Europe River Cruises are an Easy, Good Value Vacation

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

http://www.dreamdestinations.com

As often as I write about Europe River Cruises, the more I realize what a great vacation deal is provided for you while taking this type of vacation.  We have been in the travel business about 23 years, or so, we lead tours to Europe and we cannot provide all the things you get on a river cruise vacation.  While river cruises are not for everyone, for most folks, they are the best possible deal they could get to see much of Europe.

For me, their only key limitations are 1) not spending enough time in one location or 2) the place you want to visit is not near enough the chosen river you are sailing (by far the biggest limitation of a river cruise).

So, let’s explore the easy, great value of a river cruise vacation objectively—and determine its advantages and disadvantages together so you can determine if this vacation is right for you.

River Cruising is an Easy Vacation

Simple is a great word to describe a river cruise—almost all is included.  It is a comfortable, effortless vacation—the really only decisions, after deciding what river to cruise on during your vacation, are what tour to take or not take—the rest is provided for you.  You get enough choices during meals, the food and wine is usually great and there is always enough to do or see.  Unpack once, it is a single currency world, easy to get ashore, and you will learn something new and see great destinations in luxury.  Sounds enticing, doesn’t it?

71 River Cruise
Friends and loved ones on an AmaWaterways river cruise 2015

River Cruising is a Good Value Vacation

I constant emphasize the great value of a river cruise.  Here is a list of reasons I feel a river cruise is a great value:

  • A very spacious river cruise ship that has no more than 190 guests.
  • Pack and unpack only once during your 7 or more day cruise.
  • Sumptuous accommodations with every conceivable cabin amenity.
  • Our AmaWaterways Stateroom
    Our AmaWaterways Stateroom
  • Incredible gourmet cuisine, much of which is prepared when you order it.
  • Complimentary wines, beers, sodas and bottled water—some include all beverages.
  • Many have complimentary small-group sightseeing excursions in every port.
  • Some ships have a gym, sauna, massage, hairdresser, & pool.
  • Free internet and free use of bicycles (most lines).
  • Daily free onboard evening entertainment (usually a piano player, sometimes local groups that come on board).
  • Complimentary in cabin Internet, entertainment systems and free movies.
  • Dock right in the center of most towns & it takes only one minute to get on/off the ship.
  • Ability to see more of a region and experience the local culture in-depth.
  • A resort-casual onboard atmosphere –leave the formal wear at home.
  • All staterooms have a river view.
  • You should never get seasick on a river cruise ship—you can always see the shore.
  • Impeccable, warm and friendly service by an English-only speaking crew.
  • A staff that knows your name & favorite beverage or dining preference by the second day.

Advantages of a River Cruise Vacation

If you have read the reasons above in this blog that a river cruise is a good value, you can see the many advantages of a river cruise.  It is a destination oriented vacation, viewed from the river—impossible to get on a land only trip.  Sailing through some of the scenic parts of the various rivers, the sights are unbelievable—the Rhine River Gorge or Wachau Valley—come to mind—a river view is the best way to experience these fabulous destinations.

Schonbuhl Castle Watermarked
Schonbuhl Castle–the Watchman of the Wachau

We lead tours to Europe and cannot replicate what a good river cruise line does and does with luxury, great food and wine—it takes a large, well-organized company to pull off such a great vacation. 

Simple, luxurious, fun, great sights, wonderful food and wine, excellent service—what more could you want?

2014 Reception
Key Crew of the AmaDagio 2014. In front from left to right Cruise Director Kris, Hotel Manager Andras, and Captain Danny. In the background, bartenders Tomas and Peter.

Disadvantages of a River Cruise Vacation

Here are some of the limitations of a river cruise:

Since the river boats often dock in the heart of older European Cities and villages, the older towns are often cobble-stoned roads and pathways that are uneven and may require managing a lot of stairs and walking.  For a person in a wheel chair, this is a huge problem.  The walking distances sometimes are very long, often a couple of miles or so, so folks with limited mobility may have problems.  Some companies have a slow walker type tours that can help this problem.

Old Town Lyon
Old Town Lyon–lots of stairs & cobble-stone roads

Another limitation is water levels, which can be unpredictable.  Sometimes, the levels are too high or low for safe passage.  This can result in missed stops or bus rides to the location that is unreachable due to water levels.  By far the Elbe River has the most low water situations in Europe and recently there have been problems around the Passau area.

img_2098
The Veste Oberhaus (bishop’s fortress) overlooking Passau–it is a low water area.

Another limitation is called rafting by the river boat companies.  Rafting means due to limited dock areas, river boats often tie up next to one another.  This can cause problems getting off the boat, may cause cabin privacy issues and most importantly, limit the view from outside your cabin.

3 AmaWaterways riverships Rafted
3 AmaWaterways riverships Rafted in Vienna

A limitation sometimes is the pace of the tours.  This is not as big a factor as the other limitations since groups are often split into groups that want a faster paced experience or a slower paced tour and the better lines have optional tours.

As I indicated in the beginning of this blog, the biggest limitation for me is not getting to spend enough time in a location, or the destination is just too far from the river to visit.  We have often overcome this visit by returning on our own to further explore an area, either as a separate trip or a pre/post cruise.

My Final Thoughts

River Cruises a great vacation—they are easy, a great value and for me the advantages out weight the disadvantages.  We have a lot of experience helping folks take these great vacations—we hope soon you will seek our assistance to experience the trip of a lifetime.

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

 

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Active River Cruises–Great Bike Opportunites

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

http://www.dreamdestinations.com

One of the most interesting changes to Europe river cruises, since we first started cruising in 2009, is the emphasis on bike rides by several river cruise lines.  At first, the bikes seemed almost an afterthought—you could use them but there were few organized tours and they were mostly available for the few brave souls who would venture out on their own.

Fast forward to 2018 and the scene has completely changed.  Not only are there many more opportunities to use the onboard bikes, there are now cruise lines that have partnered with bike companies to provide bike themed cruises for real ride enthusiasts. 

By far, the river cruise company that is really pushing bike tours is AmaWaterways.  Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours has added 11 special bike sailings, and Uniworld has also added 10 bike tours to their 2018 sailings.  These 3 really good lines have partnered with different bike tour companies to offer their guests some premium pedaling experiences. 

So, let’s learn what the 8 major river cruise lines offer their guests for bike riding experiences during their river cruises.

AmaWaterways

Always, it seems to us, AmaWaterways has been the leader in almost all new trends in river cruising.  It is no surprise that active river cruising is so important to them.  They offer guided bike tours on all voyages at no extra charge and it is our experience there are usually at least three per cruise.  On our first cruise in 2009, Anne and I rode the onboard bikes a short way into Wurzburg from our port.  It was fun and the bikes were easy to use. 

Ama Bikes
AmaWaterways bikes ready for Guests 2018

We have several clients that ride on their own while in port or take the included guided tours.  All the feedback has been very good.

Ama Bike Riders in the Wachau Valley
AmaWaterways Bike Riders in the Wachau Valley 2018
AmaWaterways Bike Ride
Our Clients Jane with Len Ready for a bike ride near Cochem, Germany

AmaWaterways also has partnered for some awesome bike tours with Backroads.  Backroads has been in partnership with AmaWaterways since 2015 and it has been quite a success story.  According to an interview I read in Travel Professional News, Kristin Karst, Executive President and Co-Owner of AmaWaterways, is quite proud of this partnership.  Here is what she had to say in 2017: “Providing best-in-class service and authentic upscale travel experiences, we’re bringing more active adventure biking, walking and hiking journeys to the world’s most renowned European river cruise destinations.  We’ve expanded our 2017 line-up of active river cruise departures in partnership with Backroads – the world’s #1 active travel company –by offering more the 50 sailings along the Danube, Douro, Rhine or Seine rivers.”

The company has taken over entire boats on the Danube in 2017and plans to do so again in 2018 and 2019.  And an AmaWaterways vessel will be exclusively reserved for roughly 100 Backroads cruisers on the Douro River in Portugal in 2019.

They also offer smaller group tours.  Typically on these special tours, only 20 to 30 of the total 156 passengers are in the special bike group. The two most popular routes are on the upper Danube and along the Rhine.  These tours feature specialized titanium bikes provided by Backroads.  Currently there are 58 tours scheduled for 2018, including a chartered Danube sailing for Backroads guests only.

I reached out to Backroads and Liz Einbinder, their PR director, provided me some great information about this partnership.  Among the items she pointed out to me were how good the bikes that Backroads uses for their tours.  Here is her description “On all our active river cruise trips we use Backroads state of the art custom titanium bikes.  Our bikes are best in class, lightweight, comfortable and designed for a day of cycling.”  She also told me how folks can book these tours—here is their contact information—“People who want to book one of our active river cruises book directly through Backroads (not through AmaWaterways).Call 800-462-2848 or +1-510-527-1555 or www.Backroads.com.”  Please just remember to include us as your travel consultants when making the booking.

Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours

Scenic has 25 electric bikes onboard their ships.  They are available at no extra charge (it’s hard to buy anything extra on Scenic—maybe only a massage or in the beauty or barber shop). 

Scenic has partnered with cycling outfitter Trek Travel to offer themed bike tours to their guests.  For 2018 there are 11 cruises that can be booked with Trek Travel (again the booking must be made directly with Trek not with Scenic).  The tours are on the Danube and the Rhine.  Tour size is limited to 20.  Trek Travel uses three types of high tech bikes—one is even electric assisted.  The electric bikes provided by Trek Travel are high tech and an upgrade compare to the good bikes that Scenic provides to all guests. 

I had a chance to talk to Lindsay Juley about what guests could expect upon booking a Trek Travel cruise.  She emphasized a couple of key points—first, these trips are a perfect vacation for a couple where one person is a serious bike rider, and the other is not—both will have exactly the vacation they want.  Second, she emphasized how flexible Trek Travel is during the cruise—lingering to take photos, or adding extra miles works well with the staff—the group guide from Trek Travel and the support vehicle allow the riders to travel at their own pace.  Another bonus of the program is that all guests are booked in the Diamond (upper deck) and that means more butler services and a chance to dine at the Table La Rive—it is a six-course degustation menu with sommelier paired wines.  The deposit for one of their tours is $2,000 per person and is non-refundable.  We will be glad to help you book any of these Trek Travel bike tours.  You can learn more at www.trektravel.com

Avalon

Avalon has 10 bikes on its ships, which can be used for free.  We recently saw the bikes while docked at Vienna, so here are 2018 pictures of one of their bikes and the storage area on their riverships. 

Avalon Bike
An Avalon bike ready for use
Avalon Bike Storage Area
Avalon Bike Storage Area

Avalon offers optional bike tours on some its cruises.  It is part of their Active Discovery program started in 2017.  They use local bike companies for the program.  The optional tours are not included in the cruise fare and require an additional fee.  There are 4 tours available on their cruises.  You can cycle in the Netherlands while docked in Amsterdam in the Dutch countryside, or on the Danube starting from Durnstein in the scenic Wachau Valley, or on the Rhine starting in Breisach and finally on the Moselle starting at Bernkastel.

Crystal River Cruises

Crystal has 30 eBikes on their double wide Crystal Mozart. 

On the Crystal’s other 4 riverships, there are bikes available for use by guests who want to explore on their own.  These bikes are also used for organized, guided bike tours.  According to their brochure, the onboard Fitness Director leads the active biking excursions. 

Emerald Waterways

Emerald has 20 on board bikes and their use is complimentary. 

Emerald offers group bike tours, at no additional charge.  It is part of their EmeraldACTIVE program.  The tours include a guided nature tour in the Amsterdam area; a guided bike tour in Colmar, France; a biking tour between Melk and Durnstein; a biking tour of Vienna; a guided bike tour in Belgrade; and a bike excursion from Tournon to Glun, France. 

Tauck

Tauck has 12 Jan Janssen bikes on its ship—these are popular Dutch bikes—and if anyone knows bikes, it is the Dutch!

While researching this article, it appears most guests use the bikes for independent rides, but I found out that one of the 4 onboard tour directors may lead one or two organized bike excursions during a 7 day cruise.  All bike excursions are included and they do include family oriented bike rides in their Tauck Bridges program.

Uniworld

Uniworld has a fleet of free bikes for self-guided or escorted group excursions at no extra charge.  The bike tours are part of their “Go Active” excursions.  They have bike rides on the Rhine River, on the Main River, on the Danube River, on the Moselle River, in Paris, in Lyon, in Bordeaux, in Frankfurt, in the Chioggia (Italy) beach area, in Budapest, and in Belgrade.  Basically, there is at least one “Go Active” bike ride on each of their European river cruises

In 2016, Uniworld added a partnership with upscale tour operator Butterfield & Robinson (a Canadian firm) to offer enhanced bike tours.  On the Uniworld website, I found that Uniworld was offering 10 themed biking tours in 2018.  Their tours are on the Danube (4), the Rhone (3), and the Rhine (3).  The tours are on customized bicycles, with detailed maps, and expert bike guides.  Bicycles include a handlebar-mounted Samsung Galaxy tablet with preloaded route maps via RideWithGPS.  Booking is done directly with Butterfield & Robinson.  Here is their contact info:  www.butterfield.com or 1-866-551-9090.  Again, be sure to include us as your travel agents when making the booking.

I got to talk with a representative of Butterfield & Robinson.  They are very excited about this partnership and are adding a Seine bike tour for 2019 and will retain the 10 themed biking tours they scheduled for 2018. 

Viking

Viking does not offer any onboard bikes.  They do have some limited guided bike tours which are new for 2018.  These tours require an extra fee.

My Final Thoughts

There certainly are some differences between the cycling opportunities offered by these eight river cruise lines.  3 offer enhanced options with their partnerships.  7 of the 8 have onboard bikes that do not have an extra charge.  As with any aspect of Europe River cruises, we can answer your questions and concerns and help you match the right river cruise to your needs and travel style. 

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

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

My Take on the Most Interesting Man in the World for River Cruising

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

“I don’t always river cruise when on vacation, but when I do, I prefer to travel with Dream Destinations!  Stay adventurous, my Friend!”

Since I have a salt and pepper beard, my family sometimes says I look a little like the older actor who used to portray the Most Interesting Man in the World.  So, I decided to take it one step further, and write my own ad as the Most Interesting Man in the World for River Cruising for Dream Destinations.

So, tongue in cheek, here are eight good reasons you should travel with Dream Destinations on a river cruise, as seen by the most interesting man in the world!

Less Stress

Although the most interesting man in the world knows all the differences between river cruise companies, do you really think you do?  My guess is that like most US travelers, you have heard a little about Viking due to the ads on PBS, but would be surprised to learn there are eight or more options of vendors offering river cruise vacations.  Feeling your blood pressure rise?  Relax, we got this!  Not only do we know the difference, we have earned their certifications, if they have one.  Need more proof?—just visit our website page to read our 73 PowerPoint slide presentation River Cruise Comparisons.  See the Presentation

We increase Convenience

The most interesting man in the world loves convenience. Want a vacation that is easy?—river cruising is the answer.  When you river cruise, you unpack and pack once, you see unique scenery, the small size of the ship allows chances to make new friends, you port in or close to the city centers so there is more time on shore to really experience the culture of the sights and it is almost totally inclusive—the accommodations, meals and tours are all included.  It is so easy!

 

This room and the staff would please the most interesting man in the world!

We validate your prior travel experiences

Although the most interesting man in the world has been everywhere, he also realizes that you have traveled a lot also.  You are a savvy traveler.  You often have done your homework.  Your travels have taught you a lot and you know what you like and don’t like.  We help use your prior knowledge to make sure the trip is just right for you.  We also make sure all your facts and perceptions are correct and you can trust us to tell it like it is.

 

The most interesting man in the world has been on the entire Danube, including the Iron Gates between Serbia and Romania.

We add value

The most interesting man in the world always brings value to all he does.  So do we—we help you get the most for your vacation dollars.  Value is added when we design a trip that matches your particular desires and needs.  It takes a lot of experience in the travel business to get this right, but we have the skills and knowledge to make it happen.

our-tour-guide
Our Tour Guide in Kitzingen on an AmaWaterways Late Risers Tour–she was a great guide!

The most interesting man in the world would like the value of included late risers tours!

We increase trip satisfaction

When you are the most interesting man in the world, happiness is a way of life and he often helps others find happiness.  So do we–happiness is our business.  The goal of every trip we plan is to exceed your expectations.  We really care about your experience.  If you use us, you will likely experience a vacation you will talk about for the rest of your life.

71 River Cruise
A great group cruise that exceeded expectations

We often offer you travel ideas you never knew existed

Although the most interesting man in the world has complete knowledge of almost every travel experiences and travel opportunities, you may not be so informed.  That where we come in–taking a trip from good to great is our special area of expertise.  Knowing what is possible to enhance the trip always results in better travel.

We remind about items you might have forgotten for your trip

With his fabulous memory, the most interesting man in the world seldom forgets anything.  Since we plan a lot of great trips, we help you make sure you will not forget anything.  It is the little details that make the difference.  Why hassle with all those annoying details?  Just take a deep breath, and let us do it for you!

Every year we have a couple of outstanding group trips

While the most interesting man in the world could organize travel groups, he would rather have Dream Destinations do it for him.  What a smart guy!  For a small, two person agency, we have an out-sized ability to produce unique group travel experience.  We have escorted folks on river cruises, D Day anniversary celebrations, and other Europe ocean cruises.  Have a group that wants to travel together?—we are you folks to get the job done right!

 

The most interesting man in the world would have enjoyed this group!

My Final Thoughts

I don’t always river cruise when on vacation, but when I do, I prefer to travel with Dream Destinations!  Stay adventurous, my Friend!”

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

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

AmaWaterways in 2018

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

Good things keep happening at AmaWaterways, our favorite Europe River Cruise Line.  We have been sailing on this family owned and operated line since 2009—this November we made our 14th voyage with AmaWaterways.  For 15 years (they started their business in 2002), this company has provided what we think is the best value in Europe river cruises. 

In 2018, AmaWaterways will add 6 new itineraries in Europe, a new rivership and enhance its emphasis on wellness during their cruises.  Before we explore these new features, a quick reminder of what you can expect on a 7 day river cruise from AmaWaterways will help us better understand how these new enhancements will improve your vacation experience.  I will also tell you about some of my favorite features of an AmaWaterways river cruise.  So, let’s explore these topics together.

What to Expect on an AmaWaterways Cruise—3 Thoughts from our Clients

We just had a new client sail for the first time on AmaWaterways.  Completely new to river cruising in Europe, he just couldn’t stop talking about how good the experience was.  The meals, the accommodations (staterooms), the service, and the included tours exceeded all of his expectations.  But, he was most impressed with the tours and the guides.  He was especially impressed with the Cruise Manager, Camille.  As an Air Force Academy graduate, who is a military history buff, he was astounded at the level of knowledge of the guides.  Since this cruise was on the Seine and covered the D Day sights, I think it is high praise indeed.  So one really positive feature of AmaWaterways (as seen through the eyes of one clients)–the tours.

One of our other clients is the former general manager of a California winery. He also is a foodie.  He is the most knowledgeable guy I personally know about wines.  He can go toe to toe with any wine host on AmaWaterways or a vineyard owner, either as a technical expert or just a down to earth guy who describes the characteristics of a wine to help you discover what wines you might like best.  His winery actually hosted an AmaWaterways wine cruise in 2014–this guy is the real deal!  His thoughts are—the included regional wines are of very high quality.  They change each day, but if you really liked the previous days offering, they are glad to serve it, if you ask and any still remains on the ship.  He just sailed on his 6th AmaWaterways cruise this month—when clients do repeated voyages on the same line, you know it has good products, especially a guy with his knowledge of food and wine. His lovely wife also agrees with their choice of river cruise lines.  They are great traveling companions, and a lot of fun.  So, another positive feature—complimentary high quality regional wines.

Mark and glasses.JPG
Mark (in the red shirt) and crew prepare for a wine tasting in 2014

Another long term client couple, love food and wine.  They really like the variety and quality of meals served on the AmaWaterways ships.  The emphasis on fresh, regional cuisine paired with the two quality wines of the day, is one reason they love to river cruise on AmaWaterways.  However, their favorite dining experience is the Chef’s Table in the stern of the vessel.  This specialty restaurant features a tasting menu that is perfectly paired with some high quality wines.  The 32 seat venue, included in your cruise fare, is a memorable experience and just one other reason why AmaWaterways is different.  So a third reason, the included Chef’s Table.

Chef's Table 2016
John & Linda (middle seats) loved the Chef’s Table on our 2016 cruise

Instead of listening to my thoughts, their impressions of their vacation experience, says volumes—it is an exceptional vacation that is safe, fun, luxurious, and life changing.

A New Ship—the AmaLea

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 different AmaWaterways cruises, the standards never change—it is a consistent brand. 

6 New Itineraries in Europe

4 of the new itineraries will be on the Rhine. 3 are on the Rhine and Mosel Rivers.  One is on the Rhine and one of its tributaries the Main.  Here are the new sailings:

Rhine & Mosel Splendors is sailed by the AmaDante from Luxembourg to Basel.

Rhine & Mosel Delights Basel to Amsterdam is sailed by the AmaPrima.

Rhine & Mosel Fairytales, is sailed on the AmaPrima from Amsterdam to Basel.

Medieval Treasures is sailed by the AmaDante from to Basel to Nuremburg or reverse.

There are 2 new itineraries on the Danube.  They are:

Danube Serenade, is sailed by 3 Ama ships—the AmaCerto, the AmaSerena and the AmaSonata on the Danube River from Nuremburg to Vienna or reverse.

Magical Christmas Markets is sailed by the AmaCerto, the AmaSerena and the AmaSonata from Nuremberg to Vienna or reverse.

An Enhanced Emphasis on Health and Wellness

In keeping with the theme of this blog, I thought I’d like to share some comments from another client about the enhanced wellness offering onboard the AmaLyra.  He is on his 5th river cruise with AmaWaterways.  His wife and he are very active and like the bike offerings and exercise opportunities on AmaWaterways.  Here are his thoughts:

“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 Bike Ride
Our Clients Jane & Len Ready for a bike ride near Cochem, Germany

My Favorite Changes

Although AmaWaterways does not include unlimited alcohol beverages in the fare, they are starting a new program called Sip & Sail Daily.  It is a cocktail hour just before dinner with complimentary wine, beer and spirits.  This is a great addition and will reduce clients’ onboard bills, as most folks really enjoy a cocktail prior to dinner and used to pay for it—now it is free!

Another feature I like is the continued emphasis on Exclusive Special Interest Tours.  Usually free, they may be capacity controlled to 20 guests, as most places they tour or eat at often just can’t handle more folks.  For cruisers who have previously visited some of the ports on the cruise, this adds options to enhance your cruise experience.

Finally, the continued emphasis on wine themed cruises just improves the vacation experience for many guests.  They are up to 50 now a year—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.

My Final Thoughts

We are river cruise experts.  We know our products and the vendors who sell them to you.  We can tell you the advantage and disadvantages of each of the 8 cruise lines that market to the US consumers.  For most individuals, AmaWaterways is usually the best choice and value for their vacation dollars.  This doesn’t mean the others are not good—on the contrary, they all provide good vacations.  But there are subtle differences and after all our experience and personal study, AmaWaterways is often the best choice.  From this blog, you can see that 4 different clients found 4 different aspects of the AmaWaterways experience that was their favorite. 

When you are spending around $10,000 or more for a vacation, you want an advisor who can match you with the right trip.  It is especially true for a Europe river cruise vacation. 

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

 

High Performing Organizations—AmaWaterways River Cruise Company

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

2 weeks ago I attended a lunch sponsor by the West Point Society of Greater Houston.  The speaker, Col (ret) Tim Kopra, a NASA Space Station Commander, talked about NASA and how so many different people and agencies performed at a high level and how as a group they became better.  It was a great talk and he made very salient points about teams working and training together. 

His talk inspired this blog—my association with high performing units.

I have been directly associated with what I consider high performing organizations at least 3 times in my work life.  So, I’d like to tell about these three organizations and why they were so high performing.  The three organizations are the 2/23 Infantry Battalion of the 7th Infantry Division (Light) at Fort Ord CA; the 2001 Bellevue Wolverine High School Football Team from Bellevue WA; and AmaWaterways River Cruise Company.

Characteristics of a High Performing Unit or Organization

While some may differ on what makes a great organization, I believe there are 6 or 7 characteristics that allow an organization to be a high performing unit.  They are 1) a proper organizational design, 2) sufficient structure to allow all to contribute to the mission, 3) processes in place to maximize the talents of all members of the organization, 4) appropriate use of technology, 5) good leadership, 6) skilled and willing people who want to do their best, and 7) a culture that promotes the organizations values.  In the right environment, an organization who excels in these tasks will outperform other similar organizations.  So, using these factors, let’s learn why these organizations were so high performing.

The 2/23 Infantry Battalion of the 7th Infantry Division (Light) at Fort Ord CA

Anne & Hank at Fort Ord
Anne and Hank at Fort Ord in 1986

Being an ex-military guy, the best infantry unit I was ever assigned to in my 20 year military career was 2/23 Infantry.  I guess it goes without saying there was a strong structure and a well-designed organization of this 560 man unit.  The training was tough, realistic and we quickly became a well-honed unit.  We were experts at using our equipment and weapons.  Over 10 % were Ranger Qualified—this is the most grueling training in the US Army.  The officers (leaders) were demanding yet really cared about the men and their welfare.  The Battalion Commander was a great soldier—he had a vision and could clearly express his vision of what he expected—we call it in military jargon, the Commander’s Intent.  We always understood the Commander’s Intent—there were clear, concise orders that allow us to know what to do in the absence of orders.  But the fundamental difference was how all executed the Commander’s Intent—everyone seem to understand the mission and get the job done right, often with little or no supervision.  It was amazing, from the highest ranking officer to the newest private, all worked at top efficiency, often in worst weather conditions, tough terrain and with little sleep.  We were the Army’s first Light Infantry Battalion in the Light Divisions concept and, for my money, the best.  Seems to me, 2/23 Infantry was the definition of a high performing organization.

The 2001 Bellevue Wolverine High School Football Team from Bellevue WA

bellevue-football-team-2001
Bellevue WA 2001 State Champs Football Team

The 2001 Bellevue Wolverines were the best high school team in the state of Washington in 2001—they won the state championship, were 13-0 and 55 guys who had one mission—win a state championship.  Not only were they undefeated, they beat the defending state championship team twice on the way to winning it all.  The culture of the team was right—there were high expectations, and all wanted to improve, both players and coaches.  But maybe the single biggest factor was how the coaches managed to get the best out of each player—all contributed to our success.  The players had sufficient athletic talent but it was their willingness to do their best and push their limits that really set them apart.  They were no excuses, no finger pointing when things went wrong, they just rose to the new challenge.  These were high character kids—10 years after the won it all, all 55 had graduated from college.  Can you see the 7 characteristics of a high performing organization in this team?—I clearly can!

Coach Schrader
Coach Schrader teaches his defensive players in preparation for the 3A Championship Game in 2001

AmaWaterways

Chef's Table Staff 2016
Chef’s Table Staff 2016 on the AmaDagio
Crew Caroling 2015
Crew Caroling 2015

So now to my favorite river cruise company, AmaWaterways.  This is what river cruising should be–It is just the right blend of great tour options, wonderful food and wine, comfortable staterooms and a staff only too willing to please.  Their ships are rated as the best of all river cruise ships by Berlitz.  It is a company that uses great technology but it never detracts from the vacation.  Almost every serious travel industry writer about river cruising, rates Ama very high—they often agree with our assessment that it is the best value for the price.  This is a family owned company and they strive to treat their guests as valued family.  Since 2009, after our first river cruise with Ama (we have been on 13 and are taking # 14 later this year), we have watched them grow better each year—there is a constant effort to enhance the guest experience. 

The Ama Ice Cream Lady
Homemade Ice Cream is served at Lunch–what a treat!

Clearly, the three owners of the company are hands on, innovative and inspire all of the company members to perform at max levels.  The quality of the vacations they offer, coupled with superb food and wine, served by waiters who become your friends, sets them apart in my opinion.  All the pictures are of the staff–the stars of the cruise who make your vacation special.  Look at the 7 characteristics list again—do you think they meet the mark of a high performing organization?  I wholeheartedly do!

 

2014 Reception
Key Crew of the AmaDagio 2014. In front from left to right Cruise Director Kris, Hotel Manager Andras, and Captain Danny. In the background, bartenders Tomas and Peter.

My Final Thoughts

I think most folks want to be part of a high performing organization.  You can be part of one, if you select AmaWaterways as the company to provide you your river cruise vacation.  Please, reach out to us with your river cruise ideas!  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 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

 

River Cruise Seminar: AmaWaterways and Visit Dream Destinations, LLC.

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

On Tuesday May 9, 2017, we co-hosted a wine tasting and river cruise seminar at French Country Wines, with our AmaWaterways Business Development Manager for Texas and LA, Shelia Bielich.  It was a lot of fun, with delightful wine and we had two really good presentations about French Wine Cruises available on AmaWaterways.  Since, many of you live outside the Houston area or may not have been able to attend, I thought I’d give you a recap of an awesome evening.

Our Venue

French Country Wines specializes in small wineries from France.  Many of their wines are imported from the Rhone River valley and the area around Bordeaux.  The store is wonderfully decorated with some very good pictures of the key wine regions of France.  The two owners, Tim and Phyllis, have been in business for 10 years and have a good selection of French wines.  We provided our guests with an excellent selection of 3 French wines.  They were a Pouilly Fuisse (white), a Blanquette (sparkling) and Jourdan (red).  Along with the wine, we provided a cheese and charcuterie tray and fresh breads.   All of our guests told us they really enjoyed the food and wine.  The wine must have been good since several bought wine from the shop to take home.

Welcome Board 5-9-17
Our Welcome Board at French Country Wines

Our Guests and Anne’s Surprise Gift to All

My clever wife, who adds sparkle to any event, provided our guests with a great photo gift.  She found a wireless device made by HP called a Sprocket.  This device is about the size of a cell phone and takes photos from your phone and prints out a small pictures that you can add titles to describe the picture with a caption.  She then attached them to an embossed card she designed.  To say this was a total hit was an understatement–all present wanted to see how it worked and were delighted about this special touch.  As usual, way to go Anne–great idea, better execution–you added class to our event!

Frankie Group
A photo of 4 guests from the Sprocket with the title added–Thanks for coming!

The first presentation–the Rhone River

After a short socializing half an hour, I provided a presentation about our 3 trips on the Rhone River on AmaWaterways.  My presentation covered 3 areas of this great river cruise.  They are 1) To learn about AmaWaterways and the 110 m AmaDagio; 2) Why you should take this cruise; and 3) to learn about this route on the Rhone River.

2015 Rhone & Saone Wine Regions - tan fade
Hank talked about the wine regions on the Rhone & Saone

First, I talked about the wonderful experience of an AmaWaterways cruise and the 110 m. AmaDagio.   Your floating luxury hotel docks right in the center of the historical towns–you will cruise in comfort and style.  The food (featuring regional specialties, using locally sourced, fresh ingredients), unlimited regional wine (that changes daily and is often from various vineyards along the route) served at lunch and dinner and service are all excellent and considered the best among the eight river cruise companies that market to the US cruisers.  I highlighted the tasting menu at Chef’s table (a separate specialty restaurant for 28 guests), a crew who always says” yes” and extras; like bikes. massage/hairdressers and the fitness area.

Hank - AMAWaterways Presentation 5-9-17
Hank talking about Cruise Features of an AmaWaterways River Cruise

Here were my key points about why you should take this cruise:

  • Cruise on the Saone & Rhone Rivers on the MS AmaDagio—first class all the way
  • Cruise legendary wine growing regions of Beaujolais & Cote du Rhone & enjoy wine tastings
  • Marvel at Roman ruins, shop for Provencal crafts
  • See historical Avignon & Arles.
Arles
Roman Amphitheater in Arles

I covered the route starting at Arles and ending in Lyon and gave a detailed description of each days tours.  I really emphasized the variety of included tours and after 3 cruises on the Rhone, we still had not taken all the tours offered.  And, of course, as you’ve read before, this cruise sails in the opposite direction.

Sunset Arles
Sunset at Arles
Pont du Gard
Pont du Gard
Old Town Lyon
Old Town Lyon

After the presentation, several folks came up to let me know they learned a lot, so I guess I did a good job!

A Taste of Bordeaux–Shelia’s Presentation

Shelia gave a wonderful presentation.  She started with an overview of the company and all the routes they sail.  She used a great handout map which described the rivers sailed by AmaWaterways and on the flip side was a photo of a 135 m ship, explaining the layout of their long ships with pictures of each area of the ship. She talked about the difference an AmaWaterways cruise provides their guests.  The key point she made, in my opinion, was how Berlitz rated AmaWaterways.  The Berlitz river cruise guide rated more than 280 river cruise vessels and Ama took the 11 top spots in their rankings—pretty impressive, to say the least!

 

Sheila - Bordeau presentation 5-9-17
Shelia talking about the A Taste of Bordeaux AmaWaterways River Cruise

 

Trip Map & Wine Regions on A Taste of Bordeaux

Having recently returned from the Taste of Bordeaux cruise, Shelia described the route and tours in detail.  The Bordeaux region consists of Dordogne, Garonne and Gironde (actually Europe’s largest estuary) and is in the southwestern part of France.    It is a round trip cruise out of Bordeaux and features wine tastings, châteaux and abundant vineyards along the Garonne and its tributaries.  She covered extensively the port cities of Cadillac, Pauillac, Bourg (a unique stop only offered by AmaWaterways) and Libourne that are included in this sailing. 

Blaye Citadel
Shelia talked about Blaye Citadel, a famous fortress built by military engineer Vauban

 

Bourg
Shelia also talked about Bourg sur Gironde a historic medieval walled city
Bordeaux
Bordeaux

Shelia pointed out the main reasons to go on the Bordeaux route.  This is an important wine region of France and you will get experience tastings of some of the most distinguished wines of France including Sauternes, Medoc and Bordeaux wines.  If you like wine, cognac, oysters, truffles, châteaux and the grand buildings of Bordeaux and the castles and forts, this is the cruise for you.

Great presentation, Shelia—thanks for coming and sharing this with all of us!

Our Special AmaWaterways Sailings 

Special France Sailings

We are going this November 16-23 (2017) on the AmaWaterway’s, A Taste of Bordeaux cruise and would love for you to come with us!  In addition to our sailing this fall, we will have clients sailing in France with AmaWaterways on the Seine (October 26-November 2, 2017), and the Rhone (November 2-9, 2017).  All these cruise have special pricing and there is limited space available, so if you would like to go, please contact us quickly. 

Special Rhine Sailings

We also have one other special cruise with availability and special pricing in 2017–a wine cruise on the Enchanting Rhine cruise November 11-18, 2017. 

Looking forward to 2018, we have an April special on the Captivating Rhine April 1-8, 2018.
It was a great night.  If you live in the Houston area, we would really like you to come visit with us on our next seminar. 

Thanks to all who came!  If you are interested in any of these cruises, or any river cruise, please contact Hank at 713-397-0188 or email him at hschrader@dreamdestinations.com. We love to help you travel to any destination worldwide and can’t wait to help you:  Savor life . . . make memories . . . Visit Dream Destinations!  Your journey begins here!