?

According to the 2015 Census, there were 105,085 travel agents in the U.S.  To evaluate what constitutes an expert in the travel industry, I believe there are 6 good measures that can provide a comprehensive and objective evaluation to determine if a travel advisor is truly an expert.  Here are the measurement factors:  1) experience; 2) certification; 3) knowledge of the industry; 4) first-hand knowledge of the industry; 5) professional organization membership and 6) can you trust them?  We can use these 6 factors to determine the difference between travel advisors and help you decide—what makes us special about our knowledge of river cruises and how do we use that knowledge to help you get a better river cruise vacation experience.

So, let’s explore what makes a travel advisor a river cruise expert and try to answer the question—Are we Europe river cruise experts??

Our Europe River Cruise Experience

We have been in the travel business for over 21 years.  We have planned dozens of river cruise vacations and led several river cruise groups.  We have helped clients sail on the following rivers in Europe:  Douro, Dordogne, Danube, Main, Moselle, Rhone, Rhine, Saone and Seine

Budapest at Night with Dream Destinations Slogan
Budapest at Night

Experience is important but only if it translates to expertise.  Here’s just one example–I just got a text Monday (2 April 2018) from a long time client.  He is on an AmaWaterways Captivating Rhine cruise with members of his family.  It read “Everything is going great Hank.  Motoring down the Rhine to Cologne.  Our thanks to you and Anne.  Top Shelf (with a Thumbs Up symbol).”  Sounds like a very satisfied client to me.

One of our real advantages as travel advisors, is that we listen to our clients and then match them to the right cruise line and get them the right trip at a good value.  Since all river cruises are a good trips, it really takes a lot of experience knowing the nuances between river cruise lines.  Another factor is repeat clients—folks who sail on another river cruise or book a trip to Europe, booking with us, after we planned their first river cruise.  Of our top 20 clients, 19 have planned either another river cruise, a Europe tour or a luxury cruise—that’s 95%!

River Cruise Clients
Some of our great clients on a river cruise escorted by us

To my way of thinking, we have unique river cruise experience when compared to other travel agents.

Our River Cruise Certifications

We both are Accredited Cruise Counselors, certified by the Cruise Lines International Association.  We both are also certified Western Europe Destination Specialists, certified by the Travel Institute.  Along with these certifications, Anne is a Uniworld River Cruise Specialist.  Hank is a river cruise specialist for 5 lines—AmaWaterways, Avalon, Emerald, Scenic and Viking River Cruises.  The importance of certification is that you, the consumer, can have faith that we have completed professional courses about river cruising, cruises and European destinations and we can use that knowledge to match you to the right cruise line, at the right time, to get you the best vacation possible.

Since we specialize in European river and ocean cruises, and European land vacations, I believe our certifications are very good when compared to the rest of the travel industry.

Knowledge of the Europe River Cruise Industry

Since 2009, we have spent the last nine years learning as much as possible about Europe river cruising.  We have made some great industry contacts and use these strategic partnerships benefit you. 

On our AmaWaterways Tulip Time Cruise
Anne and Hank with Kristin Karst, Executive Vice President of AmaWaterways

We have done joint presentations with representatives of river cruise lines in seminars.

Shelia and Hank
Shelia (AmaWaterways Business Development Manager for Texas) and Hank with our Taste of Bordeaux Poster Board

  We can often solve problems, get an upgrade, or enhance your experience through our contacts.  We are with you every step of the way.  Our 2016 Comparisons of Europe River Cruising is unique—it is a 73 slide PowerPoint PDF presentation that is an in-depth study of the 8 major river cruise lines.  Here is the link, if you would like to read it. European River Cruise Comparisons

Another factor to consider is our blogs about Europe River cruising.  We have written 25 in-depth blogs about river cruising.

Here is the link to our blog archives about European river cruising archives

In my mind, we are among the best in the travel industry when it comes to knowledge about the European river cruise industry.

First-Hand Knowledge of Europe River Cruising

We have sailed on 15 different river cruises and will have completed 17 by the year’s end.  Put another way, we have spent nearly 4 months river cruising.  If that was not enough, we have written 50 guides to the major cities of Europe.  Many of those guides are useful for a river cruise—either the city is a stop on the cruise or they can be useful for a pre or post cruise visit to another European destination.  Not only can we get you the right cruise, we can advise you on the follow on trips.  The added plus is that I taught World Geography and Advanced placement Human Geography for 8 years at the high school level—another part of our unique qualifications as travel advisors.

Wine on AmaWaterways
Wine on AmaWaterways–our first river cruise in 2009

Since I have been traveling to Europe since 1971 and we try to go to Europe at least twice a year for the last 20 years, it would be hard to find a travel advisor with as much first-hand experience as we have.

Anne and Hank
Anne and Hank on a great river cruise

Members of a Professional Organization

We have always felt that membership in professional organizations demonstrates a level of expertise.  We are members of CLIA—the Cruise Lines International Association—the world’s largest cruise line association.  We are also members of the Better Business Bureau (with an A+ rating) and the Travel Institute—two great professional organizations.  Each of these organization have high standards of conduct, continuing education, and ethical behavior required to continue as members.

Like some proof—he is a link to a review on our Better Business Bureau—it would seem some of our clients hold us in high regard.  Our Better Business Bureau Review

Again, I think this is another factor that helps make us special.

Trust

Perhaps this is the most important measure of an expert—can you trust them?  Just knowing a lot about river cruising is not enough—will your travel advisor put your interests first when helping you plan your vacation.  Anyone can claim they are trustworthy, but the only way to know for sure is to see their actions.  A good clue may be past life experiences—I graduated from West Point in 1971 and our training emphasized being leaders of character.  Anne and I hold our reputations a fair and honest business professionals as the most important part of our business.  She and I always try to do the right thing when no one is looking.  So many of our clients trust our recommendations, their personal information and family situations and their money to us—it is humbling to say the least.

While this may be the hardest factor to evaluate objectively, the high number of repeat clients (booked another vacation with us) we have is very high in our industry.  We have a 41% repeat rate of our top 68 clients and that number moves to 50% when you factor out the 12 new clients we added this year and have not had a chance to become a repeat client yet.

My Final Thoughts

I think we have unique qualifications as Europe River cruises advisors and these qualifications truly make us experts.  Time during travel is precious.  Trip planning is not easy.  Time and money issues are complex—we all want the best at the least possible price.  We help you solve those complex issues, saving you hassles, time and worry.  We are travel experts, ocean and river cruise experts, and Europe destination experts.  We have first-hand knowledge of almost anywhere you want to visit in Europe.  We know our products and the vendors who sell them to you.  We have designed special tours for dozens of clients, led several and will continue to find just the right vacation that will exceed your expectations.

When you are spending your hard earned money for a vacation, you want an advisor who can match you with the right trip.  You want someone who will understand your expectations and fuel your anticipation (or excitement) to get you the best possible trip experience.

Whatever your Dream Destinations are, we are here to help you get the best possible vacation based on what is important to you!  We will provide you high quality, expertly planned travel.  Please give me a call 713-397-0188 (Hank) or email me at hschrader@dreamdestinations.com.  We want to help you:  Savor life…make memories…Visit Dream Destinations!  Your journey begins here!

Hank Schrader
Hank Schrader

HANK is a certified Western European Destination Specialist (DS) who has been traveling to Europe for 45 years.  He is also an Accredited Cruise Counselor (ACC), conferred by the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA).  This recognized expert in cruise and leisure travel is a retired Army Officer, and taught World Geography for 8 years.  He is a `71 graduate of West Point and has earned 2 master’s degrees.   His other Certifications:

  • AmaWaterways River Cruise Specialist
  • Viking River Cruise Specialist
  • Scenic River Cruise Specialist
  • Emerald Waterways  Specialist
  • Avalon Waterways Specialist
  • Brit Agent

Our 2018 AmaWaterways Christmas Markets Cruise

By Hank Schrader, USMA ’71, Europe Destination Specialist & Europe River Cruise Expert

We are proud to announce we will be leading a Christmas Market on the Rhine cruise on the new AmaKristina from December 17 thru December 24, 2018. 

Please come join us on the AmaKristina for the most festive time in Europe—the Christmas Markets.  To learn about this wonderful opportunity, let’s explore what Christmas Markets are, find out about the AmaKristina, and see more about the exciting ports we will visit if you come and join us.

What are Christmas Markets?

In Europe, many squares are used for various street markets.  At Christmas time, these squares are transformed into one unique blaze of color, goods and foods from small vendors.  It is a social gathering where hot mulled wine, beer and street food are served and all seem to get along as they browse the various vendors.

Christmas markets date back to 1300 or so and started in Germany, Austria and the eastern portion of France.  The season usually starts about 25 November and lasts until 23 or 24 December, roughly following the Advent 4 week season.  Even for a person like me who does not really like shopping, this is so much fun that everyone should try this at least once.  Unlike American malls, this is not combat shopping and crowds of hassled folks; this is a gathering of folks socializing with food and drink, music, and buying gifts at a much gentler pace. 

Basel 1
A unique Christmas Market booth in Basel, Switzerland. Weihnachtstube translates to Christmas Room. It was a great place to get a hot drink.

Seeing the decorations alone is worth the trip but an added value is the fact that many booths have handmade items that are unique and priceless.  Most sell only on cash, so make sure you have enough local currency to get your purchases.  And, as we have learned though our own mistakes, if you see something you like, buy it or you will often miss out.  Most markets open around 10:00 AM and close around 9:00 PM, but it varies a lot and it is not uncommon for booths to close down for short periods to take a break or get something to eat or an owner to take a day off and not open their booth.

As long as you dress warmly, these markets offer a cultural experience second to none—it is an experience not to be missed!

Overview of our Cruise

You will get to sail with us to 4 countries (Switzerland, France, Germany and the Netherlands) and experience the magic of Christmas in Europe.  As described above, the markets on this cruise are usually in the historic medieval squares of the towns and village we will stop to visit.  It is the best way to see six different, unique, and interesting squares and experience the thrill of a great Europe tradition—the Christmas Markets of Europe. 

The hustle and bustle of the season, the stunning decorations and street food, and the glühwein (hot spiced wine), will be an adventure you will never forget!  Along with these sights and wonderful smells and sounds, you will sail in luxury, eat awesome food and drink superb wine, and have fun on the beautiful AmaKristina, with a great crew, for an experience unmatched in Europe river cruising.  We have done several Christmas market cruises and can’t wait to go again–we hope you will join us.  The following PDF PowerPoint details the cruise ship, a day-by-day summary of the ports and explains why you should chose us as your cruise leaders:

Learn More

The AmaKristina

AmaKristina
AmaKristina Photo AmaWaterways

The AmaKristina was put into service in 2017.  It is a 135 meter longship and carries 156 passengers.  AmaWaterways does European river cruising expertly and we have no doubt they will deliver again on our 15th Europe river cruise.  Her Godmother, Kristin Karst, is a co-owner of AmaWaterways, so you can be assured this vessel is their top of the line rivership in the 135 meter class.  There are staterooms on 3 decks of the ship and they range from fixed windows on the first deck near the river line, to French balconies, twin balconies (a French balcony and an outside balcony) and staterooms with 350 square foot suites (it has two rooms and a bath tub).  All staterooms are well designed, with comfortable beds, a small seating area (the suites have a much larger seating area), and good bathroom facilities. 

Twin Balcony
Twin Balcony Stateroom. Photo AmaWaterways

These compact ships have well designed facilities that will enhance your 7 day journey.  Once you experience an AmaWaterways cruise, you will agree with us that you will be on a luxury trip where almost all is included in the price of the fare.  You will get to go on a floating luxury hotel, with great food, free-flowing wine and beer at meals , and the newly added Sip and Sail cocktail hour before dinner with complimentary wine, beer and spirits and see sights that will dazzle you.  It is a great value!

Our Voyage

We will begin in Basel, Switzerland.  We will visit Christmas markets at every one of the 6 ports on this trip.  First, we will port in Breisach to visit the Christmas Markets of either Freiburg or Riquewihr.  Here is a photo of the Freiburg Christmas Markets:

Freiberg
Freiberg Christmas Market in 2012

Next, we will visit Strasbourg and its’ famous Christmas markets—the oldest in France.  Here is a photo:

Strasbourg
Strasbourg Christmas Market 2016

When we port in Mannheim, you will have a choice of visiting the college town of Heidelberg or the medieval town of Speyer.  Here is a photo of Heidelberg:

Heidelberg 1
Heidelberg Christmas Market

In Rüdesheim, more markets, a wine tasting and a chance to sample the famous Rüdesheim coffee (it’s like Irish coffee but better).  Here is a photo:

Rudesheimer coffee
Rudesheimer Coffee

After Rüdesheim, we sail the Rhine River Gorge.  This is the most scenic section of the Rhine, as you are transformed into a fairy tale land of great castles—there are more than 30 to see.

marksburg_z_550[1]
Marksburg Castle on the Rhine River Gorge
We next arrive in Cologne, and visit its famous cathedral and the 3 Christmas Markets centered on the old town area.  Here is a great photo of these markets:

Cologne
Cologne Christmas Markets 2016

We finish our cruise in Amsterdam and get to experience the canal-ringed city with a canal boat cruise and a city tour.

Amsterdam
Amsterdam roof lines seen from a canal cruise

Wow—what a trip!

Our Special Price for this Sailing

On this 7 day cruise, there is a special price—hurry to get $500 off per person if you book with us before March 31, 2018.  Please contact us to find out the cost of the stateroom you desire for this trip—we can discuss in detail which will fit your needs best.

Our Last Thoughts

Europe river cruising is constantly changing and in most cases, the winners are the cruisers.  This cruise allows you to experience a specialized tour of the Christmas Markets which blends the wonderful tradition of this festive time in Europe with a cruise of a lifetime.  The usual benefits of unpack once, seeing multiple sights, all meals provided and interesting things to do and see, combined with the Christmas markets, and have taken Europe river cruising to a new level.

As always we want to help you with your travel dreams, whatever they may be, and hope some of you will want to take part of this unique experience on our Europe river cruise.  Please call Hank (713-397-0188) or email him at hschrader@dreamdestinations.com so we can help you: Savor life . . . make memories . . . visit Dream Destinations!  Your journey begins here!

Hank Schrader
Hank Schrader

HANK is a certified Western European Destination Specialist (DS) who has been traveling to Europe for 45 years.  He is also an Accredited Cruise Counselor (ACC), conferred by the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA).  This recognized expert in cruise and leisure travel is a retired Army Officer, and taught World Geography for 8 years.  He is a `71 graduate of West Point and has earned 2 master’s degrees.   His other Certifications:

  • AmaWaterways River Cruise Specialist
  • Viking River Cruise Specialist
  • Scenic River Cruise Specialist
  • Emerald Waterways  Specialist
  • Avalon Waterways Specialist
  • Brit Agent

 

 

Your Opportunity–2018 Trends in European River Cruising

By Hank Schrader, USMA ’71, Europe Destination & Europe River Cruise Expert

2018 is the year of the Dog in the Chinese Astrological Calendar.  The cycle is every 12 years.  According to the legend, 12 animals raced to cross a swift river.  The dog, although a strong swimmer, came in 11th out of 12.  When ask why, he replied, he need a bath and took advantage of the opportunity to take one.

The dog chose to take advantage of a great opportunity and that’s what this blog is all about—your chance to take advantage of a great opportunity to take a European River Cruise.

So, let’s learn about the opportunities in 2018 and trends in Europe river cruising.

Trend # 1—Book Soon or Lose Out

There are over 300 river cruise vessels sailing on the river waterways of Europe.  Even with the increased capacity, we have noticed less availability on almost all rivers.  Why?—river cruising has exploded in popularity.  Already this year, I couldn’t find a cruise for a client whose schedule precluded him from making plans early and then we couldn’t get his travel dates matched with availability.  Many cruise lines are already accepting bookings into 2019.  If you want to cruise in Europe, especially in the peak summer months, you should book now—waiting will result in a less than ideal outcome (no availability and higher prices).

Trend # 2–New Ships will sail but Viking will not add new river ship this year

By my count, there will be 7 new riverships sailing in 2018.  3 will be completely new ships and 4 will be refurbished.  Here are the new ships:

In 2018, AmaWaterways will christen their 20th vessel in Europe.  It will start on the Tulip Time (Netherlands) in the spring and then move to the Danube, sailing from Vilshofen to Budapest or the reverse.  It is a 135 meter ship (443 ft) with 78 staterooms and has a capacity of 156 passengers with a crew of 51.  In my opinion, AmaWaterways has expanded in a smart fashion—they bring on one or two new ships in Europe each year, make sure they are properly staffed and maintain their exacting standards.  Having sailed on 14 AmaWaterways cruises, the standards never change—it is a consistent brand. 

Crystal will expand their fleet to 5 with the addition of the Crystal Ravel and the Crystal Debussy.  Each ship will carry 106 passengers in 53 suites, with all staterooms above the river line.  Among the features are a glass-domed Palm Court atrium, a fitness area, a spa and open-seating eateries such as the Waterside Restaurant, Bistro cafe, the Vintage Room and the Palm Court.  Crystal has tried to copy the features of their ocean going vessels, as much as possible, in their river cruise ships so many venues carry the same names and features.

Their rooms range from the Petite Suite at 188 square feet and the River Suite at 253 square feet to the two-bedroom Crystal Suites at 759 square feet. Several suites are connected.  Accommodations have king-size beds with walk-in closets (a first among river cruise lines) and large bathrooms with double sinks.  The rooms also have with wall-mounted flat-screen HD televisions and Nespresso machines.

Tauck is refurbishing 2 of its ships.  Both the 98 passenger riverboats, the MS Treasure and the MS Espirit have been updated.

Uniworld is refurbishing the S.S Beatrice.  She will carry 156 passengers.  The biggest news for Uniworld is the launch of the A and B—cruising designed for the 21-45 year old crowd.  I wrote more about U by Uniworld as trend # 6 later in this blog.

Not to worry Viking fans—my sources tell me that Viking will add 7 new riverships in 2019, so this may just be a small pause on their part, especially since they are expanding their Ocean cruise fleet.  With 59 riverboats in Europe by my count, there may not be any reason to build a new ship this year.

Trend #3–More Active and Wellness Activities will be offered

We have already noticed this trend on recent sailings.  As we reported earlier, here is one of our client’s thoughts about what is happening on AmaWaterways ships:

“They had a pilot program with a fitness instructor (Selina).  She provided stretching, core workout, exercise band, hiking, etc. classed and events.  It was great.  She will implement this on another six boats for next year, hiring and training the new personnel.  It is a great addition to the AMA activities.”  AmaWaterways was the first to add bikes to their riverboats in 2006 and they continue to expand bike tours and active walking tours.  They have even partnered with Backroads to offer high end bike tours on special cruises. 

Crystal will also follow this trend.  Each of their ships have a pool and carry an array of complimentary equipment for active travelers, from electric bicycles to Jet skis and kayaks.

Scenic and Emerald also follow this trend.  Scenic has electric bikes and Emerald also carries bikes.  Emerald has expanded their offerings for active guests—it is called Emerald ACTIVE and features bike tours.  The heated, pool, with a retractable roof, on Emerald is special—they actually convert it into a movie theater at night, complete with popcorn!

 

Pool Watermarked
Emerald Sun Pool with retractable roof that converts into an evening cinema

Avalon has added their new program called Active Discovery.  This program is on the Rhine and Danube Rivers and offers hiking and biking activities.

The only line not following this trend is Viking—they believe the walking done on tours is enough and they do not offer any extra exercise or wellness activities.

Trend # 4—More Tour Options will be offered

Of all the trends I am writing about, this is the one trend that every river cruise line seems to have adopted.  As you already know, one of the greatest advantages of a Europe river cruise is the included tours.  There is no doubt there will be more offerings.  Some will come with an extra fee.  Only 2 cruise lines offer all tours without a fee—they are Scenic and Tauck.

I really think this is a logical progression of the industry.  Most river cruisers want more authentic experiences and it also appeals to repeat cruisers who want to do something different on the same stretch of river.

Trend # 4–More Themed Cruises will continue to be offered.

Already the list of themed cruises is growing. On AmaWaterways, the wine themed cruises just improves the vacation experience for many guests.  They are up to 50 a year now—a lot of good choices all throughout Europe.  The wine cruises include a wine host.  These folks are wine industry experts who want to share their knowledge and passion for wine both onboard the vessel and at the local wineries during the cruise.  The best part—there is no additional charge for their services—another free enhancement for you to enjoy.  AmaWaterways also has a great partnership with Disney called Adventures by Disney and will offer 8 cruises for families this year.  A word to the wise, it is almost completely sold out for 2018, so if this peaks your interest, start planning for 2019.

Uniworld is solidly behind this trend to offer more specialty cruises.  It has added several Jewish themed cruises.  It is part of their “Bespoke Themed Voyages.”

Crystal’s website states they offer over 225 different tours and 80% are included in the fare.  That’s a lot of tours for only 5 riverships.

Scenic is also solidly behind the expanded tours offerings.  We have first-hand experience with Scenic tours—all are included and they are excellent.  I got to experience Cesky Krumlov on a sailing in 2015.  It was awesome! 

Picture36
Cesky Krumlov

Scenic even calls their staff who create the tours Journey Designers and their brochure defines their mission as “curating the best of what Europe has to offer.”

Many industry writers single out Tauck for their tours.  Each ship has 3 dedicated tour specialists who accompany the voyages.  The also emphasize privileged access to sights after hours or by exclusive arrangements.

Viking is also expanding tours.  Their new program, called The Viking Way, offers three new options—Local Life, Working World and Privileged Access.

Trend #5—Better Cuisine

I think it is safe to say there is an increased emphasis on food and wine in the competitive river cruise industry in Europe.  Not only does this include enhanced food offerings but it has also expanded into cooking classes.

AmaWaterways is, in my opinion, the leader of this trend.  I have written extensively about the quality of the food and the Chef’s table, so I won’t belabor the point.  The best news is that there are no extra charges for the meals on AmaWaterways and all guests can enjoy the Chef’s Table at least once during the voyage.  They have also always done cooking demonstrations during some cruises. I already wrote about many of these, including the “sip and sail” free cocktail hour in this blog:  AmaWaterways in 2018

Chef's Table
The Chef’s Table on AmaWaterways

Scenic is offering on board cooking lessons in their new Scenic Culinaire program.  However, it is limited to only 8 guests.

Crystal and Scenic offer exclusive dining options but both have limitations.  Crystal’s includes a hefty fee and Scenic’s require you to purchase a diamond level (most expensive cabin).

Avalon has become the leader in vegetarian cuisine.  Their Avalon Fresh program consist of locally sourced food prepared in innovative manners.  I wrote about this earlier in my River Cruise Vibes blog.  Here is the link River Cruise Vibes

Uniworld’s ship, the Joie de Vivre, offers a 7 course meal that is paired with wines at their La Cave du Vin that includes a cooking demonstration and then you get to enjoy the meal.

Trend # 6–Will a Younger Crowd Embrace the New U by Uniworld?

The travel agent community is split on this—some think it is a great idea, others think it won’t work as well as traditional river cruising.  The 2018 addition of U by Uniworld–they are converting 2 riverships to their newest brand.  They are called A and B.  Uniworld is using words like “social, relaxed, fun, connected, scenic, and enriching” to describe the new brand.  Gone will be the opulent interiors on some of their redesigned riverships, there will be DJ’s, more emphasis on night life—even bean bag chairs and hammocks on the top deck.  To keep a lower price point, the ship will offer only 2 meals each day. The idea is to appeal to the younger generation (21-45).

My Final Thoughts

Do not lose the opportunity to go on a great European River Cruise this year by procrastination.  Think ahead—call us soon.  We are travel and river cruise experts.  We know our products and the vendors who sell them to you.  We have designed special tours for dozens of clients, led several and will continue to find just the right vacation that will exceed your expectations.

When you are spending around $10,000 or more for a vacation, you want an advisor who can match you with the right trip. 

Don’t miss an opportunity to take a Europe river cruise.  Think like the dog—act now and don’t miss your opportunity! 

Whatever your Dream Destinations are, we are here to help you get the best possible vacation based on what is important to you!  We will provide you high quality, expertly planned travel.  Please give me a call 713-397-0188 (Hank) or email me at hschrader@dreamdestinations.com.  We want to help you:  Savor life…make memories…Visit Dream Destinations!  Your journey begins here!

Hank Schrader
Hank Schrader

HANK is a certified Western European Destination Specialist (DS) who has been traveling to Europe for 45 years.  He is also an Accredited Cruise Counselor (ACC), conferred by the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA).  This recognized expert in cruise and leisure travel is a retired Army Officer, and taught World Geography for 8 years.  He is a `71 graduate of West Point and has earned 2 master’s degrees.   His other Certifications:

  • AmaWaterways River Cruise Specialist
  • Viking River Cruise Specialist
  • Scenic River Cruise Specialist
  • Emerald Waterways  Specialist
  • Avalon Waterways Specialist
  • Brit Agent

Pushing Your Boundaries With Europe River Cruising

By Hank Schrader, USMA ’71, Europe Destination & Europe River Cruise Expert

We are in the life enhancing business.  One way we help enhance your life is promoting the exceptional value a river cruise can provide you for a vacation.  We have a passion for Europe river cruising.  There are many reasons why we have a passion for Europe river cruising, but for me, the two prime reasons are that 1) it will push your travel boundaries in a positive fashion and 2) it will provide you a unique travel experience that is almost impossible to replicate in another vacation.

A Europe river cruise vacation answers the 5 main reasons why folks travel.  Let me explain—why you travel and what you expect to get out of the trip is the purpose for going on your vacation.  River cruises push your personal boundaries by helping you explore new places in comfort, style and ease. 

So what are the decision points on why you go on a trip?  How does a river cruise meet those reasons?  How does a Europe river cruise push your personal boundaries?  How can we inspire you to get the best possible river cruise vacation?  So, let’s explore these topics together.

Why People Travel

According to Phocuswright’s 2016 U.S. Consumer Travel Report survey of 1,724 people, there are 5 main reasons people travel.  They are:

  • Get Away/Take a Break 41%
  • Spend time with family/friends 38%
  • Take advantage of available vacation time 18 %
  • Personal Celebration 15%
  • ( Tied) See a natural/cultural/historical attraction or Attend a specific event 14%

I can promise you all of those reasons resonate with me—we travel for all the above reasons.  The only thing I will tell you, is that the importance of the reason for travel changes with each trip and each individual—when you are celebrating a milestone event in your life, the percentages go way up—just read my blog about Milestones Memories –and -Celebrations if you want more proof that your priorities change with each trip.  Here is the link LEARN MORE

Anne & Hank
Anne & Hank at Cooking School in Wales, UK for Anne’s 60th Birthday Celebration Trip

How Does a Europe River Cruise answer Your Reason to Travel?

If you want a special break and want to spend quality time with your family or friends, for me, there is no better way than a Europe river cruise.  I have written extensively about the value of a river cruise, but, if I had to explain the main reason you should take a river cruise, it is the almost all inclusive nature of the trip.  You get a great stateroom, exceptional food and most drinks (on some lines all drinks), shore excursions and a chance to visit some of the key historic and cultural sights of Europe.  It is practical luxury travel– fun, gourmet but not stuffy, you travel in a relaxed atmosphere, there are great sights and it is flexible and easy to tailor to your desires.  Pretty cool, to say the least!

How Does a Europe River Cruise Push Your Personal Boundaries?

Iron Gates 1
Face Carved into the Iron Gates Region of the Lower Danube

Going on a river cruise gives you permission to explore a world you do not yet know.  I wonder how many of you would go on the Douro in Portugal or visit the Balkan countries of the lower Danube on your own?  Some adventurous souls might, but for many, there is a degree of uneasiness about a visit where you do not understand the language, or cannot read the signs (sometimes in Cyrillic script).  A river cruise removes these obstacles but still allows you a chance to reach out to the people of these new lands.  When we went on a lower Danube river cruise, it was so easy yet fascinating to visit strange lands.  You will be surprised what once seemed so exotic becomes more familiar.  Not only does travel remove barriers in your life, you also will develop new perspectives about the world.

Iron Gates 2
Church on the Banks of the Lower Danube

How We Can Inspire your next river cruise trip

We are river cruise experts.  We have been on 13 Europe river cruises.  We have sailed most Europe Rivers.  Here is a list of rivers we have sailed on or sent folks on:  Rhine, Danube (the entire river), Seine, Rhone, Dordogne & Garonne (Bordeaux Cruise), and the Douro. 

So, with our extensive experience and knowledge about Europe river cruising, we will match you to the right trip and help get exactly what you expect from your trip.  We are not selling travel, we are helping you make memories.  We will get you the best value for your money on a Europe river cruise, if you will spend some time us.  The more we can learn about you, the better we can serve you.  Want some inspiration for a Europe river cruise?—visit our website!

Our Website River Cruises Section

AmaCerto Lounge
AmaWaterways AmaCerto Lounge

Europe river cruising can be a complex subject.  We help make it much easier for you by cutting through the clutter of information about river cruising and companies.  We accomplish this by providing you the highest quality information on Europe river cruising on our website.  In my opinion, this section is exceptional—you will not find anywhere on line as in-depth a description of Europe River Cruises. You can be sure it is authentic–the pictures are taken by us—it is the real deal.  The Europe River Cruise Comparisons is even better—73 slides about the 8 major lines.  We cite facts when possible but when it is our opinion, we clearly state it is our opinion.

Go ahead—pick one of the trips on the river cruise page.  Go through the PowerPoint—can you see yourselves enjoying this trip?—we sure can see you there!

Technical Questions about Europe River Cruises

So what is the best route for you to go on?  What is the best river cruise company?  When will you get the best value on a river cruise trip?  What is it really like on a Europe river cruise?  How can I be certain I will get to see the sights that are so important to me?  We know the answers to these questions and once we spend a little time with you, we will be able to recommend just the right river cruise for you.  Have we got you interested yet?

Added Value

While there is no doubt in my mind we are river cruise experts, and will provide the river cruise that will match your needs, we also add more value in planning your trip by proving customized pre or post trips to your Europe river cruise.  Our trips are unique and tailored to your desires.  We have planned and  have led pre/post visits to Amsterdam, Brugge, Paris, Prague, Nuremburg, Lyon, Arles, Amboise, Strasbourg, Bayeux (D Day area) and Budapest just to name a few great places.

Astronomical Clock
Astronomical Clock Prague, Czech Republic

Here are a couple of examples of these trips that should make you want to use us to plan your river cruise.  By the time you read this, we have a group on a 7 day Seine River cruise.  At the end of the cruise, several of the group will go on special D Day post trip we planned.  Here is a presentation about this special trip:  D Day Post Trip II

German Gun Battery
D Day Sites–German Coastal Gun Battery

In November, we will also led a small group on a tour of Amboise in the Loire River region of France.  Expect a special blog about this adventure in the future.

My Final Thoughts

We have tried to convey information about our specialties and how they can benefit you.  We have also tried to get you to consider, when deciding whether to use us or not, why you should use us.  We feel that you will get the highest quality, expertly planned trip because of our excellent credentials combined with our passion to help you and our attention to detail—it is a true winning formula!  It is especially true for a Europe river cruise vacation. 

It’s time to travel on a river cruise and push through your travel boundaries—please visit www.dreamdestinations.com, select Send Us Your Travel Request and contact us.  This short form will start you on the road to a great travel location.

Whatever your Dream Destinations are, we are here to help you get the best possible vacation based on what is important to you!  We will provide you high quality, expertly planned travel.  Please give me a call 713-397-0188 (Hank) or email me at hschrader@dreamdestinations.com.  We want to help you:  Savor life…make memories…Visit Dream Destinations!  Your journey begins here!

Hank Schrader
Hank Schrader

HANK is a certified Western European Destination Specialist (DS) who has been traveling to Europe for 45 years.  He is also an Accredited Cruise Counselor (ACC), conferred by the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA).  This recognized expert in cruise and leisure travel is a retired Army Officer, and taught World Geography for 8 years.  He is a `71 graduate of West Point and has earned 2 master’s degrees.   His other Certifications:

  • AmaWaterways River Cruise Specialist
  • Viking River Cruise Specialist
  • Scenic River Cruise Specialist
  • Emerald Waterways  Specialist
  • Avalon Waterways Specialist
  • Brit Agent

 

How Dream Destinations Website Can Help You Have a Better Trip

With all the travel information available on line, it is hard to know where to go to get the best travel information, advice and inspiration to plan your trip. I think that the purpose of a good travel website is to help you have a better trip. To do that, we will show you in this blog why you should come to our Website, how we can help you better than others; who we are, what our expertise is and what we have to offer. All of this will help you have a better trip–it is the purpose of our website.
How we help you have a better trip
Here is our mission statement: Dream Destination’s mission is to provide customers with the highest quality, expertly planned domestic and foreign leisure travel with a focus on cruises, European river cruises and European vacations for groups and individuals.
So, let’s start with our home page. It tells you that we specialize in ocean cruises, Europe River cruises and European vacation. It also tells that we can help you have a better trip by providing trips that 1) will exceed your expectations, 2) help you make wise choices, 3) eliminate hassles and 4) help you get the best value for your money. Lofty words, but how do we provide customers with the highest quality, expertly planned leisure travel trips?
How we help you better than others.
We provide you 6 reasons to use us. They are our: Experience, Certification, Knowledge of the Industry, First Hand Knowledge, Membership in professional organizations and ability to earn your trust. In each of these 6 areas, we spell out what sets apart from other travel consultants. After reading these 6 reasons, it clearly establishes us as travel experts who apply our knowledge and industry resources to help you get a better trip. We provide you one final thought to consider when deciding whether to use us or not. It is this: You will get the highest quality, expertly planned trip because of our excellent credentials combined with our passion to help you and our attention to detail—it is a true winning formula!
One thing you will never see on our website—a booking engine. The reason is simple to us—we need to match you to the right trip and we cannot do that without talking to you and learning exactly what you expect from your trip.  We are not selling travel, we are helping you make memories.  We will get you the best value for your money if you will spend some time us. The more we can learn about you, the better we can serve you.
We have great site Content and easy ways to contact us
Our website is designed to help you have a better trip by providing great information (content) about cruises, European river cruises and European vacations. It answers your questions about what travel opportunities exist, the best way to get there and what to see after you arrival. It educates and inspires and you’ll find it is easy to use. Here are some features:
Tell us about Your Travel Ideas. Why this is so cool, is that when we know what you are looking for in a trip and a special comes up that matches what you are looking for, we can let you know what is available. Let me give you a great example—a classmate wanted a river cruise but the cruise line he had explored on his own was sold out. We were able to find him the same trip saving him and his wife for a savings of 25%–$1539.00 on what we consider a superior river cruise line. That’s how we add value! We also have this blog and our quarterly newsletter. Both are focused on educating you about ways to have a better trip. This is a link on our site to our Pinterest site (www.pinterest.com/visitdd). It has close to 4,300 photos, most of which we took (about 98%). With 112 boards, you sure to see some great pictures (none have been Photo shopped or retouched in any way).
Inspiration.
Our website also has many features that may inspire you when you think about taking a vacation. There are travel videos on the home page, the Cruise landing page, the River Cruise page and on the European Destinations page. There are 125 PowerPoint Presentations that will introduce you to a destination, a cruise line or let you see trips we have panned. The Travel Topics section has 8 feature articles that change each month. We have a Specials page which highlights some good travel values. The Cruises section covers it all—port destinations, cruises we have planned or taken from the Caribbean to North America to Europe. It includes both ocean and river cruises. The river cruise section is exceptional—you will not find anywhere on line as in-depth a description of Europe River Cruises. The Europe River Cruise Comparisons is even better. Our European Destinations section covers 44 countries of the European Continent. It is divided into the 4 regions of Europe and also includes a Little Treasures of Europe section that is not commonly found on websites. Each of these 5 website pages list the 48 Europe City Destination Guides to help enjoy your stay—which we will send you after you contact us about a future trip. There are hundreds of photos in these 2 sections, most taken by us during our travels.
Go ahead—start dreaming about great destinations—and then call Dream Destinations to make it happen or just start exploring our website—you will be glad you did!!
Help Making Your Trip Better—Advice and Resources
Before and after you have booked your trip, we have resources and advice to help travel smart and minimize hassles. Under the About section you can get travel tips, river cruise FAQs, learn ways to protect your money and about travel regulations in our resource section. We are pleased to show some past guests and their photos in our Traveler Hall of Fame. We have newsletter archives which provide in-depth travel info. You have lots of questions and we have the answers, or if we don’t know, we will find out for you.
As you can see, our web site really can help you have a better trip. Why not visit it now (www.dreamdestinations.com)?
We are all about finding you the right vacation—please let us help you!
Savor life . . . make memories . . . visit Dream Destinations! . . . Your journey begins here!
Please go to our website (www.dreamdestinations.com), so we can help you experience your Dream Destinations!